Thursday, July 31, 2008

Murphy's Month!

No offense to Brian, but July was a bad month for me. I hope my life will look up a bit starting tomorrow. It was supposed to be a fabulous month. Darn.

Merry figurines from Otago Museum, Dunedin.

I don't have a spiffy post title, but...

















The screen on the left shows my loom computer while I'm weaving; it's showing picks 71-140 of the abbreviated 15-end draft I tried to weave today. Shafts that need lifting appear as a horizontal line. It always shows Shaft 16 at the top to Shaft 1 at the bottom, regardless of the threading.

I turned approximately the same portion of the draft its side at the right; picks 71 and 140 are shown in red. Here, you can see how the draft works with a warp in Shaft 12 vs without.

On the loom computer, you can see Shaft 12 is never lifted because it has a vertical line across the screen; in the draft on the right, it appears as a black line, the color of the weft, in the lower part where Shaft 12 warps exist.

In both, you can also see "rest" picks where none of the shafts are lifted at Pick 89 so I can check the cloth against the draft and backtrack if necessary. On the loom computer, this is a vertical line from top to bottom; in the draft it is a white (warp color) vertical line.

So, Peg, I wondered if seeing these will answers you. It's hard to see exactly which shaft should be lifted in any given pick, but I can backtrack, skip, or repeat sections if I need to. If they are to occur regularly, it's easier to build it into the draft.

Good News/Bad News Day

The good news are:
1) Very little rain, no wind. And we have several litters of water saved last night before Bad 1) started.
2) I finished "reading" Dr JBT's "Stroke of Insight" once, and have started on the second round. My left brain is overdeveloped, which I knew; it means I learned well what I was taught.

The bad news are:
1) Water out of the tap smells like a swimming pool first thing Monday mornings, and looks like cold Seven Up. See Good 1) above.
2) My left brain is overdeveloped; I need to unlearn a whole lot.
3) This morning it was Shaft 12's turn to stay in bed, while Shaft 11 was behaving. I chopped up my 15-shaft draft from roughly 2200 picks to a little under 300. Repeating shorter sets makes the scarf more predictable and boring to me, but under the circumstances, I thought a smaller repeat would make it easier to detect mistakes and backtrack. Nine repeats of the 300 picks should weave a scarf of respectable length.

Until about 5 inches in; then, Shaft 7 started to lift when it was not supposed to. This also means it's not the clipped plastic piece of Shaft 11 alone that's causing me headache. I stopped weaving and finally accepted I must make do with the pieces already woven; three OK ones, possibly a fourth depending on how it looks after washing.

Next on my list:
1) Study more about left & right brains. I came across it for the first time in the mid-70's while studying neuro-linguistics and stroke and epilepsy patients. (This was back in the days when Noam Chomsky was the star transformational-generative grammarian.) I kept up my reading in a most abridged, rudimentary way, but once again I am fascinated, especially since so much have been found out in the last 30 years. I'm particularly interested because we weavers need both parts of our brains in more "equal" proportions than other art practices. Anybody know of a good read?
2) I need to make up an mini exhibition with the small number of items I've got. I need to come to terms with the fact that it's still more important to feel excited about the opportunity, than to be disappointed that I've not achieved what I set out to do, meaning, in this case, more pieces.
3) I really need to investigate what the heck is going on with my setup.

Nelson Weather Report

I did go to see Pete yesterday, no apologies, but he'll try to fix them as I knew he would. Then I went to the gym, then went to the bookshop to find they made a mistake and ordered Dr Jill Bolte Taylor's audio book rather than the book, which was like a gift from heaven! I took a cab home in strong wind and rain. The wind got stronger, but I started weaving, and noticed that the shaft problem was more sporadic than I had imagined; sometimes it was Shaft 12, sometimes 13 or 6, that weren't lifting, and sometimes 7 lifted when it wasn't supposed to. In addition, the wind and the rain grew stronger and we had several power surges in quick succession and my setup kept looking its place, so I quit weaving.

I resurfaced, fully intending to hem the pieces already woven, but the gusts shook the whole house and I kept going outside to move my potted plants or just to have a look. It reminded me of typhoons in Japan, and at one point I did get worried we might lose part of our house or have something big come crashing through our window, but nothing dramatic happened. While speaking to Andrea from the museum, however, I gasped because I saw a big chunk of my neighbors' tree fly across the sky. So, no hemming, but a bit of cooking and baking, and I'm 75% through with the JBT book.

In Nelson, quite a few trees went down, including one on a man's room at a rest home, but luckily he wasn't there at the time. Because Nelson is usually spared of truly bad weather, and because there was damage to the water pipes, we made the national news, but elsewhere, including Marlborough, there have been more serious floods and landslides, and the storm is traveling south.

It's eerily still this morning; in fact, I'd say the silence is deafening. We are expecting a bit more rain. I hope I can force my way and finish this piece.

Come to think of it, yesterday would have been a perfect day for Mary Poppins to land at my front door. Anyone seen her?

EDIT: we made national news; here's a link to the clip that was sent to a TV station.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Naughty Pete

As far as I can tell, the new 15-shaft draft is weaving fine, but I'm overwhelmed by foreboding I wouldn't be surprised if I unconsciously ruin it. So I'm going slowly, but I was exhausted after a few picks and I wove only a quarter of a scarf yesterday afternoon. I'm not even 100% sure if it's Shaft 11 that's having a problem.

Last night Ben brought home the three framed pieces from the framers, and, oh, what a disappointment. We go to Pete, the best guy in town, and he's done one for me with the same fabric recently, as well as half a dozen paintings and posters, but these three had no spacers, the fabric wasn't stretched straight, and in the middle of the silver one was a piece of thread that must have come off when he cut the fabric. The smallest one, I like the best, but the corners of the frame are not square and touch-up puttying messy. I couldn't possibly sell this one. Not good enough.

I'm taking them back today, then going to the gym, then weaving in the afternoon. I've been in a seriously defeatist mode. For one thing, it's been raining and storming all over the North Island and this weather is supposed to come this way, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's a few hours of rain and a bit of wind in Nelson. I might treat myself to a cab ride from town, though, instead of the bus.

I decided to take up the museum's offer and wait until Monday to install. That should give Pete some time to repair the faults. (And no matter what I do, that pic stays looking bad.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

16-Shaft Draft with No Shaft 11

This is a real 1990's Airhead talk, but I decided to work smarter, not harder, meaning, I didn't risk a 16-shaft draft, but made up a 15-shaft design. Now onto the loom.

Meltdown

Yesterday morning, with only about 200 picks to go to finish Piece 3, I unpicked 400 picks trying to figure out what was going on as regards sporadic lifting of Shaft 12. Plain weave and individual shaft lifting worked fine, but not my design draft. I wove and finished Piece 3, but I had to give up on the faulty shaft for the last 2 or so inches of weaving; I'll have to sew it in. I took off Piece 3, and went hunting for the problem/solution. I discovered a) it wasn't Shaft 12 but 11 that's been naughty, and b) it was caused by a part wearing down and not catching when it's supposed to.

