Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Auckland...

Is in the subtropics.

May be a gateway to somewhere else.

See?

These were taken in Auckland earlier in the month. In this bottom pic, the guys weren't moving at all, and I thought maybe it was a performance, but it turns out something wasn't working or an equipment missing, and the guy in the bottom was speaking on the phone while top guy listened, frozen in that position.

I felt a bit strange with the previous post at the very top, ergo the irrelevant interlude.

Monday, September 29, 2008

That Drawing

*** Depending on your taste and sensitivity, this is may not be "nice" to look at, though it was never meant to be nasty. Then again, it could be nothing. I went to 10 years of convent school, so I'm unsure. ***

Here's the drawing. A few days on, I can't believe I drew this. It's quite different form what I normally do. It feel "modern" whereas I probably go more for old-looking drawings. I used balsa wood, wet paper towel and ink.

Because I'm right-handed, I stand on the left edge of the board, looking at the model with the board to my right, and then standing back to draw with the right hand. With paper size like A1, and my short right arm, I've started to see a strange foreshortening in my drawings. I don't think I stand back far enough or often enough, and the right side of the drawing is often unintentionally distorted.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

My Figure Drawing Class - Aside

Lest you think I'm all grownup and artist-like in my class, I feel compelled to confess.

Week 16 was the first time I managed to draw nipples, and I felt embarrassed and gigly. On Friday I had to include female lower abdomen, and I felt uncomfortable; I wasn't even gigling, just wondering how I can obscure it, which, because of where I was, was impossible.

This leads me led me to an interesting dilemma. I kind of liked the symmetrical, full-frontal composition; it was dramatic and so not the kind of drawing I normally try, but interesting. And if I felt that uncomfortable with a female model, will I continue to avoid challenging compositions? What will I do if the model if male?

And I honestly didn't expect myself to break out in uncontrollable giggles, at age 50, trying to draw nipples. I mean, the immaturity of it!!

My Figure Drawing Class

I say this often, but you really had to have known me a while to know how astonishing it is that I am posting my drawings. It is not because I think my drawings are anything to write home about, (they seriously aren't,) but rather, I want to show you how your attitude to what you do, especially your artistic endeavors, can change, and in a relatively short time. (Granted, I am becoming more shameless about sharing things among friends...)

It was only this March that I had that mind-boggling design workshop experience, where I felt so free from my preconceptions and expectations. That led me to signing up for a figure drawing workshop in April, after thinking about it for ten years. I finished my second term (10 in a term; I missed maybe three, so we're talking only 17 sessions,) on Friday.

The last two weeks we have been doing "gesture drawings" in wet media using strange tools like sponges, balsa wood pieces, bamboo sticks, feathers, crayon and wash, fat brushes, pieces of sheep skin, etc. Or drawing with our "other" hand. Gesture drawing is liberating because we are to put down the impression of the gesture/pause in a quick motion. We can take forever looking and composing in our heads, but the trick is to move our hands quickly, and without lifting the tool from the surface of the paper if possible. And not looking at the paper while you draw if possible.

To me, this meant I don't have to worry much about proportion and the likeness of the shapes, and it allowed me to venture into distortion. This particular model was bony, even to her bottom, and so different from myself or many of my friends and family, and I felt compelled to accentuate that.

The top one was probably a 10-second drawing, done in a fat brush and ink; the bottom one is a 5-minute drawings, with a piece of balsa wood and wet paper towel and ink. The very last drawing I did on Friday, I was standing at a perfect place, but my classmates who have known me throughout these two terms thought it rather astonishing for moi. It's quite dramatic, whereas I usually go for stillness, but I hesitate to post it because it's full-frontal. Besides, I like back and 3/4 views, because the mood is more nuanced, and I can put more of my feelings in, whereas when the models sit facing me, I feel somewhat confronted.

The figure drawing class has proven to me to be a guaranteed live-in-the-moment time. Figure drawing is so difficult I can't worry about what others are doing or if mine is good or bad or if anyone is looking at my stuff. Jo, a classmate, has been impressed with everybody's progress, but honestly, I can't remember what anyone else used to do or did last week. And because I keep telling myself and everybody who would listen that I am a weaver, so even if I'm not good by anyone else's or my standards, I don't feel threatened. I have to tell you, though, that week after week of looking at drawings by 10 or more people at least twice in the course of a lesson, you start to see something you like or want to emulate, in almost every drawing, and there is never a drawing that is entirely "bad".

I've also become interested in composition - a word I only knew vaguely pertaining to art in April, but I think about it a lot because now I see it much like cropping my photographs. It's cutting out the unnecessary bits so you focus on the bits I want you to focus on. And I'm still surprised and annoyed when somebody points out patterns in drawings; I don't see them unless they are literally pointed out to me.

If you ever wanted to take lessons in something, but thought you weren't going to be good, be honest with yourself and assess if you need to be good at it or just want to give it a go. If you decide to take lessons, but find out the experience turned out to be less than what you expected, look for another class or teacher. Because this is like match-making; we're lucky we have Ronette as our teacher, but sine I've been in this class, I've heard horror stories about art teachers and classes. Because I'm easily influenced by people, I try to take position next to Ron; then, no matter who comes on the other side, I feel settled, even though it's not as if we talk or look at each other's work during class. We don't.

