Saturday, October 31, 2009

Mark Vincent at 13


What is it about good music (and in my case, superb voices) that bypasses the brain and goes straight to the heart? It doesn't happen to me with visual arts.

GST Free Weekend at M10

For you non-Kiwis, it means "no Sales Tax/VAT (12.5% here) at one of the hardware chains", meaning, a few bits and bobs to enhance my weaving environment. Although since we've discovered Bunnings, ("the lowest prices" store with no specific sale times/promos), I feel it's always prudent to compare prices for bigger stuff. I need a new ironing board because Ben tripped in my stash room mess last summer and the right side has been 15cm lower than the left ever since. But today is not that day, as Viggo Mortensen said to the New Zealand Army!

I'm sorry, I was given a free cup of coffee at Deville yesterday after lunch. I usually don't have coffee after noon, but it looked beautiful I drank it at around 2.30PM, and I swear it's still working!

Fifteen Years Old!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Hay Fever

This week pollens in the spring wind have defeated me and I've been moving in slow motion, but my head medicine is working because I feel upbeat and hopeful. I can't handle fiber without a shower cap, a dust mask, a goggle over my glasses and long sleeved shirts, and a shower immediately after I finish, so instead I've been playing with drafts, particularly with different scales of log cabin, and other four-shaft drafts to weave on Jack as my joy-weaving using my rediscovered yarns.

Dot has had such a success with her samplers that I'm even thinking I might even do something like that, because when I try out related threading and treadling, the resulting "draft" looks like a sampler/gamp so with a little modification, I might try small ones as cushion covers, or larger ones as knee rugs/couch blankets.

I also received Leslie Voiers' book on Log Cabin from Halcyon Yarns today, (Item Number: 52011000). This one is worth the money, the postage and then some!!

Second Half of Ben's Holiday

So this is about the second half of last week, a post I started on Monday.

* * * * *

Thursday was a slow day; Friday was life/figure drawing, a whole bunch of errands, and I got my hearing checked again. No changes there, not deteriorating, but I am far more bothered by peripheral noise when I go to lectures, etc; it's yet another thing I have to learn to live with.

Saturday we went to a public forum on sculpture and public art. Two sculptors, Andrew Drummond and Phil Price, one Nelson City councilor and a strong proponent of the arts, Ali Boswijk, and a marketing man, (Brian Richards ??) was mediated by a comedian but an extraordinary mediator Te Radar. Overall I think it was an interesting forum, but I couldn't help thinking of two things: 1) in the end it falls, in this day and age, to how we want to brand Nelson, and 2) people who have the money and/or influence are not often seen there, but art lovers and artists (and we know how much money they have) are the ones who are interested in the subject. I enjoyed listening to the four members on the stage, and Te Radar, but I felt so helpless. Artists getting together have so little power/influence in this bottom-line-focused world. And for once, I came home feeling defeated, not elated.

Sunday I cleaned the house, Ben cooked, and friends Tim Wraight and Claudia Lacher came for dinner. They are such amazing people sometimes, (well, practically every time I see them,) I'm amazed they are my friends. We talked about Tim's presentation on Wednesday, about the concept of artifacts, the forum Saturday, the sculpture talk Tim gave earlier in the day, Claudia's knowledge of font design, her old flat somewhere in Europe housing a font designer, an architect, a graphic artist and a pattern maker and all the discussions that went on there, Swiss wood carving tradition, Swiss motifs, schnapps, bamboo fiber vs cotton and their environmental impact, etc., etc., etc. And how most, even the Big Name, artists in New Zealand are blessed if they break even financially.

And when they left, Tim whispered to me, once again, "I carve cake; I don't carve bread and butter. Weave cake!"

Once again, I'm stunned these stunning, amazing, beautiful, generous people are our friends.

PS: Ben's Boss's boss, unbeknownst to both/either/neither Ben and the Boss, not only paid Ben overtime for the holiday Monday he went into work, but gave him back the one holiday day. Ben only discovered this because the latest pay slip was "inaccurate". I'm glad good things happen to good people; and that would be Ben, not his moaning, complaining wife.

PPS: NO gardening done. However, he works thee weeks and then gets two weeks plus off again. Then he works three weeks, and then it's Christmas break. So there is hopes for Tahunanui Nature Reserve.

