Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Murphy's Year

I'm sorry, the original post here on Tuesday was terribly defeatist and meaningless, I'm overwriting it, except for the part where...

"Thursday last week at the gym, I fell off of, or more like slid off, one of these stepping board things, from the great height of about 2cms!! Suffice it to say, I've been limping over Easter. It reminded me of years ago when my friend Sally found hilarious that her daughter Sarah used to trip over "a string" when Sarah was learning to walk. Sarah, cute; me at the gym, not so."

I was shocked to see yesterday in my loom notebook I hadn't sat at the loom, any of them, since around 10 Feb; that's a whopping 6 1/2 weeks, and the longest even for me for some time. I must remedy this slack weaver-ness.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Speaking of Being Poor...

The next edition of Nelson Guide Book is due this year. We got a big blurby email chock full of marketing talk yesterday, and the gist is they will print twice as many books, retail price will be half that of the last edition, the smallest placement will be 1/4 page instead of 1/6 page, and to be listed will cost twice!! as much as the last, all because they're improving the book for us art practitioners, (by increasing exposure, to be fair.)

So I don't mind if I'm being biased, but I can't help thinking the decisions were made by marketing consultants who charge my annual income just to put these few words together, and by established artists who have an annual marketing/advertising budget. To me, it's only the first step Arts Marketing is taking, concentrating on marketing and making money by selling Nelson art collectively, and not so concerned with protecting and enhancing the artists' work and environment individually. A really big shift from Martin Rodger's times; perhaps he saw this coming and left Nelson.

So, I won't be in a nice shiny book this year. Unless I win the Lotto.

I'm kind of regretting signing up for a few workshops this year, and the Symposium in Dunedin soon, but I do have so much fun, and hopefully learn a lot. Oh, yeah, the design workshop post/s; coming up shortly.

Coffee with Kath Bee

I had Coffee with Kath Bee yesterday, for the first time in quite a long time, and for the second time in over six months.

I learned about Kath during the Artists Retreat in June 2006 when she and Liz Kendrick performed. Later in the year when Kath got her first CD made and emailed everybody, I took this opportunity to buy her CD, and to ask her if she would please perform once during lunch time at my exhibit in January/February 2007 for free. I figured, a venue for her to perform in the middle of town, and a non-textile attraction to get people into my exhibit would be mutually beneficial.

We talked a few times, and she performed three times, during lunch, every Thursday, at my exhibit, for free, and I got her started on blogging and uploaded her songs on My Space before she went on to have a professionally-designed web page.

We got started in our prospective "art" about the same time, so I wrote before that I feel we were two babies born around the same time in the same maternity ward, under the watchful eyes of Doctor Martin Rodgers. Kath, as a kids' song writer, in due Zilk with Liz, and more recently, in the foursome The Nancies, have become fabulously popular around here. Kath is going on a couple of tours around New Zealand visiting schools, her second kids' songs CD out mid-year, and The Nancies are planning to get their first CD out later this year also. Kath has written a number of school songs for the schools in the region, and it appears a North Island school may get one written by her as well.

Before and after my exhibit, we met at least once a week, usually amidst all the mess in my living room. On my birthday last year, I went to one of her school gigs to take pictures. But then I got involved in a few exhibitions, and she started to get more gigs, and try as we did to attempt to get together, we often couldn't, or in fact, not much at all.

I love Kath as a singer and song-writer; her lyrics are catchy, but in many of her songs, there are words, phrases and concepts that just stick and won't let go. and she's a terrificly positive, bubbly person. But what I appreciate is the camaraderie we share in making our ways in the paths we've chosen; this is a relationship I have with nobody else I know. Yesterday, while we compared our schedules for 2008, we also B!+©^ed and moaned about being poor. And laughed a lot together.

I haven't been able to get to her gigs lately for one reason or another, and we don't read each others' blogs much any more, but I must remedy what Liz calls my "slack fan-ness".

The Nancies were among the groups that opened the recent Opera in the Park. (Kath would like to say they opened for Dame Kiri.) Kath is in red on far right, then Liz, then petite Katrina in black disappearing into the background, and Jane, who was my ukulele teacher.