When you find the right situation, it can give you so much unadulterated pleasure, (and by this I mean, I don't have to explain to myself why I so enjoy it; I just do, and not having to justify/analize is a biggie for me) and an effortless time out from your normal life.

And deep down, I can't help having blind faith that somehow this experience is going to have a good influence on my weaving. As your experience will on yours.

Meanwhile, my life outside the classroom has been distracted and unproductive. I still had tradesmen coming to my house to give me quotes; some work was done last week. I have to decide on the wood burner installer and plumber and let the builder know. I have to rebudget so we can pay them when we estimate the work to be done. I still have 10 days before the oral surgery. Spring is here with a heavy-hitting hey fever and brain paralysis. My hey fever pills aren't working and they might be passed their use-by date because I got off very lightly last spring, so these might be leftovers from the year before!

Figure drawing class takes a two-week break while Ronette holidays in Niue.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Procrastination

So, Julie's scarf. On the borrowed table loom. I finally got around to sampling today.

I couldn't see the design while weaving or washing, but when I pressed the sample the leafy pattern appeared. Yay! At the bottom I also tried a combination of wefts darker than the darker warp and lighter than the lighter warp, (ABAB in warp, A+B-A+B- in the weft, if you get my meaning), but the standard ABAB both ways is probably nearer to what she wanted. The sett and pick were my main concerns, but at 15EPI, it's plenty soft. I could even go 18DPI.

The main problem is, I haven't been able to do a test piece where I can check the threading - I tried weaving from 1 to 8 with a yellow weft, but that didn't do the trick. Then I tried weaving the draft with a yellow weft, but I think Shafts 2 and 4 weren't lifting high enough so the cloth looked a little different. Then I really wanted to do a real sample, so I haven't checked the threading yet.

I hadn't realized how hard it is to work on a table loom. The mechanism of this old loom is pretty sound and the springs make funny "bo-i-nnn-gggggg" sounds whenever I lift a shaft. And shadow weave, even though it involves two shuttles, is pretty regular and predictable at this level so I can handle it. The loom is tall, though, and I have to weave standing up, and the kitchen table is the only place it works, so I have to be choosy about the time of the day when the light is good in the kitchen.

So, tonight or tomorrow, I'll somehow check the threading, sample 18DPI, and then start the piece. Finally...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Marlborough and Richmond Weavers

Last Thursday, Marlborough Weavers were invited to join the Richmond Weavers for Richmond's monthly meeting. There were over 20 people, nine from Marlborough, including me and Sue Broad who doesn't belong to either this year, and the their meeting room is huge I couldn't get a nice pic to show the mood of the meeting. We did a very elaborate show-and-tell, mostly of our own work but also textiles from two members who traveled on the Silk Road earlier this year.

Show-and-tell I always like, but it's especially interesting when I see works by new (to me) people, their color schemes, and designs. And then it's not only the old-timers who do innovative works. Ann Udy, obscuring her face at far right, brought a plain/space weave felted scarf in white and green, I think, which was exquisitely crafted, but I forgot to photograph.

Joan's shuttles made of wood and horns (?) from NorthWestern China.

Joan's fine cross stitch in two beiges on black or dark indigo. The turquoise square on the right would have been slightly smaller than 1cm square.

Rosalie brought a felted scarf from Kyrgyzstan, which was amazingly modern-looking, but she said the coloring and the designs are typical of the area. I forgot to photograph that, too, and I can't find anything like it on the Internet. It was yellows, oranges and soft yellow greens, swirly circles and oblongs placed in a dynamic way, with centers of some of the shapes cut out.

Later that day Pat drove me to my oral surgeon; extraction is October 7.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

New Website

Ben's been working on updating the URL of my new website, but it hasn't stabling, so the links to my website sometimes work and sometimes not. We are hoping the dust will settle in a couple of days, and we will make sure all the links are 'current'. Sorry.

You should have no problems reaching here, I hope; fingers, toes and eyes crossed!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Peddling

Today was an interesting day.

I met with Pat for lunch; she brought me the stuff she showed to the gallery in Santa Fe, and they came back with a wonderful letter from the gallery owner, suggesting specific things to try to help me weave a little more adventurously. How good is that?!

Then I went to The Suter Art Gallery; I had left two shawls last Friday to see if Andrea would consider having them in the gallery shop. Just coincidentally, I had the stuff from Santa Fe, so we talked about them and she selected one from Friday and three from Santa Fe. I now have three outlets and four pieces at my newest outlet. Yay!

Then, leftovers in a bag, I went to the Red Gallery to pick up the cotton scarves Jay wanted to see; these are going to be submitted to the guild local area exhibition in Westport this week.

I felt like all day I was walking from one place to another around Nelson delivering/reclaiming my "merchandises", feeling like a peddler. And though it doesn't feel that way just now, I am regrouping and trying harder to sell, without necessarily making new things specifically for each outlet. Idealy, I'd like to make pieces, deliver it to one gallery, and sell it from there (soon-ish), but I'm still learning the characteristics of each place and the changes in fashion and traffic, so I feel less, umm, scheming about trying differnt outlets for different pieces. And they are far better off in one of these places than on the floor in my stash room. But at some point, I would like to start withdrawing some of the older pieces, and move on.

It's all a learning experience.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Color Possibilities with Shadow Weave

With weaving, when in doubt, keeping it simple is the most elegant solution for me. So with Julie's Shadow Weave scarf, I decided to use the two dark grays in DLDL in the warp and the weft. But I sense there are further color options. (I'm not too confident if these screen shots will show well, but here goes. Clicking and looking at the larger picture may help.)

