The seeds sprout and the sun rises

Planting seeds… Every Spring as Nature awakens and comes back to life, seedlings are planted and seeds are sowed. Cause that’s how it goes. Cause that’s the way it is – standstill taking over the movement, and solution and breakthrough coming forward after the deadlock…

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Since we settled at #szaryganek a few years ago, I started another dyer’s garden right away. I planted several varieties of smoke bush, couple of catalpas, tamarisk, liquid amber, and two types of sumac in addition to what was already growing there. (Some of the new plants were presented by a friend visiting at that time. Evgenia, remember?) I also arranged madder root corner in the rear end of the garden. Needless to say, rubia tinctoria is a very important dye plant, although a young plant is not so good for dye extraction, you’ve got to wait 3 years until you harvest the first batch. This Spring I have been able to draw out a few root shoots to expand my madder plantation.

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Madder is one of the oldest dyestuffs. According to J.N. Liles, it extends back at least to 2000 b.c. In his book The Art and Craft of Natural Dyeing, 1990, you can find at least 10 recipes with madder root for color red. Wow, I’ve been always fascinated with madder dyeing potential, and also with its medicinal properties. At the same time, have to admit that traditional dyeing with madder has never become my thing. Maybe I am not ambitious enough…

However, enhancing the effects from leaf printing in contact dyeing with madder extract, on the contrary, has been serving me at its best from the very start. Back in those days, when an absolute newbie in botanical printing struggling to get leaf prints of decent visibility on fabric or paper, at the same time craving for eucalyptus foliage to appropriate for my studio experiments, (and eucalyptus itself had been a complete alien at the local florists) half in despair, I resolved to giving a break to squishing out wishful color from the foliage that had already proven void, and to taking an opposite approach of saturating a weak leaf with stronger potion.

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The thing is that in days of the past newborn babies were traditionally bathed in herba bidentis extract bath-water in view of its antibacterial etc. properties, clothes were also treated with the extract. I did bathe my child that way too. The extract should’ve been cooked every time fresh through a time consuming process, and no steps to be skipped whatsoever. And the results were magical… So, in my studio I gave the old method a go and treated those weak leaves to the dye stuff extract. And, yes, the leaves impregnated with stronger dye print immediately even before the heat is applied. This is a pic back from that time:

What a relief it was after so many failures! And throughout the years of my exploring botanical dyeing this method never stopped surprising.

But it’s Spring time, remember? Conditioning the stage for madder root expansion in the garden was not a big deal, in fact. However, my recent urge for setting a vegetable garden (the lockdown sequela) required way more engineering intense arrangements. First came five plastic boxes for vegetable beds – yes, yes, I know, plastic… But, hey, sometimes you just have to to make do with what you got. I didn’t like the idea of poking holes in the bottoms, I wanted to keep the boxes intact. So, I thought I would make a raised mesh bottom supported with fixed wire. Water is supposed to go underneath, and I added a tube for ventilation and also for watering:

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Next, I spreaded agrotextile to separate soil from the plastic walls, added some potting grit and soil.

It took me several hours to finish the construction stage. Planting and sowing took the next couple of days. However, after a period of nice weather we got the temperature dropping from +26C to +8C. Which now makes me really wonder if my efforts prove fruitful.

 

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P.S. Oh, did I mention that seeds were germinated in a plastic bottle? It is a very effective and low maintenance sprouting method. XOXO

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The unusual usual things

What are the odds to see a tree covered with oranges in mid March in temperate climate? The other morning at the parking lot I got surprised a bit by seeing this:

However, even bigger surprise I am constantly getting from oak trees which grow nearby our house. These trees prefer not to shed leaves for winter time, like normal trees would do in Fall,

instead they make sure you have got enough oak leaves to clean from your ground all Winter long, and even at the end of March they are covered with leaves like nothing happened:

Come on, oak trees, drop it already! Make some space for new leaves! I wonder how they do it, or will the new leaves push the old ones out when growing? This time I will be watching the whole process very attentively, my observation log is officially opened!

Mid February I planted some grass seeds in anticipation of Spring and today I thought I would plant the grass which I have growing on my windowsill, outside on a sunny spot. And guess what?

Apparently my grass developed a body

And in no time she was making her first steps

So, I took her for a walk. Hope she liked it..

It seems as if extraordinary usual things prefer my company lately. And by any chance, have you, guys, noticed any unusual usual things around you recently? Anyway, keep an eye open, they are there and they wait till you pay attention.


Creative Exchange

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Since I started one more line of activity in June 2017 which grew naturally out of my general focus, conducting and organizing versatile art workshops and events became one of the main doings. And I have been putting much thinking into where exactly I want to take enthusiasts attending my classes during the creative journey in arts and crafts, how I can help to unravel their creative self, what results I would like to see in their works…

Sure enough the last thing I would want to see, as a teacher, is a copy-paste of my work. And yet,  how often all we can see in many art workshop reports is just an array of multiple works looking exactly the same as a sample work presented by the teacher at the class, copyist painting classes excluded.