*****

Kath Bee Links: Songs4Kids website, her Kids Songs blog, her blog for children, The Nancies blog and Kath's MySpace.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I'm a Victim of Art Theft ?!

I had an absolutely spectacular time at the weekend Design workshop; I'm trying to collect my thoughts and get my photos ready for you to see.

Meanwhile, I just got a call from Deb Hunter, sounding somber and serious, to tell me the scarf on the far left was stolen on Saturday! And just that piece from the entire exhibition.


Deb was flabbergasted when I chuckled and told her this would make an interesting blog post. I can't help myself; I think it's kind of funny.

Friday, March 14, 2008

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES...

I got my new glasses, or old frames with new lenses, this morning and I can't believe how clearly I can see. I keep forgetting these are new. I no longer have to peer over the top of the frame, or guess. This is wonderful!! I should have done it a year ago, but I honestly didn't think my eye sight had deteriorated this much.

I used to seldom make mistakes in threading, and never in sleying, but the last six months there were a couple or more things going wrong on virtually every warps! I honestly thought it was my mind, my head, or my attention span. Maybe, just maybe, I couldn't see what I was doing and was feeling my way around my loom? I'll let you know in a little while.

I'm off to the Design Workshop early in the morning, and will return late Monday after my RD presentation. I hope you have a lovely weekend.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Blur

The florescent lights have been hard to work under; after half a day, I get a big, dull headache. I'll have to investigate some more . But tomorrow I get my new glasses, (well, old frames, new lenses) and hopefully that will improve things a little.

Like taking sharper photographs.

One More from the Beach on Monday

Unlike the beach photo posted on Tuesday, this one I only autofixed color, exposure, contrast and levels in Microsoft Digital Image Suite 2006 Editor, and it looks nothing like the beach I walked on, but I love the colors.

I don't know why I'm so surprised that the pattern look so similar to waves; I guess I expected the exposed area to be more wind-swept. I can't remember exactly, but I doubt it was a calm on Monday, as we've been having gusts almost all day all week.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

On Labels

I started to sell my work, to send them to exhibitions, and to receive commissions in a matter of two months in 2005. I was happy, but a bit overwhelmed, and needed help.

Early in 2006, ceramicist Rose Griffin gave me sage advice, from how to approach galleries and shops, to product presentation, to the miscellany of owning and running an art/craft business. On woven labels, though, she was adamant; I must have them made to show I'm serious. I don't particularly like labels, as they create an A-side and a B-side, and I was going to make individual, hand-written tags to attach by a thread, but she recommended I look around carefully.

One scarf I liked so much I begged it off of my mother has this label, and for years I wondered what Kathy Williams' studio in Wales looks like, and what she's weaving now.

So I took Rose's advice and had one made, and I still have about 250 years' supply. Back then, I was only weaving large shawls, so my labels are big. I had a great time discussing colors, fonts, wording and placements with Glenda Philipps of Peterson Labels in Auckland, and she was unbelievably patient and as committed to making exactly what I wanted as I was. And I like my label.

The tag is usually attached with the yarn used in the warp, but I used ribbons for Twilight Market. Care instructions and yarn contents are either handwritten or printed on a computer-generated business card; a small plastic bag containing yarn sample is also attached. This is my maximum set; some don't get sample yarns, and exhibition pieces may come with none of these, depending on exhibition rules.

For about a year I've been weaving a lot of tiny 6-inch cashmere scarves, mostly for the Red Gallery, and naturally I don't attach my giant labels; Jay Farnsworth is not worried, because she, too, is not a fan of labels. But I've been thinking of a small label ever since I saw this:.

Randy's is a small label, used even on, I believe, his larger shawls, and I was stunned by the simplicity and the beauty of it, as well as where they are attached (not at the end where it might be overly visible but on the side), and how (not sewn on, but with a type of soft glue.)

I've been flirting with the idea of small label, especially since I've experimented with other narrower scarves; I'm particularly fond of my cotton ones.

In a moment of madness, I contacted Glenda again, and after weeks of discussion, she sent me two samples. The problem was, I love the subtle Sample B, but the subtlety defeats the point of having a label made; besides Sample A uses the same color scheme as my big label, so theoretically I should stick to it. Well, I did what I do when I'm unsure about colors; I put them all over the house and looked at them in different lights all hours of the day. For about a month.

