Chiara Vigo and Sea Silk!

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It was amazing to meet the charismatic Chiara Vigo, the last lady in the world who still harvests sea silk, in Hong Kong of all places! Thanks to Para Site gallery which flew her in, I had the chance to watch a documentary on her and feel sea silk (also known as byssus) fibres. This incredibly rare and seemingly weightless silk fibre is harvested from the solidified saliva of deep sea clams in the waters surrounding the Sardinian island of Sant'Antioco.

Her practise can best be described as a mixture of an ancient textile tradition and folklore, for much of her textile making process is accompanied by chants combining Sardinian dialect with Hebrew. Historically, byssus yarn was first mentioned on the Rosetta stone and said to have been found in the tombs of pharaohs.

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Using a hand spindle, Chiara demonstrated the spinning of byssus fibre into yarn and how soaking it in a special concoction gave it a golden gleam. All shells and impurities need to be extracted from the fibres which must then be desalinated for weeks..before it can be used. And since so little can be harvested each time, it took her 12 years just to make a tie! 

The hand spindle gave me a few ideas...another promising new toy, more possibilities for textile making..

Incredibly (especially when one lives in a highly monetised city such as HK..), byssus yarn is not for sale and Chiara sees herself as carrying on a long line of family tradition tasked with passing on this art for the benefit of humankind. She gave us all a tuff of byssus yarn for keepsake. There is now a crowd-funding drive to raise enough funds for the reopening of her studio/museum!

https://buonacausa.org/cause/chiaravigo

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Colour Studies

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There are some colours that are particularly hard to achieve with the Jacquard Marbling inks that I use. But tangerine, bronze, auburn and ochre are some of the colour stories that have been playing on my mind for awhile now.

Inspired to a large extent by the forest fire on Lamma last summer that turned the green fields golden brown, I wanted to play with these warm hues. Stencil marbling by blocking off parts of the paper was another new experiment.

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Marbling Workshop at the Harbour School, H.K

2018 seems to have started with a bang, with 3 months gone by in a whizz before I've had time to recap the events of the last few months! March concluded with a workshop as a guest instructor at the Harbour School H.K, working alongside some very talented young artists. What a joy it was to work on their massive workbench, in a very well-equipped art studio, set up for all the mess we were about to create. Proper drying racks that we filled up with trays after trays of artworks, all full of surprising colour stories. The beauty of marbling, is never knowing what comes out... 

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Batik and indigo dyeing workshop in Vietnam

And so 2017 ended with a last-minute trip I made to Hanoi, Vietnam for a batik and indigo dyeing workshop!

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What better way there is to travel than with the objective of immersion in a local, textile craft.

The 2 days workshop in the high hills of Pa Co in the beautiful Mai Chau valley of Hoa Binh, 150km west of Hanoi, was a culturally immersive experience. Not least for the amazing fellow textile lovers that I met on this trip, what a bunch of passionate, inspiring, creative women! 

Check out the Textile Linker http://textilelinker.com/workshop/ website for more details of the craft-based workshops that they organise in Vietnam. Really glad that there are locals like Nguyen with a real love of the crafts who is also passionate and knowledgeable about sustainable development. 

Last workshop in Hong Kong for 2017!

This is a bit of a belated post but I've been meaning to post pics from our last marbling workshop at Makerhive in HK! Again it was fully-booked and I was lucky enough to have the help of Ana, who co-hosted the event with me. It was such a joy to work alongside happy, creative, inspired people passionate about crafts. A very therapeutic 2 hours that was, full of artistic discoveries and surprises. The beauty of marbling is its accessibility as an art form. It never fails to amaze me what variety of prints we pull in each class, all different in their approaches to colour, composition and style!

 

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Night owl

It was so satisfying to put on the finishing touches to this commissioned piece. As I was sewing up the hem, I couldn't help noticing how the print rolled over onto the edges, lovely detail of a hand-made piece.

There is something quite thrilling about working at night, late into the night. With winter approaching, the night air is cuttingly crisp and clear. It is deep, intense yet peaceful.

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Autumnal blaze

I've been meaning to post this for awhile now. A recent forest fire on Lamma left some amazing hues in its wake. Nature transforming nature, colour palettes that are beautifully coherent without any human intervention. Apart from putting out the fire, that is.

I'm hoping these will inspire my next colour stories.

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Colours!

I've been working more with colours of late, and the colour story of the month is turning out to be a violet/cyan one. Preliminary marbling on this 8mm silk chiffon scarf turned out rather nicely, love the way the silk chiffon captured each fine, tiny line and is beautifully translucent against light. I've ordered another batch of scarves to work on, following some interest from potential buyers! 

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