Boxing Day Walk & Forage for Ink

Hope you all had a lovely Xmas break, I was struck by flu for the first week of the festive break, but luckily was up and about by Boxing Day so we were able to partake in that yearly phenomenon of families walking together in the countryside.  I’m lucky enough to live within a short drive to the Peak District and we headed for a scenic walk around the Chatsworth Estate.

AA211D7F-CB45-4AF4-AFC4-0812E1EC8CDC257C00D4-DEC3-4F58-8744-C310DAFAEE7DI was very happy to discover two ancient oak trees absolutely covered in oak galls, these are left by a wasp laying it’s eggs and creating a small spherical gall.  The larvae then hatches and digs it’s way out of the gall leaving a tannin rich ball of loveliness for any eco artist. I quickly filled my gloves and pockets!

So this morning, I’ve been playing with a bit of kitchen witchery and grinding the galls before adding them to iron water and setting aside for a few days.   There are several methods to making oak gall ink, but this is my favourite.  I’ve also ordered some gum Arabic to experiment with a thickener so will post the results when I’ve made it and compared results.

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Red Shoes and Running

There is something very satisfying about getting new shoes especially when they are red shoes and can help take you out into the beautiful Derbyshire countryside.

I used to run a lot, then hurt myself, stopped, started, lost motivation, started again.  Stopped. Depression returned and with it a blanket of low self esteem and irritability.  Outside of my home, you wouldn’t know this as I continue to work and smile on a daily basis but often returning home to sleep for 10 hours or not sleep more than 3 – 4 hours, waking with swirling thoughts. When my dog died at Easter, I found myself wondering why I was carrying on like this and decided to get medical help.    Three months later and I have new red shoes, been wild swimming, have a wild camping trip planned and the most cheerful four-legged running partner ever.

I have to admit I’ve been inspired by a friend whose openness about her depression and recovery through social media has encouraged me to do the same.

I’ve also started reading a wonderful eco therapy book with a basis in Buddhism, it’s really challenging my thoughts on being self centred and seeing the world as something I use, not just enjoying its existence.  I concentrated today, in my red shoes, on enjoying the existence of the physical world around me and trying to enjoy the mindfulness of my time with Florence and the moor.

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Florence 

 

Derbyshire Forest School Conference

It’s always great to meet up with like minded people and develop new ideas, so I was really looking forward to the forest school day at the Eco Centre in Wirksworth.

I was leading a workshop in making Scandinavian Friendship Braids which I’d seen on the kindling Website and have used a lot at my own forest school. I love this simple, but not easy activity, it’s great for team work, communicating, laughing and making something you can share with a friend. You can also get in depth about differentiating with shapes, colours, words and numbers so it’s a great activity for any age.  I really enjoy leading a workshop at this conference, as the participants are all so keen to engage with new ideas that they can take back and use in their own settings.

After my workshop had finished, I attended a woodland gym and yoga session, which to be honest, my bra trauma started very early on in the session, so I decided observing was the safest option! I did enjoy the yoga story and the relaxation at the end though.  After a picnic lunch, I watched Paul Adamson demonstrate how to use a bow drill to light a fire and picked up a few tips on how to do this successfully, I have perfected how to fail at this so it’s time to do it properly…

im always inspired by a bit of CPD and the Derbyshire Forest School Conference never fails to deliver. I’m already wondering what workshop to offer next year.

 

Soul Nourishing

I’ve wanted to swim in the river for so long, but been too anxious to go off by myself and do it, so when I spotted a post on social media, I jumped at the opportunity.  It’s one of the highlights of my summer and I’ll be returning to the spot whenever I can.

 

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A rare selfie
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New friends swimming in the Derwent.
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Part of my I am Here Now journey, taking time to read in my hammock.

 

Keeping the Creativity Alive

 

In a week of such uncertainty, I realised I may have no influence in what is happening externally, other than putting a cross where my conscience tells me, i have tried to embrace the lack of control eco dyeing encourages me to embrace.

I am happy with chaos and surprise in my artwork but when it happens in life my brain shuts down into a spiral of depression, can I learn to transfer the excitement of unwrapping a bundle to the external world?

Bundle Dyeing

I may have cheated… I bought some roses that were reduced from the supermarket! This goes against all the ideas of the Sorrel and Silk project, which was to use foliage and flowers from Derbyshire. However, in my defence, yesterday it was an immense effort to get out of the house.  I decided to have a go at just using petals and steaming the bundles to extract the colours from the petals. I’m really happy with the results.  I have had my eye on some flowers in my garden, but as my daughter planted them, they are untouchable.  These pieces will probably be used as backgrounds for collaged textile pieces later on this year.