In the end, I couldn't decide, so Glenda let me order half and half; I'm getting both color ways. Because my fiber is mostly cashmere, merino or the possum mix, I didn't ask for the adhesive backing, so I will still sew them on, but I can't wait to see my gems.

Oh, the business card. Martin Rodgers always insisted I get some printed professionally, but he didn't like the weaving draft logo, so we were at a stalemate, and then he left town...

How Many Ways Can You Do Me Wrong

I wrote that when I was weaving the yellow/teal cottons, things were going so badly I started to make a mental list. That afternoon, I had well over a dozen things, but I never wrote them down and now I can remember only a few.

One was "warp is threaded through the space above the eye of the texolve heddle"; another was "warp is threaded through the space below the eye of the texolve heddle."

Before I had a raddle, I sometimes sleyed them through a reed and wound the warp on the back beam, then threaded and re-sleyed. One time, I forgot about threading and tied the warp on the cloth beam and wondered why the treadles didn't work.

Earlier one, the most frustrating thing was when I'd drop the shuttle: sometimes I, and the shuttle, came back up the wrong way and I ended up weaving in parts of the loom.

The funniest thing I ever read in this department was on one of the lists in '95; it was a beautiful spring or autumn day and the studio window was wide open. The weaver threw the shuttle with joy and it flew out the window. Her studio was on the second or third floor!

Bless her. Bless us all.

Short Fat Weaver on an Artist's Date

I grew up in Yokohama, Japan, and though it has some pretty spots, I didn't live in particularly beautiful neighborhoods. So when I ventured into this art/weaving journey, I was suspicious of artists who said their work is inspired by nature. My immediate response: "What a crock!"

I heard too many stories of mainly rural children receiving personal instructions from Mother Mary, dressed suspiciously like the sisters in our school, to go somewhere or do something or win a war, so I'd come to regard "inspiration" as something one experienced after being struck by lightening.

Even whilst living in Nelson, I stupidly thought it would be easier to experience such awe-inspiring nature if I lived in places like Minneapolis, or Montana, or New England, but what was I to do here? Still, I desperately wanted to be artist-y, to "see things differently" and thus embarked on the biggest hoax of my life.

Those of you who have done Artist's Way know our creativity guru Julia Cameron makes us take ourselves on weekly Artist's Dates. In 2002, I tried that, and the entire 12-week program. In addition to going to galleries or the library, (which I always enjoyed), in addition to playing with paint or shooting a roll of B&W film, (for which I discovered renewed enthusiasm), I tried going outside to observe "nature".

For a kid who grew up in the big city and spent long hours on the train going to school and then getting back home, then growing up to swap school for work, this was a difficult talk. Looking back, even in my 10 years in Minnesota, I experienced nature through wind chill factors and not a whole heck of a lot else, (except during the third week of September, when even I strolled the streets and down Mississippi River in slack-jawed amazement.) I wasn't in the habit of looking at nature, though I've always appreciated architecture.

So in 2002, I invented a persona: a successful, taller, svelt weaver who moved quietly and observed the world. I can laugh about it now, but I really had to play-act. I walked alone, deliberately slowly, on Tahunanui Beach. During these walks I stopped and stared at one spot or one thing, then moved 10 or so meters forward and stared again, explicitly training my eyes to look and pretending to understand. I wasn't sure what exactly I was meant to see, or if I'd know when I was "inspired." But I did a lot of this. But on the rare occasions when I did find something mildly intriguing, I was disappointed because nature was never as exciting or precise as architecture.

In August 2006, Ben bought me a small digital camera which has helped me enormously, even though what I thought most interesting can out to be not at all so. These little experiences may not have the excitement of a lightening, but they are pleasant and painless, and accumulate to make me stay aware. Nature isn't so bad; it has its own rules, different from architecture; it's a little kinder, maybe gradual, and sometimes so subtle. And in Nelson, it's far more accessible than good architecture.

