Saturday, December 29, 2007

Thank You For A Good Year

Thank you very much for visiting Unravelling in 2007. I wish you all a creative, thrilling 2008. I look forward to continuing my creative adventures and misadventures with you. Keep the tension even, and the shuttles moving!

Twilight Market

Gee, it's been a week since my Market day. Let's see.

It was cloudy all day and I wondered if it would rain, but alas, the weather improved over the evening! It was almost cold, so I secretly hoped it might contribute to sales, but no luck there. People who had stalls the previous week said there were far fewer people out, and whereas on the first week people came out specifically to see the Market, on Week Two, which coincided with the last day of work before Christmas or for the year, people were on their way to or from somewhere else.

Megg Hewlett warned me her bags don't do well at market-style situations, so I went there ready not to sell much, so I wasn't disappointed. I think my initial plan to have little, inexpensive items might have worked, so people can just pick them up mementos or stocking stuffers, but I'm not sure if I want to put efforts into into developing a new "product"; making tiny purses and Christmas ornaments with swatches seem the most sensible if I were to do this again. On the other hand, even stalls with hand-printed cards or small paintings weren't selling much on that particular evening, either, so I'm not sure how much the extra work would have paid off. I did sell one piece to my dear friend Marj.

It was a jolly good evening for catching up with friends, however, and making new ones, especially after a busy, non-social year. It was great that some friends, who knew I weave but had never seen anything of mine, to see and feel my scarves. For this alone, I might consider doing it again next summer. And then there was a good local band, Freewheelin', playing almost in front of me, and that was a big bonus.

Market stalls are a lot of work, not just preparing the non-weaving part, but installing and displaying. I tried to go for the messy, casual look, so people will feel free to pick up an item and feel it or try it on, (and they did), and if you came from the right of the stall, it looked inviting, but if you approached me from my left, my stall looked like I was cleaning the attic closet, so there is definitely room for improvement. I also wanted to create "depth" (can't think of another word...) so my friends can come in and sit and talk, but as it is we ended up standing and talking towards the front of the stall, partially because it was dark under the tent, so I think I'll change the arrangements. I have another go on January 18th.

Sculptor/jewelery maker Mike Ward and I talked about how artists in Nelson can collaborate to create works/products that sell. For those of you not familiar with the name, he's also a former MP, so this is the biggest, boldest local name dropping Unravelling can attemp, everybody.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Thanks, Kris.

Before I upload photos from Twilight Market and think about what to write, I report Kris had time to post my giant ribbon on his gallery at I tell you this, not so much to call attention to the giant ribbon, but to encourage everybody else using drafts from his web site to send in photos and stories of their work, because his gallery has the potential to be a really robust on-line gallery, IMHO.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

D Minus 1 Day

Do you know the depressed Alan Rickman robot from the 2005 film "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"? Well, that's how I was yesterday. The stall assigned to me was #20, which happens to be right in front of the smoking section of the pub. (In New Zealand, there's no smoking inside pubs.) I requested a change, and though Arts Marketing promised they would switch me, I hadn't heard back and I was worried. Today, though, I was told I"ll be #5, so all is good.

It's finally The Day Before, and I'm philosophical. I"m not sure what your practices are, but in New Zealand, artists are strongly recommended not to undercut gallery prices when selling directly to the public, so I wanted to have a wee chat with Jay at the Red. Whenever I see her, there seems to be at least a dozen scarves I want to weave just because the gallery is so lovely and she is so encouraging. Afterwards, I was looking at books on designs of everyday things, while waiting for Ben to finish work. That's when a thought came to me as to why and when I started thinking about arts vs craft.

I didn't have a catalytic moment, but after I started this weaving thing, because it was so different from the kind of office jobs I had previously, I sought friendship of people who have been in the art business. And since I worked at the local Polytech, the Visual Arts School teachers were easy targets. The Polytech is still restructuring, which started in February 1999, so none of them teach there any more, and they of course don't think or talk about art all the time, but when I do see them at openings, for examples, they have educated observations and opinions, and can elaborate if required. I'm thinking these encounters got me started.

I was also wondering what to weave after tomorrow. I have plenty of design inspirations, and I also have three commissions, but I wondered what I wanted to weave, as suddenly, for no reason, the world seemed saturated with scarves, and I hesitated to add more to scarves to the world, as if that'd be the scarf that broke the camel's neck, if you get the picture.

I know I'm tired; my mind keeps wandering in strange directions, but I'm relieved I got here finally. Weavers have not had good luck this summer at market and fair stalls, so I'm not expecting to sell, but I wouldn't mind talking to a few people about weaving, and/or seeing friends whom I neglected for the last 14 months. It'd be good; I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Tagged and priced most pieces; made a list of stock. Went to borrow Megg's bags; selected colors to go with my pieces. I thought I'd like between 6-8 bags, so I borrowed 11. Yummy. I'm tempted to buy one for my sister, and another for myself. Luckily, I can't decide which colors.

Oh, and the paper bag; by the time I went back to the store, they were out of brown bags, so I got the gold before they ran out of that, too. What did I tell you about a small town? Affixed navy & gold decoration on all 16 bags; that should be more than enough for both Market nights.

I've six more pieces to finish, as in fringe, wash, or sew the ends of two scarves. I'm trying out fringeless. Where all the stuff is now, in front of the TV, is where I lay big pieces to dry. Darn.

The one or two more warps before Friday? Not gonna happen.

And sorry about the sorry photos. But at this rate, I'll survive, and enjoy Friday.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

D Minus 5 Days

I counted the pieces I can take to my Twilight Market stall, and decided I have enough; combined with Megg's cheerful bags, I'm set. So I'm concentrating on fringing and washing and pressing and tagging the pieces I've already woven. (I never allocate enough time for these chores, especially tagging. ) I still hope to put on one or two more warps this week, because I'd like to try to make a few very nice small scarves, but I won't have any more sleepless nights. At least that's the theory.

While fringing, I've been "wool gathering" about two concepts.

A while back, we took friends to several potters' studios in and around Nelson; one had been an armature potter for a long time. At Royce McGlashen's, the lady minding the shop told us to go meet Royce in his studio, welcoming, in particular, a potter interested in Royce's work; she said Royce is often called a potters' potter. I wasn't sure what she meant, but liked the sound of it.

I'm sure there are weavers' weavers, too, but I'm not sure what this means. It's been too hot and humid to give it serious thought today.

The other thought came out of nowhere while reading a short interview with the head of Human Rights Commission of New Zealand in this week's New Zealand Listener magazine. She was commenting that sometimes we get bogged down on relatively minor (on the scale of world's human rights violations) issues, because we are such a small country. Statistics New Zealand says as of 1.12PM today, there are 4,249,951 Kiwis.

For some reason, that got me thinking about making art/craft in a small place verses a large place. Nelson had a population of 45,372 on March 7, 2006, and though per capita we boost a large number of people making art, and galleries showing them, let's face it, it's a small place. After coming out of the basement only a little over a year ago, I've come to know some of the faces that frequent opening nights. It's a nice and encouraging feeling for the most part. I'm guesstimating if you get, say, 50 people to an opening, depending on the size of the gallery, that's a booming success. Art is personal and artists are accessible for the most part; we call most of them by their first names.

