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.