Saturday, May 26, 2012

Rainforest Memories II
ArtCloth

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Introduction
Environment Art is defined as[1]: Any ordered arrangement or reconstruction of the natural and built environment. It includes such categories as the floral art of the natural environment, and/or art depicting gardens of a built environment.

Most of my MultiSpersed Dye Sublimation (MSDS) artwork is Environment Art. Moreover, it centers on the need to take into consideration climate change when viewing the preservation of pristine forests and the animal kingdom that is nurtured by them. See for example,
Wangi’s Djirang
Merge And Flow
Flames Unfurling
Selected Disperse Dye ArtCloths
Sequestration of CO2

It is no accident that animals - who are under human care - can adapt to climate change (e.g. polar bears do live in Sydney Zoo!) However, left to the wilds of nature, animals and plant species cannot tolerate significant habitat changes; if the Arctic melts no polar bears will exist in the wild etc.

Interesting Facts About Rainforests
* Rainforests are home to 50% of the world’s animals and plant life.
* Generally rainforests are being destroyed at a rate of 246000 square kilometers a year.
* The average rainfall of rainforests in general is around 2000 mm per year.
* The temperature of the rainforests is in the vicinity of 20-30oC.
* Rainforests are in North and South America, Islands such as Indonesia, Africa and Australia etc; that is, in tropical zones.
* There is increasing pressure - due to the spiralling world population - to clear land (for example, Brazil) for commercial uses, thereby placing the flora and fauna of rainforests on a trajectory toward extinction.

The artwork presented in this post is not intended to be decorative, although plants always yield a decorative appeal to all of us. Rather, it seeks to evoke the feelings of a memory – an ephemeral reflection of what was - but what may not be in the future.

Section View of “Rainforest Memories II”.
Photograph Courtesy Marie-Therese Wisniowski.

"Rainforest Memories II" was exhibited at the “Never Static: ArtCloth at the Textile Centre” exhibition (Textile Centre, Joan Mondale Gallery, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA). It was an international exhibition of ArtCloth juried by Jane Dunnewold. The artwork now resides in a private collection in the USA.

Its context was born from the existence and preservation of the Daintree Rainforest in Australia. I hope you enjoy the basis on which this artwork rests and of course, the artwork itself.


The Context For “Rainforest Memories II” - The Daintree Rainforest (Australia)
The Daintree Rainforest is the largest rainforest in Australia and is situated north of Cairns in tropical North Queensland (Australia). It originated more than 135 million years ago when Gwondana land began to separate into Africa, South America, Antarctica and India.

Location Of The Daintree Rainforest In Australia.

Approximately 60 million years ago Australia was a separate island continent much of which was covered by rainforest. With time, the rainforest gradually receded and left only a remnant of its history on this continent. The wet tropics provided scientists with a living record of ecological and evolutionary processes that shaped the history of Australian plants and animals over millions of years. It is believed that the Daintree has exited in its current form for some 20000 years (i.e. end of the last ice age) and with the Australian Aborigines coming to Australia some 60000 years ago, they were present to witness how it morphed into its current state.

One Of The Beautiful Falls In The Daintree.

It is one of the world’s oldest and most beautiful rainforests that is approximately 1200 square kilometers in size. It supports over 3000 species of plants, over one third of Australia’s mammalian species - including 13 of which are found nowhere else in the world. It is also home to a quarter of Australia’s frogs, a third of the country’s freshwater fish and nearly half of Australia’s birds.

Red-Legged Pademelon and Joey.

The first modern documented history of the Daintree began in 1770 with Sir Joseph Banks, who described the area whilst traveling with Captain Cook. The Kuku Yalariji tribe (Australian Aboriginals) inhabited the area at that time. With the arrival of the British came the early European settlers in the 1800s, but the rainforest was too harsh an environment to colonize. By the early 1900s industrial development had led to the first colonization of the area. In the 1930s 160 acres of freehold land were sold to farmers.

The wet tropics were ideally suited for fruit crops as well as to provide timber. However, by the 1980s a conflict emerged between commercial operators and environmentalists - the latter demanding that the Daintree be restored to its former pristine state. In 1987 the Federal Government determined that the Daintree would be a World Listed Heritage Area. In 1988 the Queensland (State) and Federal governments battled in Australia’s High Court over this issue, with the Court decreeing that the Federal Government legislation and heritage listing was valid in law.

Diantree Frog Hops Onto The Boat.

Due to the high rainfall and diversity of terrain, the Daintree is a botanist’s delight. Over 3000 plant species from 210 families are found here, with 395 rare or threatened plant species protected in the World Heritage Listed Area.
 Complex mesophyll vine forests rest on the wet lowlands, while notophyll vine forests sit up on the wet highlands. On mountain ridges simple microphyll fern forests dominate. One could spend hours studying the range of ferns, conifers, cycads, palms, flowering plants, mangroves and carnivorous plants.

Daintree Ferns.

The wildlife of the Daintree is magnificent. It is home to mammals found nowhere else in the world including species of tree kangaroo, rat kangaroo, ring-tailed possum, melomys and ant echidnas. The bird life is even more remarkable such as the Cassowary, which is related to the emus, rheas, kiwis and ostrich. The Cassowary is now an endangered species. However, it can be found in the rainforest at Cooper Creek.

Cassowary In The Daintree.

Many other birds flourish including rifle birds, golden bower birds, wampoo pigeons, chowchillas and paradise kingfishers. 
Of over 1050 species of reptile and frog in the world, 131 occur specifically in the wet tropics. Of interest are the beautiful pythons and tree snakes that inhabit the area, which are not harmful to humans. It also contains such species as the Boyd’s Forest Dragon (with its dinosaur like appearance), the cute freshwater turtles, 54 species of frog and the most spectacular and iridescent of butterflies including the bright blue ‘Ulysses’.
 The estuaries of this coastline are home to one of Australia’s more dangerous reptiles - the saltwater crocodile.

Ulysses Butterfly In The Daintree.

The Daintree is still today a World Heritage Listed Area. 
The future of the Daintree is dependent on a symbiotic relationship between environmentalists, the eco-tourism industry (which is very vibrant with lodging in its midst - e.g. Tourist Network ) and the Federal Government in order to maintain and protect the importance and beauty of one of the last true wilderness reserves.


Rainforest Memories II
Artist Statement
Coal is a fossil fuel. It is the most abundant of the conventional hydrocarbon resources. There have been two major periods of coal formation: Carboniferous to early Triassic (345-200 million years ago) and late Jurassic to early Tertiary (150-50 million years ago). The fossilized plant remains of the Carboniferous and the younger Mesozoic coals suggests that they were formed in tropical swamps, with giant ferns, shrubs, vines, trees and algae that grew and then fell into decay. The resulting organic matter was accumulated in the layers at the bottom of swamps, where aerobic bacteria decomposed it. It takes about 10 meters of plant debris to produce 1 meter of coal.

The existence of tropically derived coals in the northern latitudes was due to continental drift, with the coals being produced when the host continents were close to the equator. They have subsequently drifted to their current latitudes, well north of the equator.

Darwin’s theory of natural selection suggests that each species will attempt to alter its environment to suit and promote its own existence. Rainforests are best suited in tropical environments and so they would prefer a world that was far hotter and wetter at all latitudes.