My home town of Yokohama had a population of 3,630,830 on December 1, 2007. I'm not sure what they do on for openings in Yokohama; I wouldn't be surprised if they are strictly by invitation only; I've never been to an art opening in Japan, ever.

I'm guessing larger places have infrastructures and people experienced in putting on art exhibits, who can assist/encourage and interfere/dictate artists putting on shows. I'm guess there's a bit of bureaucracy and waiting time before you convince someone to show your work, though there might also be oodles of small galleries for the hire.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this. I've never made art before Nelson, and I've only just started. I'm wondering if it's more work doing something in a small place or a larger place; I'm wondering if the standards/quality of work is different.

Don't mind me, my mind's just wandering while I fringe.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

That Art Thing, Again

It is a relief to have to keeping working on the loom without thinking about the whole art thing. In preparing for the market, I've been working at this end of the spectrum; I've been making predictable scarves, and tomorrow I'm going to put on a dish/tea towel warp in Swedish cottolin. In New Zealand, we call these "bread and butter" and most weavers have her/his own b&b.

Of course, the most functional, unpretentious of styles, like the Shaker, can also be art; in fact, that's an enviable place to be, continuing to create functional, repeatable pieces which are deemed "art" by others.

Being a member of an organization like Nelson Arts Marketing and/or participating in multi-disciplinary exhibits, one gets lumped into the category "artists", as opposed to "administrators", "educators", "gallerists", etc, so the word "artist" doesn't carry the esteem/stigma; in this context, I am an artist. But it does push me to aim beyond "craft" when I see my pieces exhibited by professional curators; would you call this reverse (or perverse) psychology?

Peg cedes judging what is gallery-worthy; it's practical, it probably reflects her personality, and most importantly to me, how handweaving is perceived where she lives. I feel more urgency about weaving in galleries in Nelson or New Zealand, and it has to do with how all non-tapestry-weaving is lumped together here verses what's happening at the "cake" end of weaving.

Nelson Polytechnic had a weaving school in the 80's, which was apparently well-known nationwide. So Nelsonians are familiar with and kind to weaving, but as weaving was in the 80's. I'm not claiming I weave at the "cake" end, but as Lloyd advised, it is the responsibility of the weavers to try to elevate the status of weaving as craft/art, (at least those weavers who wish to do so), and as some ceramic artists and jewelry makers have done successfully over the last two decades. Dare I say, the onus is on us to educate the public. This is what has motivated me to not turn down an opportunity to show, and it includes chances like Twilight Market. And I wish true "cake" weavers exhibited more in New Zealand.

This is my view of one of the extrinsic value of weaving in galleries, and it's the easy part.

The hard part is what I see as intrinsic artistic merit in handweaving. It relates to where I see myself on the weaver/craftsperson/artesan/artist continuum. Peg has a good definition, one which most people involved in this business would agree, but I need a bit more for myself to steer me in the direction I want to go, the direction I can't see yet. I worry about the "if you don't know where you're going, you probably won't get there" thing, and I wonder if this is because I have many art educator friends.

That's all I've got this morning.

For some weavers, this is a sensitive subject, I know. Some take umbrage in being called an artist, many by non-tapestry weavers who call themselves artists, and still others are sensitive not to offend others by calling themselves artists. I'm starting to think I'll may never know what this all means, because I change, and annoyingly, fashion changes. Still, it's nice to hear/read what others think.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Re:fine at The Suter

Earlier in the evening, Re:fine at The Suter opened. It was supposed to be a condensed version of the same exhibit in Wellington in September, but I was surprised how much Anna Marie White, the curator, managed to squeeze in our smaller gallery. Everybody's art pieces looked glad to be back in Nelson. My "Wave" and "Windprint" made it back in, pretty much in the same arrangement as in Wellington, but "Tapa" didn't.

From the start Anna had this mental picture of "Wave", leading up to the crow-colored costume, with "Tapa" behind it, but this time when she hung "Tapa", the soft yarns' colors disappeared in the harsh light. Which made me think of the Big Ribbon at the Refinery; I knew that one was for showing, so I used shiny coarse yarns. Tapa, I wove first and foremost to wear, so it is soft and luxurious, but to the hanging-and-showing-under-the-spotlight, I didn't pay as much attention.

Anna is wearing "Deep" in the Nelson summer, with folds showing the way I love; what a friend.

Twilight Market

I've been having pathetic, lethargic, "oh, why, oh, why" days interspersed with extremely efficient and productive moments. Suffice it to say, I don't have enough stuff for my stall yet, but I know I'll enjoy myself.

Last Sunday we did a mock-up of my stall space in the garage; we borrowed the tent, and, boy, I never realized how big a space 3m*3m can be!! Luckily, dear friend Megg Hewlett has tons of lovely felted bags I can borrow, so at least my stall will be colorful and beautiful. It might even look like a Megg Hewlett stall, but never mind!!

Twilight Markets opened tonight, and we went for a bit of reconnaissance. There were lots of people out, looking at the stalls, and wining and dining at the cafes on both sides of the street. This time of the year it stays light until well after 9PM, so it's great for an evening stroll.

Charles was having a very good evening. Most of the stalls were not jam-packed, but had just enough interesting pieces. I'm wondering if I want only a few pieces, too, or whether I want to get into the spirit of "the market" and create a few warps of dish/tea towels people can pick up and not break the bank.

Just an hour ago, tonight, Ben asked what I had hoped to achieve from Twilight Market, and I now know that's been the problem all along. Long before I wove my first piece for my first exhibit earlier in the year, I knew how the exhibit would look, and what challenges I had given myself. With the market, I joined primarily because a lot of people I knew had signed up for it, (OK, Sue Broad had), and I didn't want to miss the fun. But other than that, I didn't know what I wanted to achieve by participating in the market, and that's why I can't focus and can't proceed with the preparations. So now that I know this, and I have six more days to prepare, I should come up with a small theme or direction and concentrate my efforts.

Well, maybe tomorrow morning, yeah?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Remembering Merrin Westerink

My favorite Golden Bay painter Merrin Westerink passed away October 2006. I just found out, over a year on.

We found her lovely old homestead and gallery by chance in the January 2005. She was in India when the Boxing Day (Asian) Tsunami occurred, and on her return she painted a series of dark red and lucious brown paintings. They were the first abstract paintings I was interested in, and I walked back and forth between the two rooms trying to figure out which one I wanted. They were dark and restless but not sad or dangerous. (I can't find these on the web site.)

In the end, however, we bought the more peaceful Immigration 1 (14th from the top), because it was more peaceful to look at, (something we look for in paintings in our house), and would have been a more suitable memory of our holiday in Golden Bay, and she liked the idea that particular painting would not go too far, that she could have visited it if she wanted to. The piece continues to give us and our visitors endless hours of enjoyment, recalling our holiday (actually, two holidays in Golden Bay within 2.5 months), and how she described her Golden Bay.

And Merrin was a weaver long before she turned to painting; one of her gallery rooms had a huge old 8-shaft loom in the corner.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Special Greetings to Everybody in New England

I can't help it, I went to high school in the 70's, so of course Barry Manilow was my favorite, and "Weekend in New England" made me fantasize about this achingly romantic place. I'm not even sure which states fit the description; I'm thinking Maine, Vermont, and Rhode Island. Is Massachusetts in there, too? Connecticut?