On my retrofit computer-controlled loom, information on the draft gets translated into movements of these tiny sticks (below, yellow) seen here about the size of an eraser at the back of a pencil. For shafts which are supposed to lift, the "eraser" is raised, pushing up the "wedge" in the top picture, so the wedge is caught by the metal piece and pushed to the right, thus lifting the shaft. I don't know if a piece broke off or it gradually wore down, but now the wedge catches only sporadically.

A wee while ago I noticed that a screw had come off while weaving; I could have sworn it was one of the top ones, but Ben thinks it was the green one, which is connected to Shaft 11. I also noticed the bottom of the Shaft 11 wedge (pink) was dirtier and a bit more damaged than others.

At any rate, I'm gritting my teeth and hoping I can get at least one more piece woven before Friday because I need more than three. If Shaft 11 fails me this morning, I'll make a 15-shaft draft and not use 11 altogether.

I'm not enjoying this at all. Ben says replacement of the wedge pieces is going to be expensive. Just what I needed.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

&%$#@!!

On days like these I'm pretty sure I'm allowed to swear. A lot.

I spent a good portion of the day trying to convince half a dozen Telecom Call Centre brats my phone, once again, gets cut off the minute I pick it up. I missed three calls today, and my cotton guy, Adam from DEA Yarns is possibly in Nelson, and he said he might ring me if/when he is. This exact phone problem I have about ever 2 years and, surely, they can see the history on their system. I have to do the same exercise of describing the problem, doing the line check (which involves crawling under Ben's desk and unplugging the main phone line from a jack I can't see but can feel, inviting lots of dust bunnies in my hair), hanging up, waiting for them to call back, etc, etc, etc. every tijme. When I finally found a chap who wanted to help me, we were talking on my cell while I plugged/unplugged lines, and guess what battery went flat? Well, I waited, then rang their Call Centre, but the chap never rang me back. So some time next week, I'll have to repeat the whole exercise. Telecom New Zealand has one of the worst customer services I have ever known in my 50 years in three countries, seriously bad services.

And I was very angry while weaving the second half of the scarf but I had only 400 picks to go when I noticed one of the shafts wasn't lifting. I stopped weaving, checked the shafts and lines, lifted every shaft, one at a time, then in plain weave, and all worked, so I wove on, but Shaft 12 kept on lifting sporadically. I'm not sure if you can see it in this pic, but today was definitely a crawling-under-large-wooden-furniture day.

So I quit. I don't want to abort this piece because other than Shaft 12 in the last, say, 10 cm, it's been going great, and I am so behind. But I don't want to climb up and open the black box or adjust cords, etc., mid-scarf.

So I think I'll swear loudly and stomp around the house looking very cross tonight.

Powdered Tea Green Must be In!

See this by Bonnie on July 11, and then by Angela on July 23. In Japan, these greens are called "powdered tea green" (roughly mint green, but slightly dustier) after the green tea powders used in tea ceremonies, or "Nightingale green" (slightly dustier than the "powdered tea") after the bird.

Eight More Days

Eight work days for the Wall; I'll finish Piece 3 this afternoon. No matter how I work, it takes two days to weave one cotton, and I'm feeling the effect of having been to the gym only three times in four weeks. Nevertheless, this is what I do.

Figure drawing resumes tomorrow morning; I'm seeing Rosie for lunch; I think I'll go the gym after that.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Right-Brain Love

I had my default CD on while threading the loom this afternoon. Donny was howling "Too Young". I used to love this song coming on, because that's how I felt about weaving, but lately I don't feel that primordial, right-brain kind of love any more. It's grown into a watchful, respectful and phlegmatic partnership now. And I get the feeling I'm missing the way we were.

Incidentally, this classic is infinitely sing-alongable and howlable.

Tuesday

I'm threading the loom again. The weather has been changeable today; it's been going back and forth between "Ummm.... OK," and "No way am I going out there in THIS rain." My friend Ronette has an opening for an exhibition of her drawings at 5.30 and if I'm going, I have to catch the 4.40 or 5.30 bus. OR I can go tomorrow after I go to the gym, and stay home tonight and continue threading.

Things Australian

New Zealand's population "as at Sunday, 20 July 2008 at 7:48:12 pm" is 4,269,722, (see here for the latest,) while over in Australia, "on 20 July 2008 at 17:50:29 (Canberra time), the resident population of Australia is projected to be" 21,368,996, (here) and considering we are two hours ahead of them, this is darned close to the same moment. The city of Sydney is supposed to have a little over 4.25 million, and the State of Queensland a few families short of that. From memory, Australia's area is about the same as the 48 continental American.

What I'm trying to say is that it's a much bigger country and therefore they do some things very well. I'm noticing an influx of eminently desirable Australian books in our shops in the last couple of years; beautifully prepared picture books on cooking, arts, craft, style/decor, you name it. I also mentioned Craft Arts International before. At the annual textile conference I sometimes go to, young curators from National Gallery of Victoria present papers, and I, as well as some senior Kiwi curators, am/are always flabbergasted with the scale of things over there.

So I've been thinking, with making a few new Aussie weaver friends here and all, I'd love to have a jump-skip over to the big West Island (that's what one of our popular post card calls Oz). But the best time might be right now: NGV is having a fabulous Art Deco exhibition until October. The building in which NGV is housed is worth a look itself, and the museum shop is... well, everything you'd expect from a museum shop!

Alas, we have to replace the woodburner this year, so no trip to Melbourne; not even a trip to Wellington to see Rita. And then another thing, I've never been to New York, or New England, and I've only been to Canada for 3 minutes illegally while the Immigration guys in Minnesota watched our car, and I've only been to continental Europe for 2 days, in Amsterdam. Heck, I've never even been to Masterton!

OK, I'm going downstairs now.

Monday, July 21, 2008

"Winged One"

I thought some of you might liked the second photo in this post by Montana landscape artist Maureen Shaughnessy. Sublime, but she's often like that.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Rosie Sends Love to Weavers

I had to think whether to share this with you or not, and decided to go ahead, so please indulge me in my explanation first, and know that I don't post this to gloat.

Rosie is an art historian and also very involved in music. We met in my previous life at the local Polytech, and after we both left the Polytech, we saw each other often. Then she had a child, and I got an apprenticeship with a local weaver, (thanks to Rosie alerting me to an advert in the paper), and we drifted apart, until she kindly came to my exhibition in January of last year. We kept bumping into each other at art openings, and now we try to see each other more or less regularly. She's been awfully complimentary on what I do, which I appreciate, but she's able to see things from a far more trained/learned perspective, which I soak up as my art education.

When I started working on The Wall project, I knew I wanted to weave tiny, luminous cottons, but I wasn't sure if I should weave scarves, or tiny "scrolls" to hang. Weaving them would have been very similar; the scrolls would have been slightly shorter and needed bigger hems at the top and perhaps the bottom so I could thread dowels through them. To me, a "wearable" scarf is more valuable monetarily than a scroll, but then this is our "museum shop", so I thought "objets d'art" might be more appropraite. At the back of my mind was also an extremely satisfying discussion Rosie and I had at the opening of Craft 08 about the different considerations for wearable vs. to-show-only pieces.