Today, 57% of all the electric power generated from fossil fuels comes from coal. Burning of hydrocarbons or coal is the reverse of photosynthesis. The major environmental concern is the emission of sulfur dioxide (which creates acid rain) and carbon dioxide, which is a green house gas that will promote global warming. The latter emissions will increase the average temperature of the world at all latitudes. Note: The irony here is that if we continued to burn fossil fuels at our current rate and moreover, if we did not clear land, rainforest would flourish due to the Earth's rise in temperature.

“Rainforest Memories II” underpins the concept that the descendants of the ghosts of past rainforests - that spawned and sustained a proliferation of life for over hundreds of million years - are now under threat because of the need to clear land in order to provide food for humans - whose population is spiraling out of control - and in doing so, rainforests of today may just become tomorrow's lingering memories.

The color palette of the ArtCloth was chosen to imply a vanishing experience, rather than an on-going experience of constant renewal.

Size: Three foot and four inches wide x 9 foot in length.

Technique and Medium: Multiple discharge, multiple silkscreen techniques (flour paste, wax, photo emulsion, improvisational) and stencils employing glazes, opaque, metallic and transparent paints on cotton.

View of “Rainforest Memories II” at the ‘Never Static: ArtCloth at the Textile Centre’, Textile Centre Joan Mondale Gallery, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.
Photograph Courtesy Jane Dunnewold.

Section View of “Rainforest Memories II”.
Photograph Courtesy Marie-Therese Wisniowski.

Detail View 1 of “Rainforest Memories II”.
Photograph Courtesy Marie-Therese Wisniowski.

Detail View 2 of “Rainforest Memories II”.
Photograph Courtesy Marie-Therese Wisniowski.

Detail View 3 of “Rainforest Memories II”.
Photograph Courtesy Marie-Therese Wisniowski.

Detail View 4 of “Rainforest Memories II”.
Photograph Courtesy Marie-Therese Wisniowski.


Reference:
[1] E.B. Feldman, Varieties of Visual Experience, 2nd Edition, Harry N. Abrams Inc., New York (1982).

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Batik ArtCloth from South-East Asia
Art Review

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Introduction
It is always interesting to look at the art of different cultures. Artists are blotters – they soak up images at a prolific rate. For example, Picasso discovered sub-terranean African art and then transformed it using his own signature.

Australia's geographical and cultural position is unique in many ways. It is basically a European culture, albeit that its first born were not - they are Aboriginal. It has small, growing Asian and Islamic communities because of where it sits geographically. It is near large and small Islamic communities, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and to a much lesser extent the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia and Myanmar.

Whilst Aboriginal Australia had contact with the Indonesians long before European settlement, Batik was not imported into Australian Aboriginal Art until 1971 (see below). There is a vast difference between Islamic Batik ArtCloth (Indonesia and Malaysia) and that of Aboriginal Australia. The former cadenzas are more formal, more rigid in design, with a lot of emphasis on the use of stencils, whereas the Batik cadenzas of Aboriginal Australians are instinctive, raw and fluid in contrast (see below).

There is no better text on Islamic Art and Civilization in South-East Asia than that by James Benner, Crescent Moon (University of Washington Press, Seattle, 2006, ISBN 90 7308 3030 6). It is a must buy for your ArtCloth library.

The book goes well beyond Batik ArtCloth. It contains works on: body adornment and jewellery, Islamic manuscripts, metal work, paintings, performing arts, ritual weapons and arms, sculpture, embroidery and other surface designs on textiles, trade cloths, woven textiles, ceramics etc. There are essay contributions from seven leading experts in the field.

This review focusses on some of the Batik ArtCloth works to whet your appetite and it does not contain any of the other areas that are comprehensively dealt with in the book – the lack of coverage should further encourage you to purchase the book.

18th Century Royal Banner, Jakarta Textile Museum (Indonesia).
Handspun cotton, silk, natural dyes, batik, mordant printing.
Size: 322 cm (width) x 172 cm (length).


Batik
Simply put, batik is a method originally used in Java (Indonesia) to generate colored designs on textiles by dyeing them, having first applied wax (i.e. resist) to the parts to be left un-dyed. The origin of Batik is not definitively known, although it can be traced back to Asia, India and Africa. Some say that the word is of Malay origin meaning to “write” or to “dot”.

Islamic Batik ArtCloth Works of South East Asia
The existence of South-East Asian wealth had been known to the Middle East since the Greeks and Roman times. In the first centuries after Muhammad’s death, Muslim boats began exploring this region. Islamic traders also acted as Muslim spiritual teachers and so became pivotal in the spread of Islam within this archipelago.

In central Java (Indonesia) the ascension of Sultan Agung (1613-46) marked a turning point in Javanese cultural history. It created the environment, which generated a rich aesthetic, as expressed in the Batik style of textiles that reflected the dichotomy between the conservative agricultural community and the outward looking world of its trading port communities.

Late 18th or early 19th Century skirt cloth or shoulder cloth (National Gallery of Australia). Handspun cotton, natural dyes, batik.
Size: 90 cm (width) x 290 cm (length).

The export of locally made Batik ArtCloth from the north coast ports of Java and Madura to neighboring regions in the archipelago formed an important part of inter-island trade throughout the Dutch colonial period.

Late 19th Century Shoulder cloth (National Gallery of Australia).
Cotton, natural dyes, batik.
Size: 90 cm (width) x 205.3 cm (length).

An essential component of early palaces are the fragrant gardens (taman sari), which aimed to recreate a paradise on Earth. It was a place for contemplation and so had water features, groves, flowers and a menagerie. It was a place for the Sultan to harness temporal power through mystical means. The Cirebon Batik below depicts a forest rocky landscape populated by fantastic creatures.

19th Century Skirt cloth (National Gallery of Australia).
Cotton, natural dyes, hand drawn batik.
Size: 98 cm (with) x 220 cm (length).

The early 19th Dutch colonial rule was brutal and so resurrections against Dutch oppression were commonplace and their heroic struggles featured on various Batik ArtCloth pieces. Prince Dipanagara jihad against the Dutch reflected the merger between the identities of a warrior with that of a traditional Islamic spiritual practitioner. The subject of the ArtCloth piece below is of his jihad against the Dutch, which had become encased in folk law.

Baby-carrier and shoulder cloth (National Gallery of Australia).
Cotton, natural dyes batik.
Size: 98.5 (width) x 296 cm (length).

Family is central to any religion and Islam is no different. The birth of a child is sacred the moment the child is born. The father whispers the call to pray in the child’s ear, and from that moment on, every step in the child should be marked with belief.

The inscription at both of the ends of the baby-carrier below is a pray invoking the name of Allah and the prophet Muhammad.

Early 20th Century baby-carrier (National Gallery of Australia).
Cotton, natural dyes, hand drawn batik.
Size: 75 cm (width) x 278 cm (length).

The development of calligraphic imagery made a very important contribution to textile arts, in that the use of textiles in life ceremonies could now be punctuated with literal expression of Islamic beliefs. In the Batik ArtCloth below, some of the verses from the Qur’an that are inscribed on the cloth are readable from the front and/or from the back of the cloth.

19th Century ceremonial drape or shroud cloth for bier (National Gallery of Australia).
Handspun cotton, natural dye, batik.
Size: 106 cm (width) x 228 cm (length).

