Back Forty, coffee pot posts, fiber art, Lake Waccamaw, Reading, Slow cloth

Sunday morning coffee pot post

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We’ve been home from the lake a week now, and it was a good time. I finished my stitchery for the Gardens of the Heart project at last. We ate a lot of good food and enjoyed good company. I ate at Dale’s three times!

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It was fun sitting on the pier and watching this heavy rain storm come through. Most of the time it was perfect weather. It was a bit humid but stayed in the 70s/80s. We turned off the air conditioning for most of the week.

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Yesterday I bought the pieces and joints for my new pipe loom. It will add a steampunk flair to the studio. Putting it together is the next thing on my agenda for today.

We went to Ed McKays used book store and I don’t know what happened there but it was a very good thing. Lots of new old books, some that I would have grabbed in hardback if I was still collecting certain authors. Prices were lower…the bargain shelves had much lower prices for better selection of books. We bought a copy of The Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon for $1.50, now the biggest cookbook on my shelf. HUGE, and don’t you love her name! Also two prequels to the Mists of Avalon, a quarter each. And The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich. Yes, I know I swore off buying books this year. Some others will go to the little free library to make room.

Finished Four Souls and found that it wasn’t depressing as I feared it might be. It was actually very funny in parts. I don’t think I’ve ever not enjoyed a book by Louise Erdrich.

When we finished errands yesterday I sat down with my t-shirt scraps and worked on the t-shirt blanket. Or I should really say played, because I got into it so much that I lost all track of time and didn’t want to stop! I finished putting together one of the panels for the back side – it will be reversible, but I think of this as the back side. And played with sewing all these little scraps together. So much fun, and I made myself throw away the teeniest scraps instead of hoarding them for paper or whatever. There was a while when my intention was to use up every bit of everything. Nice concept, crappy reality in a small house. I don’t think that I will put a batten between the two layers. I’m going to just sew the layers together in a grid.

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Groundhogs have started eating the tomatoes, even the plants, that are not in cages. Okra is gone. I’m amazed that they haven’t gone after the ground cherries or the huge candy roaster squash vines, but I probably shouldn’t have written that. Tempting fate. I still have lots of cherry tomatoes and the Roma tomatoes under the wire cages. The fig bush is loaded with fruit. With all the rain, everything looks lush but the skeeters have come out.

The silver maple is scheduled to come down this Friday. Mixed feelings. I love trees, but not necessarily this one. There will be more sun for gardening and for solar panels. It will be safer and a good thing, eventually.

Lake Waccamaw

Monday at the Lake

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Yesterday we snoozed and read and stitched and drew and drank adult beverages and sat on the beach and sat in the water and ate corn on the cob and watched Poldark and the mystery after it and got a good night’s sleep.

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Every time I come here I find more photographs, even when I think that I have exhausted all the photographic potential after literally hundreds of photographs over many years.

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My eyes focused on small things on the beach. What made these tunnels? What made these tracks? I haven’t seen a single anole yet, which is disturbing.

I sat directly on the sand and watched the ants scurrying around. There are still several different kinds of ants here and as far as I can tell they live at peace with each other.

One large black ant was carrying an insect wing a little larger than he was. He would circle around and around with it over a pile of driftwood and bald cypress needles and other flotsam. Whenever he left the pile to walk across the bare sand he scrabbled about with his legs and it seemed that he couldn’t get a firm foothold, so he returned to the pile. I noticed that the other ants who were not carrying a load had no problem walking on the sand. He wouldn’t let go of his burden and he couldn’t get where he wanted to go while he was carrying it.

Take what you will from that. I found it interesting.

If there are duplications or mistakes in this post, the corrections will have to wait. My connection is wobbly.

coffee pot posts, Lake Waccamaw, Reading

Another Week at the Lake

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Of course, I mean Lake Waccamaw. I might not be here now. This could have been written one week ago and scheduled to post this week. Ya never know with me. I like monkeying around with dates and times. Wish I could do that on Facebook!

