Alice Fox – Leaf Stitching

More grovelling apologies for another review after an exhibition has closed, but I only managed to see Leaf Stitching by Alice Fox at the SDC Gallery on its last day (last Saturday).

Alice Fox stitched oak leaves

I’ve followed Alice’s blog for a while (there’s a link to it in the left-hand column), fascinated by her experiments with rust dyeing and their ability to evoke a sense of place. She had some of her rust prints in the gallery, including some of her Tide Marks series and Pavement Pieces based on found objects, but the main emphasis here was on her stitched leaves.

The window featured three hangings of stitched eucalyptus leaves, which Alice says stitch well and give off a lovely smell at the same time.

Alice Fox stitched eucalyptus

The colours of the eucalyptus contrasted with the oak leaf “quilt”, where the prominent leaf veins created more texture than colour (though the subtly different shades of brown were lovely).

Alice Fox oak quilt

Star of the show was a series of leaf cubes, arranged in a colour circle – a triumph of delicate geometry.

alice fox leaf cubesalice fox leaf cubes

Alice hadn’t preserved the leaves in any way and is up front about the ephemeral nature of this work: “As stitched objects they won’t remain the same forever, although once dried out, and if stored carefully, there is no reason why they won’t stay the same for a good long time. They were not originally intended as pieces to be kept or displayed. In recording them as photographs in a publication some of their ephemeral nature is overcome”.

In this she follows in the tradition of artists like Andy Goldsworthy who create fleeting moments of beauty in nature.

I couldn’t resist buying Alice’s book Natural Processes in Textile Art – a great source of information on using natural and found objects to create art.

alice fox book

And here is the first work in progress inspired by the book. It’s an ecoprint on paper folded into a small book, which I’ve started stitching into.

ecoprint stitch book ecoprint stitch book ecoprint stitch book ecoprint stitch book

 

 

 

Shibori rust dyeing pt 2

To give you a break from yet another eco printing experiment, I thought I’d share another shibori rust-dyed scarf with you.

rust onion scarf6

This scarf is made of a double layer of heavier silk (it’s actually a man’s evening scarf), so I thought it would be more robust than the very lightweight silk ponge scarf that I used last time.

I bound it with rusty screws, slightly more loosely than last time. Because the silk was thicker and double layered, the rust colour didn’t spread as far or as fast as last time. By the time I had finished binding the screws on the silk ponge, the scarf was already a rusty colour all over, whereas with this scarf there were only faint traces of colour.

I was also concerned that although there would be good colour on the side of the silk that touched the screws, the other side of the scarf would be too pale.

So after binding it I put the scarf into the pot containing the onion skins left over from dyeing the eggs, heated it up and left it for a few hours. Then I removed it and left it to cool overnight.

When I untied the scarf the next day, it looked very dark at first.

rust onion scarf1

But as it dried it became paler, and there was an obvious difference between the two sides of the scarf.

After drying, ironing, soaking in bicarbonate of soda, rinsing, drying, and ironing again, this was the final result.

rust onion scarf2 rust onion scarf3

You can that the presence of the iron screws darkened the colour quite significantly – it’s much less golden than the eggs were.

And the kumo shibori pattern on the side of the scarf that was in contact with the screws is paler with darker rust marks compared with the other side.

rust onion scarf4 rust onion scarf5

Which side do you prefer? I’m not sure. But I have a reversible rust-dyed scarf with no holes, so that’s a result. 😉

rust onion scarf7

More success with eco printing

You may remember that my last experiment with eco printing was not a huge success. Since then I’ve acquired a copy of India Flint’s book Eco Colour, so I thought I’d have another go.

I found a beautiful rusted pipe on the street – perfect for bundling up a scarf. So I soaked a silk scarf in vinegar, dipped yellow and red onion skins and eucalyptus leaves into vinegar and laid them on top. Then I rolled the whole lot around the pipe, tied it with string and left it in a plastic bag on the windowsill outside for 10 days.

I was intending to leave it for a month, but suffered from the usual problem – impatientitis. 🙂 There seemed to be a lot of dark colour developing, so this morning I could wait no longer and unwrapped it.

ecoprint pipeecoprint pipe end

Here is the whole scarf, with the pipe to one side. You can clearly see the rust patterns at the ends (these were on the inside, closest to the pipe). The pink bits were actually from the yellow onion skins rather than the red ones, which went black. The orange shapes that are not rust were the eucalyptus leaves.

eco print scarf

Here are some close up shots.

ecoprint close1 ecoprint close2 ecoprint rust1 ecoprint rust2

The scarf is now drying in the airing cupboard – I’ll leave it for a few days before washing it and keep my fingers crossed that I don’t lose too much colour!