Re:fine exhibition is going to be installed, with some modification, at The Suter in Nelson, and today I had to deliver four pieces, including the Tapa piece that another artist rejected to at the Wellington Re:fine and as a result was now shown. I was early so I had coffee at the cafe, and I was reading the September 2007 issue of House Beautiful, the American edition. It was all about subdued colors; though they called them neutral, but they were not that, but it was a beautiful issue nevertheless. And some of the shots made me think of New England once again.

I've never been east of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, except for a week in Washington DC, so I don't know New England. I like to imagine a smallish house on a large wooded property in the autumn, the grounds not raked and looking painfully autumnal and nostalgic. I'd love to sit on a chair covered in chintz, and read, or write a letter longhand. I don't even know if this is far off the mark, but that's the picture I have.

I rushed to the aforementioned magazine shop and asked for the September issue, but alas, they had returned it to the distributor. Darn. The December issue just wasn't the same.

Count Down, Lock Down - How Many Times Have I Said This This Year?

When I first started blogging around Easter 2006, it was intended as a supplement to my web site, something like a casual version of a newsletter. I never guessed this would become the main part of my weaving-on-the-Internet and supplant the web site, almost.

Back then I used to upload tiny photos, too, and the template was narrower, and I liked that personable look; it feels as though I'm less in your face, instead of shouting. (I've had to widen the template to post larger photos to compensate for my hidious eye-sight.)

Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to the end of Twilight Market prep madness in 17 days, and am quite desperate for a quiet summer and fall and possibly winter after that.

Oh, the cotton; you can see where the tension started to get insane on the yellow one from here. Good grief! And it wasn't the warp-winding, but something to do with the cloth-beam and my unwinding while trying to fix it.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

This Blog Thing

When my parents bought their first fax machine, my brother, who was around 17, wanted to be the first to try. He borrowed some money from his buddy that day, so he jokingly started faxing a bill to the buddy's house, then suddenly pulled the bill out, worried he might loose his money, worried the bill might actually get transfered to the buddy. Though all of us knew how the technology worked, (kind of), it was still amazing that little brother's buddy was looking at half a bill at the other end of the phone line.

That was in 1990. My parents have their third fax machine, and they can't decommission it because they decided not to move on to computers and email. Fair enough; Dad's 80 and mother close behind him, so a few years ago, we kids stopped pressing them.

So now we're nearing the end of 2007. And, say, I do something silly in the studio and need your help untangling my creative mess. I can photograph or video it, upload it, and show it to you, within minutes.

And within minutes, if you so choose, no matter which hemisphere or continent or time zone you're in/on/in, you can comment or email me, and in doing so, you can type your own words, send me links to helpful websites and blogs, or even send me photos or videos.

Then theoretically, I can go downstairs and fix my mess. And for me, who needs to see pictures and graphics in order to understand most things, it's a blessing beyond compare. And we make friends whom we get to know, kind of well sometimes, even though we may never meet them.

No matter what you think of Blogger, YouTube and the rest of it, it is amazing, if you think about it. I appreciate it, because I endured years of thin blue aérograms.

Why Weave Cloth by Hand?

I understand Randy spoke about it in his Convergence workshop in 2002; we've seen him speak about it on the Craft in America video. (Did he smirk when he said "run of the mill"?) But he didn't touch the subject in our workshop a year ago.

It's one of the those questions that haunt me from time to time, this time over at Curious Weaver's blog. It's too bad Kelly did not leave a link to her blog or web site if she has any. It would have been interesting to read her thought further as well.

Men's Vogue - Not Quite the Answer

From time to time I am asked to weave something for a special man, and now I'm trying to have a few mens' scarves at the Red Gallery. Usually I go see French and Italian films for inspiration, but sometimes I am so engrossed by the story that after I come out of the theater I can't remember exactly what I liked about an outfit.

(I've been told men don't have outfits, but what do you call the overall look of a guy at any given time? Getup? Gear?)

So I went to my favorite bookstore and looked for style/fashion books/magazines for suits and coats from the last decade from the US, UK or Europe, (wide enough net, I thought), and after involving two staff, two computers and another walk around the shop, I came out with just one New Zealand men's "lifestyle" mag, which had three photos of men in suits, all casual, one with no tie, none of them too inspiring. I should have qualified it with "an older man's" suit/coats. So I went to The Magazine Shop down the road, and the man, who had owned the shop for two weeks, told me he's just learned about Men's Vogue.

I didn't know such thing existed. I shouldn't be surprised. In any bookstore in Tokyo, there are at least a couple of dozen men's fashion mags, so naturally there are those in the US as well. It's just that Nelson is not the fashion capital of New Zealand, especially when it comes to suits and nice coats, and I had gotten so used to this that it really took me by surprise.

Anyway, I purchased the October and November editions, they were not much help to me. Not a lot of suits, not a lot of older men, (except in the feature articles); I would have fared better had I bought maybe a luxury travel magazine to get photos with more atmosphere.

I had better luck Googling Daniel Auteuil and Marcello Mastroianni photos later that evening. Still, NZ$29 for a nice pic of Danzel is not a total loss, though I would have given him a camel-colored cashmere coat. Mumble mumble...

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Oh, Crums!

This art/weaving business. Some days you've just got to talk yourself up and convince yourself you're doing just great and bluff about your own abilities. At least I do.

It's been a whole week of it. Regardless of what I think, or what someone says, or more importantly what's happening on the warping board or loom or bobbin winder.

I think I'm a rather WYSIWYG kinda gal - "what you see is what you get" - so I'm not shy about discussing with you my various silliness/carelessness/stupidity in case you hadn't noticed. A few years ago I was told not to do this because it made me appear unprofessional, but me-the-weaver is the same person as the me-the-anything-else, so I couldn't be bothered having different personae. Besides, the person warping unevenly or winding back the cloth beam (I know, but there was a strange fold appearing!) or winding weft too close to the tip is me-the-weaver.

But even I gasp at the gaffs I witnessed today. Such a pity, because I had respectable tension and admirable selvedges. These were things I should have known better.

That's it today; no smart come back or a tidy ending; just me wondering if I'll ever get to a point where I don't have to pay attention to trivia and concern myself with higher things.

Friday, November 30, 2007

A Mighty Fine Day, Indeed

I know many of you will be thinking, "Is that all!" but upstairs, I'm sticking to the 2/60 cotton at 60EPI, 1/3 and 3/1 twill stripe, with the same 2/60 cotton in the weft, woven very loosely. The finished piece will look pretty much like the top 1/3 of the sample.

Downstairs on the big loom I have 2/20 in 30EPI, sleyd 5EPI on a 6-dent reed, ergo the stripe in the twill where they shouldn't be, again in two-faced twill, woven at 48PPI.

I'm having problems with my eyes again, (and we won't go into which is the chicken and which is the egg), and I can't stick to either of them for too long; on the table loom upstairs, after three sittings I've just cleared 88cm; downstairs I wove about 60cm to finish one piece in the morning, and in the afternoon I wove only 70cm, and I find I can't concentrate well after that.

