From the Studio

thoughts on art and process in action from a contemporary artist

Posts Tagged ‘dyeing

Natural Dyeing for Sukkah Project

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I’ve been invited to inhabit the Sukkah at the Contemporary Jewish Museum (San Francisco) on October 8th for one day of the holiday of Sukkot.  They invited six artists to each take a day to create an open studio or installation project inside the frame of the Sukkah.  I decided to take the opportunity to do a new Participatory Installation piece within that frame entitled Refuge of Leaves.

Process

These are photos of the dyeing process for this new project.  These are the first three batches, using pomegranate dye, rhubarb dye and artichoke dye.  Each dye changes depending on if I scour the paper first, or if I add a mordant, or if I add iron.  I did every combination on four kinds of paper to get a wider variety.

As I’m going, I allow the paper to show some marks- wrinkles, the mark of the iron, irregularities, etc.  Showing their history, that they have been through something, a difficult process that may even damage them seemed like a perfect parallel to individuals seeking refuge, to people who had a story to tell.

About the Piece

Traditionally a Sukkah is a symbolic ritual space of refuge in the wilderness created for the holiday of Sukkot in the Jewish faith and tradition. “Refuge of Leaves” creates a Sukkah as a space for reflection where people from many backgrounds can reflect on and share their personal experiences of refuge from “wildernesses”, whether physical or metaphorical. As a Sukkah it symbolizes a liminal space of safety within the wilderness between worlds.

I followed traditional aspects of the Sukkah in using natural plant-based materials in the form of a variety of papers from different places and times, including papyrus as well as paper that could be put through a modern printer.  These are for participants to write responses to their choice of prompts on the subject of refuge.  I am hand-dyeing the papers with natural dyes to mimic the color range of plants one might build a traditional sukkah from. The dyeing processes also makes each piece of paper individual in color and texture, just like the people writing their responses.

The word “leaves” in the title functions in a number of ways.  The individual leaves of paper in a larger book, the plant leaves that form a traditional Sukkah, and the nature of a this kind of refuge as a temporary shelter (not a home) that eventually requires one to leave.  The structure is very literally a refuge made of leaves that each participant leaves behind.

As part of this project I will be there from 10AM until 4PM to discuss my work and facilitate the process.  Please join me.

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Dyeing wrap up

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Just some images of my yarn as I dye it and arrange it to see how my color balance for iteration #10 of Identity Tapestry for the Identity show at Vögele Cultural Center is going.

I’m nearly there!  I just need some more blues in the medium darkness range of all hues.  Here you can see on the white plastic sheeting some of the yarn I am dyeing over to create all the richness and depth of color in the yarn for the piece.

I am contemplating using a different size of plaque for the statements because of the nature of German (more text needs more space).  This would bring the format closer to “hello my name is” labels, which I like, but I need to be sure I can find the right sized stickers for the look I want.  I could physically do the text without stickers, but the label/name tag/address reference label stickers give is important to me for this piece.  I may end up ordering metric ones.

Filling Out

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spectrum5

The hard part with this kind of thing is knowing when to stop.  At this point I’m happy with the materials.  I could keep going forever, but right now there is enough material to fill the space I am using twice.   The idea is to provide the variety and let the participants determine the color balance of the piece in their selections.  This does make me think I want to do some themed work with dyes that do focus on a specific color range, but the project hasn’t presented itself yet.

The rest of the parts for the installation are coming along… but this is the fun part.

*note* There are more blues in the final set than are showing- arrangement of the curve was a little off so they are hiding under each other while the greens/teals are spread thin… but I am prioritizing making the piece over documenting the process perfectly.

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Spectrum

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silk spectrumHere’s a peek into my dyeing  in progress for the Living Guestbook installation.

When I’m dyeing for an installation I find it helpful to lay out the spectrum of color as I go.  In cases like this one where I want a fairly balanced spectrum this is especially helpful.  So far this is the spectrum the dyeing I’ve done yields.  Looking at this the holes become more obvious.  Also, different from dyeing for Identity Tapestry is that need to keep the spectrum lighter and not go too far into darks or the writing won’t show as well.

eggsThis prompted a return to the fabric store for a few lighter bases to start from. They really look easter-egg to me all together like this, but I’m using them for their potential for over-dyeing and the way they fit into the whole.

Yes, I could do everything starting at a base of white, but I find over-dyeing yields much richer colors.  Also in the case of many of these fabrics, the weave already had two different colors (the warp might be blue and the weft gold, giving it a color-change look).Tthat’s something I can’t do dyeing over plain white fabric, but if I over-dye it, changes in both colors come through.  That again adds a layer of depth to the colors I’m working with. I can also always go back and over-dye again as many times as I like, giving me even more layers of color coming through, especially when I use techniques that dye unevenly.

You can really see the depth in the colors when you look closely at a given strip of fabric.

***Update*** spectrum after today’s work:

spectrum2Still a bit to go, but loving it so far.

Written by marycoreymarch

September 25, 2014 at 11:56 pm

Living Guestbook- Materials

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MATERIALSThese are some of the materials for my next installation.  The swatches at the bottom are some dye, starch and ink tests.  Each of these base colors (including the white) will be over-dyed in small strips for the piece.  If I don’t get the color variety I want with these base colors in the first few rounds of dyeing, I’ll go  back into the process with more fabric.

The physical format will be similar to Dream Blanket and Transparency: a weaving with the empty warp, structured with a grid of weft, with the main weft made out of strips of this fabric.  Visitors to this collector’s home will be invited to respond to questions about memory, impressions and experience.  They will then get to write these on a strip of dyed dupioni silk that has been starched for structure and to better take the ink.

Visually I made the piece to fit the rustic quality of their vacation home in Vermont.  It will even include existing objects from the house and grounds.  I really love work like this.  Working to specific spaces like the theater and this home is wonderful.  I like making a piece in a way I might not have thought of without the constraints or benefits of a certain goal and space, or without the interaction of other people involved.  I enjoy collaborative work, and I consider working with a curator, institution or collector to be another form of collaboration.

I’m looking forward to this piece!