Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Next Exchange

I heard a good idea at yesterday's Year End meeting of Marlborough Weavers. (More on that a little later.) So here's an idea for our next exchange - I wondered if anyone else would be interested.

1) You collect three photographs/clipping/drawing to inspire a weaver. I suggest three different types of photos, for example one very abstract, one very emotional, and one a "scene", as in a holiday, a room or a set table. All this in case the recipient has very different taste/sensibilities from yours.

2) Put all three in an envelope. And a personal message if you like. Then email me to say you have an envelope.

3) I shuffle names and addresses in one of Ben's baseball caps, and ask you to send your envelope to someone. Meanwhile, someone will send you an envelope.

4) You plan a project based on one of the images; it could even be something else you were reminded of from one of the three, e.g. you may be sent a picture of a Christmas ornament, which reminded you of one on your Grandmother's tree years ago.

5) If you have a blog, you post the original images and your finished project on your blog; if you don't have a blog, I'll put them in my Flicker. And we'll all have a ring/link for easy viewing.

How far you'd like to take the project depends on you - you could actually weave something, or go as far as determining the yarn, the set and the draft, or come up with a bunch of drawings.

Because the holiday season is upon us and we don't want to loose our previous images or ideas in the busy-ness, and I'm away at an inconvenient time, I thought we might plan to exchange the visuals at in late February/early March, and set the due to show the project, finished or underway, say, late May sometime?

I also thought paper pictures are more tangible and portable and therefore preferable to exchanging JPG files. The printed papers have textures, and we could carry them around or paste them into our sketchbooks or pin them on our walls.

Anyone keen?

EDIT: I can't think too far ahead so I don't know if there will be another Small Scarf Exhibition next year, or this will be in its stead, or if we'll have SSVE later in the year. But I'm mindful we've had the last two SSVE around May/June, so you could combine the two if you'd like.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Saturday Daydreaming: Futuristic Textiles

During our recent trip to the North Island, we went to see the wind turbines near the town of Ashhurst. The elegance of the turbine design combined with the massive number of them and the morbid dark sky surrounded me with a Doctor Who kind of creepiness. It was an other-worldly place and I wondered what creatures living in this place looked like.

My image of futuristic textile and clothing have been informed by the various science fiction TV series and films; stretchy, metallic (always silver and not gold), functional and "intelligent", which in the old days meant wrinkle-free, but nowadays could mean temperature/humidity-controlled, as well as wired up in many other intrusive ways. It could make me feel a slight discomfort when I reach for that second cookie!

While some of you are experimenting and creating with new material including electronics, I am more attracted to old designs and styles. This is definitely because I have a very poor vision of the future. Of course, I like to think I'm slowing down my life by reverting to an old craft, (even though I love working on my computer-controlled loom to speed up my multishaft weaving,) and feel the connection through the craft with weavers of the past, and the future. It's just that I can't picture a future weaver, say 100 years from now; I don't know what s/he would be wearing, what kind of a loom s/he would be working on, if indeed it would even look like a loom to me, and what would be on that loom. For some reason, I don't think it'll be a 2/2 twill in undyed merino on a wooden loom, though.

Where do you see us going?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Another Windy Thursday: What a Non-Post This Is!!

Boy, when it blows in Nelson, it blows. Apparently it wasn't so bad while on the few days we were away, but it's been one long Dorothy's Kansas this spring, raising dust and sand and breaking tree branches. It happens every spring, but it feel later this year, and much longer than I remember; I could be wrong.

Lest you think I've given up on my design modules, I haven't. I met with Ali for the forth time yesterday, (first since September 3!) but I had a bit of information overload and need some time to digest. Among other things, we talked about composition which is a weak point of mine. A new challenge is, she told me to express/explain/describe my likes and dislike without using such words as "pretty", "nice", "yucky", and "ugly". In doing so, I noticed I look at colors and color compositions carefully, and what I call "emphasis" (which comes partly from years of cropping photographs and armature/voluntary graphic works,) but not so of such things as lines, shapes, and repetitions/patterns.

I'm also in awe of the variety of experiments I could do to learn more about design and colors and compositions, i.e. collage, cropping, distortion, as well as work with yarns and draft-making. In the first instance, it would most probably involve my making a list of methods to make sure I try them all, but my linear nature is being severely challenged, and I'm excited, but a little overwhelmed by the prospects of working in such disparate ways.

Today, though, I have to clean the house.

Tomorrow I have drawing in the morning, I go to Nancy's to "order" some fabric, (I don't know the proper vocabulary to explain what she does, so I'll have to take pictures and show you later.) Tomorrow night the Textile Lunchers come to my house for the year end suppery pot luck, even though I didn't manage to get the Handmade Nation DVD.

Saturday, bright and early, we head to Blenheim for the year end meeting of Marlborough Weavers, and sometime between now and then I also hope to whip up a bag, our 2009 challenge. And while there, I hope to take photos and maybe get an interview or two in to stockpile for our group blog.

I will keep working on the design modules and the block samples, my own study of Log Cabin, Shadow/Corkscrew/Echo Weaves, and the investigation of scalloped selvedges; there are four local-ish exhibitions I could potentially send things to, without even peeking into Fiber Art Calls for Entry, and I want to weave my gold "Rococo" cotton pieces. Once again my life looks like a series of To Do Lists, which is OK because it means I'm not sick, though I do wish I could work in different ways.

