Monday, June 25, 2012

"Pillars" Draft Cut-but-Not-Pasted

Not slacking off, but progress is slow on the "Pillars" draft. In the old days, I really cut and taped/pasted printed paper to try out combinations. Nowadays there is digital photography.

I created another threading, doodled in the treadling, and tried six slightly different tie-ups. Tie-up E looked best this afternoon.
Nah, not liking the wobbly bits.
Maybe. I like the short repeat, but the center is too prominent.
Ummmm.... No. Yeah??
Probably not. 

I was pretty pleased with the afternoon's effort, (even though they were nowhere near the cutout shapes,) I wanted the two symmetrical patterns to be more prominent than the center, so I modified the threading, keeping the tie-up and treadling the same.  
I predict experimentation with the new threading tomorrow.

:->

Nice Websiite Alert

Lovely lovely downlodable instructions for simple (and not so) paper projects. And they are free! Check out her archives also. Some lovely ideas especially if you  have children at home. (OK, who among us are old enough to have played Packman???)

As well, I got some special wool "returned" from Terri; thank you, Terri; I shall take good care of it.

"Art is an Experience."

Ben is said to be an analytical person. I never got that part of him, because he is a bloke, you know, and I'm his wife; he can't find things, he can't turn off lights or close drawers, he doesn't think things through before he enacts on them, and sometimes I have to undo/redo stuff even though I'd asked him to do things my way before he started. As he undoes/redoes things I misdo. But I have always admired his emotional detachment from situations, how he indeed dislikes the deeds and not the person. (Unless they are right-wing politicians.)

Anyhoo, the day I composed the now-infamous-to-myself that post, (you know which one,) we had an emotionally-charged discussion until the wee hours on where we, he, thought the art/craft divide is, clarifying what each of us saw as the Western/Japanese difference, and what kind of art he liked or stayed with him. At one point, he summed up his view thus: "Art is an experience." That without the experience of experiencing an artwork or an exhibition, the artist's effort meant nothing to him, that exhibitions should help visitors to experience artwork, individually or collectively, and a few other poignant points I can't remember any more.

A few weeks later, we had a chance to visit Wellington. (We get roughly one free trip to Wellington for every trip we pay to go to Japan; was well over two trips a while back, but that's life. Sad face.) We went to Wellington City Art Gallery ostensibly to see this exhibition heartily recommended by Claudia, who we trust on most matters implicitly. It was interesting, and we went in two or three times.

But the exhibition I enjoyed more was this one. Artworks were placed all over the building. Eight, I think, of these concept sheets were available; a visitor could pick up one, or only those that interested her/him, or all.
None of the sheets included all artworks; many artworks were listed in multiple sheets. But each concept sheet described at the artworks from different perspectives. So we traversed the gallery back and forth, up and down, several times in search of the artwork in question as we read the sheets, and then returned to revisit the same piece described in a different context. It was like a cross between Treasure Hunt and a school visit to a gallery, where a gallery staff asked you to find such-and-such artwork.I don't think I enjoyed visiting an exhibition so much in a long while. I felt so involved with many of them, and I truly experienced the exhibition.

I carried around the pink-orange concept cards for a couple of weeks afterwards and now I can't find them but they are here somewhere in a sturdy envelope. When I find them, I'll amend this post to tell you the titles for the sheets.

The exhibition was reviewed in New Zealand Listener, but the reviewer doesn't sound very excited so perhaps it's been done before elsewhere, or here; perhaps it's not cool to be so excited in Welly.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Thinking of Body Image/Shapes

I've been fat as long as I've been aware and short since I was 10 when friends started growing as I stopped, so media portrayal of women hasn't bothered me as much as it has some. I always knew pretty girls were nice to look at, that "they" had to use pretty girls to sell products, and that pretty girls in the media were heavily made up. I've also known this is not a uniquely 20th/21st Century problem; I'm the kid that asked the nuns, at age 11 or so, why Jesus and Mary were always portrayed as Northern European when they came from Israel.

As photoshopping became available to the masses, I have had good giggles from time to time. My brother and his partner recently had photos taken by a professional photographer to update their work website, and he had to ask to go easy on the air brushing lest he didn't even recognize himself. My beloved brother, sans blemishes, looks about nine even in an expensive suit, so you wouldn't think to ask him to take care of your bankruptcy or defend you in court.   

