Friday, 26 May 2017

Tie Dye

A different challenge for my Art group this week.... tie dye!
We dyed some Tshirts last year successfully, and this time we tried traditional Japanese fabric dying technique of shibori, the art of folding, twisting or pleating fabric and then dying it to create a controlled pattern.
Fabric should be a natural fibre, we used cotton, cotton/linen mix, cotton artist canvas and silk. The fabric was folded or pleated and then tied tightly with elastic bands or string to hold the pleats in place, and then fabric dyes were added with a pipette in a controlled pattern.
The floor was covered in a huge tarp, and lots of newspaper and paper kitchen towels used to soak up the excess dye.... and don't forget to wear your oldest clothes and you definitely need latex gloves or you'll end up with interesting colourful hands.  Everyone used a different colour combination on their fabric, and a different technique.

One of my pieces of fabric was dyed on a pole, tightly secured at the top of the pole with string, and then crumpled and wrapped around the pole and tied tightly in a spiral. Dye was injected on a random basis. The fabric is wrapped in plastic and left for 24 hours, then rinsed in cold water until the water is clear. The piece can then be washed in warm soapy water and the colour won't wash out.
Now I have some pieces of pretty tie dye cotton..... no idea what I'll do with them, but I'm sure I'll find some use.

Sunday, 14 May 2017


I belong to a couple of creative art groups... the Monday morning group which is only 9 people, and the Thursday group which has 19 people. The Thursday group held our annual Art Show and Sale last weekend. The constant rain and cold weather turned out to be a blessing as people can't garden in the pouring rain, so they came in droves to check out the art at the Community Centre. Between 19 artists, there is a huge variety of style, subject matter and medium, size, shape, etc, in fact something to suit most tastes, and a lot of art changed hands. I didn't expect to sell anything, but sold seven pieces.... I was very pleasantly surprised..... in fact... gobsmacked!

I'm still amazed that people actually want to give me money for my paintings!

Friday, 12 May 2017


A little bit blurred because the photo was taken through glass, but I think he's either an American Goldfinch or a Yellow Warbler. He didn't stay long, just long enough for me to grab the camera.

Saturday, 6 May 2017


Our Monday morning Art Group meets in the back room of the Gallery every Monday morning and we aim to try different techniques and media.... so one of our number is an accomplished potter, and he fires many of his pieces in the Raku style.
You can read about the Raku process here.
Our first task was to make a pinch pot, starting with a shapeless lump of clay, shaping it into a ball, then making a depression into the middle, and working the sides until it looked sort of like a cup. Here's mine. This was after it had been fired once and I had added white glaze inside, and blue glaze on the outside with a couple of black blobs. I had no idea what this would turn out like.

 This was the kiln, home made and fuelled with a propane BBQ tank.
The items to be fired were lined up on the table and there was a selection of different glazes to be used. Our resident potter was there to give advice, as I'd never done this sort of pottery before.
 The items were fired in the outdoor kiln, and then taken out and put into a metal can that had lots of newspaper and other combustible materials in it, which of course caught fire right away. This is what gives the raku finish it's blackness and the metallic sheen.
 A clay mask that had been in  the kiln.... still cooling on the grass and covered with soot and ashes. I didn't see this one cleaned up.
 We also made small animal shapes to be fired but sadly mine broke in the kiln on its first firing. This was a sheep? bear? cow? whatever it was, our potter made it.
 My pot, once it was cleaned up, looks great, well, I think it does anyway, pretty good for a first attempt. When it first came out of the kiln it was completely black and had to be cleaned with a rough kitchen scrubbie and scouring powder.
 A selection of the items we fired that day. So they are not museum quality, but I don't care, we had so much fun and learned about a new process.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Cross Country Adventure

It was quite an adventure, driving from Phoenix, Arizona, USA, to Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Approximately 2,220 miles along America's highways, or if you're Canadian, it was 3,600km. We packed everything but the kitchen sink into the car, including V's little dog..... you can see part of the dog carrier in the bottom right corner.
We were on the road by 7:00am aiming for a good first travel day. The sky was blue and the sun was shining on the previous day but clouds started rolling in and it had rained a bit that night. But we were glad of the cooler weather for travelling.
We drove north from Phoenix towards Flagstaff, partly tracing our route we had taken to Jerome a few days earlier. Then V said "Is that snow on those cars coming towards us?" Oh, I hope not....  but as we climbed higher and higher.......
 I couldn't believe my eyes! And this was really heavy snow. Luckily the road surfaces were clear as we didn't have snow tires on the car..... well, you wouldn't think you would need them in Arizona! We drove from 32C in Phoenix to 0C as we climbed to 7000 feet above sea level at Flagstaff.

 Lots of traffic on the road. We encountered some snowplows and some salters, which were a welcome sight, especially when it started raining freezing raindrops. And I was still wearing my summer T-shirt and capris! Thank goodness for a warm car.
As we headed west from Flagstaff towards the New Mexico border, the temperature rose a bit and the freezing rain became regular wet rain.... but bringing with it very high winds. We were battling with the steering to keep on the road in some of the really exposed areas.
We stayed the first night in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, having travelled 850km (528 miles) and of course, next to the hotel there was a Mexican restaurant. Who can resist tacos, burritos, fajitas, refried beans, and my favourite, poblano rellenos.
The road next day led us over the New Mexico border into Texas, where the wind was still blowing a gale force but at least the rain had stopped. We made quite a few rest stops, mainly for the little dog to get out and have a run round and let Nature take it's course. Well, we needed to stop too.
I wasn't going to investigate any further than this notice outside the nicest highway travel rest stop in Amarillo, Texas. We went inside and met the janitor staff who keep the place clean and tidy, and they were so proud of their facilities. The building was built 13 years ago and .... well.... what can I say, for a public washroom the whole place was spotless!
 And this was the tile mosaic in the ladies washroom, commemorating Route 66. In the words of the song: "It winds from Chicago to LA, more than two thousand miles all the way." We were following Route 66 much of the way across the country as far as St Louis. The strong winds continued across Oklahoma, and I was amazed at the thousands of wind turbines installed in the western part of the state, making the most of those high winds. Too bad I didn't take a photo of them. Our only heavy traffic was going through Oklahoma City.
This picture is included to amuse my Chandler relatives. We spent the second night in Joplin, Missouri, having got just over 1000km (645 miles) behind us that day. Joplin is mentioned in Route 66 lyrics.... and I have since found out it's where all those tornadoes head. We had thunder, lightning and heavy rain, but no tornadoes, thank goodness.
Our third night was in Anderson, just to the west of Indianapolis, Indiana.... this was 920km (572 miles) from Joplin. It was fascinating to see the changes in the surroundings as we travelled north.
 And the rain continued through Illinois, Indiana, and then over the border to Michigan.... now we were getting close to home. When we got to Detroit, we followed the instructions for "Bridge to Canada" and there it is, the Ambassador Bridge from Detroit to Windsor, Ontario.
We sort of expected trouble at the border crossing, as we had such a full car, and also we were travelling with a dog, but the Border Guard just swiped the passports, asked a couple of routine questions about what were were bringing in duty free (a couple of bottles of wine each) and how long we had been in the USA (V had been there since October 2016, and me just for 10 days), and waved us through. Phew!

And then were were back home in Canada..... Hooray!.... and as soon as we crossed the border the sun came out!
We were home by that afternoon..... so 3 nights and 4 days on the road travelling 3,600km, and yes, we are still friends in spite of being trapped in a car with noone else to talk to (except the little dog) all that time. Yes, I'd do it again, it was fun. But I'd like to stop and do some exploring next time. And I'd plan for better weather.