Of course, newcomers to Arts and Crafts stand on the shoulders of the teachers and instructors, so to say. In learning process imitation plays an important role. And by imitation I mean not just simply copying. Imitation happens when someone sees something that inspires them, inspires them enough to want to do something just as great. 

However, quite often even with the passage of time, some people just establish imitativeness as a basis for self-expression, keeping repeating the same patterns,color schemes and ideas once learnt at a class. And this deja vu has been manifesting itself so often lately, making it hard to tell whether it is the teacher’s work, or students overuse ideas from a recently taken workshop…

As a teacher, I’d rather see ideas shared at the classes being transferred onto a new level, revised and reworked, rather than seeing plain replicas of my own works, no matter how flattering imitation can feel at times…

I also believe the more you see, the more you get exposed to versatile creative approaches, the more unusual creative ideas you come up with in your own works. So, for the program of creative classes at my gallery I invite artists from whom I get inspiration myself, who masterfully demonstrate versatile approaches in their work. And I keep the work on the conditions for creative exchange.

This coming July I am expecting my friend artist Natalia Logachova to come visit and introduce local enthusiasts to several techniques she is using in her art work.

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These are impressions from my last visit to Natalia’s studio. So I caught her working and took some photos on her permission. Sketches:

I so enjoy visiting art studios! This is one of my favourite works by Natalia…

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So many things that I love are there in this studio!

I was lucky to catch Natalia painting on silk. She will demonstrate her virtuosic silk-painting technique at one of her master-shows at the gallery at the end of July.

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She will also make a demonstration in palette knife painting, as well as dry pastel.

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Natalia’s series of demonstrations will be followed by workshops series in all three  techniques. Please, stay tuned for more news to come and follow us on FB!

 


Flourishing butterbur Beavers woke up Full moon in three days

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In this magical time of the year when Nature unveils itself, the most conspicuous recent traces of change around my usual routes just turned into a Haiku style blank verse and appeared as a title of this post.

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Everything in nature resting during the winter, got charged up to come out as the earth is waking up in spring. Flowering Butterbur stock (Petasites vulgaris) gives the river bank a bit of a look of a Martian landscape. Butterbur extract may prevent migraine headaches, they say. Doctors do not know exactly how butterbur prevents migraines, they say. And this, in addition to many medicinal properties of this plant. 

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Spring is all about light. Everything around is opening up and shaking free from winter dormancy. Especially beavers! Beavers do not hibernate, but are less active during winter.

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Obviously beavers are embracing the freedom of spring after a long winter. On my spring exploratory excursion, I encountered a well-built beaver lodge, one I hadn’t known about before.

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Beavers’ ability to change the landscape is second only to humans. their favorite foods include water lily tubers, apples and the leaves and green bark (cambium) from aspen and other fast-growing trees. Tree cutting is part of nature’s cycle, and beaver pruning stimulates willows, cottonwood and aspen to regrow bushier than ever the next spring. 

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Again  we become part of the process of re-creation that is occurring during the season of Springtime! And speaking of being a part of creative process, I just happened to meet these amazing people deeply fascinated by poetry in Haiku style. Haiku poetry was originally developed by Japanese poets. I have been always admiring brevity and imagistic language in haiku which makes you feel connected to nature. Haikus are often inspired by nature, a moment of beauty, or poignant experience… And on the other hand, writing haiku provides a new way to look at the world… 

I am so proud that the first issue of Haiku Port Quarterly 1/2018  was published with my participation.  And on the other hand, writing haiku provides a new way to look at the world… 

 

Flourishing butterbur

Beavers woke up

Full moon in three days

 

 

 


And Spring sank into the mist on the Fishing Shore…

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What color is the off-season on the sea strand?

img_5989Sometimes it happens so that one fine day you come to the seaside and suddenly fall out of time as you stand on a foggy shore while sea waters are drowsily swaying over the sand.

Fishing boats and nets are dreaming on the coast and waiting on the next time when they take the sea.

img_5988 It seems as if a sudden descent of fog, like a spell, froze over these toilers the moment they were stepping out of the sea as the shift completed.

img_5987 Hopes, expectations, dreams, plans, all having been put off to give place to the mist limbo that spilled over the coast. As you enter the territory your sense of time kind of gets lost. This mist is like another dimension in which your ordinary reality exists only as reflection in a drop of a foggy dew.

img_5981 You are no longer sure what brought you here, or what you were about to do next. All reasons now are no more than faint echoes from afar.

img_5984 Then at some point all usual senses merge, letting in an overall feeling of spiritual comfort and harmony. And you feel like entering the unknown terrain. This is the moment when inspiration takes over your mind… However, it is quite possible that this is just an effect on your mind you are getting from the negatively charged ions in the air, after all.

img_5940 This way or another, color scheme suggested by the fog inevitably appears on my next up-cycled pieces, something you can put on and wear your memories of the Spring mist on the Fishing Shore close to your heart…

Once in a while you just feel urged to break away from spatial-temporal routine to find yourself in a place where there is none, where one can ruminate with no distraction. For me stepping into the mist on the Fishing Shore will be entering one of those places. Because the mist is not here to confuse and disorient, it rather gives an opportunity to sink through the confusion and gain clarity. Follow your arrow and you’ll get there.

