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  • Writer's pictureBridgette ni Brian

Summer Focus

One of the fun things about being a writer is research ... no really.

I know many of you think of research as being stuck behind a pile of books with note cards, notebooks or computer screens. Research is in libraries or at home; it's highlighting, annotating and getting the bibliography correct.

All of this is true, and it isn't.

Deoksugung (덕수궁)

Research is also experiencing places (as best we can). While we cannot experience life in Joseon (South Korea) because much of it is now hidden under modern Seoul, we can visit historical palaces and other locations. We can experience the traditions, culture, and foods of the time period. Talk to people, learn their language, and listen to them. Culture doesn't merely end when a kingdom or dynasty ends, it adapts to the modern world.

Most historical sites, villages and museums attempt the reconstruction of a time period long gone to us. Some are simply places to visit and observe; others have costumed tour guides; some even allow visitors to play a part in the day's activities as though the visitor had somehow traveled back in time.

Still More Research

With my writing often focusing on characters who weave or draw or perform some other art form, one of my areas of research actually involves creating art. Though, a more accurate description would be researching art. After all, learning a new craft or even forms of ones already known can be messy and ugly.

For example: I learned to weave while in college. I'm good at it, and even ran a business for several years. While I can weave yards of material on my looms, attempting to weave a tapestry for the first time was intimidating. I knew the basics - weft, warp, bobbin - but my hands didn't understand the motions.

Tapestry weaving is an integral part of Mederei's life, so I have to understand how weaving a tapestry would be different from weaving yards of cloth. Weaving isn't the only part of Mederei's world. In the fantasy world of the Forty Isles, there isn't a large industrial culture. Everything is still crafted in a old-fashioned way, made easier with magic.

To create color on cloth or yarn, one must color it. We call the process dyeing. It's easy for us to go buy packets for the dye - usually available at any craft store, but knowing the process is a few steps more.

Another aspect is natural dyes. How do they work? What are the best sources of color? Plants like indigo and woad produce blues, but if you dye something with bright orange marigold leaves, will it produce the same color? More importantly, how long does it last? If I expose it to the sunlight will it fade away like a blueberry stain?

So, this summer, I will research. I will seek ways that different dyes work; how nature gives us color and different types of dyeing and printing. You'll be able to follow along here on the website every Saturday as I give you my weekly updates. If you want to join, feel free to post your photos on the Bridgette ni Brian Facebook page.

Have fun!

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