I've been playing with the idea of taking my sketchbook out there, because I know the drawings and paintings need not be accurate or presentable, as long as I enjoy the process. I have experienced seeing things more carefully, if not differently, when I sketch. And the slowness of handweaving has taught me to enjoy the process as well as the result.

I've come a long way in this respect, and I am pleased with myself. I have no art training, I didn't pass art in my second term of First Grade, and my extended family collectively turned its back on visual art long before I was born, because "we are people of languages and education."

I still envy people who can pick up a pencil and start drawing without care, people who were encouraged to paint or sculpt, people who inherited the ability to see things differently. I'm not a natural, so it's always going to take effort, but that persona disappeared in the last few months without my even noticing it.

I had fun at Tahuna Beach yesterday morning. No sketchbook, as I just jumped off the bus at the spur of the moment on my way home from the gym. And I love paw prints.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Randy Darwall Workshop Presentation Preparation

I finished my PowerPoint slide show for the March guild meeting. I'll read and edit some on Wednesday at Sue's gallery, and rehearsal on the afternoon before the presentation, on the 17th, but we checked the laptop/projector compatibility this morning, and I think I've got a good set of slides for an enjoyable presentation. Having said that, it's the first time I've ever done something like this, and the photo slides look inconsistent in tone and format, but I won't worry about that.

According to the CaringBridge site, Randy and Brian went home on Saturday. Though I hate either of them being sick, it was surreal and kind of thrilling to be updated on their wellbeing for one week. To be honest, I'll miss that.

Here's an article on Randy from the Wicked Local Harwich, December 2007. In the article, Randy said he wanted to teach his Ninth Graders weaving because, “It wasn’t representational art which had to look like its subject. It could be free form. It could look like anything.” I never thought of weaving as free form; rather, I've always been mindful of its structural restrictions, and I liked them. This is a new way of thinking.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Thanks!!

It's been another weird week, and I appreciate it coming to an end. It's at times like these when I greatly, truly, and sincerely appreciate all of you. Thank you, everybody.

May your (and my!!) tension be even and your colors be pleasing. Have a good weekend.

Shot?

Is it called "shot" in English? The type of cloth, often in silk, that shimmers in two distinct colors? In Japanese, it's called "tamamushi", meaning "buprestid", according to an on-line J/E dictionary.

Ben phoned to ask if I had any photo for our Photo blog, and I couldn't find anything interesting to show; I usually try to introduce a place, thing or activity in Nelson, or something universally funny on that blog. Then I saw this where the sand looked swept, so I started it cleaning up. I brightened the medium range, and accentuated the contrast slightly, and then exaggerated the saturation a tiny bit, and suddenly all these colors appeared, reminding me of a "shot" cloth. I'd love to weave something like this some time, but probably in a different color combination.

(That's a shadow of my hand and camera there.)

Follow-Up

The Industrial Look. Florescent lights have a bluey glow, so I would like to find a plug-in halogen lamp/stand. Nigel said there are seven "colors" of florescent tubes I can buy; we tried "dayglow" tubes, which were errily blue, and reminded me of, umm, ultraviolet lights some kids used to grow pot in the college dorm in Minnesota in the 70's. I went with the default white.

Doodles. I find the white pen works well on magazine clippings, but not so on ink-jet photo printouts.
PowerPoint Presentation. I'm still working on the structure, but most of the presentation, I hope, will be photographs.

A box full of fun, and 2kg of headache.

Beware of Husbands Eavesdropping?!?

For years, I've been pondering making a bunch of showy dog collars and leashes (with no serious guarantee of their length, especially if the pooches like to chew!) to give to my friends. Just cute-looking Christmas presents, stocking stuffers, you know.

This morning, Beloved (who is an amateur photographer) thought I may be interested in looking at a website where that showed camera straps woven on a Jacquard loom. Now, I have absolutely no idea where he got the idea, or the vocabulary of, a jacquard loom, but he's like a toddler, and I talk weaving with weavers thinking he's not interested nor is listening, and months later I get proven wrong. Time and time again.

It turns out these are not handwoven by this woman, (which is what I thought he meant), but hat's off to Ben for recognizing it takes something like a Jacquard to weave complicated curvy designs.