This was her reply. As I read it the second and third time, it started to read like a delightful tribute to what all of us do; I felt vindicated in engaging in our old-fashioned, sometimes slighted craft, and felt compelled to share with you the view of one art historian who understands and appreciates the long hours we spend on and off the loom. So here goes; this is to all of us:

"My gut feeling on this is that you must stick with your core philosophy/raison d'etre. As you know I worship those tiny scarves - they are exquisite.

"As display pieces they would lose their essential identity. These scarves are in a continual process of transformation - the cloth has a dynamic and fluid life of its own as it moves, twists and turns. Even if we can't actually put them on when they're in the shop, the inherent possibility of touching them, of stroking that silky surface, of feeling the cloth rest gently against one's skin; or of admiring them at a distance worn by someone else, seeing them catch the light, lift in the breeze, provide warmth and comfort as a token of love and friendship - these realms of our imagination are stimulated by these objects and become an essential part of experiencing your scarves. If they were not 'wearable' objects they would become static, constrained by the confines of the two dimensional surface of the wall and robbed of their potential for all sorts of 'lives'.

"I realise that you could suggest the 'lives' of your scarves using display pieces but at this stage I think some important qualities of our ability to fully experience your scarves might be lost."

A Song for Every Occasion

I don't know if you listen to music or books on tape when you weave, or meditate in silence. I do all of the above and have an eclectic collection of CDs that live permanently downstairs, from Handel and Verdi to Enya to Ally McBeal sound tracks (hated the show, only ever watched 15 minutes, but love the music) and lots of R&B CDs and orca calls. I even "read" Dr Phil's "Ultimate Weight Solution" on tape after meaning to read the book for over two years.

But when things go bad, when I need a time out from my loom or from myself, when I need to stop the chatter in my head, there is only one CD I can turn to: The Very Best of the Osmonds, 1996, Polygram. It has a song for every occasion, and the lyrics are safe to belt out, even if you have a six-year-old neighbor who occasionally plays outside your studio. Without boring you with minutiae, here are just some of the highlights:

The Proud One: I have never shied away from begging the warp to behave long enough for me to finish weaving a piece. (This appears to be a punctuation-free lyric site.)

Love Me For A Reason: Required singing before sending work to a juried exhibition, approaching a gallery, or in any other pleading-required situations; ever belt-outable. The Osmonds rendition sounds straight forward considering their religious background, but the Boyzone rendition positively gets down on its knees!

The Twelfth Of Never: Do things sometimes work out so smoothly you just want to hug your loom?

I'm Leaving it All Up To You: Sometimes a weaver must give a loom or a piece of work an ultimatum.

Why: Some pieces just make you happy and proud you wove them, don't they?

One Bad Apple: Just because the sample didn't look right, or the first piece off the loom didn't work out, there is no reason to abandon the entire warp just yet.

Morning Side Of The Mountain: If you thought this is about double weave, you're reading the wrong blog! Unravelling regulars should instantly recognize this as my "Holy Horses, Shaft 14 Hadn't Lifted for The Last 30 cm" anthem. Very belt-outable.

I'm Still Gonna Need You
: When you purchase new and spiffy equipment, be sure to reassure your old equipment.

Where Did All The Good Times Go: The must-sing-song before you rip out and abort a project, or depart for a stash-swap/sale. Oddly, this was the most difficult lyric to locate. One of the most frequently heard in this neck of the woods.

This CD contains 24 songs in all, including two renditions of "Crazy Horses" at both ends of the CD. If I could have my way, I'd take out:
* one of the Crazy Horses
* Jimmy's "Long Haired Lover from Liverpool"
* Nat King Cole classics; sorry Donny, no chance.

And add:
* "Sweet and Innocent"; probably Donny at his most saccharine pre-going-solo
* "Yo Yo", "Go Away Little Girl" or similar of quintessential Donny
* "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother", B-side of "One Bad Apple" 45 from memory; an opportunistic selection but executed nicely
* Jimmy's "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause" for the same reason as above
* "Both Side Now", in which I believe Wayne sang the lead, and, oh, what a mellow, relaxing rendition. Incidentally, Wayne seems the least ravaged by time.

I had a torrent, unrequited love affair with Merrill that lasted about 8 months when I was 12/13; it was pre-destined, as in our years in the US, 1961-64, Andy Williams and Danny Kaye were Mom's loves-of-her-virtual-life and these, and Mitch Miller's, shows were required viewing.

Dad took me to a concert during The Osmonds' 1971 tour to Japan, but we were in the cheap seats, and the brothers looked about the size of potatoes. I moved on to B/W photography and dark room work after that, though I do sometimes think of taking Mom to Branson.

Another Megg Bag

This is both good and bad; Megg Hewlett's life is taking her to England in the foreseeable future, and I may have seen her for the last time for a while a week ago Friday. It's a good move, and I'm happy for her, but I'm sad for me. However, we still hope to do a joint exhibition some day, and her being in England is not only going to change her art, but no doubt she'll alert me to lots of textile things from over yonder. Yay!

She opened up the boot (trunk) of the car and allowed me to pick a bag, so I chose this one, because this is one of Megg Hewlett colors. But I couldn't think of anything to swap with her right away, (I had four cashmeres on the living room floor!!) so I haven't started using this yet.

She said this style is good for keeping shoes!! NEVER!! If I knitted, it'd make a perfect knitting basket!!

(To make the color of the bag as accurate as I could on my screen, I exaggerated the green hue for the entire pic, resulting in our house looking a little sick and my mud-dyed cloth inauthentic. So, just look at the bag, please? Thanks.)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dorothy's Gamp

Trust me, this is worth a look. There are more posts on her blog relating to this piece, too.

I have a question, though; with all these different structures, how on earth did she keep the selvedge so even?

Four Agreements

I've been busy in the basement, Hallelujah! Work is the best way to stop the chatter in my mind. Besides, I've 12 more days to weave at least six pieces, and hem, wash, press, dry, label and package, and each of these take 2 days minimum to weave. And I probably need to make 2 more warps to get the six I want. In fact, to get six good ones, I would like to weave at least around 10.

And Nancy spotted I needed Nancy time, so we had coffee and split a cinnamon bun yesterday. And I was telling her about the collaborative "Where to Next for Meg" search, and I must have said something which reminded her of the following list. I know she mentioned this some time ago, because I remember thinking at the time, not speaking against oneself and not filling the void with words excruciatingly difficult, and in some ways, quite the opposite of what my parents taught me about being polite and sociable and pleasant; I as a child understood this to mean, "entertain." Typical first born, I thought. And that's just 1). Anyway...

The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz

1. Be Impeccable with your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don't Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don't Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

"I'm not feelin the love with Hippiepunk"

The title is a line from one of Lynne's posts. I'm trying to emulate the joy she imparts when she talks about her work, even when it's not necessarily working. I can't stop the chatter in my head about my direction, but today is the wrong day to think about it.

A few weavers from Blenheim are in town today; of course I was planning to join them, but I've given it a miss. My brain feels it hasn't had oxygen in a week. I might try gardening a go. (I have to be pretty desperate to say that publicly!) Or I'll weave more of the cotton.