Life is never dull on the windswpet Tahuna Hills, friends. And those of you in the US of A, do have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Scallopped Selvedge

Thank you for your thoughts on-line, off-line, and from Facebook! Ideas we collectively came up with so far are:
  • Use of floating selvedge
  • Different weave structure in the edges
  • Different shrinkage
  • Manipulation of draw in
  • Weaving extra picks in the edges
  • Passementerie techniques
To borrow Lynne Mackay's phrase, "the martyr that I am," I'm interested in putting in extra picks in the edges in a fan shape, but that would require not only very careful planning but individually-weighted ends, so this is way in the back burner for now.

We just got back from four days on the North Island, a road trip from Wellington to Napier and back with my friend Trish. At the tail end of the trip I finally got to visit DEA's yarn shop in Levin, which was like Disneyland for me. Deanna and Adam were even lovelier in person than the loveliest people I imagined communicating with the by email and phone for... nearly 3 years? Unfortunately I got too excited I didn't take any photos, but I got to see the inner sanctum, and I feel much better about my stash, and there is another, existing range coming from them next year. (Ben, stop saying theirs is a commercial stash!)

If you have more idea about scalloped selvedge, do please comment, send me links, photos, etc. Particularly if you know crochet, tatting, bobbin-lace-making or other techniques.

EDIT: Desirée called my attention to the cover of Vav Magazinet, 4/09, Textil Tidscrift. Desirée writes:

"The rug is called Näthinnebild I, 2009 (Retina image) from MMF of Marie Miesenberger.

"MMF stands for Märta Måås Fjetterström an artist who made a lot of famous rugs. Many of her rugs are still in production, and the company invites artists every year to make new ones.

"There is a 90yr jubilée this year and an exhibition at Liljevalchs in Stockholm. I have plans, and train tickets, to go there after chrismas. There is just one problem, you are not allowed to take fotos!

"Good luck with the edges! Maybe it's the fringes that's the solution. You never know if they are made from warp or weft."

Thank you, Desirée.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Saturday Daydreaming: Must Selvedge Be Straight?

Old saws on the wall of the Chain Saw exhibition at Founders Heritage Park. I wondered if it's possible to build in scalloped selvedge into the draft, the way knitters do it with knitting, as in built-in frills. Different shrinkage would be the easiest, but is there any other way?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Weed Week

On December 6, we are hosting this year's Driveway Christmas Party. This is its sixth year; it started suddenly when many of the kids grew up and a group of parents on our driveway, (10 homes share one big driveway), who knew each other well, got together and started it. Last year, when the discussion came up, I volunteered to host this year, much to Ben's horror. This time last my year life was seriously looking upbeat and I anticipated one whole year enjoying gardening.

In the last week a couple of our neighbors dropped hints, no doubt wondering where on earth we were going to sit amongst all my robust weeds, but we are going ahead; we put the invites in everybody's mail boxes yesterday.

Ben and I weeded for two and a half hours on Tuesday, I weeded for four yesterday. Ben, meanwhile, finally had his lower back pain seen to by a Bowen Technique specialist and was told not to stay in one position for more than 30 minutes for four days.

Not fair? Absolutely, but I would rather he got rid of his more or less chronic back pain, (I know the cause but he refuses to take my opinion seriously!) and I get rid of the weeds, so I'm going out solo again. I've serious misgivings about how much I can get done before D Day, (we're going away for a few days, too,) but there is not much I can do besides keep on keeping on.

I'm actually enjoying weeding, because the effect is immediate and wee areas of our property start to look neat and tidy every day, though there is a mound of weed near our front door growing rapidly. The problem is, I can't do it all day like I used to and if I'm out for a few hours, I feel like a zombie for the rest and can't do much else.

Onwards and downwards!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Malcolm Harrison, a Kiwi Textile Bloke

His is a name I come across again and again but I hadn't Googled him until today. I can't help thinking, without taking anything away from what he achieved, would he have been singled out as a Textile Guy had he been a Textile Lady?

Here are just a sample of links I found:

www.textiles.org.nz/profiles


Gallery, Janne Land (There are two pages - click on each thumbnail to enlarge.)

Accolade in the Big Idea, 2004

His obit from Dowse, 2007

With all the emphasis on pictorial textile art and surface designs, the rebel in me is now contemplating handweaving reduced to the very bare minimum and daring selectors to include it in a conceptual textile art exhibition. But then is that me?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Conceptual Art vs Concepts - A Post with No Conclusions

The quote in the previous post was part of summing up in the last, Episode 13, "A More Abundant Life", by Alistair Cooke in his 1973 TV series "America: A Personal History of the United States". He was likening the end of the Roman Empire to where he saw the USA in 1972/3, based on his (English) observation of the founding philosophies of the nation and diverse views on democracy. Superb television.

When he said that, I wasn't thinking of the USA in 1972/3, however; I just heard those words I quoted, and they had an immediate resonance, particularly the "enthusiasm pretending to creativeness" part.

* * * * *

I spent a couple of hours this afternoon with Anna, who gave me a historical overview of how Conceptual Art came about, and where "concept (with little c)" sits in the current art environment. The information was valuable, but time spent with another enthusiastic soul, one armed with knowledge, understanding and skills to analyze and explain, was thrilling. On the one hand, I felt freed from "concepts", but now I'm not sure how I'm going to proceed with my Changing Threads project. Time to digest the new knowledge and advice, and think on my own.

* * * * *

A few weeks ago I treated myself to Julia and Elizabeth Cameron's "How to Avoid Making Art (or Anything Else You Enjoy)", which arrived from Amazon.com today. It was totally not what I expected, and exactly what I needed. I can't emphasize enough that I have an easy life with so little obstacle in art making. All the more reason I and only I can be accountable for my productivity, my persistence, and my art. I heartly recommend this little book to anyone who has ever delayed making a warp or sitting in front of the loom for some unexplained reason.

