Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Looking for Concepts

I've been telling myself to get off the computer, eat lunch, and go weave the last bit on the big loom, for approximately six hours, but I'm still looking for concepts, or one teeny tiny concept, and happened upon all kinds of far out ideas and instructions by Lynne of The Twisted Warp in a place called Instructables. Mind-boggling.

And the Marketing Saga of 2008

Cally Booker commented:
"I am not sure that a logo as such is strictly necessary. Of course, it can be fun and recognisable, but your name can serve that purpose too. My problem is commiting myself to something that "seems like a good idea at the time" - I have a lot of ideas like that! That's why my blog is called callybooker and not something clever; I was afraid that what I thought was clever this week would annoy me hugely the next. It took me ages to come up with my etsy name "bonnyclaith" and I am still cautious about it. I reckon I'd need to give myself another couple of years to develop a logo. On the other hand I will still be called Cally Booker and in my wilder dreams I dare to hope that is label people will associate with my weaving."
Which made me think of where I want to be in 10 years, instead of why I have all this. And by all this, I mean, my name, MegWeaves, and the yellow logo. I spent time thinking and designing the last two, and they all seemed like good finalists at the time.

I've been using colors, many of them, and different ones, which probably prompted me to want to revamp my brand visually. I was embarrassed to see my faded business card/swing tag. One other thing is I sometimes use this removable stickers to put prices on, but with ink-jet-printable homemade cards, the stickers can't be removed cleanly. But all this is in the past.

I'm not making drastic changes right now, like discarding the business cards and care labels I've already printed out, but I think I will phase out the yellow logo. I've got so many cloth labels so they will stay, which means on paper and electronically I will continue to use my name and MegWeaves in monotype corsiva in black or gray.

I'll see how my direction in weaving and, ok, vision, change. I'll need business cards in the relatively near future, but as I feel some changes coming in my weaving, I don't want to rush into another logo I need to abandon in another few years.

Oh, I'm still getting some moo cards, just because they are so lovely, but I don't feel they need to be a permanent fixture in the business of my weaving. Just like the postcards I have made up over the years to send to friends and clients. I want to be professional in my approach, but I'm trying out "laid back" and "taking it easy".

What about 2009 Then?

In 2008, too often I cut too close to deadlines (or just silly-stupid-behind), and I didn't enjoy working this way, so I want to avoid it. I also recycled work from one exhibition to another, and it's good that I have enough pieces to be able to do that, but for exhibitions, I'd like to cover most of the space with new work.

At the end of 2009, I hope to have no pending projects which were supposed to have been finished prior to that time. No leftover draft posts, either.

In 2009, I want to handle gallery stocks in a more systematic manner. In addition to the Red and the Suter, I will definitely have stuff at the Refinery, finally. Then later, I would like to look for one outlet outside Nelson and I will also look into Etsy or similar.

In 2009, I must make my static web site more interesting by adding contents. The point of moving my website from the computer under Ben's desk to Blogger was for me to be able to add/update incrementally. I've been asked a couple of time why the photos of my past work had disappeared. And it's hardly the case that I find posting on Blogger onerous or difficult, is it?

In 2009, I would like to try dyeing. And unlike all previous years I said this without conviction, I would like to actually do it. And continue to experiment with colors.

As regards the business/marketing side of weaving, I'd like to tidy my desk and my head and come up with a system so in the long run I simplify that less enticing side of my life.

On the creative front, I would like to plan less and enjoy more. I would like to try new methods and processes as well as aesthetics. I think this means, in 2009, I will finally be my own apprentice.

And while apprenticing, I hope to choose my friends wisely, and be amongst people who have similar outlook, attitude and aspirations. I want to connect with encouraging, forward-looking friends. And it's a cinch with the Internet. Who knows, I may even try sending something in exhibitions far, far away.

Looking at the bigger picture, I want to spend time decluttering and beautifying my house and garden. I am happiest when surrounded by order, but more than that, I would like the place I live to reflect my aesthetics, rather than my work pattern/style or character.

And I would like to spend a bit more time cooking and baking, and taking more self-congratulatory photographs. Nothing wrong in trying to please the toughest critic.

And finally, I wish you, dear friends, health, content, beauty, challenges, elation, thrills, triumphs, steady Internet connection, kind warps, and lovely cups of tea (or hot choc) in 2009.

2008 in Review

Last night Ben asked me how many exhibitions I was involved in this year, and I had to think. There was the Craft 08 in February, which I consider to be at the tail end of 2007, so really, only the wall at the Suter, and the walls at Fibre Spectrum. I participated in the Area exhibition, too, but for that I built up on the Suter collection; come to think of it, I even used them for Fibre Spectrum, so compared to the mad 16 months of 2007, I'd say in 2008 I did one and a half exhibitions. And I think I wove four commission pieces, with three more pending, but I can't be sure.

In July, I wove different kinds of things in a short time to send to Santa Fe Weaving Gallery, and though they didn't accept my work, (they wanted "edgy",) it gave me a chance to reassess what I want to weave, and the answer then was the fine cottons. It still is today.

Then I had my piece rejected by the National Guild Exhibition. The rejection itself wasn't a big deal; in fact I think I told you I wondered on the day I packaged it up that I've been lucky getting everything I sent accepted in the three (I think) Nationals, and this year could be my turn to get rejected. But the aftermath of trying to figure out what they meant by "too many technical errors" left a bitter taste. The saddest thing is, I still don't know what errors they meant, (I'm the last one to say I am a technically strong weaver, in spite of what even my close weaving friends tell me, so they had a willing audience,) and they probably think I'm still griping about the rejection.

