Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Regula Fidei

The Church, though dispersed through the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and their disciples this faith:
in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them;
and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who became incarnate for our salvation;
and in the Holy Spirit, who proclaimed through the prophets the dispensations of God, and the advents, and the birth from a virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the ascension into heaven in the flesh of the beloved Christ Jesus, our Lord, and His manifestation from heaven in the glory of the Father “to gather all things in one,” and to raise up anew all flesh of the whole human race, in order that to Christ Jesus, our Lord, and God, and Saviour, and King, according to the will of the invisible Father, “every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess” to Him, and that He should execute just judgment towards all; that He may send “spiritual wickednesses,” and the angels who transgressed and became apostates, together with the ungodly, and unrighteous, and wicked, and profane among men, into everlasting fire; but may, in the exercise of His grace, confer immortality on the righteous, and holy, and those who have kept His commandments, and have persevered in His love, some from the beginning, and others from their repentance, and may surround them with everlasting glory.

Irenaeus, Against Heresies Book I, Ch X

(isn't that sentence on the Holy Spirit just about the longest you've ever seen??)

Warning for Stan: Spoiler-if you like surprises in the mail, don't look any further. If you don't care or you're not Stan, go right ahead.

For those other two of you not in the know I have been working on a piece related to Athanasius for Stan for the last few months. It was designed at roughly the same time, and they were meant to be the beginning of a series.

Anyway because I am horribly lazy and fickle, only the two were ever designed, so I created this one for Stan in blue and copper/browns. It is a picture of Irenaeus, backed by Polycarp and lastly John (which I like to think is the Apostle just because I do and it makes the picture work). So it worked out like this:

The coppery lines across the faces is just the end of a thread I am using to quilt the background.

I still have that same old indigo vat. It freezes solid every year and every year I am surprised that it revives. I ran out of lye so it took an entire container of soda ash and over a week to balance the vat this time around, it was that acidic. But I did it-in fact the indigo gave the best colour I've ever gotten with it. I threw some silks and cottons in also at the time, with varying lovely colours. The colour is stunning and is a wonderful example of my earlier post on the luminosity of Natural dyes. I almost didn't want to paint over it. I darkened it with the tannin from some tea and it mellowed the colour and deepened it for a week or so afterward. This is another wonderful thing about natural dyes-surprises! The photo does not do the colour justice really.

Because the printer was being rather prickish in enlarging the image, I got to learn to make my very own projector from a shoebox, a camera lens, a mirror and a christmas tree light. It sort of worked-kind of. I don't want to do it again.

Here is the pen rendering of the design which was enlarged to become the pattern.

Because of the alkalinity of the vat (okay and because I could not find the noil I had used for Athanasius) I decided to use linen. While it worked out okay and I think that is the reason I got such a good colour, I don't think I'll use linen again. It started to pill as I scrubbed paint on there. The slubs also made an even layer of paint impossible. You can see the slubs and it isn't smooth like the application on Athanasius. It is also smaller, so there is less detail.

Except for those snags the paint went on okay. I am relatively okay with it.

I used the same pattern I had made in gesso for Athanasius to do the rubbing for the background. What can I say, I'm lazy.

I had a hard time deciding how I would add the words to the bottom, so I left it for awhile. Eventually I decided to do a rubbing so I used some old cerne relief paint that I had to pipe out the letters on a piece of paper and then rub over top of them with the copper paintstick. The piece moved when I went to do a second go over at the top, so the letters are not so clear there. I did go back and add some more paint in to render them clearer and some blue ink to make them stand in relief a little more. I actually like the deconstructed ancient look of the letters, even if they are likely quite difficult to read. It is the first part of the above quote that is used. I am thinking I might brown out the letters a little because as copper as they are now they are a little overwhelming.

I found a piece of dupionni that sort of mimicked the copper of indigo blossoms reasonably by being copper shot with blue. I decided to use it for the backing (it is not as orange as it appears in the photo because of the blue warp).

I've still got most of the quilting to do, but I don't foresee many snags there. I put the batting between the linen and the silk, and the edges of the silk are already finished and ready for hanging. Any day I don't have to do a binding is a good one. The linen is a little wonky, but I think it's livable. I'll update when the quilting is done, probably in the next few weeks.

ETA: Here it is with I think the quilting done. As you can see I unfortunately placed it a little crooked, but it hangs okay over all, better than I thought it might given the fact that the centre is so much heavier.

I should quilt the faces to contour them, but I am really wary of doing so. I might and I might not. The colours read truer on the first photo than on this one. Of course the silk is not so orange as it is in either.

Richard looked at it and said "Charlton Heston as John!" Okay so I guess it does kind of look like Charlton Heston. Haha. I hope you don't mind that Stan.

Monday, 6 October 2008

In Christ...