A Part of a Quote

"Freakishness in the arts masquerading as originality, and enthusiasm pretending to creativeness."

The first part, I see in a lot of conceptual art; the second part in my practice. It's something I heard over the weekend and won't leave me alone. I'll tell you where I heard it later in the day.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday Thoughts

Perhaps the most noticeable difference between my friends who had art education and me is their ability to look at art analytically. My reaction tends to be a) like/dislike, and b) why I feel so, justifying my reaction. I'm constantly amazed at friends noticing the repetition of lines/shapes/colors throughout a painting, or patterns or contrasts or whatever. Their judgment as to whether they like a work is more considered, whereas mine mere reaction, a gut feeling. I'm not saying one is good and the other bad, but learning to see artworks analytically might increase my appreciation of art, and improve my making.

So, art education, besides techniques, knowledge/understanding of materials, and historical narrative, must equip students with analytical overemotional skills. I just thought art students had loads of fun making things, while Philosophy majors read boring but inconsequential ancient texts.

* * * * *

When I listen to artists talk about their creative processes, many of them are "constructive" in that they experiment different methods and materials that best enable them to create works that best express... whatever it is they want to express.

I often see what I want to make and I backtrack and figure out the best material and create a draft. Because my technique is always loom weaving, sampling is about the only experiments I do. I feel my approach is more "reductive". I wonder if this limits the scope of my work, even though it's convenient and fast. And when it would be more prudent to experiment more.

* * * * *

The way I understand conceptual art work, in a characteristically blunt, simplistic way, is thus:

a) It has to have a back story, i.e. what you see is most probably not what you get,
b) It cannot be utilitarian, but
c) It can be ugly, or even disturbing, depending on what you claim to be expressing.

And many conceptual work I've seen have been less than pretty.

I mentioned ideas are dancing to their own tunes inside my head. One of the idea seems to be to make something symbolizing "an invisible middle-aged woman". I have some ideas as to how I could show her, but again, I've only matched what I have in terms of accessible material and skills, and tried to fit the "desired outcome" with a selected track (??). And that feels un-artist-y.

The bigger problem for me is this; I question if I want to spend the time, energy, and let's be honest, money to make something to express an idea that's not exactly pretty. I'm tempted to say no, because I don't have a burning desire to make a symbol of "invisible middle-aged woman", I don't have to see it, because I'm living it. Would I not be better off making more pretty things to sell? But there are too few weaving exhibitions, and if I don't try to participate in textile/fiber art exhibitions, I would restrict the chances for my "weaving" to be seen.

I think this is proof I'm temperamentally more of a weaver/craftsperson than an artist. I don't have an overwhelming desire to express an idea with my craft, but to create beautiful/pretty things.

Tomorrow, I'm getting a high-powered brain-storming help. I'm bringing Ben, (he has two weeks off,) along as the rememberer because I get too excited in the discussion itself that I forget things, even though I take notes. It feels like a mini Day of Reckoning.

If I Had an Allotment Garden

I would have lots of plants and flowers that smell nice. I would have sage bushes and lemon balm and rosemary and mint in a container so I could pick any leaf and rub them between my fingers and put them in my breast pocket.

I would have a blueberry bush and a few strawberry plants and an mandarin tree so I pick the fruits in season, but I won't put nets over them so birds can pick whatever, whenever they like. In fact, I shall put obstacles for cats so they don't catch the birds.

I would like a red brick path, and thyme and chamomile growing in the cracks, and a big area in the middle to put brightly painted Adirondack chairs (yellow and orange or white and pale blue) or a bench (purple), and a small table (fire engine red), so I can sit with you and drink tisane from unmatching cups, talk about weaving or your vegetables, or sit and retreat into our thoughts together.

I know I would have my big straw garden hat. I would like to say I will have on a cotton print dress, but no, you'll most probably find me in my gardening pants, wellies, and two green rubber coated gloves.

This thought was brought to you by not all those who wander are lost.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Concept Brewing?

I'm not sure if I have a Handmade Nation DVD coming my way or not. Amazon.com Customer Service guy said it isn't, Amazon.com Customer Services gal said I was refunded but the shipment is delayed (???); chances are, it isn't coming because I've been refunded, but I would still like to get a hold of it at some time. I am interested in how young people approach craft.

This morning I woke up thinking concepts are totally not my thing, and I was going to either submit something that's more my regular thing, or not at all, and I was leaning towards the latter. But you know, challenges get under my skin and my mind won't stop kicking shapes, colors and adjectives around. I don't know where "they" are going, but I'll let this rambunctious lot do its thing and see if they end up presenting me with a doable idea.

I don't know what the story is, but when we had lunch at Founders Heritage Park today, I saw on the brewery/cafe sign these pieces of knitted sample swatches. (They were on no other signs in the park.) They were colorful and lovely and so cheerful. Lunch was good, too; they dind't have their Seafood Chowder, which I think is one of the best in the region, but a hefty vegetarian burger for me, and a beef burger for Ben.

With the riot still going on in my head, we headed for the Suter, because there was to be a silent auction to raise funds for Samoa; the reserves for artworks I was interested in, (Tim Wraight's sculpture, Brian Flintoff's instrument) were understandably high so we didn't bid. Luckily, we also caught the NMIT (ex-polytech) student show Rebus.

This is a tertial students' art show, so some of the works were morbid/alarming, but there were quite a few (more than usual!) nice textile-related works. As I said, these young people make me so interested in how they approach craft, to see if they think differently from us, or if their outcome is different but thinking not so. I've asked one of the students, Felicity, if she would mind sending me some jpg files so I can introduce her work here; beautiful hand-crafted reversible jackets; fingers crossed. There was to be Samoan dances and music later in the afternoon but my cold/hay fever became unsightly so we came home by way of, ahem, another hardware store.