In this post, D stands for the dark(er) color, and L for the light(er) color.

First, the simple black and white. Both warps are in LDLD, but in the left, the weft is also in LDLD, while in the right, it is in DLDL. They look quite different here. My understanding of Shadow Weave is the left version. The draft on the right seems more "corrupt" in this photo than in a real draft; try clicking on the photo to see they are not as dissimilar.

(EDIT: Peg says they are both Shadow Weave, so I should say I like the one on the left better.)

(OK, a question. On Page 77 of the 8-shaft book, the warp is in LDLD from right, but the weft is in DLDL from the top, and still the cloth looks more like the left one. What am I missing?)

With that in mind, say you have yarns in the same hue but values A, B, C and D, with A being the lightest and D being the darkest.













I could make a warp with ABAB, and weave with CDCD in the weft as in above left, or DCDC as in above right.













Or, I could make a warp with ADAD, and weave with BCBC in the weft as in above left, or CBCB as in above right.

Of the four above, I like the bottom left ADAD-BCBC the best. With undulation, theoretically I could introduce two (or more) pairs both warp- and weft-wise where the threading angle (for want of a better word) changes, to create an illusion of depth in the cloth, but this sounds more like the realm of mathematical possibilities for me at this point.

The more urgent problem with this particular warp is the characteristics of my particular cashmere, which feels nicest in something like a loose 2/2 twill at around 15DPI. Shadow Weave, though it looks otherwise, is basically plain weave, so I'm very worried about the way this cashmere is going to feel, based on the sampling I did yonks ago. But Julie won't be comparing her scarf with a 2/2 twill piece, so I may be worrying needlessly; like a nice cashmere coat, it will feel luxurious and light compared to other fiber, and will probably age better than the looser twill.

I just need to sample vigilantly tomorrow, and if need be, resley.

Good night.

Oh What Hilarity, This Weaving - Part 3

WARNING: THERE IS NEVER ANYTHING EDUCATIONAL IN THESE POSTS BUT BLESS YOU FOR READING.

Too late to thread, but too early to quit, so why don't I prepare the wefts?

The top shuttle my Mom bought me on her last trip to Sweden and Finland about three years ago. I was saving it as a reward; I thought I'd use it after I won a prize or got into an overseas gallery or similar, but that could be years, so I decided to use it.

I have two of the bottom shuttle, but because the weft colors are so similar, I knew using different shuttles would reduce the chance of confusion. Well, with shadow weave, the wefts are strictly DLDL, so it's not that complicated, but what the heck, the new one was just sitting in a drawer in the stash room.

My bobbins are hand-made with old card that's slightly heavier than cartridge paper. The new shuttle's metal bit felt extraordinarily inflexible, so I kept cutting the bobbin shorter and shorter and tried to put the metal+bobbin back into the shuttle and I nearly bent both in half. After about 15 minutes of not-so-gently coaxing them into the shuttle, I was ready to ask Ben to cut the metal ever so slightly. But before that, I thought to give it one more go, and as I said I have a smidgen of Leftie genes, I switched hands, and whoa!, I discovered the bottom hole in the pic had a built-in spring!

Looks like when a kid cut his own hair, doesn't it; it got shorter and miserable-r.

So I'm feeling adequately stupid this evening. Couldn't even be bothered to move the yellow outdoor extension cord or fix the crooked carpet when I shot the pic. I'll thread, sley and sample tomorrow afternoon, then weave on Tuesday. At least that's the plan.

Oh What Hilarity, This Weaving - Part 2

WARNING: THERE IS STILL ABSOLUTELY NOTHING IN THIS SERIES OF POSTS WHICH WILL ASSIST YOU IN GAINING KNOWLEDGE OF ANY SORT WHATSOEVER... BUT YOU ARE ALLOWED TO LAUGH, OR CRY.


(Please excuse the mess.) So, next, the raddle; I got out my smaller, handmade (by moi) one, which is a little over meter long. That's ok, most of it can extend towards the wall. I'm weaving at 15 EPI, but wait, what is this, metric? That's good, 15 EPI is 6 EPcm, and because this warp is in two colors, this is easier. But wait, the gaps are slightly wider than a centimeter. Whoa!

WHO ON EARTH MAKES A RADDLE WITH NAILS EVERY HALF AN INCH?? That's 7.5 EP0.5I. What I want is 30 ends every 2 inches, so..... 6-8-8-8. Gooooooodness-me.

This table loom has two warp beams; something Ronette urges me to use to extend my weaving repertoire. In this instance, though, because my cashmere is gently spun and I wanted a bit of distance between the heddles and the back beam, I took out the cords in the second warp beam, wound the warp over the back beam and around the second warp beam, then made a U-ie and on to the first warp beam below the back beam, to extend the "flat" part. Above, I've brought the cross to the back of the loom, ready to thread.

But it was a little too dark to start threading, so I went looking for a reed. The reed which came with the loom is rusted in parts, and would chew up the cashmere quickly, so I looked for my short 5 DPI reed, remembered I didn't own one, knew the 15 DPI reed is in use, so found the 10 DPI reed. I can handle sleying 1-2-1-2.