The bitter experience was compounded by the difficulties I faced in trying to apply for a scholarship by the same organization. I won't bother with links, but in mid-December I received a strange email telling me I was unsuccessful; I wasn't surprised at all since they changed the rules after my package reached them, but the email contained a personal and unattractive paragraph at the end. On Christmas Eve, my application pack came home and I couldn't even tell if my samples were ever taken out of the pockets. All in all, these last months freed me from any sense of obligation or loyalty to the national organization, and I'm definitely taking time out from the national, and possibly the local guild, next year. The organization works for some people, so no disrespect, but it's just not for me for now.

Before the scholarship hooha, I resigned from the sample exchange group, which is a sub group of the National guild as well. There were several reasons, among them my lack of motivation and inability to meet the guideline-deadline, but I was also disappointed with samples woven by some of New Zealand's big name weavers. As a newbie, I joined this group because I wanted to learn weave structures, but also because I wanted to be inspired by the more experienced weavers, and this third lot was particularly disappointing. But I promised fellow members I'll send in my 2007/08 sample; that's one of those things on my Still To Do list.

I also parted way with Sue Bateup for the time being, amicably, of course. I needed to regroup and accommodate my changing work schedule/style/pattern; she graduated from her Bachelor's course and wanted to rebrand her gallery and needed others who could help pay the rent. But I liked being part of her gallery, she liked her time off, so we decided to see where the rebranded, renamed Maitai Gallery goes, and it's likely that in a year's time I'll resume minding her gallery and bring my things to sell when I'm there. And we also hope to have more robust discussions on our respective creative endeavors.

I still have a truck load of leftover projects on the To Do list as well as on the looms. My stash room, the house and the garden is a mess, made worse in the last few days because I'm still hoping to get some big cleaning done. Luckily my depression seems to have disappeared or gone into remission or however you say it, for the first time in over six years, so I'm disgusted and grumpy about the state of things, but I'm also hopeful I can sort it out in 2009. And that's an amazing feeling after so long.

The Warp

The warp, in two chains, has 1536 ends, enough for 16 inches/40cm at 96EPI. I would like to weave at 99EPI, but I'll decide after I come up with a weave structure and treading on a sample loom. The warp starts with black and gray, then moves on to blue-greens, greens, yellows and two oranges. I didn't want soft, all-over gradation, so in places I swapped the order of the cones so the color changes sway. With no plan but just the general order of the colors, I've managed to put in 25 colors in what I hope to be an attractive, umm, arrangement. Most segments have three different colors, with also a few two-color segments, and two at the edges, black and terracotta, in singles.

I want to edit the colors after I spread the warp on the rod and the raddle but before I wind on. I'm not sure about the black, as it stands out too much from the rest; in contrast, there is one saturated teal and one bright yellow, but by restricting the number of ends, I hope I've manged not to let them stand out as much. I'd like to add highlight colors like I did previously; I'm thinking of scattering a few yellows and oranges in the cool side, and blues in the warm side. There is one color called pewter which looks more like white gold that did not fit in the initial scheme; I'm thinking it may work in the blue or even gray/black area.

It will be a chore to wind this. They are 60/2 mercerized cottons, but these threads love to twist and twine around each other. I remember someone once mentioned talcum powder, but do you know anything else I should consider? I've been wondering about baking powder.

I've become used to having two or three projects developing at the same time, but not different segments of one project as in this case. It's ridiculous and dangerous. But just now a friend commented on our photo blog and wished us a "prosperous" New Year, and I misread it as "preposterous"!! "Completely contrary to nature, reason, or common sense; absurd; senseless; utterly foolish" doesn't sound too bad, though, does it? It's could be just the replacement muse I'm looking for.

Now, put the kettle on, climb into your comfy chair, and prepare to be educated by Dot on the subject of colors here.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Little Aesthetic Relief

Cally Booker kindly sent me some of her moo cards as well as a postcard and a business card, which I received yesterday. Have a look; lovely, aren't they? As regards her postcard, Cally writes:
"I had these postcards made for the Bradford show as well and almost hate them now - everyone says "I like your tartan..."
I agree, absolutely definitely not tartans, but rich, seductive and fabulous, Cally. Though you may need to move out of Scotland to be understood.

Thanks. I'm starting to warm to the idea of Moo care labels. Ben thinks it's a great idea.


I am, I am.

I decided one of the ideas I was warming to needs to go. I can't explain it well, but if you imagine a glorified hanging/revolving lamp shade, you're not far. Still, I keep making this warp.

I don't know what it's going to be, what structure or threading I'm going to use, and I'm not even sure what sett I'm going to use. It's the 2/60 cotton, and I liked around 33 EPI with 2/20 cottons, so somewhere between 96 to 99 sounds good. Theoretically. Mathematically. So I'm making an 16-inch/40cm-wide warp in all the colors you see in the pic yesterday, 99 x 16 being the exact number of heddles I have on my big loom.

While I'm going through the motion of making the warp, I discovered I don't know what "conceptual" means in art-making; I know the dictionary definition, but I'm pretty sure there's more to it. And I keep confusing "conceptual" with "installation".

If you went to art school, please, please, please tell me your understanding of the word "conceptual", as well as how you might interpret "showcase the use of fibre and textiles in a challenging and more conceptual way." I don't need examples of projects, but some pointers as to how to how to look at this project?

Only last night I said I was going to continue Summer-Blog-Lite for a while. Turns out I lied. I'm becoming a bit bogged down.

Art vs Craft and Dollar Value, Again...

I'm Japanese, so it goes without saying I love ceramics as much as textiles. And Nelson is one of the hubs of New Zealand ceramics. My taste in ceramics is, again, utilitarian, so I love ceramicists/potters who stick with relatively inexpensive things I can use every day.