I love the way they are going to look and feel, or so I keep telling myself. Sometimes I need to talk up my skills and abilities so I stick with what I started; this week has been like such a week.

These are so not the kind of things one should be weaving when one is looking to have a stall in the market in 21 days. Still, it'd be fun to wash these.

Weaving on YouTube

As a rule, I don't associate new technology with handweaving because what we do is so basic and labor-intensive and another-world-ly, but while looking for a New Zealand TV commercial this morning, I thought to search for some weaving videos.

Hypertextile/Luciano Ghersi of Porchiano del Monte, Italy, says he is a weaver and art teacher. His blog is mostly in Italian but with lots of photos and videos I found on YouTube. Here is his Flickr, and his YouTube. And I'm guessing this is the blog of the Textile Department of the school where he works.

Eksha's is of Dhaka weaving by Limbu women in Nepal and the footage is lovely.

Umyintlwin has a clip from Akhar, Myanmar,Weaving Training School; the quality of this one is not spectacular, but the costume of the women interesting nonetheless.

I've also checked, quite a while back, podcasts o the subject of weaving, and I'd imagine they are interesting, too. If you have the facilities, you may consider listening to them while weaving? I'm happy with my radio/CD/books-on-tape for the time being.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Twilight Market

As with exhibits, at times weaving appears to be the easiest part of a weaver's life.

For Twilight Market, we are having a blue (probably navy blue; definitely not green) tent over our 3m * 3m stall space. I happened upon Arts Marketing on the day they put one up to see it themselves, and the space was larger than I had imagined.

We are required to bring everything else, including, among others, tables, chairs, change, and packaging material.
I need a break from all these marketing considerations; I'm going to go dress a loom now.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Future plans notwithstanding, this is what I've been working on. It has four colors of the 2/60 cotton in the warp, and I guess-timated the sett should be somewhere between 60-90EPI. I wound the thread around two inches of cardboard, but I couldn't see what I was doing, and had a terrible time counting the threads, so I took a stab in the dark and sleyed it at 60DPI to start at the loose side.

What I wasn't expecting was the stripe effect, as a result of putting 10 ends to a dent in a 6-dent reed. I need to sley more closely to get the cloth I want, but because I only have 292 ends in this warp, I've begun to weave a few scarves in stripe, and then resley to sample closer setts, rather than to get it right only to weave wide-tie-width scarves. The first is in 1/3 and 3/1 two-faced twill stripe, (in addition to the gap-stripe).

The cotton has a beautiful sheen, and is sufficiently stiff but doesn't feel wiry. I broke two warps and the worst part was I couldn't hear them break. I need to weave during the day, so I can see the warp better to avoid skips and other errors. Sample shown here is a little less than 5 inches wide on the loom.

As you can imagine, it weaves terribly slowly, not only because it's fine but also because I put this warp on the Klik table loom so I can scrutinize the yarns and the process, so I don't think I'll get around to weaving a couple of dozen tiny scarves in three-and-a-bit more weeks. Which means I'll have to get a few more cones of the 2/20 cottons for Twilight Market. Grin!!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Changing Viewpoint

Yesterday at the Red Gallery, I came upon an old-ish Ornament magazine (Vol 30 No 3), which had two pages on Shibori dye artist Carter Smith, and his exhibition earlier this year at the Fuller Craft Museum in Massachusetts. Though I love seeing how others dye, I've never been big on doing it myself, but I was curious I was so taken by the works.

Smith's cloths are stunning, so it's no surprise I stared at the pictures from all angles for quite a while. Previously, when I saw interesting textile works, e.g. screen print and surface painting, beading and embroidery, jewelry, millinery, even good sewing, I not only wanted to learn the techniques, but after I picked up the very basics (of just some of what's mentioned above, of course,) I wanted to pursue the latest one instead of weaving. Only lately, in the last few months, I've come to examine these other techniques not to replace weaving, but to enhance it.

I can't remember if it was a conscious effort. At first, I tried to see ornamentation co-existing with my woven cloth, but the cloth was always in the background, at times invisible. In May, when I was sitting at the Expo twiddling my thumb, I started envisioning integrating beading/embroidery with the woven cloth, so there was an apparent relationship between the surface design and the background cloth.

Yesterday, while admiring the photos of the stunning Shibori, and Randy's voice from the Craft in America video reminding me I should be able to tell a story in one scarf, I was watching a slide show in my head of woven and dyed shawls, where the weave structure and the dye patterns enhanced each other. (And here, I'm not talking about techniques like woven shibori, but the final design.)

Lucky for me, the slide show is still running this morning. I'm not sure where I want to take this; I know for certain I have to learn a little more than 5th grade Home Ec shibori and wax resist. But it must be possible to create something where Weave+Shibori=More.

This is a marked shift in how I see/think, and I came to it painlessly, but executing the ideas, that's going to hurt a bit. I am relieved I've come to see weaving as the base of most everything I want to do.

From Carter Smith's web page, here are some photos from the exhibit.

PS. I'm not sure if it sounds strange to you, but in my school in Japan, we did shibori and wax resist as part of the home economics curriculum in elementary school and possibly again in junior high school, not in art. It was probably seen as something all good housewives should know.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Randall Darwall in "Craft in America"

Way back when Randy told us he would take part in this documentary/book, I Googled all over, emailed the contact address several times on their then-one-page web site, and tried everything else I could think of to find out more. Good thing Randy's web minder put a link, because I had forgotten all about it.

Craft in America, The History of Fiber, starts here. There are four pages, so move around by clicking on the numbers at the bottom of the page.

On Page 3, you will find a link to Randy's much-too-short video interview; alternatively, click here to see it on a bigger screen, (though Randy's image gets pixel-lated.) Randy's page on their web site is here.

Once again, there is the music talk. Randy very briefly mentioned the Darwall Hymns in England composed by his ancestor; John Darwall is all I found today, but music certainly runs through his veins.

I also found Randall Darwall on Flickr, but the photos seem to be from the exhibit Brian curated this time last year. Too bad the account doesn't seem to allow anyone to be a contact.

Uploading on, Draft #61268 - look familiar? It's the base for my Giant Ribbon. It was thrilling to finally contribute something to the weaving community, though now that I look at it, I'm not sure if anybody would be interested.

It's surprisingly quick and easy to upload drafts there, so if you're interested, give it a go. Also, Kris would love to add pictures and stories to the Gallery section, I believe, so contact him through the Comments page.

This PrtScn looks very blurred, but it's a tad better when enlarged. Better yet, make yourself a hot cup of something, and go visit the site. (And my colors look heaps better there.)

PS. Also check out Draft #61262 Breast Cancer pink ribbon by Bonnie Inouye, (though she doesn't call it exactly that.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Last Meeting of 2007

Last night was the last meeting of Marlborough Weavers for 2007. We had wine, followed by pot luck dinner, then made Christmas ornaments based on Dutch Teabag folding, then my favorite part, the show-and-tell. This is where we were supposed to show our M's & O's projects, but I'm happy to report, about 1/3 of the projects, like mine, were not M's & O's; there were at least three weavers who wove Davison drafts I worked out on graph paper, and it wonderful to see them come to life. Then we had pot luck desserts and a meeting to give us things to ponder regarding next year's activities.

