Sunday, February 28, 2010

Time Feels Arbiturary

No matter how many times it is explained to me, I never got the theory of relativity, and like gravity, I like time to be set in stone, as it were; unfailingly regular and unchanging.

In looking when I should close the Unnamed Challenge, I was looking up different time zones of the world. Nukualofa, Tonga is the same as New Zealand, (at least in the summer - not sure if they have daylight savings,) whereas Apia, Samoa and Pago Pago, American Samoa is exactly 24 hours behind us.

As a kid, I used to be fascinated by the concept of international dateline; I still am. We've even stayed at Nukualofa's International Dateline Hotel once; wasn't as romantic as the name suggests, but it seems they've put in a lot of work since 1998.

Anyway, I learned we have nearly 30 hours before everybody is finished with February 28, 2010. I'm sorry it's going to be one of those dates some people won't forget for a long, long time.

Cathrine Said I Did Good - Spontaneity in Weaving

On Friday, Cathrine my classmate said I did well with the one minute drawing on the right. After she pointed it out, I like this one, too.

Most weeks, we start the class by drawing a series of short, spontaneous drawings, and I love them. I'm not responsible, other than trying to get the whole figure on the paper, which, as you can see, I'm not good at. I love the curves of the body, so I draw them too large and too wide, and seldom get below the knees or have a whole head, and when I do, they are disproportionately small, even squashed.

The one of the left is a 20-minute drawing. Later in the session we have a bit more time to stand back, think, and sometimes even edit. And sometimes I enjoy the longer poses, but often I start fiddling and do things I immediately regret, or like a car accident, I can even feel the regret coming as I reach out!

Of my drawings, I love the ones I drew without thinking, regardless of the length of the pose. I like the unexpected, the energy, the thrill, the fluidity in the drawings. I thrive on the not-having-to-think in class, and I even enjoy later seeing things I didn't see while I drew. Drawing and looking at my drawings are most definitely two different activities.

So what of my weaving? I am a control freak when it comes to planning my weaving. I see weaving as a series of processes, and I have a mental Gantt chart at all times. I hate anything unexpected, though the pieces rarely come off of the loom exactly as I envisioned. And I seem to thrive in the regularity and rigidity of the look.

While showing Ben this week's drawing and putting them away, I used the word "stale" to describe one. I started to wonder if the word applies to my weaving.

Hello, Eric Carle

On Friday, Stella at the bookshop told me about a children's book (Age 2 and up) named "Hello, Red Fox", Alladin Paperbacks, 1998 . It has a series of colorful animal/plant collages with tiny black dots in the middle on the left page, and a blank right page. The idea is to concentrate on the black dot for ten seconds and then look at the white page, and see the image in its complementary color. So the Red Fox of the title appears in green throughout the book.

I have a hard time seeing these images, be it on white or black background, so I tried it in the store, and the black dot helped. After a while, after several tries, I started to see a red fox, a green heart, and a violet butterfly.

The book was intended for Mom so she and the grandkids can have fun, but Ben and I are keeping it for a wee while.

Here are author Eric Carle's notes.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Saturday Daydreaming: Felicity Mountfort

I thought I mentioned "Rebus", the Visual Arts student exhibition at The Suter , and Felicity Mountfort, at the end of last year, but cannot locate the post, so perhaps I was waiting for these photos. I had met Felicity a couple of times before, but I was totally floored by her work at Rebus.

©John-Paul Pouchin
©John-Paul Pouchin
©John-Paul Pouchin
©John-Paul Pouchin
©John-Paul Pouchin
©John-Paul Pouchin©John-Paul Pouchin

Not only were her jackets exquisitely crafted, but the details such as the tags and how the jackets were hung were dream-like. I was most tempted to photograph against gallery rules! If she has a solo exhibition, and I'm sure she will at some stage, she will create a microcosm of Felicity-ness. I can't wait.

This is an excerpt from Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology press release prior to the exhibition:
NMIT Arts Tutor Catharine Hodson says the name was chosen because it means a representation of words in the form of pictures or symbols, often presented as a puzzle.