Yesterday, Trish, Ben and I had a wonderful lunch at the cafe inside Mapua camp ground, (we recommend the starter platter), then went to Bronte Gallery, which I believe has the finest art ceramics in Nelson, and McGlashen Pottery, which I consider to have the nicest usable ceramics in Nelson, though the Robertsons at Bronte has usable stuff and Royce McGlashen, beatiful art pieces as well.

We don't go see Daryl Robertson often enough, but when we do, we have a good natter, about aesthetics, art buyers, craft/art in Japan, and the adventures and misadventures of their sons. For the first time yesterday, though, (now that I have a couple of years of art-making behind me,) we were able to talk about, well, art-making, a little bit. We talked about the exactitude required to sell things to the Japanese market and how at this point I can't be bothered even thinking about it. It was a good natter. He and Lesley are doing more paintings now; in fact I have a story about how I came to buy one of her paintings but that's for another post. We have a few of their smaller ceramics, but not their main art pieces. It's not that I don't appreciate them, in fact some of the Daryl's work is beautifully crafted, but I am still bothered by ceramic pieces I can't eat off of or drink out of or stick flowers into, or can't give friends to wear. I don't put as much dollar value to them even though I fully realize they are far more ardurous, tough work.

Then we rushed into McGlashen's five minutes before closing, and we ooohed and aaahed and rushed around the shop space like headless chickens. Good thing Trish bought a few things, because we stayed far too long beyond their closing time. I get a little overwhelmed at McGlashen's because I love so many of his work and I become incapable of deciding, plus Ben and I like very different things. And that's just a quick look around his usable pieces. After the kitchen is finished (in Feb?) we might go and get a few pieces if we can. We might go for several visits before I make up my mind... And it's funny how I feel this is a semi-basic spending, though I tend to dismiss his art pieces, as attractive as they are, as frivolous spending on my part, and regrettably there are a few art/decorative pieces he used to do but no longer which I really wished we had considered more seriously.

So how does this relate to textiles as a collector? Well, as a collector, no matter how beautiful, I've never honestly been tempted to buy tapestry, even if they were made by dear friends; I've always felt they were overpriced, even though I know how much time and work goes into them and appreciate the artistry and skills. In contrast, I have a more studied relationship with the prices of shawls, scarves and the like. I find myself assessing calmly (even if I don't look it) if I see the same emotional/artistic/intrinsic value in a piece as shown on the price tag, and I have bought things out of my price range but where the pieces were worthwhile. As well, I know in handing and wearing a piece, one has far more chances to see/feel/smell and appreciate/experience the piece in comparison to looking at something hung stationary on the wall, no matter how many times and from how many angles I look.

What does it mean to me as a maker? I don't know. The only thing I've learned thus far, and I'm quite serious here, is if you want to let the world know a piece of your weaving is art rather than craft, put an outrageous price on it. I don't like this attitude; it feels dishonest and false. But I do know my wearable pieces are on the high end, and my only art piece was, according to others, ridiculously cheap and therefore the talk of the exhibition.

Gee, I've got to get off this computer now...

On Freeing our Spirit, Inner Child or Whatever You Call that One

Which brings me to this point I've been thinking for a while. You know there is this big movement, most vocally in the Julia Cameron/New Age/Oprah universe, to free ourselves from constraints and let the Artist do as s/he pleases. Gazillion writers have called it by gazillion different names, but you know what I mean. Follow the muse; that kind of thing.

Well, my muse hasn't got much of fairy wings. I swear he buzzes around in circles in stale-smelling pin-stripe suits from time to time; I swear he has cheap-cigarette-stained fingers, and is definitely at the end of middle age. He most definitely doesn't dance around in vibrant Nelson colors... And he's a he most of the time. I gotta get me a new muse, or a guardian angel, or whatever one of those...

I've been thinking we (women in particular) probably never had it as easy as we do in many parts of the Western world compared to most of what we know of our history. The society is comparatively affluent, there is much less dire poverty and child mortality, (though I realize we must never forget these exist far more than we think, and surprisingly close by,) and though the middle class is shrinking, I would hazard to guess many of us who weave and blog use an electric washing machine inside our house, for example, rather than trotting off to a nearby river and beating the heck out of our jammies and blankets next to a neighbor washing his/her veggies. You get the gist. Housework have become easy. Gender expectation is less rigid on both the societal and personal levels. There are fewer rituals to observe. We have more options.

I realize I'm extremely privileged. I'm married to a husband with a day job who doesn't mind my art-ing, and though our bank balance has been going south ever since I started, we've not had to default on any payment or do without basics thus far. I just can't buy books (not really a problem) and no holidays or even trips to Wellington (problem!!). We live far away from our family so we are less involved in the day-to-day obligations. And though we have niggles more often than we care, all our limbs and vital body parts are functioning most of the time.

Even my sister (who today goes to her in-laws' to prepare for their New Year's celebrations), let alone Mom and my grandmothers, would seriously question what "constraints" I'm trying to escape from, and could tell me to stop yammering and whining and get on with the job. And they would be fully justified.

I'm not negating the need for us all to free the artistic monsters within. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I've been mentally/psychologically very well, because I see all the things I feel appreciative of, and things that don't go my way, well, I can live with them, or better yet, forget them. I'm also understanding I was sicker than I had thought in the last six or so years, so I'll be learning about that next year. But I've never felt as carefree or optimistic as I do now in a long, long time.

This post was supposed to be a tad more serious about how lucky we are historically, but never mind. I'm going to microwave the last of the Christmas pudding now.

I'm Trying Not to Think About It...

Included in the last Arts Council newsletter of 2008, as regards the Awards 2009:

Changing Threads


Supported by establishment assistance from the Creative Communities Scheme, Arts Council Nelson is pleased to announce that entries are now open for ‘Changing Threads’ a locally based National Fibre Art Award event. The aim of this event is to showcase the use of fibre and textiles in a challenging and more conceptual way from their more general usage.