The use of a variety of textiles to cover the body prior to burial is an important feature of the Islamic funeral rituals held in the home and during the progression to the gravesite. Qur’anic law stipulates that the actual internment cloth be of a simple white. As the cloth below is not white, it is believed that it was over-dyed after its arrival in Aceh (Indonesia).

Ceremonial drape or shroud cloth for bier (National Gallery of Australia).
Cotton, natural dyes, batik, calendaring.
Size: 87.4 cm (width) x 220 cm (length).

This is book is a great addition to your ArtCloth library especially with how much information it delivers on the ethnographic environment in which these Batik ArtCloth and other art relics were created. Contrast these Batik works of art with those Batik ArtCloth pieces generated by the Australian Aborigines:
ArtCloth From Utopia
Aboriginal Batik From Central Australia
ArtCloth From Tiwi Islands
Stanley and Tapaya – Ernabella Arts.

You really get a visual understanding of the differences in belief systems, values and the way of life embraced by these peoples of neighboring regions. Their environs were so different that it not only impacted their life styles, but also their belief systems and so their art.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Beyond the Fear of Freedom
Artist Printmakers’ Book

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Preamble
This blogspot is not only devoted to ArtCloth and all things fabric (e.g. wearables) but also to limited edition prints on paper and artists' printmakers books. I have listed below for your convenience my contribution to this artistic genre.

Made to Order
Unique State (Partners in Print)
Wangi's Djiran:"Unique State" Prints
Veiled Curtains
A Letter to a Friend
Travelling Solander Project
Star Series
Imprint
Cry for the Wilderness
Federation on Hold - Call Waiting
Wish You Were Where?
The Four Seasons


Introduction
On the 4th of July, 2011 I was approached by Sarah Bodman (Research Fellow, Department of Art & Design, University of Western England, Bristol, UK) to participate in making three books as a response to the bombing of Al-Mutanabbi street, a street of booksellers in Baghdad, Iraq.

I pondered on how I could contribute to this project. In August of 2003 I had already published an artist printmakers’ book – Not in My Name – which was a statement against the 19th of March 2003 unsanctioned invasion of Iraq by the coalition of the willing (USA, UK, Australia, Poland). The invasion was based on a false premise, namely that Iraq was building weapons of mass destruction. Needless to say they were never found!

The burning of books has had a long tradition from the Qin Dynasty (3rdCentury BC) to the Nazi’s Crystal Nacht (9th - 10th of November 1939) to the present era (21st 2011, Terry Jones, Florida, USA). This practice is usually carried out in public and is generally motivated by moral, religious or political beliefs to generate fear as well as to suppress freedom of thought. The bombing of the artisan district of Al-Mutanabbi Street on the 5th of March 2007 was of similar ilk; that is, an action motivated from a fear of freedom in order to suppress freedom of thought.

I finally understood how I could contribute. In my case, my printmakers' book would not be a direct attack on the bombing itself since I wanted to transcend this one event. My take on the bombing would be to investigate why all of us - everywhere and anywhere - should educate ourselves to move beyond the fear of freedom and so embrace, imbue and rejoice in freedom itself. I needed intellectual tools at my disposal in order for me to do this.

I wrote back to Sarah and accepted the challenge – delivering an outline of my approach to both Beau Beausoleil and Sarah (co-curators of the assemblage of printmakers' books). I now had a year to deliver – the clock was ticking!


Assembling My Intellectual Table
I needed an intellectual round table, populated by deep thinkers. I needed to assemble my intellectual tools for this project.

When I was young I read voraciously. Before I emailed Sarah, I was pondering about going beyond the fear of freedom when I became aware that I heard that phrase before. I searched my library and found the book – The Fear Of Freedom by Erich Fromm [1]. He had written this treatise in 1942, when the fall of Great Britain appeared imminent. He needed to comprehend why political tyrannies could function without internal resistance. It was clear that generating a fear of freedom amongst the populace was critical to the survival of tyrannical governments – without it they would lose control of their political grip and be seen as a dysfunctional ruling rabble - ready to be toppled. He psychoanalysed the steps needed to be a free citizen. Erich Fromm would be a guest on my round table. I knew he would dominate the discussion since his timing was right for our era.

Erich Fromm.

Australia gained independence from the UK in 1901 without a battle or struggle. Sarah emailed me on the 4th of July 2011 – American’s independence day. I remembered that on that day the United States of America (Commonwealth of States) in 1776 adopted the Declaration of Independence (penned by Thomas Jefferson) from the Kingdom of Great Britain and in doing so gave rights to its citizenry that embraced freedom and moreover, aspired to venture beyond the fear of freedom. I positioned Jefferson - in my mind - to the right of Fromm!

Thomas Jefferson.

I recalled that my teaching practice was often heavily sprinkled by the thoughts of John Dewey. Dewey was an American philosopher, psychologist and educational reformer. He advocated democracy should be vibrant at the grass roots level – not just encased in legislation. He asserted that the public could only embrace a democratic zeal if they could formulate educated opinions and act upon them, without fear or favor. I sat John Dewey next to Fromm - on his left!

John Dewey.

Pico della Mirandola, Oratio de Hominis Dignitate may not be familiar to you. He was an Italian Renaissance philosopher who wrote the famous – Oration on the Dignity of Man - which has been described as a key text of Renaissance humanism. He sat himself next to Jefferson - without my assistance!

Pico della Mirandola.

I needed an intellectual beginning to my printmakers’ book. The beginning would come from Al-Mutanabbi himself, who I sat next to Mirandola.

Al-Mutanabbi.

I sandwiched myself between Al-Mutanabbi and John Dewey. The end statement would need to come from the Koran (Qu’ran), which I placed in the center of the round table - opened at verse 16:74.

My role was to listen, to doodle, to scribble and to sketch on paper what came into my head as they spoke. These men were to explain to me how to reach beyond the fear of freedom. My intellectual round table was now assembled; it was my style of doodling, scribbling and sketching - that is, my style sheets - that now needed my attention! The clock kept ticking - time was fleeing.


My Style Sheets
I decided against creating art objects in the form of an artist printmakers’ book. Rather I wanted to do a limited edition of digital poster artworks using the ideas of the wise from the round table. I would transform their musings into illustrative forms.

Poster art can be problematical. The essential ingredients in any poster art is that: (i) It must grab your attention; (ii) It must inform the viewer - and if need be - it must generate a curiosity and desire to engage and ponder; (iii) It must be a clarion call for action; (iv) Phrases or words on the poster need to be succinct and of course pointed. Obviously Graffiti – scratches on walls – embraces most of these criteria.

Next came my style sheets.
(a) Posters are usually on walls. I wanted the walls to be in my poster art. I wanted a “street art" feel – not graffiti as such – but the feel of a post graffiti art - the art from the streets invading my printmakers' book. I wanted images that could be drawn on walls via stencils in a city such as Baghdad. Moreover, I wanted the walls sometimes to disappear, along the journey of discovery.
(b) The images in my poster art must give an array of responses from fright (Earth), flight (Wind) and fight (Fire). The last two are often talked about, but when headlights flash into the eyes of a rabbit it is fright that freezes the rabbit and locks the animal to the earth. These three are the natural responses to any fearful challenge, but my sole objective was to tell how to resist fear and to embrace and rejoice in the folds of freedom.
(c) To give my printmakers' book a “street art" feel my poster art images would be similar to tattoo images that the youth adorn on their skin. Such tattoos are usually angular, distinctive in style and demand attention (see Movies of Stieg Larsson's book - The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo); that is, I wanted to incorporate tattoo art in my voice.
(d) Democracy and freedom are such fragile concepts and structures that unless the populace are vigilant democracy may slowly ebb away or may be quickly torn asunder (e.g. Syria, Fiji, Burma etc.) Hence, I decided to use a butterfly as one of my motifs, since the average lifetime of a butterfly is one month and moreover, they appear very fragile, and easily crushable. I decided also to use birds as my other motifs, since they represent fright, flight and fight etc. I wanted to espouse at least once in my book that the sacrifices of those in the present generation were gifts to the next generation in order that they will live in an age that is beyond the fear of freedom.

