The Blues recapped

Despite the lack of consistent internet connection, time in the Blue Mountains has been lovely. Cool, crisp mornings, warm sunshine when it wasn’t cloudy or rainy, lots of green vegetation, and some of the best fiber- interested folks around.

Caught up with some previously made friends, found a few small treasures in the traders hall, sampled some excellent Korean cuisine, enjoyed an anchovy pizza tremendously, drank my share of wine, was gifted – in many ways and by many people – with lovelies both physical and non.

Oh, and had some great students who did amazing work in both the mudcloth and basketry classes that I taught. All of them genius!

Will send up pics when I land next.

Touch down!

Made it safely to Sydney and have been traveled up the Blue Mountain range, courtesy Helen H, to Medlow Bath. Enjoying the lovely home and surrounds of Kath and Mark W and their small dogs Lillipulli and Oosha.

A bit on the damp and chilly side today with a promise of sunshine later. We are on the hunt today for a local source of one of my mudcloth ‘ingredients’.

Jet lag not too bad just yet, but I expect I will be a bit tired later today. Mark just came in the house bearing a bag of fresh picked porcini mushrooms. Dinner is looking great already!

New finds

I did a bit of bundling yesterday and had a pot with iron and a pot with copper simmering.

Working towards a couple shows in the fall, I pulled out some Goodwill specials along with some pieces that I had mudded over the weekend (and which washed out almost completely; I now know the limits of the retention agent!) A quick trip around the yard yielded a number of different leaves, most of which I had not yet tried for their dyeing abilities.

To the yard gatherings I added some onion skins plus cranberries and dogwood pips that I had frozen last fall. I also had on hand some dried American smokebush leaves and some florist eucalyptus (dollar euc?) that I had been saving.

I can say with certainty that osage orange leaves do NOT give off color even though the bark and roots are great. I’ve got a couple of the small balls bundled in a pot that is cooling at the moment but I’m not expecting much of anything from them, either.

Locust leaves came through nicely.

locust on cotton, iron bath
locust on cotton, iron bath









The surprises were: determining that the maple is now ready to use – lots of nice, dark almost black;

maple leaf, iron bath
maple leaf, iron bath









the American smokebush gave off an almost black while I was expecting to see  a yellow;

and red bud leaves and seed pods do just as good a job as the wild black cherry has in the past! I think it may become my new go-to leaf since the wild black cherry was cut down this winter.  More pictures when I unbundle the next group.

red bud seed pods on top of rust, iron bath
red bud seed pods on top of rust, iron bath

Basket Gathering odds and ends

Before moving on to my adventure in Papua New Guinea, here are some bits and pieces, odds and ends from the Basket Gathering that I didn’t mention earlier:

-I got to hold a baby wombat!  So cute and furry. Rosie was her name, 8 months old. She will eventually be released back to the wild.

-The guild from Canberra made a pitch to host the next Gathering in 2013 – and got the nod from the group. Lots of exciting plans in the works for that. Now, how can I get back for that one?!?!?

-I taught a small group how to do jiseung – Korean method of handspinning hanji (Korean made paper). Some caught on quickly, some not so quick, some decided this was definitely not something they would do again, others were delighted.

-Anne showed me how to do the wire technique from Africa – it is like doing row after row of simple rims, just very tight and close.  Kinda cool.

-Had a  laundry routine for the week – wash/rinse out while taking a shower and then let the breezes do the drying.

-One thing that they have in Tas is kelp! Lots of folks were trying their hand at using bull kelp to make containers of various sizes (necklace to table).

-The Gathering typically holds a basket exchange for anyone interested in doing it. Anne talked me into submitting one of my little twined sculpture class samples – funky looking, but kinda cute.  I was delighted with the hanging kelp piece I got in exchange. The gal who got my piece wasn’t quite as sure… LOL

-A wonderful range of basketry techniques and materials on display in the ‘gallery’ – really quite inspiring.

-I used some New Zealand flax in a couple slapped together baskets with the hope that the customs folks in the US wouldn’t mind baskets coming in with me. The official didn’t even ask to see them. The intent is to cut them apart and use the material for papermaking!