The impetus for ‘Changing Threads’ grew out of the communities’ embracement of the Wearable Art Awards concept and the high number of fibre art practitioners in our region. It is hoped that this event will provide our talented local practitioners the opportunity to showcase works in conjunction with the most innovative fibre artists from other parts of New Zealand.


The vision is for ’Changing Threads’ to become a highly respected annual event, by aspiring to excellence in the field and providing participatory opportunities and inspiration to practitioners and audiences alike. In so doing it is anticipated to become a vehicle to focus national, and potentially International attention on the region and add value to our creative reputation for residents and visitors alike.

Italics in dire red is mine, and there lie my problems... I don't like the mishmashy, indiscriminate layers-for-the-sake-of-layers thing. And I'm so not big on felting, unless there is a good reason. And I don't have a concept. All my thinking thus far has been at the just-using-textile-I-make-so-it's-not-a-shawl level. I know enough to spot the obvious difference, that I'm working backward, but I don't know enough to switch my direction...

What's the difference between conceptual and installation? Do I even want to do conceptual ("not good" in my book) just for the sake of challenging (generally good) myself?

And considering Nelson is known nationally as the birth place of WOW, artists would definitely be starting at the art end and work back to textile. I feel like a minnow in the Pacific. Nah, a cell trying to split from one to two in the Pacific.

* * * * *

And an email I got from Claudia the fashion designer while putting together this post:

"Good luck to you!!
I think I’d start by thinking of what I could do with the coloured cotton wool balls that one uses for make up removal…"

I can't tell if she was being flippant, but this is the kind of "different" I need in my thinking, I guess. Instead of thinking how to show my cloth beautifully. Good Gravy....

Monday, December 29, 2008

This is So Nice!

There is one good things about having a Hub who works for an educational institution in NZ - he gets from midday Dec 24 to Jan 2 off without having to use his annual leave. (He also gets the Tuesday after Easter off, but he often works on Good Friday and Easter Sunday so that's not as great. And contrary to popular belief, if you're not on the teaching staff, you don't get all the school holidays off. Polytech tutors never understand that!) Anyhoo, even though I had hoped to finish the many 2008-and-prior unfinished projects, and the garden tidied, and the house cleaned, clearly I was dreaming and not much has been accomplished. Still, we've been having slow days where we make extravagant breakfasts, drink champaign, and in my case, watch hours and hours of my Christmas present.

Ben got me the classic 1968 BBC, Kenneth Clarke's "Civilisation - a Personal View" DVD. I can't remember if I saw this in the US or in Japan, but I do remember being in absolute awe as a bright-eyed student. This long predates the home VCR machines, and I think I caught four or five episodes. TV documentaries have changed quite a bit since 1968 so it's a little awkward and difficult to follow, but the series is like a superb lecture with good visuals, and I'm doubly thrilled as I never thought I'd be able to see it again. Even as a kid I felt television had come of age, and I could look forward to a lifetime of worthwhile programs to enrich my life. I may have been misinformed, but it's wonderful they they've issued the series in a DVD. And here are some trivia: it was the first BBC program in color, and the David Attenborough was a BBC executive who planned the series.

* * * * *

Once in a great while I hear from people who bought my scarves. Nearly a year ago, I heard one of my scarves spent Christmas in Italy, but most often these correspondences occur immediately after the pieces are delivered, not after they've been worn. So it's especially nice to hear, out the blue, that someone loves my scarf, that she loves wearing it! Here's an email I got from Mainz, Germany today. And if you haven't heard lately from someone who appreciates your work, consider this email as intended for all of us who make lovely things:

Good morning Meg,

Hope you had a peaceful Christmas.

I am still in bed and looking on to a bright blue sky: the temperature is
-4.1 degrees and hasn't gone much above 0 for the last couple of days. Yet it is ever so much better than what we had before and over xmas: damp and + 5!!!!!!!!

Your scarf has come in very handy, I've worn it a lot and it keeps me warm.
Quite unbelievable when you consider the size of it.


* * * * *

My house really needs serious cleaning; I started counting the days before Ben goes back to work. Because I had planed the big cleaning for months, I've not been putting things away properly. Now, I can't find stuff, I have to walk around my stuff in practically every room, and I am so grumpy about my mess.

We had a semi-circle in the middle of the living room from the 24th to the 26th; I spent Christmas inside this semi-circle observing the color scheme for my next warp; Ben sat outside it while we watched the doco together. This is why we can't have dogs, or kids...

(There's my sellable pieces wrapped in Tyvak builder's screening material; all picture frames are Ben's; I bought three cardboard cases for my three terms of drawing, but the cases are bursting at the "seams" (folds) and I have to reinforce them before I can lift them off the floor; borrowed cookbooks, my notebooks and sketchbooks, and bubble wrap; finally, my lunch plate...)

Summer Blog-Lite will continue for another week; it's too sunny and summery to pretend to be serious, folks! I hope you are well.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Sixth of the Sixth

I hope you're still enjoying the aftermath of the holidays. We've been eating bad food at irregular intervals and not exercising much, and watching endless Christmas specials and DVDs but we're having a really good holiday this year. This is the only time Ben gets a build of time off of work. I love my family when they visit, and they 're never hear too long, but it's so bloody wonderful not to have anyone at this time of the year, or a visit pending for a change.

This year we're trying to clean the house and the garden because come January builders will come to knock out a wall, remove an no-longer-permitted old wood burner and a concrete chimney, and build a pantry in its place. Then the wood burner guys will follow and install a deceptively-quaint-looking (we call it "twee", I think, in New Zealand) but eco-friendly monster with a souped up chimney. Don't ask; I just read the brochures. The mood in our living room is going to be decidedly hand-made doilies and ruffled skirts for the furniture, but that was the only one that fit out specs.

