Master Po: Close your eyes. What do you hear?
Young Caine: I hear the water, I hear the birds.
Po: Do you hear your own heartbeat?
Po: Do you hear the grasshopper which is at your feet?
Caine: Old man, how is it that you hear these things?
Po: Young man, how is it that you do not?
(borrowed from the show ‘Kung Fu’)
The last time I wrote about my muse hiding in the lamp with a genie. Fortunately, the lamp has been rubbed and she’s come out of hiding. She’s working very hard to teach me patience. It’s not something that comes naturally to me. Being impatient isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, now that I’m exploring my creative voice, and starting to better understand why I work the way I work, I see that patience (or lack of) has a lot to do with my voice.
As much as I love the end result of a big beautiful focal glass bead (eg. Elephants, roughly 2″ long), these little big guys take a lot of time. So much so, I find myself fiddling with my torch to make it hotter so the glass will melt faster. Sometimes that works, more often it backfires (no pun intended), and the results are bad… very very bad.
I really enjoy working on fiber pieces that are 12″ or under. While it’s EASIER to quilt a small square (Elephant Festival was quite trying on my machine), the real reason? I get to the end faster! Maybe it’s being left-brained dominant, but honestly, I rarely look at a piece and think, “it’s still not finished”. In fact, I approach each piece with the end in mind – I almost always know when the art is done.
But then there’s hand-dying fabric. It’s a lot like fusing glass, and maybe that’s why I don’t fuse much.
The picture above is a sampling of silk scarves I dyed this week for
the Art & Soup Fundraiser on Sunday.
Dying fabric requires TIME. Sure there’s dye, water, and even a plan (to obtain specific results). But ultimately, dying is all about time. You just can’t rush it. Like firing hot glass in a kiln, where you really shouldn’t open the lid to peek, you can’t unfold, untie, or unroll a soaking wet piece of fabric and expect the same result as if it had been left alone. And, you can’t just dip it into the color and pull it straight out, unless you only want a hint of color. But fortunately, you CAN dry fabric in a bathroom with the heater on and doors closed much faster than leaving it sitting on a table in the studio. Just ask my kids!
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the END results of both fusing glass and dying fabric. I respect the processes, but if someone has tips on speeding either of them up, I’ll all ears!
Speaking of Ears…
I was asked the other day what’s up with the elephants. It dawned on me, I hadn’t sat down to write my “artist statement’ on this series. So here’s how it goes…
I have an appreciation for Buddhism and Hinduism, both rooted in India. The Indian elephant is found throughout their artwork, the Lord Ganesh, has the head of an elephant. I took a class with a German lampworker, Melanie Moertel, who teaches the elephants as part of a technique class, and the bead vibrated with me. I decided to explore the elephant in my art in fiber, which also included a quick peek at the African Elephant, the one that comes to mind first for most of us.