The Spiral Path of Words & Color


Happy Blog-iversary to me!

I began this blog to keep a (slightly) ordered record of my creative doings and makings. I figured the self-accountability of posting about my various colorful doings would prompt me into more regular habits. At the very least, it would create an ordered timeline of events I could take a backwards look at and track this meandering journey.

In fact that’s become a bigger part than I had reckoned on.

That was SEVEN years ago.

Much of my early blogging was to document my experiments in dying paper.

The idea arrived in my mind as I was pouring another bucket of colored water away, post-fabric-dying process.

Fabric dye remains ‘active’ for a relatively short time. Leaving cloth to soak for a long time will allow it to absorb deeper into the fibres, giving richer more intense colors, but the major part of the dying magic occurs in the first half hour or so. That pretty colored water will do nothing else. I got wondering – this is no good for fabric – but what about paper…?

In the passage of these 7 years I forget how I evolved to using inks instead of recycled dye water… something to do with the salt in the dye water being corrosive to the paper, and (more likely) the very dilute colors not suiting my bright vivid world. But I come back to these experiments again and again.

Way back, my first experiments were with an old dictionary. She’d already lost her cover and was very loose at the bindings. She was ready to become art paper.

Earlier this year I began playing about with these old book pages and something in my creativity woke up. I began what’s turned out to be an epic adventure into paper dying.

Revisiting ink dying with the remaining pages of that dictionary from years ago.

Life spirals around in familiar patterns – have you noticed this too?

The paper I’ve been using recently has also been from retired dictionaries. I remember these books from when I was a kid, they were falling-apart-old even then.

I’ve also got this 2 volume set of ‘The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary’. Huge books with multiple pages of regular sized print reduced into one. Barely visible words, the books actually come with a magnifying glass.

They’re so weighty [2 volumes of 4000+ pages!] They really feel like they’re holding the mass of an entire language.

I remember finding these books fascinating as a kid, but they were barely ever used, they’re just absurdly impractical. Instead they served as a doorstop for a while, and eventually found their way into a box of stored things in a damp garage. An unhappy demise for any book. Many years later, re-emerging, covers tatty and box almost destroyed, but pages miraculously almost intact.

This year these two gigantic tomes transcended into their latest incarnation: ART.

Afforded the freedom that this quantity of paper – literally thousands of pages from these dismantled books – I’ve really explored the ways the different types of paper take up different types of ink.

I’ve become obsessed!

I’ll show you more of these experiments next post, and what my plans are for these colorful pages!

Meanwhile, if you want to be first to know – and get a special discount on what I’m making – join up for my monthly-ish newsletter.

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