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Tag Archives: Color

A little meditative walk on Sunday does my eyes some good.


You Decide:

Goals in life now include:

1. Learning to tango

2. Owning a dress in the colors of the woman in this video.

3. Finding a man to tango with

4. traveling to cool and colorful places to tango.

(also reminds me of the strategic color placements in costumes and scenery of the Umbrellas of Cherborg – check out the trailer!)

A year ago, during my teacher orientation at Pratt I met Rachel Miller in the basement of Engineering. As we learned to navigate Pratt’s system for uploading class assignments and grades, we connected right away in our desire for sustainability in our own lives, and in how to educate others on the subject.  While I was hired to teach Foundation 3D (ways of seeing is a good way to describe it), Rachel was there to teach sustainability practices in the Fashion Department. We both only taught one day a week at Pratt at that time, but lucky for us, it was the same day, and over the semester formed a friendship that comes from these type of meetings, and stayed in touch via Facebook, where we quickly realized we had many friends in common.

Last week, she posted about an Indigo Dyeing and Ikat Weaving class she was teaching at Weaving Hand.  I didn’t think there was a class to be offered that sounded more up my alley than that! The techniques taught in this class are a perfect topic for this blog and I’ll be sharing the progress over the next three weeks as I weave by hand for the first time, stretchy pot-holders not included, also for the first time dying with Indigo. I’ve noticed, if one goes into classes like these with no expectations (as expectations are resentments waiting to happen) it’s amazing how much you can actually learn.  In one class I’ve already found much more than I could have ever imagined.  I always tried to bring more to the class than just the curriculum when teaching at Pratt (my best teacher’s always did), and so I, as a student tried to as well, which in many cases means, just sitting back, observing, listening, doing.

“Lend me your eyes I can change what you see

But your soul you must keep, totally free”

-Mumford & Sons, Awake my Soul

Dying is a little bit like baking, and Rachel took us through the below process.  Above is the Indigo we used. While Wikipedia states that India is the oldest supplier of Indigo in yesterday’s class we discussed this briefly. I can not say from any point of authority, as this is not my area of expertise, but it seems that indigo was found indigenous in North America too.  Cultures from Asia, Africa and the Americas came to dye indigo more or less all in the same way on their own.  I found this great video on how the indigo plant is transformed into dye traditionally in Africa.

This is what happened to the Indigo when placed in water.  It was a bit alive, similar to Kombucha.

After is was fully dissolved in the cup, it was added to the larger mixture.

We could start to see the color transforming right away, when the stick was in the water it was green, and within a few seconds out of the water, oxidation took place and was already turning blue.

The blue fabric in the photo above is an example of an Ikat fabric, likely from Indonesia.  And Rachel showed us how to count off how many yarns per inch we were to make our fabric.

Then we warped, essentially we organized our thread for the next step.

We tied off each inch of yarn as we went along to help keep it all straight and organized.

Then we had to get the yarn off the warping board, and it was done with these sticks, again to keep it straight and organized.  At this point we started to wonder how people have done this for so long.  This process is amazingly laborious.  I think once one has the full understanding of it; it could become meditative.  Of course there were a lot less distractions back when this technique started, why not spend weeks making fabric for your dress?  I think it’s important to learn about these ancient techniques, and the amount of work that goes in to what we have consumed; ancient or modern.  Today we don’t have time for techniques such as this – or so we say – and then I see studies of how much time teenagers spend in front of TV and on social media, and I have to ask myself, if we are to parish will aliens come down and look at our civilization will they think of us as advanced or not?  I digress…

We taped the yarns down to the table in preparation to make the resist.

Rachel showed us how to attach the Ikat tape to the yarn to make our designs. The tape covering the yarns are intended to resist the dye.

This is what I’m calling my Hopeful Hexagon.  I’ve no idea really how it will turn out- we will know better next week.

As we got in to the groove of wrapping our yarns we started to share and laugh. We were a small group of women who may have never crossed paths, except we all decided on one of the coldest mornings 2012 has offered thus far that we might enjoying hanging out in the basement of what used to be a pre-school and started to learn an ancient technique of weaving and dying.  So we did what women do when women come together like this, drink tea, eat cake, and talk about the opposite sex.  If we’d been kitting this would also be known as Stitch and Bitch, but really we were not bitching.  All of us seemed realitivaly happy with our situations in life, not to bitter, and Susan, the elder of us shared how she met her husband in a personal ad- nineteen years ago, a.k.a. from a magazine, in physical paper.  Since she’s retired now and seems to have traveled the world in search of every remote dying and weaving technique she had much to share, and she was great to listen to.

Then there was Mia, who is a harpist who wears black cat-eye vintage rhinestones glasses and lives in Greenpoint. She shared, that she has played with her fair share of musicians, and most have been a bunch of guys sharing way too much information on their thoughts of women. And went on to educate all of us what a Tramp Stamp is. Now, I thought I knew, but clearly there is more than one definition, and it seems to be growing.  She educated us that it’s also there for target practice. I’d not heard of this, so of course, I have to look it up, and there it is, #7. Well my Tebow ears!  Tebow was also mentioned in passing conversation, and I didn’t know who he was either, but I let that go, for the moment. [incase anyone cares, I have one tattoo.  It is not a tramp stamp, and I think it’s as old as most hipsters out there today decorating themselves.  For sure it is older than their ability to have comprehend what one was when I got mine.]

Before drowning the yarns in indigo, we had to fully saturate them in water.

While in the bath of indigo, the yarn is green, and when it hits the air the oxidizing process turns the yarn what we have come to all indigo blue.  A little easier to see here.

The yarn changed in front of our eyes from green to Indigo.

