Making Art Makes a DifferenceAt that moment Lisa calls the class to order and begins instructing us how to mix the dyes. She demonstrates the proper technique of using the enclosed and ventilated dye booth, the scale, dye to water ratio…she knows there are beginners in the class so she is careful, explaining each step as she goes. After she finishes mixing the first color she says, “Okay, now everyone will get a chance to mix a color, Jennifer, would you like to do the next one?” I look up, startled by the sound of my name, and Lisa smiles at me. “Of course,” I say, “I’d be happy to.” All thoughts of ticks, illness and death fly away from my brain as I move toward the dye box. A sense of peace invades. I can do this. Five luxurious days of making art lie ahead. I’m ready. I’ll worry about finding someone to carry me to the car later.
|Mixing the dyes for class • Peters Valley©2012 Jennifer Libby Fay|
We mixed a bright yellow and a buttercup, orange, red, flame scarlet, turquoise, blue, cool black and navy. Of course, one could make an orange from mixing red and yellow, turquoise from blue and yellow, but these colors are sold already mixed in the dye powder form.
|Dyes, thickener, color tests: ready to start • Peters Valley • ©2012 Jennifer Libby Fay|
Each batch of the same color dye can vary due to things like temperature, water composition, and mixing conditions so dye stock colors should be tested first thing—it makes mixing easier if you know where you are starting. Here, the work table is set with dyes, thickener, water and tools. You can see the grass parking lot I was worried about in the background.
|Working in collaboration • Peters Valley Craft Center • ©2012 Jennifer Libby Fay|
Our first day Lisa covered each work table with a different surface: cloth, newspaper, heavy yellow paper, and a length of white kraft paper. We each mixed a color, any color, no testing, everybody just guessed, and selected a brush or mark making tool. We circled the tables one at a time making marks as we went. These papers and cloth may become elements used in future compositions.
|My work table • Peters Valley • ©2012 Jennifer Libby Fay|
After our collaborative exercises, we worked on our own, mixing colors we will work with the next couple of days and experimenting with the different markmaking tools available. I especially love the circular marks made by an antique whisk one of the participants brought. I need to find one for myself!
At the end of the day I can hardly remember my anxiety from this morning. I am awed by this beautiful sunset as I trudge across the grass to the car—tired, fulfilled and unworried about ticks, or anything else, for that matter. Once again, art has rescued me and nature has redeemed herself.