Isabella Whitworth

probably more than natural and synthetic dyes, wax, resists, and history

Of shibori and Eisenia fetida

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Britain has embarrassingly ground to a halt under the assault of several frightening snowflakes. If you live in continental Europe, our annual impotence in the face of white stuff falling from the sky is the subject of tittering merriment from Montpellier to Munich.

If you live further afield I should explain that snow is not at all unknown in Britain. But gritters, snowploughs, de-icers etc are on the endangered list having been overfished, over-harvested or hunted to extinction. As a result schools close, public transport fails, there is panic buying in the shops and local news teams go searching for slopes covered in merry tobogganing children.

Last week’s accelerated endeavour to make shibori scarves for Friday turned out pointless; the morning meeting at which I was to hand them over was cancelled because of a large snowflake between Exeter and Bovey Tracey.  A major road was ‘too dangerous’ and we were all advised to stay in our homes wrapped in blankets and listen to our radios. Nevertheless, getting ahead and completing scarves did give me unexpected studio time and I have been working on a set of samples to demonstrate techniques for my March course Brilliant with Pattern at West Dean. I am combining shibori and wax resist with a new set of techniques that occurred to me in one of those middle-of-the night eureka! moments.

I occasionally think of useful things in the middle of the night but normally I lie awake beset by obsessional anxieties over pieces of paper I may or may not have lost, people I may not have upset and whether the worm composter needs emptying at 4 am before the entire population of Eisenia fetida drowns. And talking of the worm composter, it did a Boris Johnson last week and some seeds germinated inside to form an extraordinary growth of thatch. It was quite a picture inside, so I took one. And here are a couple of others of work from weather week.


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