That's us doing a bit of origami, which brought mixed memories of my childhood being told off for not having the corners right, but amongst friends it was pleasant. The tiny purple Christmas tree on the lower left is mine.

Starting with the fabulous picnic in January, a few days before my exhibit opened, I went to a grand total of four meetings this year, which was more than I had hoped for, but still not enough. Nevertheless, I'm glad I belong to this group, and promise A) I will do the annual project next year, whatever that will be, and B) try to get more involved when I can.

The rosettes were made with the same technique. I was particularly enamored by the tiny spool ornaments made of the spools in sawing kits from the $2 shop; another great idea by Rose.

The main source of tea bag folding was this site.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Men Have Wombs, Too

Ben and I belong to a group, City Daily Photo, where members post one photo from where we live every day; ours is Nelson Daily Photo. When we don't have a nice photo from around town, we look into my weaving pics pool and give it a different spin, as we did yesterday.

One of our ether friends Photowannabe mentioned her mother-in-law having a "nest" in her basement garage. I do like that my studio is in the basement, with just one window. It is my hideaway, my cocoon, and today, whilst responding to Photowannabe, I recognized it as a kind of a womb, too; a womb belonging to a composite of the many people who inspire and encourage me in my work. That includes Ben and Randy Darwall/Brian Mrphy; I'm sure they'd be thrilled to know they have wombs.

In contrast I see my stash room as a sports field/court, where I willingly and lovingly go in to battle. Sadly, the battle has been less creative of late, but more in keeping it tidy enough so I can walk between the cones and skeins to reach for whatever yarns or equipment I'm trying to reach. Ben's suggested adding shelves to the studio to have some stash there, but I'm trying to keep my stash manageable so I've rejected that idea so far. But of course I keep buying yarns, and some do live permanently in the studio. But I digress.

How do you see perceive creative space? Do you have a name for it?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Force of Habbit

A weaver said fringes made with three strands don't get flat, so I got a three-clip twister. It worked fine once I got used to it. And then I must not have fringed for a while....

Last week, I sat down to fringe, and in a few minutes I was automatically making two-strand fringes without thinking. I didn't want to undo them, so this shawl had two-strand fringes; the second red one had three-strand ones. I'm still teaching this old dog new tricks.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


I'm discovering that artists in Nelson often ask or offer to swap work. The first person to offer me a swap was Megg Hewlett and I came to own my absolutely indispensable purple bag. (Notice I called that my "first"!) Since, I've had four more offers, and I intend to honor them all, but sometimes it's a bit nerve-recking because, after all, they, too, are people who makes things.

I also had to get my head around the barter system. We try to exchange works of roughly the same dollar value, but it's not as precise as money exchanging hands, and I'm growing to like the fuzziness on one hand, but feel nervous about potential imbalance in either direction.

It's surprisingly liberating, though, to receive something lovingly worked, in exchange for something I made. It transcends monetary value, and let's face it, I'm terribly lucky to be asked.

M's & O's

During the January meeting of Marlborough Weavers, we were informed the 2007 theme would be M's & O's; weave something for yourself (or someone else) in this structure and bring it (or a photograph) to the last meeting's show and tell. Sounded easy enough.

Well, that last meeting is next Monday.

All year I've been reading about M's & O's, but I just can't get my head around it. I'm fine with the threading, but something about the treadling, or the concept of blocks (where one lot is doing something while the other is doing something different) boggles this tiny mind. In addition, since I joined the Cross Country Weavers sample exchange, I've had it my head that I need to create something using 10+ shafts whenever these "assignments" are handed down.

I've consulted over a dozen books trying to understand the structure, either by reading the explanation, or gazing at several dozen drafts. I've played with my software. I've looked at woven samples. Yesterday, in my desperation, I brought out the heavy artillery, graph paper, pen, scissors and glue, (for old-fashioned cut-and-paste.) And I'm still none the wiser.

The only options I can think of are 1) use blocks of different width to create squares and rectangles adjacent to complementary weave structures - kind of a textural check, but this can be done on 4-shafts, or 2) a kind of Christmas Tree-shaped design where small blocks are used to create a large shape, using up to 16, but this would result in a textile mostly in plain weave or cords. Or 3) take a draft out of a book and weave it. I did this twice in my past.

My mind is completely blank today. The always-reliable Marguerite Davison book had some simple but beautiful drafts; many of her drafts mix the plain weave treadling to create not just a two-block textile, but to make an interesting-looking cloth. So I'm absent-mindedly admiring the pages of her book today. Come to think of it, the two times I took a draft straight out of a book were I wove two undulating twills from her book.

I don't know if I'm just too tired, or I'm so bad at multi-tasking (which I am!) I can't comprehend blocks in different weaves.

Oh, there is Option 4) bow out of the sample and take a yummy treat instead.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I ripped open the box the second Ben walked through that door. Somehow I had imagined 13kgs would take up more space, but never mind, this is additional 13kgs that can't fit into my stash room anyway.

Cotton, 14 colors; the hues weren't as narrowly-selected as I had imagined, but never mind that, either. The brighter 2/20 yarns I thought I'd use for something for the Twilight Market; the more nuanced 2/60s, I hope to use for color experiments, and if they work, of course they'll go into the Twilight Market as well.

I'm going to make myself a cuppa and contemplate them today.

(Later) I have been weaving all day about 2 meters away from these cones, and whilst I'm still very enamored by the colors, I decided that except for the few bright ones, they are all very "raincoat" colors. Don't you agree?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Something to Think About

I liked the leafy/flamy draft I created for the Refinery/Culturally Routed giant ribbon, so when Arts Marketing asked me to weave two red shawls in a short time recently, I thought I'd weave at least one in that draft, but in different sized/textured yarns, different warp color placements, and in a different scale, to make it softer.

Boy, did that not work. I forgot that I designed the ribbon so there are lots of plain weave areas to make the structure sturdy. Some of the lacy areas that let the light through in the stiff yarns just fulled and felted when woven in soft wool, and I missed the as-long-as-practicable floats. And most of all, I designed it to allow for frequent changes of weft colors, but it looked dislocated when woven in one weft in a bigger piece. So the red shawl sample in five reds looked dull and stiff, so I reworked the tie-up.

I still like the first draft, however, so I might try it some other time, perhaps in skinny cottons, because I'm still too chicken/cheap to try something bold in good silk. I'll also change where one repeat starts/ends if I'm going to change weft colors again.

This is the draft for this piece.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Has This Been a Good Year For You?

I went to an opening Friday night, and a considerate, kind friend asked me, "So, has this been a good year for you?" I responded in my usual hasty, joking way, "I hate being poor," and went into a monologue about how I stared at a $12 used paperback of letters from Vincent to Theo for 15 minutes before deciding I couldn't afford it. And the book was further 10% off. And everybody laughed.

But it has been a good year.

In 2005 I sent one piece to one exhibit, sold two other pieces, and had three commission work. In 2006, I sent one piece to one exhibit, sold two other pieces, and the Red Gallery started to have my work. And I went to Randy's workshop.

