“It is about the journey, not the destination.”
I am sure you heard it too.
It is a beautiful concept. I need to constantly remind myself of how true it is. The practical and goal-oriented side of my personality often struggle with this idea of letting go.
And isn’t it one of the main reasons why people don’t even try to make art? Focussed on the result so much that we give up before even starting to enjoy the process. We forget that the results we measure ourselves against are the products of a long journey of learning through trials and errors and horrible blotches.
Eco printing forces me to focus on the process and completely let go of the result since it is a technique with many variables, and we can never be sure of what our efforts will reveal.
For as much as I like for things in general to have a clear purpose, the free spirit in me lights up when given time and space to explore for the sake of it. I listen to what is there at every step of the process, instead of working towards a preconceived goal.
It is so, I learned with time and patience, that exciting projects come to light.
Like when a second-hand garment somehow tickles my interest.
It comes home with me and hangs in my living space for a few days so I can look at it while I go by my everyday business. Slowly but surely, I get my answers on what technique is best to use, which leaves would print better, how to prepare the fabric. Since I preferably work with what is available in nature locally, many factors come into play: the kind of fabric, the season, the weather, foliage availability, etc.
Cannot rush it either. I mean, I could order dyes and modifiers online and have them ready to use whenever I want but I prefer to take the time.
Take iron for example. Iron is a substance I can use to modify the color of leaves’ print. I could order Ferrous Sulfate online and have it shipped and ready every time I need it.
Or I can look out for rusty objects on my walks, submerge them in water and vinegar and get the same result. It is safer than the ferrous sulfate since I do not have to deal with the powder that is easily inhaled, but it does take at least two weeks for the iron solution to be ready.
Same goes for dyes. I can order powdered goldenrod dye or acorn dye: one spoonful in a liter of water and voila’! the dye bath is ready for your fabric.
But I thoroughly enjoy collecting the goldenrod out in the country from the beginning of August and I get really excited when I find acorns in the neighborhood! It maybe less efficient, slower, tide to the seasonal cycle, but more sustainable and more eco-logical, don’t you think?
I feel there is more of myself in my art when I take the time to pick the yellow parts of the goldenrod off the stalk for the yellow dye, or when I lightly smash the acorns or the walnuts to give out the most dye and my fingers get all brown.
There is more of me in your dyed shirt when I boil the acorn until I decide the dye is dark enough and patiently let it sit for days! so all the color the acorn can give is released.
So yes, the process, as a purpose in itself.
Results will come.
And they do: https://liminalbymadi.ca/your-garment-reborn/.