I always have a vision that I am going to do more writing in a given year than I wind up doing – best laid plans… But it has been a busy and fruitful period in so many other ways. Here are highlights from this last quarter of the year, starting with my natural dye workshop which finally happened in September!
I participated again this year in annual Hambidge Auction. I am grateful for the space the Center provides for artists/creators at all stages of their careers to meet, make and/or meander and contemplate. Perhaps one day I will make it there as a resident myself! Meanwhile, the work continues in my own humble studio. See more about 3-D and Stitched Modules. Images L to R: “Receptive 4” plus 2 tannin/indigo/ferrous stitched modules; last: another tannin module with a recently completed piece from the “Receptive” Series.
The work continues as this facet of my art/design practice enters its next phase. Visit the Petal Website to see more of this work, including the latest pieces created with wax-resist cloth which I produced this past Spring/Summer.
Winding down a crazy year with a final studio update. I thank you for following and look forward to the possibility of seeing you in the new year! K.C.
I’ve been busy with several strands of work since the year began. Each have, in their own way, been integral to my overall practice. Some of them will continue to be so. Here are the highlights:
Natural Dyes. In keeping with my work earlier this year as well as in previous years, I continue my deepening understanding of natural dyes and their applications. In recent months, I have worked in a more focused way with yellow and brown tannins (Cutch and Pomegrante primarily). By blending these tannins with Indigo, and shifting them with iron, a surprisingly wide range of surface design possibilities exist. You can see some of my recent results with Pomegranate rind in my Instagram/FB feed.
Stitching. The work I have been doing with stitching has proved to be incredibly beneficial as a centering practice, as calming as it is creatively stimulating.I recently posted on a diptych I created for the 2020 Hambidge Auction. These stitched works began as modules for a natural dye sampler quilt. As I began to stitch more frequently, I realized that their creation offered space and time for intentional grounding. To that extent, the modules have become elements of a personal time capsule – part of the narrative work that will mark my pandemic experience. As both singularities and parts of a larger composite, they tell me a story of an effort to find some sort of stability in a very unstable, uncertain time. Hand stitching, especially the running stitch, can be deeply spiritual in its repetitive, focused, quiet rhythms. I have found in “stitch space” a calm refuge – necessary more than ever right now.
Artwork: 3-D. I have also begun building 3-dimensional “containers” or “vessels” which I am collectively calling “Receptive”. They are slow-going and emerge when the time is right. 2-D – My work with Black Walnut Hull and other inks continues, as does my work with enhanced monoprints. I will have more to say about these streams of work in the future.
And finally…Petal-Una Collection. Petal continues to be a destination for much of the naturally dyed/painted/printed cloth I produce in the studio. While it has been a slow year, I still managed to pull together a diverse collection. The images below include Cutch, iron-modified Cutch, and Indigo-dyed pieces. I am already brimming with enthusiasm and possibility for the 2021 collection! Visit Petal-Una Collection.
My personal response to this unusual time in history has been varied, moving from a fear-based emotional roller-coaster ride to an increasingly calm, pragmatic, and emotionally sustainable progression, punctuated by moments of true equanimity. It is the uncertainty that gnaws the most, but more reason to come to accept and befriend it. In addition to staying as connected as I can, my solution is to continue my work with as clear an intention as possible, staying the course. So, although shows and other events have canceled, the work continues. Here are some of the highlights so far this year:
The Sampler Quilt
I continue to print, paint and otherwise employ natural dyes in a variety of ways and use the by-products of that work to various ends. When I work with any dye class, I tend to have a lot of bits available for piecing. I am now deliberately creating pieces of cloth specifically for a sampler quilt, which I hope to have completed in the Fall of 2020. This may be ambitious but I am weekly working toward the goal. So far, I have 2 sets of modules either completed or being stitched (and appliquéd), one in Cochineal & Logwood; one in Cochineal, Logwood and Madder. Next up: Weld, Myrobalan and Pomegranate (alone and with Indigo). I am posting these results regularly on IG (@kathycoltartisan) and FB, and will certainly show the quilt as it grows.
My artisan apparel project progresses. I am determined to keep all lines of inquiry open in the studio and wearable work continues to offer opportunities for exploration and cross-fertilization. I’m also currently working on my web shop and exploring other means of sharing this work in the absence of my regular seasonal studio sales. If you’re interested in learning more about this work, follow this link.
I developed a curious aversion to “nuno” felting during my cancer experience. Perhaps the end of that line of work was looming anyway. In any case, now that I am in thrive mode (getting busy livin’), I am finally liberated from that particular prison of the mind, and have begun to reengage – not with felting per se – but with the ideas I was exploring through felting. This hiatus (and who knows how long it will last) has allowed me to incorporate new materials, forms, ideas and motivations, as well as explore the intersection between my chosen media and other non-fiber media. There is much more to come here. My eyes are wide open.
Before the “stuff” hit the fan, I was able to facilitate a workshop and also record further reflections on Indigo. Late last year, I had scheduled a workshop on direct application (painting/printing) with natural dyes. That was supposed to take place in late-June. It was, of course, canceled. Unfortunately, I have not yet found a way to convey this work on a digital platform without taking an inordinate amount of time from my studio activities, so that will have to steep some more. Perhaps all will be revealed in the coming months. Meanwhile, there is much to do elsewhere and I will still look forward to the time when we are able to gather again in a live workshop setting. (I trust this day will come again one day.)