2007 started with a tiny, first solo exhibit, and I followed it up with somehow being involved with seven exhibits/displays of different sizes. I participated in the Expo, and will participate in the Twilight Market, and I have two commissions. And though I'm still firmly in the red, I lost count of how many pieces I sold. (It's probably somewhere around eight, I'd imagine.)

I didn't go to a workshop, (this supposedly being a year of being my own apprentice), but I made many friends who also make things, here in Nelson and out there in the ether, who understand the daily tribulations of making things, so I didn't have to rely so much on self-help books. And, boy, do we enjoy celebrating each other's triumphs, or simple company. When I go to openings nowadays, I know some people!!

And significantly, I survived Martin Rodger's departure from Arts Marketing; I didn't shrivel up in a fetal position in my basement and die a linty death.

I've been a member of the Marlborough Weavers. I still enjoy Kath's singing in her various metamorphosis, and still hope to have a joint exhibit with Megg Hewlett. There's a new, significant friendship I haven't mentioned, as this one needs to be a separate post, and another I hope will be renewed.

Universe only knows what will happen in the next seven or so weeks before I can look back at the whole year, but for now, life is good, and thank you so much for asking.

(This may shock you, but I had a busy day Friday, and went to the said Opening in my gym clothes. That's too casual even for Nelson, but it was either that or not going, so I went, and enjoyed it, and suffice it to say, you don't get kicked out for it in Nelson. A deeper appreciation for the easy access to art here has been another discovery this year.)

Mini Exhibit during Garden Marlborough, Blenheim, recently. I've come to enjoy sitting back and observing what others do with my pieces, how they wear or display them. I like the use of the edge to make it look like a collar here; very Candice Bergen.

Legitimate Reason to Buy More Yarns

I'm waiting for some cotton yarns to arrive. They are mostly various nuances of pale green-blues, kind of an assortment of soft greeny Robin's Egg/Duck Egg blues, a range of colors I disliked most of my life, but can't stop dreaming about for the last few months.

I've not seriously explored cottons yet, but I found skinny cotton yarns, 2/20 and 2/60, in gazillion colors right here in New Zealand recently. (For Kiwi weavers, it's DEA in Levin, contact is Adam, and their website will be renewed sometime soon.) I've loved wearing cotton all my life so I have a natural affinity to how the fiber wears, but thus far I couldn't find anything in New Zealand that made me gush, and the overseas yarns, though delicious-looking, were prohibitively expensive.

And I have a legitimate reason to order cottons now. Arts Marketing Nelson is going to host Twilight Markets this summer. 16 or so artists/craftspersons will have stalls at the bottom of the Cathedral Steps on Friday nights from 6 to 9PM selling their ware, and I signed up for two Fridays. I've never done anything like this, but everybody tells me it's good to talk to people who might be interested in buying my work, and I don't feel as terrified about being seen with my work now, so after a couple of months of contemplating why this was such a bad idea, I signed up.

The market is held from mid-December to late-February, which is at the height of our summer, so in addition to my regular wool and possum pieces, I wanted, "Oh, no bags, please, I'm going to wear it right away" kind of scarfettes. I'm also thinking of other small things like Christmas ornaments, cell phone bags or tiny shoulder poaches, but I'm not terrific at sewing so a good balance of work and fun is my goal. But the market/fair/fete image is freeing me up to make lighter, more playful things, and I'm hoping to have a lot of fun.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Broken Warp and All

This is for Bonnie.

Threading is half of MWs - may I call it VAs?? Tie-up is a 3-1-1-3-1-1-1-1-3-1 twill. Treadling is 4-step (very shaky on the terminology this post...) advancing twill, 76 picks then mirror-reversed. It's all over diamond, with the center slightly squished. The photo was taken under less-than-ideal lights, so it looks as if the pattern is bleeding, but trust me, it is a rather predictable twill diamond job.

I used 4 reds in the warp to create 6 different areas - AB, BB, BC, CC, CD, and DD, - changing colors at regular intervals. One weft yarn.

It was a rushed order for a mini exhibit for Arts Marketing; I was contacted last Tuesday, and I must deliver two pieces at noon Thursday. The first piece is a straight forward treadling (no reversing) in a slightly different 3-1-3-1-1-1-1-1-1-3 twill.

Though they have different tie-ups, mirror-reversed treadling in once case, use different yarns and sett, these are only minor modifications of Big Ribbon. The warp color changes, yes. The weave structure looks slightly interesting, but I'm so very ho-hum about these two. I believe we've all see this type of pieces before, quite a few times. So this project feels very much "been there, done that" even as I work on it.

When and where I change colors, I'd like to have a reason. I'd like the change of color to be built into the structure, or vice versa, so the structure needs the colors to change, and the color change enhances the structure. As if one cannot exist without the other.

That's as far as I got on this thought, and I'd have to study structures and about structures some more to realize this. I also had some interesting experiences in modifying the Big Ribbon draft here, so I'll come back to it after I've delivered these two.

The one you see on the loom is the sample in the middle; the first piece not seen used the portion on the left, which I like better.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Yay, Megg!

Megg Hewlett and her felted bags are going to Culverden Christmas Fête, and she kindly offered to take a few of my scarves. I had never heard of this event, but apparently it's beautiful and fancy, and hard to get a stall in, so well done Megg, and thank you!

I wanted to make mine a self-contained package to make things easy for Megg, so I bought a small papier-mâché hat box, covered it with soft yellow paper; it looks pretty OK on the sides, but hidious on the top and bottom. I scrunched some yellow and white tissues, (I used both because the yellow alone looked so harsh), but the tissues just looked wrinkled.

I can't believe I spent all day making this package, and for all the effort it looked terribly below-average, but it's easy to transport, and I trust Megg will fluff things up and make it more attractive. I have her extra tissues, too.

And beyond, you can see I've been shopping; I have a legitimate reason for needing more yarns, but more on that in a few days.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sending Up Art Talk

Don't think for a minute that I seriously think this is an "art" piece. Suddenly this morning, I though I needed to clarify that. It was my first attempt at an un-usable piece, that's all.

Today, I gave a speech at my Toastmasters Club, based on my experience with this piece. Every word I said was genuine, every process true, and I lived through it just recently, so I remembered the details. Somehow, though, the speech sounded like I was sending up art talk.

I'm in two minds about that, the "art talk". Sometimes I try to listen or read a critique, and there are so many polysyllabic words I'm lost by the middle of the second sentence; sometimes it reads not like a critique of work or artist, but more a catalog of the critic's knowledge or a list of his friends and acquaintances.

But then, when asked about a particular piece, or a particular experience, or a particular process of mine, I can go into quite a long spiel about what I was thinking, how I eliminated alternatives, or how I arrived at the finished product, as I do here. And while my intention is not to impress but to explain, and to take the asker back to relive my process and emotions, I can be just as pompous and boring.

I also had to put into succinct words, and in an orderly fashion, my design process for this particular piece. And though I followed through each step carefully, the finished product seemed less than the sum of all the thoughts that went into the designing.