Friday

Life/figure drawing: I was late this morning so I had texted (?) Ronette, who had set up my easel for me. On it, someone had scribbled "Help!" and the one day I find something funny to photograph, I carried around a camera without a battery in it!

Textile Lunch VI: topic was originality/innovation, and we had a robust discussion but I can't remember much because I was tired. The discussion started with Dick Frizzell's paintings of found signs, and then went on to several New Zealand artists I had never heard of, and how New Zealand art students can't escape going through their own Colin McCahon period. I complained about some exhibitions I've been to where the Artist's Statements were far more interesting than the works. We talked about art work being purchased as investments, and how the artists would feel about it. Ronette proposed an exhibition with an Artist Statement and descriptions of individual works but without actual art works. That's got to be interesting!

I shipped 10 scarves to Marlborough Weavers for our "stall" during Garden Marlborough, at St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Blenheim, November 6-8.
I had my eyes checked to see if I needed new glasses and I don't at this stage.

I went to the bookstore and did the aforementioned, shameful thing. Then bought the October issue of Art News New Zealand because Tim Wraight had a 4-page contribution about his stint in Switzerland in it, and the name of one of the artists mentioned during lunch was on the cover.

Calendar: buying a big wall calendar is an event for me. Every year I think about the year that's about to end and the year ahead. Some years, the decision was spontaneous, (African masks, New Zealand seabirds, Rothko); some years after much toing and froing and comparing a careful decision was made.

Dance, from ballet to contemporary, has always been my least favorite of performance art and I go see performances under severe duress, like someone I know is in it. Today, I couldn't get the images out of my head from a few weeks ago, and bought the 2010 Martha Graham Dance Company calendar. Some of the costumes are hideous, and I intend to cut/paste pieces of paper over them, but I think the combination of my figure drawing experience and a presentation I saw on an Australian opera or ballet company costume designer last year triggered this.

I have great respect and admiration for their skills, but they're all kinda skinny and fit and pretty, so... ummm... BLAH!!!! I don't like watching gymnastics, either, nor beach volleyball! But still photographs and drawings of dancers, they are luscious.

Now, I'd better tell you about the second half of Ben's holiday last week.

Same Old...

The husband of a jewelry maker, who himself, I think, is involved in art, complimented me on my weaving, so I did the usual thing; ignored him and walked away. And them made a joke about it to the said jewelry maker!

I have to grow up! I might have learned something from his comments!!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

North/South

Yes, Virginia, not only are we heading towards summer finally, but the north side is the sunny, brighter side of our house. Many homes early on were built facing the wrong way. It all depends on which way you look at it!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Seasonal? / Disappointed

Is it the time of the year? My Google Reader has been showing me so few updates lately, and since I only read weaving and weaver blogs there, it must mean you all are out and about enjoying the changes of the season, or blindly, madly, passionately weaving. Which ever it is, I hope you're having fun.

I finally received a long-awaited book from Amazon.com yesterday. Ever since I discovered "Creative Weaving: Beautiful Fabrics with a Simple Loom" on Taueret's blog a way back, I've coveted it, but finally got around to ordering it. I think I read her review at the time, but I don't remember what she said so I must revisit it after I finish this post. I've read lovely reviews on-line (albeit by book sellers!) as well.

That the book would be about simpler weaving, I knew, so I didn't mind that the first 20 or so pages didn't do much for me. But I was disappointed in three ways.

The Zing Factor: because I discovered the book on Taueret's blog, I expectied to see mind-blowing hand-manipulated examples, aesthetically innovative and inquisitive stuff, and, well, an overdose of eye candies like Easter, Halloween and Christmas rolled in one. But I found the photos to be relatively sedate and safe, veering towards pretty but boring. I get far more mileage gazing at photos of Taueret's scarves than this book when it comes to zing.

Colors: it turns out the book focuses mostly on color combinations. While these combinations are given cute names and illustrated with pretty pictures, most are analogous. Again, a good majority use relatively benign yarns, lacking, overall, in the textural zing from which any book on plain weave could benefit. I understand this could be a result of an editorial decision, but I think there is scope for improvement.

