Not too long ago I had a full time job that involved long days and frequent trips away from home. My art had to fit around the job and, of course around my family. I averaged 18 - 19 hours per week in my studio but in order to achieve what I wanted to achieve in that time I had to be very, very focused. I worked hard to eliminate 'distractions' and very rarely allowed myself to play with techniques or materials that didn't fit in with the different series of quilts I was working on at the time.
That level of focus allowed me to achieve so much and helped me to develop a way of working that was uniquely me. But now that I am a full time artist and teacher things are very different - I can spend 40-45 hours a week in the studio and still have time to sit in the garden reading or watch a movie in the evenings! Needless to say, my family has had to 'adjust' to seeing so much of me. And although I have been super busy these last few months preparing classes and getting the studio ready for students I can now allow myself time to play.
This week I have been playing with Indigo dyeing. Whilst I really like the way Indigo is used by Mags Ramsay and by Elisabeth Barton it is not a technique I have ever incorporated in my work. But I have included it in my Colour Your Palette 5 day retreat as an alternative to Procion dyeing so thought I better spend some time exploring it further. I spent a couple of quiet evenings preparing samples then, on Thursday, went to visit my good friend Ruth Brown where we prepared the Indigo vat and dyed the samples. Ruth is a great teacher and was very relaxed when I splattered her beautiful new studio - Indigo dyeing is rather messy! The results I got were mixed. Some pieces worked well, others didn't. I found that Indigo doesn't penetrate as well as Procion when using clamp resist or when winding cloth tightly around a pole, probably because you can't agitate your dye bath to help the dye penetrate. I'll adjust for that next time. I also found that a piece of Procion dyed Magenta cloth partially discharged in the vat as well as dyeing. This definitely needs further experimentation. More play time!