Day 9 La Maison Verte

Today I have found myself posting on FB, when really I that stuff would be better just being here. It is so much easier to post as I go on FB. I am having an issues with getting my iPhone photos onto my laptop, a lack of space. Its been a constant trial the whole trip trying to get rid of things off it. The memory on my laptop is the same as my phone so you can imagine its tricky. I have been learning about resetting caches and moving and other technical issues that i don’t really  have the time for. I have to deal with it to an extent because when it gets full up I can use outlook or photoshop. It doesn’t take much to send it over the edge and makes using the photo app next to impossible. So i often have to air drop photos from my phone to the laptop to get them onto the blog. I have my photos saved in the cloud but to see them on my laptop it still chews into the memory. I have a hard drive for all my camera photos and most of my other data. I guess I could post to my blog from my phone but there are some things i can’t seem to easily do. Its so much easier thought to be able to sit down at the laptop. Anyway, enough of that. What I will do for today is a cut and paste from fb over here so i have a record of my thinking for the day. I will put the photos up later and might just see if i can do it from my phone. I really need to get to bed soon. It wasn’t good going to bed after 4am last night and then I couldn’t sleep, have been up since 8.45. Doesn’t seem to matter what time I go to bed or get up I seem to get a new lease of life late at night. If I stopped actually working though I would fall asleep. Haven’t actually sat down and relaxed since I’ve been here, except going to the pizza night last night, but i wouldnt exactly call that relaxing.

A new phase will start tomorrow when we go to pick up the new residents from the train station around 1pm. I think this first lady is a photographer and she is bringing a lady companion. Not sure when the other two arrive, I will ask tomorrow. I think her name is Gabriella and she has been here before, so that is good, she will be familiar with the house and the garden.

Here are the FB posts from today:

As the weather has been colder and not so pleasant I haven’t had as much ventilation going through the house and just realised I am feeling a bit effected by the dyeing, prob more the iron and alum. It just hit me
. As using plants I am not familiar with have also been worried about toxicity issues. There is no exhaust fan. Apart from hand basin in the bathroom there is only one sink in the kitchen. Having others joining me tomorrow will make these processes a bit tricky. It also dawned on me that painters would be doing there wash ups in the sink as well. There is turps in the cupboard. Not very good occ health and safety. Maybe it’s time to change activities for a few days.

Having your studio basically in your kitchen makes it all a bit tricky. With others arriving tomorrow it will have to change anyway. Have only been making a handful of bundles a day. Was going to do another one tonight so I have something to open in the morning but I have restrained myself.

Bugger stuffed up number 6 in my strips. Started unbundling it and it didn’t feel quite wet enough as I hadn’t left it long out of the pot. Thought Maybe it was because I had gloves on but my instincts were telling me something was wrong but I chose to ignore it. Started carefully unrolling and could see the fabric under the iron blanket was pretty white. My first thought was that I hadn’t even cooked it. But I was sure I had. I know my chest was feeling funny from the fumes but I didn’t think I was losing it. I peeked in and could see there was colour. Thought I should just roll it back up but unrolled a bit more then it was too late to put it back together. Because this was the only one of these strip set bundles I had steamed it obviously needed a lot more time compared to smaller bundles I had steamed. It would have been amazing. So many of the leaves were taking and there was all manner of colours. Different to the others because it wasn’t in an iron water or walnut vat like the others. Made me realise too that maybe with a lot of the others I had lost definition because I over cooked. It was too different I was thinking to add it to the rest and contemplated keeping it as a sample and reminder. But I decided to dunk it in some iron water and see what happened. Well it looked terrible. Then decided to rinse it and some of the developing leaves bled. Oh well this is all about the what if’s and experimentation, isn’t it ??? Anyway after all that I decided that I may as well rebundle it and “what if” some more, couldn’t hurt. This time I stuck it in a weak iron vat I started that has some alum soaking water in it. It’s no wonder I’m starting to feel sick. Even in my studio area where I’m doing the bundling the smell of the fresh leaves is effecting me. About to pack them up and try and force myself to leave the leaves for a day. Earlier I was feeling like I had had enough and should cancel my fabric order. Feeling better now just hope I’m not poisoning myself. Didn’t take any photos before I iron dunked and rinsed it. Who knows what it will look like when I get it back out of the pot. Been trying to replicate the tones of the first one on the far right but it’s not happening.

(add in photos of failed attempt and series)

The linen is behaving dye wise pretty much like the other sheets. Distorts when rolling more because of its density. It’s very stiff. Not sure I would want to sleep with it. Maybe it hasn’t been used much.

(add in photo)

The felt was very disappointing. Was going to overdye but decided to leave it. I used all the leaves that I thought would give me more red /orange colours but it didn’t happen. Still have the other piece so will dye that before I go messing with this one. The texture probably doesn’t lend itself to good prints.

(add in photo of dyed felt)

Just need a third one now. The last one I was thinking was too subtle. I tried to green it up more by putting it into the alum iron vat but it just seemed to not want to darken before I unbundled it, but I quite like its subtlety. Wondering whether to go for something completely different for the third. Now I’ve washed the linen in a very hot cycle it might take on colour better. Thinking about adding stitch but it scares me. I really like the simplicity of these pieces, it’s just about me wandering around the garden, discovering, exploring, contemplating, coming into and out of memory, trace etc. I have some ideas to give this work more layers but I don’t want to start something I don’t have time to finish. I can have some fun with some of the smaller pieces but these bigger ones I don’t want to complicate. Hope that’s not a cop out. Those that know me well will probably say it is

(add in photo of two linen pieces)

Decided that I am not tearing up any more of the linen. I just made a mess of it trying to get another piece the same size as the two I am working with. It does not like to tear and distorts like crazy. After looking at the torn threads and feeling the waxy plasticy surface of my last piece, I even wondered if there was synthetic in it. So I did a burn test and no its not synthetic but more likely a linen/cotton. So i started googling french linen and think what I have is high quality sheeting called metis, which is 65% linen 35% cotton. Apparently there was a lot stockpiled before WWII. It sells on eBay for around $73 an x-large king size sheet (new) which is what I prob have, I paid about $7.50. So I am not wasting any more of it, it needs to be handled differently and definitely not torn, which is the only way here I can really deal with it. Anyway I just want to have a little experiment and I have done that. I have a few pieces I can experiment with so all good, just no series of work happening with it. The piece I tore (and trimmed by hand) to match the other two should work ok. I don’t feel so bad now about paying dollars to have it sent home. If I get to another market I will buy another sheet.


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