I have not liked oversexualization of young girls, though, especially since my niece was born; that's said brother's little girl. Nor do I like stereotyping little girls as princesses saturated in pink. Fortunately, said niece appears to be turning into a she-jock, which is pleasing to my mother who was one herself.

Anyhoo, I came across the second volume of this series at Ben's work library last week, which has made me think of body images again. It's a mix of essays and some are bonkers-art-talk that reads like a String of Long Words That Don't Make Sense Together, but others are insightful. The overall tone of the volume is kind and inclusive. I'm not sure if you'd want to rush to buy them, (and if you do, check Amazon.co.uk's used books,) but you might want to see if our nearby library has them.

I've seen two version of Volume III; the one with "curatorship" in the title interests me more, but anyhoo.

New Name, One Blurb, and Small Progress

We had another meeting on Monday and the group is officially renamed "Strands"; the title of October exhibition stays "Beginnings". Some admin work on catalogue, promo and scheduling have progressed.

My artist statement to go in our fancy catalogue has passed the muster: "I weave (flat) cloth on looms." Some members go into depth explaining concepts, motivation and/or techniques which make for wonderful read; others are at an earlier stage in planning/thinking. Me, I honestly feel this includes everything I wanted to say, though I have to decide if "flat" stays.

"Pillars"
For a while I couldn't think of good ways to explore the mood I wanted to create by way of pattern/draft. I don't doodle, and when I try my hands tend to make the same marks over and over. Trying out drafts on the computer presupposed (in the way I use the software) I've determined the threading first. Neither felt as if I was approaching this anew. Out of nowhere I started to fold paper and cutting shapes out; think paper snowflakes but the paper folded in one direction only so as to vertically repeat the patterns. Here are a small sample of them. 
I've had this notion in my head that I must try "bold" which to me meant angular. I didn't like any of them, and didn't try too many.
I prefer curvy lines, but I learned that even using curvy lines I can create not so rounded shapes. (These jagged lines are what my hands draw when I try to doodle. I think it originated in trying to draw leaves.)
I wasn't sure if I wanted to stagger the motifs, so if all lined up together, they would look like this.
Which brought me back to the very first piece cut out, based on the shape of a chair's legs. Varied, "architectural", curvy but not rounded. Coincidentally, the relative lack of contrast of the blue and the gray is closer to what I will get from the combination of yarns selected; this could be a good omen; this is the direction I'd like to go.

As regards weave structure, after the complexity of the expression I got from the networked twills in the last cotton lot, I decided not even to bother sampling others and go with networked twills. For one thing, a two-shuttle weave in this case is, well, insane. For another, with a simple twill tie-up, it's a cinch to modify and create "darker" and "lighter" versions. (Neither the width of the cloth nor the "design" can easily be made thinner towards the top as easily, i.e. I can't be bothered, so I'm making the value lighter.)
So now, all I need is a draft, but that's easier said than done.

Collaborative Book/"Friends(hip)"
Ronnie suggested at an early stage the notion of "self-portrait" for our individual pieces to go into a collaborative book, and Jo, I think, found in her notes the phrase, "an expression of self". So I've been breezily, (that is, without turning all serious,) considering self-portraits. I've no specific progress here, but if I'm going to make a self-portrait, the "Friends(hip)" piece has to relate to it; it's one of those things I knew and don't have to bother examining. So my plan is to create a colorful interesting piece depicting me on 13 or 14 shafts for the collaborative book. Then, to modify that draft to make it double weave, so on one side of the "Friends(hip)" piece, you can see my self-portrait-based cloth but with bits of your yarns showing though in the weft; from the other side, it's a tapestry-like piece with your yarns creating a simple shape. I'd love a circle or a ring/doughnut, but there is such a variety of width in your yarns and I have no idea how the self-portrait side will be affected, so I'm thinking a rectangle or an angled ring may be more easily achievable. Sane. A two-sided wall-hanging in double weave.

I will have to practice this a whole lot before moving on to the exhibition piece, since I've never tried double weave outside a workshop, except for double width, but I don't think this piece is going to be that big, so fingers crossed.  

"Tube"/"Tent"
On a typical wet-duck moment, I decided I wanted to exhibit a pretty, flat cloth. The stronger I felt this, the less inclined I became to weave a "Tube" just so people can walk into my cloth. I returned to my mind map of what cloths do. Seeing Megg also reminded  me of some of the ideas I had when Megg and I were hoping to have a joint exhibition, where among others I had an idea of a simple tent; just long lengths of cloth hung like a tent but now sewn. Both these ideas are on the back burner now as I'd rather make few nice pieces than many suspect ones. 