-One of the Tasmanian members (Karen G) did  a presentation on her work with school kids in Sikim (sp?) in India near Bhutan. The most inspiring part of it all was that she is retired and on a whim clicked on a website ad for ‘an adventure helping others’ (or something like that). Her family was aghast but she goes to Sikim for three months at a time (visa restrictions) teaching English and then has been doing some fundraising when she is home. She raised enough at the Gathering to put in windows in the new school being built – a terrific response from the group.

-I hitched a ride with Karen back to Hobart at the end of the Gathering and found out that she plays violin and viola professionally in local orchestras. Coll lady!

-Reunited with Beth from my trip to New Zealand in 2004 – great fun!

-Had a chance to get to know Tasmania Di (a friend of some of my other US basket friends) – what a hoot! And a hard worker.

-Connected with Suzie, Carolyn and Genease from Sydney – they will be waiting for my return from PNG!

-Had trouble getting an internet connection: the local internet cafe had a new owner and was just getting in service the Monday right before we were to leave.

-Native chooks (hens) roamed the camp grounds regularly. Bright green poop in  the grass!

-Love the range of ‘arty’ clothes in AU – lots of slanted hemlines on tops and skirts, layers and leggings.

-The other US attendee, Sandy W, was on a hunt for colors of dirt – which was right up my alley! We drove out one day with Di and Tracee, finding a local young farmer, Ben, who thought we were quite daft but gave permission to roam his property. Collected five different colors of mud.

-Karen had a cushion from her ‘family’ in Sikim which she presented as  challenge one evening: how was it made? A half dozen people with about as many bottles of wine and we came up with a very plausible solution to the technique challenge. No one actually did more than a start, though, which was probably a good thing! I MAY give it a shot, now that I”m home…

-The last day of the Gathering dawned with a storm warning for the east coast – which we were close enough to worry about. Lots of rain and wind but nothing more. It did make the clean-up rather soggy.

-A truly wonderful experience at the Basketry Gathering – many thanks to all the hard working gals and guys! It was lovely to just attend!

-Di and Chris came by for a late dinner (pumpkin soup and veggie tortellini – yummy) at the Airport Hotel in Hobart when I got in – and another round of good-byes.

A day of sights and smells and flavors

Easter and family got in the way of continued blogging – sorry about that!

Just a few miscellaneous remarks first:  We saw a bandicoot crossing the road one night – a little furball scooting along. Very few wild animals were sp0otted during my whole journey- in Papua New Guinea as well as Australia. Not sure what that means…

And while with Di and Chris, I pitched in and did a bunch of the cooking and cleaning up and laundry duties to give them time to work on some art grant proposals with looming deadlines. I’ve since heard that both proposals were accepted and grants allocated!

One of the meals I prepared was  fresh pumpkin soup – not too bad for working without a recipe!

On March 16 we headed to the northern coast of Tasmania so I could participate in the biennial National Basketry Gathering starting on the 17th. Along the way we saw and experienced:

– black cows with a wide white band around their middles – quite the sight!

– evidence of earlier bush fires and logging/burning activity

-lovely lakes in the Central Highlands

-an old salt of a fellow at the Bothwell coffee shop – postcard perfect!

-a helicopter taking off next to the road – we weren’t too close, thank goodness!

-Steppes sculptures in the middle of nowhere

-the pub and hotel in Miena with a special on fish and chips and the first unfriendly Tassies – I think they didn’t like the fact that we were coming in at the very end of their lunch hour shift

-miniature ferns and pencil pine and ice age rock fields along the boardwalk of a national park

-the Tasmania Regional Arts Council offices in Latrobe and a great visitors center with museum

-an excellent little motel in downtown Devonport where we stayed in and had a great Indian take-out dinner

-great fresh ice cream – I think it was blackberry – along the rode to Devonport

With some time to kill the next morning, we drove over to Burnie to visit the Makers of Burnie center – based on the papermaking mill that used to be central to the city, the new center had a large papermaking display and working area plus a number of spaces for various local artists to display, sell and demo their work. We each made some recycled papers with embossed Australian animals of our choice. I also picked up some regional papers – wombat and kangaroo poo paper! Can’t make that back home, now can I?!?!?

Next up – the National Basketry Gathering experience!

Relevant pics now online!