Mar 15 2012

Create art to celebrate life and manifest your spirit!

When one is an artist, it’s easy to feel artistic about one’s workspace and lifestyle. Waking up every morning to create, dazzle and delight must be a fun life choice. While there are certain realities, I’m sure, about paying the light bill and buying artist’s materials, let’s just focus on after we’re famous and have it made in the shade. Let’s pretend we just get to slide out of bed and into the studio every morning to be with our “stuff.” And, remember we get paid to do this, as we are not starving artists!

Whoa! That sounds like fun, like fingerpaint on steroids and Play-Doh with a shot of Grand Marnier. But, of course, we’ll need a smock, if we’re artists! H-m-m-m. I wonder what artists wear? Hey! Here’s an artist! Let’s look at HER!

Barbara’s Smock of Spectral Colors.

I was preparing to write two posts on Barbara Hughes, scuplptor and painter: the first, Healing Sexual Abuse and the second Teaching in Africa. I asked Barbara for some portrait photos of herself along with some of her actually working in her studio, When I received the photos, I was delighted.

One showed Barbara standing in front of her studio with her “Smock of Spectral Colors.” I knew from the design of the smock this was an artist’s artist and a pretty fun individual. Who else would turn themselves into a palette of color to delight the eye? And what better pattern than a Tie Dyed Rainbow Spiral? I found myself wanting a smock like Barbara’s. If you also are interested, here’s how one is made:

Many garments can be dyed with this method, including
one like Barbara’s Smock by not using the black.

You need three things: 1) The smock or garment, 2) The dyes and 3) A workspace with dyeing equipment.

The Smock: Looking at Barbara’s smock, it appears to be a male lab coat, judging by the length and the big pockets. They can be found here, along with women’s lab coats, if you prefer a shorter length.

A sampling of the blanks at Dharma Trading Co.

If you would like to make dresses, here’s a good link for “blanks” or 100% cotton clothing meant to be dyed. Blanks for children and men can be found by looking at the list on the left hand side.

The Dyes: In the early 1970s, I used to mail order dyes and supplies from the Dharma Trading Company in Berkeley, CAImagine my delight when, in 1974, I visited San Francisco, Berkeley and the Dharma Trading Co. While other tourists want to see the Golden Gate Bridge or Fisherman’s Wharf in San Fransisco, nope! Not me. I had to go to Berkeley to shop at Dharma.

I was able to order anything I wanted and hand carry it with me. Now Dharma is located in Petaluma and San Rafael, CA, but back then, they were in Berkeley.  I picked things out from a black and white printed catalog that listed their stock in an unimaginative way. Fast forward to 2012 to find them on the Internet in a fantastic color display of possibility. Just check out this web site and dream away, by clicking here.

To make the smock or tie dye any mostly cotton fabric, use the Fiber Reactive Procion Dyes in the section of the left third of the main page marked Fiber Reactive Dye Colors by clicking here.  There are 110 eye catching colors in the Fiber Reactive palette.

The Instructions: For detailed instructions and required equipment, click here.

Advanced tie dye patterns as shown by the Dharma Trading Co.
Complex patterns made with nothing more than rubber bands.

Tie Dying is easy and fun. The feeling of creating art cannot be matched. Expressing the soul for the world to see and claiming it in a physical way will be empowering to you, just like when Barbara creates her sculptures and paintings. With dyeing, you can create clothing, inexpensively, without sewing, and call it your own. It’s LOTS of fun!

Now, let’s look at some professional tie dyeing women from Africa, which is a big continent with many diverse regions of distinctly different cultures, languages and practices. I wanted to find a video of women in Tanzania dyeing fabric. The country of Tanzania is where Barbara did her work and where the fabrics in the previous posts were dyed, but I couldn’t find one on YouTube.

This glorious video on a tie dyeing woman, Sanata, and her family shows large production methods done by hand with magnificent results in the west African country of Mali.

Sanata says, “Women always have dreams. I have many
dreams. If I start telling you my dreams, it’ll get dark
while I’m telling you.”

The video above was a short film used for funding efforts envisioning a one hour film presentation called Bamako Chic. To be funded by grants, organizations have to be sponsored by a non-profit entity who manages the money granted, making sure the agreement is followed and grant money spent correctly. The non-profit entity for the movie Bamako Chic is the San Francisco Film Society.  Here is a link to a film grant makers media database listing Bamako Chic.

And, best of all, here is a link to Queen Sheba Village where
you can buy bazin cloth, the profoundly beautiful polished
cotton fabric, made by the home dyers of West Africa.


NaBloPoMo March 2012

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