"Father, Professor, Patient"
Not gonna happen. I won't say "never",  but it's been taken off the burner now. 

Small Items to Sell
I would like to weave at least one warp of scarves to look like smaller versions of "Pillars" or longer versions of the self-portrait, but realistically, cards made of photos of my pieces may be all I can manage.

And...
Heaven forbid I should come up with a non-weaving idea, but I'm so taken by the thought of clothing being the original purpose of weaving that I have been playing with the idea of buying fabric to make something in 3D; body shapes, relics/artifacts, and the like. The problem is, I don't know if clothing was really the original purpose, and this is entirely an unknown territory I've no idea what's involved.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

"Why I Weave Cloth" by Meg Nakagawa

OK, not "guest" but here goes.

I've always liked to make things, out of paper to begin with, using copious amounts of glue and tape, and magic markers. But I didn't like anything "freehand", like drawing, painting, or even collage. Whatever I made never met my expectations, nobody trained me in ways I would have learned, and I didn't know how to practice on my own. But I did like assembling shapes and colors.

I don't remember much of what I made, but I remember a pair of paper slippers that disintegrated in one afternoon, and several vehicles and machines using rubber bands or strings. I liked learning about and fine-tuning the "hidden" mechanism, my mother was a wonderful ally in this area.

When I was a little older Mom got me on to crocheting, embroidery, knitting, sewing and this thing with a spool with a few nails and a pin which allowed me to make long, circular ropes. I liked crocheting and I thought I was inventing stitches; I liked embroidering, especially making up the designs, (and once came up with big, bold floral designs unlike any in the books, the one and only time I received some recognition in Fifth Grade Home Ec. I could never knit with even tension, and though I loved the 3D modeling of sewing I was never good on the machine, and I hadn't the patience to practice either. And the rope thing: I loved carrying the little plastic spool everywhere and "inventing" new ways of incorporating multiple yarns or skipping stitches, but one afternoon I suddenly didn't see the point of making a multi-colored rope with a mishmash of colors and stitches, (which by this time had grown to over seven meters,) and I never touched the thing again.

When I was even older, I discovered needlepoint, (loved designing,) print making, (loved the mechanism, hated the having-to-come-up-with-the-picture part,) photography, (liked and even showed marginally more patience to learn and improve, I used to print my B&W's,) and writing.

Writing was the only thing I maintained a sustained interest and put some effort into learning and improving, but I found editing difficult; by the time I took out the overly flowery descriptions, say draft 3, my stories became telegraphic and sounded the same except for the progragonists' names, places and predicaments. I didn't know how to edit and, well, I ended up with a bunch of possibly-interesting synopses.

I also went into Ikebana, Japanese floral art, with gusto and this was one area extreme editing worked well; I'd often ended up with truly Wabi-Sabi work where most everything was absent but implied. They were my visual Haiku.

All the while my mother knitted and knitted and knitted. When I was, I think, in junior high, I asked her why she liked to knit so much, (especially because I thought embroidery was more attractive,) she said she liked making the cloth/fabric with knitting as opposed to "mere" embellishments with embroidery, and that if she had the choice she would rather be weaving. This would have been in the early/mid 70's when weaving/looms weren't readily available to hobbyists in Japan, so she would have had to enroll in art school or become an apprentice somewhere, not "doable" for an ordinary mother of three back then. Though I still preferred the delicacy and ornateness of embroidery, it gradually lost its lure, and I came to think weaving as the highest form of craft.

It was another quarter of a century before I got to pass a shuttle for the first time. I found the interlacement taking place in front of my eyes intriguing. I loved the simplicity of the mechanism of cloth and looms.  Then it was all about the interaction of colors, and then came the-whole-being-much-greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts aspect. Wet-finishing also fascinated me. 

1995, when I first purchased my rigid heddle and read from books and on the Internet what weaving was all about, coincided with one of the periods when I was putting serious effort into writing. As I learned more about wet finishing, I decided weaving suited me better as there was a limited amount of editing/culling one could do in a given project, and once I've reached that point of no return, moving on was the only path left. I consider weaving to have cured me from constantly wishing to do over and reinvent myself. To some extent. Or, to put on my Malapropping shoes, weaving has grounded me somewhat and slowed down my destination addiction.