And a wee recap of my head situation. (Hi, AB!)

I went to see my GP last week for a 2.5-month check up. We think the medication is working, because my emotional ups and down are normal; I don't have extreme highs nor lows, and I have sufficient brain juice to allow me to do things, though I could always use more! I'm not sure if the new patience is here to stay, or I'm getting old I just can't move fast any more!

The events at the start of the year, (emergency Japan trip, prolonged building project) and unusually long and cold winter didn't do my any favors and anxiety is something I need to learn to control. But it's sunnier now; summer, albeit later than usual, is here, I'm pretty sure. And best of all, I have work commitments, which, to me, appears to be the best antidepressant. (Though I'd definitely like to learn how to relax between projects, for sure.)

I'm to be on the current medication for three more months, in total six months, and then we're going off it. That time frame (late Feb) roughly coincides with two exhibition due dates, so around then I need to stayed tuned to my health/mood, but not bring myself down like a bad self-fulfilled prophesy. There's always a chance I'll be bothered by depression again, particularly looking at the prevalence on my Dad's side, but exercise and good diet can work towards reducing its likelihood, and I'm hoping I'll have at least a few years of head med free years, if not forever!

PS: I used an old, "tiny backpack" today. Apparently I hadn't used it since 2006 because in its pocket I found 10,000 Japanese Yen and a filled deposit slip I'd forgotten. It sounds like a lot, but it doesn't buy much in Japan, but at least I don't have to go to the bank before my next trip. It does feel like a small Lotto prize, but Ben thinks it's no use my going through all of our bags and wallets just to check for more.

Saturday Daydreaming: Cherry Blossom Blanket

Cherry blossoms mean so much to the Japanese that the more reliable plum blossoms of late January to early March is only a prelude to the Cherry. But the pale pink flowers are delicate, and as they bloom when the weather is changeable, between late March and early April, we're very lucky if we can get one or two sunny, warm spring day of blossoms before the spring gusts blow them away or the sudden shower wash them in minutes.

About the time I leave home to come back to Nelson next year, Mom will start to get restless, anticipating the Cherry Front Line info after the nightly news and weather forecast, even though in Yokohama where they live, it'll be the coldest couple of weeks of the year in mid-Feb.

So I'm thinking of weaving Mom a "Very Early Spring" blanket, with the colors of anticipated cherry buds, the gray sky, spring rain, and young leaves on other trees, (cherry leaves come out after the flowers are gone on the five-petal "proper" variety), in wool including fine boucle to give some thickness and extra warmth, in a simple twill.

I think this is my next project. I must think of something for my wool-allergic sister, too; she's the hardest.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Concept Time Again?

Nelson Arts Council announced the details for 2010 Changing Threads textile awards today. This is the awards that is open for New Zealand residents only.

Last year I was so excited and started to think about, well, concepts. But this year, not so; I can't help feeling bamboozled by it all. The exhibition aims to "showcase the use of fibre and textiles in a challenging and more conceptual way from their more general usage." I'm not sure if I even want to "go there", or if this is the type or work I don't want to do.

It further says "work will be selected for the exhibition on originality, the emphasis being on work which stretches the boundaries of fibre art to give a contemporary twist to the more traditional view of this medium."

I'd like to take part because this is a Nelson event as much as it is a NZ-wide one, and I'll be glad just to get work accepted, but, gee, what do they want? A corrugated roof made of fine cotton???

Handmade Nation / Weight of a Ponytail / Waiheke Invite

Amazon.com canceled my order for the Handmade Nation DVD and refunded me, saying my address was "undeliverable". Funny, considering we've been buying things for donkey's years (is that the expression?) at this address. I wonder if it has to do with the DVD zones; did you know New Zealand is in Zone 4, which is supposed to be one of the worst in piloting and such? Even though most of us have players that can play DVDs from any zone. I've asked for more explanation, and "My Account" shows the DVD is en route! Textile Lunchers are coming to my house on November 27th for one last Hurrah of the year, and we thought we'd have a New Zealand premier of the said documentary, so if I'm not getting it, I need to think of another entertainment!

Meanwhile, I've had a mild cold, with a mild fever, a killer scratchy throat, and would you believe it, a scalp pain because my pony tail is pulling it back! My hair isn't that long now, and the ponytail is nowhere as bushy or fluffy as it used to be, but still, the top of my forehead has been hurting. And my hair isn't long enough to wear the bun on top of my head. So I'm walking around like a deranged hag, with my hair down!

Because of the mild cold and a scalp-ache, I had to cancel Mentor Ali session and also not go to the last (of the year) Nelson Decorative and Fine Arts lecture on Wednesday. In fact, I stayed in bed most of Wednesday afternoon and Thursday, but I made myself go to the drawing class this morning, and I'm glad I went. We're now doing composition, until the end of the year which is in three weeks, and it's a whole new territory, but one I'm interested in, and it just so happens, the current design module deals with it, too.

In spite of my repeated emails and even a long-distance phone call over the months, I haven't received the printed invite for Feel of Fibre from Waiheke Art Gallery. Some galleries have sent me DVDs of photos of the exhibition and extra catalogues, but I guess not this one. Pity, because this invite looks so cute!

Have a good weekend, everybody. (My sister's birthday today; she was born on Friday the 13th and it's her lucky day!)

