Friday, November 15, 2013

A Picture is Worth 1000 Words...


 I am now home from Italy and had an extraordinary time! I really struggle for words that will express what I am feeling about the experience.I began my journey with a couple of  fabulous days in Florence. My next post will be all about Florence as I try to cobble together my images and get them transferred from ipad to computer and hope it will convey in some way my impression of this spectacular place.

From Florence began the second part of my trip...my reason for coming to Italy (I say "coming" because I like to pretend I am still there...and part of me still is!). As I have mentioned I was invited by DHG for a solo exhibition and a workshop and "day one" in Prato began with a tour.

So we begin. Get your coffee and your nuno felted throw blanket and get comfortable...


Arriving in PRATO! Love at first sight. Gaia, my wonder-host who "is" DHG zipped me around in her mini cooper Italian style... a master of spacial awareness as you need to be to drive and park in Italy.

And here I am below arriving at "the dye house". The group of companies operates more than one, but this is where the fibres are dyed for DHG as well as many other clients




Welcome! This is the DHG Dye House. Up the winding road past olive groves. An beautiful old stone building houses the offices and where the chemists work at desks and the large additions are the dyeing area. 


Solar panels and Hydro power mean this is an eco friendly operation. The common fibre of tradition and innovation has found it's way into so many aspects of my trip. 






 A whole team of chemists are responsible for determining exact formulas. This is an Art and a Science and perfect balance of skills and dedication of the DHG team. 


 A chemist gets to practice his English (way better than my Italian) and is kind enough to explain to us, in lay-person terms,  how they begin to determine what precise combination of chemicals will be required for guaranteed success. The computer plays a vital role as does the expertise of the chemist. One cannot do the job without the other.


 ...This is then all made in a sample all computerized for absolute precision! A tiny mistake in the sample equals a big mistake in the larger scale, if you can imagine. They dye many very precious fibres....no margin for error!

  
carders for the samples...During the busy season the teams works around the clock so clients can get their collections out on time.

Care is taken with each sample to create a yarn, knit, and felt sample for the client.

How a scientist makes felt (lab coat required) This machine spins and prepares the fibres for the felting process.
I would add less water, but that is me! Love the spray bottle. This clamps down and kind of oscillates to create a softly felted sample. More than one way to felt, I always say.

 
Rrrrr...Rrrr...Rrrr... (as accurate as I can be)



Gaia (right) takes Lizbeth (left...friend, kind and patient translator!) and I through an area where dying takes place. Safety is if vital concern for those who work there, of course, and with technology they can automate all the addition of chemicals with computers and pipes to the pots vastly reducing exposure. Gaia has a huge passion for her business and for people and clearly loves what she does....an innovator with the tradition of the industry in her blood. 

 
Depending on what is going in the bath, the framework holding the fibres varies. For the roving, it is structured for uniform results (as they all are, I suppose!) allowing the dye to penetrate all the way through.

 Roving gets a special trip in the microwave. This, as you can imagine, is very easy on the fibres. At the other end, workers must handle these with gentle hands. Woman workers are ideal, but gentle-men work too :o)!!


I call this "the fluffer". I am sure it has a proper name. If named by an engineer, maybe it is the XJ943-6. I prefer "the fluffer"



Huge containers of roving in the superwash area. Hard not to paw!

Wool. Wool. Wool.


http://www.dyeinghousegallery.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Azienda_As-we-were-50s.jpg

Taken from this DHG page...I love this image so much. I think as a feltmaker, I too consider the "roots", the tradition of the makers before me. How do I carry this with me in a contemporary world creating contemporary art? What do you carry forward and where do you innovate?

No matter what for me it is about the material and need for the making and, on par, it is about people and communication. It is about love too...something you feel so deeply and are so driven by that you are compelled and consumed. So much to think about and process!

My next posts (today and/or tomorrow) will take you through Florence AND the rest of my unforgettable DHG experience. Stay tuned!

Visit my site www.andrea-graham.com

2 comments:

Carolyn Barnett said...

I've been traveling vicariously through you through Italy...some of the pics recalling for me when I was there briefly as a teen....we drove from England. Looking forward to your next post. Thanks, Andrea.
....wool, wool, wool!

Haden Starbuck said...

Andrea thanks for sharing your adventures. It is like Salt Spring continued, getting a DHG tour.

time to relax

time to relax
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