Friday, December 10, 2010


Well, I now feel I have finished this latest piece although it has yet to be mounted. As usual I will leave it to 'rest' for awhile like a good roast, before doing so.

This piece came about after I made the comment that I should now do a companion piece to my previous piece Co-Existing. Little did I know how much of what has happened in New Zealand during the last few months, and my visit to the Chatham Islands, would creep into this piece. None of which were anticipated, but somehow they took over and I have been open to these feelings. Serendipity is my favourite word, when all senses are open to make the most of what occurs, both good and bad. Expressing it in a meaningful and successful way is always a challenge, but then I am up for any challenge (as someone has just pointed out to me recently!).


©Diana Parkes, Dis-Cord 2010, 115cm x 160cm; 45" x 63"; dye, textile paint and cloth.

Although the 'broken' house symbol initially made no reference to the Christchurch earthquake in September, it soon became just that. The sometimes ghastly history of the Chatham Islands, between Moriori and Maori, and the many headstones with 'drowned/lost at sea' played on my mind after my visit. Then the 29 entombed miners. There is always to be a human figure(s) in this series of works, and I now see the New Zealand paratrooper killed (supposedly) by friendly fire in Afghanistan last week in this figure. His mother is an associate of mine, and a very well-respected person in the quilting world. We all feel for the family at this time. The white arch symbolizes hope which we must never ignore.

I am aware that expressing emotions and feelings within textile works is not common, but textiles do not always have to be 'nice' and acceptable. They can be a vehicle for all sorts of situations and emotions. I have in the past stepped over 'the line' with my work and probably confused lots of people. The older I get, the more comfortable I am with doing this, I just have to tell a story, otherwise I am wasting my time. It is as simple as that.

And to end on a more cheerful note - my daily strawberries from the garden!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Something different

In amongst other things I do, one of my jobs is to dye silk fabrics for future brides and their bridal parties. I work with a couple of local silk fabric shops; one in particular deals a lot with bridal and special occasion fabrics.

It is a very long time ago since I was a bride, and today's bride-to-be has a huge source of images to choose from in magazines and on the Internet. And often their dreams select a fabric of a certain colour which does not seem to be available anywhere, that is in New Zealand, or further afield.

One skill I have developed very successfully is dyeing yardage to a specific colour, and with a 100% flat colour, just like a 'bought fabric'. There has been quite a few brides and their bridal parties out there with garments made from silk fabrics which I have dyed specifically for them.

Here are my latest pieces - a heavy silk crepe on the left (shiny finish) while on the right is a silk Georgette (dull finish)which is to be made into sashes for the bridesmaids.

I have developed a reliable method of doing these fabrics and for those not familiar with such processes, it all goes by weight ie the dry fabric is weighed and the amount of dyes and chemicals are determined as to the depth of colour, and of course the colour itself which may be achieved with several mixed dye colours. I never bother to measure the length of what I am dyeing, that is not part of the equation. The fabrics above, combined, weighed in at 800 gms dry weight; the silk crepe was very heavy, but the Georgette very light. As I do this all by hand, I do have a limit of one kilogram, dry weight, as when wet this becomes very heavy. If the fabrics go above this weight I need to cut into more manageable pieces, the dressmakers are able to manipulate the garment pieces when cutting. One bridal party got their fabric in five pieces ie five dye batches, and they all matched perfectly!