EDIT: They told me the DVD is on its way but they can't track it. Hummmm...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thanks for The Paw Prints

iNdi@ who uses threaded rods to make dye marks, is India Flint, the (eco-)dye goddess; she's come to Nelson and Blenheim for workshops at least twice that I'm aware of, but I never even thought of singing up because, you know, I am intimidated by the art of dyeing... Goodness, the workshops could have been Two Big Ones that Got Away... And I finally, belatedly, connected the dots.

Here is her website which has spectacular photos, here is her blog, and here is her dye book which has become a must-have around here. Scroll down on the last link about half way to find her book; view this page with caution; it's seriously dangerous one. Good thing the writing is so tiny I can't read them easily...

She's from the West Island of New Zealand, or as she calls is, the big red island north of, Antarctica: Australia.

Speaking of something else I was intimidated by, in the 90s was given a TAFTA (The Australian Forum of Textile Arts) magazine and was completely blown away in a bad way (so arty!) and avoided the acronym like a bad, confusing, omen, but their website could be a good resource today.

Meanwhile, Trapunto remains somewhat illusive, or will it take me another day to connect the dots?

Thank you for the friendly wave, ladies. (You, too, Taueret!) I really appreciated them. And there's no deadline for the paw prints :-)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Hardware Lust

Every trip to the hardware stores is a dangerous one for me, because I keep finding things that look intriguing and I want to have (or want to need) them. These are this weekend's finds:

Threaded rod in zinc (affordable) or stainless steel (a bit dearer) in around four width and 1 or 2 meters in length.

Modern art micro sculpture or a cute logo pretending to be functional; comes in two sizes.

Aha! So I've been saying it correctly all along and Ben and the hardware stores can learn from me!!

This is my 1010th post. (Yeah, zoomed passed the 1000th without realizing.) I'm feeling a bit frazzled and disjointed. Do you mind leaving a paw print or other form of a friendly hello in the comment section? Thanks, much appreciated.

Bag Ladies

Marlborough Weavers' 2009 challenge has been to make a bag out of our woven pieces. I've plenty of woven bits but haven't decided which to use to make what kind of a bag, and I have 18 days left to do it. Here are two from Win Currie. I also found Geodyne's spinning group had a similar challenge, as seen here. Scroll down slowly, but make sure you see all the photos!

Monday, November 9, 2009

To Do Lust

Because Taueret is an American transplanted in Australia, and I'm a Japanese transplanted in New Zealand by way of the USA, we make jokes about our accents and vocabulary; most often, she of mine. Which makes me sometimes aware of my changing accent; from the pure unadulterated Minnesotan, to the rather international one I picked up while working at the Asia/Pacific HQ of a multinational in Tokyo working with people from all over the region plus North America and which people couldn't quite place, to picking up a lot of NZ (often originating in Scotland) vocabulary.

I was very aware of this when I first arrived, and I used to write hilarious Christmas newsletters, but gradually I ceased to notice the new acquisitions and differences. 15 years on, I sometimes have to think hard if someone is speaking in a North American or English accent because in many ways I've become so used to the variety, never mind the Aussies.

But our vowels are distinct. In linguistic terms the position where the vowels are produced have rotated back in New Zealand, and I suspect forward in Australia. Most often quoted difference is our favorite meal "fish and chips"; in New Zealand it is closer to "fush and chups" whereas around Sydney it's almost "feesh and cheeps", and this is more evident in the younger generation. I once had a colleague nicknamed "Trix" who was sometimes called "rucks" which baffled me every time I heard her called that.

I seldom think I have a New Zealand accent, and automatically revert to what I still think is a Minnesotan in both accent and vocabulary, (people point that out to me often enough!), particularly when I am with Nancy (mostly Northern California but also UK and Australia for a long time) and Pat (California and New York). But lately I sometimes catch myself speaking like, well, a Kiwi.

Urgo the title of this post. This morning, I caught myself while taking to Ben what I needed to do today. And it's funny because it's not just my accent; it's my whole attitude to life.

Food for Thought

I've always thought weavers, over all, have done well with the changes in technology and keenly adapt new ways of doing things. I've also been curious about the great number of scientist/mathematicians, musicians, and people from non-visual-art background. And many of us are not secretive, but willingly share sources and techniques, don't we?

I read this post about "Disintermediation Era" this morning, and am thankful I'm a weaver.

Unicorn Tapestries Close Up

Cally has posted terrific photos of some of the Unicorn tapestries at Stirling Castle here. I've seen many photos on web sites, but never seen any close ups and Cally's photos give me a better understanding of the crafts-person-ship, and a fond memory of a novel I read about the making of the original tapestries.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Note to Self

Right, Missy, you have two and a half months before you go home, so these are the things you need to think about, and once you plan your days, stick to your plan.

TODAY
Hardware store.
Write pre-trip, while-away, 2H2/10, and Life-After-March TO DO lists.
Include garden clean up before Dec 6.
Write To Do list for Napier road trip.
Don't forget Wish list for J trip.
Oh, yikes, tax return before J trip.
Shadow Weave infor for Mom
Loose as much weight as possible before J trip.

DESIGN STUDY
Before Wednesday 5PM
1 design module work
catch up reading block book
weave at least 6 samples, including at least one asymmetrical.
Rework syllabus around J trip.

WEAVE
Do I want to weave Mom a blanket, or something different?
Finish Megg's scarf and post.
Finish baby blanket and post.
At least one warp of cottlin towel Mom asked for in Jan 09.
2 warps of towels if no other gifts.
Combine above with block samples??
Joy Weave on 4-shafts?
more gold & blue/teal/green?

PROJECTS
Plan the second Textile Awards in case this goes ahead.
Plan next year's Area Exhibition piece.