My round table was in place, my style sheets were in place, the project was locked into my busy diary schedule, and now for the last scary bit - no artwork could be seen! The clock kept ticking - making no allowance for any misgivings nor for the schedule of my other numerous projects!


Fast Forward Ten Months - May, 2012

Cover of My Artist Printmakers' Book - Beyond The Fear Of Freedom.
See Print 3 for an explanation of the Phoenix.
Book Size: A4.


Print 1: All New Beginnings Commence With Healing
From a poem written to Sayfu d-Dawla, Syrian prince in Aleppo, we read:
“Glory and honour were healed when you were healed…”

Al-Mutanabbi (Abu altaybe Ahmed born in al- Kufa, Iraq {915}- Baghdad {965}).

The above poster art features the “Hand of Fatima” (Hamsa), which includes an eye. The eye is usually included to ward off the evil eye and protect the bearer of the symbol. The background is a deconstructed wall. The Hamsa is therefore in an Iraqi context, since in my interpretation of the image, I have incorporated both frown and tear lines in order to indicate that past hurts and wrong-doings need to be healed and overcome prior to commencing any new journey on the road to freedom.

Healing is necessary to create a new beginning. That was the case in Rwanda, when in 1994 the Hutu massacred approximately one million Tutsi within 100 days. Rwanda (as did South Africa) instigated a "Truth and Reconciliation Commission" in order to air and heal past wrong-doings. Rwanda is now at peace with itself, but clearly Iraq - in its new phase - is not!


Print 2: Freedom Is A Psychological Problem
“The serious threat to our democracy is not the existence of foreign totalitarian states. It is the existence within our own personal attitudes and within our own institutions of conditions, which have given victory to external authority, discipline, uniformity and dependence upon The Leader in foreign countries. The battle fields are also accordingly here - within ourselves and our institutions.”

John Dewey, Freedom and Culture, Allen & Urwin, London (1940).

The above poster art is my "Graffiti-Esquie" interpretation of Edvard Munch's painting - "The Scream" (1893). Just like the image of Mona Lisa, Graffiti-ists have used Munch's image on numerous walls. The background is a wall I photographed in Venice.

John Dewey clearly understood that to create an atmosphere of compliance with respect to draconian laws and injustices, tyrannical governments will always point to outside threats for the reasons why its people must be suppressed and moreover, why freedom must be feared. When 9/11 occurred, all Western Governments restricted the rights of its citizens. The threat was not from outside, but from within. We need to continually inspect our values, and the values of our institutions and if need be rectify them in order that freedom is inculcated into the fabric of a nation.


Print 3: The Arab Spring – Uprisings Searching For Freedom
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

In Congress, July 4th (1776) Thomas Jefferson (3rd President of USA) – Declaration Of Independence.

The above poster art features my interpretation of a Phoenix tattoo, which is a symbol of rebirth. The black heavy weights under the feathers show that its rising is not an easy task, but is only attained through resolve. It is a bird that has fight (fire) wired into its DNA.

Generally, the Phoenix is a mythological bird that symbolizes rebirth and renewal. It has a colorful plumage and tail. It is said that the Phoenix is destined to live 500-1,000 years. At the end of it's life, it builds a nest around itself, which then ignites into flames. The bird burns with its nest and nothing but ashes remain. But this is not the end, rather from the ashes a new, younger Phoenix arises, and it will go on to live a long life. This image symbolizes the end of one life and start of another, and on a more personal plane, the death of some aspects of oneself that needed changing, and the beginning of a newer, more conscious persona.

What is not generally appreciated is that prior to 1776, European-Americans were under the yoke of a tyrannical rule from the United Kingdom of Great Britain. The war of independence in the USA was a search for freedom. The words penned by Thomas Jefferson have relevance today for the peoples of Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Bahrain, Iran and Malaysia etc. - and in fact, across the Islamic world - where the youngest freedom Phoenix has recently been born. Jefferson, like the protest movements in these countries, espoused the principle that when governments represent their own needs, rather than the needs of those who they govern, the people have a right to abolish those governments and replace them with governments that reflect the people needs, and in doing so, secure for them a safe environment in order that they can search - without hinderance - for paths that will lead them towards happiness. Iraq is at the vanguard of this movement. Its freedom Phoenix has arisen!


Print 4: Genuine Ideals Form The Basis Of A Free Society
“We must recognise the difference between genuine and fictitious ideals, which is just as fundamental a difference as that between truth and falsehood. All genuine ideals have one thing in common: they express the desire for something which is not yet accomplished, but which is desirable for the purposes of growth and happiness of the individual.”

Erich Fromm, Fear of Freedom, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London (1942) Page 229.

The above poster art depicts the plight of all struggles which strive to reach beyond the fear of freedom. The sacrifices that are made by this generation are made so that the children of the next generation will be free. The slaves of one generation may produce a First Lady (Michelle Obama) of another generation. The hands are enslaved and a struggle begins, while the diminutive butterfly represents the "free" children of the next generation - fragile but free!

Real ideals - do not espouse hatred, violence and destruction. Rather, real ideals fertilize growth and happiness for the individual and for the co-operative society in which individuals reside.


Print 5: We Are Born Different But Allowed To Be Equal
“Positive freedom as the realization of self implies the full affirmation of the uniqueness of the individual. Men are born equal but they are also born different. The basis of this difference is the inherited equipment, physiological and mental, with which they start life, to which is added the particular constellation of circumstances and experiences that they meet with.”

Erich Fromm, Fear of Freedom, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London (1942) Page 226.

The above poster art is based on the Russian Matryoshka dolls (Russian nested dolls). They are a set of wooden dolls of decreasing size - placed one inside the other. My re-interpretation was to take from two different sets of Matryoshka dolls, one doll from each set that was equal in size but different, and placed them side-by-side.

Iraq is a pluralistic society composed of different religious and ethnic groups. In this poster art I have focussed on the Sunni's and Shias. The difference in dress code is even more obvious among clerics. Shi'ite holy men wear either a black or a white turban (depending on their lineage) and a robe. Sunni clerics in Iraq rarely don a black turban. The white headpieces they do wear look markedly different from the Shi'ite versions. Each sect has its own call to prayer with slightly different language and timing. You can also tell a Sunni from a Shi'ite based on where he goes to pray: locals would know the affiliation of each mosque, and outsiders may be able to tell by reading the banners or inscriptions. (The text on Shi'ite mosques, for example, will mention the Imams.) Sunni's and Shi'ites in Iraq also differ in the way they hold their hands during prayer — up toward their chests or down at their sides, respectively.

Whilst we are all born different but equal, laws do not necessarily reflect the latter. All free societies not only build equality into their legislation, but moreover inculcate such equalities in the attitudes and sentiments of its peoples.