I like working within the confines of weaving. I feel comfortable being restricted by the number of shafts, peddles, legs and arms. I like combining yarns, colors, textures and weaving patterns. To me, weaving is assembling more than free-hand art, and I can handle that.

Initially, writing and all other interests were only put on the back burner, but as I got into weaving more and more, I gradually gave most everything else up. Some of the partings were conscious and even hard; some I just forgot. I still have a love/hate relationship with writing, unable to completely put it behind, but for now becoming a good weaver is more important, and I'm happy for writing to take a back seat.   

Nowadays, I don't think of why I weave as often as I used to; I just wonder if I can make this or that kind of cloth with the knowledge and equipment I have, what a certain idea, in my head or on paper/computer, looks like in real life, or to reduce my enormous stash. And because I find weaving difficult to do well, it requires my full concentration, and I am allowed, (required!) to switch off all the voices in my head. I find this comforting.

There is one last thing that is important to me: I find comfort in belonging to that long, wide and varied tradition/club/subset of humanity that weaves. I do see the world, at times, in those two distinctive groups; those who weave, and those who don't; I can't think of any other technology that our species has sustained, more or less in the same manner across time and distance, and that makes me feel I'm part of something really big. As are you.

Grumpy

I've sustained a level of grumpiness since the day I visited that exhibition. I never regained gumption to revisit it. I've tried to a) ignore it, (not my problem,) b) get over it, (they go their way, I go mine,) and c) get town to my business, (October exhibition,) but haven't been able to shake the aftertaste entirely. At least it's been a low-level grumpiness; it's akin to finding out your parents aren't superpeople, just regular folks with faults, weaknesses and baggages. Still, I've never come across anyone else who holds this kind of hostility to one's own work besides myself; doubts, yes, but hostility, not, and yet declares s/he loves her/his work.

I've gone down that familiar rabbit hole of "What am I doing? What do I want to make? Do the projects I have in mind for October please me? Are they what I want to show folks?" and so on and so forth. And a new one: "Will my work and our exhibition stand to my own scrutiny?"

But this time I passed the déjà vu quickly and my familiarity with the layout of the hole spat me out at the other end, so I've been trying to get up, wondering, "What just happened there?" for a month. Still, I've managed to come out a relatively-unwet duck, if you consider wasting a whole month relatively unscathed.

It's not been a good time, though, for me to write my "guest" post about why I weave cloth. One problem is, between Vicki and Peg they've covered reasons I had in mind, (nothing wrong with it,) and my draft is overlong and boring. 

My attempt at Junk Mail Artist's Book halted the minute we had to do free drawing, and looking at how creative others are boggles my mind; I do so lack imagination! Drawing is still difficult for me; I no longer have any expectations for my drawings, but I need a model, a photo, something to get me started, and I feel comfortable only when I'm drawing a human form, or capsicums. Long story. I'm giving myself until the end of the month for this, but goodness me, when my mind draws a blank, it is so spectacularly blank! 

The weather has been gray and wet a while and I couldn't be bothered photographing the cotton scarves. That I don't have good pictures of those pieces doesn't bother me; that I'll have to weave some more to get shot-effect pics or swirly network shots does. Never mind.
Still, lucky I have perpetually overlong To Do lists and more importantly an eminent exhibition to push me off my unsmall. Last Sunday I cleared the deck; with only an 8-shaft sample loom warped, there was very little procrastination options.
Making the warp took only a couple of hours, but I'd forgotten what it's like to wind hideously sticky wool warp,and all 21.5 meters of it; the winding took two afternoon with long breaks, lots of drinks of water, and one and a half Discworld audio books. (Mine are downloaded from Audible.com and read by one Nigel Planer, but I once got a CD from the library read by Tony Robinson, AKA Baldrick, and what a treat; I kept waiting for the "cunning plan". 
I don't have a draft yet, but it's going to be a symmetrical networked twill of some sort, so as soon as I have draft drafts, (you know, not final drafts,) I'm going to start threading, which should take another 3/4 to a whole book.

Friday, June 15, 2012

"Why do I weave cloth?" by Peg Cherre

Why do I weave? Let me count the reasons.

• I weave because when I took a series of six beginning weaving classes, I fell in love with the process.
• I weave because after those classes I bought an old, handmade counterbalance loom that, although it needed lots of TLC to be functional again, came with this little poem taped to the top roller bar.
My simple pleasures
my gentle joys
weave a lovely pattern
of contentment in my life.