We rolled in mid afternoon yesterday. I meant to leave earlier but I’m having serious insomnia problems. Hopefully that will be corrected down here but not yet. At least I will be able to take a nap whenever I need it.

Today will be a quiet day. I brought down projects. I’m missing some key components, though, so I’m happy I brought more than one. Dyepots, indigo kit, madder, cochineal, watercolor paper, iron, little loom, alchemist’s apron, pockets and trinkets, check.

Reading: “Girl Waits With Gun” by Amy Stewart. A historical female crime fightin’ novel from an author that I began following online a long time ago. I love books set in the early 20th century and this one hooked me from the first page.

Next on deck: “Four Souls” by Louise Erdrich, another favorite writer.

Finishing up: “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” I think that I will put a folding chair in the water and read this one. I always bring one small paperback that I’m willing to sacrifice to the Wave Goddess if she demands it. This has been a deeply satisfying re-read.

“A person filled with gumption doesn’t sit around dissipating and stewing about things. He’s at the front of the train of his own awareness, watching to see what’s up the track and meeting it when it comes. That’s gumption.”

Love it.

Family rolling in tomorrow and maybe today. A few friends dropping in later this week. One of them is only a week out from a family tragedy so I hope this place will be healing for her too.

The house has air conditioning now but we turned it off and opened the windows. So far the weather forecast is great, but we know by experience that the lake creates its own weather.

My old Kindle is not playing nice with Flickr right now so more photos will be added later.

More tomorrow. Or was it last week? Ah, a mystery!

art, art retreats, dyeing, fiber art, Georgia, Lake Waccamaw, National Parks and Monuments, tapestry, weaving

Tapestry Weavers South Retreat

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I’m taking a personal day to recharge after a particularly sweet and inspiring art retreat weekend with members of Tapestry Weavers South at Epworth-by-the-Sea on St. Simons Island.

It is a lovely venue and the price was very reasonable for three nights and all meals. We were lucky that even though most of the Southeast US was getting pummeled by thunderstorms and flooding, we only had a few light showers and the temperature was perfect. On the last night we enjoyed the veranda next to the river and it was lovely – not muggy at all and I didn’t notice any bugs. The sunsets were nice too:

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^^^Just outside my window

The greatest value of this retreat was the talent and encouragement of my fellow tapestry weavers. I’m not kidding – if you are a tapestry weaver in the southern U.S., I recommend that you join this group.

I left for the retreat with just a vague idea of what I might do, and a fairly neurotic state of mind about my weaving break. I was also worried about sitting for the long drive and the workshop in general, but I met April Price near Charlotte and she drove the rest of the way, so I was able to adjust a rolled-up towel under my legs, hips, and back frequently. That helped so much, and I am grateful for her willingness to drive! April organized the retreat and did a wonderful job.

I left the retreat with a warm feeling of making new friends, and the beginning of a small tapestry on the loom that I am excited about. Some of my artist crushes were there and we got to know each other. I was encouraged to continue my tapestry diary that I dropped at the end of March and was given a few suggestions on how I might proceed from here.

You are likely to see more from me on the subject of Tapestry Weavers South, because I suspect that I’m going to break my vow of getting involved in group leadership and help out with this one. Just in a minor role that I’m comfortable with, though.

Jennifer Sargent was our featured artist and she shared a slideshow of her work and critiqued the pieces that other weavers brought. She gave me very positive feedback on my own work.

We honored Tommye Scanlin with a lifetime membership and an emotional celebration on the last night. She was my first teacher that was an actual tapestry artist. We figured it out that was in 1991! She is loved by so many people.

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Holly Wilkes and MJ Lord allowed me to photograph their hands in action.

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I decided to work with the abstraction of a favorite photograph of rain on Lake Waccamaw, using my naturally dyed silk/cotton threads from India’s online class. It’s interesting that I return so often to this family place at Lake Waccamaw for art inspiration. Even the threads are wound on driftwood sticks that I picked up on this shore.