Print 6: Freedom Is The Acceptance Of Others
“We believe the realization of self is accomplished not only by an act of thinking but also by the realization of man’s total personality, by the active expression of his emotional and intellectual potentialities. These potentialities are present in everybody; they become real only to the extent to which they are expressed. In other words, positive freedom consists in the spontaneous activity of the total, integrated personality.”

Erich Fromm, Fear of Freedom, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London (1942) Page 222.

The above poster art is a continuation of the theme of the previous poster. The images are based on a Kurd clerics dress (headpiece) and a Coptic middle eastern clergy dress (headpiece). The central body includes Kurd textile rug designs on the left and Coptic textile designs on the right. These designs merge in the centre to unite both religious orders since co-existence is symbolized by them being joined at the hip.

If everybody has potentialities and positive freedom exists in spontaneous activity of the total integrated personality, then each of us must accept the importance of others to express themselves in a creative but positive manner. Acceptance of each one's potentiality is a basis of a free society.


Print 7: Freedom Is An On-Going Growth
“We believe that there is a positive answer, that the process of growing freedom does not constitute a vicious circle, and that man can be free and yet not alone, critical and yet not filled with doubts, independent and yet an integral part of mankind. This freedom man can attain by realization of his self, by being himself.”

Erich Fromm, Fear of Freedom, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London (1942) Page 222.


The above poster art features my interpretation of the "Rose of Iraq" - the rose being the national flower of Iraq. Flowers such as the rose symbolize love and growth. The background image has the words "Imagine Peace" stamped over it. The background was my photograph of a work that was at the Venice Biennale ... people were invited to stamp the words onto the piece - a truly democratic activity. The black rose signifies the needless deaths in recent times of so many Iraqi's of all faiths and of all ethnicities.

Growth of the individual in a society that is reaching beyond its fears is not an "alone" process. The artisans and book sellers of Al-Mutanabbi street were growing their society not alone, but rather in unison with their readers, their audience and their spectators. For a society to be free its citizens need to have the opportunity for positive growth.


Print 8: The Acts Of Being Free
“Neither heavenly nor earthly, neither mortal nor immortal have we created thee, so that thou mightiest be free according to thy own will and honour, to be thy own creator and builder. To thee alone we gave growth and development depending in thy own free will. Thou bearest in thee the germs of a universal life.”

Pico della Mirandola, Oratio de Hominis Dignitate.

The above poster art features a happy stick figure who is free "to do". The winged eagle that is framing the action figure, is safe guarding his free will. The search for happiness and safety are important ingredients in the flight of any free society.

The realization that "being" and "doing" is according to one's own free will is an important step on the road to freedom, since it actually sheets home the responsibility of one's actions. Bombing a "book" street or destroying books is not in accordance with "God's Will", but rather is accomplished by people who are alienated, frightened and lost, and moreover, who fear freedom, and of course those that embraced it. To invoke "God's Will" in order to justify one's actions is an act of cowardice, since it denies the truth about who "owns" such actions. Free will and reaching beyond the fear of freedom places an extra burden, an added responsibility, a wonderful weight on all of us - we hold in our hands which of the socio-political futures we wish to design, build and endure.


Print 9: Beyond The Fear Of Freedom
“The victory of freedom is possible only if democracy develops into a society in which the individual, his growth and happiness, is the aim and purpose of culture, in which life does not need any justification in success or anything else, and in which the individual is not subordinated to or manipulated by any power outside himself, be it the State or the economic machine; finally, a society in which his conscious and ideals are not the internalization of external demands, but are really his and express the aims that results from the peculiarity of his self.”

Erich Fromm, Fear of Freedom, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London (1942) Page 233.

The above poster art is based on a tattoo image of a Celtic butterfly. The Celtic butterfly tattoo symbolizes growth and change and moreover, all that is positive in life. Furthermore, the butterfly also features Iraqi textile designs in a very graphic mode to encapsulate strong, not fragile, positive growth and determination. The colors of the butterfly have seeped from it into the background wall - just as reaching beyond the fear of freedom can seep from one person and eventually spawn a mass movement for change (see Syria and Malaysia at present).

This statement from Fromm is his realization of how to ensure that one can reach beyond the fear of freedom. When he wrote this book he was unsure if it would ever be enacted upon or even widely read. The Nazi's were at the doorstep of Great Britain - the outcome of any free society was no longer certain. In those uncertain times, he strove for greater understanding and in doing so, he became more certain why societies should embrace freedom!


Print 10: Safeguarding Books – Such As The Koran - Is Critical To Being Free
“I swear by the shelter of the stars (a mighty oath, if you knew it) that this is a glorious Koran, safeguarded in a book, which none may touch except the purified; a revelation from the Lord of the Universe.”

Koran 16:74.

The above poster art features tattoo stars that protect a central star, with galaxies of stars (dots) embedded in the tattoo stars. The tattoo stars are based on the Japanese Hira-shuriken stars (shaken sword hidden in hand) that are constructed from thin, flat plates of metal derived from a variety of sources including hishi-gane (coins), kugi-nuki (carpentry tools), spools, and senban (nail removers), and generally resemble popular concepts of shuriken. They are popularly known as throwing stars or ninja stars. The background script (which is also protected) is that from an ancient middle eastern manuscript. A five-pointed star(s) was on the Iraqi flag from 1963 to 2008 - which brackets the bombing of Al-Mutanabbi street. The central five-ponted star is black due to the many deaths of Iraqi's that has occurred in this era. Clearly, we should "shelter books" if we wish to embrace freedom.

No words need to be added to the Koran (Qu'ran).


To the families of those who died and to those injured in that bomb explosion in Al-Mutanabbi Street we note - their sacrifice will be remembered, since it has soaked deep into the voids of our fabric - as witnessed by our books.

Postscript:
(i) The printmakers' book - Beyond The Fear Of Freedom - is held in the collection of the following libraries: National Library of Iraq (9/15); National Library of Australia (12/15); State Library of NSW (Australia) (13/15); Fisher Library, University of Sydney (Australia) (14/15); NSW Parliamentary Library (Australia) (15/15).
(ii) A number of printmakers' books - Beyond The Fear Of Freedom - are available for purchase. In total, there were 15 editions printed and those that are available are editions numbers 2-8 out of 15. Email Me


Reference:
[1] E. Fromm, The Fear Of Freedom, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London (1942).

Saturday, May 5, 2012

OH&S Procedures in Fiber Studios[1-3]
Art Resource

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Preamble
This is the third post in the "Art Resource" series, specifically aimed to construct an appropriate knowledge base in order to develop an artistic voice in ArtCloth.