A Christian is an impregnable person. He is a person that never can be conquered. Emmanuel became man to make the church and every Christian to be one with him. Christ's nature is out of danger of all that is hurtful. The sun shall not shine, the wind shall not blow, to the church's hurt. For the church's Head ruleth over all things and hath all things in subjection. Therefore let all the enemies consult together, this king and that power, there is a counsel in heaven which will disturb and dash all their counsels. Emmanuel in heaven laugheth them to scorn.

Richard Sibbes

As I'm sure you all know I love Richard Sibbes (have you read the Bruised Reed yet?). I was reminded of this quote once again by the struggles of an acquaintance.It's one of my faves.

Sibbes here reminds me a little of Torah and Numbers in particular. Nothing could prevent God from delivering his people, not the many enemies without nor the people delivered. Just so, nothing can prevent Christ from fully redeeming his church. He has already done it in fact and if we are in Christ, we have nothing to fear from what may be done to us or even from ourselves and our own weaknesses. Even the enemy of self is under his subjugation. For those of us bleeding out from self-inflicted wounds it is powerful to remember that he controls all things and works them together for the good of his people. Of course this turns our normal perception on it's head for it means that when evil comes there is ultimately goodness hidden in the evil which we receive by Christ. All our sufferings are good, even those self-inflicted ones. Evil then is turned in on itself by the power of the crucified and risen Christ.

Of course we are not safe from evil because we are special, get things right, or feel the right way, but because we are in Christ. We are weak and we fail and pain comes, but Christ has succeeded even when we feel like utter failures. Christ is victorious even when we feel like we have been completely conquered by others' cruelty or our weaknesses. No suffering harms us in Christ. In Christ. No two sweeter words may comfort us in trial. All the promises of God find their yes in Christ. That is why it is through him we utter our amen to God-for his glory.

Ultimately it is all about him and his glory, glory revealed in suffering, Christ's and ours. This is why God upholds us-for Christ's sake and for the glory of his Name. Not because one day we would "pay him back" and be a good return investment. No from beginning to end, salvation is of God and he alone. That is why we may rest so securely in it, That is why we can laugh with God to the scorn of his enemies (and our old man is certainly one of them) and not fear what they may or may not do. He will do what he has set out to accomplish, and he has set out to make us his own sons, at one with him. These sufferings are his way of making it happen.

And finally when we are revealed as the sons of God and with Christ in his glory we will see just how powerful our God is. On that day I'm sure we'll laugh at how foolish we were to cower fearfully in the impenetrable fortress that is Christ-which even now we reside in.

Anyway that is where my mind has been wandering lately.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Seeing Colour, Abrash and the Trinity

Some people have asked me about my work in natural dyes. It seems like so much work, they ask, why even bother? Wouldn't it just be easier to just use acid or procion powders, as well as more predictable and safer?

Well yeah actually it would. But though I also work with synthetics, natural dyes have something that the ease of the synthetic can not replace. Some I am sure work in natural dyes because they like to play chemist, but for most of us I think it is because the colour of a natural dye is simply beautiful in a way that can't be mimicked in a synthetic.

I have read many impassioned arguments for the superior beauty of natural colour from it's advocates which is met with confusion and lost on those who don't work in the media. I know enough people who see no difference in the blue of indigo and the indigo blue of a synthetic, yet to me they are clearly not the same colour. So I have begun to think that maybe those who work in natural dyes (or with natural pigments) actually see colour differently than other people. Perhaps we see more colours or distinguish them better?

What we are seeing can be put under the umbrella of what is called abrash (one of many spellings) in the rug trade. All natural dyes, no matter how carefully one may dye them, have abrash-that is variation in hue, chroma and value from dyelot to dyelot or even in the same dyelot. It can be quite noticeable or at times can be very subtle, however it is always present in a naturally dyed item. Even one that at first glance appears to be a single colour always upon closer inspection is comprised of many other colours making it sparkle like facets do for a gemstone.

I think this may be the reason we prefer natural pigment, abrash makes for a richly diverse and luminous colour, a colour that obviously contains other colours. The cold sea of uniformity that is common to the chemically uniform synthetic dye is dreadfully austere and boring. All unity, no diversity. One must take specific steps to try and artificially achieve Abrash-which some actually do (okay okay some is me. I always tinker with the dyes and synthetic dyes gone bad are some of my favorites...) but it is never as beautiful. However this isn't as plain to everyone as it is to those of us who love it.

One might say natural media reflects the trinity, heh. Of course it shouldn't surprise that creations do reflect their creator. A synthetic dye is so singular and homogenous like the men that developed it. A natural dye experiences a little bit of perichoresis of it's own. And of course even though it is beautiful in it's complexity, it isn't always apparent or appreciated by those who don't want to see it.

Everything can be related to theology some way or another.