Here our yarns hang to dry for the week.  Next Saturday we will start threading them on a loom, I will update on Sunday.

Weaving Hand is a beautiful studio filled with many fun things too look at…I highly recommend it for anyone curious about weaving or fibers or textiles.

After class I headed to my friend’s couch and gained further knowledge of who Tebow is and Mr. Brady too, and watched the game.  Couldn’t have been a more perfect day.  And I even got around the whole way on my bike!

Alexa Meade in the video above explains how her work is done.  It is insightful to hear her story and reasoning behind her color choices.  I enjoy the blurred lines between real and fake.  Each day they seem more and more blurry to me.  Kids just don’t seem to mind, or even notice the the lines.  Not such a bad thing at all, I mean, what does one learn if we stay in known boundaries?

Also check out Peter Kun Frary’s work.

And so I did.

The skies were just so beautiful and blue yesterday in SOHO. See the reflections of the clouds on the windows?  Dreamy!

Girl celebrating her love of bees!

Me, dressed for the occasion of Bee-Day at the Botanical Gardens in Brooklyn

The lovely Queen Bee with a vivid blue center!

The unafraid bee keeper showing us his bees at work.

Honey, honey, honey!

Sumac, grown just upstate, has a lovely bitter-sweet taste, just make sure it is red to taste!  The poisonous ones are green and white!  (Best not to est them at all if you are color blind! Oh my!)

A pineapple grown in Brooklyn!

Green roof tops can be so full of color!

Can you believe this grows on a roof top in Brooklyn?

More bee-hives!

Days such as yesterday are the days that follow meandering paths, discovering the beauty of your own backyard – when all of Brooklyn is considered one’s backyard, and is full of colors to savor.  The weather was amazing, and before venturing out for the day I received in the mail my long-awaited limited first-run edition of the LBD from The Uniform Project, designed by Eliza Starbuck for her line bright Young things.  I quickly changed attire to Lady Gaga’s new video Alejandro from old cropped cargo pants to the cute bee-inspired ensemble as seen in the second photo above.

A leisurely stroll up to the Botanical Gardens brought us to Bee Day.  A celebrated event where there were bee-lovers of all kinds.  Some dressed as the lovely creature that brings us great sweetness, and others paying tribute in song, jewelry, and those sharing their love for the process of bee keeping itself.  It has been years since I have had the opportunity to enjoy such an extraordinary adventure – even within walking distance of my home.  I had no idea that such lovely things grew in Brooklyn.

Later on, venturing to a Williamsburg BBQ, we again, went out beyond the confines of the festivities below to the “green” roof top that was full of color that is designed to catch grey water and is also was a home a bee hive!  The images of the plants are in constant flux and growth stages over the year and will change color and size.  I hope to have the opportunity to see what Autumn brings!

Ending the perfect day I enjoyed the sun setting as the blue, green and yellow lights of the Empire State building lit up, eating a fresh grilled Portobello mushroom sandwich, and making new friends.  Yup, I savored the colors of life yesterday!

These innovators clearly know how to savor the coloUrs of life!

Picnicking on Governor’s Island is one of quickest ways any New Yorker can feel like they are away from it all.  It’s the perfect place to rent a bike, or come with your own, a blanket and a basket of food.  The food remains in limited quality and variety.  Each Summer it seems that more and more is happening there since it re-opened to the public a few years ago.  This year we owe a great bit of thanks to an organization called No Longer Empty.  They have curated a show called The Sixth Borough that takes up Colonels Row in some of the old houses, which are now, no longer empty.  The diverse works are bought together with the concept to consume vacant space in areas of New York City that offer renewed foot traffic, and business opportunities to the communities while providing artists, established and emerging, the opportunity to show work.  The site-specific work that results is unexpected and optimistic.  Although not very specifically about color I found them interesting and important to write about.  The work is there for the Summer, so go, plan on spending the day, and you will likely want to return again and again.

The works shown in the photos (all taken by me) above, in order are:

Ameila Biewald – black and ivory colored sculpted forms from fireplace to fireplace with use of the molding as a repeated print delicately placed on top giving a sense of belonging representing the amount of soot and ashes that must have accumulated there during the time of its use.

Alan Michelson, who used plaster white on ecru painted walls that hinted at the vegetation and inhabitants of the land when the houses were lived in by Colonels.

The mirror trees are by Wendy Wischer.  The light reflected upon the painted and wooden surfaces in the space are delightful, however, I longed for forms that has been given more thought – although as my art historian friend was quick to point out that I am a designer and the art was not about the form, but about what it was saying.  The light refractions on the exposed wall are indeed the best combination of lighting and texture.

Trong Gia Nquyen has three pieces in the show, all with a wit of humor and irony, here is a close up on his full room installation which includes an American flag with the words subtly stating “Help Me,” framed photos of hands in Hitler-style-saluting, and a recording where one can hear a class continuously re-stating the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag, without using the word ‘God.’

Kaarina Kaikkonen whose work I was quite excited to see, a room full of blue and white shirts displayed in varying color gradients from white to blue.

Andrea Mastrovito who had work in the MAD show earlier this year, has again proved his skills in paper, this time with books displaying the natural habitats of the island, flowers, birds, butterflies, and a few domestic creatures too, cats.  Pop-up books gone wild.  I think children will have a  hard time to not frolic in his stunning fantasy land.  In fact my friend was quick to plunk herself down in front of the display for a photo-op.

Vadis Turner (last two photographs) uses color and daily products in unexpected ways.  Pastel birth control pills become sugar garnishes, and tampons chocolate frosting, and nude, beige and brown knee-highs become flowers to decorate celebratory cakes.

Savor the colors of life!