Sunday, April 19, 2020

2020 — And back to the unreal world

The day we left Mexico more and more cases of Corona virus were being reported from the US. Recommendations were to wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizer; don’t shake hands with anyone and avoid anyone who appeared ill or was coughing. The León airport was quiet, with few travelers. We waited for our plane, sitting far from other passengers.  At one point a group of people found seats near us and one was coughing, wetly, into a tissue as she took the seat next to me. We hastily grabbed our belongings and moved several rows away. I felt bad. It seemed rude and obvious...

At the airport in Dallas we did our best to maintain some space as we made our way through the customs process and were glad to be on the last leg toPortland. 

Once home we had to hurry to prepare for a guest from out of town. Susan Metzger, who we had met on our tour in Morocco a couple years ago was coming from Colorado to speak at our Columbia FiberArts Guild Quarterly meeting, then give a two-day workshop on creating batiks. One person questioned the wisdom of holding these events and canceled out of the workshop. The rest of us believed we could be careful and would be safe. I confess to believing, at that time, that it was not “that bad” and cancelling everything would have been an overreaction. Who knows? We were lucky. No one was infected as a result, and the class was so, so good. 

Over the two days Susan led us through the creation of two batiks—the first based on photos of irises that she had brought, and the second, a design of our own. The process is kind of mysterious, in that you are never sure, until the end, what you will wind up with. The medium is imprecise and unexpected things happen and colors behave differently from one day to the next. Though we all made “iris” pieces, based on the same photos , they were all distinctly different in the end. 

You apply hot wax to your fabric in steps, dyeing progressive colors in between—covering in each step, the parts of the composition that you wish to remain the current color. 

Susan helping Sheri decide the sequence of colors she will use to create her bird

First wax application, then the first, pale blue dye. When these are dry, more wax will be applied

Then a darker blue

Yellow dye turns the unwaxed blue areas to green

And finally a very dark, purple blue dye. 

Here’s my second piece drying at an intermediary stage where the amount of orangey red is startling! Have faith.
At the end we removed most of the wax by ironing our pieces between layers of newspaper and newsprint and gasped to see the results. Here are my two pieces. I like them a lot. 

By the end of the day on Friday, March 13, the Corona virus news was getting bad. Our class had planned to take Susan out to dinner, but decided we just all needed to get home. Ray, Susan and I shared a bottle of wine and a quiet dinner at home. 

The next morning Ray and I took Susan to the airport in a snowstorm, and then we went home and haven’t left. That was a little more than a month ago, but it seems much longer. The snow only lasted for a day and in that month Spring has come. The earth turns, the flowers bloom, the season changes. We stay home and sometimes are so sad we cry—not for ourselves, we are fine, but instead for the sick and dying, the exhausted and emotionally spent health workers, the homeless and hungry, those out of work, those grieving. 

And so it goes...


  1. Terry - Your two pieces are great. So much accomplished in such a short time. Glad you were just under the wire with the workshop and with Virus exposure. Stay well. Surely there is a light at the end of this terrible dark tunnel. Love