Friday, 5 April 2013

Is it Dying or Dyeing?

You can't believe how easy it is for a Dutch person, like me, to scramble these words, especially as I am so familiar with the meaning of both of them.
Next year I will be living 20 years in England and I still seem to encounter problems with the language. Although I must admit that writing and speaking in Dutch is more difficult for me now then using English. Not that I believe I will completely loose my native tongue, but as I think, dream, read and talk in English I have to turn a switch in my head when 'going Dutch' again. And I can't always remember where that switch is....
Back to the Double D words of  'Dying and Dyeing', which reminds me of a piece of work I did, called 'Double Dutch - a Strangers cloak', which was for an exhibition in Norwich, but I will talk  about that another time.

So here we are, let's start with  the 'darker' side so we can end with some colour

Dying, Death and Death Café's
This coming Sunday it will be the first Death Café I am facilitating.
Apart from advertising it on the Death Café website I also advertised it in the newsletter of the Rudolf Steiner School, which my daughters attended and where we celebrated Kiama's life, almost a year ago now. I have been overwhelmed with the response of people who want to attend and had to put people on a waiting list, as we only had place for 12 people and now we got 14 coming.
I am already thinking of doing another Death Café here in Hertfordshire next month.
Possibly during the Dying Matters Awareness Week, which runs from 13-19 May, starting just 2 days after the first anniversary of Kiama's death.

Apart from my recent passion to inspire people to talk about life, death and funerals I have been curious and fascinated all my life with the BIG QUESTIONS of Life, Death, Consciousness and Identity. This fascination lead to a conscious decision, in my late teens, to leave religion behind in search for the Truth. I am a great believer in no-believing and have dedicated my life to discovering the knowledge and wisdom inside myself through meditation, contemplation and philosophy. So far it has been the most amazing life-changing and life-affirming 'journey' I could have ever dreamt off. More importantly all of the Big Questions, I had, got resolved which is the main reason why I also can deal with my daughters' death the way I do.

Many people find comfort and strength in their faith, traditions and believes but many also experience being challenged in this when confronted with death and bereavement. For most people questions are still left unanswered, as religion nor science provide the answers.

I just had a look at what Wikepedia had to say about Death and I have copied something to ponder on:

"One of the challenges in defining death is in distinguishing it from life. As a point in time, death would seem to refer to the moment at which life ends. However, determining when death has occurred requires drawing precise conceptual boundaries between life and death. This is problematic because there is little consensus over how to define life.
It is possible to define life in terms of consciousness. When consciousness ceases, a living organism can be said to have died. One of the notable flaws in this approach, however, is that there are many organisms which are alive but probably not conscious.

Another problem is in defining consciousness, which has many different definitions given by modern scientists, psychologists and philosophers. Additionally, many religious traditions, hold that death does not (or may not) entail the end of consciousness."
Of course no personal account of life, death, consciousness or any unmeasurable, unscientific personal experiences are taken into any serious consideration to come closer to the answers on the big questions. So we are left finding our own ways, our own answers........but that might me a good thing and maybe this explains the increasing popularity of the Death Café movement!

Now over to some Dyeing.
I am working on a commission of 22 ribbons, each containing text inspired by the 22 cards of the Major Arcana of the Tarot Deck. It's quite a big project, which has been delayed by a year now, so I really have to pick it up and run with it.
As I couldn't and didn't want to use commercially fabricated ribbons, I had bought some nice cotton sateen fabric at Art van Go to dye in all the colours of the rainbow. (3 ribbons in each of the seven colours plus 1 in 'gold' for 'The Fool')
I don't have a dedicated studio for dyeing, so the whole mess has to happen in our kitchen and to be honest I was not looking forward to it. Partly also because it was several years ago that I dyed fabric.
So I kept putting it off until Jenny, one of my textile friends, offered so kindly to come for a day to start me off. Although Jenny's expertise lays in Natural plant dyeing and I am using Procian Dyes, the principle is the same. In fact it is all very straight forward with the help of Ruth Issett's books Colour on Paper and Fabric and Colour on Fabric.

I decided to use the method of  tray dyeing, where you lay the fabric in natural folds in a tray and mix your dye powder with a soda solution and a earlier made up chemical recipe containing urea and Calgon. It creates a more organic textured appearance rather then the plain flat colour which you get with Bucket Dyeing.

Not to waist any dye I gathered lots of snippets of different fabrics, which I pushed in plastic beakers to soak up any leftover dyes, like the turquoise and blue's here, waiting for any future projects.

 Indigo and Violet drying here.

The whole dyeing project took about 5 days, which included a trip to Art Van Go for more urea and missing colours of dye and.... all the other necessary household tasks, like cooking for loved ones.
All the colours posing here.

The only one I am not totally happy with is the 'Antique Gold' in the front. So I have to see what to do about that. The other seven colours have all gone through 2 different dye processes to make them a bit more interesting.

The side view gives a bit more of an idea of how they would look as strips of fabric. The finished ribbons will be 140cm long and about 4 cm wide, but they need to be double, to hide the back of the stitched lettering, plus seam allowance.

So now I need to tear strips of 10 cm, iron them all and try out some lettering.

By the way, I think I finally cracked it, the use of the words Dying and Dyeing,  language is so colourful, I keep you posted.


Lyn said...

a lovely post, I am glad you did the dying bit first and ended with that lovely rainbow of colour!

Jill said...

Well done with the dyeing. I'm a bit of a novice at it but must do a batch to take at a Ruth Issett workshop I'm off to at Art Van Go.
I've met Gina several times but missed her post with her weather pigeon, I'm looking forward to seeing what happens to your preject next.

Gina said...

As always a lovely thoughtful post from you Catherina about dying and dyeing! Your ribbons are going to look wonderful and I'm glad you have felt motivated to make a start on them.

Richard said...

I just read this and am intrigued by the lovely colours and the work you put in to it. I also just learned from Averil that urea is also used in ancient woad body dyes! wonderful blog thanks