Thanks for all of your comments these last few days; they have been delicious, nutritious food for thoughts. I'm loving the collaborative "What's Next for Meg" search.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Wall, Part 2

* * * New Age Stuff Alert * * *

The cotton on the loom still has iffy tension and I've done an emergency fix for the missing warp, but I wanted to see how the latest drafts look "in person", so I'm weaving on. Yesterday was a repeat of the nightmare in February when I knew I was too crock, but soldiered on and ended up with a dud piece. The difference is, this time I still have time to experiment, and I don't want to fix the warp in case I make more mistakes; I just want to see my drafts come to life, and I'm OK knowing this piece isn't going anywhere except on my studio wall. I'm taking a detour.

I heard the Kim Hill/Dr Jill Bolte Taylor interview the first time on the Saturday I was weaving my cotton piece, the day I was supposed to deliver my Santa Fe lot to Pat. Yesterday I was downstairs for five hours, and didn't manage to finish 780 picks, which in this set up should have taken a couple of hours. But I decided on the color scheme of The Wall project, and I listened again to the Kim Hill interview, (also available as download from here; scroll down to July 5), and them moved on to her talks with Oprah.

While her Kim Hill interview, and much of her TED video, focused on Dr JBT's stroke and recovery, her talks with Oprah covered a little more about her euphoria. Several times she described it as a disappearance of the boarder between herself and the universe, that she felt big, and I sensed, she felt omnipresent. And the two women agreed the "ego" disappeared. I'm guessing by "ego" they mean individuality rather than self-importance, though I'm can't be sure. Nancy has been following the Eckhart Tolle thing, I mean to but haven't, so I can only guess what they mean when they refer to the Tolle contents, and I might have gotten things out of context. Nevertheless, I discovered my own emotional (?) dichotomy.

My paternal grandfather was big on Zen, and though he died when I was three, early on part of me knew we're all specks of dust in the Big Universe. Or maybe this is just part of growing up in Japan, but part of me always found solace in my insignificance, that my stupidity and naughtiness would soon be forgotten. I still have this burning desire to leave nothing when I go, and be forgotten as if I never existed. Dad, on the other hand, has been big on personal responsibility, not just in ethics, but also in efforts/achievements, and I've operated all my life based on his beliefs.

So my dilemma is this: in the last decade or so, as a person I've been spending an awfully lot of time, energy and frankly, money, to learn about stopping the chatter and trying to be one with the Universe in a more proactive (!) way. I haven't succeeded, and I'm not sure if I've even made progress, but I've enjoyed the process. And I believe this is a good direction, and a direction I'd like to keep going in the foreseeable future.

On the other hand, I feel guilty whenever I'm not striving for something, and I can't find a way to reconcile this individual strife/creativity with my membership in the Universe. Pertaining to weaving, if I allow my ego/individuality to disappear and I become "blended", a) I fear my weaving will be murky, lukewarm and boring, and b) I'd feel terribly irresponsible, ergo amoral. Which reminded me, I never got Julia Cameron's "artists as agents of the Creator" thing, either.

Besides, if I do ever weave that mind-blowing cloth for which I will forever be remembered (yeah, get it?), I kind of want to take the credit for it, not just hand it over to the Universe.

The term "exponential" comes to mind; my problem is manifold. I think it's time for another giant mug of hot-honey-and-ginger.

The Wall, Part 1

I have something. And by that I mean, there is a cold or a virus going around Ben's work and he's fine but I've had a mild form of it for a week, so I'm been in an in-between place. Plus I really can't focus my eyes this week, so if these two posts are messy, I apologize in advance.

Our local art museum, The Suter, has a small wall in their shop which is reserved for the monthly "Artist in Focus", and I'm "it" for August. It's a small space, 1.8m/6ft high and 2.6m/less than 8ft, but visible, and I was flattered to be asked, because the staff who selects the AiF is herself a textile artist, Andrea Chandler.

Andrea approached me last year, and I knew I wanted to do the cottons, but the Big Bad Birthday, the fuss afterwards, and the Santa Fe Hoohah allowed me in a roundabout way to focus on what I like to weave. Either that, or I'm doing stuff I like right now, but was able to cook up a quasi-Artist's Statement; I no longer know how I operate, honestly.

Anyway, for someone who's obsessed with the art vs craft discourse, I seem to insist, in these public platforms, I am a craftsperson first and foremost. I've been approached by people who heard me at the Re:fine Floor Talk at the Suter and remember I asked them to please touch my shawls. Here's what I wrote:

“Desire/Euphoria”

"In April of this year I turned 50. For about 18 months leading up to my birthday while I tried to prepare myself emotionally, I was engulfed in a desire to “be a good weaver”, without knowing what I meant. As I came to weaving late in life, I’ve always felt I had a “weaving level” well below my chronological age, and in the weeks following the big day, this desire became dire and desperate.

"Early in July, I was weaving a cotton scarf while listening to Kim Hill interview Dr Jill Bolte Taylor about her experience of a stroke and the subsequent eight-year road to recovery. Because Dr Taylor’s clot occurred in her left hemisphere, her logical and language capabilities were suppressed and she experienced periods of pastel-colored (sic: my description) euphoria and peace. Since her full recover, she has had to be mindful of the behavior of her left hemisphere, so as not to loose balance in her new-found life, and remain at peace.

"I remember the joy and the thrill I felt when I passed a stick shuttle through my rigid heddle shed for the first time. I had big aspirations of one day weaving fine, fussy cloth in cotton and silk. I also remember the giddiness I felt when I first handled these cotton yarns last year. And I watched the kind of cloth I imagined I’d like to weave grow right under my eyes.

"How could I possibly have wanted anything else, but to sit in my studio and craft fussy cloths, feeling a wee bit euphoric all the time!"


Here's the bio; it's awfully casual, but others who list art schools and fellowships and scholarships, (which, of course I haven't got), I think it's the prerogative of 50-year-old women to say only what she wants:

"I grew up watching my mother knit, sew and embroider lovely things for me and my siblings, all the while listening to her say the one thing she longed to do was to weave. So I came to think of weaving as the ultimate craft. Mother took up weaving at age 60 when one child left home and another started university, and she still lives and weaves in Yokohama, Japan.

I learned to weave from books, the Internet, and long telephone conversations with my mother. In fact, that I’ve come to live in New Zealand started out as a family joke because Mom needed a place to stay during her annual trips to New Zealand to stock up on NZ fleeces.

A little bit more can be found at www.MegWeaves.co.nz and www.MegWeaves.blogspot.com.
"

Dichotomies Everywhere

The rejection by Santa Fe and your comments promoted me to think, very simplistically in a way I can build an action plan on this experience, thus: not edgy = boring = (in my case, among other things) need more colors = try serious Randying.

On the other hand, I am Japanese, and I love reduction/simplification, and I was getting really excited as I was replying to comments here about Zen in designs, particularly in revisiting Japanese tea ceremony, nature's natural-ness as its primary principle vs choreography.