Anyway, for your viewing pleasure: this is how Beloved found her, this is her site, and this is her blog. Her business has a international-customer-friendly shipping policy.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Is It Still Thursday Already?

Let's see.

No photos today. My camera is in my purse, which today is behind the driver's seat of Ben's car, which happens to be at work with him, so I can't show you anything that got done, or not got done.

This morning the lights in my studio were fixed. Nigel, my sparky, took off the halogen spotlights and installed industrial-looking fluorescents. At first I didn't like the idea of fluorescents, and I still don't like the color in comparison to the halogen lights, but the new lights make the room lighter all over and I don't get shadows, so it will work. Other/new halogens were not an option because of the irregular height of the ceiling and the space between it and the upstairs floor. And because Nigel is 6'2", I didn't even have to move the loom because of his reach, and there are no holes to fill. One tick off of my Weaving TODO list.

Now that the lights are fixed, and the loom's oil doesn't smell so bad any more, I can go and warp a baby blanket; this one will take a while to thread and sley because I'm weaving it doulbe-width, (my reach is limited; it's not a king-size blanket,) but not long to weave.

Regarding the research for the design course, I could not think of anything else, so I went ahead with the landscape of a (mildly) depressed mind. It ended up being perversely enjoyable, (masochistic comes to mind,) because I know it so well. I'd need nice visuals at the workshop, so I gathered a few attractive shots from interior mags, and a few of my photos of Nelson, my yarn stash, and cakes.

It also happened that I went to see a psychologist on Monday, who put me to task to read up on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, (a suitable method for a control freak), so what little I learned in the last few days went into the research. Though the more I read up on it, the more it feels like I have a grave personality disorder for which I am responsible, rather than an illness that "happened" to get me. Anyway, enough about this subject. I have a couple of interesting doodles, and I bought these ball-point pens in gold, silver, bronze and white, and am having a ball highlighting everything with the white pen. Another tick.

That I got an email from Randy this week about his illness was strangely coincidental. I'm supposed to present, at my guild meeting Monday evening after the design course weekend, a PowerPoint presentation on Randy's workshop of 15 months ago. I've been reading my unintelligible, illegible notes and looking at photos and trying to reconstruct the workshop enough so Marlborough Weavers can get a feel of it, but it's been a while and I've thought about it a bit, so I can't tell how much is what Randy actually said and what are my interpretations/opinion. I guess I'll just have to tell them so. I'm wasting a heck of a lot of time feeling nostalgic.

Bonnie Inouye's study group is the one that's been put on the back burner. I have no intention of quitting, but I'm not a multi-tasker, so I'll have to hustle after I finish the baby blanket and the PowerPoint first, and others, (some very young minds) are going at break-neck speed. Ditto with my annual sample exchange; I think I received about half of my samples. The very first set sent out this year, NZ Post lost my package, so I'm feeling a bit let down, but I do enjoy not only receiving the samples, but the challenge of making samples to specification and describing them in a way everybody else understands. (I haven't kept tidy weaving records for the last 18 or so months, though somewhere in the four notebooks and the photo and draft folders I should have enough to reconstruct the records after this hump.)

I bought 2kg of very nice merino in greens, oranges, a bit of yellow and a bit of pink a few years ago. I bought this (and in this amount) because I thought I needed to challenge myself color-wise. I've been wrecking my brains how to use this yarn, and yesterday, brought it to Sue's gallery and asked her opinion. Along with real help, she commented I am too hard on myself and I might consider sticking to colors I like and I do well. And when Sue says it in her nice, soft way, it made me think I should enjoy weaving a bit more, and suffer a little less. As well, though she didn't know I was amidst a magazine-subscription crisis, she has been cleaning her studio, and gave me a few years' worth of the Australian Textile Fibre Forum, which I knew about but had never seen, and half a dozen other textile/fashion magazine. These will keep me very busy for a while, (especially if I read the articles.)

So, what's on your loom? What are you doing in your sketchbook?

Update on THAT Book

In case you are interested, "Finding Your Own Visual Language" is available from Amazon Japan if you know someone who can navigate you though the ordering process. It's almost the same as the American version except where you enter your name; the site assumes you have a Japanese name and asks for the Chinese characters and the pronunciation. It took me three goes.