So it's ironic that the Six photo in the Six folder in My Pictures is of a window in the kitchen. (Tagged by Susan B!) We had all of our windows changed from beautifully-stained-by-Ben-wood-frame-with-brass-fittings-single-glaze windows to aluminum-framed-double-tinted-glaze in 2003 to save on heat and shut out noise. Long story short, the company was a fraud and the manager up and left the country, (turns out it was his second time), after having had a baby with his receptionist. Luckily we had done something we never do, arranged a finance plan, so the finance company had to put in the windows come hail or high water. A former employees of Vision Aluminum, Wayne, where our windows were, so thirteen months after we signed up, Wayne and the hubby of the finance company lady, (he happened to be a glazier in Christchurch) installed the last two windows. Lordy...

Anyhoo, it reminds me, we'd better get started on this cleaning the kitchen thing. We got a microwave oven yesterday, something Ben's wanted for a few years. But I've always felt uneasy about idea of nuking our food, plus we have a tiny pantry and almost no counter space. But with the cost of electricity, and time, and the forthcoming BIG(-ish) pantry, we decided to go for it. The food is all over the place now and the microwave is sitting pretty in the tiny pantry.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Rushing Like Everybody Else!

Thank you for your emails concerning my health. I've actually been pretty good, just feeling old and harassed by my own body; mental-health wise I've not felt this good in over six years. But I've been preoccupied with the textile awards project. I ran into Ronnie Martin, one of the organizers of the Awards, and she told me that, in short, they are looking for, "Oh my! Is this still textile?" style art. Which is so not me as we know, and yet I would like to put something in.

In terms of blogging, I've got a dozen draft posts again waiting for me to sit long enough to reread and post, but I've not had the head space for it. Something to do with the pre-Christmas rush, too. We've no reason to feel rushed; in fact, with no exhibitions, market stalls, or visitors from Japan pending, this is going to be the most relaxed holiday season in three or four years, except of course the Awards project. Still, everybody else seem rushed off their feet and their stress feels a wee bit contagious. And I feel extra good because I know Ben already loves his present; I've already told him I'm buying him a few products so he can spend his two week holiday selecting his photos and ordering them. My present-buying has been hit-and-miss, with more misses in the last few years, so this is wonderful.

My cotton yarns have gone up in price, but I got my two huge boxes and am waiting for my last tiny box, (Dear Vendor forgot to put two cones and the paperwork in the last box!) sitting pretty, all over the house. Boy, I have good taste in selecting colors!

Heather, to whom I loaned my beloved rigid heddle loom in July, rang to tell me that since then she bought a foldable rigid heddle loom and a four-shaft table loom, and she blames me! Our mutual friend Marj told me Heather gave someone a handwoven scarf, so she's been busy. She'll come over to return my RH after Christmas and we'll talk about the variety of things she can do with the four-shaft, but I'm pretty pleased that this year, if nothing else, I've increased the number of weavers in this world by one!

As I said, we're looking forward to a relaxing holiday season, so I hope I'll be able to post my pending thoughts, but if I don't see you in the meanwhile, or more probably, if you're too busy to be seen, I do wish you all a wonderful holiday season and a happy start to the new year.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Endlessly Staring at the TV Screen

So, I couldn't really even watch the telly on Saturday, but I did so about half the day on Sunday and all day Monday. Instead of getting frustrated I wasn't getting anything done. But I decided this was a message from the Universe to not do things just now, as in hastily changing my logo or colors or fonts. Did I learn anything from the last two days?

Well, I watched "Powerpuff Girls, the Movie" (2002) and wondered if there were little crime and relative equality and peace and quiet in a society, would art flourish, and then I came across the first episode of Simon Schama's "Power of Art" Episode One on Caravaggio and concluded, probably not. It's differences and desires and struggles and such human emotions that motivate a lot of artists, it seems, and of course these can be an internal struggle, just a pure desire to create something that's in one's head, but then there are others who want to depict other things...

I had a few more of these enlightening thoughts, but I can't remember any more. But when I had a fever of 38C, I was amazed that all I wanted to do was just to stay still, not moving, and sometimes I woke up from sleep not having moved one bit in four hours or more. Other than occasionally hearing Kath Bee's new songs (and only two of the 13 on the new CD), my mind was completely wiped clean and white and ... boy, if I have such a hard time cutting out the noises and living in the moment, a high fever for a couple of days might be a cure. Though I didn't like it. I shivered so much the first night my entire body's muscles were sore the second day. So, no, just joking...

Well, Well...

I've been sick, again, or rather, still. This summer cold keeps morphing into different forms I can't catch up with it; I swear, my body is trying to go one-up on my hypochondria. Never mind, I have to go to work this afternoon, and a bit of catching up to do here later.

Meanwhile, I do hope you're all enjoying the festive season. Islamic New Year is coming up real soon, Hanukkah follows, then Christmas and New Years. (Growing up in Japan, I always thought the Mahayana ["Greater Vehicle" which I always remember as "Big Wheel"] Buddhism lacked in colorful festivities, so I was grateful for the hoo-hah of the Catholic holidays.) If you've children or are welcoming friends and relatives over the holidays, I hope you're not stressing out. Deal with the preparation as you would a stray warp end; take command!

OK, later.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

My Logo

When I met Bonnie Inouye in 2002, she had business cards with her fabulous drafts. There were several versions, and I thought they were the most beautiful cards and I wanted to collect them like baseball cards. After her workshop, I bought Fiberworks PCW, and while making a whole bunch of drafts I wanted to weave, I was also on the lookout for a draft that would look good as a logo.