Without getting into target markets and compatibility with galleries, etc., I think I need to proceed in two different directions. Or four. I'm finding dichotomies everywhere and I've been trying to post about another problem.

Santa Fe was No Go

I just heard back from Pat, who said that Santa Fe was no go. The Galley owner commented that my weaving is not edgy enough, and I'm strangely at peace with that. In fact, that very point was a concern of mine while I was preparing the set; my stuff looks too ordinary and sedate compared to the stuff on their web site. The last week I was preparing, I was even hoping the gallery posted only the more avant garde stuff on their website and had a bunch of other stuff elsewhere in the shop.

Which makes me think about that art vs craft thing again, and what I really want to make is craft. But I had more pressing matters to think yesterday, about brain and the universe and ego.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Picky

It's not just the warp tension. My picks need improvement.

In the past, when I wove on merino warps, I had three kinds of picks: "bang" for merino/mohair wefts that needed packing, "snug" for merino/mohair/silk mix that needed to sit snugly against the previous weft, and "space" for merino wefts where I wanted a space roughly the width of the weft yarn between each pick. And depending on the weft and the sett, my body controlled these almost automatically. Even when the picks were a little irregular, I was able to more or less disguise it in the washing/fulling process.

It doesn't work that way with the loose way I weave my cashmeres, and as for cottons, a far more disciplined beating is required, but my body hasn't learned the different degrees of control yet, and still I hate to stop/check because then there is no rhythm in my motion.

I said I wasn't grumpy or cranky tonight, didn't I? I think I'll go to bed before the Black Holes sucks me in.

Aging Gracefully

In spite of the title post, I'm not grumpy or cranky this evening. I just need to figure out a different way of doing things.

A big chunk of the dissatisfaction/disillusion that was Santa Fe preparation was my technical incompetence. As hard as I try, I'm not that a skillful weaver, and a good chunk of that possibly has to do with the fact that I don't seem to be able to see well, but possibly something else.

Mind you, my parents and teachers always scolded me for being careless and not paying attention, and the most urgent issue for the last ten years has been even tension of the warp. I've spoken to more than a few weavers about how they wind their warps, and even had a few demonstrate. At one point Mom thought perhaps it's because my looms were built for soft NZ wool, but I insist on using them for fine cottons and cottolins, weaving with high tension. That was the case with my first floor loom; the cottolins were digging grooves in the warp beam, but I doubt that's the problem now, especially with my 16-shaft.

I'm always aware I can't see well, not only because of my eyesight but also because I'm short, I have short arms and legs, and the big loom is big. I listen to the loom attentively, and I rely on touch perhaps more than a "normal" weaver. I deliberately move slowly and allow myself time to check things many times. I've also built in extra checking routines for every warp and sample, sample, sample.

Still, it's possible to find, 1 2/3 scarves later, a threading mistake and a missing warp end! That, after I threaded carefully, then rechecked each warp a repeat at a time, then rechecked as I sleyed, then lifted one shaft at a time, then wove plain weave as a final check. I even found a twisted heddle I didn't see when I sorted out the heddles in May.

I'm not sure if it's the florescent lights, but lately my big loom never seems straight. Sometimes the height of the reed seems uneven; sometimes some of the shafts appear crooked. I get off the bench and stand back and have a look, and bang, everything is auto-magically straight and square again!

I'm starting to feel helpless. See, my theory was, I learn to weave, then I improve technically, then I don't have to worry about the technique so much and can concentrate on the aesthetics. I never expected to dress a loom with my eyes closed, but I did expect it to gradually become less painful and the main part of weaving. If my eyesight, and attention span, deteriorate before I get to the point where the tenique of weaving becomes almost second nature, do I have to settle for forever being a mediocre weaver? That, to me, has been the black hole of my creative aspirations this past week.

Shot

Warp is silk and cashmere in mid/darkish purple, weft is cashmere in blue-y yellow-green; the piece produces that thing called "shot effect". Can someone please explain to me how "shot effect" occurs? At one point I heard it was the same value/different hues, but now I don't think so, at least not in this case. Alternatively, do you know how to photograph it effectively?

At the moment, if you google "textile, shot" or "shot effect", you come to articles about textile workers in Pakistan getting shot during pay disputes. Which reminds me, about a month ago I received an email from Peshawar, which i thought was junk mail, but on further reading, I discovered a mill/workshop owner found my web site, and offered to have his people weave my "company's products" for a very cheap price. Yeah, right.

Un-Godliness

Yesterday I was blog-hopping and came across three posts about (tidy) work spaces or organizing resources: Cally, Mrs Moon, and Connie.

Dread...

I used to have a super tidy loom room and a very clean house. After I quit my full time office job in 2000, I was cleaning my house throughly twice a week, and wondering why I hadn't enough time to weave. Wise Mama said, "You can clean, or you can weave," so I chose weaving, but even then the inside of the house was pretty clean.

When I went home in 2005 I helped Mom reorganize her stash. Shall I just say, she grew up in a big family during and after the war, so she tends to buy "a few extra", just in case? As usual she wanted to give away a lot, and there was a good deal of silk and her hand-spun/hand-dyed wool, so I inherited these. It didn't seem much in her three big stash/design/studio spaces.

Since I came home that January, I've had our flat screen TV box full of silks in the corner of my stash (ex-loom) room, and a substantially larger box of someone else's flat screen TV in the middle of the floor. And because I stick to weaving yarns I know well, I kept buying 110/2 merino and possum/merino/silk mix cones, which have sat/sit on top of the boxes and the dresser and sometimes on the floor. More recently, I've accumulated cottons and cashmeres, which can't possibly fit in my stash room, so they've lived on one of the loom benches and in drawers in the basement, meaning, I don't have to step into my messy stash room to weave with these babies.

Prior to taking up weaving, I had a nice stash of embroidery and sewing projects. I also inherited some of my step-grandmother's kimonos, which have sat in drawers in the stash room. I used to take them to the local Polytech to show them to Costume Design students, but they haven't seen the light of day until about a month ago, when Claudia the Fashion Designer wanted to see them. Everything on the floor got pushed to one side so I could get to the drawers. Then, Heather the Steiner Teacher wanted to take up weaving, so I lent her my rigid heddle and we went through the chunkier wools to see if there were yarns she can have. Then, Nancy went through my sliver and fabric stash a week to see if she could unload some. I keep pulling books off the bookshelves thinking I need them "today" and I haven't returned them to the proper shelves. And then there are the signs and bags and posters I made for exhibitions and the Expo and the market. I'm also accumulating a bit of drawing material.

I did a good job pretending I'm tidy in 2006. Lately I wonder if I need the kind of tidy-uppers Oprah and Dr Phil provide. I keep telling Beloved I'm not a hoarder, but I'd like to keep all my weaving options open. Ha! Though if you live in a small place like Nelson, that's not entirely a fib.

I said this last year, but I'm saying it again: I won't buy any more yarns in the foreseeable future, (*special projects exempted) and this summer (Christmas) I hope to tidy and reorganize my stash room to make it a descent design space.

At least that's the plan.

My precious 20/2 cottons (Their beautiful cousins, 60/2s, are upstairs.)