“The exhibition explores questions about collective and personal history, identity, expression and perception through the language of art and design. The Rebus exhibition presents a range of disciplines including; graphic design, eco dyeing, painting, sculpture, drawing, costume design, clothing design and video. This dynamic show is the culmination of three years of study for the graduates and is a fantastic opportunity for the public to see the artistic talent of their local tertiary provider,” she says.

Final year student and media co-ordinator for the exhibition Ali McIntyre has a work entitled ’La Troupe’ in the show. It explores the juxtaposition of historical and contemporary fashion, inspired by the works of Toulouse-Lautrec. An installation of digital prints and five circus-cabaret characters evoke the 19th C. world of Bohemian France.

“The Rebus exhibition in the Suter, for me, is the pinnacle of the BVAD degree. The juxtaposition of such a diverse range of media types and conceptual foci, are anchored by the exhibitor’s dedication to their practices," says Ali McIntyre.

"Living in the UK when I first applied for the degree, I was attracted to the NMIT Bachelor of Visual Arts and Design by the diversity of courses offered. The quality of teaching and opportunities to explore many avenues of both traditional and contemporary art design practices, are second to none.”

The artists and designers in the show are: Alice McIntyre, Susie Reid, Hester Janssen, Felicity Mountfort, Gordon D’Ath, Tracy Duncan, Doti Young, Stephanie Mackay, Sandra Mead, Helen Grant, Sue Hayde, Lisa White, Sandy Paterson, Max Van Susteren, Maree Corrin, Eric Huckle and Rebecca Davies

Here are short profiles on five of the artists and their Rebus works: ...

Felicity Mountfort
From: Rotorua

Media type and mode of exploration: Working in garment construction and natural dying, with design fundamentals based on the considerations of sustainability.

5 key words that describe your art / design work for the Suter?: One-off reversible jackets contrast natural with synthetic dye processes.

Rebus Work in the artists words:
“I am a designer/maker. The foundations of my work are based within sustainability working with textiles and the process of natural dying. I enjoy the process of production, seeing a project start from a flat length of fabric to a finished wearable item. Grown Sewn is a: designed, drafted, constructed, dyed and stitched process to produce this range of un-reproducible reversible jackets. The woolen fabric contrasts natural with synthetic dyes, hybridising industrial and domestic. The impacts of the textiles industry on the environment is one of the biggest contributors of pollution and waste in the world: The cultivation of fibers to produce, manufacture cloth and clothing, The dye and finishing processes, impact water ways and land in the subsequent disposal of textiles to landfill. In the true sense of the word sustainability is unachievable therefore I have considered the elements: production, environmental impact, and functionality of design in my work.”
Hope to see lots more of your work, Felicity.

I was Never In a Box

I love making a warp, but while I am doing so I am thinking of future projects.

I don't mind winding on a warp, but I have to concentrate on the task, so I try not to be distracted by the fabulous photos in the magazines used as weight on the chain.

I love threading, but while I am doing so my mind wanders, to my childhood, to places I've traveled, to pictures from your blogs and magazines and books, to what pieces from this warp would look like on people I know and don't know.

I don't mind weaving, but after the sampling, I'm drafting future projects in my head and I am in a rush to see this warp finished. I play nice music and let my mind wander again, but then short story ideas keep popping in my mind, and I have to top and make notes.

And when I finish weaving, I can't wait to see them wet-finished, and the next warp dressed on the loom.

The longest and the most trying part the weaving.

And if the warp in question is fussy knitting alpaca, I am even more impatient.

* * * * *

I've some good (for me) news and bad (for me) news to share.

The bad news is, my camera is in the camera hospital, somewhere further south on our South Island. I discovered a wee black spot on lower left of the screen when I was at world heritage Himeji-jo Castle known for its white walls, which totally drained my pic-mojo henceforth. I took it to a camera shop that evening, where staff had a look and a bit of a clean and said it's inside the plastic cage, on the sensor or some such, and had to be sent away. I didn't have time for that in Japan, so I went to our trusty local shop yesterday and she gave the same diagnosis. This is the first time since August 2006 that I am without my tiny camera, and it's funny how I keep running into things I want to photograph when I don't have it with me.


