X mas in New Zealand is very tricky. In Berlin I would never forget that x mas comes closer, they are markets all over the place, the smell of Gluehwein (mulled wine) and delicious  Weihnachtsplaetzchen (biscuits) in the air, its usually very cold and x mas decorated windows everywhere.  New Zealand right now: sunshine, the birds are singing, everything is green, the blossoms smelling sweet and the BBQ s  are in action. Nice as well. And I totally forgot to buy xmas presents… good there are still some days left to think about what to get for whom and to buy or make some nice presents.

If you are still looking for some presents, what about some handmade harakeke (NZ flax) earrings? Available in turquoise and magenta, hooks surgical steel.
$ 20 per pair plus standard postage within NZ.

harakeke earrings by Birgit Moffatt
As long as stock lasts. Please contact me for orders.

 

Solar dyeing is a dye technique which involves very little. Its a good way to dye scraps of fabric and threads for further use. After stuffing the fabrics – I put leaves in some of them as well – into old glass jars I poured some leftover dye liquids in: black tea, onion skin liquid, soaked eucalyptus bark liquid and marigold liquid from last year. I also layered some liquids on top of each other to achieve blended colours.

solar dyeing by Birgit Moffatt dyestuff and yarns

solar dyeing by Birgit Moffatt
placed in jars, there is some prickle leftover which may affects the outcome

solar dyeing by Birgit Moffatt

solar dyeing by Birgit Moffattsolar dyeing by Birgit Moffatt filled up with dyestuff

solar dyeing by Birgit Moffatt
sitting on the window sill and waiting for the sun to come out. The hardest thing is to forget about them, they need to stay in the sun at least till after x mas

 

I have been resisting dyeing with kowhai flowers up to now because all parts of the plants are poisoning but also because the nectar is a preferred food source for tui and kereru. As I get more and more interested in natural dyes especially from New Zealand and flowers were abundant this year I decided to test the dye on a variety of natural fibres (silks, wool, muka and linen).

kowhai dyeing by Birgit MoffattFreshly picked kowhai flowers

kowhai dyeing by Birgit MoffattSoaked in water for a couple of days

kowhai dyeing by Birgit MoffattBecause of the strange smell I did the boiling and dyeing outside.

kowhai dyeing by Birgit MoffattSamples with alum as mordant, not very bright although I like the shades which can give a beautiful subtlety on silks.

kowhai dyeing by Birgit MoffattSamples dyed with a piece of copper plate, not much different from the alum mordant samples.

kowhai dyeing by Birgit MoffattSamples with iron as mordant, almost a taupe shade. Quite a bit disappointing as I expected much stronger colours but there are some nice shades among them.

 

There are probably as much recipes for indigo vats as there are for German potato salad, and its an art in itself to get a successful indigo vat going, the same applies to a good German potato salad. This time I started a vat with indigo powder (obviously), fructose and lime (calx).

The bronze surface appeared on the liquid, but only a few little blue bubbles (also called flower). I did a test to see if it worked.

dyeing with indigo by Birgit Moffatt
after 2 dips, I did a little resist with a marble

dyeing with indigo by Birgit Moffatt dyeing with indigo by Birgit Moffatt
take the marble out

dyeing with indigo by Birgit Moffatt
voila, rinsed and dried

nuno felt indigo by Birgit Moffatt nuno felt indigo by Birgit Moffatt
Next I dyed a white nuno felted scarf. I love the texture against the sun and the shade of blue. I find quite successful although I may dip it another couple of times to see if I can get deeper shades of blue.

 

 

Here are my latest eco prints, this time on pure (means 100%) silk. I have used eukalyptus leaves but also tried some New Zealand native trees and bushes (well, only the leaves).

eco print on silk by Birgit Moffatt
Eukalyptus

ecoprint on silk-15 eco print on silk by Birgit Moffatt
Mingi Mingi

eco print on silk by Birgit Moffatt
Mako Mako (my absolute favourite today)

eco print on silk by Birgit Moffatt
Eukalyptus with Pohutukawa (stamens)

ecoprint on silk-20 MakoMako eco print by Birgit Moffatt
I will have a small selection on display (yes and for sale) in my studio at the Kapiti Arts Trail.