• I weave because I’m a person who’s easily bored, and with weaving there’s never-ending variety of fibers, of patterns, of looms, of techniques.
• I weave because my hands won’t allow me to do hours of knitting or crochet without pain.
• I weave because I like (almost) every step of the process, from planning to measuring the warp, beaming that warp, threading heddles & reed, hemming on the loom, weaving, and finishing. (I do dislike tying to the front apron, and wish I had a little elf who’d do that for me while I slept, or weeded the garden, or made dinner, or did almost anything else.)
• I weave because my part-time paycheck job doesn’t cover all my expenses, and living in this rural area I needed to add something of my own making.
• I weave because I get terrific feedback from people at shows, whether or not they buy something from me.
• I weave because I love the fact that there’s a very clear beginning, middle, and end to each piece, unlike much of my professional work in the not-for-profit world or my practical work of cooking, cleaning, and laundry.
• I weave because I’ve met some really wonderful, encouraging, motivating, and helpful people, both in real life and online.
• I weave because I love fabric.
• I weave because I’ve gone through sewing, knitting, crocheting, embroidery, macramé, and other fiber-related endeavors all my life. Weaving is my current joy.
• I weave because now I own two floor looms & a rigid heddle loom – much more of an investment of time & space than a bunch of knitting needles.
• I weave because I have an excuse for continuing to buy dozens of cones of yarn.
• I weave because I like the physical nature of the tasks. It keeps my arms and legs moving, as well as my brain.
• Bottom line – I weave because it makes me happy.

Peg Cherre

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Cotton Series

I wove two in the wood grain design; I guess it's not so bad reusing a draft as these two have different moods. And then bubbles. I'm not sure what I'm going to call the wood grain ones, just not wood-something, but the big bubbles is called "Conversation" and the small bubbles, "Idea Bubbles".
I also got two warp-end fabric pieces. I would have woven warp end anyway, but Ben's been asking me to alter some of his clothes using my handwovens; I feel uncomfortable because my sewing skill is, at best, school Home Ec level, but changing pockets or collars of shop-bought shirts sounds less threatening than creating an entire garment with handwoven fabric, so I hope to give this a go. The top piece has a slightly whiter orange in the weft than the scarf on the far left; the bottom piece weft is the darker of stone-washed jeans blue.
I need to get my photography mojo this weekend before I deliver them to the gallery.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Blurbs

We're supposed to come up with different short blurbs for the October exhibition: most urgently,
1) a rough draft for one covering our work in the exhibition, (which goes into our posh catalogue,) or at least how much we want to put in, but also;
2) one about ourselves, (which goes into our collaborative piece,) and;
3) one for each piece of work.
The thing about blurbs is, a) I like them short and sharp, and b) I can write anything, and they are based on truths, but they may not be strictly 100% true, because I prefer to entertain if I can.  (Goodness, should I be disclosing this?) and I feel ambivalent about what's more important. 

One to cover my work in the October exhibition is the hardest because I have vague ideas about only two of the pieces, ("Pillars" and "Friends(hip)"; not sure how many I'm making but would like at least another in addition to the collaborative piece,) and my thoughts on this is the one that changes most frequently. But I would like to say I started out with "cloth with no concepts", and how my thoughts oscillate. But the more I think about the blurb, the more I'm tempted to make a piece that is so not about anything, but just a pretty piece of cloth; I'm thinking of chucking in "tube" and just make a long piece of cloth and drape it somewhere; but then another voice tells me I could make a tube in the style of cloth I think is pretty, but still allow folks to walk into it or stand inside.

About myself is proving difficult, too. Contrary to what I do here, I don't like to talk about me at exhibitions, but prefer the work be seen for what they are. Because I feel such a lapsed Japanese, a lapsed Minnesotan and a vacillating Kiwi, I don't like committing to any place. On the other hand, I love reading other artists' biographical info, especially their ethnic and geographical origins and their family environment.

The title of the exhibition, or at least what we're putting into the catalogue as our starting point, is "Beginnings" and I'd be well-advised to try to tie in some of the work with that thought. But the piece I've developed the most, "pillars" is about... Christchurch, Japan, and the demise of the world economy symbolized by the Greece. (I have a mate who ended up in Athens twice last year and both time he was there there were mass demonstrations with casualties covered even by the NZ media!) So while Greece is a beginning, the rest is more about the end before the beginnings.