BACK BURNER
More shadow/corkscrew/echo weave
More log cabin
Shibori/dye

STICK TO YOUR PLANS!!
71 days and counting.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

More on Japanese Living Human Treasures

The previous post came about because of a correspondence on Japanese Living Human Treasures and women's art making. I just checked and Wiki and it says what we commonly call the Living Human Treasures are not the official term; the correct name is Holders of Important Non-Tangible Cultural Asset, meaning, nifty skills. I checked the names and under Textiles and Dyeing, there are 29 obviously male title holders, 7 female, and 8 unknowns, because artists sometimes adopt pen names, which seem gender neutral, though sometimes I can guess from the meanings of the names. Many protect dye traditions; there is one embroiderer. Seven folks come from one specific style of dye pattern tradition. In addition, seven organizations have been deemed collective holders of skills; these organizations protect and promote local styles of weaving or dyeing, including specific regional Ikat styles.

Can I also add there are whole bunch of performance art categories, and other craft categories include ceramics, metal (including sward making) and wood work, paper making, lacquer work and doll making, but not painting nor sculptures.

Is Japan Mysoginistic?

Yes, at least publicly and legally. At least up until the 90's (and I don't suppose it's changed under the prolonged recession but I'm not sure,) women could not take out a mortgages. A few women got together and started a bank (with a pink ribbon logo) to do just this, but they had to have a male CEO and the bank closed rather too quickly. We have very few MPs, ministers or CEO's. It is hard to get accolade for any work other than "women's work", which would be nursing, and perhaps early childhood education. Even top chefs, top weavers, and heads of flower arrangement and tea ceremony schools are almost all men.

The very word "nurse" ("kango-fu"), although a description of profession, denotes woman (the suffix "fu"), in the same way fireman, postman and chairman denotes men, though I realize in the English language it also means "human".

In the early 90's when it became evident we needed more men in nursing, particularly geriatric nurses, (and this happened around the time I left Japan, so my knowledge is admittedly murky, but,) they established a different qualification based on a different training scheme and named it "kango-shi", a man ("shi"), in the same vein as fireman ("sh0h-b0h-shi") or pharmacist ("yakuzai-shi", nothing to do with Yakuza, mind,) but not doctor ("i-shi"; here "shi" means teacher; the Japanese language has homophones by the truck loads.)

In the language's defense, we also have many, many gender neutral professions, driver ("unten-shu", hand, ) MC ("shikai-sha", person), shop-owner ("insert-item-ya", shop, including postmen who delivers, "yubin-ya") or chairman ("shuseki", chair). There was some kind of an equal employment opportunity law passed possibly in the bubbly 80's, but a) employers can specify skills that eliminate all but the most gun-ho women from trying, and b) there are still tons of want ads for "pretty ladies between the ages of 18 and 24 looking for an easy way to earn high salary" and the like.

I hasten to add, I don't think many Japanese women think about this much, and when they do, they may not be bothered, because "segregation/separation" has its merits. Japanese gender specific responsibilities can certainly makes life easier for women; women are seldom expected to lift heavy stuff in a supermarket but just mind the till. Though, again, at least until the early 90's.

Literature, from diaries, poems (poet, "shijin") to novels (novelist "sakka"), the playing field have been comparatively level, though I have heard female authors complain publishers sometimes ask to sleep with them if they want to be published. And even the best of them sometimes can't escape being prefixed "women", ("jyoryuh-sakka", "jyoryuh-shijin").

Sometimes this is why women give up hitting their heads on the not-so-transparent glass ceiling and decide to marry belatedly. (But not in my case; well, not strictly.)

But fret not. Inside the home, women often have a lot of power. For example in many homes wives/women have total control of the money, often even the larger purchases, and the children's education. That is why the wife is sometimes called "Yama-no-Kami", God (not Goddess) of the Mountain!

PS: Back in the 70's, I thought replacing "man" with "one" was shorter and smarter than "person", i.e. "fire-one", "mail-one" and "chair-one" to match the use of "one" as in "one does not flaunt one's success," but nearly 40 years later, they sounds superbly comical, don't they!

Made a Booking

Just booked my tickets home from mid-Jan to mid-Feb next year, and am already missing Ben, you folks, and the Internet, but looking forward to family time and Japanese aesthetic experiences. And some concentrated weave talk time with Mom!! It's the first time in 9 years I'm going home for a non-emergency trip and it's nice to be able to plan things, because the last two planned trips were canceled due to Ben's parents passing away as soon as we told them we were coming to visit! Really!

I have to be vigilant, however, because I have to weave a few warps before I go, I have one deadline in late Feb and I think another in March, and I have to plan the design study with Ali (I've fallen off that wagon since September and am just climbing back on it now) so I can do things while in Japan.

That, and tidy the garden for our Street Christmas Party to take place at our garden, probably on December 6. So, no time to stare lazily at the screens now.

PS: If you ever hear of any textile/fashion places of interest or events in late Jan/early Feb in Japan, please let me know?

When You Weave And Then Dye....

If you weave something, say a woven shibori piece, and then dye, when does the wet finish take place? At long last I started thinking about shibori, because I have this vague idea and a long-term goal that I want to make something that will maintain its shape and shibori or plaster (the white stuff, not BandAid) are the only things I could think of, and I'd much rather do the shibori.

I suppose it's after the dyeing but before I take out the strings?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Textile in/and Art

I have been thinking about Joanne Mattera's blog post I mentioned earlier today; not about what I'd like to call myself, but about textile in/and art.