Oh What Hilarity, This Weaving - Part 1

WARNING: THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING IN THIS SERIES OF POSTS WHICH WILL ASSIST YOU IN GAINING KNOWLEDGE OF ANY SORT WHATSOEVER... BUT IT COULD BE GOOD FOR A FEW LAUGHS.

Every new equipment, every new material, and every new weave structure makes me feel like a new weaver and I usually like it. More recently, it's made me realize how much of the work I do on autodrive if I'm weaving in a familiar environment.

This afternoon's task was to dress a borrowed table loom with a 9-inch-wide cashmere warp, in two grays, DLDLDL, 15 EPI, 134 ends. I made a warp half the usual length, about 4.5 meters, in case I have problems with the loom. Let's do this chronologically.

First the equipment and location. Ronette Pickering lent me the old Polytech sample loom, with the last student warp on it. Ronette thought this is a survivor from the weaving part of the Textile Diploma course, which, by the time I left the Polytech in 2000, was no more. Next to it is the inkle loom, and, ahem, at first I thought it was a funny looking warping "board" to make a short warp for the table loom. This still has a Post It with "Dungeon" written on it. All the Weaving School equipment, after the School (course, really) closed sometime in the 80's (?), were stored underneath the classrooms for around/over a decade, until the Polytech finally had a big sale in 2004/05. I assume these two were saved for Ronette, who was overseas at the time. They have lived in her well-appointed studio since, but she's been too busy drawing that these guys were left unloved.

You are in my kitchen. I'm almost out of space in every room we own; I could have done this in the living room, except I would have had to tiptoe around my drawing from Friday, which are strewn all over because I can't get the proportion right and I've been looking at them all weekend. Plus Ben was watching our own Scott Dixon (Indy driver) race, and there is only a few things I hate on TV worse than high-pitched car race noise. So, the kitchen. Note also the position of the sun.

Above the reed were two pieces of masking tape; one had the lifting order, and the other, "Over - In, Under - Out". The beater was facing the wrong way, so the reed would have been rigid and may not have reached the fell adequately. This could be why the student never finished the piece.

Julie's Scarf

Back in October 2006 in Randy Darwall's workshop, many of the weavers wore beautiful scarves either they or their friends wove. (We tend to collect, too, don't we?) Among them, Jan Mortimore (seen here with a different scarf) wore a shadow weave scarf which so impressed me I asked if it was an original draft. Jan told me, "The 8-shaft book, dear, shadow weave, straight out of the book." So I had hoped to learn about shadow weave one day and weave something similar.

I've made my client Julie wait long enough. I was sure I said delivery would be mid/late August, but shock, horror, my email said late July/early August! So, for her, I think I can manage a two-shuttle weave, something quite out of the ordinary for me.

From memory, Jan's scarf was in two values of pale peach-orange, and the overall look was positively fluffy and elegant. Julie ordered a scarf in grays in cashmere, and I have black, white and four grays, so I'll experiment a bit and decide whether to use just two values, or go whole hog (do you use that expression?) and use four.

The draft is #301 on Page 77 of "A Weaver's Book of 8-Shaft Patterns from the Friends of Handwoven", edited by Carol Strickler, Interweave Press, 1991. I like #304 better, (and I think Jan's was #304) but I've borrowed Ronette Pickering's 8-shaft table loom and will be weaving on it for the first time, and it's quite a small scarf, so I think I'll keep it simple, with 16 picks to a repeat.

Straight out of the book. Haven't even read about Shadow Weave yet. I seldom do this, just following a recipe, but I'll have enough warp for at least one more, so after I finish Julie's, I'll read, make up a draft and rethread to weave the second one. Maybe not.

Brain Age

Still procrastinating. Nancy just sent me this link. Here are few games (from a Japanese site) to test your brain age.

1) Number Sequence
  1. Click "Start".
  2. The screen will flash 3-2-1 and then show you a series of numbers; try to memorize the positions.
  3. The numbers will be replaced by circles; click on the circles where the numbers used to be, from the smallest number to the greatest, e.g. circles replacing numbers 1, then 2, 5, 8, and finally 9.
2) Colors of the Letter (This one seems to have problems loading from time to time.)
  1. Click "Start".
  2. On the screen you will find a word at the top, and six choices below.
  3. Look at the word, and determine what color the word appears in, and click on the name of the color from the pool. For example, if the word "YELLOW" appears, the word is in red, so click on "RED" below. This one you can choose to do in 10 different languages.
3) Color Sets, my favorite.
  1. Click "Start".
  2. You are shown four different arrangements of color squares. Three are identical but rotated; one is different.
  3. Click on the different one.
After you finish, it appears your brain age is assessed on speed and accuracy. Enjoy.

How to Read Blogs

I used to have everything in bookmarks, because I like to read by weaver/author and follow the thread. Particularly with weaving blogs, often the posts are not isolated thoughts but in sequence. This is why I am always tempted to go all the way back to the first post and read months and years of thoughts in one go to get to know a weaver. (And, boy, what a read!) But I felt guilty I'm not keeping up with the latest, though I look at your pics when you visited me.