Good news. I resumed my figure/life drawing class yesterday. Term I was halfway finished, but Ronette let me rejoin, and I had a really good session, regardless of the 2+ months away from drawing.

There I ran into Felicity Mountfort, a lovely art student I keep running into at different textile events. More on her work in the next post.

Felicity mentioned an India Flint workshop/retreat happening in the not-so-far future in Nelson. I know Jo Kinross ran a workshop last year, but back then I was so not interested in a dyeing workshop, though I hoped to get into it some day. After seeing Felicity's work and India's photos, I'm curious.

Clare Plug is coming to Nelson to run a collage workshop in March and I managed to squeeze in. I did my best to go to her weekend workshop in Napier last year but couldn't so I'm doubly glad.

* * * * *

We had a fish-and-chips dinner by the water last night with JB and Mrs JB. JB is a Kiwi who has lived in German half of his life after meeting Mrs JB. We discussed traditions and different ways of learning a craft, the German traveling carpenters and French traveling craftsmen, and apprenticeships in Japan. I talked about life in Japan and in Nelson, and said, again, I would never have become a weaver had I not lived in Nelson, or perhaps New Zealand.

I enjoy the absence of restraints/constraints from traditions here and I appreciate this. That is not to say you cannot practice individual creativity in Japan, but given my penchant for learning from books and people and following orders/instructions, I would have relied on precedents had I learned to weave in Japan. That is, if I even had the space for a loom.

I even started to enjoy the lack of immediate resources in Nelson; I make the effort to seek out and cultivate good material, workshops, mentors and friends, which is not always necessary in Japan, and I know these relationship feed me and my creativity.

JB said the way I reached where I am now is not that I am now outside the box, but that I was never in one. He said he'll copyright this description, but I can use it.

So there. I was never in a box.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Japan Pics 2 of ...: I Brought Home...

Because I got some yarns from Mom after helping tidying her stash room, I wasn't too seduced by her beautiful catalogs and samples, and in fact, I didn't take the time to study them closely. Other than books and Mom's reject yarns, I brought home some little things.

I learned to knit, and to... sew together the sides, whatever you call it. So if I wanted to, I could knit cushion covers. I don't have a project in mind as yet, so I keep knitting and unraveling this one ball over and over for practice. I love the spontaneity in designing and the portability of knitting. I brought home four bamboo needles, and one plastic widget/needle that allows me to make cables.

When some of you told me how these beads are used nowadays, I thought it was the most stupid thing I've ever heard, but when Sister gave Niece a huge jar of them for Niece's 4th birthday, we were all hooked. Myself so badly I kept using the beads, then I replenished the jar with three bags, but I might have used up as much as I replenished.

Niece loved Big Boy Cousins' presents very much we had to convince her she can have them all after I took a couple of photos.
I find this process an interesting study in color, proportions and placements; I have a particularly hard time trying not to line things up in a straight, regular way.
My not-so-secret silk cotton samples: it's more like a jewelry box to me.
And I got these tiny rubber stamps; I'd like to cross-stick our initials on some of the clothes I hope to weave and saw in the future.
(I had intended this to be the last post in the Japan series, but it's taking me too long I might was well publish whichever posts I have ready and not worry about the chronology.)

Japan Pics 1 of ...: Cherries, Cherries, Everywhere

What did I tell you? It was mid-January, even before the coldest time of the year, and they were all over the place. Train companies advertised day- and short-trip destinations where cherries bloom early.

Cherry-motif ceramics at a department store.

Even the local 100-Yen shop had a wee display. I really, really wanted a couple of the tiny dishes, but Mom dismissed them as "real junk" so I didn't get any. I should have...

Oh, and the washed and finished cherry blanket - the width shrunk further in the suitcase (??!!) and I wasn't happy, but I like the texture and the weight and by the time I took these photos, it was well and truly used, by my dad in particular.