A while back I went to a John Bevan Ford exhibition at The Suter with Rosie. Among other things he often drew/painted woven Maori cloaks, not to record, but as a symbol. One of the reasons I enjoyed the exhibition was because he deemed textile as deserving of such importance in his art.

From what I've seen, when textile appeared in paintings, they either show the wealth of the subject, often kings, generals and churchmen, or depict women and their mundane lives, as in embroidering for the rich or mending for the poor. Rosie added that painters (and certainly sculptors) showed off their technical skills through textiles. But textile itself, that I know of, has seldom been the main subject of paintings.

As with any other craft/art, top recognized artists, the Living Human Treasures, involved in textile/art in Japan are men, (although there are many women practicing it.) So I don't associate textile so directly with women (ergo, domestic/mundane). This could be why I have difficulty understanding the low esteem assigned to fiber/textile art around me. Although I think the many nameless European tapestry and brocade weavers were men, too, weren't they? Or was the work actually done by women?

White I write, I'm melting listening to the Mark Vincent CD I got today from Australia; he's the freakishly talented 15-year old Australian singer. He sometimes sounds like Dean Martin, sometimes like a much younger Bocelli, and I look forward to Mark aging and living a bit. The production value isn't great, but this CD will make a great Rococo weaving background. Popera at its best. And the last track is Advance Australia Fair!

Book Lust

Remember I had great difficulty sorting my stash room this winter, partly because I had so many books? I gave away more than 180cm in width on the shelf, and sold about 60cm, but since then I bought 12 new books. (OK, two to replace the ones I gave my mother.)

I have to curve my book lust. Seriously. Even if, as Taueret once said, and if she didn't I'm attributing this to her anyway, "The more textile books you have, the better weaver you become." There is one book on Amazon.com that I've wanted for a year now, and it's now available used. Maybe I'll wait just a bit.

What Got into My Head?? (Or More LiIke What Fell Out??)

Connie Rose, on her Facebook, put a link to this post in Joanne Mattera's blog about whether a person is a (insert-media-or-method) artist, or just an artist. You'd think I would get worked up once again, but strangely, today, I wasn't. But the blog looks like an intelligent, worthwhile one!

I realized with all my issues and problems that I am just happy to be a person who makes things on the loom, and you can call me a weaver, an artist, or Larry, and it wouldn't make a different to what I do or how I approach my making. I just enjoy being someone who makes things.

Kinda liberating, isn't it, for a change?

This morning, for the first time in 18 months, I didn't want to go to figure/life drawing, and wanted to weave instead. But I did; I might just be starting to get a hang of looking at the subject long enough now, just, and I didn't want to miss the chance to practice again.

The double-width blanket is going well, very fast to weave and I'm constantly advancing the warp, but it gave me another idea and I'm making another warp to tie on to the current one; it's something my mom asked for a few years ago and I can't remember if I wove her anything on that occasion but it's a very textured early-spring-themed something or rather, with fine merino boucle both ways. And then, I want to do my wider, gold-and-blues/teals/greens Rococo swirly things again. Or something else.

Later, I happened upon a textile book I had never seen; it's "experimental textiles: A journey through design, interpretation and inspiration" by Kim Thittichai. I had seen her "hot textiles: Inspiration and techniques with heat tools" which intrigued but didn't interest me, but this one looks promising. I'm not sure if it's the book or where I'm at. So I got it as part of an early Christmas present from Ben. (But can I please gripe again that this book which from Amazon.com costs US$18.45 is a whopping NZ$60? Ouch!)

Have a read and let me know what you think about Joanne Mattera's blog post mentioned at the top.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I Want, I Want!

Look at these ornaments discovered via Desiree!! I've always love bird feathers and anything with bird feather motifs but these are beautiful!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Murphy's Blanket

As in Murphy's Law. I've been working on a brother blanket to this one. I was so tardy when the Big Brother received his blanket, he was around 14 months; this wee brother is going to be around 19 months by the time this gets to him, however. And I do feel bad; how do you explain to a toddler the weaver had a bad year?? I hear there us even a little sister now! If the client wants a third blanket, tell me now! I might just tie on to this warp!

Even though I call them baby blankets, these are meant for toddling boys to carry them around, drag around, and do whatever little boys do, so they are not exceptionally soft. I imagine these blanket on the beach, in sand boxes, and even on paddocks.

As well, this client requests specific color schemes. So in the Big Brother's blue one, I used soft merino warps and sturdy wool called, in New Zealand, carpet singles. For this one, because of the colors requested and the range available from my warp source, I decided to go with a mix of nice and harsher warps and a softer weft.

The harsher warp (oh, but the gray is so beautiful!) was not nice to thread when my hay fever was at its worst, but armed with pills and spray allergy meds, and clad in an synthetic, long-sleeved apron and a shower cap, I persevered. (I couldn't use goggles because they fog up my glasses and I can't see!)

This is only my third double weave project. The first being this blanket for the same client, the second being Big Brother's, and though they're called double weave, I've only woven double-width weave outside one workshop. That makes this one the third double weave in four years. Read: inexperience and much too long in between.

I modified Big Brother's draft and made this one a 3/3 twill diamond. I copied the plain weave portion from the previous blanket, and reworked and checked the twill draft a couple of months ago. Or so I thought. When I started sampling, I got cylinders, so I corrected the drafts; the plain weave worked, but the twill was still cylindrical, so I corrected again; then I got two cylinders again! Two hours later, I finally got double-width plain and twill drafts.

While washing the sample, I forgot that the bottom of this sample piece is cylindrical, and panicked thinking its width shrunk to half that on the loom! What drama!