I've noticed many of you are now using Google Reader or similar, so I've given that a go since Thursday, but I already don't like it. First off, I think we pay a lot of attention to the look of our blogs, and it says a lot about each weaver's/author's aesthetics/temperament. (OK, today I seem not to be able to pick the right word.) But with Reader, look:

It's generic. And then the number of "unread" posts grow and grow and I feel terribly rushed and I start get the blogs/weavers mixed up. I know all I need to do is click on the blog name to go into the individual blog, but I feel like whichever ones I don't click, I'm neglecting and being unkind. What's worse, I made iGoogle "my home page" (start page) because I thought it might make me more efficient, so it's right in the middle of the screen! (Well, OK, I put it there.)

So I'm thinking, should I go back to my old way? Does it matter? I understand how Google Reader has its place; it's good for sites like TED and Fiber Art Calls for Entry, (neither of which I spend serious time on, but it's nice to know I can if/when I want to.)

Oh, Lachezar's Auckland Daily Photo is finally fixed. (Or he switched hosts.) Enjoy!

©2008 Lachezar Karadjov and Auckland Daily Photo
Posted with permission

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Eggshells

You know my blue eggs? I saved the shells, hoping I can use them in some way. I had envisioned collage, and I boiled the washed shells hoping to peel off the inside "skin" when cooled. Well, I started, but the shells kept braking into smaller pieces as I peeled the skin, so I've stopped. The skin is much tougher than commercial eggs, and adheres to the shell with gusto. (Which makes sense when you think about the primary raison d'tre of eggs and their shells!)

I can take the skin off, crush the shells, and maybe mix the powder with paint??? Or is there a way to get the skin off easily and still keep the shells in reasonably-sized pieces?

Leftie?

Just this week, while glancing at the TV, I saw a man purported to be a sculptor or a 3D artist (I wasn't listening) signing his name; he was left-handed. It suddenly dawned on me that there must be a higher proportion of lefties among artists than the general population, so I started asking around.

Jay Farnsworth thought it was a possible/probable; Anna simply said, "Of course!" and she's, of course, a leftie. So there you have it. Are you a leftie?

Me, I'm your ordinary rightie, but Mom and Brother were born lefties and were "corrected" so I guess I'm not devoid of the leftie genes.

And if I stretch this theory, I'm told that in Japan there is a much lower proportion of lefties than there are in the US; I haven't seen any statistics, and it could be because of the more rigorous correction, but it would also make sense that as a nation of left-brainers, we make better followers than innovators. But that could be too far of a jump.

OK, gotta go. I got a very polite "Where's my scarf??" inquiry; about time I got on to it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Taking Care of Myself

WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS THE WORD "BRA"

When I was young, it didn't matter that I was a bit short and a bit fat and a bit blind, a flick of a fabulous head of hair seemed to go a long way. I was never a looker, but still it didn't take much to feel I was taking good care of myself. And I had nice hair, if I may say so myself.

It's not like that any more.

I try to go to the gym not so I can get in shape or feel great, but only to delay the inevitable, and to prevent feeling even worse.

I used to need moisturizer only as an emergency measure; one application usually fixed the most dire dryness. Now I'm horrified if I skip one day; my hands look like Motueka tidal flat at high noon.

So I decided, while I sat in the sauna in the hotel in Auckland last week, that I needed to take better care of myself. Much better care.

I decided to make a concerted effort to care for my skin. I bought a giant loofah mitten (again) and a nice cake of soap; I always travel with two or three moisturizers so I was good there, and I used them all rigorously and generously, until our room smelled a cross between a tropical garden and a candy shop. Back home, I now have several loofah mittens, some nice soap, and about two or three years' worth of moisturizers, so I'm continuing to use them all every day.

I decided to clean out my closet once again, and throw away any item that look as tired as I feel. And I am allowing myself to invest in a pair of shoes; the kind that look like upmarket (leather?) sneakers that must be oh-so-comfortable to walk around town in. On days I'm not going to the gym, I shall wear those.

Finally I decided I have to get fitted for a bra. The last time I was fitted was shortly after my 30th birthday, in another country in another body. Today I was so embarrassed I was perspiring profusely, and I must have tried, oh, at nearly 25. My girth is too great for the size of my packages, and New Zealand women are generously endowed the other way around, so the shops don't have a lot in my size. I don't like frills and decorations, and desire black or beige. Plus, the saleswoman was young, slim and pesky, I mean, perky. But we persevered and I came out of Foxy Lady with three that fit like, well, a glove. At least no more puckering cups.


I am exhausted.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

My First Blue Ribbon

Connie Rose gave me a blue ribbon; she loves my blog! I've never had a blue ribbon before, so thank you very much! It's an honor to receive something like this from a real artist, Connie.

Says Connie: here are the "responsibilities" that go along with receiving this award:
1. Post this award on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded you.
3. Nominate at least 4 other bloggers, and add their links as well.
4. Leave a comment at the new recipients' blogs, so they can pass it on.

You know I don't always read the text in blogs, (therefore leave strange comments based on the photographs I stare at until my eyes hurt), so I might be getting the point of these blogs wrong, but among many that I visit regularly (for me, that is, which is sporadic by world standard), the four blogs I'm going to nominate are:

Kaz's Curious Weaver - weaving teacher extraordinaire across the ditch in Australia. One day I intend to go back to her old blog and start reading from Day 1 all the way to the present. (Actually, I think that about all of your blogs, but Kaz's will be one of the most educational experience.) On days my eyes can't bear reading text on the computer, her "gallery" section is a wonderful resting place. Also, did you catch her purse article in the latest WeaveZine?

