Sunday, January 31, 2016

a picture, a postcard and a print block

Hard to believe it is February today.
Over the last few weeks I have made a couple of things for some dear friends -
a card for a golden wedding anniversary with fussy cut 3D flowers

and a small picture using, some of my hand dyes.

Having made and used two blocks in my recent papyrus wall hanging without knowing too much about it I am currently learning  more about the process of linocutting and block printing. This is my just completed 'sampler' block, trying the different tools to make a variety of patterns.

 I can't wait to try printing it.

My quilting friendship group met at Normanville yesterday. It was a lovely day (for a change, after heat and fires and more recently rain and wind and storms) and some of us took time out to walk to the beach. It was picture perfect...

 The life savers above, and looking back up the coast below.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

a project finished

In between surviving Christmas and sorting photos I have been doing some stitching, and have just finished a piece of work from my Form and Variation course with Dijanne Cevaal last year. (seems strange to be saying last year though January is nearly over...) I used papyrus as my subject of interest, inspired by the view from the window of my workroom, of papyrus growing in our small fish pond.
I look out the window and wonder about its history, the making of paper, writing and scrolls and Egypt, and how it was used to weave bags and baskets or make rope, maybe for sailing boats on the Nile. My attempts to weave and plait it, and make paper haven't been too successful so far, though the videos make it look easy...

I posted some photos earlier of the work in progress, but this is the completed piece - 'Papyrus'. The background, pyramids and fronds are my own hand dyed fabric, and I made the background print blocks. The pictures are from Egypt, hand painted on papyrus. There is hand stitching on the pyramids and for the seed/flowers. The rest is machine worked.

Thinking of this - working with reeds and grasses and weaving - I am reminded of seeing the beautiful fabric being woven (as in her skirt too) in thread from nettles in one of the displays at the Hornbill Festival.
I am always left wondering how these things get discovered...

a great experience

The final part of my trip was to the Hornbill Festival in Nagaland.
Nagaland became the 16th State of the Indian Union in 1963 but nationalist activities and tribal disputes continued for some years. Though governed by a Legislative Council, the tribes have some autonomy to conduct their own affairs, and the Hornbill Festival was launched in 2000 for all the tribes to come together to protect and display their history, culture and traditions. There are 16 main tribes plus smaller ones.
The people of Kohima, the capital,

live a fairly western lifestyle but it was a surprise to find Christmas lights, decorations and trees everywhere.

This tree was made of green bottles or cylinders. Men in uniform are plentiful - either the Police, Border Security or Assam Rifles (servicemen bearing rifles). The state, unusually is 80% Christian (about 70% Baptist), and consequently there were Churches, church schools and organisations everywhere too. The government strongly supports environmental issues - recycling and anti-littering. There are fines for littering. The sign above says 'This Christmas go green '

Pointsettias of several different colours were blooming everywhere, and the people use lots of potted plants to decorate/beautify their houses. These were at the festival arena.

The festival is named after the hornbill bird, which is part of the folklore in most of the state's tribes. It is held at Naga Heritage Village, Kisama which is about 12 km from the Naga capital Kohima. Highlights that we saw over 2 days were traditional Naga Morungs,

exhibitions and sale of arts and crafts, food stalls,  songs and dances. The  costumes, with traditional woven patterns and decorations of shells, beads, horn and feathers were extremely colourful, and the songs melodious (unfortunately no CDs to buy)




  These, above, are male headdresses
 Here are both real and artificial hornbill feathers. The birds tend to be in the more remote areas.
 The week long festival also has fashion shows, beauty contest, traditional archery, naga wrestling, indigenous games and musical concerts, the Konyak fire eating demonstration, pork-fat eating competitions, the Hornbill Literature Festival, Hornbill Global Film Fest, Hornbill Ball, Choral Panorama, North East India Drum Ensemble, Naga king chilli eating competition, Hornbill National Rock Contest, Hornbill International Motor Rally and WW-II Vintage Car Rally.

They are keen to promote tourism, but as yet there are few westerners. Let me recommend it.

Friday, January 15, 2016

old crafts and wildlife

Visits to Majuli and the Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary in Assam.
We made an early start from Jorhat one morning to be at the ferry terminal by 8 - still misty and foggy and cold - to cross India's biggest, and only male, river, the Brahmaputra to Majuli. Coming from a very dry state (South Australia) the size of the river is incredibly immense, and seeing the further expanse covered with water during flood times is unbelievable.
The ferry wasn't quite like any car ferry I'd been on before...
 and the loading 'terminals' were a confusion of buses, trucks, cars and motorbikes, some arriving and some departing.  It took 6 cars (ours were booked on) about 40 motor bikes and 100+ passengers. The smooth passage took an hour.

 and the cars were secured with a piece of rock or brick... 
the red is from tail lights as it was dark when we returned at 5pm. This was the amazing sunset - a huge red ball (not the greatest picture from my simple camera)

Other smaller ferries carried people and goods - like this wardrobe which was walked off, followed by a dressing table.

Said to be the largest river island in the world, Majuli has been considered the cultural capital of Assam for many years. Now it is like a last bastion for traditions and culture. The houses are mostly built on stilts, and much of the island faces flooding each year. 
We visited traditional mask makers.
The base is made from bamboo, covered with clay, and then dung, before painting and decorating, as shown from left to right in this picture
 One of the makers gave some clever, impromptu performances . The characters are traditional from stories and dances.

 We visited a monastery where we were offered chai. As happened in a few places it came in plastic cups !!! On this occasion mine actually collapsed with the heat and has a hole on the back side. 
  This young lad had just joined the monastery the day before. They can enter from as young as four.

 The buildings were simple with not a lot of decoration

I liked these drums hanging on the wall
 From there we visited some potters. They make the pots by paddling the clay, with no wheels, and then fire them over 24 hours on mounds over a fireplace which has a central vent. The process is slow compared to modern methods, but they were amazingly fast when I think of my handbuilding attempts. Different women do different stages, and they virtually made a pot while we were watching. You can see the day's work beside them.
  The first lady takes a lump of clay and works her hand into the centre
 The second adds coils or bands to increase the height, and the third, paddles the shape smooth.

  The fire place underneath
The mound the pots will be laid on.  Straw is laid, then the pots and more straw and a layer of clay.
The pots covered with clay and the fire is lit

 The gray pots fire to an orange colour.

The visit to the wildlife sanctuarycomes with a list of 'might sees' - elephant, tiger, water buffalo, one horned rhinocerus and many birds. We travelled in open jeeps with spotters and a chap armed with a rifle (presumably to deal with/scare off situations like the day before when a rhino chased a jeep!) We didn't see any tigers, but were lucky enough to see 2 elephants, lots of water buffalo and about 10 rhinos, plus some basking otters and a lot of birds including green pigeons, rollers (the one with the blue pictured), cranes, eagles and  storks...


There is a second elephant, a young one on the right of this photo. Fortunately we spotted these in just the last few minutes of our visit.