In late 2005 I had to issue a couple of invoices, so I hastily looked for candidates and selected this, which was my second choice. (The draft was never fine-tuned beyond this stage; it was my attempt at making a tulip-like picture.) I tried grays, blues and finally settled on pale yellows because I wanted either the background or the text, in Monotype Corsiva, in grays and I've always, always loved the grays/yellows combination. But because of the difference in the colors on the screen and what comes out of our ink jet, yellow grew darker, and finally, in order to produce enough contrast to see what's there, it became orange, formerly the one color I loathed! Text was in mid-neutral gray initially, and overall it had a soft, elegant image, or so I thought.

Martin didn't like the logo; he said drafts don't mean anything to non-weavers, and suggested to at least take out the threading, tie-up and treadling to clean it up. He disapproved the pale text because they looked weak and were difficult to read to some (older?) potential clients. So I compromised and made the text black, but I kept my logo.

I'm not so attached to this I'm adamant I'm keeping it; it's more like I'm used to this and can't be bothered thinking about a new one. I also have a digital camera now and know how to manipulate and use image files; these things I didn't have access to in 2005. I also know other ways to present the same draft within PCW, so I could try cleaning it up that way.

I realize logos, typefaces, and colors shouldn't be changed flippantly. But I guess I'm opening up to vibrant colors and perhaps I'm looking to add a bit of spunk in my image as well as in my work.

I bought a Bonnie scarf for Mom, and held on to it for about six months studying it, but around Christmas that year tag, label and card were sent with the scarf. And I can't remember much, though a picture of the scarf has survived in my head. Perhaps I should ask Mom to photograph them.

Sorry, I keep mixing logo, text, and color and there must be proper marketing lingo for all these components, but I don't know them. Right, future towels beckon me. It's going to be a hot sunny day and my cool basement is going to be heavenly.

Note to Self about Paper Marketing Tools

On paper, I've used mainly the yellow draft logo and the Monotype Corsiva font. This is true for:
  • business card & care instruction cards,
  • two sizes of envelopes
  • letterhead, invoices, receipts
  • three sizes/types of stickers
  • price list
  • and everything else I print out
I made the gold bags with blue decoration for last year's Twilight Market, most of which I still have and I occasionally use for direct sale or commission work.

I made the black bags with my name in silver for the Red Gallery.

Most importantly, I have two sizes of woven labels in Monotype Corsiva in gray.

The one I've spent the most money on and have close to unlimited supply of are the cloth labels, so even if I change logos, it is wiser to stick with Monotype Corsiva and gray in some way.

In the beginning, I put in as little personal information as possible. My cloth labels haven't got my name, but my "business" name, "MegWeaves", which was originally going to be just my url.

When my web site was up, I added my url and email address. Then I added my PO Box address. My phone number still does not appear anywhere.

Sometime somewhere I began to use my name as well, and lately I do without "MegWeaves" but only with my name. On the Internet, I probably use "Meg in Nelson" more than anything.

I need to rethink about consistency, including whether everything has to look the same all the time.

Sometimes weaving is the easiest part... Eh...

PS. On the other hand, for a simpleton like myself, having fewer choices in the marketing department would make life soooooo much easier...

PPS. Of course anyone can leave comments here, Dana; the lot of you are inside my head cheering me on most days anyway!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The August One's Care Instruction Booklet

Randy Darwall's "swing tag" is the realm of a souvenir booklet. I don't know if his business card relates to the booklet and I don't know the bookbinding lingo, either; sorry.

Textured paper.

Photo and bio on lavender-gray paper.

Piece-specific info in the middle page, in His own handwriting.

I cant' remember if the booklet was attached to the scarf, and if so how, but the string is a fancy yarn unrelated to the ones used in the scarf. I'd imagine someone makes up multiple booklets at once, and then the piece-specific info is entered as the scarves are finished.

Exhibition and collection info.

Care and maintenance instructions. (Maintenance?)

Cover when opened up. The photograph, I believe, is from one of the quilts.

The booklet, when folded, is 5.5 cm (<2>4 in.) tall.

Could You Please, Please, Please...

If you have your own business card, swing tags/care instructions, letterheads/envelopes/stickers, rubber stamps, or cloth labels, can you please, please, please:

* Photograph them and post them on your blog and let me know that you've done so by email or in the comment section to this post, or
* Email me pic files, or
* Send them to me at: Meg Nakagawa, PO Box 1752, Nelson 7040 New Zealand, and if you'd like them back, please include a return address and contact email.

I'll post everything I receive here or on my Flickr if anyone else is interested. I'm very keen to see how weavers use these marketing tools. Thank you very much in advance.

PS. Talking with Ben and looking over all the paper tools I have, I realized I've never put my logo anywhere on the web site or the blog. Not sure if that's a bad thing or a good thing, but this kind of an inconsistency is a bit out of character. Oh well, maybe it means it's time to change my logo.

* * * * *

Bonnie Tarses Cloth Labels - scroll down on the post a little bit
Cally Booker Moo Cards
Cally Booker Cards

Oh, THAT Kind of a Day...

So I thought I'd have a cup of tea before I go out to weed and flicked on the TV; there's a man interrupting a Koala couple and collecting Koala semen; it was Koala conservation doco.

There's usually nothing interesting in the mornings on telly in New Zealand

In Nelson we have a local television station, (actually a series of them,) called Mainland which broadcasts the best docos from overseas, Al Jazeera, Germany's DW, China's CCTV, Bloomberg, as well as local news. But Mainland programs are not listed in any publication, and on their website they only specify "documentary", so it's a hit-and-miss thing, though when they show docos, they repeat them several times at different time slots for about a week.

It must have been Thursday when I caught the tail end of a doco on Brunelleschi building the dome in Firenze, and seeing as I've been struggling through a very slim volume on the subject for over a year, (again, I can't visualize some of the things they talk about because I don't have enough knowledge in architectural lingo,) I've been desperate to catch it with no luck so far.