But more conveniently, Dale Rollerson at The Thread Studio in Australia has some. How do I know this? I Googled the titled of the book and found her blog. Go with Dale, I say.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Randall Darwall Update

This is not the kind of post I want to start the new week with, but I received a mass email from Randy this morning which reads:

"Hi Kids:
I head into the OR Monday Mar 3 @ 10am for what is properly called a radical retropubic prostetectomy. [Sound like a Sondheim lyric to me--so we just call it Rad's radical]. We seem to have caught the cancer early through psa checks.

"Brian and I are both very positive about all this. [I've already purchased key pieces for my Spring wardrobe which have yet to be worn.]

"Our dear friend Judy has agreed to update this site as often as she can with new information, in order to keep B from going any crazier than he already is.

"Send positive thoughts and click here. Randy"

He will be at Cape Cod Hospital, Mass. From here, you can email him in care of the hospital. Amazing, this Internet thing.

I'm sure he appreciates my discussing his prostate publicly. :-P

UPDATE FROM THE CARING BRIDGE SITE:

"Randy's surgery is a success. He's resting comfortably..... All surrounding nodules are clear, which is wonderful news!"

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Beautiful Magazines

Handwoven was the first weaving/textile/craft magazine I discovered and subscribed to in around 1995. I used to look at every issue from cover to cover; I loved that the entire magazine was so carefully and beautifully produced, (as were all Interweave books,) and I especially liked Linda Ligon's last page essays. About the time Madelyn van der Hoogt became the editor, I became bored and stopped subscribing. The appearance of the pages became messier and the magazine started to try to offer something for everyone. (I still pick up back issues to find out about the latest weaving books, but that's about it.)

And it was, and it wasn't Madelyn's fault, but apparently there weren't big enough market for two weaving magazines. I mentioned I discovered Weavers magazine just before they closed that department. Nowadays, I can't make sense out of the supposed-XRX website; it takes half a dozen clicks to get to their weaving books page.

I subscribed to VAV with English translation for one year, and without for another, but this became old quickly; I then subscribed for the first year or two of Weaver's Craft, and adored the little magazine for the personal and loving feel, (much like early Handwoven,) but by then I was looking for articles on complex weaves.

For a long time, Threads filled my magazine void, and I loved the back cover's detailed description and photos of old costumes/garments, but since I don't sew much, and I was starting to be annoyed with the proliferation of machine-embroidery, I quit that. I subscribed to Fiberarts a few times, and this is a stunning magazine, but again I'm thinking of quitting.

Nothing appears to be as fresh, rewarding, or enjoyable as when I first discovered Handwoven. I'm partial to Ornament; that nobody in New Zealand sells it so I must subscribe if I want to see it is tricky. I can stick to Fiberarts, because I have nothing specific against it. I've had dalliances with the Australian Craft Arts International, but this I can buy only the issues I want in Nelson. (If you've never seen this last publication, I can recommend it; I've only ever seen spectacular issues, or even better issues. Those Aussies do a cracker job in making craft, and then making a magazine out of craft.)

The next issue of Fiberarts is the last I'm getting if I don't extend my sub. Maybe it's a good thing I'm broke and can't do that just now. Maybe it's time for a change.

Which magazines do you relish?

The Proof in a Perfect Pudding

per·fec·tion·ism/pərˈfɛkʃəˌnɪzəm/
–noun
1. any of various doctrines holding that religious, moral, social, or political perfection is attainable.
2. a personal standard, attitude, or philosophy that demands perfection and rejects anything less.
from Dictionary.com.

I think perfectionism gets a bad rap sometimes. Though supposedly part of the attraction of handwoven cloth is they are not "square" in the sense mill-woven textiles are, but I would still like to attain straight selvedge, even tension, uniform fringes, and consistent picks; I don't deliberately include mistakes, and have woven a few of my commission pieces twice because I was unsatisfied in the first instances.

Friends warm me against perfectionism, and they see it as something preventing me from working from time to time. In the contrary, look at some of the photos and the problems I've posted here; you can tell I'm developing quite thick facial skin, and have learned not to list everything that went wrong in a particular piece. I've come to stick to the first half of the second definition.