I can talk about plain weave and undyed yarns, (wool, most definitely, in Kiwiland,) but I'm not using much of either. I can think of a way to include how I learned to weave, from books and the Yahoo group. But I haven't had much bright sparks in this department. And I'm not sure if Group R members will allow me to be brief.

Goodness, I started typing this post intending to show you drafts for 1) and 2).  The thing is, I don't want to art-dribble. Goodness...

What's Up?

Well, I've managed not to be a wet duck.

I felt a bit wary after this, because I was so disappointed. And that got me musing about the kind of cloth I want to weave, the kind of work I want to put into the October exhibition, and whether I was feeling pressured by the group to work more conceptually for the exhibition. This all showed the signs of sucking the energy out of me, so I made the choice to press on, moving my hands. (The answers to above for this week: donno, not sure, and probably but probably self-inflicted.)

Looking back, too much thinking can be like an addiction, whereas moving my hands and working gives me more practical ideas for future projects. I should finish the fourth, and for now the last, cotton merchandise piece today; in all, I will have woven two in the wood grain draft, (purple&green, and pink&orange,) one in big bubbles draft, (dark&light purples,) and little bubbles, (hot pink&pale purple-pink). I'll post pics later in the week.

I noticed yesterday afternoon I was weaving in a most peculiar way. My right hand does what you might expect a weaver's right hand to do, catch-throw in one continuous motion. With the left hand, though, I am tentative in catching, so I grab the shuttle unnecessarily firmly, and I take it with my right hand and return it to the left so that I can throw it back with the left. So two picks of weaving takes five steps; R-throw, L-catch, R-hold, L-throw, R-catch. But not always.

I've never been confident with my left hand catching or throwing accurately, but I didn't realize I'd been accommodating. I don't know if it's something I developed in the last year to protect the left bung arm, or if it's because I used the smaller, lighter Swedish boat shuttle instead of the default Schacht end-feed this side of the Prayers piece, mid-Feb. I always imagine I don't sit in the middle of the cloth, either, and that's what disrupts the rhythm, so I am constantly sliding on the bench trying to position my un-small in the right place, but, well, whaddyaknow!

So after I noticed my peculiarity, I tried to correct it, while weaving a merchandise piece, which slowed me down a bit, which wasn't a problem, but this morning my left thumb and shoulder feel a tiny bit tense as expected.
This is Prof Mitsui's design textbook, which I had for... six months, a year? I remember objecting "pink and orange are so wrong," and shoving it in the bookshelf. (I didn't realize it wasn't only pink and orange until just now.) I haven't even checked the illustrations/pics or the TOC because I didn't like the color combo, but this kind of thing stays with me. I couldn't remember where I saw it but I knew I saw it and tried to push away the mental picture. And it pops up on my loom! Pink and orange.

I'm back on track with the "pillars" project, too, now. I had a hard time thinking of drafts on the software; doodling didn't work, so I cut up color papers and stuck them on other color papers. I don't have a solution yet, but I now have a direction. Phew. And I don't have another pre-made short cotton warps I can use as an excuse to procrastinate any more.

Things are starting to look a little serious inside my head. About time, too.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Moving Right Along...

But not in the direction I had hoped.

I have the next/last cotton warp on the big loom, not because I'm procrastinating on the "pillars" project, but because I've hit a rock there; I can't for the life of me think of what kind of a draft I want for it and I stare at the grids on my weaving software every night with a completely vacant head.
The sampling for the next lot is looking good.
But the technical competence on the previous lot, not. Again. So while I stare at the grids on my weaving software every night with a completely vacant head, I'm also figuratively holding my head in my hands curled up in a fetal position.
But then good things came calling. I got an envelope from Nancy, now in ACT of Australia.
Megg is visiting Nelson for the first time in four years so we had morning coffee yesterday. One of the first things she bought in London was this scarf; I think she said from Pakistan (??), not India, but it is the colorful, very fine wool, in Paisley, but felted. And in colors I've been thinking about. Of course the weaver in me immediately thought, "Goodness, if you went to all the trouble of weaving what I can imagine as a delicate, tricky piece, why on earth would you want to...." But then I started seeing possibilities; how about mixing cotton or silk with the wool and then felting the whole piece so some parts don't felt?  Well, way down my list, that one.