Taueret's Fibre Geekery
- also from across the ditch; I like her blog because life can't be all weaving, and sometimes we all want to ditch the blog things, don't we? Taueret has a way with words, and I find in her language a kindred spirit of someone who grew up with the North American English but now live Downunder.

Lynne's Twisted Warp - For Lynne, weaving is a means to an end in creating her art garments. I find the reversal (can I call it that?) of the place of weaving interesting. And she has a way with words, too, that make me feel enthusiastic about life and art. She's away just now, but she'll be back.

This is like picking a team in gym class, with which I never felt comfortable. I'm having a hard time with the limit of four, but I'm going outside our weaving circle and picking one of my long-time favorites from the left field.

Lachezar Karajov is an architect in Auckland, New Zealand, and he's been posting one photo of Auckland everyday for a little over two years at Auckland Daily Photo. I love his clear, stylish, beautifully composed photographs. We haven't met him, but one day we will sit in a sunny cafe in Auckland and talk about pics, DP, Bulgaria (where I think he is from), and architecture.

Ummm, his web host has been being naughty and mucking up ADP so you will be redirected to his other, just as wonderful (artier?) photo blog for the time being. But I beg you to check out ADP when it's back on track; I guarantee it'll be worth the trip.

Not So Simple Eggs

Jay Farnsworth of Red Gallery gave these to me yesterday. They are all chicken eggs, just different types. Two are pale brown-gray-ish turquoise, while two are lighter bluer turquoise. These are about 60-70% the size of regular chicken eggs, but some days they are as big as normal eggs. She said the yokes are almost orange. I don't have the heart to eat these yet.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Thank You Cards

Remember a while back when I had heaps of loom problems? I saved the bits off the loom hoping to salvage sections if I could. I've been in need of three Thank You cards to people in the art business, so I thought I'd I'd buy window cards and stick swatches, but commercial window cards' windows were too big and I could have gotten only two cards from my fragments. So I bought cards (as in thick paper) and made my own, with smaller windows; this way I can get two with long swatches and two with short ones.

The problem was, yesterday we had a horribly dark, rainy afternoon and the cards were harder to cut than I had anticipated, (or my box cutter duller?), so the windows are frizzy and not centered, to put it mildly.

In real life, the color of the paper is so darned close to that of the weft, the swatches sit more harmoniously in the windows. However, they didn't have matching envelopes or regular paper and I would have had to glue/tape together two sheets of card to make one envelope, so I opted for boring old white envelopes. So dull...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

I Never Imagined I'd Say This...

But at age 50, I have become interested in acquiring a Tinker Toy set, for the first time. Not that I need a swift. But this is too cute! Uummm, no offense, but absolutely no rodents, please. Or else I'll have to borrow someone's cats.

EDIT: Sorry it was terribly rude of me to not tell you where I found it: it's over at Deep End's blog here. I just got overly excited by Tinker Toy and kind of jumpy about the rodents!

One More

Yesterday I went to my third painting-oriented color workshop. I have been feeling painting-ed-out, and it was getting harder to enjoy the experience, but we learned some neat tricks.

Today's focus was on the emotive element of colors, and we studied this side of Van Gogh: Fauvism, Expressionism, Minimalism, and probably a couple of more isms, and their use of color and brush strokes. That's pretty much everything after naturalistic painting in the Western world, though we didn't dwell too much on Impressionism or Pointillist techniques.

One of the tricks was to take a picture from a magazine, or a photocopy, and paint over them in totally different colors. A good place to start is to use complementary colors. Above was my first attempt, and you can see it's a normal sea/rocks/sky photograph, and I only painted areas in colors that didn't represent those things in life. We also did faces, a la Matisse, though I was too timid and colored inside the lines, but others who used fat brushes and went almost Picasso-esque were more successful.

It's quick and fun and you can even do it while you sit next to your loved one watch a boring TV show. Because I didn't have to worry about shapes and proportions, I could really concentrate on coming up with strange color combinations. This is called "appropriation" in the art world, I learned, and is a valid form of painting practice. Imagine that!

Then we were let loose. Some painters, (and it's getting to be a small group of familiar faces,) tried different-color-and-brush-strokes versions of their own paintings, while others reworked paintings and photographs in their own way. We also tried painting with plastic forms and knives and credit cards instead of brushes. One woman was using her fingers a lot. As did I.

I lost the plot early on and worked on a triptych of the interior of the classroom, with the right side being very dark (called "rejection") to the middle one showing some light and the far left piece showing more light. The classroom has bright red doors, muted brown-gray blinds and white and almost-white-gray walls, so I thought it'd be a good set of frames in which to pile on colors through the windows to express the lifting mood, but the weather kept changing and I was in a darker mood than I had thought, so my paintings came out dull and uninspiring. The process was therapeutic, though.

That's the end of the painting color courses. There is one more color workshop, taught by an interior designer, and I'm hoping I get to relax and enjoy this one, though most of the painters won't be coming back.

Verdict - Part 2

Boy, has it been only one day?

I went to see Ronette Pickering, ex-weaver, ex-weaving-teacher, sometime local textile comp judge, former head of the local polytechnic's School of Visual Arts, and my figure drawing teacher, to see if she can shed light on my predicament. She could not. She said, considering the weave structure, even the selvedges are pretty good. The only thing she could think that could be misconstrued as errors was my weft-wise repeats; I go to great length to make a draft that doesn't repeat, so even though there are recurring design "elements" (sections), a 150cm scarf has somewhere between one and four repeat/s weft-wise. Her theory was that if a selector tried to look for a weft-wise repeating pattern and saw none, it might be blamed on "mistakes". Ronette thought the selector was a weaver; Dianne thinks not. So it is possible they had a weaver supplying "specialist knowledge" to assist in the selection.

