Purple Haze & Persian Tea

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I am buzzing on my new tea addiction. I am of British & Manx decent, and tea is in my blood. I first went to Isle of Man, England & Scotland at the tender age of 7. My love of tea started there, give a kid anything with milk and sugar and happiness follows. I was also exposed to a Shanty and Hot Toddies but that’s another story….
I don’t drink coffee. Ever. I have on occasion drank and liked Turkish and Greek coffee but Espresso ONLY in Rome. That was with family and wasn’t an option after an amazing meal with lots of wine. I think I would have drank urine and it would taste like nectar if the Romans made it. I regress…..
I have a love of teas, white, green, oolong & my staple Welsh & Double Bergamot Earl grey. The former being my favorite with milk & agave to start my day. I flitter between the rest during the day and depending on my mood.
For my birthday, my friend Lori Lawson took me to a Persian resturant. The food was good but the tea was beautiful! After enjoying 3 glasses, I walked out with a pound of it.
I had a persian friend who on occasion made me some amazing food but whoa! The tea! There are different blends but this place makes their own secret blend. I have been sipping nonstop since I perfected the persian way of brewing. An art well worth following. My husband is in love too, a pound may not last long around here.
Inspiration flowed from my tea high, and my first foray into lac madder blending was born. I got some while in Taos New Mexico last fall; Earthships, chillies and wool-oh my! Roots of madder and Earthues Powdered Lac. These colors meld well with the different eucalyptus equally on silk & wool.
Hope you enjoy my new inspirations. I will be selling some pieces at my May 15th Talmadge show. I will be busy stitching dusters & aprons while sipping Persian tea and brewing Purple Haze cashmere shawls & scarves.

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Duster in progress

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    I decided to share some of my creative process. I tend to write when I am in a reflective mood, and not much of the gritty work.

   I tend to binge on different creative parts. Spinning yarn, nuno felting, dyeing, hand stitching and the toughest, my reconstructed couture. The last one is where I take parts of some or of all my skills and combine them into wearable art. I have focused on a few original designs to replicate as a pattern, my long duster, aprons and sweaters. All still one of a kind colors, prints & hand stitching.  I do some handbags, scarves, and odd vintage pieces. Usually, I go in the direction the creative gods give favor. I appease this chattering in my head and I am blessed with pretty dye pots, a plethora of plants to dabble with and bursts of creative energy.
  Balance is the hardest  thing for me to achieve. Ainsile MacLoud told me as much as I am a people person (I love a good peep!) I need just as much time alone. This is where my walks in the woods (or chaparral) come in, along with camping and restorative Nature time that bring much needed peacefulness to my life.
     But today is a glimpse of me reconstructing my duster.
I hope I can find enough balance to stop and photograph these moments then post a few words along the way. I love this groove I am in and hate to “document” such things as it separates me from being in the present, but I will try. If just to connect with you, or in the spirit of sharing and connection.

  Now back to my Jamison in the SLC airport, celebrating belatedly St.Paddy’ s day. Or as my Celtic roots prefer to think of Ireland’ s true patron saint and goddess Brigid.

  Slante! Happy writing, dyeing & stitching or whatever direction your apron strings pull you….

Michelle

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When the madness stops, I start spinning.

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   After months of constant travel, felting, dyeing and a stitching marathon I finally crashed. I don’t know if it was the days of ironing right before Artistic License, the 2 day schmooze fest or all that load and unloading of my beautiful booth that wore the wheels on my butt down. I hit the wall. Maybe it was the 300 violas I just planted before my show. Maybe it was the trips in between my work trips these past few months; Sleeping Bear Dunes national park, Mi. Shake Rag workshop in Sawanee, Tn. Burning Man art festival, Black Rock City, Nv. The Wool and sheep festival, Taos, Nm. Not to mention all my trips to Memphis for work. I did a lot this summer and these new experiences and tools are fueling my creative drive wildly. I used to have balance in my life; yoga, cooking, hikes, biking and art. These past months I was eating sleeping and breathing eco dyeing,  stitching and felting all day every day.
  After the success of my fall show, I rested (forced by that wall I hit) and started spinning. My husband Chris was so excited! Normalcy. Calm energy. Slow flowing meditation. I felt like slipping into my comfy old shoes after a marathon in Jimmy Choos. Really its just the turn of the Wheel. Now it’s November and when it gets dark so early I am forced to come in from the dye pot and the garden  to where spinning ,knitting  and stitching begins. I welcome the long dark hours, relaxing yoga, cooking and my  winter bear sleeping habits unfurl.  I will relax into this state of being till Winter Solstice lights the spark of summer plans; workshops to attend, camping trips to plan (now a ruse to gather wind falls for dyeing), playdates for co-creating with Lori from Capistrano  Fiber Arts. The wheels on my butt really start to turn in January when burning Man tickets go on sale. It is the starting flag waving  a promise of summer adventures  to come. Start…get ready…here I come!
  But for now, I am relaxing in my favorite mountains with my dog. Balancing the biking, hiking, camp fire and stars with the wind falls of oak leaves and dried misletoe I gathered. Relaxing and reading but wondering about the dyepot I get to open tomorrow when I get home. In balance again and grateful for it all!

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Earthships, Chillies and Wool…oh my!

