It was 2005 and I had been making very quiet little drawings with black walnut ink on recycled tea bags and on mulberry paper. I was compelled to learn more about making colour from plants, and, with a grant from the Ontario Arts Council, I had the opportunity to research handmade paper and natural dyes in India. I went not with the intention to launch a textile collection, but with the aspiration to make inks to expand my drawing practice.
I had no idea what was ahead and had no idea that 10 + years forward textiles would become such a big part of my creative process.
Once settled in Ahmedabad, in December of 2005, I was able to connect with local artisans and learn about different processes. Block printing and the bold graphic sensibility was totally new to me. The ink prepared was a combination of tannin from myrobalan and iron.
The next step was to set the cloth in the river to wash away the gum paste.
Drying on the sand, the cloth was exposed to all the natural elements.
I gleaned something of this deep, long tradition rooted in human curiosity and ingenuity. Plants, water, heat.
While there, I collected beautiful hand loomed raw silk known as Khadi. Khadi, is something more than simply fibre. The hand spun, hand loomed process lends variation and energy of the human hand. Khadi, also has its roots in Ghandi’s vision for local economy, autonomy and self-reliance.
This amazing silk sat in a box in my studio for over 10 years. It was so special to me, I didn’t know how to approach it.
It’s time now. Having built upon my initial encounter with natural dyes through more journeys, experiments and applied effort, I’m delighted to have created a small collection of pillows on this incredible fibre. My drawings have found a new form in textiles by screen printing with natural dyes.
Time seems to weave together the threads of experience, interests, research, skills, memory and people.