Sorting through my collection of fabric I found a piece of silk I painted years ago with a colour combination I no longer like. It was pale enough to be over-dyed so I thought I’d experiment and work boldly with just one colour.
First the whole piece is covered with red and allowed to dry. Then a pattern is painted in a clear resist, allowed to dry and another layer of darker red applied.
It is difficult to see in these photos, but there are hints of the underlying original still present (more visible in real life). I have found it liberating and easy to be bold when working over a design rather than adding colour to a pristine white background. However, I have discovered just how difficult it is to photograph a large area of saturated red. Thankfully the wonderful resource of online photography forums saved me many, many adjustments on my camera by indicating that post-processing after shooting in RAW solves issues of accurately capturing this rich colour.
I’m just embarking on another longer term project with the aim of making use of the silk offcuts that I’ve collected over the years. Not all the scraps are the colours I want for this new textile hanging, so I’ve been busy re-dyeing batches using a stovetop dye bath.
I suppose it’s not surprising that the colours I’ve been putting together are reflecting the fresh yellows, bright greens and varying pinks brightening up my back garden, and that’s despite the recent unseasonal hail.
Once I’ve re-dyed enough silk I will cut long strips ready for hooking. Then whenever I need a break from standing at the computer or standing at my painting frame, I’ll sit, dip into my box of silk strips, and hook a few more inches. It’s a time consuming process, but a few inches each day will eventually, eventually . . . . . result in a finished wall hanging.
We live in fascinating times on our beautiful planet. Every now and then somebody will comment on some bizarre aspect of human behaviour and query what a visiting Martian would make of us and our ways.
I’d like to suggest it wouldn’t just be a passing alien that would be baffled, but 99% of the human population would probably consider cutting up two NEW pairs of jeans to make one new pair madness. And, what’s more, the totally sublimely self-regarding fashion elite call the process upcycling.
Can’t use the label upcycled for my gardening jeans, but they were definitely given a new lease of life when repaired with ‘recycled’ denim patches culled from an ancient pair of jeans. Another pair so old and falling to pieces that even I wouldn’t wear them for gardening.
What do you think? Okay, not such a flattering cut, but looking at the two photos, give mine a good hot wash to remove the mud, and, perhaps they’re almost on trend. Of course, they need to be styled with vintage leather boots and a perfect, crisp white shirt. Or perhaps not, and what about the other outrageously wasteful pair? At a mere £880, I think not, and, on principle most certainly not.
There is a display at the Time and Tide Museum, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk that shows a 1940s bedroom with an old-fashioned rag rug placed in front of the fire.
I remember my Grandmother had one similarly placed in her sitting room only hers was to protect her polished floorboards from sparks. And, the little rug disappeared whenever there were visitors.
Now, I said ‘old-fashioned’, but perhaps I should have said vintage or ‘upcycled’. In 1997, remembering that little rug I persuaded my mother to ‘prod’ one for me. She was very patient. I drew out the design on a piece of hessian, provided her with a colour guide and gave her a bundle of old woollen cloth.
The rich colours, the dark red, brown and purple, are from old coats bought from charity shops along with some old blankets. Blankets tend to wear out in the middle leaving the edges still thick and useful. I cut off the edges and dyed them to make the oranges and pinks.
After several weeks, my very, very patient mother finished this three feet by four feet rag rug.
Originally made for a bedroom in a previous house, the rag rug is now in my kitchen. Ten years on the kitchen floor and it’s wearing very well!