My precious cashmeres

Oh, you really didn't think I'd show you my unholy mess, did you?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Amida Kuji

I forgot to tell you about the old Japanese draw system I mentioned. I bet it's not uniquely Japanese, but back home we use it all the time. It's called Amida Kuji; Amida being Amitaabha, Kuji being draw. The system came to popular use sometime in the Muromachi Era (1336-1573) and originally we drew lines, (how do I say this in English,) radiating in all directions from one point, which looked like Amitaabha's halo.

Anyway, here goes. Get a piece of paper and a pencil. Draw as many vertical lines as there are prizes or participants. Write down the prizes at the bottom of each line. Have each participant select a line and write their names at the top. If there are more participants than prizes, there will be some lines where no prizes appear at the bottom; if, for example, there are two prizes for each participant, everybody chooses two vertical lines.
Draw as many horizontal lines as you like, each horizontal line touching only two vertical lines. So, no lines going all the way from Chocolate to Peppermint in this example. (Though there are ways to get around this, too.)
Now, select one participant, and follow his line from the top. Every time he comes across a horizontal line, he must make a turn and follow the horizontal, but otherwise, he must keep moving down.
So, Larry gets Strawberry!

The more horizontal lines you have, the more twists and turns you get. Dad used to have a great time handing out small prizes at parties, but he complicated things even more by putting numbers at the top of the vertical lines, and instead of participants selecting a line, they had to draw a number from a porcelain urn or Mom's Navajo basket, and it was my job to go around letting everybody pick a number.

For more info, if you know someone who can read Japanese, knock yourselves out here. The explanation there is a little more complicated to ensure fairness (as in hiding the horizontal lines or the prizes at the bottom, and/or allowing participants to draw more horizontal lines) and a series of prettier pictures with explanations in Spanish (??). There's also a downlodable software to automate the process here, but we'll be doing this the old-fashioned way.

Festive Towel Exchange (Last Update November 26)

** Final closing date is Saturday 6 December in your time zone. **

1) You weave one or two or three or however many kitchen/tea towels you wish. Alternatively, you can weave finger/guest towels, or face cloths; if you weave the smaller items, you may wish to weave a set of two to make your gift roughly equivalent in size/volume to one kitchen/tea towel. Or not, if you are, for e.g. embellishing them with embroidery, etc. Up to you.

2) Then you name each towel, or each set of smaller items, and email me:
  • The name and up to three photos for each towel, or each set of finger/guest towels or face cloths, e.g. "Christmas on the Beach" tea towel, or "Pacific Island Holiday" set of face cloths. If you have a blog of your own, you have the option to post your photos on your own blog and send me the url instead;
  • Your real name and a physical address (PO Boxes permitted) for posting;
  • Your blog or web URL or email address, and on-screen name if you prefer, so "visitors" can contact you from the Internet exhibition if they wish. No need for this if you're posting on your own blog;
  • If you want to say a few things about your towels or yourself, by all means, please do so. But if you're the strong, silent type, no need.
  • You may wish to add a little note to me to express personal preferences on holiday motifs, e.g. "I'm an agnostic/skeptic, so no crosses, thanks, but trees and bells are great." If we have enough choices, we'll see what we can do.
Keep the towel/s with you for now.

3) I collate the photos and put them up on the web much like SSVE, but most probably as I receive them, rather than having an "opening" night. And like SSVE, first pic to arrive is made into our exhibition poster. If you post pics on your own blogs, I'll have the links available from this blog and my Flickr and from all the other participating blogs.

4) I'll ask a neutral party, like Nancy or Ben, to mix/match towels and select exchange partners.

5) I'll email you name/address of the person to whom you are sending your towel/set/s, and you post it/them.

6) You can then eagerly by your mailbox, unless it's buried under heavy snow, to receive your towel/set/s. You will receive the same number of towel/set/s you send out, naturally.

7) You can start sending me pics, or post towel pics on your blogs, any time. All photos and other information are due in the first instance on 31 October, and then finally Saturday 6 December in your time zone.

Happy, festive weaving, lovely participants.

SloLife

And this is the card I'm sending back to Trish. I think it's about us handweavers, regardless of our levels, regardless of our setup/gear. (Sorry, are those letters blurred? I'm having one of those days and I can't tell if it's the photo, or if it's only me. It reads, "Ever feel like a stick shift person in an automatic world?")

A whole series of funny playing-with-food cards are created by Nelson's Rooster Graphics, but this new range hasn't appeared on their web site yet.

Rowing Out to My Ship

A week ago today, Friday, was the last possible day to weave anything new for Pat's package to New Mexico.

Thursday night I was feeling defeated by the pile of stuff I had been preparing for two weeks. And, yeah, that was the day I kept toying with the idea of giving it all up and selling all the stash, the equipments, the books, and coming here to delete this blog. Oh, the drama! I told Ronette I would miss my last figure drawing class because I needed to do "this", which she understood.

On Friday, from 7.30 to 11AM, I created/modified a draft for a merino-warp scarf, a draft I didn't much care for. At 11, I had breakfast, did a bit of housework, and tried to calm down and figure out the right thing to do in the short time remaining. I had three choices; I could weave a tad-shorter-than-average piece on the white merino warp on the loom, OR measure and wind a new, black merino warp and tie it on, (and afterwards weave a few men's scarves I've been asked for), OR take out the merino and wind, rethread, and resley the gold cotton warp I've had sitting since February. And I went with the cotton.

I don't remember what else I did to procrastinate, but I didn't get to the cotton until late in the afternoon, and I had some tension problems so I couldn't weave until 9PM, but I knew this next piece I'll love, and the inordinate length of time to prepare the warp didn't bother me. I wove 1/4 of the piece on Friday, and 3/4 Saturday morning.

Saturday afternoon, I put cloth labels, care instruction card and sample yarns on all the other pieces, typed up a wholesale price list in NZ dollars for Pat, wrote a short letter of intro to the gallery, sewed the ends of the cotton scarf, washed it, pressed it, labeled it, and put on the card and sample yarns. When we finally arrived at Pat's house, the cotton was still moist. I had two cottons, two cashmere/silks, and two big merino/possum/silk shawls from a lifetime ago. And the wee cashmere for Pat as thanks. I was relieved I finally made up a decent 'set', but was honestly distraught I wasn't able to weave more spectacularly in the course of two weeks, and I didn't get why I so willingly lost my cool with this "project".

Luckily we had theater tickets that night, so I didn't have to come home and be confronted by the mess I left all over the house, and in my mind.

I still don't understand the emotional drama that was Santa Fe. It felt bigger than anything I had undertaken; I felt am a minnow in the puddle and, is it a self-fulfilled prophecy, the stuff I wove in these two weeks met my expectations of insignificance and unworthiness. Anyway, that's over and done with; I hope to either forget, or be able to laugh at myself, soon.

For exhibitions I weave anything I want, because I enter shows to show what I like, without worrying about what anybody else likes. For commission pieces, I have felt a similar dread from time to time, but I discuss things with clients beforehand so I get a sense of their preferences. But a gallery I've never visited that specializes in textiles? It was like weaving blind-folded.