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The Red Willow of the Equinox

The spring equinox is the best time to start something new. Our sacred sun has returned to bring new beginnings and balance.  This time used to be considered the new year in many parts of Europe until the middle of the 18th century. And what other peculiar facts can we find about spring equinox?

Millennia ago the Lakota people of the U.S. Midwest noticed that every spring, the sun rises in the constellation known as the Dried Willow. Those stars look like nubs on the branch, and the branch represents the red willow. The inner bark of that red willow is the main ingredient used to make tobacco for the equinoctial Sacred Pipe ceremony, which is meant to rekindle the sacred fire of life on Earth…

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The equinox is a day with light and dark of nearly equal length, with the Sun rising precisely in the east and setting precisely in the west. Equinox literally means “equal night.”

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The spring and fall equinoxes are also the only days of the year when a person standing on the Equator can see the sun passing directly overhead.

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Spring is the time of the year when the cycle of life, death, and rebirth is complete. The light and the darkness meet at equal footing…

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An ancient method of tracing the Sun’s meanderings through the sky involves using light and shadow to paint particular images…

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That day upon a portion of useful information, I went watching Nature’s equinox installations on a stormy sea shore and collecting fragments and bits to create a new beginning for something beautiful.

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Finding treasures of this equinox – drops of solidified sunshine on the beach – is so inspiring!

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Memory, Mystery and Magic… Amber is a window to the past. The most attractive quality of amber is that it possesses very old energy. With this old energy comes the acquired wisdom of the earth.

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Amber belongs to a small class of organic gems, neither a crystal nor a mineral, but a biological product of nature, a protective resin that oozed from living trees in dense, prehistoric forests and fossilized over millions of years. Sap is the liquid and Resin is the solid parts of the life essence of a tree. This Life Essence carries the trees Immune system, nutrients and healing properties like blood circulating throughout the body of the tree.

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Amber was used medicinally for thousands of years for headaches, heartaches, and pains of all kinds. Amber is a mixture of hydrocarbons, composed of several tree resins (mostly of an extinct Pine genus, or in some areas extinct Hymenaea species), plant materials, a volatile oil and succinic acid.

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My friend Mara can turn “Gold of the Sea” into intricate talismans of beauty, protection and renewal.

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Meanwhile, on the beach Nature kept playing with light and shade creating incredible structures of ice and willow branches on the sand.

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And when all equinox legends and myths read, “catch” of the day collected, I got down to translating elementary principles of nature into beautiful forms suitable for human use.

“And suddenly you know… It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”

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Play Time. Take One

So, here we go! July workshops unwind.

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A total surprise creative session for Natural Printing newcomers.

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Having taken it slowly we ended up with expanding quantity of raving natural mono prints.

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As the number of the resulting printed pages grew, so was the general enthusiasm about learning more and immersing deeper into the Natural Dyeing process.

Next take will be introduction of Direct Contact Extraction on silk and polyamide. We are starting this coming Thursday, July 20. Come join! 

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Grateful to be around happy people!


Solstice Sunset

I’m glad my workshop schedule is ready and classes are filling up. Some work is done and some more is on the way. There is a huge to do list for my studio work. And the Gallery lives it’s live too…

But what’s outside my creative place? Taking a walk to make a wreath and throw it to the water on Solstice we watched a secret rite of the three on the pond.




After all the swans moved away…

I like this part of the day when water and sky become one with the only dividing stripe of the skyline. The time when all ordinary turns into magic…

What a magical gift this sunset was! Do your magic, soul friends, and don’t forget to stop and smell the roses!


New Season, the Grand Opening

Just sharing the big news that The Project of “a gallery-studio-meeting point space” in Pomerania has finally got its accomplishment! There was a prominent opening ceremony with over than 60 guests present. Fine Arts Gallery “Szary Ganek” had the honor to be oped by Mayor of Pruszcz Gdanski, Mr. Janusz Wróbel.

So many new friends came over to congratulate and shared the joy of the moment. We have got some coverage, and some more.

And I want to Thank so much all of you who have been supporting and assisting on the way! All of you, my close and far away Friends, my new friends and companions!

 

 

 


Sun and Storm

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Walking side by side, the Sun and the Storm alternate on the coast, each in their own way caring for the Earth. Here, by the Sea, the stormy weather comes quite often. The storm always brings pieces of drift wood, big and small.

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Black fractions of drift wood lying in water conceal bits of the Sun dropped long ago.

And I can’t stop looking for them either on a stormy day, or when the Sun shines.

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A little orange sparkle on the background of timber chipping – I can spend hours digging in drift wood and filling my thermos mug up with amber.

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And sometimes the Sea brings nothing but sea shells… and the grumpy Sky gazes apathetically at the hassle beneath…

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But full soon, all the setting changes as the Sun appears to replace its playfellow.

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And out of the blue you’re getting the chance to learn the truth!

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