Other posts in this series are:
Glossary of Terms
Units Used in Dyeing and Printing of Fabrics
Occupational, Health & Safety
A Brief History of Color
The Nature of Color
Psychology of Color
Color Schemes
The Naming of Colors
The Munsell Color Classification System
Methuen Color Index and Classification System
The CIE System
Pantone - A Modern Color Classification System
Optical Properties of Fiber Materials
General Properties of Fiber Polymers and Fibers - Part I
General Properties of Fiber Polymers and Fibers - Part II
General Properties of Fiber Polymers and Fibers - Part III
General Properties of Fiber Polymers and Fibers - Part IV
General Properties of Fiber Polymers and Fibers - Part V
Protein Fibers - Wool
Protein Fibers - Speciality Hair Fibers
Protein Fibers - Silk
Protein Fibers - Wool versus Silk
Timelines of Fabrics, Dyes and Other Stuff
Cellulosic Fibers (Natural) - Cotton
Cellulosic Fibers (Natural) - Linen
Other Natural Cellulosic Fibers
General Overview of Man-Made Fibers
Man-Made Cellulosic Fibers - Viscose
Man-Made Cellulosic Fibers - Esters
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Nylon
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Polyester
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Acrylic and Modacrylic
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Olefins
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Elastomers
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Mineral Fibers
Man Made Fibers - Other Textile Fibers
Fiber Blends
From Fiber to Yarn: Overview - Part I
From Fiber to Yarn: Overview - Part II
Melt-Spun Fibers
Characteristics of Filament Yarn
Yarn Classification
Direct Spun Yarns
Textured Filament Yarns
Fabric Construction - Felt
Fabric Construction - Nonwoven fabrics
A Fashion Data Base
Fabric Construction - Leather
Fabric Construction - Films
Glossary of Colors, Dyes, Inks, Pigments and Resins
Fabric Construction – Foams and Poromeric Material
Knitting
Hosiery
Glossary of Fabrics, Fibers, Finishes, Garments and Yarns
Weaving and the Loom
Similarities and Differences in Woven Fabrics
The Three Basic Weaves - Plain Weave (Part I)
The Three Basic Weaves - Plain Weave (Part II)
The Three Basic Weaves - Twill Weave
The Three Basic Weaves - Satin Weave
Figured Weaves - Leno Weave
Figured Weaves – Piqué Weave
Figured Fabrics
Glossary of Art, Artists, Art Motifs and Art Movements
Crêpe Fabrics
Crêpe Effect Fabrics
Pile Fabrics - General
Woven Pile Fabrics

The Glossary of Terms, Timelines of Fabrics, Dyes and Other Stuff, A Fashion Data Base, Glossary of Colors, Dyes, Inks, Pigments and Resins, Glossary of Fabrics, Fibers, Finishes, Garments and Yarns and Glossary of Art, Artists, Art Motifs and Art Movements have been updated in order to better inform your art practice.

If you find any post on this blog site useful, you can save it or copy and paste it into your own "Word" document etc. for your future reference. For example, Safari allows you to save a post (e.g. click on "File", click on "Print" and release, click on "PDF" and then click on "Save As" and release - and a PDF should appear where you have stored it). Safari also allows you to mail a post to a friend (click on "File", and then point cursor to "Mail Contents On This Page" and release). Either way, this or other posts on this site may be a useful Art Resource for you.

The Art Resource series will be the first post in each calendar month. Remember - these Art Resource posts span information that will be useful for a home hobbyist to that required by a final year University Fine-Art student and so undoubtedly, some parts of any Art Resource post may appear far too technical for your needs (skip over those mind boggling parts) and in other parts, it may be too simplistic with respect to your level of knowledge (ditto the skip). The trade-off between these two extremes will mean that Art Resource posts will hopefully be useful in parts to most, but unfortunately may not be satisfying to all!


Introduction
My husband is an Emeritus Professor of Physical Chemistry and so occupational, health and safety (OH&S) issues was to the front and fore of his thinking very early in my art practice. As he use to put it to me - "No life, no art!"

Many artists set up their studios and happily work with their art practice and media of choice. Quite often when their art practice enters new territories, home studio artists assume that their facilitates are sufficient to handle whatever materials, chemicals, paints etc. that they may utilize in a safe manner without giving proper attention to the OH&S issues that these new practices may present.

This Art Resource gives a basic guide to establishing an OH&S practice with respect to your home studio. It is only a basic framework and so each home studio artist should be aware of a more detailed framework engineered to her or his specific studio and to his or her art practice. It is not meant to be a catch-it-all.

Some of you will read this and say – “I only have a small room in the house that I call a studio”. I understand that situation – been there, done that! Nevertheless, this should not alter your mindset of seeking the most accident and incident free OH&S environment for your art practice.

The three references cited below were invaluable for this blog.



Emergency Services and Heath Contacts
OH&S 1: Emergency Numbers Need To Be Visible.
Your home studio should have a sizeable display containing emergency and non-emergency numbers. For example emergency numbers should include: police, ambulance and fire emergency. You should also include non-emergency numbers such as: your doctor, government departments dealing with public safety, chemical hazards, occupational health and safety procedures. These numbers should be large enough for you to see (without glasses) from 1 to 2 meters. You should never solely rely on the internet or phone books to retrieve such information when faced with an emergency.



OH&S 2: Mobile Phone Needs To Be Handy.
Most of us have mobile phones. Always take a mobile phone with you in your home studio and moreover, place it in an easy to reach but safe location.



OH&S 3: Fighting Gear Needs To Be Near.
All home studios should contain: fire extinguishers, electrical fire-extinguishes and first-aid kit(s). They should be easily seen, readily available and regularly updated. All home studios should have smoke detectors.



OH&S 4: Ventilation Is Protection.
If you only have a window and a door in your home studio, install a ceiling fan or purchase a moveable fan. Keep as many spaces open to fresh air as possible (weather permitting).



If you have a garden, then it is a well-ventilated space. Do not hesitate to use it. However, make sure that other safety procedures are not discarded when using your garden, since you may now find yourself sharing this space with animals, children, spouses and relatives etc.

My outside studio is well ventilated. It sometimes serves as an outside pergola and so I need to throughly clean it after studio use.

OH&S 5: A Sharing Space Is A Caring Space.
Sharing a working space will always place an added pressure with respect to OH&S issues, since you cannot determine or predict the actions or reactions of the person/animal, who is sharing your space and moreover, you now have a responsibility with respect to them. Think of what can go wrong and place in appropriate protections.

My hard working studio assistant - the late Caelum (2000-2012) - who was named after a star constellation in the southern hemisphere.
Note: My inside studio is a converted two door garage - too artistically messy to make it on this blog!

OH&S 6: Free Space Is A Safe Space.
It is dangerous to walk on, or in-between items such as paint pots, rolls of cloths, electrical cables, extension cords and distribution boards etc. A great OH&S rule-of-thumb is prior to working, store all unwanted items and consciously organize a free floor space. A messy studio can still be safe from an OH&S point-of-view, since what is on or safely under tables etc. and the separation of incompatible materials is of far greater concern than an outward looking neat space.

OH&S 7: Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind.
Make sure that the working environment is well lit. The OH&S rule-of-thumb is that the more items that can be seen, the better the safety of your working space. If you are working with light sensitive textile surfaces you need to give thought to the lighting problem that has been introduced into your art practice (e.g. you can use a special light that is cloth insensitive instead of the usual white light etc.)

OH&S 8: The Only Shock Is Shocking Art.
All portable power distribution boards should have “surge” protectors, and all power points should have the additional protection via fuses or circuit breakers. Outdoor, kitchen, and bathroom receptacles should be protected by a special ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) circuit breaker to guard against electrocution. The latter is highly sensitive to any electrical short, and so this type of breaker may need resetting more frequently than standard breakers and should be tested periodically.



OH&S 9: One Plug, One Socket.
The OH&S rule-of-thumb is to only use one adaptor/plug per socket – do not plug one distribution board into another. When using a distribution board try keeping to the one plug per socket rule.