(That's Dad wondering how many more pics I need before he could get the blanket back.)

And there are more Japan pics here

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I Think it was Wednesday Today

I've been working on a project for my brother's new house, (more later,) and was coveting more 2/20 cotton yarns. I need new colors and checked my stock against the color chart. I wrote down about 30 definites, maybes and possibles, and then did something I never do: I calculated roughly how much the project requires and the estimate was around 1.5kg, not 30 kg.

To have my source make up cones of less than 1kg, I must pay the same price as 100g of the cotton, so do you blame me for usually opting to buy 1kg? Feeling a little defeated, I set aside the project and went downstairs to weave the alpaca warp.

Not good.

I wanted a balanced plain weave. I got 22 wraps in two inches, so 22 x 1/2 x 1/2 = 5.5, and this is how I arrived at 6EPI yesterday, but nooooo.... This got me a weft-faced cloth!

So I resleyed at 10 EPI, weaving an extremely narrow strip of cloth, but at least it looked like log cabin, and I could now see a threading mistake. Then, I automatically wet-finished these two pieces in hot/cold water, and got two sorry-looking pieces of hairy rag.

Remembering this is knitting yarn, I corrected the threading, wove another sample, wove fewer picks of cotton starters so they don't shrink so much more than the alpaca wefts, and this time washed in lukewarm water.
This time the sample looked better, but I have a few problems.

1) I can't get the selvedge to look nice. This is the same problem I had the first time I wove with alpaca. The outer most end is a floating selvedge, the second is on Shaft 1, and the third, on Shaft 2, but the weft bulge outward no matter how I pull in or don't pull in the weft. I tried having two ends of floating selvedge, and threading the outer two ends in Shaft 1, and the third in Shaft 2, but all to no avail.

2) The cloth sheds like a puppy in early spring.

3) Of the most dire concern is, this cloth doesn't feel nice, at all.

I wondered what I can do with three, (I have warp enough for three scarves,) narrow, un-nice-textured alpaca strip with bad selvedge; I couldn't think of how to improve the situation.

So I came back upstairs and did some Internet coveting, and got my own conservation cotton gloves so I can help hang the Fiber Arts Award show, and a free rubber stamp with my url and address, for which I paid three times the normal postage. Only the product was free, I knew, so this would be how they recover some of the cost.

Tomorrow'd better be another day.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Color-and-Weave Books

Speaking of Log Cabin, does anyone know if there is a significant difference between Margaret B Windeknecht's "Color-and-Weave" (1981) and "Color-and-Weave II" (1995)?? I see that II can still be purchased new from Amazon.com, but I is mostly used copies from the US and the UK, including ex-library copies. I don't mind that, but I wonder if II is very different from I, or more or less a reworked, updated version.

Any information will be greatly appreciate. Thanks in advance.

Back on the Horse

I apologize for not posting anything much of substance since I've been back. (Not that I do that often, but anyhoo.) Believe it or not, and I have a hard time believing myself, most of last week I slept between 10 to 14 hours every day!! And during the few hours I was up, I kept counting the number of days I had left to make something for the Fiber Art Awards, and came up with absolutely nothing. Finally, yesterday afternoon, feeling frustrated and wanting to get on with my "normal" life, I gave up on the idea of putting anything forward, and got on the business of weaving.

Feeling foot-loose and fancy-free, I planned a black and gray Fibonacci-esque log cabin, (my very first log cabin!) using knitting alpaca at 6EPI, weaving width a little over 10 inches on the loom. I know some of my friends weave superb pieces with alpaca, but I had one hideous experience with alpaca, and since these come off of knitting balls, I have no idea if 6EPI is good enough, and/or how this is going to wet finish. So, some major sampling coming up soon. Since I will have enough warp for 3 scarves, however, I would like to change the treadling and make pieces with difference looks and I might even use other colors in the weft.

And I dressed the loom today.