Carla's Junk Mail Artist Book course is next week; a good injection of Carla always pulls me out of whatever creative black whole I get myself in, so her email this morning gave me ideas for how to experiment to crawl out of the "pillars" rubble. Hee hee.

"Why do I weave cloth?" by Vicki Allen

I want to create for myself interesting patterns and see how they work. I want to understand the interlacement of warp and weft and the interaction of color by creating for myself a tangible fabric.

I enjoy the challenge of figuring out how a structure works and how to set up what I envision on the loom. I like working through all the little challenges that come up when weaving due to differences in yarn and mechanical problems.

Weaving engages my interest from the time I see a fabric someone is wearing that excites my curiosity, or see a weave pattern in a book or magazine that makes me look twice, to the final result of a piece that I can hold, feel, drape, share and just enjoy looking at!

I want to have a piece of fabric in my hand that I can touch and talk about and that I can show to someone else and share with them the idea that caught my imagination.

I weave to create for myself; to experience exactly what is happening when the threads interact and the pattern appears pick by pick. I love to hold the finished piece and experience the excitement I felt when I first saw the diagram… but now it is made real.

I have tried my hand at writing, painting, macramé, beading, sewing, knitting, crochet, lucet cord making, inkle weaving, bead weaving, ceramics, music making (piano, flute, bowed psaltery), needlepoint and embroidery and gardening.
My mother tried everything that caught her eye and did at least one project to completion before deciding whether to keep on with it. She sewed clothes for us all and was a talented gardener. She is 99 years old this year and her mind is still active and alert. From her I learned to try things and explore the things that appealed to me.

I love books and the endless ideas they hold. I always intended to be a librarian. At college my roommate majored in textile design. Through her I was exposed to many different artistic media formats. It was impossible to sit and watch her create something beautiful without asking for some string of my own to try it for myself.
When I had the opportunity to be gifted with a 4-shaft counterbalance loom, I jumped at the chance. That was the start of this exploration that has so captured my curiosity. Everything else (except music and gardening) fell away. Thinking about weaving and the process of weaving is challenging and fun. I have never had classes but have learned much from books and, of course, the great society of weavers on the internet.

Weaving keeps my mind active and I don’t think I will ever run out of new things to learn and figure out and think about!

So I believe I could say I weave cloth because I am fascinated with weaving and for fun!

Vicki Allen, Weaver

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Machine vs Weaver

I've been thinking about machines, and what I've come to see as mechanical weaving.

I'm pretty sure sure humans made machines so we can do things faster and easier. With machines we can make more things in a given time, or need fewer trips to transport material or output, or recreate more or less the same output without repeating the entire series of steps for each one of the output. I'm a firm believer, (you tend to be if you do any time in IT,) machines and output are only as good as how they are made and used; humans who make and use them must know what they're doing. Skills needed to use machines aren't necessarily simpler than, but are certainly different from, doing the same task without machines.

Ben, being an amateur digital and film still photographer, ponders automagical vs manual photography often. I enjoy the discourse, but in the first instance, I disagree with him; in weaving bigger and badder machines surely enables one to get away with learning less, and/or produce outcome disproportionately favorable to the maker's knowledge/skills. And yet I have experienced instanced where - what's the word? - "artistry"? added to or exceeded works of superior technique/competence.

In the 90's, there was a big discussion on what is now the Yahoo Group on whether weaving on computer-controlled looms still fell in the purview of handweaving, and though I didn't really know how computer-controlled looms worked, nor fly shuttles for that matter, I thought the latter was even less hand-weaving. Still do. But I digress.

The two last drafts I've been weaving annoy me. If you have a weaving software, the kind of networked twill drafts, and may other, can be created eye-wateringly quickly. The way I work, the only time-consuming, or personally involved, bits are correcting long floats, (my software finds them for me,) and the threading of the loom. Unless I'm after a specific size/shape/expression, designing on the computer can be soulless. As for weaving on the computer controlled-loom, you feed the draft into the loom, (my retrofit setup is a tiny bit more complicated but not by much,) and weave. I press the one air-compressor pedal for each pick, and I throw/catch the shuttle with my hands.

I used to be not displeased with my detachment from my weaving; I thought it was a cool, calm approach I haven't been able to establish in other areas of my life. The stuff coming off my loom are still what I make, and never who I am. On occasion I worried about the disdain I feel towards my finished pieces, but I saw it as a kind of maturity/objectivity as a weaver, and if the right piece came along, I was confident I could gush like no other.