But by far the most alarming aspect of a book, particularly as this is intended for beginners, is there is no mention of washing in the instructions pages, and most photos appears to be either straight off the loom or with insufficient wet finishing. This, to me, borders on heresy.

Lest I forget, there is one great feature of this book: with every project example, there is a small photo showing the weft yarns placed horizontally, and another with the warp yarns shown vertically.

This is a carob, not the satisfying velvety dark chocolate: I'm giving somewhere between 4 and 6 out of 10. Though this is prettier than many introductory books, my favorite introduction to two shaft weaving remains Betty Linn Davenport book by Interweave Press.

Edit: Tauret's review says the book covers wet-finishing. She is a more careful reader than I, so usually I would take her words for granted, but since this is an important issue for me, I checked three times and I still can't find it. But it could be there. I agree with everything else she said.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Oh, Mama!

Mama has this neighbor, Mrs. I, who lived down the street from us for nearly 40 years. Mrs. I loves Japanese calligraphy and painting, and has a keen appreciation for fine craft, textiles and ceramics in particular. She's been Mama's best art friend for a long time.

A couple of months ago Mama rang me excited because she saw Mrs. I taking out the trash wearing a beautiful handwoven silk scarf. Mama was shocked and chided Mrs. I she shouldn't wear such a lovely scarf while taking out the trash. Mrs. I giggled, washed it, ironed it, and presented it to Mama a few days later.

Fast forward a month or so, I got a care package from Mama, mostly Ben's favorite food, a book, and the said scarf. Mama was so thrilled and mesmerized by the scarf she couldn't help but to give it to her "serious weaver" daughter. I told her I'd photograph it and return it to her, but she had Dad text me to say I can keep it.

I said if she liked it so much she took it off of Mrs. I, she should be wearing it every day and perhaps every night. Mama had Dad text me again saying I can keep it.

The piece is small, woven in natural silks of different sizes, some slubby, some fine boucle, in double weave; one side is like a loosely woven net, the other in a fairly regular plain weave. But how can I say this without hurting Mama's feelings.

It's not my kind of thing.

The texture is interesting, it feels great, and I'm sure it goes with almost anything, but it's just not my kind of thing; I find it terribly boring.

So after a few to-ing and fro-ing, me trying to be a grateful Japanese daughter, Mama being a giving, enthusiastic Japanese mother, Dad, who is blind in one eye, texting what Mama dictated, I just had to turn on the Kiwi Meg, and said, "Look, it's lovely, but it's just not my thing." And I haven't heard from Mama, and Dad hasn't text me about it since.

I feel bad. But I, too, have scarves coming out of my ears. And Mama was uncharacteristically adamant about it, which made me feel as if I had to defend my taste, not so much as a daughter, but as a weaver.

What can I say, it really wasn't my kind of thing. It's going in the post.

Mama turns 79 tomorrow.

A New Weaver

Did I not make an observation a while back that there are an awfully lot of weavers named Susan, Suzanne, Sue, or Suzie? Here's a new (so she says) weaver, Susan, with her new blog. Please drop by and say hello!

Self-Publishing???

I've been looking at sites like Lulu and Flicker partner sites that allow making up wee books and calendars and such, and have been thinking there's got to be a fun but inexpensive group project waiting to be discovered somewhere... Any thoughts??

It's All in My Head

And by that, I don't mean the depression, but more the destination addiction.

I noticed yesterday, after Tim's lecture, that I've been holding my breath for a long time waiting so I can create preposterous textiles. And waiting for what, exactly?

The biggest obstacle was supposed to be the cleaning and sorting of the stash room, which I finished, shock, horror, 17 days ago!! (And I've been counting, but had thought it was 12.) And I'm pleased with the result, even though the bookshelf is already bulging, with two more books to arrive from the US and possibly three (tine ones) from Japan. And even though I haven't cut bay branches so the place smells badly of mothballs and gives me a metallic taste in my mouth, I still go in just to have a look around, or to line up cones and plan future projects.

And the studio, though it didn't go under drastic transformation like the stash room, is sorted, tidied and with all the "just in case" stuff thrown out, the drawers are not crammed so it's easy to find things. And I know every little nook and cranny was vacuumed, and so it feels clean.