I'd like for my techniques to be perfect, (whatever I mean by it,) because I think the "proof" is in the design.

I wasn't motivated by anything I did, didn't do, couldn't do, or avoided doing, today or this weekend to write this one; I've been feeling sorry for the concept of perfectionism for the last couple of years.

Books

Lynne alerted me to Kaz's post on a book called Finding Your Own Visual Language. It sounds a delicious book, but Amazon in US, Canada and UK don't have it and don't know when they'll get it; Amazon in Japan has it but they want to charge me NZ$50 for it.

Which leads me to one of my biggest complaints about life in New Zealand: books are so darned expensive.

Usually I try to support the local, independently-owned bookshop, Page and Blackmore, but some books are sold at considerably higher prices than at an Australian-owned (?) chain Whitcoulls just a few doors down. And it takes a lifetime to receive books from their distributors, far longer than if I order directly from Amazon.com. In any case, nobody take in the current record-high of New Zealand dollar into consideration. (Whereas even the petrol companies are forced to lower their prices from time to time.)

Though prices are more attractive in Amazon.com, converted to NZD and adding postage force me to be realistic about clicking on that "Purchase" button. But having lived in Japan, (where books are dirt-cheap) and the US, the inability to buy books readily definitely feels like an intellectual straight-jacket.

So I browse Amazon.com, Halcyonyarn.com, and many art book publishers' sites sighing and pining, but this is probably not all that bad considering the number of books I've already purchased and haven't gotten around to reading. Besides, I think this is part of why Kiwis are so incredibly creative and original.

Alright, in complaining about the cost of books, I am being a spoiled brat.

Ummmm.... Math

Geometry to be more exact. I knew these concepts cropped up in the weaving fora/lists around '95, but I don't know if they are still popular.

Yesterday I went to a lecture on Sacred/Divine Geography, Golden Mean/Section/Ratio, or whatever else they call it. The only thing I knew was Fibonacci sequence taught at Randy Darwall's workshop, but I was aware artists old and new used some kind of math to structure their work, but since I'm allergic to organized religion, (the word "divine"?), I didn't know what to expect.

For those who are unfamiliar, I haven't digested the subject enough to explain well, but suffice it to say there are certain numbers, ratios, and patterns often found in nature, and by applying these to art, including music, we can produce pleasing results.

On such number is Phi (Φ, pronounced "fee", not rhyming with "pie"), or very crudely, around 1.62. For example, a rectangle where the two sides are 1:1.62 is more pleasing in comparison to where the two sides are 1:2, or even 2:3.

The math itself, where it pertains to design, isn't complicated, but extraordinarily useful, I found. The lecture was structured much like A Beginner's Guide to Constructing the Universe: Mathematical Archetypes of Nature, Art, and Science by Michael S. Schneider. Also a very quick look found Summum to be the most comprehensive, and prettiest, website to start reading, if you are interested. And then of course, Wiki.

I didn't know there is an entire industry around these concept; a quick look around Amazon reveals dozens and dozens of books on the subject. Our lecturer, Wim Oosterhoff, is Dutch, so the references were overwhelmingly Western/European/Judeo-Christian, but I understand other writers refer to Eastern and pegan philosophies as well. If you are like me, turned off by biblical references but interested in the math, it's probably worth just skipping over the references; the whole point of this new style of math is to demonstrate how it ties in with nature and historical writings based on empirical observations. I think.

I also discovered there are groups who gather and studyspirituality in Nelson; I found this interesting and scary, because "spirit" still resonates Holy Trinity to me. And yet, the would-have-been Philosophy-major in me finds all this curiouser and curiouser.

So, I come home in torrential rain and tell Ben a little about what I found, and he says, "that's what I've been telling you about cropping pics all this time", but in far fewer words and ending with a grunt.

Have you done much in this area, especially pertaining to your work?

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Wim was the first person I met who openly and repeatedly stated he is a Freemason. Last night, Eyes Wide Shut was on TV. Connected? I opted for a teen comedy I normally wouldn't near and to lament the passing of Heath Ledger instead.