Finally, It is an odd set of circumstances that leads us all to where we are at this moment. Life is short. There is much to do but still time to rest and receive. I am therefore grateful to my yoga teacher Uma Devi and her Guru, Swami Jaya Devi, at Kashi Atlanta, as well as Dunya McPherson and her work, DanceMeditation. Thanks to live-stream and the ubiquitous Zoom meeting, I have been able to reincorporate these vital movement pathways into my life. This has been a great gift in these times. Keep working on cultivating/activating those blissful moments in the studio, in your work, on the mat… and carry them into your lives as fully and as often as you can!
Things have been quite busy in the studio and I realize I have not posted since November of 2018! (Again, best laid plans – I am beginning to see pattern here (wince)!) However, after this little update, I have some natural dye reflections I initiated back in March and never got around to publishing, among other things. As “archaic” as this format sometimes seems, it still has relevance across the spectrum. For me, it serves a real purpose, which I had lost track of for a spell but now reclaim: writing as process-witness.
My practice continues to evolve. Two full years after a cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment, I never thought I would find myself in a hopeful place around my studio work…but I do again. I finally found my way back to the heart of the work, to my true flow, and that feels pretty fabulous. The work begins to look and feel different to me although clearly on the continuum of a process begun so many years ago. And while I have never been one to rest too long on one technique – I am sure that is my Aries nature – I am still working with cloth and fiber because there is still so much there to explore!
So, before I resume essay-esque pursuits, I thought I might just provide an update for the record – a brief flashback to the first several months of 2019 as a way of clearing the way for whatever is to come.
January: Lots of natural dye experimentation – mostly direct application and immersion variations with indigo, madder, tannins and ferrous after-baths. Began working on my new wearable collection for the April open studio. I also began experimenting with alternate hand-stitch processes which have now been incorporated into some of my wearable work. In the midst of the studio experimentation, I was immersed in preparations for a presentation on Sustainable Making at the Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance.
February: I continued working with natural dyes, mostly direct application with gum thickeners, exploring layering of color and assistants in various floating (unregistered) patterns on a wide range of cloth surfaces. The process of working with natural dyes is much more labor- and time-intensive than working with their synthetic alternatives and because of this, the work feels almost contemplative. I want to explore this entire complex topic in future posts. But for now, suffice it to say that natural dye print processes are now a solid part of my studio practice. Also ever-present now is my organic indigo vat, and I did get around to making some new pieces for a local craft pop-up and the first installment of the 2019 wearables.
March 2019: My time in March was largely spent preparing for the April open studio, although I did take some time to facilitate an indigo-dyeing mini-workshop at the studio one fortuitously-gorgeous Spring morning. I also received my copy of The Art and Science of Natural Dyes (yay!) and reflected on my early exposure to natural dyes with Catharine Ellis which work has so thoroughly enriched my current studio practice.
In April – I hosted an open studio and continued to develop more work, including a new collection of totes, as well as naturally dyed cloth, and stitched appliqué detailing. All of my wearable work is presented under the label Petal-una Collection. This line has been an active focus of my creative energy since 2012. If you want to learn more about it and see more looks follow this link.
All of which brings me to the present moment. I will save that for next time! Meanwhile for fairly regular and consistent check-ins, I am on Instagram and FB – the links are scattered throughout this website. If you would prefer to keep up via this blog, that is awesome too!
Image: Mine; Ice storm “castings” in the garden (from a few years ago)
I am pleased to be writing from other side, more or less, of the health “challenge” I alluded to in a post last year. I am back on my feet and have begun to reengage with my studio practice, which is already pulling me in various directions. Some things I now know for sure: I am more in love than ever with this Work in its myriad facets. I am more relaxed than ever about it, too. Fear was at the root of so much of what I did before; fearlessness has moved in to take its place.
There’s nothing like a major illness (or other significant life change) to shake loose habitual patterns and force a reexamination of one’s motivations. In that spirit, I am compelled to dive back down into my creative soul and explore my roots – teasing out the fundamental tendrils, breaking up the dense, knotty scar tissue blocking the flow, and loosening the soil a bit to unlock the deep nutrients . (Nothing like a good botanical metaphor.) I want to expand the on-going conversation I have with myself about what inspires, enhances flow. I also want to understand more fully what expires, inhibits flow by taking a look at the influence of preparation and planning on finished product. That is, look at, not for the first time but in a specific way, the tension that exists between process and product. For example, is it really possible to fully let go of the planning, the pre-visualizing, and the expectations and just make art? What does that look and feel like? To what extent am I doing that already? How much does it matter? What is the nature of the resultant work? Etc. These are just a few of the ideas I want to investigate this year – both in this blog and through the work itself.
I thank you for following/reading. This is not the first time I have relayed my struggles the blogging process – I love writing but I am hopelessly inconsistent. Yet, something within values it and will not let it go… so I continue. Maybe this year I will actually post more frequently and with regularity – stranger things have happened!