So, my coast is clear. It's as if my brain is stuck in that winter depression mode, and I need an oil change or tire rotation up there. (Ben's been working a lot on his candy car, ergo the car metaphors. Otherwise, I'll never think of describing myself in this way.) But there is nothing stopping me any more, so I can breathe out and start making cloth now. Yay.

(It was hard writing this post without using "should", "ought", or "must", but I can do that now, too.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ben's Holiday & Picking Up Ideas

The goal for Ben's holiday this week ostensively was to work on our Nature Reserve, otherwise known as Overgrown Garden, but the strange weather, Ben working on Monday, the little social activities I keep cramming into our days and the mandatory holiday slow breakfasts/lunches in town, have meant no progress on the garden front. Or side or back.

On Tuesday we visited Tony and Arline Moon, the last owners of the late lamented Betts Stationary (art supply) store. They have a brand new house, they are keen gardeners, and they have so many hilarious stories from their live at Betts and before, so it was sure to be a great visit. We just had to be mindful not to fall off their chairs as we laughed, hard. We also lamented the final, official, death-fizzle of Nelson Bays Arts Marketing. I also picked up an interesting idea from Tony, one which is apparently becoming popular in the US.

There are fancy waterfront apartments in New Zealand, but many are owned by overseas and out of town absentee owners, and some were never sold before the crunch came. Tony said artists could rent/hire these spaced short term to hold art exhibitions, and bypass gallery commission. There must be regulations of the municipalities and the buildings to be considered, but I thought it was a lovely idea, either on the Nelson waterfront, (in which case I'd have to get a few other artists to work with,) or the Picton waterfront, where the ferry from the North Island arrives, for my Marborough Weavers group.

Are there places where this idea might work for you? It has a potential of being a very personal, creative, interesting event, kind of like late night shopping at bookshops and hardware stores, with wine and nibbles, that used to happen before Christmas in Nelson, but with an artistic flare.

Today we went to talk by our friend and sculptor Tim Wraight. It was nice to see a chronological slide presentation of progress and changes in his work, even though we've heard the story many times in a more fragmented way.

Of great interest to me is a series he's been working on for some time: artifacts. He's been imagining anthropologists and archaeologists digging up the Nelson and Tasman region centuries from now. He's been creating artifacts they might discover, reflecting the ethnic mix, the interests and trends of our times, and how we see and interpret our history now. I immediately fell in love with the idea, and though textiles won't last as well as wood or other material he's been using, stainless steel, concrete, cast glass, (unless we stick it in a temperature-controlled bog,) it's still fun to imagine a retrospective/an exhibition of our work and craft, say, in the year 2200, or 3500.

I received 1200 of the 1600 heddles I ordered from Halcyon Yarns, as well as Mom's copy of Carol Stickler's Eight-Shaft book (Item Number: 54260000), which I did not know she didn't own and must, as well as my copy of Leslie Voiers' Plain Weave is Anything But Plain (Item Number: 52013000), a volume I've been meaning to get for years since I bought her lace book.

So that's been the first half of my week. How's yours been?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Confession

Ben was supposed to have last and this weeks off. His work canceled last week's holiday so we looked forward to this week. In an uncharacteristically sober way. Ben because he''s been insanely busy these last nine months he couldn't fathom a holiday coming up until late last night. I, because I was finally starting feel like I was catching up with my life and I didn't want to give up my time; I wanted to keep getting back 0n my perceived track, and complained to anyone who cared to take 30 second to read my emails about the upcoming week. Plus, we had planned to work in the garden, not our favorite activity.

Be careful what I wish for. Sure enough, at 9.30 this morning, Boss rang, twice, and Ben's been back at work all day today, doing his normal hours. I have to be super careful not to be so cross when he gets back, albeit not at him but at his work.

They've been warned by outside consultants since 2000 that they need to hire someone who can act as his backup, paying consultancy fees 6-20 times an average annual salary each time, but somehow they couldn't find the budget to hire someone; not even for a half time position.

But I feel guilty because he's more disappointed than I am, though he's not the kind that would say so, not even to me, until years later. I feel frustrated with our (yes, our) Japanese sense of duty and dedication and loyalty to work. If I were him, and I wasn't away from home, I would be going to work as well. So in spite of the stupidity that is bottom line managerism that's been going on at the Polytech, at least since the February 1999 Review, I am resolved to nice to Dear Husband and perhaps cook him a Japanese dinner tonight. (And at least until then, I can go back to "Middlesex", which I've been reading almost all day every day.)