Extension leads and adaptors have a limit on how many amperes (amps) they can take, so be careful not to overload them, thereby reducing the risk of fire.

For plugs and sockets, keep a look out for the following:
* “Hot” plugs or sockets, scorch marks, fuses that often blow, or flickering lights – they are all are signs of loose wiring or other electrical problems.
* Badly wired plugs – any colored wires sticking out could come loose and debris could also get into the plug.
* Overloaded sockets – plugging too many electrical appliances into one socket can lead to overheating - keep to the one plug per socket rule, where possible.
* Unplug appliances that are sensitive to power spikes.
* If you have fuses: a blown fuse will look blackened or discolored. Replace it with a new one of the correct rating for the circuit (typically 15 amps).
* If you have circuit breakers: turn the one that is "off" back to "on". Using a qualified electrician try to determine what caused the problem and correct it. It is useless to replace a fuse or reset a circuit breaker only to have it to blow or trip again. Always get an expert to look at circuits that short frequently.
* If there is an electrical fire, pull the plug out, or switch off the power at the fuse/circuit breaker box - if it is safe to do so. Sometimes this can stop the fire immediately.

OH&S 10: Water Is Not Always Cool.
Never use water on an electrical fire, and do not take any risks with your safety - get out, stay out and call the emergency number.


Safety When Using Chemicals Such As Dyes
OH&S 11: It Does Not Hurt To Ask – It Can Hurt If You Don’t.
When purchasing any chemical (e.g. dyes, paints etc.) you should always request with the purchase a material safety data sheet (MSDS). MSDS are written in plain English specifically aimed for a person with little chemical knowledge. Typically they will contain: product identification; physical and chemical dates (including any incompatibilities); health hazard data and first aid measures; precautions for use; safe handling information; other information – such as emergency numbers etc. If you are not sure about any of the information delivered by the MSDS then you should contact the appropriate government body and ask.



Most dyers use caustic soda - also known as lye, but to scientists known as sodium hydroxide (its chemical name). Typically for caustic soda an MSDS will contain the following information.
General Appearance: Colorless sticks, flakes, powder or pellets; soluble in water.
General Threat: Causes severe burns.
Threshold Limit Value (TLV): Prevent contact with eyes and skin - TLV 2 mg m-3.
Toxic Effects: The solid and its strong solutions cause severe burns of the eyes and skin. If taken by mouth there would be sever internal irritation and damage. Even weak solution (2.5M) can damage eyes severely.
Hazardous Reactions: Release large amounts of heat when mixed with small amounts of water; reacts vigorously with cholorform/methanol; explosion results when it is heated with zirconium.
First Aid: Affected eyes: standard treatment. Skin contact: standard treatment. If swallowed: standard treatment.
Spillage Disposal: Wear face-shield or goggles and gloves. Shovel into a polythene bucket, and add, a little at a time with stirring, to a large volume of water. After solution is complete run this to waste, diluting greatly with running water. Wash down site of spillage thoroughly with water.

Flakes of Lye.


Standard Treatments
OH&S 12: Splashes On Skin.
If the chemical responsible is hydrogen fluoride, hydrofluoric acid or a related compound then this procedure should not be used. These chemicals are rarely used in dyeing or printing.
(a) Flood the splashed surface thoroughly with large quantities of running water and continue for at least 10 minutes, or until you are satisfied that no chemical remains in contact with the skin. Removal of splashes with solvents, solutions and chemicals known to be insoluble in water will be facilitated by the use of soap.
(b) Remove all contaminated clothing, taking care not to contaminate yourself in the process.
(c) If the situation warrants it, arrange for transport to hospital or refer to medical advice to the nearest doctor. Provide information on the chemical responsible and brief details of first aid employed.

OH&S 13: Splashes To The Eyes.
If the chemical responsible is hydrogen fluoride, hydrofluoric acid or a related compound then this procedure should not be used. These chemicals are rarely used in dyeing or printing.
(a) Flood the eye(s) thoroughly with large quantities of gently running water either from a tap or from one of the eye wash bottles (if available) at least for 10 minutes.
(b) Ensure the water bathes the eyeball by gently prising open eyelids and keeping them apart until treatment is completed.
(c) All eye injuries from chemicals require medical advice. Arrange a visit to a doctor or hospital and supply information on the chemical responsible and brief details of the treatment already given.

OH&S 14: Inhalation Of Gases Or Fumes.
If the chemical responsible is hydrogen fluoride, hydrofluoric acid or a related compound then this procedure should not be use. These chemicals are rarely used in dyeing or printing.
(a) Remove yourself and anyone else, out of the danger area as quickly as possible.
(b) Loosen clothing. Administer oxygen if available.
(c) If alone, seek the company of another person as quickly as possible in order to ensure personal assistance as quickly as possible. In other words, whilst conscious it is important that someone may assist you if you become unconscious or too ill to act.
(d) If emergency warrants, go to a hospital and provide information on the gas and/or fumes responsible with brief details of the first aid treatment given.

OH&S 15: Ingestion Of Chemicals.
(a) If the chemical has been confined to the mouth give large quantities of water as a mouth wash. Ensure that the mouth wash is not swallowed.
(b) If the chemical has been swallowed give copious drinks of water or milk to dilute it in the stomach.
(c) Do not induce vomiting.
(d) Arrange for transport to hospital. Provide information on the chemical swallowed with brief details of the treatment given and if possible, an estimate of the quantity and concentration of the chemical consumed.

Note: These are a summary of standard treatments and may not be valid for each and every specific circumstance. That is why MSDS information should be sought on every chemical that is used in your studio.

Generally, substances used in home studios are relatively non-toxic, but it is best to avoid unnecessary exposure. Keep in mind that they are industrial chemicals and not intended for inhalation or ingestion. Safety precautions and proper use of safety equipment, clean work habits and responsible use of substances is encouraged. Note: Many artists believe natural dyes are non-toxic. Logwood is a natural dye that is toxic. Do not assume, make it your business to know.



You should always use the following common sense safeguards.
* Do not eat, drink, or smoke in areas where dyes and chemicals are used.
* Work in a well-ventilated area.
* If you experience an adverse symptom, move away from the area to fresh air. If the symptoms persist, stop using the substance and consult your doctor immediately.
* Even though the skin does not usually absorb dyes, they do discolor the skin. You should always wear rubber gloves, old clothes or protective clothing and footwear.
* Wear goggles when working with corrosive chemicals such as acetic acid and sodium hydroxide (lye). You only have one set of eyes (which are hard to replace!)
* Contact lens wearers should be careful around powders and chemicals to avoid eye irritation. Some chemicals can make the contact lens stick to your cornea.
* Cover your work area with dampened newspaper. If you mix your own dyes from powder, weigh and mix dyes and other powders in a very well ventilated space or purchase a mixing box.
* Wear a disposable dust/mist respirator if you mix dyes occasionally. If you mix dyes on a regular basis wear a MSHA/NIOSH approved respirator with cartridges for dust, mists and fumes. Note: Disposable dust/mist respirators do not help with fumes.
* Use appropriate utensils to stir solutions and dye baths. If you use food utensils as dyeing tools do not reuse them for food preparation.
* Do not smell pots or bottles filled with dyestuffs or chemicals; some fumes may be toxic.
* Do not hold your face above warm dyebaths to which chemicals have been added, since these fumes may also be toxic.
* Avoid exposure to dye powders, auxiliary chemicals and vapors during pregnancy or lactation. Always consult your doctor if in doubt.
* Avoid prolonged or repeated contact with the skin.
* Mop up wet dyes from floors and surfaces, but do not sweep them with a mop. Wipe up spills immediately. Liquid dye dried to a powder can be accidentally inhaled or ingested.
* Keep mixed dyes in a dedicated refrigerator. Keep auxiliary containers closed and in a dedicated cool dry place, when not in use.
* Label containers with your name, content and date mixed so they can be disposed of in a timely manner.
* Clearly label all solutions and containers of powder. Do not remove the supplier's name or hazard warning labels.
* Always add acid to water and not the other way round since the latter will sputter and may throw up acid droplets.
* Always add sodium hydroxide (lye) to cold water and not the other way round.
* When working with small acid or lye quantities use a small pipette with a rubber end, which you squeeze. Never use a pipette in which you need to suck in order to draw up the liquid.
*Clean up the dye area completely after the dyeing is complete to ensure there is no dye powder to pollute the atmosphere.
* Dispose of dye residue carefully (see below).