I'm glad I have a cotton warp on the big loom now. I needed it for my next project, so I've had a head start. And I'm back to normal; not so emotionally/frantically invested in my designs; only doing my thing the way I like to do.

My friend Trish sent me this card for no reason, (she said so on the inside). She knows me well; perhaps better than she realizes. It made me feel a little less of a clown/fool/minnow.

"If your ship hasn't come in, row out to meet it."

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Lessons in NZ Art - Part 2a

In "Lovely Rita", painter Graham Sydney praises Rita Angus for her courage for wanting to live as an artist, because there weren't many artists making a living out of it during her time. He then went on to say something like there are so (too?) many artists and art talk now. I need to check the DVD to get his exact quote, but I couldn't help chuckling.

Coincidentally, I bought "Book Self" by New Zealand poet, novelist and critic C. K. Stead yesterday. I'm finding it a hard slog to plow through his "learned" articles, but somewhere in the first piece, he either said, or agreed with Martin Amis who said, something like "while literary criticism may not be good for literature, both literature and criticism are important (?) for civilization." I need to get back to the book find out what exactly he said, but, yeah.

See where I'm going? Thank goodness for even the small, minuscule, art practitioners having a platform to exchange ideas!

Edit: Only the first article in the Stead book turned out to be somewhat academic and weighty, the rest being extremely accessible.

Lessons in NZ Art - Part 2

Last night, The Suter had a showing of Lovely Rita, the Gaylene Preston documentary on painter Rita Angus shown on TVNZ last year. It's the episode I kept missing. Gaylene was there to introduce the film, and she described the doco, at one point, as trailer to Jill Trevelyan's biography "Rita Angus: An Artist's Life", so by extension, her exhibition at Te Papa also.

It was spectacular to see the doco on a big screen as her paintings tend to be small works, but there is so much tiny details in them which I would have never noticed even if I watched the DVD over and over again. And it was nice to see the thumbs up to Gore's Eastern Southland Gallery: when John Money donated eight Angus paintings, they decided to show them, rather than to stick them in the back storage like everybody else.

Te Papa's exhibition will travel to Christchurch, Dunedin and Auckland over the next year or so. I'll have to go somewhere to catch it. The Te Papa site above has links to free audio downloads.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Lessons in NZ Art

Time for a little bit of Kiwiana of sorts, or New Zealand Art Scene 101 to those further afield.

Sunday afternoon, I fringed/hemmed, washed and pressed the first four cashmeres, (the No, No, No, Maybe series - the last one is a No also,) while watching Hamish Keith's The Big Picture. Well, truth be told, it took me over six hours to fring just four tiny scarves, because I had to watch all six episodes once I got started. What a joy! What entertainment! Especially because I missed the last two episodes when it was on the telly.

I know his views are considered controversial. I can see how he easily offended a fair number in the New Zealand Arts Establishment. However, I don't really believe anybody takes any other person's view on art as set in stone, and in that vein, I think this is a jolly good introduction for an outsider like me to New Zealand art, which thus far have been fragmented, and often too focused on a particular painter where the artist's merit is already a given. (Is that grammatical?) Has there ever been such a comprehensive, albeit very personal, overview of New Zealand art?

The early history of how the English explorers/colonizers viewed NZ was intriguing; the way art was used to entice more English immigrants was, as ever, problematic. (Empty land that needs people.) The changes in the ways Maroi was portrayed was at once fascinating and worrying, and the contrast between the development of European immigrant art and Maori art (I'm running out of adjectives here) interesting. And throughout it all, there was the "tyranny of distance" hovering like black clouds. Good stuff.

By far the most rewarding for me was his very personal introduction to McCahon, McCahon in historical context, and McCahon vs Tosswell.

I wished it went on for another couple of episodes; I was naturally expecting a mention of Graham Sydney along with Riga Angus's Cass. I wished it had more art forms besides paintings; there could have been considerably more sculptures and wood work, newer ceramics/glass, architecture... But these are minor complaints compared to how comprehensively he covered all the grounds he wanted to cover. Oh, when he was in the Netherlands (I think - I have to watch it again) I was flabbergasted he wasn't wearing gloves while handling old paintings or prints, but I hope and pray the archivist/s knew what he was up to.

Around the same time this series was broadcast, do you remember there was another series focusing on individual artists, one episode being on Rita Angus? I caught the last five minutes of that episode, and when it was rerun on the weekend, I caught the last ten minutes only. And I kept missing most others in the series, so I'd love to find out how I can view them again without having to buy another box to sit along the video and DVD and TV and the rest.

I asked Robin Gardiner if she thought of adding "The Big Picture" to the NZ Guild video/DVD collection, but the answer was no, because it's not workshop-based. Pity, but as she said, your local library might have it.

Patrotism & Identity

I wanted to weave my cottons, because that's what I'm most enthusiastic about right now; I like how they turn out, and I have so many lovely colors. It's the kind of cloth I envisioned I'd weave when I first started on my rigid heddle in '95. Besides, Santa Fe in July can't be thick, spongy merino/possum/silk season. So I made lots of draft with 20/2 cotton in mind.

Except this patriotism thing crept in. You see, New Zealand is a small country and a small economy, and I can't help but to try and promote good quality products whenever I can. Besides, wouldn't you kind of expect to see at least a wee bit of merino stuff if you know I weave in New Zealand?

So it was that I concentrated on merino and merino mixes this week, and I tried to adapt some of the drafts meant for cotton, all the while not exactly enjoying the process. Somewhere midweek, anxiety got the better of me and I lost the plot. In fact, almost all afternoon yesterday, I sat in front of the fire and stared at the flame, because I felt physically tired. Today, I wove with merino/mohair weft in beautiful blues and greens, and for the 1500 odd picks to finish a scarf, I kept thinking, and sometimes saying out loud, "Yuck, yuck, yuck." The structure is too fussy even for me; not attractive, not flowing, kind of like... very old upholstery material. But more oh proportion in another post.

I as a weaver in Nelson, New Zealand, want to promote New Zealand products as often as I can. I as a want-to-sell weaver thought it prudent to prepares a reasonable selection of the kinds of scarves I have been weaving. And I, the cantankerous artist is totally frustrated that cotton has fallen by the wayside this week and in effect I won't be flaunting the best of what I can do on this hither-to biggest opportunity of my weaving life, and this is making me so cranky. It hit me just a couple of hours ago that it's not just making nice things to show, but showing who I am and what I can do... something like that.

Tomorrow, the last possible day I can weave maybe one more piece, I'm trying on a new warp and doing something different. Whether it's going to be black merino (no rethreading or reslaying) or cotton (rethreading and reslaying) I haven't decided yet.

The Nelson Guild Show

So this is the other side of the Guild. Nelson Guild's show "The Real Kiwi Batch" opened at the Suter Tuesday night and I went to have a look. The whole show is about recreating the batch (beach house, originally of a simple, humble kind), and showcasing old-style mostly-wool craft. Just have a look.

Rubber hot water bottles are still very much in use in New Zealand.
I thought I had taken twice the number of photos as I had! I particularly regret not being able to post three rocks-in-felt paperweights, and a beautifully crafted patchwork blanket made of old wool skirt fabrics.