Friday, while waiting for Ben to finish work, thinking about this week, I discovered the library held newer issues of "Ornament" magazine, as well as one called "Craft" by the British Arts Council. I liked the articles in "Craft" very much, so glad to make this new discovery. Anyhow, I made notes of these websites and places of interest from the few issues in these magazines. Perhaps you might enjoy them, too.
  • Susan Neal - weaving
  • Clare Gage - tableware
  • Richard Arkwright's mill in Cromford and Matlock Bath, both in Derbyshire's Derwent Valley, UK.
  • www.theornamentedlife.com - "The Ornamented Life" - I can't load this website, and have found other websites/blogs citing this url, so I'm not sure what's happening. This appears to be a possible future home of her new web site, but don't quote me on it.
  • Valeria Fazekas, wool hats
And once again, about Bernard Leach and Yanagi Soetsu. And a book review of "Kingdom of Beauty: Mingei and the Polics of Folk Art in Imperial Japan". I was surprised the review and/or the author didn't go back far enough to explore Japan's pillaging and kidnapping of Korean artists and decimating their craft, (we were doing a pretty thorough job in the 7C CE, from memory) but I haven't read the book so I can't say more.

Right. 2PM. Better work on the Marlborough Group blog now.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Huh!

Nelson Bays Arts Marketing is now handing out tasks, and at the completion of that task, will officially cease to exist. Sad, but time to move on! Better than having a bad organization.

Natural Alternatives Mothballs Part II

On Facebook, I was recommended:
  • Freezer
  • Fumigation
  • Lavender
  • Cedar
  • Camphor or napthapene and other icky smelling things (I like camphor) and DON'T freeze.
  • (Oh, my, will the bugs survive the next Ice Age?)
  • Cedar
  • Bay Leaves
Of these, I have bay aplenty, (I was wondering how to get rid of them actually,) and can grow more lavenders. I intend to cut them fresh and hang them in the room in addition to my current mothballs. Would that do the trick?

Practicing Artist

Yes, I am; I am still practicing so I get better. The "artist" at MegWeaves is weaving after all.

I do hope this is the end of my overlong hiatus from weaving and making things, from my life as it should be.

Touch wood. Fingers, toes and eyes crossed!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Urgent, Please Help Me!

I used to use a lavender-scented moth protection in my wool room; it was a little strong (because I used lots), expensive, and short-lived, but it worked well since 2000 when I first set up my stash room.

That product is either no longer available or very scarce and I haven't seen it in the supermarkets, except sporadically, for a few years, so yesterday I gave in and bought those white chemical mossballs for my stash. I also have one of those automatic spray bug killers, too.

I didn't use a lot of the balls, and the leftover is in two resealable plastic bags, but the smell is overwhelming and I can't stay in my stash room and when I come out I have a strange chemical taste in my mouth.

If you know of any reasonable natural/herbal alternatives, I would very much appreciate suggestions. I might even burn some incense because besides weaving, I've resumed enjoying lining up balls and cones for my next few projects, among other things.

Thanks a million in advance.

PS. Happy Thanksgiving, Canada.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I Wove Today

This morning I concluded that it's only our upbringing that dictates sitting in front of a TV (particularly soap opera), or a computer (playing mindless games) is bad, but reading is good; that these activities carry no intrinsic value as regards my engaging in them to procrastinate. Still, two novels in eight days, for this slow reader, was good effort.

This morning, though, I had promised that most annoying of people, me, that I will do something relating to weaving today, and since I didn't feel like dressing the loom, I tackled the end of hitherto the most temperamental cashmere warp.

I don't know why, but this one gave me a lot of grief some months ago, and I had to hold my tongue and grin and bear to finish a few tiny scarves. I had three false starts for the last piece and finally abandoned it.

This being on my four-shaft Jack loom, named "Jack Naggi", I had to try weaving off the piece, or abort project and throw away the expensive cashmere,)so I can use the loom for my stash-reduction joy-weave.

