Friday, 17 June 2016

Spirits Sheltered: The Characters Within the Flora & Fauna

A fundraising exhibition for the Anna Templeton Centre for Craft Art and Design and the Friends of the Salmonier Nature Park 

Without Fences, silk with natural dye, metal thread and birch bark. 8" x 18"
Kailey Bryan Photo












My latest embroidery, created for an exhibition of instructors from the Anna Templeton Centre. 

I struggled with the concept of creating portraits of the animals in the Park. 
I understand and agree with the Parks mandate but find it difficult to observe majestic creatures such as lynx and horned owls constrained by fences, even if it in their best interest. I started to think about other creatures that are offered protection inside the sanctuary; chickadees, jays and a plethora of other wildlife and plants are protected without barriers. 

I an intrigued by the tiny or mundane; flora or fauna often over looked in favour of the larger, often romanticized species. I choose to honour the 'Spirits' not usually considered; a portrait of a few creatures who enjoy the shelter of the Park without the boundary of fences.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Suint Cleaning Newfoundland Fleece

Last fall, at Fibre NL, I listened intently to UK artist, Liz Clay, talk about her experience in Suint cleaning of fleece. This is a traditional technique that cleans by soaking the fleece in soft water. There is some science involved as the potassium salts naturally present in sheep's sweat combine with the grease in the wool to create a basic soap.

Natural soap bubbles created with
 potassium salts and wool grease.
I was fascinated by this information as, for me, cleaning fleece is the most arduous part of yarn processing. Washing takes lots of water and soap, then rinsing, more rinsing and then rinsing again. It is dirty work. If it could be as easy as a week long soak in a plastic storage tub, things would be much simpler. The fact that the soaking water is saved and gets more powerful with use and the exhausted vat can be used as a fertilizing water on the garden were added benefits.

With spring comes fleece, so I did a little research, contacted Liz Clay and did more research. I found a few sites who touted various degrees of success and failure with the method. I thought I would give it a go: really what did I have to lose. It was just sticking wool in a plastic bin and letting it soak.

Knowing what I know about fermentation and fleece, I could see why some people had struggled; tap water, unless from a surface well, would not work as it would inhibit fermentation. Also the vat was going to smell bad...really bad. As long as I know the source, I don't mind bad smells at all, so that wasn't a worry. Although, if you are squeamish this may not be an activity you should undertake.

Cleaned Cheviot just out of the vat
without final rinse. 
I filled my bin with 5 gallons of rain water and topped up with well water. I used the rain water to contribute some natural yeast to the vat as there was some discussion online about their role in the process and I knew from experience that naturally occurring yeasts are crucial for food fermentation. I submerged a full fleece (Cheviot) and loosely put on the cover and topped with a rock so it wouldn't blow off in the spring wind and my geese wouldn't play in it. I chose a white fleece as the first one, so could easily see progress and how clean it actually got. I had a little look at day 3 and could see the telltale scum on the top and smell the sewer-smell that said everything was working as it should. Other than that, I completely forgot about it; other than occasionally getting a whiff of it when walking by. I wouldn't recommend this process to anyone with close neighbours.

Today I decided to was a good day to open and pull out the fleece. It was there a little longer than a week but I figured with the cooler than room temperature weather it could stand the extra fermentation. I placed it on a screen, allowing the liquid to go back into the bin for the next batch. I soaked it in a second vat for a few hours, drained and put in a final vat of rinse water. It is now drying in the sun.

So the verdict?? I thnk this method to clean wool is WONDERFUL! The fleece hasn't felted at all and just falls away from itself. I am marveling at the beauty of the fleece; usually at this point in processing I am sick of looking at it and need to step back for a bit. There is no dealing with sheep 'dirt' it has completely dissolved...it is amazing. Suint cleaning will save me water, soap and time. There is some grease left in the fleece but as I am dyeing the fleece, that will be cleaned out at that rinse. Now I just want it to finish drying so I can sort and get to the next step!

I am headed back into the garden to get the second fleece into the Suint vat; a beautiful charcoal grey Shetland!

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

New!! Hand Forged Knives by Michael Harlick

Putting his goldsmithing skills to use in a larger format, Mike has spent the winter working with his new forge. There are a few new products in the works but this is my favourite. This knife is constructed with a Newfoundland Railway spike and moose antler. Stay tuned for more products coming out of the forge. With the coming of the warmer weather, Mike will also be working on creating a new stock of Spruce Root baskets.

Summer Embroidery Classes at Dozen Odd, Carbonear!



Join Susan for a day of stitching in the beautiful Town of CarbonearThis summer, Susan will be hosting two hand embroidery classes at Dozen Odd Gallery in Carbonear. These classes are for all skill levels; beginner to advanced. Space is Limited. To register for workshops or for more information, please email blackhenstudio@gmail.com. 



Forget-Me-Nots
Saturday, June 25, 10 - 4 pm
Forget-Me-Nots have a long tradition in Newfoundland and Labrador as a flower of remembrance. This year as we commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the battles of the Somme and Beaumont-Hamel, Newfoundland and Labradorians will once again wear the Forget-Me-Not as a symbol of remembrance.


With silk thread and metal threads on dupioni silk ground fabric, we will stitch up a sprig of Forget-Me-Nots suitable for framing. Finished size: 5" x 7". We will cover basic stitches, beading, working with metal and how to mount your finished embroidery. Cost of workshop is $50 which includes all materials.



Caribou Hair Tufting and Goldwork
Saturday, July 30, 10 - 4
Join Susan for a relaxing day that will cover the basic stitches of historic goldwork and traditional caribou hair tufting and mounting your work for framing. Each participant will create a small (approx 4" x 6") embroidery suitable for framing. You will be able to choose natural or dyed hair as well as choice of ground fabric. Cost of workshop: $50 which includes materials.

A Broader Pallette: Molly Fodge

Last fall, I was fortunate to be a part of the NL Tourism campaign. The theme for this year is Colour. I am very pleased how it turned out. I first viewed it in the summer months and it reminded how beautiful everything can be in the summer. I can't wait to get back to the dye pots!

Monday, 10 August 2015

Woody Point Poppies

Natural dyes on silk.
11" x 14" 

Chaucer In The Yard

Being a backyard chicken keeper means I am always watching for predators. This year the Chanticleer and the Fox played out in my backyard. I have always loved Chaucer and was inspired to create this piece. It was created with natural dyes on silk with metal threads and the skull of my Chanticleer, who eventually lost the battle with the fox.