At the same time I made the eco prints on watercolour postcards at the end of January, I did some eco print experiments on raw silk bought in the silk market – Koza Han – in Bursa, Northern Turkey.
Koza Han (literally meaning Cocoon Inn) dating to 1491 is famous and I was able to get hold of a good quantity of raw silk at a very reasonable price. And make good contacts for future purchases into the bargain.
Bursa (a few hours due south of Istanbul) has a rich history. It was the first capital of Ottoman Turkey. The city was referred to as Hüdavendigar (God’s gift) during the Ottoman period. Now, it is Yeşil Bursa (Green Bursa) because of its proliferation of parks and gardens and the vast, richly varied forests which surround it. Folks go there to ski at the resort of Mount Uludağ. (Sublime Mountain). The mausoleums of the early Ottoman sultans are located in Bursa. The city’s landmarks include numerous buildings dating to the Ottoman period. There are also thermal baths and several museums, one of which is a museum of archaeology.
From Turkey Travel Planner: “Nearly all silk would at some point pass through the Old Silk Market in Bursa which was home to dozens of caravanserais known as Hans. Even as late as the 1960s one would see people transporting countless sacks filled with silkworm cocoons to the Koza (cocoon) Han.
These days, the ground floor level of the Koza Han has been tastefully turned into a lovely tea garden with plenty of seating available.”
I got some interesting prints from my Bursa raw silk. I used the yellow plane tree (Platanus) leaves I collected and froze last autumn, and red Cotinus, green Eucalyptus, red Acer palmatum (Maple) again from a batch I froze.
And I used Kathy Hays’ basic bundling technique from her eco print video workshop. (See yesterday’s blog for a You Tube sampler of her course).
While these are experiments, I did try to arrange the plant matter into satisfying compositions on the squares I cut from the silk, which meant I could note what the dyeing process added to a particular arrangement.
And figure out why so I can try and reproduce, or eliminate an effect or effects from future work.
This way of working seems to scratch more than my artistic itches. In the eco printing process I am also scientist/chemist. Alchemist? Witch?
And finally 34e4r. What?
The characters in italics were made by my cat -Keeks – who walked over my computer keyboard while I was typing this blog.
34e4r has a certain symmetry, visually, with that e flanked on either side by 4. It has a lyrical sound, too. Try saying it over and over: three four ee four ar. I tried singing it and will include it in my vocal warm-up as it includes three different vowel sounds (ee, oh, ah) and two consonants (th and f).
34e4r is also composition – musical composition. In terms of my work, it expands it to encompass sight and sound. I am already thinking compositionally in terms of sight and sound. Am I being reminded of this, with 34e4r? To make certain to consider, when arriving at compositions using eco prints in composition with other elements, not to forget to think in terms of sound, of music? Maybe it is a nudge, even, to get on with it.
As daft as it may seem, I have had many experiences to suggest that inspiration and ideas – and prods to get on with it – often come in strange forms, including cat-shaped ones. I mean, it does seem rather much of a coincidence that, while I am in the actual process of writing about composition, my cat should choose to walk across my keyboard, typing with her paws, 34e4r.