PS. Without even discussing it with Andy, I just assumed it was going to be hung much higher - perhaps even draping over the rafter. I went to the Refinery to see what width I needed and discussed it a little with Duncan, and I wove this at 8 inches wide on the loom. If I would have known it was going to be a bit lower, I might have woven in a tad narrower. I have my sample piece right beside me now, and I'm amazed how wide it look in the photo.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I Promise This Is The Last One This Year!

I Amaze Myself

After I went to see Andy and friend hanging my piece on Wednesday, (though I haven't seen how it was finally hung), I felt less hostile to weaving other non-utilitarian pieces. Since I went to a sculpture exhibit on Sunday, I keep designing others in my mind and cannot escape from this peculiar "head space".

It's hilarious, because the piece I wove was something like a badly planned lunch mat or a rustic-looking table center for an old-fashioned Thanksgiving table, and an extension of, rather than a departure from, what I normally do. The "new" ideas are hardly new and I can be recalling something I've seen but forgotten. Yet I can't shake this feeling akin to a slight envy for pure visual artists who don't have to worry about utility.

Or do they? We had terrible gusts all weekend, but the sculpture works were still standing. It's all a little Joycean. Suffice it to say, where my own mind wanders can sometimes amaze me. A more romantic artist might call this a muse; for me, it's a terrible two-year old I have to run after.

Friday, October 12, 2007


I mentioned before that I was the only child until I was six-and-a-half, and so I play alone well. And because I am easily distracted/confused even when I'm alone, I prefer to work solo, and I love the cocoon that is my basement studio. So collaboration is not my forte.

As far as the "creative process" goes, this latest project was hardly "collaborative", and yet, there was a lot I left to Andy, his experience and judgment, and to chance. In some respects, I felt less anxious as I only needed to concentrate on weaving a good piece, though I did worry if it'd meet his expectations, or if it fitted in the context.

As it turns out, if I would have woven another meter, the piece would have hung just as Andy envisioned, but I know he'll do me justice. Needless to say, that's Andy in the red, and friend/assistant on the ladder.

I had to submit the final evaluation for the Re:fine this morning, and I discovered I feel a little more at east about leaving certain things to the others' aesthetics. There is excitement in not knowing exactly how it is going to be finally presented, which entails not quite as much anxiety as I had anticipated.

I'm enjoying taking part in exhibitions with other art forms and other aesthetics, and how my old-fashioned stuff (both the craft itself, and my non-adventurous taste) stack up. I'm enjoying seeing my stuff amongst younger people's work.

PS: In response to my wish to have schools or kindies interested in buying the latest, ergo the affordable price, Andy said: "Yeah, but they prefer to display the kids' work." Touché; didn't think of that. Darn.

PPS: there is yet another, new art place in Nelson being started by a much-loved theater guy Grae Burton, and they want to open a 2D & 3D exhibition soon. The meeting to explain all is tonight, but sanity seems to be prevailing at last; I still might go to give support, but I'm telling myself not to sign up.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Well,Well, Wellington

By far Re:fine was the biggest art event I've taken part in, and the wonderful part was we were all promoting Nelson to the rest of the country. I enjoyed that.

Because I was a novice, and because I was away at a crucial time, I kept in close touch with both the organizers and the curators. So it follows that I knew what Re:fine was meant to be, a cross between a trade/travel show and an art exhibit. To that end, I thought it was a great show, professionally and cleanly presented, and one that had something for everyone. It gave a glimpse into what's happening in Nelson's art scene, I hope. I was lucky to have had the chance to participate.

Having said that, I worked much too hard until the night before we left, was exhausted by the time we arrived at Wellington, so I didn't have head space to enjoy myself. And I don't like art openings at the best of times.

I also contacted four galleries/shops in Wellington to try to make an appointment, and two met with me. I know I sound like an old record, but handweaving is grossly underestimated and undervalued in New Zealand, and we are competing mostly with factory-made textiles, both domestically-made and imports. At best the weaver is made to feel like the outlets are doing a great favor meeting us, or sacrificing shop spaces for us, even though they may personally like what we make. There is little of the awe or respect for a handwoven textile that exist in Japan or the US, and according to Sue, even compared to Australia. It's back to where I was in January about how to change the public perception. Perhaps all the handweavers in New Zealand can unite and go on a strike, but I'm afraid nobody will take notice of us.

Having had my pieces shown with "real" (utilitarian) art made me wonder about the direction I want to take next. I like that people can wear/use what I weave, so I think I'll stick to shawls, scarves and such. When I think of art vs craft in the context of handweaving, I tend to think of more complex weave structures and more colors in finer yarns. Yet some of my favorite cloths are same-hue-different-texture in 2/2/ twill; my favorite furnitures are Shaker. So I'm not sure where I'm headed, but familializing myself with colors and dyes, and being adventurous in weave structures are good starts.

"Wave" behind Katie Gold and Owen Bartlett ceramics and in front of Tracey Smith costume. Beyond, from left to right, Scilla Young multimedia work "The Dance of Red", Catharine Hodson and Janet Bathgate paintings.

"Deep" and "Windprint" with Charles Shaw's pottery and David Haig/Lindy Harward chair. I'm not sure who bought it, but "Deep" was sold before the show opened, and now belongs to one of the curator of this exhibit.

"Bubble" and "Paua". I'm overjoyed to hear "Paua" is now accompanying a woman who is returning to Scotland; we went to Scotland for our honeymoon, and then revisited 13 years later.

My only regret is "Island" being excluded from the show at the last minute, because it was a breakthrough for me. These things happen; that's why artists need a solo show once in a while.

Every artist whose names appear in this post has been contacted re. permission to use the photographs; artists whose names appear in bold have consented to the use (and a big Thank You!!), others have not responded to date.

For details of how matters transpired (or not) in Wellington last month, may I point to a grumpier post in another blog here.

My "Art" Piece

We were also asked to submit an artist's statement, the likes of which I always ponder, groan, and postpone. It's really months, or years, afterwards, when I'm warping, or weaving, or even weeding or ironing, that I realize the real effect of a piece or a process or a person, but I had to hand in something. Curator Andy suggested I write about the process of making something "impractical", so here's what I submitted:

"I am usually a weaver of scarves and shawls, for which soft and drapy texture is most important. I also try to design pieces that are interesting to look at close up, as well as from a distance.

"When Andy challenged me to weave something to make me look up, “long” and “bright” first came to mind. The focus became more on grabbing my attention quickly, as well as making the eyes travel up and down the length of the cloth. On the other hand, texture and matters that arise from close inspection became comparatively unimportant. In fact, a degree of stiffness in the cloth became vital in keeping the piece taught and straight.

"“Places I’ve been” is made of coarse wool, and with 13 colours; it is by far the boldest piece I’ve woven, but still has the fine weave patters (sic) that are interesting if you can see (it) close up. The pattern is based on a (sic) flame, an idea that came to me while thinking about the places I’ve lived or visited, and flying from one place to another. I go back and forth to these places, so the flames move forwards and backwards. Though there is no association between the colours and the places, this is a map of the places I’ve lived, Japan, the US, and New Zealand, and the places I’ve visited, Scotland, Ireland, China, Australia, and the Pacific Islands."

Noticed how I spelled "colours"? I also put a low price on it, so low Andy checked back with me. I wanted a school or a kindy to be interested, ergo the affordable price. I believe the piece has that kind of an appeal.