I don't know what came over me, but I was utterly patient, totally composed and without even thinking about it, infinitely gentle as I coaxed the wretched warp to become a new scarf. If this is what my little half pills do to me, I can not only work with it, but I can live with a better-balanced me!

This piece will have much mending to do, but it's halfway finished, and it's turning out to be none too shabby. And I had the added bonus of weaving ideas hopping around like rabbits on a paddock in my head.

It has been a good Monday.

Handmade Nation (USA), a Documentary

Thank you, Dana, for the tip. All of you in New Zealand may have heard from me several times about this, as I've just sent off a dozen emails. The trailer alone is a hoot!

Is it old news in the US??

Handmade Nation
The website
The blog
The book that came out a year ago

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Honesty

I sent my almost-daily email to a weaver friend. A surprising amount of honest revelations come out when I write to her; honest not because I'm otherwise lying but I feel the need to be constantly aspiring; revelations because these are thoughts I don't realize I have until I'm typing the very words. She has become my confessor of sorts.

(Sorry, I read Geraldine Brooks' "Year of Wonders" last week, and am reading Joanna Harris' "Holy Fools" this week, so I'm thinking in a strange vocabulary, unwittingly reverting to my Convent School self by fits and starts. But not grudgingly. OK, I'll stop, but you should have met me during my Jane Austin phase in the early 80's!!)

This morning, I was surprised to see these words appear on my screen:

"Many have been staggered by my sticking to plain weave for seven years without even getting into color and weave. I've been weaving mostly twill in the subsequent seven, and still intend to continue, though I would like to look into shadow, as I tend to go on about it. I think shadow weave is a great compromise for my continued interest in plain, my guilt for not attempting color and weave, but with a bit more compositional possibilities. I prefer deep rather than broad, so I'm fine with what I do. There are tons of structures I've never woven, and I probably won't get around to, but part of me is fine about that. A small part of me worries perhaps there is a weave structure that I would love better than twill or shadow, but that I just haven't stumbled upon it. Now that would be a travesty. Or will it?"

This morning, I'm thinking, "No, it won't."

The First Week of Octobers

In 2006 I was in Randy Darwall's workshop. In 2007 I was in Wellington for the opening of Re:fine. In 2008 I was struggling with my first shadow weave on the table loom, while thinking of drafts for my fine cottons. I was frustrated with my lack of productivity, yet feeling happier and sensing good things happening in the air.

The first week of October 2009 was spent wondering if my medication was working, and if it is, was I unable or unwilling to be productive; pondering my diminished capacity and wondering if I had settled into a comfortable lazy rut, feeling half frustrated, half paralyzed. I felt trapped inside my house, anxious to be seen white I tended my horribly neglected so-called garden.

But frustration is good; that is where my hope lies. Yesterday I thought of taking up Italian again. I think good things are coming my way.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Colors?

I do love well-executed black and white cloths, but I tend to mix one or more grays. My warp turned out to be black and white and a light gray, plus three greens. I'm wondering if it's a little too severe for a wee boy's blanket. For the weft, I think I'll use the softer merino in gray, but I love the darker cone.

Tell me, what colors are your loom right now??

Hemstiching

Thanks to Elaine, and Syne, I discovered I've been hemstitching correctly all along. But wait, something about mine looks different, so it may not be correct. No, not showing you just yet.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Lest I Forget

110/2, the size of merino and merino mixes I like to use at around 18EPI, is between 2/16 and 2/18 Nm depending on the manufacturer. I learned 110/2 was a New Zealand measurement only about a year ago, but couldn't remember its size in the internationally understood measurement.

I may have mentioned this before. I can remember 2/17; I was supposed to be born around February 17th.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Day of Colour - LONG (AND SLOPPY TOWARDS THE END)

Last Sunday, I went to the lecture on color by Michael Wilcox. In addition to speaking, he illustrated his points with wet paint in front of us, which was a treat.

He started by saying that in the olden days, artists (painters and tapestry weavers in particular) knew the science of paints and color theories well, but now our/their understanding is muddled by manufactures and marketing. As with your food, he recommended we read the contents of the tubes and never trust the name of the color. With some colors, the more expensive paint is of superior quality, but with others, (including earth colors), student grade and top of the range are similar in constitution.