On a more serious note, two and a half years ago, one of the first things St Martin told me was to get business cards printed properly and quit the home-made ink-jet job. Back then I liked the "all hand crafted" personal look and even looked for brown recycled paper for business cards. In the last year or so I've seen of my care labels fade in the sun and have been thinking he was of course right, I should get proper ones made up. But I don't like having different kinds of stationary, either. It's not only uneconomical, but also confusing.

I have only two cards, well three - two with my contact details, one without I use when my work is sold in galleries - and I print out care instructions, (English only; most Japanese know how to care for textiles,) on the back and use them as swing tags. The ones with my contact details without the care instructions act as my business card.

This morning I found offers business cards; I think this is new because 18 months ago when I looked into this, they didn't have business cards. Anyhoo, although I like to buy things made in New Zealand in the first instance, I think Moo quality is tops and for value for money, (even with the Kiwi dollar scrambling at the pathetically-cheap end), and I'm feeling warm towards Moo, though I need to reassess what types of cards I need OR want.

What do you use as your marketing tool for your art promotion?

PS. Mainland also shows deliciously old B/W movies, but sometimes it times out before the end of the film. One time Ronette got so annoyed she rang them, to which they explained it's automated and has something to do with satellites! At least we know it's automated; sometimes they have Windows error message screens showing for hours.

PPS. When a Koala Baby grows big but still clings to Mama's back for dear life when Mama is in a hurry, Baby looks like an overweight jocky in a country horse race. I knew you needed to know this to improve your artful weaving.

What a Nightmare!

I woke up this morning dreaming the Red Gallery had turned into a gallery/toy store and I was working full time until the 23rd! What a total nightmare, with children screaming and parents getting angry, and at one point, I lost my blouse! What does it all mean??

Monday, December 8, 2008

Catching Up

Sales or jinxed? One was sold, another was stolen, so I think my cottons are officially jinxed. They paid me 1/2 of the wholesale price for the stolen piece, which I appreciate because I was expecting to get nothing for it.

Daniel Allen went to Auckland to shoot David Beckham (of the soccer/football fame) for the Australian Marie Claire. Daniel is English and football-mad, so I bet he was over the moon. You could say, my scarves were photographed by the guy that did the Beckham spread. Hee hee, hah hah.

And speaking of photography, Kath used pics I took over the years in her new CD, so... See it? See it? (Though one of the pics I know did not take, and Ben thinks he took the one shown here, but we cant' be sure because we shot a lot of similar ones at that Mapua Easter 2007 gig.)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Simple Kitchen Towels

As I was responding to KD in the comment, I reserve my cottolin to non-commercial purposes; for me, as gifts for my family, for exchanges. And they are inevitably things that can not only be used, but will be used.

A set of serviettes/napkins I wove back in 1995 is one of my treasures. They are soft and absorbent but still holds the colors well, in spite of heavy use. And I love the towels and bath mats I've woven for myself.

The thing is, though, when you go to discount stores, design stores, and kitchen stores and see a set of three handsome-looking towels from India, for example, and though they are most probably machine-woven, when you see prices like $15 or even $45 for the set, what do you think? I can't help feeling a little dismayed. I'm not saying all kitchen/tea towels need to be more expensive. No way! But I can't help feeling it might have to do with that dreaded reminder from art historians and anthropologists, that something most probably made by a woman to be used most probably by a woman in the house can't possibly be valuable, regardless of the "intrinsic" value of the item.

How many crafts and skills have we lost because not enough monetary value was placed on something made by hand, I wonder.

My Towels

As I type, these are in the washing machine going through an almost-hot cycle. I've done five so far; three to go in the exchange, plus my sampler, plus one for me. Since I have my usual eight-meter warp on, I hope to get at least four more, or three towels and some serviettes/napkins.

The top one is my first sample piece. Ben always wished I'd make things with samples that we could use, so I sampled 10 draft from Kris Bruland's in this piece.

Second from the top, the weft is in true orange, and the draft is #57586, and I'm tempted to call it Flora Pacifica because each square looks like a vibrant South Pacific flower. It's the most cheerful towel in the set.

Third from the top is Pacifika Christmas, and is #58168. The colors of my warp in combination with this draft remind me of the Pacific Island tapa (bark) cloth, but using a red-orange weft it feel more like a Cook Island Tivaevae, and in terms of the overall appearance of the towels, I like this best.

Fourth one is mine; it's a wonderful blue-red but I wove it when my body was tired and the beating is very irratic. This is the reverse side of #36039, which I like better than the front.

The fifth one, though it looks blue, is more blue-green, #36180. It's the the most stable, reliable structure for the purpose among my choices. At first I wanted to call this a Christmas Tree something or rather, but it has near-white triangles, brown triangles, and green triangles, and to me it represents the different seasons and climate around the world at Christmas time, though we all tend to go for the white Christmas image. So I'm calling this Round the World Christmas, after a song in a hideous, (according to Ben!) Disney Christmas carol CD.

They will have been machine-hemmed, machine washed, tumble-dried and pressed (if necessary) by tonight when I post the finished pieces in the towel gallery. I feel guilty about cheating the "system", as it were, but there's still a bit of Saturday left on the West Coast of the USA, (OK, mostly Hawaii!) so forgive me.

I love weaving towels. These are true relaxation weaving for me. I never change the yarn source, and I stick with 20EPI (except when I do cram/space weave, which I do a lot with the cottolins,) so only the structures and colors vary. This time I downloaded and did not modify the drafts, so it has been all about colors. I've noticed a few things, especially in the difference in the appearance of the weft colors with the two oranges in the weft, and the two-dimensional vs. three-dimensional appearance of the cloth depending on the values and saturation of the colors, but I decided not even to take notes but just to enjoy the process. And I know in 20 years these are towels are going to be divinely soft and wonderful.