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    I just got back from my first adventure in Taos New Mexico. I am still having vivid dreams of crickets, sunsets,  and the Rio Grande. I went with Lori Lawson from Capistrano Fiber Arts. She and I have been collaborating a lot this past year and what fun we had. Even when the yellow blooming New Mexico Chamise tried to tried to take me out with a nasty sinus infection, we just crafted two days out in the sun. The weather was warm, and my fondest memory will be the Magpie singing to us a we stitched under an old pine tree looking out on landscape from our Old Taos B&B.

   Meandering up from Sante Fe to Taos, we stopped at the Espanloa Fiber Arts studio and a few traditional weaving shops.Picked up some native plants to dye with but mostly admired the local weavers handywork. Right as we made it up to Taos, I spotted two native Woman selling their famous Hatch chillies out of their rusted old ford pick up truck. I screamed as Lori pulled over. My husband has RAVED about they chillies and thought I wouldn’t find any outside of Hatch. Law of Attraction helped me on my quest, I was sated with fresh HOT chilli powder, fresh green chillies and my favorite, hot dried green ones.

  I loved the shops, artsy people and all the friendly dogs around this unique town. Not to mention its landscapes and naturel beauty. We were treated to a quick thunderstorm with a double rainbow and dramatic lightning. Not enough to dampen our day but just enough to get a glimpse of New Mexico’s stunning ever-changing beauty.

  We found the Wool festival a buzz with friendly eclectic people, more varieties of dogs than a dog show and LOTS of fun wool bits. Sunny weather, real Pygoras, alpacas, music, yummy pastured lamb kabobs and wool is all anyone needs in a festival! Taos locals clapped as Lori and I hauled our overfilled bags of fleeces and mohair across town to our car.

  The trip was topped off by our journey across the Rio Grande. I had told Lori about my life long fascination with Earthships and there is a whole community of them outside Taos. She indulged me as we stumbled on to them. I was totally freaking out at our amazing discovery, unfortunanly we only had 30 minutes to tour one but the experience and feeling of being in an artistic womb is imbedded in my bones. The marriage of creativity and eco-friendly building practices makes my heart sing. Now if I could just add a fiber studio and roast my chillies in it while a few pygoras and my vizsla play in a garden outback….whoa! a girl has to dream!

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Been there, dyed that

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   I forgot on my fall equinox wilderness walk post to mention what was in the dye pot this week! I am finally slowing down (thus the time to hike and write) from my summer dyepot frenzy. Hardly a day has gone by (exceptions being in the desert at Burning Man) without something in my outdoor magic cauldron. Even at work gardening in Memphis (where I have a plethora of plants to choose from and a workspace) and on vacation in Michigan I dyed. Memphis’ “recycle”shops, and my mom’s care packages as my personal thrift shopper has supplied me with plenty of silk, wool, linen and cotton material to keep me very busy.
  If you’d like to see my summer frenzy of work check out my website flickr link  http://www.madebylovecraft.com but for today I will add a photo of one of my first cotton pieces soaked in milk for a month. I brought some eucalyptus from home but it’s dyed in Memphis, with other bits from the garden here that I tend. Liquid amber and chaste tree are in the mix. The cotton jacket mostly it looks like water colors. I did a few other cotton and wool jackets, wool making the print in the photo. The ceramic pot had iron in it.  Also in the photos are the leaves and print from liquid amber from my Equinox hike.         
  I am coming to terms with the “delicate” art I am creating. India’s experience answered our concerns of light fastness, washing etc. I am accustomed to these fabrics and hand washing and love the principle of natural dyeing. Tying in my fiber art , cooking and my gardening is a melding of pure joy for me. However, recently I went through some photos, and noticed the lightness change in some pieces. My heart sunk at first. I had taken some of the photos when they were still wet, in their most vivid unvailing. Now, familiar with the organic “settling of the bones” process I call it, I am content. That’s why I love eco prints, their colors look true to nature, and as such never stay the same. I love wearing my one of a kind works of wearable art, and incase you missed it right when it birthed out of the dyebath (much like the magic and glow of the sunrise) I’ll take photos. After it settles and dries, we have plenty of time to enjoy each unique print as it sill echos that sunrise, and slowly moves to twilight. Natural beauty isn’t meant to stay the same, or last forever. That’s plastic and polyester’s style.

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Celebrating Fall Equinox!

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I am sitting in a bird blind out in the middle of A beautiful Mississippi Audubon sanctuary. I decided to hike out here through fields mowed for pathways, in 100 degree afternoon sun. I was pleasantly surprised buy the vibrations the dozens of humming birds still feasting and fencing each other as they flew by. I do things like this because I know no one else is crazy enough to hike in the blazing, shadeless paths out to this blind, and the solitude is cleansing. I am imagining this bird blind is my private tree fort. If anyone did venture out here I am inclined to talk to them for surely only someone on the cusp of crazy or very interesting would and so add to my adventure. That is also why in California I always go hiking in the rain with Zorba. Californians are scared to go out in the rain, I celebrate it! The solitude reinvigorates and the sage smells REALLY good.
My only company coming out here were thousands of crickets and grasshoppers that paraded behind me across the fields like sparks flying from my heels. I live in the city this and these moments are what grounds me and sustains my high octane lifestyle. Ahhhh….
I will write about my Burning Man, Sleeping Bear Dunes experiences tomorrow on the plane ride home. Headed for the Wool Festival in Taos New Mexico next week.

Ps.the date at the top is when I opened my blog this was written Sept. 22, 2010

Faeries, full moons and gin,

Michelle

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