Spring 2016 in Oxford, North Canterbury

Catching the spring before it fades…

A low of -1 degrees Celsius overnight, but a clear blue sky this morning means now I can get the washing dried on the line!  Snow on the mountains arrived as well.  I could not resist taking the camera out to record the plants in the garden.

I always fight between clearing or not clearing the ‘weeds’ as clearing them disturbs everything in the flower beds.  Then when the dry, hot days arrive I think the weeds would help to keep the soil moist.  But I know that the strong weeds would overtake the cultivated plants.  The vegetable and fruit trees and bushes are looking at their best just now.  Lots of Ladybirds – hope they and the birds do a good job controlling the aphids.  It is a balancing act between taking action and just observing.  A new location brings a new set of conditions.  I am intrigued at the different biodiversity existing in two locations 2 kilometres apart from each other.  We have fewer birds and habitats for them here than at the last place.  I’ve started reading my permaculture book again.  Need a jungle.

There are some lovely black blue iris flowers just opening – will they make some dye?

My painting, the last image, now looks just like Spring!

 

Explore Find Collect Discover

Progressing with my little piece of fanciful endeavour. The weather is too hot to do much but I am enjoying this evening pastime.  Trying to contextualise this piece, I found it lends itself to ‘something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue’.  The ‘borrowing’ comes from Spirit Cloth, so thanks to Jude for her inspiration and putting me on yet another path.

It is quite difficult to find suitable, old, worn cloth, but I realise I have to collect all my textiles and yarns in one spot – I seem to be endlessly looking for where I have stashed them – and since we moved they could be anywhere!  I am using fabric dyed last year, snippets of my mother’s dressmaking, her box of embroidery threads, my threads from those I collected decades ago and even some old silk velvet from my sister’s mother in law.  The cloth (dyed in tea) with the holes was an old pillowcase into which we used to put horse riding gear when it was being machine washed.  The ‘something new’ is the print of the mallow plant growing in the new garden.

I really like the feel of the layers of cloth and the abstract forms created by the stitching on the reverse of the piece.  The space created by the circle (top left) seems to suggest landscape, or a vista.  It is the only part that has visual depth.  What to do next…

Piece

Spring leaves, nature prints and patchwork

On a walk yesterday I found a windblown leaf, and later picked some leaves and flowers from the garden.  I am not sure at all what species of tree the leaf is from.  It is difficult to define, mainly because it is immature.  However, I think it may be a Platanus  (plane, sycamore) as suggested by the stem and leaf vein structure.  To memorialise this arrested development I made prints from the leaves.

Leaf1

Leaf2  

I made a few nature prints, on paper and cloth.  The first print is from the inked plate (with the leaf removed after passing the two through the press).  I dropped the inked plate on the floor which accounts for the wiggly marks and scratches.  Liked the effect!

Leaf5  

This print below, taken directly off the leaf alone, is particularly interesting, delicate.  

Leaf4  

This print is made on damp 300 gsm paper   Leaf3  

Here is a small selection of the process – when the leaf was thick it caused creases in the paper and some areas did not print so well.  

Leaf7  

I have been busy…  Here I have printed on cloth; works very well.  The impression on the right was hand done with the roller and not put through the press, unlike the other one on the left.  I am getting confident with using the etching press.  

Leaf8  

Finally, the most beautiful object of all, the actual leaves, with a trace of the ink still on them. It shows the underside of the leaves.  I used Akua black ink, and many of the prints were printed on dry digital/inkjet A4 paper.  

Leaf9  

To end, here is a textile work I have started in response to following Spirit Cloth. I have printed on to cloth a mallow leaf and an image off a piece of old wallpaper.

Leaf6

Transported from old to new dye possibilities

P1210737

It is now August, and I started this post in March…   Time passes.  It now feels like home.  Seeds of a new beginning – seed pods of Wharariki, the New Zealand mountain flax plant.

Oxford in the early morning sunlight – Mt Oxford hills seen from the town.

Sentinel-trees

At the beginning of 2014, a ‘sudden rush of blood to the head’ started a process that before you would have believed it possible landed us in another house in the same town within a month.  It does not feel like a home yet, but we are settling our nerves now, coming out of the upheaval.  People wonder why we did it, but the old place, gorgeous as it was, needed  younger, stronger custodians than we could give.  We thought it would take months to sell, but it happened almost immediately.  I really miss the plants and the beautiful views;  trying not to think too much about it.  However, I’m finding new curiosities and opportunities and living in the town will possibly force us out to the wild places that we neglected.  We really had a semi-wild place in the garden to keep us occupied.

Before we departed I managed to do a few solar dyes.  Some of the colours from last summer were still in their dye pots, so I popped in swatches of woven wool – Viburnum tinus, Privet berries, and Hypericum perforatum seed heads.  I also tried Rosemary twigs – lovely smell!

In early January I started a solar dye with flowers and another with leaves of Alchemilla mollis – the flower dye is below with a painted sample of the dye directly on the page.

Alchemilla-mollis flowers

In the dye jars, the yellow colour appeared almost immediately but I got a stronger colour from the  Alchemilla flowers.

A-mollis-flower-solar

Another solar jar was gradually receiving – over a fortnight – red hollyhock flowers that fell off the plant.  Previously I have steamed the hollyhock flower heads onto silk, and the colour was a bright pink, quite different to the result on wool.

Hollyhock-solar

 

The dried swatches as in my test book:

Feb-solar-dyes

One of the last photos I took at the old house.  Althea that I grew from seeds.  Will start again.

Althea

Snow in ‘summer’ along with high winds!   This is the view that greeted us a few days after we moved house.  Very dramatic welcome…

March-snow-wind

Our new house is just over one year old, like a doll’s house, and we have a garage full of stuff to be sorted, given away or reallocated somewhere.  There is a lovely patch of weeds down the road – some old friends and some new rather ferocious looking ones too!
Ferocious-weed

This knotweed is an old friend – and a walk in the park led me to some knotweed – Polygonum aviculare it may be – from which I have obtained a yellow.  So there are possibilities.  The knotweed below was growing by the footpath.  I have brought some of the prostrate polygonum from the old garden.

Friendly-weed

Mallow

weeds-fence

Yellow-with-plantain

Finally, a sentimental note.  A move like this presents your belongings to you in a different light.  You find things you had forgotten, and other possessions take on a new life.  I happened to look through two Stanley Gibbons stamp albums that belonged to my father.  The books are large and heavy, and lots of the stamps are missing, but not on this page, however.  Towards the back of the book, this 15-year-old listed the number of stamps he had collected:  on 10 March 1929 he had 1315.  I read this on the 10 March 2014.

pennyred