In plan are two or three light browns that are different from either warp colors, plus a indescribable red/pink - the only description I can think of is "pomegranate" but I'm not sure what that means to you.

Thank you to all those who participated, and visited our Towel Exchange. I sure look forward to getting my loot!

PS: Bockens and Holma-Helsinglands AB - are they known as Bockens or by their company name?

Towels Coming Soon

Sorry, I'm breaking my own rules; I was hoping to post my towel pics yesterday, but I've been reading! Fiction, to boot! I've complained for nearly three years until Nancy's ears nearly dropped off her head how I was disappointed with the last one-third of "Poinsonwood Bible", so she loaned me Kindsolver's "Prdigal Summer" a month or two ago. I couldn't get into it, or into any books other just gazing at pictures for all that time, but when I was sick last week and couldn't concentrate on anything else, I started it. (Among other things, it's bad luck in Japan to borrow things over New Years, so I thought if I started early in Dec, I might finish it in time to return it.) Well, it turns out I found it quite interesting and read it in three or four days, which to me is unbelievably fast. And I liked it for the most part.

I find it difficult to stay focused or interested where description of nature goes on and on, so the first chapter was hard going. I discovered I need people and interaction (which, to me, are "events") to stay interested in books, and this is probably why I like biographies, and can't stay focused on stream-of-consciousness stuff. I have a hard time organizing the different voices in my head enough I don't need to go into someone else's.

This novel had some interesting discourse on ecology, i.e. how dangerous it is to reduce the number of predators to the overall environment vs farming. I got bored with descriptions of flowers, trees, insects, and birds; for the most part I don't know them well enough to visualize and when I can't visualize a scene, I loose interest. But I could visualize a farm, (OK, maybe not a Southern farm at the edge of Appalachian Mountains, but I can visualize an old homestead,) and people and interactions, so that kept me sufficiently interested. Again, this would be why I tend to read stories taking place in cities, where I can smell the food and hear the sounds some times. But I hadn't realized this until this morning.

I'm excited about fiction again, kind of. I've got tons I've bought but haven't read.

Time for a quick bite and finishing my towels, then.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Petra's Bookmark

Kaz's workshop on Ikat and warp dyeing over at the UK Online Guild is over, and there have been wonderful photos uploaded to show everybody's results. This one by Petra Sclimme from Cuxhaven, Germany, caught my eye because it has red and yellow green, as well as orange in the mix. Nice. It really works.

Petra writes: "I came to the colors while looking at my point settee (is that the right name for the plant?). I mixed the colors from red, yellow and blue. Watch out for my second half of the warp."

Photograph uploaded with Petra's permission. Yeah, I'm thinking of making my warp now.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

An Old New Book

I forgot to tell you that yesterday, while eating vanilla ice cream with chocolate flakes ex the tub, (I was trying anything to ease the itchiness in my throat,) a crown came off my back tooth.

So, feeling rather sorry for myself this morning, I made an appointment with my dentist for next Monday, then I went to the bookshop. I don't know about where you live, but from about August onwards, bookshops here are full of gazillion new cookbooks I covet. This year, the fashion in New Zealand is cookbooks with a historical twist, with drawings and etchings, photographs of old product packaging, aprons and dishes and doilies. I had my eye on one for months now, and so I went to spend a quiet time with it. Again.

I remembered also a 2004 Nick Bantock book I saw for the first time last week, so I sad down with it, trying to decide which one I should ask Ben for Christmas. Unlike his Griffin & Sabine series, "Urgent 2nd Class" is a brief book on how he creates his unique visuals.

I always liked stamps, postcards and maps so I was a big fan of his G&S books, but came "The Museum at Purgatory", the visuals got a bit too dark for my taste and I lost interest. But the more I read Urgent 2nd Class, I had to have it, and so I bought it for myself as an early Christmas present.

It's pretty amazing to think that the odd bits of stamps and postcards and candy wrappers I couldn't part with over the decades can potentially be a source of fun, not only in collecting and looking, but possibly in being put together as a collage or some such. And though I'm not allowed to publish any part of the book in any form whatsoever, a lot of what he writes makes good sense, even though I never saw much value in my collection of ... junk.

Great present from/for the one I love. Hee hee.

How Many Ways Can Life Go Wrong? Let Me Count the Way...

Well, it's not that bad, I assure you. I feel a little cheated because I just haven't had a nice break this year where everything falls into its place. Or rather, I haven't had a break from minor health complaints; is this normal life after 50?

I was enjoying weaving my towels in Swedish cottolin - I put on a 8 meter warp, 16-end straight draw in two gray-browns. I made this warp over 18 months ago and each stripe had 16 ends and having doodled a little about how I might try a pointed threading with 16 ends in each set, I just went with the straight draw and downloaded a bunch of drafts from, but I said that last week, didn't I?

The cottonlins have been a bit dusty so I wore a crude, old plastic dust mask in a style that's been discontinued but covers my flat face adequately. Well, since Friday I couldn't stop coughing and I've had an itchy throat, and this week I've been doubling over coughing so I eased off weaving. Then I did something to my right ankle and it throbbed all Sunday. Came Monday I felt so grubby I actually went out and weeded the garden a bit - it was either that or stay in bed. My ankle healed just like that!! (What's that all about!!) But my cough (??) got worse, so yesterday was mope-around-the-house day eating overly-chocolately Christmas treats, blowing my nose and wanting to get on with things. Then I noticed last night my left ankle was throbbing, and I decided to be in denial of the whole thing. Then, last night, Ben started coughing and his nose is stuffy, too. So it wasn't the cottolins?

Yuck, yuck, yuck! I wished I had a complaint-free health for a month. And I was doing so well with three-times-a-week gym routine.