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.

No Way , Not Now...

We leave for Wellington on Thursday, and because I've been spending time making up this portfolio/catalogue thing to give to the galleries, I haven't woven "a few" new pieces for the museum shop.

Today, at around 6PM, I finally sorted my Murphy's Law warp, and started weaving the square Tapa design, but narrower and thinner and in the natural/light teal combination. At around 7PM, I felt the back of the cloth, as I do, just to make sure nothing was going wrong, and, gee, something had gone very wrong!!! I had already woven about a third of a piece by then, but I noticed Shaft 8 wasn't lifting properly. Until 6.59PM, I was hoping I could weave two tonight and give them to the museum, but Shaft 8 was a rude surprise. I had impossibly long skips.

I had this problem once before, with Shaf9, and Caroline, the previous owner of the loom, told me to take apart the case around the solenoids and vacuum the lint. I had done this, about four years ago, so I thought it'd be OK. But I unscrewed the wrong part of the loom, and vacuumed it anyway. Then Ben came home, and there's something about Ben that makes me totally incompetent and reliant on him in the mechanical/engineering department only when he's around. So we opened the right part, vacuumed, and Shaft 8 still didn't lift.

Then he took apart the mechanism that lifts Shaft 8, and we vacuumed it, and Ben pushed and pulled a few things, and we don't know what did the trick, but Shaft 8 reluctantly lifted. Phew. 8:30PM.

I resumed work straight away, but fixing about 24 ends of Shaft 8 for about one-third the length of the shawl was going to be a bit of a mess, so I quit right there. I'll start a fresh piece tomorrow morning, and fingers crossed I can weave, hang, fringe, wash and press tomorrow. Uggghhh.

At least the portfolio/catalogue thing came out looking ok. I've never done anything like this, and didn't have time to ask anyone, so it has the typical sizes, yarn types and recommended retail prices, photos of some of my past work, three woven samples to feel, and a CV. It's not an interesting p/c, though; just covers what it's supposed to, I hope. And the photo is shockingly bad, too, but I'm still breathing.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

My First Megg Hewlett Bag

A while back, she liked two of the scarves I had at home so I gave them to her. At that time she promised I could have a bag of hers, but I hadn't gotten around to visiting her house to pick one out. After dropping off my shawls at the WOW Museum to be transported to Wellington, I finally went to her house.

As I said many times, Megg is really good with colors, and matches amazing hues and values in her bags, but I was hoping for one with not too many hues. Of course this purple one jumped up and down trying to catch my attention right away; to my delight, it has about five different values and one shiny yarn, in mid-purple to mauve. I'm besotted with it; I certainly came out better off than Megg in this swap!!

Even though this is wool knitted and felted, the bag is very strong and durable. Megg even had one bag with a brick in it at the Expo to demonstrate the durability. And the appearance doesn't deteriorate with use.

I intend to carry this around Wellington when I visit the galleries. And I got a few of her business cards, too.

The Travelling Spring Roll

Finally, today, the pieces for Wellington were packed and...

delivered to the WOW Museum. Sculptor Grant Palliser, Sculptor Tim Wraight, (a tiny slice of his face is seen behind Sam's), and 3D artist/builder/everybody's-savior Sam Laidlaw look for more tall/long items to load.

Behind the shiny magical box sits my giant spring roll. That's Sam, who, with Tim, will be driving the truck to Wellington tomorrow.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Output Years/Input Years

I've been feeling tired, drained, and even a bit harassed by the people who are trying to help me progress my career. I thought I was just cranky, but I think I know how it's come about.

In 2005, I sent away one piece to one exhibit, and wove three commission pieces. The rest were whatever I wanted to weave, woven whenever I got around to weaving.

In 2006, I sent away one piece, (woven in 2005), to one exhibit, and wove two or three commission pieces. I wove at leisure to stock the gallery, went to Randy's workshop, and then in November I started working on the January exhibit.

