Local artist making the most of “COVID downtime”

Featured photo: Flint Courier News graphic & layout artist, Lisa Land

Written by Tanya Terry

They say an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.

On the other hand, Lisa Land, age 64, of Flint; an artist who works with the Flint Courier News, has made the most of her free time since the newspaper went strictly online due to the pandemic.

Land loves fiber arts.

“So, this gave me time to learn how to use acid dyes,” she said.

Acid dyes use the metric system for weight and is used on protein fibers such as wool, silk or any material from an animal.

dyed wool

“It’s a different system from other dyes I’ve been using,” Land said. “It took me a while to learn to use it.”

Land said she has dyscalculia; a disability which causes difficulty learning or understanding arithmetic, and Land said because acid dyes use a whole new measurement system it took her a long time to learn.

Land is dyeing for a specific project right now. She is making a shawl.

“You have to learn how to use the dyes and do color charts to understand how to dilute it or strengthen it to the color you want. I did a lot of color charts just recently because one color might take 10 milliliter to dilute it down to a color you want and to get to the same range another might take 20 or 30. So, some are more intense than others.”

Land said using acid dye is definitely more complicated than using the dyes used for T-shirts. When using acid dyes different chemicals can give the artist different tones. This also must be learned.

“As an artist, I love color, and I’ve always loved wool and yarn. Just the stress of the pandemic; not really being able to go anywhere-that’s really starting to get to me now for some reason. So, I actually had time to set up a little dye studio in my basement. I spend a lot of time in my basement. When I’m playing with color it keeps my mind busy, and I feel like I’m being productive. (And) I have something to use when I’m done.”

Land considers herself typically to be someone who needs a 50/50 mix of both alone time to do her own thing and time to spend with her friends.

“I was taking glass classes at the art institute, but they shut those down because of the COVID, too. So, my ability to work with people in art and spend a lot of time with people has been very reduced, as is most people’s.”

On a more positive note, Land was able to make numerous Christmas presents this past Christmas.

“I had a chance to do a lot more Christmas presents this time. So, that was nice. That was one thing the pandemic allowed me to do.”

She has made other shawls and hats, and is currently making her niece headbands and a cat bed.

With the Flint Courier News print edition still being temporarily suspended, and the publication being still strictly online, Land continues to have extra time.

“Like most knitters, I have a project list that’s very long. We all have all these projects in our cues. But, I do want to get more into dyeing and understanding that.”

Land bases her project on how much sunlight there is each day. Since she misses the sunlight, if it’s sunny out, she won’t go in the basement and work. She will instead work by a window or do her dyeing at night so she can be by the sun during the day.

COVID downtime is the perfect time to pursue a new hobby or follow your passion, especially if you don’t have to work every day, according to Land.

“It’s very easy to sit and do nothing. I have trouble with this, and then I remind myself I feel better when I’m producing and making something. That has really helped me keep my sanity.”

The skein gets wrapped onto the swift, and the ball winder pulls it off to make “cakes”. Higgs Boson loves to “help” Land with yarn.

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