What burns me, as I said in my comment, is "technical errors" is a factual statement and can be proven or refuted, and as such, I think the organization, if not the selector, has a moral obligation to point out the errors, and the burden of proof is on them. As exhibition participants, we grow accustomed to vast difference in tastes, so "I hate the colors" is almost a more acceptable reason to reject a piece, don't you think?

After catching up on the emails that accumulated while I was away, I found a reminder from Rose about our Area (Top of the South Island) Exhibition to be held in the city of Westport in a couple of weeks. I figured sending the reject, and a few others from the same warp, would be the best therapy.

So this weaver is going to keep singing the blues, y'all. And thanks for your comments, emails and phone conversations.

PS. It just so happened that Ronette's daughter Anna bought one of my scarves off The Wall. I warned her today, as a responsible manufacturer, that the scarf she purchased has tons of technical errors and pursuant to New Zealand's Consumer Guarantees Act, she could request a replacement. Without knowing what I'd been thinking, she blurted out, "there must be thousands of exhibitions around the world!"; I found this encouraging, and serendipitous. Small victories.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Dogs vs Cats

Thank you for participating in my impromptu survey on dog- vs cat-loving weavers. I am surprised dog-lovers didn't get pounded by cat-lovers; I had imagined at least 2-to-1 in favor of cats, but I was wrong. Horay!

The results:
Definitely Dogs. Woof! 14
Certainly Cats! 15 (+1)
All Creates Great and Small 17
Shoo! Out You Go! 0 (Really??)
(Changed your minds?) 2
Total Votes: 48

Verdict

So, we come home late Thursday, and there were two things waiting for me.

One was the scarf I sent to the national exhibition; it had been rejected by the selector, and the attached letter read:


I was surprised it was rejected, though I was certain it wouldn't win any prizes. I'm not sure if I'm more offended by the disparaging "too many technical errors" without the courtesy of details or examples, or the punctuation-free, capitalization-optional sloppiness of the form letter. This is my first official rejection letter, so I don't know if this is always the way they do things.

You know I'm always quick to point out the technical weaknesses of my work, even before you have a chance to pick up the piece and have a good look. Well, this piece doesn't have too bad a selvedge, it doesn't have my characteristically long floats, and I've debated with myself whether the sett should have been looser and haven't come to a conclusion yet. But it doesn't have have "technical errors" this self-taught weaver can see; it's a sturdy piece of cotton cloth. And with an inane comment like this, I can't even agree to disagree, can I?

Once again it reminded me of my tenuous relationship with the "guild" organization. I feel like a blues singer in a church choir; neither is better than the other, but just different groups. It's also been liberating, because I don't feel obliged to participate any more just to support the organization if they can't be civil or try to help me improve. And I've seen other instances of works being rejected, or accepted, and there are definite creative differences in what some of us want to create, and what powers-that-be deem appropriate. I had thought it was purely aesthetic, but perhaps not.

For my part, I'm going to take the piece and the letter to several long-time weavers to see if they can shed any light on the errors, because I'm always for a good, constructive criticism, or alternate interpretation. At the same time, the world is too big a place to dwell on one platform for too long.

Oh, the second thing? There was a phone message asking me to be a judge of a local alpaca event; this, I'm going to decline.

Auckland

Auckland was terrific. That city is definitely much closer to the equator; we had lovely hot, sunny days. And I found a new hobby.

On the Monday morning after Ben left for his conference, I walked up to Academy Cinema, an art house theater housed in the basement of Auckland Central Library on Lorne Street, to check their schedule. They were showing Flight of the Red Balloon, the original Red Balloon, and Prag around 12, 2.30 and 4PM. Check; it was still before 9.30.

I saw in the library window a book which had a terrific review in the NZ Listener; I recognized the cover. It's called "Real Gold", and highlights some of the gems residing in the back rooms of the Special Collections of the library, such items as old letters, paintings and drawings, photographs, maps and manuscripts. I got to talking to the consierge who encouraged me to go upstairs to see these. I hesitated, because I've never been inside any special areas in any library, ever, and I felt intimidated. But what the heck, the worst they can do is to tell me I can't see them, so I took a deep breath and went in. It turned out they love being asked, and one librarian in particular asked about my interests, and picked out two books, in addition to the 15C French manuscript I was interested in in the first instance. She explained to me how "Real Gold" came about, and told me about some of the other treasures in the book. We discussed technology and archival methods. And then she went back to fetch the three volumes for me.

The first book was Auguste Racinet's "Polychromatic Ornament", 1877, published in London. It's a collection of design resources/styles from ancient Egypt to China to Middle Ages with color plates depicting typical designs from each era and area. The book was huge, and heavy, but I didn't need gloves for this one, and I was allowed to photograph the pages. I was completely transported in time and place with each different section. I always knew I loved Persian use of plants and vines, but I witnessed how elements from Greece, Persia and even Celtic Knots crept into the West European Middle Ages. It was particularly fun to see how suddenly the colors became brighter after the discovery of Pompey.