By the end of 2007, it appears I'll have been involved with five exhibits and two "events"; I'll have woven five commission pieces and quite a few for the gallery. So, although I've not woven new pieces for every single exhibit (though I wished I could have), I've still designed and woven quite a few in what is for me painfully short turnaround time, at the same time learning how to write proposals, hang an exhibit, and be part of larger art events.

The best and the worst part of this job is, I can't leave it in the office and come home.

By no means 2007 has been a bad year; I have an easier time with input than output, so this much output is astounding for this slow weaver. Still, I feel my spirit thinning, and the garden needs weeding.

So what have I got for 2008? 2007 is going to happen; I'm going to take it easy and be my own apprentice. I'll dye. Megg Hewlett and I'll continue to develop our joint exhibit; and if this exhibit happens in the winter, fine; if it doesn't happen until 2009, I'm fine with that, too.

Tomorrow, the Re:fine truck leaves Nelson. Five more days to Welly.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Randy、Meg and Megg

You must by now I am totally, unshakably and unconditionally in love with Randy Darwall and his cloth. So I admit I am unable to look at his work critically. I know I like his clear colors, and I know the eyes can't help but move when looking at his scarves. But I'm still too much in awe to study his work, and feel such act violates the high esteem every living being should hold him in.

So it helps to have friends like Megg Hewlett. Over a month ago, when Megg came to my house, I gingerly showed her my Randall Darwall, and she didn't miss a beat, but went straight into the business of describing what was happening color-wise.

Oh,but how dare she!! I know she's right, it's a yellow scarf with lavender warp!! What? Lavender?? I never noticed. I was utterly flustered I can't remember much else. She might have said something about contrast, or proportion, or flow.

But critically studying a Randy Darwall? Is nothing sacred any more???

Megg is appearing in the November or December issue of NZ Home and Garden, folks!

Saturday, September 8, 2007


I've been dying to post photos of my new Pacific Tapa cloth-inspired shawls, but as hard as I try, I cannot get any good photos after three sessions with two cameras. So, for the time being, I thought of posting giant "thumbnails" of the designs. The colors are approximate, but this is the fruits-and-vegetables warp.

Back in June, Anna White of the Suter Museum, and curator of Re:fine, informed me that I was selected to participate in the exhibit, but asked me to continue working on the Pacific-inspired designs. My first thought was of creating a tapa-cloth-inspired shawl. I looked at all kind of tapa cloth, on the Internet, in books, and what I can find in town. I didn't want to simply transfer tapa designs onto wool, but I wanted others to recognize tapa straight away.

After eight weeks of not getting anywhere, I forced myself to doodle with my design program, and the one above was the first design I came up with. It's a feminine rendition of tapa, because the design unit is smaller, and there are fewer obvious squares and rectangles commonly found in tapa designs. The reverse side is very warp-dominant.

A few days later, I designed some masculine designs. At the time, I thought these were too simple and straight-forward, and didn't think they would work. But as I watched the first design growing on the loom, I thought, when displayed in a big space, and the venue is big, bold designs may look good from the distance. So I chose this one.

As you can see, this is refreshingly strong and clear. This piece looks good from the distance, but is intricate close up. I also like the two faces of this piece. Though I always try to create interests in both sides as I design my shawls, this is the first time I have been able to make a cloth where the difference in the two sides is more than just that one is the opposite of the other in color and texture. In this piece, they convey very different moods, and it gives me a whole new consideration in designing future pieces.

These two designs, I am in the process of recreating, in different yarn combinations and setts and scale; I've never been tempted to do this with my original designs before. There is a third design that I wove that is still sitting on the loom; the jury is out on that one.

I regretted that in the ten weeks I was given to weave for the exhibit, I produced only two new pieces, (and third, iffy one, on the loom), but in terms of quality, I am pleased with these two.

I would love to hear honest opinion on these designs. Please!!

Modesty & Pride

This is a difficult issue for me.

