To do is to know

The first day of Uni at SIAD we were reminded of a Chinese Proverb (attributions vary) "To hear is to forget.  To see is to remember.  To do is to know."     

I had a great time DOING on Friday afternoon with the 5th and 6th grades at Brooksville Elementary School.  (10 kids total - my lovely assistant has a large kindergarten class; 7 students.)  

It was  warm Friday afternoon and we were all a bit, nevermind, really  tired.  But after a quick description of eco-printing and a discussion of place as integral to my work, we went outside and gathered leaves and flowers from around the school yard.  We returned to the classroom, pushed the desks together to make a large table and laid out the cloth.  We had one piece of silk fabric (2 yds. 16mm habotai) and one piece of linen (2yds. 4.7 oz. linen).  The students surrounded the table and laid out their collected plant materials.  We're all excited to see how the monster-sized sunflower leaves will turn out.  But,  using sunflower heads in a traditional dye bath (simmering etc.) yields green.  (See A Dyer's Garden  by Rita Buchanan, Interweave Press, 1995.)   I was seeing bits of bright green marking the cloth as a bound the bundles.  

The kids rolled up the cloth then rolled the 'snake' into a 'ball'.  I did the binding; they were pretty much done at that point.   

I took the bundles home over the weekend to heat process them.  I simmered the linen bundle in tea-infused water (it's a great way to get rid of the icky tea you bought by accident, or were given...)  The tannin in the tea reacted with the iron in the linen mordant and added some dark brown patterning to the piece.  I did my same-old steaming method with the silk bundle - balanced on a wide-mouth jelly jar above boiling water in a canning kettle.  Processing done, I left them on the back steps to cool overnight.  

When I delivered my lovely assistant to school this morning, I dropped off the bundles too.  Mrs. L. said they were going to unwrap them today for a fun activity and some real learning before they settle down to the NECAPS (standardized testing:  actual education to resume next week.)  The kids are going to open the bundles on the playground and compost the used leaves etc. in the bushes and discover what their presents look like.  I'll take the pieces home with me tonight and finish them off.  Voila!  The 5th and 6th grades at Brooksville Elementary have captured a piece of their geography:  September 27th, 2013.

Here are some photos of the finished pieces:

 

 Fantastic Job 5th and 6th grades!!  - I'm marking some of the leaf prints with their leaf of origin.

Fantastic Job 5th and 6th grades!!  - I'm marking some of the leaf prints with their leaf of origin.

 Back of a Staghorn Sumac Leaf - lovely!

Back of a Staghorn Sumac Leaf - lovely!

 Linen is a plant fiber (bast or vegetable fiber) and takes color less readily than silk.   But the students got LOTS of color on there!  Well done! 

Linen is a plant fiber (bast or vegetable fiber) and takes color less readily than silk.   But the students got LOTS of color on there!  Well done! 

 And another image of the linen piece!

And another image of the linen piece!