Calendarium : November

Part of the Calendarium series in which I make a piece every month dyed with whatever I find outside at that time.

In November I picked up some gingko and oak leaves on the way to pre-school. They were steamed into the silk. I then changed and set the colour with iron.

Love-in-a-mist. Barely there. Is it something? Nothing? A dream? A handful of smoke gathered, held together by an intricate gold lace of... hope? faith? What is the essential ingredient that can hold such things together and can it make them real? What is 'real' anyway? Lots of questions this November.

The silk is a mottled brownish grey, the edge softly fraying, the smocking shines with golden glass beads. The chain is finished with four very special vintage beads - I think they are Bohemian black garnets.

It will be in the shop on Friday.

PS I've spruced up my website. What do you think? Is it working?


Full Circle

Beautifully packaged, Mona sent me some Japanese indigo seeds with an interesting history.

She grew her indigo from the seeds of my plants that I was growing years ago on the balcony, before A. and before moving into this house. Now they've come full circle, as she says.

I look forward to planting them next spring.

Thank you very much, Mona!

PS I should have November Calendarium ready tomorrow.


Fruit of Winter

Freshly plucked from the imaginary tree, this is the fruit of winter. Even the photos turned out with that wintry blue tinge.

Darkest brown from walnut hulls and greenish turquoise from my home-grown Japanese indigo fresh leaf dye. Similar to its autumnal conterpart, this fruit is also heavy with juicy, dark red garnets and is formed from pleated layers of organza. At places the turquoise shows through the brown and gives the material the look of iridescent shot silk.

In the shop on Tuesday.

This is the coldest morning in a while... frost on the grass.


Snowy Blue

This week seems to have gone by very fast. Tomorrow I'm listing two mini feathers - blue and purple velvet. There is also a large blue feather that wanted to be called 'snowy' for some reason. I finished it with opalescent ice crystals and little snow balls of vintage agate on the adjustable chain.

I've also been working on thistle earrings. Some of them may be spoken for but there should be at least one pair available. Today I'm going to continue with a pomegranate and the dyeing of November Calendarium.


Indigo Flowers

In mid November the Japanese indigo burst into flower. It's been quite mild. The white flowers are another characteristic in which it differs from the pink-flowering variety I grew before.

PS The brooch was listed as reserved but now it isn't.


Keeping Secrets

Some things thrive in the dark. Like roots. Or dreams. They wither if they are pulled up to the light. Reason is far too cutting to handle them. So here's to not knowing, living the questions and keeping secrets alive.

With this piece I have revived another design from the past - my take on the penannular brooch. Liber Herbarum remains one of my favourite series. I was searching for alchemy there, not quite knowing it yet.

This brooch is a mysterious dark purple with dark green/brown halo along the soft, raw edge. Because it's exposed I made the pin slightly rounded so it's more suitable for knits and looser-weave fabric (I've pinned it to a T-shirt with success too).

It will be in the shop on Monday.


Phoenix Feathers

Also part of the recent conflagration was the material for two feathers (the earrings were not burned, they just happen to be the same colour so I'm listing them as well). Given that they survived fire, they surely must come from a Phoenix.

They are deep purple with a pattern of orange 'flames'. The chain is decorated with three beads for the three traditional stages of the alchemical opus - a vintage black Czech garnet for the blackness, a pearl for the whiteness and a small red garnet for the redness. One side of the loop of the feather is polished white silver while the other is oxidised grey. There's a spiral of gold wire encircling the two, uniting the opposites.

The burn is on the back and as before, it's held between the tight pleats so I can guarantee the pieces are sound.

In the shop on Saturday.


Autumn Fires

When the silk for this necklace was cooking in the last dyebath I forgot the dyepot on the stove. I came back to a sad black mess and cinders. My first reaction was to throw it all away, lamenting the wasted hours of work.

But then I washed it, opened it out and saw that it was beautiful. The fire gave it something I couldn't have given it. Yes, it was singed but workable. So I finished it and I consider it one of my best.

For me this was a direct experience of alchemy - my inner state changing as I watched the transformation of the material before me. Finding the nugget of gold in the hopeless waste of the blackness. Coming to accept an outcome that frustratingly differed from but was ultimately greater than the intended one. I nearly kept the necklace because it also reminds me of other inner fires blazing this autumn. Suddenly igniting. Burning all the dead leaves. Clearing up. Smoke getting in the eyes. Sitting with the ashes. But then it seemed that letting it go may be part of the fire's lesson.

It is an amulet bag dyed in a tapestry of autumn colours. The hedges here right now look like this. The clasp has a rounded triangular shape, triangle being the alchemical symbol for fire. There are 'sparks' flying along the chain and glowing from the rows of smocking. The silk is very lustrous, the pleats lush and soft.

Yes, there is fire damage on the top edge of the fabric. It is tightly held together inside the dense pleating and I guarantee the piece is as sound as any other.

I'm offering it up tomorrow as the Moon turns new in the alchemy related sign of Scorpio.


Vanitas Revisited

I first made this necklace just before A. was born. Here's what I said about it then:

Vanitas is a genre of still life painting that depicts symbolic objects such as overripe fruit or fading flowers as a reminder of the ephemeral nature of life.

The beautiful paradox of these paintings is that contrary to their message about the futility of earthly pleasure the objects are often painted with a clear delight in their appearance.

I made this necklace to look like something out of such a still life. Heavy with juicy, dark red garnets it's formed from pleated layers of organza - one layer dyed with yellow cosmos and the other with elderberries. Where the orange shows through the dark purple it gives the material the look of iridescent shot silk.

This one was made for someone in particular but there will be more before long, in this colour combination and others.


Making Thistles

In the photo above I was grinding oak galls for the first layer of dye. The 'thistledown' had been carefully masked to stay white.

And now they are ready: a necklace and a pair of earrings. In the shop tomorrow.

There are other things in the works that I'm really excited about... A feather from a phoenix? Autumn fires? Pomegranates?

A good weekend to you.