In New Zealand, "working away quietly" is a great virtue; those people who do what they do, and more, without asking for recognition are held in high esteem, if/when their good work is discovered by others. On the other hand, lashing against tall poppies is brutal, except perhaps in the case of athletic success.

In Japan, we have a strange mixture of extreme false modesty and genuine admiration for someone who has worked hard to achieve success. But once you achieve, there are responsibilities, like becoming a role model and mentors for those who follow, which one must carry out.

In the US, when and where I lived there, success was genuinely congratulated and admired, and often rewarded financially, but again, there were certain codes of behavior expected of successful people. And my recollection is, not underselling oneself was one of them.

As a kid, I was conscientious and lazy at the same time. At school I did OK, putting in effort only when I felt like it, but sometimes striking gold nevertheless. At those times, my parents' response was one of these two: 1) "Why can't you do this more consistently," or 2) "Yes, you did well, but we know you could have done better."

Now I'm not saying I've achieved anything, and I sure haven't been financially rewarded, but this issue has been on my mind. I have a very hard time being complimented, especially in person. My friend Kate Robinson said to me four years ago; "Smile and say 'Thank you.' And don't apologize." I've been sticking to Kate's rule ever since, but I'm not sure if it's working. Sometimes I break into a lengthy blabber until I see the embarrassment/boredom in the eyes of the complimenter. And then, there's the issue of what's the correct behavior in New Zealand, in Nelson.

Pavarotti passed away, but this weekend, I can't help staring at the expressions on Paul Potts, the winner of Britain's Got Talent, all over YouTube.

Here's his audition clip, which I like better than him in the Semi or Finals. Watch him after Simon says "OK," but before he starts singing. That's life. I applaud you.

Friday, September 7, 2007

We Apologize, but No Textile, Please.

Many galleries in New Zealand don't want textiles in their beautiful spaces. At least not handwoven textiles.

I've been recommended a few galleries to contact and make appointments with in Wellington, by people who know galleries and such, as long as I'm there for the opening of Re;fine. So, even though this is one of the things I dread about being a weaver, I emailed four galleries on Monday. In 11 minutes, I got my first "No Textiles" reply, but I hadn't heard back from the other three. Only because I said I'd ring them either yesterday or today, I did so, rather gingerly, this morning.

First gallery: the person doesn't work today, but will be in on Sunday, so could I please ring back? Sure. Phew.

The second gallery: he used to have handwoven textiles, but don't any more, (that's about 95% of galleries in New Zealand, I bet!) but because he's Japanese and I'm Japanese, he'll make time to see me, or that's my understanding. He stocks a lot of Nelson art, though. So... OK.

The third, a museum shop: "Yes, wonderful, bring some stuff over so we can have your work here while Re:fine is open down the road." Ummm... wow, ok...

And the other exhibit in Nelson in October, I seem to have gotten a provisional "go", at least I need some pieces to show this curator, sometime in the next nine days.

Oh, and my friend Hella placed an order. We're heading towards summer, so this is not urgent, but still, something to keep in the back of my mind...

So, this is everything I worked for for the last few years, and it's like a dream, but hey, why can't these things trickle in in a more orderly, periodic, predictable manner? And what's going to happen to my garden, and my plans to tidy and clean the entire house? I'm not complaining, just saying...

* * * * *
Actually I rang the museum shop first, and was flabbergasted by his response, and almost didn't ring the other two. But I altered the post to create dramatic effect, not that this weaver needs any more drama the moment.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Fruits and Vegetables

"The Four Seasons" was probably the first feature movie Alan Alda made; I remember it was much anticipated in 1981.

It is about three or four middle-aged couples who holiday together, except this particular year, one of the couples separated, and the husband brought a very young girlfriend. Others felt divided loyalties, and the discarded wife felt, well, discarded by the whole group.

The said husband might have claimed he left the wife for a woman half his age because life with the Mrs was too predictable, that she didn't like adventures or spontaneity. Yeah, right.