I also put on a purple merino warp on the big loom. This is my favorite merino, 110/2 or approximately 2/17 in 18EPI, in a discontinued color, "Grape". I made this warp some years ago, but for some forgotten reason, I started putting it on the big loom, then decided not to weave it, and took the warp off the loom. I did not have a cross at one end, and the end I presume with the cross was cut and taped together with masking tape to try to maintain the cross order! Don't ask. I don't remember what I was thinking, but this is why I hadn't used it for years.

I do love the color, and I am interested in reproducing my cotton "Rococo" designs in merino, using less contrasting colors; in this case probably dark red or burgundy wefts. I haven't finalized the drafts for this one so it's not threaded yet, and when I do thread, I'd have to proceed with tender loving care. I do remember I made this warp as wide as I could with what I had on the cone, so I've no extras left, except for the 50cm or so I cut off at the tangled taped end today. These will have to do if an end breaks.

I got some information from Claudia about the Bamboo/Rayon debate, but there is a lot of science reading (not my forte,) in order for me to understand enough to explain to you, so I need a bit more time. There are some common sense things about textiles that I didn't know or had understood incorrectly, so I'll tell you about them, too.

Oh, and Japan pics coming up soon-ish. Deciding not to participate in the Fiber Arts Award was so liberating; I can get on with my life and start doing things I like. Like weaving, and posting photos. And I've volunteered to help them hang the Awards exhibition, something I love doing.

What's on your loom???

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Yeah, Right.

In nearly four years of blogging, I never once noticed this "View Post" link. Ben says it was always there, but I think it snook in with the latest upgrade. I'm right, yes?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Finally, Tim!!

Our friend Tim Wraight the sculptor finally has a website! But now that it's up and running, it was worth nagging Tim and his partner Claudia for three and a half years. Though there'll be fine tuning in the next wee while, the gallery is loaded.


Next, Ben and I must win the lottery so we can commission work by him.

The city of Eureka, California, one of Nelson's sister cities, is going to install a piece Tim donated some years ago in a new building, we hear. That'll be exciting, too.

What are We?

What are we called, collectively? Fiberphiliacs? Clothaphiliacs? Stashophiliacs? I was wondering, because Mom and I actually fought over who has more stash while cleaning her stash room. I still think she has more, but she has a stash room about twice as big as mine so it looks as if I have more. She disagrees.

Dad's reaction: a mixture of amusement, bewilderment, and gentle forfeiture, as if he was looking at two pups with hideously broken limbs.

Harrumph!

The Yet-Unnamed Challenge

Email to put your name in Ben's baseball cap is due me February 28 your time. No big changes to the guideline for now.

Those "signed up" so far are: Holly, Dana, Trapunto, Rose, Julia and Desiree.

I'll contact you early in March.

Please remember you're not committed until you email me not your expressions of interest but your name and postal address. Thank you.

I got my pictures selected! Now, as to what paper I'll print them on, and how much explanation to add to each...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Is Bamboo Rayon??

There is a storm in the tea cup that is New Zealand, about the environmental friendliness of bamboo fiber. It started with an article in our much respected Consumer magazine; you can buy the article here if you wish. I understand the article dealt with the manufacturing process of bamboo fiber, comparing it to cotton and rayon. A short comment in one of the fiber-related newsletters I subscribe to, summed up the article, saying: "So, bamboo is rayon."

I need to get a hold of this magazine and read it because I know nothing of the subject, but I know someone who knows a great deal, and she has a totally different opinion to the article. I hope to post her view here in the near future.

Floating

The Old Head has gone into hibernation. It's all a blah, but then again, I did try to use every minute in Japan observing and absorbing new ideas, and not just visually, but by reading and watching docos and taking notes, so the OH had a really good workout.

Yesterday, I couldn't get out of bed until 10.30AM, and if that wasn't bad enough, today it was nearly noon when I peeled myself off the mattress.

I feel like inside my head, I'm standing in the middle of a wide road. There are no cars, but lots of pedestrians - you know how they block roads for festivals and such? And this road has fabric shops, notions shops, galleries, bookshops, stationary shops, used book shops, art supply shops, and nicnac shops all around.... Bakeries, chocolate shops, jewelers and don't forget a dainty hat shop. And people are dressed in interesting colorful clothes.... And I'm standing in the middle as if time has stopped for me, but not for others... I'm gazing at what's going on all around, the colors, the shapes, and the sun and the shade.... My eyes stop to look at one Thing, and before that Thing registers, they move to another Thing of interest...

