I spent last week packing up the dye studio for my friend Sheila and a group of her friends in Sandpoint Idaho.
Packing these materials put a period onto one kind of art that I loved to engage in but reluctantly admit I’m finished with. Dyeing fabric was a passion and a joy with me for many years. I learned more about color through dyeing fabric than I ever could have through mixing pigment. Dyes demand a keen eye for mixing, as different dye hues strike the fabric (i.e. move into it) at different rates; finding the “pure” dyes and working with the less pure ones called for research.. I grew to curse fuchsia, a particularly stubborn (and fast striking) dye; I thought of it as the rattlesnake of the dye world.
It took me a week to dismantle the studio, which mostly sat on shelves in the basement, and consisted not merely of dyes (something like 35 or 40 different hues) and the accompanying necessary fixatives, etc., but also a bunch of accoutrements: an air brush, stamps, stencils, and wax resist materials such as bees-wax, an electric frying pan, tjanting and tjaps. The last two are specialized tools for working with the hot wax to dye batiks; the tjaps (pronounced chops) are especially precious.
A photo of a sampling of the boxes into which the stuff was packed.
I could not, however, give it all away. I did part with my John Marshall/ Japanese-inspired stencils; I only did a few and they were precious, but I decided I had to part with them. However, I could not part with some of my crow stamps and stencils:
They all have special meaning for me, including the little birds, which I’ll admit are not crows and were not designed and drawn by me. But they are doubly precious.
Of course, in dealing with the shelves of “stuff”, I ended up throwing out a lot of it. Shelves in basements can accumulate amazing amounts of useless items. I’m just grateful for Portland’s recycling services.
That’s a small sampling of what had to go into the trash.
Speaking of recycling, when I get back from Playa I’m going to put the bin of empty solution containers and plastic sheets that I used to protect surfaces by the curb with a “free” sign on them; we’ll see how many other crazy people live in the neighborhood.
And what is Playa, you ask. Oh, that’s what I’m packing to go to in a few days. It’s an artist’s residency compound in the Oregon outback: Route 31 between La Pine and Lakeview, for those of you who know that northern bit of the range and basin country. It’s east of Crater Lake and west of Frenchglen for the tourists among us. I’ll have two weeks without my significant other, who, along with children and dogs, is not allowed to stay overnight. So I’m packing food as well as art supplies — oh and my tooth brush and deodorant too.
I am taking my laptop (although there is no electronic access out there), and I hope to upload a set of travel tales when I return. That is, if I return. Chances are I will, though, given that my significant other is pretty significant. Our 50th anniversary happens in October, and probably I should be around to celebrate. –June
Playa, taken from their website