He next explained about lights, wavelength, surfaces and reflections making our brains interpret colors. This bit always puzzles me, but suffice it to say molecules/surfaces absorb certain wavelength of light, and whatever is reflected/rejected is seen by us as colors. So, my favorite red yarn has the magical power to absorb all other light wavelength but that which is innate in my favorite red, even though the yarn itself is not red.

Now, mixing. He used six primary colors as our bases: orange-red, orange-yellow, green-yellow, green-blue, violet-blue and violet-red.

Violet-red can be described as reflecting a lot of red, a little of violet, and a tiny amount of orange. Orange-red reflects lots of red, a little orange, and a small amount of violet. And so on. So the difference in the proportion of violet and orange distinguish these two reds in our eyes/heads. (He has his own color wheel but I cannot post it for copyright reasons, but if you could draw a crude wheel with these six positioned in order, it may help make sense.)
  • If I need a clear, saturated violet, I mix violet-blue and violet-red, not because I want to mix red and blue, but because this combination generates the greatest amount of purple to be reflected.
  • If I want a nuanced violet, I might mix orange-red and violet-blue, or violet-red and green-blue, but I know these combinations will never create a saturated, "true" violet.
  • If I want a dark, muddy violet, I might consider mixing orange-red with green-blue, but if it turns brown and ugly, no amount of adding orange-red will create a nice violet, because I will not be adding any more violet to be reflected.
  • This is a page from one of his books, which may help.
  • We've not had, apparently, pure blue nor pure red paints, but if we had, theoretically the pure blue will absorb all red, and the pure red, all blue, so the mixture will be black.
The next issue was complementaries and harmony. First he took two complementary colors, and mixed a small amount of one to the other. Mixing complementaries desaturates the hue, resulting in the mixture turning more and more into what he called "gray" (i.e. lack of discernible hue), until enough of the second color is mixed so the mixture starts to gain the hue of the second color.

Michael stated that in painting, "pure" black can be too harsh and look like a hole, and to create harmony, if this is what the artist desires, colors derived from mixing complementaries or neighboring colors, or these colors mixed with black, (or white in place of pure white,) may suit better. Then he discussed shadows in paintings, how we were taught vs. how they look in reality, the two being opposites, and about glazes.

Lastly we experimented with after images; we stared at a number of colored shapes and then turned our eyes on to a white board to see blurred shadows of the complementaries of the colors we had been looking at. We also looked at different colored shapes to see the influence of the first color on them. As with values, I have a hard time seeing after images, but apparently we can train our brains to see these. Still, it was easy to see how important simultaneous contrast is in my work and I need to revisit this area. I asked Michael how texture (shiny/matt) influences hues, but I did not get an answer I understood.

Our best reference, I believe, remains Lambert, Staepelaere and Fry's tome, "Color and Fiber", 1986. I have not dyed enough to know how, practically and immediately, what I learned can help me with dyes including overdyeing, but my mind was abuzz with shot and shadow weave ideas.

At the end of the class, we viewed a dozen paintings, discussing the base colors in each. It was easy to pick them out in some paintings, but as the number of base colors increased, or the range of the base color widened, (e.g. from yellow to blue-green with violet to orange-red), my eyeballs became exhausted and my brain scrambled. But the lesson was, know the craft of your art. Indeed.

It was a fabulous day, everybody coming out with his and her own ideas and topics to research.

Workshop organizer Alison may bulk-order for Michael's books and paints for NZ residents; if that happens, I will let you know.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Something Going on with Blogs?

I know someone who's unjustifiably on Blogger's bad books. Another who is virtually stalked. Something going on with Blogger or with blogs? I you all come out right, ladies!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Post-Tidying Warp 1

But of course it's the cones on the shelves I love to use the most...

"After"

Finished, as best I can for the time being. Klik stays in the living room for now, and the "To Be Culled" pile in the hallways is big and unsightly. But now I use my stash.

The pictures will be hung tonight. I never liked the black and white drawing until today, when I propped it next to the others. I was going to put one of Ben's photos in it, but I think it will go up as is.

Ben's stunned I'm not putting the big bulletin boards back; for now I prefer the bare walls, (as bare as I can make them), though I have a project in mind for the wall behind the door.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Good Medicine

If you want to feel good about yourself as a weaver, go into your thrum box/bag, handle each one, and remember the times. I was going to throw my thrums away, but memories of past projects and what I was thinking and how I enjoyed each project came rushing back, and I couldn't dare to part with them. It might give your soul a boost, too.