I can't concentrate, but I'm not distracted. I'm just soaking it all in.

I don't want to work on my photos just yet; they will make me concentrate on certain Things and I want my eyes to keep floating.

However, I must share some nice finds before I forget. In between the lovely HAND/EYE magazine, (and I mean the hard copies which arrived while I was away) were:
  • It turns out India visited Amuse Museum in Asakusa, Tokyo, last Thursday and Mom and I, Friday. It's a new museum well worth a visit as they packed a lot of interesting stuff in small spaces, but not too packed. Their young staff were surprisingly well-informed, (though I don't know how multi-lingual they are), and we're allowed to photograph anything and touch some of the exhibits, which is rare in Japan. They have a special relationship with Anthropologist Tanaka Chuzaburoh, who has a massive collection of folk anything, mainly from Aomori Prefecture, (northeastern Honshu Island), particularly from the old Tsugaru region. Asakusa neighborhood of Tokyo is visitor-friendly.
And then there's the Taisho Era (1912-1926) of Japan. I discovered many Japanese painters I like flourished between the two wars. I knew this was true of writers, poets and publishers, in their work and their scandalous so-called private lives, (many ending up with tuberculous and dying young,) but I didn't know much of visual artists. During this time, hideous working conditions of young women in spinning mills among other things prompted labor movement, women worked towards suffrage (1925), but the mood was surprisingly buoyant and the populous enjoyed what they called Taisho Democracy, democracy being a strange and wonderful foreign concept. A quirky sense of humor, represented best by novelist Natsume Sohseki and essayist Uchida Hyakken, emerged.

I'm not sure what happened during the Great Depression in Japan, but the period between teh two wars is worth looking into, not only in Japan, but in arts around the world.

EDIT: The big earthquake hit Kanto region in 1922. Japanese Wiki says the Great Depression decimated Japanese economy, and makes a particular mention of the stoppage of spun yarns, (I suspect silk??) to the USA. The entry alludes to the subsequent invasion of Asia, Manchuria in particular, as purely financial, and though the path to WWII was similar to Germany, the entry claims ours was less racially/ideologically motivated. Though ideology was not at the forefront, I personally think Japanese racial superiority, (we are the children of Emperor the God, remember?) had much to do with it.

Compared to the first half of the 20th century, the period between WWII, particularly post-1964 Tokyo Olympics, up to this recession which started around 1992, was amazingly peaceful and prosperous. I really should read more Japanese history.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hi!

I've been home, (and that'd be Nelson,) for nearly 48 hours. My body is great, albeit even plump-er than before the trip, but my head is exhausted. Yesterday I managed to get up at 7 but had a nap in the afternoon, and today I couldn't get up until 10.30.

I've tons of photographs and thoughts/observations/craziness to share, but the Old Head needs to start working so I can work on them, although if the OH were working, it and I should be working towards the Art Awards, for which photographs are due 26th of this month. (Four "working" in one sentence...)

From the very edge of the left field, while I was away I sold a short story. No, that's an exaggeration; I got paid to have one of my first drafts as an example in a writing course. This and the fact the only thing I sold in my hitherto only solo exhibition was a sunset shot makes me wonder if I'm in the wrong field. Too late, I've got to consume the stash in my stash room before four small boxes arrive.

I'm a weaver. I have more respect for myself as a weaver than a writer or a photographer. Besides, there are fewer of us in the world, which makes us more special, yes?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Saturday Daydreaming: Home Sweet Home

"'Cause I'm leaving on a jet plane
I don't know when I'll be back again
Oh, Mama, I hate to go..."

But can't wait to see my honey, and my house and my garden (well...) and my stash room! Leaving tomorrow, home Monday night! Let my 2010 start!

Saturday, February 6, 2010