The second book was called "A Catalogue of Different Specimens of Cloth Collected in the Three Voyages of Captain Cook", 1787. They were tiny swatches, about 10 cm by 10 cm, of tapa cloths from the Pacific, and some were in frailer states than others, but some still kept their brilliant reds and browns and blacks, remaining astonishingly vivid.

The last was the "Missale Romanum", a manuscript of the mass procedures book from Eastern France, 1471. (It broght me memories of total boredom around Easter when mass took up half of my life. I was also reminded of how nothing much seemed to happen between Easter and Christmas.)

When I was a junior in high school, I did a paper on Celtic manuscripts, and I got carried away and copied a complete page with the fancy capital letters. I always wanted to see something like this, but didn't think to go look for them in Ireland in 2003.

So the librarian and I talked about this, and she brought out the best one (pre-printing, so everything was done manually, whereas later ones were printed and colored in, and even later the designs became simpler) with the most amazing miniatures (that's what they call the illustrations regardless of the size). Some paint pigments had faded a little, but the gold was still as thick as the day it was painted. There is a good photograph of one of the miniatures in "Real Gold", but like any painting, no matter how good the photograph, there is absolutely no comparison to the original.

Special Collections has a blog of their own, called Rare Thoughts, but it appears you need an Auckland Library card number to create and account and comment. What a mind-blowingly fabulous experience. I think this might become a new hobby, to visit these special areas in libraries and view old treasures.

Four and a half hours later, I came out of the library feeling like I had just jumped off a time machine. I had a late lunch, and visited Parsons art book shop, and the neighboring Pathfinder bookshop, but these modern books looked so flat and uninteresting I couldn't stand them, so I bought a coconut soap at Lush, went back to the hotel, and had a good soak and doodled.

There were a dozen or so more books I would have loved to have viewed, but I was a little embarrassed about taking up so much of their time I decided to save it until the next time I'm in Auckland.

And the rest of the week proceeded uncharacteristically in-the-moment; I ignored my To Do list; I didn't go to all of my usual haunts, and I didn't even go to Auckland Museum. (I usually spend half a day in the Pacific Room and a couple of hours in their tiny Holocaust room.) I was hoping to go to a couple of art supply shops, but didn't. Instead, I spent an hour each morning in the sauna of the hotel, thinking about the pages I saw, just trying to remember them. Much in the same way I used to recount every second of a date the days that followed.

I did go see Flight of the Red Balloon, which was beautiful. I did check out seven bookshops, some twice, and I found some very interesting stuff on art theory, but I didn't have a serious appetite for them, because it seemed a thousand, or even ten-thousand, words, just don't compare with the experience of viewing one page of the Missal, or one design in Racinet, in person. And for free.

Auckland was terrific.

(Carol of Barnacle Goose Paperworks, you must give the Special Collections a go the next time you're in Auckland. I was thinking the whole time how you might find the experience rewarding, though I can well imagine you'd have more old books in Oz. The librarians in Auckland can also tell you about how Volume II of the Missal came apart, and how they had it mended.)

Tagged

Dana at Calico Cat Press tagged me Sunday morning, making me wonder if I had six more quirky things to expose. (Note to self: don't confess to everything; save some for just this sort of an occasion.) However, we had to be on a flight to Auckland at 9AM, and at the last minute I decided not to take my laptop (too heavy), so here's my part, a week later.

1. I love to sleep. I like to go to bed early, and sleep in late. When I was a baby, my parents worried I wasn't awake long enough to develop normally. I understand as one gets older one starts to wake up earlier; I'm in no danger of aging in this respect.

2. I love wobbly food; jello, pudding, flan, mousse; even soufflé and certain cakes with a wet middle part. In Asia, there are seaweed- and potato-based wobblies, which often on menus in English are called jelly, but they are not sweet and often are firmer, and not all are deserts. One day, I would love to travel to Australia or Turkey to taste Turkish ice cream, which I understand is a wobbly; New Zealand doesn't allow importation of the special milk required to make this. Come to think of it, this explains why so much of me is wobbly; I am what I eat.

3. At one point, I wanted to be a fire fighter. I thought it was the best job for someone requiring immediate satisfaction of a job well done. However, I am terrified of coming down ladders, so that put a damper on the idea.

4. I love my husband, so much so that I really didn't even look at other men for the first ten years of our marriage. Keanu Reeves looking Asian in the first Matrix movie changed this. (I didn't even go to the cinema, but saw it on a flight.) Until then I had heard his name, but didn't know what he looked like; I don't think his Chinese 1/4 has come out that strongly since, though. Around 2000, I semi-seriously contemplated running away to Sydney to get a menial job on the set of the sequels. I know he's wooden, but I still think he's underrated; Keanu, that is, not Ben.

5. I had to leave Minnesota after graduating from university because my student visa ran out and I didn't know how to go about applying for a work visa; this was before the days they started giving away green cards. I still feel I was semi-deprived of almost-birthright, but now that I'm older and feel the cold more, I'm inclined to think things worked out for the better.

6. Gray is my favorite color. Even though some say it's not a color. I am fussy about my grays, including the tiny amounts of different hues included in them. I like mid- to mid-darkish grays with hints of blue or purple, or blue-brown.

You know the drill: six quirky things about you, six blogs, leave comments. If interested, consider yourself tagged. (Just had to show you my new luggage name tag. Isn't it cute?)