Well the vernal equinox has come and gone, but we're still under a lot of snow in southern Wisconsin. Nevertheless, thoughts of spring are in the air, and at home we're longing for warmers days and talking about plans for our gardens. My friend Candy, a very talented gardener and fiber artist, has made a long creative practice of dyeing silk scarves with harvested matter from her gardens--flower deadheads, leaves, and twigs--with subtle, lovely results. Seeing those scarves has always intrigued me about the results I could get from natural dyes. So I just signed up for a natural dyes workshop in May. It will be great to learn some new techniques and swap my teacher hat for a student hat for a few days.
Protein fibers--wool, silk, hair--take dye beautifully. I fondly remember the little dye samples we made back in college in my Textile Science lab class, marveling at the depth and richness of the colors on the protein fiber samples. So I'm excited to create some of my own with plant dyes.
My four-legged studio assitant, and whom I wrote on February 11th, is always eager to assist. So this morning, before I even made my coffee, he made it clear that a brushing was in order. Here's the 12" platter mounded with his contributions to my studio: My two-legged studio companion, Ed, suggested that this harvest might be donated to the returning migratory birds who are hopping around our feeders and thinking about nest building. Many of our birds collect tufts of Niiji's hair to use in their nests. (We have found quite downy finch nests near our house completely lined with his hair!). So I think much of this harvest will be put outside for the birds, but I'd like to keep collecting the fibers too.
I was told by a spinner/dyer friend that dog hair, no matter how well washed, will always smell like dog hair when wet. But I'm intrigued about the possibilities of using some of Niiji's hair in some hand-made felt. I'd also love to try dyeing some. Anyone out there with suggestions, please send them my way.
There are still a few weeks left to check out Madison Contemporary Fiber Artists' exhibition "Wild Things" at Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison, Wisconsin. The exhibition is open to the public on Sundays from 11:00 a.m. til 5:00 p.m. (It may also be open on other days of the week when a meeting isn't taking place in the exhibition space.)
There will also be a closing, meet-the-artists reception on Sunday, April 7th, from 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. So be sure to stop by for that if you can! I've got two pieces in the exhibition--"On the Path" and "Leaving" (below).