Perception of Fiber Crafts

This is an excerpt from Marlborough Creative Fibre Guild's October 2007 newsletter. Our president Christine, who wrote this, is a fiber artists/felter. Creative Fibre is a guild for spinners, knitters, weavers and felters.

"Why is it that people can’t get their head around Creative Fibre? I was asked, yet again, by someone who should know better, if I was involved in the quilt exhibition coming up! It really annoys me, as I just don’t quilt. Not that I have anything against quilting, but I do something totally different. We should work on increasing our profile."

No, nobody is against quilting, or embroidery or sewing; in fact, we are interested in what others do with fiber/textile, and many of us enjoy these crafts as well.

This is part of the reason I keep signing up for exhibits with other art forms; I want to keep reminding folks that handweaving is alive and well in New Zealand. Tomorrow is the opening of the last show I'm involved in this year, and I'm putting in not a shawl, but an almost-made-to-order non-utilitarian piece.

This is a "ribbon" about 22cm wide and 10.2m long in 13 colors. Here you see the sedate end - the other end has teal and orange/pink bright yellow, among others. This end has a sewn seam with a dowel though it; the other end is fringed. I made three extra support dowels with foamy insulation strips in case it needs to "float".

Curator Andy
saw tiny cashmere scarves drying in my laundry, and asked for a "ribbon". He wanted something to make people look up as the venue has a six-meter ceiling, so I put on a 20-meter warp, but it was much slower weaving than I expected, (120cm a day maximum), and I ran out of time. Its coarse wool fibers flew all over, so the second half was woven with antihistamine and protective glasses. It's a good thing I didn't weave something longer, as the 10 meters took up nearly the length of the house to lie flat. I'm looking forward to see what Andy does with it.

Sunday, October 7, 2007


I think I'll call this one that. It's a scaled-down version of the bold Tapa/Pacific/Island design, possum/merino/silk both ways.

I've written a post about my thoughts on Wellington and Re:fine, but am still in the process of getting permissions from other artists whose work appear in the photos; one shot showed glimpses of a whopping six other artists' works, so it might take a bit longer.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Randall Darwall Workshop - One Year On for a Monotone Weaver

I've been thinking about this for a while now.

The thing that jumps out is the joie de vive Randy holds for his life and art; I can't think of Randy and Brian and not remember their excitement for what they do and how they live. With their textiles, there was much experimenting and playing "just to see what happens"; a lot of weavers have this same wonder and play, and I'm not devoid of it, but I tend to stick to the plans because when I do deviate, it doesn't work for me. I have noticed, though, that I see the world differently, that there's no separation of work and life. (And there's a whole blog post there.)

The mixing of colors is not working for me. Case in point, the current, blindingly bright multi-colored "ribbon" which will be hung from either the 3 meter rafter or 6 meter ceiling in a gallery about to rebrand/relaunch itself in mid-October. The piece will be about eight inches wide and up to 20 meters long; the warp has only six colors, (green, two blue greens, two blue yellows and a yellow). I stuck two ends of purple and two of apricot after much consideration and though I don't mind the apricot, the purple looks dumb. If this would have been a scarf warp, I would have taken it out or changed things at this point, but I couldn't think of how to remedy this, and hoping something three to six meter high would look a bit different, I left them and started weaving. There's always supplementary warps, I thought.

Proportion and Fibonacci sequence present less problems. Whereas the selection of colors is more intuitive than logical, and therefore entails no real right or wrong answers, these numbers are in black and white, and I've felt more at liberty to experiment, some with a degree of success, some to utterly hidious effect. With my own textiles, however, it's hard to separate the color or textural aspects from the proportions, so looking at some of the utterly hidious results, I can't always pinpoint the cause of the disasters.

That which completely boggled this feeble mind before the workshop, the "dynamic proportion", I'm starting to understand conceptually. I consciously examine textiles and other designs in terms of how they make my eyes move from one area to another, and I believe Randy was trying to make us think of using different colors in different proportions to entice the viewers to do the same. With this, understanding this is one thing; practicing is totally another.

Even before Randy's workshop, probably since Philippa Vine's color course in 2001, I've been conscientiously planning my textiles counter-intuitively, hoping to surprise myself. So far, it's been aggravating and dissatisfying, because what I get take off the loom are not as beautiful as I think I can make them. The next step for me is to have a comfort-weaving blitz, of weaving intuitively and against everything I've learned in the last few years, and see if I still prefer those results. Yes, it's taken me a year to figure out how to start my year of apprenticeship.

Randall Darwall Workshop - One Year On

It has been one year since 12 eager weavers gathered at a small but beautiful polytechnic campus in Paraparaumu, north of Wellington. When I think back, I still feel the giddiness of anticipation I felt as we sat around the picnic tables in the courtyard, waiting for the opening ceremony. I remember spotting Brian first, because he turned his head in just the way he was photographed on Randy's website back then.

I've asked my classmates for their observations and reminiscences one year on.

Robyn wrote: "Randy's workshop was a good boost to my weaving. I have been putting more effort into planning my scarves and wraps, adding more texture and color. I have spent more time on each and consequently am charging more for them.

"I think you have captured the sense of camaraderie that existed in the class and for me that was a real conduit for creative thinking.

"Off now for two months in Europe and all the textile excitement that entails."

Agnes said: "I thoroughly enjoyed the week in Paraparaumu, no emails, no phone calls, just get up every morning and weave all day long amongst a great bunch of like minded people and getting great inspiration from Randy and Brian - it was a fantastic holiday! As to how the weeks experience reflects in my new work - well, not really, at least not yet. My passion still is in warp painting and creating curves, waves, moving images in the design and not so much in the use of 50 or more warp and weft colours but who knows, maybe the bug will bite me at a later stage."

Margaret K remarked: "I still think about Randy's work and what he taught us, I'd love to do another workshop with him."

Ann commented: "To me the Randy Darwall class allowed me to rekindle aspects of my weaving I had passed over in recent years. I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop with a 'Master Weaver', his dynamic partner Brian and like-minded weavers. Being able to share the knowledge gained with other weavers is an on going privilege. I am enclosing photos of three scarves I recently wove on the one warp using, dare I say it, 50 colours!"

And Dianne remembers: "Well its there but often I feel its etherial rather than tangible. Most of my work since the workshop has been orders for shops so my influence is not great. I did make a series of wraps some time ago in red(s). If I recall I had 14 chains all of different combinations of reds including black, hot pink, orange, starting dark on one side and moving through to orangey red on the other.

"The quote I keep hearing at present is "if its not working add more colour".

"I'm working my through an order for 12 blankets and 18 throws at present; white warp, black mohair weft; taupe warp, black weft; Wedgewood blue warp white weft etc. As you see not great scope for playing."

So what of me? I've been thinking about this for a month, and I'm feeling very lame.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Series "Pacific"

A feminine interpretation of Tapa. I wanted the design to blend into the fabric, so I washed this vigorously.

The bold, clear design, which is unusual for me. I love that the two sides look very different.

I used possum/merino/silk mix both ways, so these are thick and almost blankety shawls.

I like the way the two of them look together. I usually weaves pieces that look different even whey they come from the same warp, so this, too, is a first.