I like the darker, even-width weft better because the colors are saturated and the even size of the yarn doesn't distort the diamonds, but the lighter weft is much softer at 100% merino. I also have 10 balls of knitting alpaca that could do the job. It's thinner, about the size of the brown I used at the start to separate the warps, which may produce more attractive diamonds. But I'm yet to be converted to liking alpaca, so I didn't bother sampling. I'll decide whether the alpaca needs sampling, or one of these wefts is suitable after the sample dries completely.

Sometime during the flustered afternoon, I misplaced one of my two huge boat shuttles I use for fat wefts. I looked around, including tipping my huge fat wool box on the off chance I dropped it there, but no luck. It might well be during the next Big Clean when I can be reacquainted with that shuttle. Then I became unsure if I owned one or two of those shuttles! You'd think I'd know something like that like the ... name of my husband! Oh well, (and you know I wanted to use "h" in that second word instead,) I still have the first shuttle so I can work on this project. I hate getting old.

Weaving day tomorrow.

Red, White and Blue

Such a familiar color combination, but it works in so many variations. This was Nancy today at Lunch at Deville.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Not That One... No, Wait... This One... No, Wait...

In trying to investigate Log Cabin and Shadow Weave simultaneously, (Log Cabin on four or more shafts so I can add little areas of interest within a mostly Log Cabin cloth,) I'm starting to get ever so confused about the two structures, even while sticking to the Interlacement view on Fiberworks PCW.

I think I need to concentrate on one this week, but I'm also considering if there is even the possibility of combining them, and if that means anything.

Live is good; weaving is full of wonder! (And wander.)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Two More Mom Stories

American planes used to drop tiny pieces of what I assume are foils from air. It was to confuse the radar I'm told, but grownups weren't sure so they told the kids to run indoors if they saw shiny poisonous sparkles descending from the sky. Of course kids loved them, and rushed out to collect and stash them away in secret places. Mom did, even though she was in her early to mid teens.

Chocolates and cigarettes used to be wrapped in real foils when I was a child (not metal-treated paper like today) and Mom and my aunts were always super reluctant to throw away the foils, because they were metal and valuable, (metal got taken away to make weapons, but that's not unique to Japan,) but I think the sparkles from the sky was actually a happy memory for them. I used to collect my Dad's cigarette foils because they were the heaviest, and it smelled mysterious.

After the war, if you had friends in the occupying forces, and my uncle and his friend (for whom 45 years later I found myself working!) certainly did, you could get chocolates and silk stockings and American toothpastes. Mom and her aunts knew they were toothpastes, but the American ones tastes so good they secretly ate them, and used plain old salt to brush their teeth. In the 80's I used salt toothpastes, but they were scarce and terribly expensive and Mom used to laugh at the change of fashion. It's that Circle of Life again.

On My Calendar / Bamboo

Yes, it is, and on Ben's. Saturday November 28th is the Marlborough Weavers' End of Year meeting and there's usually plenty of fun things happening but I've never made it; often around that time Ben has to work a few weekends. But this year, he has the previous week and the Monday and Tuesday following off, so I'm coming. I haven't seen my friends since... NO!... when I pitched the Marlborough Weavers blog idea to them in February! Geez, I'd better make up a bag of things to show this year's effort!

* * * * *

I've been belatedly thinking about the environmental impact of weaving. This, I have to tell you, is one of the reasons why I never took up dyeing (so far). New Zealand and in particular Nelson sun is so strong natural dyes fade so quickly I never seriously contemplated anything but chemical dyes. Plus I have certain ideas of what I want my pieces to look like, and so far I've only come across commercially (so presumably harmfully but not as haphazardly as I would?) made material to enable me to make them at prices I can afford. Read: I haven't seriously looked into the environmental impact as I assume it's going to be very expensive and kind of dull in colors or limited in choices.

But last Sunday Claudia told me the environmental impact of cotton, lots of water and pesticides, and on Friday Ali told me the chemical treatment needed for bamboo and other new fibers concocted from natural material.

I'll tell you one reason I've been reluctant to contemplate bamboo. Traditionally in Japan, bamboo sticks about 6 ft long with one end sliced to an acute angle was a weapon. Women and children used them to practice the martial art of Naginata, a woman's sport. (By the way, Aikido is also a woman's sport in Japan, though it's practiced by both genders in New Zealand.) My mother's generation practiced the bamboo Naginata at school so they can fend of meat-eating (i.e. supposedly far more robust,) American soldiers and even B29s. See here or here.

I know I'm laughing, and so can you, and so are some Japanese blogs, but Japan was a very poor country until surprisingly recent times, somewhere between the '64 Olympics to the manufacture/export era of the 70's or 80's. But being civic minded and responsible, even the monpe-(peasant work trousers)-clad housewives and school girls had to take part in defending the Empire. And back there there would have been a bamboo bosh within walking distance from most homes.

But you can see how I associate bamboo with sharpness and hardness. It has antiseptic qualities and we used it to wrap rice balls, but nowadays you can buy plastic imitations in supermarkets, and I've even seen plastic and other imitation of lunch containers, (think ancient Tupperware). Real bamboo is not as accessible as it used to be, but to wear it as textile sounds too far-fetched for me. Apparently not so in Japan - it's a big hit and even my Mom loves them, and she nearly fell off the chair when I mentioned my picturing her with a bamboo naginata attacking soldiers.

Times change. And quickly. I've definitely been feeling reluctant to keep up with the new in the last few years. In some ways it further pushes me into weaving and old ways of doing things. And again there's that big circle, to use safer, more supposedly natural materials and methods to be kinder to the environment.

I know there are weavers using bamboo, too, now. Have you tried weaving with it?