Wednesday, May 27, 2009


i'm pitching my tent tomorrow
for a festival during the weekend. scrubbing canvas, counting ropes, washing rugs, organising helpers, cooking for the boys, renting van, counting pennies (euros), looking for a hat, remembering stories I'd forgotten i tell

thinking about the rugs I am going to weave, the prints I am going to make on the lovely white areas of my beloved jaima

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

felt fun

I need wool in textile form for my dye eperiments. I've been thinking of weaving, which I love doing. but I find that sometimes the most time consuming part of a weaving project is just before you warp the loom :-)
my sons were with me last night, peering over my shoulder, while I was looking at dories site and following links about Mehmet Girgic, master felter from turkey
the boys said they would like to try that
and then I remembered I had a fleece in my cupboard, given to me by a student from a workshop where we were illustrating the Odyssey
the wool was for the cyclops
her mother had sent it to her from the village. It has been washed very well, but it is not carded. Ibrought out the little animal, we got our "supplies" together- placemats, lots of stones and heavy objects to hold down the wool because it was windy and got going
we had great fun, this is what I came up with a few hours later

I still have a long way to go as a felter, but I am glad of that. the experience was so rich and rewarding that I want to do it again and again. the yarn inside is from a black sheep, it is actually a beautiful very dark brown. I don't think I want to dye or paint this it is a cream colourwith yellower areas
my palms are growing warm remembering the feel of the wool responding to touch- and I cant stop stroking the little piece of work
I will certainly try this again
I have to muster the courage to talk to the shepherds
I think they will be shearing the sheep soon

Thursday, May 14, 2009

as I was walking down the street...

Really, as I was driving down the road I saw something yellow. I see lots of yellow there, bushes, flowers, plants, but this was a slightly different yellow, just a little plant by the side of the road. I stopped the car, my son in the back said oh no not another flower, I said I have to investigate. Turned car around, drove back, looked and saw a quite unmistakeable little St Johns Wort. HURRAY. the flowers are drying up, I will go back for seeds - Pray with me that sheep dont like it. anyway, it is there, and I'm glad- that probably means there 'll be more around.
see the little dots??

and then, waiting for said boy to finish his lesson, I saw a little plant nursery I hadn't seen before. I went in, and saw very very interesting plants for sale, not at all the touristy wholesale kind of stuff they sell in Marathon. I started asking questions, he asked me what my interest was, I got talking about dyeing with plants, he started asking questions and to make a long story short I left with his botany book from whichever school these people study plants- I offered to give him my name and number he said there is no need, I suppose he knew I'd be back soon

ha, day of miracles and wonders

it is true then that to find you only have to seek

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

nothing much

but actually quite a lot. The dyebooks have arrived, at last and I have been reading, reading, reading: J. Liles, The Art and Craft of natural dyeing, R. Buchanan A Dyers Garden and A weavers Garden, Jenny Dean The Craft of Natural Dyeing, and, of course, India Flint's Eco Colour

like yin and yang: fluctuating between "I will get this colour at all cost" and "now lets see what this plant will give me"

I have been having great fun playing -

collecting, harvesting, banging, wetting, boiling, pickling, steeping, dunking, tying, rusting, :-))))))

and actually working a little bit in between.

I acheived true black!!!!

the only problem is that there is not much textile left to hold it:

and I ruined the microwave doing it. the twigs inside the cotton caught fire

solar boiling:


very hot- you need potholders to move this

this I am proud of.

after the workshop with the actors my fingers were itching for something to do, so I made a little mini woollen scarfthing on a small frame loom. I used yarn I had dyed myself, experiments that had turned out mainly tannic subcolour. I then spent half the night fulling it between my fingers and palms till it was properly felted, like a shepherds cape, real hard, then I bundled it up around a moroccan souvlaki stick with eucalyptus leaves collected from Koumoundourou square and some cotton fabric purchased in the area and simmered it in a tea of oak bark and more eucalyptus. I let it stand in the sun for a couple of days and then I got impatient and unbundled it.

I am very pleased with it. now for the large frame loom.....

and maybe mud

lesson of the day

never browse the internet while dyeing. your house may burn down.


do not leave dye projects alone, they might get creative.......

Thursday, May 7, 2009

koumoundourou square

we went to Athens yesterday, telemachus the weaver was with me.

it was raining, I was leading a workshop with a theatre group.

we collected leaves and some seed pods from the trees on the square: eucalyptus and brachychiton. (my son and I did the collecting.with the actors it was storytelling)There were'nt as many leaves on the ground as you would expect from so many old trees, because the municipality of Athens keeps sweeping the square

it is in the middle of the historical centre of the town. at all hours of the day and night there are people sitting and lying on the ground

illegal immigrants, homeless people, drug addicts

little clusters of "special" police- always in the better lit places and never solitary

the government calls the periodic "cleaning up" operations - removal of these people from common view- "sweep-ups" "operation broom"

so the square is very clean.

they sweep up the people, and they sweep up the leaves.

on the way back telemachus made this picture, from the car.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


the fields were full of two legged athenians decapitating flowers

they were told that this is the day to do that

others gathered in the city to shout out their frustration

most were boiling closed up in their cars with demanding bored children

dreaming the nightmare of the coming summer

a perfect day for hammering poor flowers onto cloth

in the morning I boiled it with bark

when it dried I dipped in watery milk, dried, dipped etc 4 times

it was windy and sunny

in the evening I went gathering in the garden

and spent part of the night hammering, joyfully

lesson of the day: when soaking cloth in milky water keep any dogs occupied. they are attracted by the milk and wiil tip the bowl over to lap up the milk the moment you turn your back

and a may poem

e e cummings


may my heart always be open to little

birds who are the secrets of living

whatever they sing is better than to know

and if men should not hear them men are old

may my mind stroll about hungry

and fearless and hungry and supple

and even if it's sunday may i be wrong

for whenever men are right they are not young

and may myself do nothing usefully

and love yourself so more than truly

there's never been quite such a fool who could fail

pulling the sky over him with one smile

in the pictures: roses, poppies, geranium petals, leaves (various)

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