There is nothing wrong with the mechanical weaving if I were into geometric/mathematical problem solving, but it appears I now want a little more ..."involvement". I don't know what I mean, or whether I'll know when I'm doing it, and at this point I hesitate to call it the catch-all "human factor". I don't know where the paradigm shift came from; if it this the next step of maturing, did it come form soaking up Randy from his video, or from the goings-on with Group R? Or did you put a spell on me? Or did I always have it, and that's why I haven't learned most functions on Fiberworks after 10 years, and still do some things manually when a click of a button can save me hours, days and weeks? (And a double weave blanket with two faces on both sides?!)

Way back, when Connie was a weaver, she had a rod/bar (third pic; in front of her work table) on which she hung scarves; they stayed there until Connie was satisfied each piece was truly finished. I envied her level of involvement, and I'm still more a quality control inspector at the end of the process, but I find myself rebelling against quick-and-dirty weaving.

* * * * *
Not all is lost. In contrast to my usual flat cloth, I like the textures emerging in these two, the different expressions created with long vs short floats in different directions, mixed with plain weave bits. On the loom, they feel rough, and that's something I've never had on any loom of mine.

Why Do You Weave Cloth?

During the month of June, I'm inviting you to guest-post here on Unravelling.

Subject: Why you weave cloth, instead of weaving tapestry, knitting, embroidery, sewing, sculpting, making ceramics, or carving wood and stone. Please express your personal take/thoughts/opinions, (biased ones welcome!) rather than merely posing questions, though you are welcome to refer/quote others and/or write about things/ways you rejected. Critique of other reasons/views are OK if they are not personal attacks but well-considered/reasoned. e.g. why/how something doesn't make sense to you. You don't have to a weaver to the exclusion of other art forms/disciplines/techniques, but view loom weaving as your main area. If you were a serious weaver (by your definition) and moved on to other art forms/disciplines/techniques for creative reasons, I'd love to hear why and what you're doing now.

It's immaterial if you are a "professional" or an amateur; ditto, the number of hours you actually spend on the loom per week/year. 

Rules: None, really. Choose your title; on-line pseudonym if you like; your one link most welcome. I do encourage you to link to others when referring to their opinion/work. Also, feel free to add one picture of your weaving.

I reserve the right to ask you to delve in/clarify, but I unlikely to edit your words. Email me? I do so hope to hear from you.

Friday, June 1, 2012

For Trapunto's Viewing Pleasure

You realize, Trapunto, I put off making an October exhibition warp just for you? No, not really.
I used A in the wood grain piece. I wasn't sure if I wanted to use a high contrast weft again, (in which case my first choice would have been B,) or analogous: 1 is much darker than the warp, 2, slightly lighter, and 3 the same yarn as the warp, which looked deliciously textured. I chose 2 so the design can be seen from a distance but the texture can also be seen from the right angle. It had been a while since I wove in analogous colors, (the weft is slightly bluer and whiter than the warp purple,) and it's restful and lovely. In contrast to the shapes and lines in this draft!
The colors in this are truest of the three pics.
This is the contrast I see when I weave, except the weft is slightly bluer and darker.
Love this angle.
Am I the only one who gets joy and relaxation out of remedying such phenomenon? I have to save every millimeter of this weft as this is the green that has been discontinued in this size.
Deanna of DEA Yarns is petite and cute and lovely; she finished knitting this top the night before we met. She has asked hubby/boss Adam to see if there is any of the green left in 20/2, so fingers, toes and eyes crossed, everyone. Meanwhile, I think I'm getting even ...wider!
My warping mill and "pillars" warp yarns await downstairs...

PS: My mother just rang me to say she bought an Ashford 8-shaft table loom (60cm wide) and the stand/pedals that can be attached to four of the shafts. I thought of buying her something like that last year before I went home, but decided against it because of space constraints. She has missed the complexity of more-than-four since she sold her monster Glimakra in 2006 so we had been looking all over for an 8-shaft table loom with a bit of distance between the shafts and the breast beam. Though Ashford's length is not long, it was the most easily available and affordable on account of her having walked into a sale this week. Now I'm thinking that is a really interesting setup: she gets the benefit of the east of pedals, but the freedom of the table loom! I can't wait to try it out when I see her next.