Some of these crafts/articles have been pushed aside from the annual Festival exhibition, and I admit I was on the side of wanting to put old-style craft to "rest", so how wonderful it must have been for members of the Nelson Guild to engage in making these, and then proudly showcasing them in public. Members and guests, young and old, were giddy going around the room, shouting, "I used to have one just like that", or "Nana used to make heaps of them!!" The atmosphere was buoyant people instantly happy.

Big chocolate fish to Jo Kinross (not in focus, but this is so her,), Pat Spitz and others on the committee for creating a platform for these works, and for having the wonderful art support and city councilor Ali Boswijk to open.

* * *

I'm not saying the New Zealand guild is divide in two and at war with each other. Not at all; many members have their feet in both or many camps. But the recognition for a need for change in direction/focus has surfaced in the last few years, so much so that even outsiders like I read or hear about it. The divide in the styles of craft, I'm not 100% sure, but I think I've seen a reduction in certain articles, and it's probably safe to say there are changes taking place that has more to do with just fashion.

Guilds

There's a bit of a discussion raging in the Creative Fibre (NZ Guild) about the contents of their annual festival. I'm a total outside when it comes to Festivals, (I've been to one; Mom to more than five), but what from what I've read and heard in the last few years, this is the story.

Every year an entire Area volunteers to host the annual Festival. 2009 Festival was supposed to be in Auckland, but after months of planning and negotiating, they just couldn't put together a tidy package at around the usual cost. So about 18 (?) months before the Festival, they announced 2009 wasn't happening in Auckland. In came Timaru (in South Canterbury, a little south of Ashburton and Christchurch,) saying they will organized an abridged Festival, and everybody applauded. And at the time everybody was so relived that this was to follow 2008 in Gisbourne, another abridged version for reasons I can't remember, but possibly cost, went unchecked.

A weaver in Timaru burst into the scene this week saying there are no weaving workshops in Timaru 2009, and would weavers want to hold a piggy back weaving event. Fair enough. Slowly the plans for Timaru Festival started to come out that there will be lectures in place of hands-on workshops, and arguments for/against lectures/workshops/free trial stalls, along with cost/preparation-time/volunteer-time/aging-membership/recruiting-younger-members concerns got thrown into the mix. For polite Kiwis, issues seldom rage, and this has been a mini coup.

Different learning styles have come up, as have the increasing cost of travel, and the bang-for-the-buck factor, and of course the obligatory "volunteers put in a lot of time and I appreciate anything" talk. Sincere, but doesn't add to the discussion. I'm sitting on the sideline enjoying the view.

I go to Marlborough Weavers 90 minutes away because they have a robust weaving program, and they hold great workshops. I love the ladies there, but I don't travel 90 minutes each way, have Ben leave work early to get me there, and come home around midnight, just for their company; to me it's all about what I can learn, be it show-and-tell or workshop or lecture or a slide show. And to that end I study the menu carefully. And this after five years to decide to join.

There are several groups in and around Nelson, and I've come to know some lovely ladies in the Nelson group, some through my gym. But the group's focus is not weaving, and in fact from what I understand the social aspect is bit in Nelson, so they don't meet my needs. I don't know if they think I've snubbed them, but time in valuable to me, and socializing in the weaving contest, no matter how much I like the ladies, is not my thing. I hate to overgeneralize, and I'd be the first to admit I can be such an misanthrope at times, but I can't help thinking it's also a generation thing.

So going back to the Festival. I don't go because I can't afford it in the first instance, and it often coincides with Easter (Ben works that weekend most years), and/or Ben's birthday. And re. learning experiences, to me the Festival format is somewhat of a watered-down version of the workshop style I prefer. I know many people learn from talking and mingling and looking, and I do experience that sometimes, but being a restless kind I prefer the rigid, structured environment. And the "socials" in such a big scale is torture to me.

I think what nobody is coming right out in saying is that a large number go to the Festival for socializing. Some have given up their crafts, (particularly weaving), and some are happy to continue to do what they've always done, some are curious to see what everybody else has been up to, but perhaps learning is no longer a main reason for everybody, or even a majority. And I wouldn't be surprised if some members come purely out of a sense of duty or habit.

Does it tie in with the perception of fiber craft (primarily wool craft) in New Zealand by the participants/practitioner? That's part of it. There are members who do new things, make a living out of their craft, and display fabulous things at the exhibitions. Or try to. But like the world at large, how do you bring together an organization and keep it robust when a good proportion is aging, the young are busy or have different ideas, and the needs of the membership can be so diverse.

It's not a unique problem to New Zealand Spinners, Weavers and Woolcrafts Society; I bet it's not even a new problem. But it is one of those make-or-break times. So, rage on, ladies.

Roller Coaster 2

Yesterday I was slightly exhausted. That sounds funny, I know; it's like being a tad enraged. But I didn't feel uniformly "tired", just totally drop-down "flat out like a lizard drinking" exhausted in some parts, and when I was washing my face in the morning I didn't recognize the person in the mirror.

I am exhausted by me. I am tired of worrying, sick of thinking, but misplaced the "head down, bum up, 'Lock Down'" me and can't seem to get back into the game. I had/have yesterday and today to weave, tomorrow to finish, and Saturday to label, tag, catalog and deliver, and I keep saying this out like a mantra. I miss the Work Dog me; she was so good last year. I need to hold my act together today.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

So What do You Really Think?

I might be a suspicious person by nature, though at other times I'm so gullible.

When in Fifth Grade (age 10), our Home Economics teacher was in a bad accident as a result of crossing the main road near school where you weren't meant to cross. A few weeks later my classmates told me, an old man-teacher, who retired from a public school, was going to come and teach us Home Ec, and of course I had no reason to doubt them, did I?

This week I heard from the grandmother who ordered the baby blanket to tell me she visited him and loved the blanket, and sent me a picture of a little-boy-who-is-not-a-baby-any-more; I also heard from the client who just received her cashmere lime sorbet, and she liked it, too.

I'm very anxious until I hear back from my clients after I post commission pieces. Of course I'd like to hear what they thought, and I hope to hear that they liked the pieces, and I don't look forward to the possibility of, "Well, in fact......" But will they tell me if they were less than 100% pleased? Or if they thought I charged too much? Or they think I mislead them to thinking it was going to be something else entirely? I've never had anything returned; two clients keep ordering more. But I have woven a second, alternate piece for about one-third of my commission orders when I didn't like the first pieces. And commission has become a bit too nerve-wrecking recently. It's about compliments and taste all over.

And then the full-on suspicion: in New Zealand, I often hear my weaving described as "cleaver". I don't know what they mean. Where I grew up, "cleaver" was not necessarily a compliment; in some cases it was synonymous to "sly", so are they saying something about me now???

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OK, "clever", definitely not "cleaver". What a place for a typo. And then I used the wrong bracket, "<", for the correction, so HTML of course ate that up! "CLEVER!"

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End of suspicion. Gotta work. I had a nice time at the opening last night, and want to share that experience with you later, too.