There is such a large variety of eucalyptus species and every eco print with those leaves will give different results, depending on the time of picking the leaves, the region, and the kind of water to simmer the bundles in. There is already so much written about it and I am not a scientist understanding the chemical side of eco printing, so I just did a little test with the same leaves dyed in the same pot, the same lengths of time, the same fabric (merino knit) . The only difference is that I soaked one fabric in iron water  over night, the other not.

eco print detail by Birgit Moffatt
This is the fabric not soaked.

eco print detail by Birgit Moffatt
This is the fabric soaked.

Which do you like better?

Deconstructive screenprint (DSP) is a technique developed by American fibre artist Kerr Grabowski, its a technique to apply dye on fabric with a silkscreen. This technique is more environment friendly because the thickener is a natural product called manutex, which is actually kelp. No toxic emulsion is needed to set up the screen. And its easy to clean. Disadvantage is that once the dye has “deconstructed” from the screen to the medium, a new screen has to be prepared. Therefore its more time consuming but results are always unique and cannot be repeated. If you are interested to learn more about this technique have a look at Kerr’s website.

I have done some tests on fabric (cotton works best) but also find it works beautiful on paper. So I gave it a go to do some unique little prints.

DSP on paper by Birgit Moffatt
Anything flat with texture can be used to prepare the screen, like leaves, plastic bags, bubble wrap or string.

DSP on paper by Birgit Moffatt DSP on paper by Birgit Moffatt

The prepared screen has to be completely dry before printing (in the image the thickener with added dye powder is still wet).

DSP on paper by Birgit Moffatt DSP on paper by Birgit Moffatt DSP on paper by Birgit Moffatt DSP on paper by Birgit Moffatt DSP on paper by Birgit Moffatt
I was so excited with the finished prints, lovely colors, lovely texture.

DSP on paper by Birgit Moffatt DSP on paper by Birgit Moffatt
Even the details look gorgeous.
Some of them will be available for sale in my studio on the Kāpiti Arts Trail.

I love that plant. Rangiora. I dont know why its called rangiora, but rangi means sky and ora life in te reo māori. I first noticed it because of its unusual leaf form.rangiora print by Birgit Moffatt rangiora print by Birgit Moffatt

Then I learnt that it has been used in rongoā, traditional māori medicine. And the first settlers used it as toilet paper because of the soft paper like underside of the leaf.

I tried eco print with rangiora, without much success. My friend Helena wrote me a German bread recipe on a leaf of Rangiora (and the bread is really yummy).bread recipe on Rangiora

Because it has such lovely veins I tried to simple paint it with thickened dye and printed it on my brown paper bags, ready for the Kapiti Arts Trail.

rangiora print by Birgit Moffatt rangiora print by Birgit Moffatt

Finished. Hope to print a new batch soon… rangiora print by Birgit Moffatt

First things first, after a few considerations I decided to give it a go and applied for the Kāpiti Arts Trail 2015. And got in! This will be the first time I open my new studio for the public and I just realized its only 6 weeks to go.

Here the key dates and further information from Kāpiti Coast District Council (KCDC), you can also download the official Kapiti Arts Guide. Dont miss out and having a browse to see what other amazing local artists have to offer. I am sure it will be a successful two weekends.

fibre studio Birgit Moffatt opening fibre studio 2015

eco print on merino fabric by Birgit Moffattfinished this April, celebrated with a studio warming and it looks so different now as it is in use…

Kapit arts Guide                                                               And this it what it looks like in the Kāpiti Arts Guide

 

 

What is better than a walk on a beautiful clear morning? Technically it is still winter but signs of spring showing everywhere! Plus the sounds of the birds and the smell of moist crisp forest air…

nest photo by Birgit Moffatt walk spring blossom Kereru photo by Birgit Moffatt native bush by Birgit Moffatt native bush by Birgit Moffatt Otaki Gorge by Birgit Moffatt photo by Birgit Moffatt kowhai photo by Birgit Moffatt

Cannot describe the feelings but I guess that is a form of belonging. Kia ora Aotearoa!