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April was kind enough to go with me to Fort Frederica National Monument so that I could get a stamp for my National Park Passport book. The deerflies were pretty bad and we were short on time so we decided not to walk to the actual fort, but it was a lovely park. The 42d Regiment of Foot battled with Spanish forces there in 1742 so I was especially interested in visiting. That was our regiment when we were 18th century re-enactors. We drove around St. Simons Island, then we stopped in Savannah and ate Crabcakes Benedict at Bar-Food, which I highly recommend. Just as we were driving into Charlotte, the bottom fell out and I have rarely seen such a hard rain. I thought that I might have to spend the night at April’s house but we looked at the radar and I made a good decision to drive home. I wonder how many inches fell in that half-hour?

Alchemist's Apron, art, dyeing, fiber art, Lake Waccamaw, Nature printing, North Carolina, Slow cloth, Upcycling

Alchemist’s Apron project

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Last weekend Sandy and I went to Lake Waccamaw and I gathered materials to dye my project for India Flint’s online class, “The Alchemist’s Apron.” I’ve experimented with natural dyes down there before without a whole lot of luck. This time, using a good mordant and bundling the plant materials directly in contact with the cloth did the trick.

In this project we cut apart a shirt in a particular way to make an apron. This is a lightweight denim shirt that Sandy discarded a long time ago. I saved it, paint stains and all. I have a few other white thrift store shirts that I could use, but I wanted to experiment on this one first. Blue is my favorite color, unless you bring up any of my other favorite colors, like orange, purple, yellow, brown, black, red, and green.

I made a mordant from iron scraps, white vinegar and water in a pickle bucket that is safe to use but turned out to be almost scary powerful. The chemical reaction creates a billowing orange foam much like the toupee on Dear Leader’s head. I have a lifetime supply of iron mordant now because I have to dilute it so much. This mordant developed over about eight days.

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Even after diluting it with rain water it had a weird metallic sheen on top which cracked when touched. I ended up straining it through a piece of thick cloth to get out most of the rust, poured in hot tap water to dilute it more, and even then I got a lot of brown/orange color on the shirt. I soaked the shirt for two days and a half in this mordant solution.

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Then I bundled it tightly with swamp bay leaves, common privet leaves, red tip photinia leaves, dried live oak leaves, dried bald cypress needles, dried sweet gum leaves and balls, and some dark blue berries that could have been from the swamp bay or Chinese privet. They were growing beside each other and I identified the Chinese privet after dyeing, which was a no-no. The leaves and berries of Chinese privet are toxic to ingest. My guess is that they are not dangerous to the skin since I saw nothing that mentioned it and this will be going on over other clothes. I cleaned up all the berries and washed the apron well. Also, I could be wrong on the ID.

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The swamp bay leaves smelled heavenly in the dye bath. Some leaves didn’t leave a print but made a negative print where they blocked the dye from the leaves on top on them (a resist) and had a black edge around them. Looking at it today, I wonder if the black leaf prints are actually the dried live oak leaves and the leaf prints with the black edges are the swamp bay leaves. Unwrapping these bundles is such a joy – you just don’t know what you will get. I knew that it would be mostly black prints because of the mordant and the tannins, but that was about it.

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Here it is after rinsing it in the bathtub. It has since been washed and dried and lost none of its color. I’m pleased,, because early spring is not the best season to do natural dyeing.

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The next step in the class is to dye threads for stitching and sewing on pockets. Many pockets. I needed some more thread dyed with broom sedge to finish an old project anyway and I saw some down the street on the old train tracks, so I’m going down there to gather it now. It makes a lovely yellow.

I also stuffed a garbage bag full of Spanish moss that covered some tree branches piled on the side of the road for pickup. That will be mulch for my container garden. The birdies love to line their nests with it too. I’m sure that conservative crowd living at the lake thinks I’m bananas walking along the canal road, plucking up Spanish moss and leaves and branches from their yard trash piles, wild graying hair, braless, and no make-up, with my Bernie 2016 bumper sticker on my car in the yard. Ha!

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