The Goddess of Procrastination

I am nearly finished tidying the stash room, err my Design Room. At least, I've vacated the bedroom tonight. As it grew darker, I finished by moving the last boxes from the bedroom to the stash, err, Design Room. And I'm shamed to admit the actual work took me one hour on Thursday, one hours on Friday, and about half a day today. Ergo, my new title.

All the yarns have been sorted, boxed and put away, except about a dozen cones that will sit on the floor until I use things and make space. Art supplies need sorting, and they will sit on the floor in corners until space under the tables become available. And in the immediate future, I will not have workable surface, because I will have "things" sitting on them; for the same reason the Kilk loom will reside in the living room further notice. The pictures need hanging, but I'm not sure if I'll hang the bulletin boards here, or in the studio. And if I plan to work in the Design Room at nights, I need better lights.

As to my second biggest problem, books and magazines, I need more ime. Over the coming summer we are reworking the office and the living room, where we have more books and bookshelves, so we have to pick a few days when both Ben and I feel like dusting, sorting and boxing. We've always had 2-3 times as much books as we have bookshelf space, so this is a known, familiar "issue" which need tackling with sensitivity or gusto or both.

I had planned to have the "rack" on the right side of the dresser, but it looked wrong in that corner so it went to the left side. Funny how most things went back to where they came from. This is partly why it took so long: I was thinking hard about why I procrastinated so long, (not counting the weeks that were too cold to paint,) and what the 4-months hooha was all about. I came up with no answer, but decided to see it as a kind of cleansing; I was shedding something of the old and moving elsewhere. I also wondered if I'm masking a deeper emotional problem by buying and stocking yarns and books, going Dr Phil on myself, but wasn't enlightened.

The yarn sorting was good. There wasn't much I'd forgotten, but I witnessed my navy-blue period, whites and naturals phase, and gray-to-black craze. I remember who gave me what and when, and I thought of them. I swear a couple of bags were from my mother's knitting (pre-1990!) stock I grew up with. Some were horribly coarse yarns I bought because they were the only skinny yarns available the time. For now I'm keeping everything.

My upstairs Design Room and downstairs Studio and their contents is more stream-lined, for want of a better term. Everything I need in order to weave in the Studio is downstairs. Everything I need to design, think or weave on the smaller looms are upstairs.

The last few years I dedicated the four-shaft jack loom for my cashmere scarves, but they will now be done on a smaller loom upstairs; it will now be dedicated to joy-weaving, using up my thicker yarns, experimenting with textures and colors and creating unique (i.e. not in series) pieces either for my future Etsy store, or to give to friends and charity. In fact, I was looking at Davison last night and was quite excited about these projects. It's been a while since I've woven just for the enjoyment, without too much thinking, so it will no doubt be good for the soul.

And since my Design Room is the only room in our house looking out to our garden, it will, hopefully, give me a great incentive to venture out into the wilderness and do something.

But tomorrow, I have the color course.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Trying to Feel Upbeat

I've not been productive of late, begrudgingly sitting amongst my stash with an intent to sort, tidy and whatever you do after you tidy yarns. (New goal: moving back into the bedroom by October 11, after four months in the living room. Dread.)

There are plenty of lovely yarns I could play with, and I'm dedicating my four-shaft Jack loom for joy weaving with these thicker yarns, as soon as I finish the last cashmere left on it.

Yesterday Bronwyn Lloyd kindly gave me feedback on "Feel of Fibre" at Waiheke Art Gallery and through her blog, I discovered that one of my pics were used in the hardcopy invitation. With her partner Jack Ross's permission, I've downloaded the invite from his blog. Thanks!

Here are links to their beautiful blogs.
Bronwyn's blog: Mosehouse Studio (We've already seen her work here!)
Jack's blog: The Imaginary Museum (Don't you just love that name?)
Pania Press (Brownwyn and Jack's business) blog

Be careful; among other things, they are book binders. You are allowed to gaze at their pics and enjoy reading, but remember, we have too much yarn and too many looms to swap crafts now. Right?