The discarded wife began to pursue her interest in photography, and she might have started a career photographing fruits. Her work had a new-ish look; she placed fruits on a sheet of glass and shot them from below. I seem to remember the clear blue sky around the fruits.

After being complimented by her somewhat bewildered friends, the wife-turned-photographer disclosed a big secret; she was thinking of doing something completely new: mixing fruits and vegetables. But not just yet.

The reason I brought this up is, about two weeks ago, I was having a moral and creative crisis wondering if I should include narrow strips of teal and light teal in a charcoal gray warp. I had to think long and hard about this and decided to go for it, not because I thought it would look nice, but because I'm trying to do a lot of things that are counterintuitive, to experiment and variety to my work.

I knew there was a reason I never forgot that scene.

Making Good Scarves Better is About

"Making good scarves better is about taking cloth on a journey of discover from the known into deep space." Randall Darwall, October 2006.

I have this mental picture of a beautiful scarf on a leash, being taken into deep space by Randy. In my case, I'm get pulled by the scarf charging purposefully ahead of me on the sidewalk.

And the Photo Shoot

Today's photo shoot took place in Daniel's own studio, so not only did we have all the backdrops and lighting, but immediately after he pressed his shutter, we were able to see the photos on his large flat screen. After playing with the layers, edges, and fringes, we agreed the folded edges were the most attractive, so if I remember correctly, he got seven folded edges in almost a fan-shape in landscape for the catalog.

Unlike the first time, I've come to look forward to these photo shoots; Daniel is a consummate professional and it's wonderful to watch him work. Here is his web site, and I've found a few local artists I know.


Last Friday, the selectors for Re:fine came to select the pieces to take to the exhibit in Wellington. We had a great time hanging them on chairs, throwing them on the floor, and scrunching them up to see the folds and the drape. In the end, they chose these seven, plus a sample piece people can feel at the exhibit, even though not all may be used in the show.

As you can see, six of them are from my Jan/Feb exhibit. I was disappointed and embarrassed, in the two months I had to make additional pieces, I only wove three news ones. The new series based in the Pacific tapa cloth felt terribly different from what I normally do and I hummed and hah-ed for six weeks before I knew what I wanted to do. When I took them off the loom, however, the designs had my name all over them. I've been trying to photograph them to post, but they have a fuzzy texture and my tiny auto focus camera hasn't been able to cope, so I'll try with manual focus soon. Fourth from the top is one of them.

I like the look and the fee of the new series, and I'd like to do more, but I'm still disappointed I only had three to show for the effort.

I've been in a strange head space since then. As of 2PM Friday, I've been free of pressing deadlines for the first time in 13 months. At first I felt free and restless and I paced around the house. Then I sat down to study my many To Do lists, and got a bit discouraged because so much mundane stuff had been neglected. Then I started planning my next few weaving projects, including a short correspondence course I signed up for in July 2005, which I still hope to finish.

Then, in less than 24 hours, a friend told me about another exhibit in town in October, to rebrand Refinery Art Space as a gallery rather than a collection of studios, and I hastily made inquiries and am waiting to hear back.

This morning at 10.30 Dan the Photographer is going to shoot them for the exhibit catalogue, (and he'll chuckle because I'll shoot him shooting my stuff again) and I'm supposed to have tidied them up and packed them to take into town, but they are still sitting in the same pile in the living room.

I think I want to move on to the next thing now.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Airport Display

Back in June, I mentioned that Arts Marketing was going to put some of my smaller scarves on display at Nelson Airport. The display was done for me on 26 July, and when I came back on 28 July, I did try photographing them, with exceptionally poor results. Here's the result of the second attempt today, in the glaring spring sun. I never noticed that our airport's lighting is so poor; there's a bad mixture of direct sun and florescent lights. Maybe I should try on a rainy day?

This micro display will be on until the end of October.