OH&S 16: A Safe Disposal Is The Right Disposal.
Generally quantities of dyes and auxiliary chemicals used in home studios do not exceed limits set for disposal in municipal systems. Nevertheless, always check with your local authority. The amount of rinse water used for a normal dye bath is sufficient to dilute the dye bath for disposal purposes. Therefore, generally waste-water disposal should not be a problem but check if in doubt.

Once dyes have been made up they are not as toxic as their powdered form. Azoic, fiber reactive and vat dyes may be disposed of easily.
* Exhaust all baths - tip naphthol or vat fluids together and let fiber reactive dyes stand for one hour after dyeing.
* Strain the liquid through the fabric.
* Put the liquid from dyebaths 1 and 2 rinsing water into a large holding tank or bucket.
* Test the pH of the holding tank with litmus indicator papers and adjust to neutral by adding either acid or alkali.
* Discharge onto the land through a fabric strainer.
Note: This method only applies for naphthols, fiber reactives, and soluble vat dyes.



OH&S 17: Cleaning Up Is Not A Chore - It’s Your Business.

Cleaning up the work area is usually performed with a damp sponge and towels. Generally dye stains can be removed with a house-hold cleaner containing bleach. Do not use bleach to remove dye stains from hands. Instead use a specifically designed hand cleaner – such as Reduran. While hands are dry, rub a small amount of hand cleaner on hands and work in well. Add a small amount of water and work until dye residue is loosened. Wash off thoroughly with soap, water and dry your hands. Repeat as necessary.



OH&S 18: Hot Is Not The Spot.
Waxes pose a specific set of safety concerns. Read guidelines below before using hot waxes in batik operations.
* Always use proper ventilation in your work area. Create a local exhaust system by putting a portable fan in your area in order to disperse the air.
* Heated wax releases irritating chemicals including acrolein and aldehydes. There is no approved MSHA/NIOSH filter for acrolein. A respirator is not a substitute for excellent ventilation.
* Heat wax to the lowest temperature at which it remains liquid.
* Hot wax is a fire hazard. Do not leave it unattended.
* Wax forms potentially hazardous vapors at high temperatures and so may ignite.
* Do not use open flames, such as a gas or propane burner, to heat wax. Instead use a crock-pot or electric fry pan with a temperature control.

OH&S 19: Flames Are Not The Game.
All organic solvents, except highly halogenated ones are flammable. As any solvent fire must start in an air/vapor mixture, the more volatile solvents are more readily ignited. The flash point is the lowest temperature at which a flame above the solvent will cause the solvent's vapor to ignite. Obviously, the lower the flash point the more readily the solvent's vapor will ignite at room temperature. In general those solvents with a flash point below 21oC are considered the most dangerous, while any solvents with a flash point below 32oC are still considered dangerously flammable. For example, methanol and ethanol have flash points of 11oC and 12oC, respectively. On the other hand butanol has a flash point of 36oC.

Hazard Signs Used In The European Union.
Courtesy reference[3].

Any large containers of solvent, say over 1 litre, should be housed in closed steel cabinets, that should be constructed in such a manner to prevent leakage of solvent or its vapor even if the solvent container leaks. When used, they should only be used in well ventilated areas.

Only small containers of solvent, say less than 500 ml, should be kept on open shelves, well away from sources of heat or direct sunlight. Remember that the vapors of solvents are heavier than air and so can flow into ducting vents or along bench tops well away from where the containers are kept. Decanting large volumes of solvents may generate static electricity and so increases the possibility of a spark and so ignition of the solvent's vapor. Whenever more than 5 litres of a solvent is likely to be stored and/or transferred, seek expert advice.

OH&S 20: Toxicity Is Multiplicity.
All solvents have some toxicity. For example, if you drink to much water too quickly the saline concentration in your blood will become too low and you can die from a toxic shock. Hence if too much water can kill, too much of most solvents will do the same.

Liquid solvents can be absorbed through your skin, can dissolve protective chemicals from the skin (allowing infection to occur), and can cause irritation to sensitive membranes, especially your eyes. These dangers can be mitigated by taking common sense precautions and by wearing protective clothing. Perhaps, the most insidious damage is caused by breathing solvent vapors over extended periods of time - damage may be less noticeable as time progresses due to the receptors in your nose that picks up the odor are progressively damaged.

There are two different types of vapor toxicity that may occur with the same solvent, namely: (i) a narcotic effects (e.g. drunkenness or poisoning) which may wear off as the solvent is removed from your body (e.g. ethanol); (ii) long term effects which persist even though the solvent has been eliminated from your body (e.g. methanol). With more extensive research undertaken on solvent usage it has been found that chronic effects are much more prevalent than was previously thought.

The relative danger of different solvents is measured by the Threshold Limit Values (TLV), or Occupational Exposure Limits (OEL). These are concentrations measured in parts per million (ppm or mg m-3) by volume of air that can be tolerated by the average user without undue risk. Two values are commonly listed: one for exposure during the whole working week namely TVL-TWA (Threshold Limit Value - Time Weighted Average); and the other for short term exposure, up to 15 minutes, TVL-STEL (Threshold Limit Value - Short Term Exposure Limit).

Any solvent with a TVL less than 200 ppm should be avoided or treated with considerable caution. For example, the TVL of gasoline is ca. 300 ppm. Gasoline sniffing has serious long term effects. Suppliers of chemicals are required by law in Australia to provide Material Safety Data Sheets in order to provide information on the toxicity of any products they supply.

Individuals can vary in their sensitives to chemicals. When one is sensitised irritation can occur at much lower concentrations than the average. To counter the possible dangers, periodic checks on the atmosphere of the studio air the artist breathes should be undertaken. There are now relatively cheap instrumentation that are on the market which indicate the amount of solvent vapor in the atmosphere. The anaesthetic effect of many solvents may ensure a happy ignorance of an increasing danger.

Hazard Signs Used In The European Union.
Courtesy reference[3].


References:
[1] Fibers Studio Handbook, School Of Art And Design, University Of Michigan, USA (2010).

[2] Ed. G.D. Muir, Hazards In The Chemical Laboratory, The Chemical Society, London (1977).

[3] C.V. Horie, Materials For Conservation, Butterworths, Sydney (1987).