Saturday, October 27, 2012

Period/Full Stop

Then this morning, we dismantled our exhibition, which in my case took all of 23 minutes. With Ben's help, of course. And now the various piece reside in variously not-exactly-convenient places in my house.
I realize now that the one I got really very wrong are the postcards. They look much too dark and unattractive; I wouldn't buy them. I should leave at least a couple of days to work out the colors and values of the printed cards and not feel bad about taking up a lot of the designer's time because, ummm, the values and saturations in my cards are looking sad.

EDIT: I'm doing a little ac/counting. I prepared 96 postcards and sold only 8 at $3 each; I also prepared 68 buttons and sold 24 at $2 each. They are insignificant, but still it's worth making tiny affordable things to take away if I can't be bothered making middle-of-the-road affordable things also. Thanks you, Marlborough Weavers, for the most part! 


Starting this week, Week 2 of 8, I've been allowed back in the Friday morning drawing class. What a relief. Friends, morning sun, my favorite model. And for once, we were allowed to use a proper, A1-paper. Bliss. 
(The two in front are A3; the one in the back is A1 with some weirdness because I didn't stand back far enough to check the proportions. The poor thing looks like she has a tumor between her legs on the bottom right, but rest assured she doesn't.)

Then I went to see two satisfying films, "The Intouchables", (French, beautiful, comfortably predictable but laugh-out-loud hilarious,) and Mental, (noisy, very Australian, and in a strange twist, a most loving homage to the film"Sound of Music".)

I met Ben for pizza at the cinema, (Nelson's best pizza place is inside our cinema), came home and went to bed early. Nice, eh.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Mom often refers to colors as the "young" people's dominion and blames her chronological age for not being "able" to weave anything in a new color scheme. Phhhhh! I'm sending two of the more sedate (yes!) balls of Italian knitting yarns I found in the local shop as triggers.

Meanwhile I was a bit stuck for a new cashmere project for Santa Fe, but dithering in bed this morning paid off: I think there are going to be trees and leaves.

Monday, October 22, 2012


Something I've been thinking for a while and have been talking to Heidi, Lloyd's assistant, for a year was for me to give some of my time to raise funds for Arts Council. I spoke with Lloyd last week shooting off ideas. Cards and posters seem to be out of favor; too much work for too little return unless we can get the printers on board. Art auction seemed more to his taste; online to broaden possible participation.

I have other crazy ideas like putting a long table in the gallery amongst artworks and having a special lunch or dinner has been my fav; open studios and studio tours are always possible, as are workshops-as-fund-raisers, a few (intensive) days/evenings of artists talks with slide presentations, again at the gallery.

I want to be event-oriented, rather than, say, participating in the Arts Council Committee as Lloyd suggested. Goodness, can you imagine me in a committee meeting? No, that'll be more punishment than volunteering. I'd like much of the prep work to be doable at home, in my PJs, if that's not asking too much.

What interesting fund-raisers have you been to? Heard of? Arts Council helps art activities/events which are community-based, rather than help individual artists. With that in mind, there have to be new and exciting ways to raise funds even in a small place like Nelson? Do you know organizations, arts or otherwise, that do fun fund-raisers?? Do share!

* * * * *

Anybody interested in a Small Piece exhibition? Is it the timing that's so wrong?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Living the Weaver's Life

But I haven't been sitting around saturated in envy. In no particular order in roughly the last ten days:
Joan McLauchlan, Win, Chris and Rose came over from Marlborough to see "Beginnings" on Tuesday; Esmae joined us. This is Joan looking out the window while I tried to capture the light fixtures; from memory they were string-like fiber molded and stabilized until hard with some kind of liquid, after which the fiber shapes were bisected, the molds removed, light bulbs inserted, and shapes reassembled.

I feel I have to "host/entertain" when people come to see my work; by doing so I miss the chance to listen to what they think. I missed a good chance. It's that old, familiar performance anxiety.
I am back in Ronette's drawing class, but on Wednesday nights because the Friday morning class is full. I know none of my classmates; they don't know I'm a little... different. Or maybe I'm no more so than they. I loved the foot on my board I picked up randomly.
I finished weaving two scarves; had there been 20cm more warp left, I could have woven a third, but that not being the case, I shall weave more small twill fabric so I can make more buttons in the future. Our local craft store is out of 14mm and 17mm wrappable buttons; 12mm seem so tiny and 19mm too large for my purpose.
Two Hearts blanket have been ready for washing for yonks, and the weather dry and perfect for the task, but I've not felt much like pressing big pieces so they sit a-waiting. 
I made warp for Hearts Blanket's little sister in color schemes requested by Grandma; one soft pink knitting yarn, one blue-y pink weaving yarn and a mohair are treated as one. I've enough for two because I like the weft on the left better but am not sure if there is enough; the weft on the right I have more than enough but it finishes the cloth harder than I want.  
I don't often weave for myself but I wanted a new couch blanket in purples; it turned out I don't have enough purple wool, but I can make a big wrap/shawl, about 90cm wide and, well, the warp is nearly 3 meters! 

The warp is an unknown wool in black purple from Mom's stash; she started knitting something so some of the balls were crinkly like instant noodles; that's paired with a burgundy/grape merino boucle and I'm threading them in opposites. The weft is purple alpaca I bought from ages ago when I fell in love with the color, together with the same boucle. It's been a while since I last used almost the full width of the 4-shaft Jack. It's been ages, (15 years?) since I planned a 10DPI/20EPI warp, and I wrapped and checked gazillion times, (21 pairs in an inch,) but it feels like I should sley the pair together 8DPI/16EPI.
The Cherry Blossom blanket I planned for Mom a few years ago shrank too much and ended up much narrower than I had hoped, and somehow became Dad's blanket. But Dad's become increasing frail and I'm afraid he's going to trip over the fringes one day, so I thought to make a ruana with a similar fabric, with boucle in the warp and the weft, but a shortish one so it covers him to between below the waist and not below his knees. I wanted to use Mom's lovely handdyed, handspun blue yarn as a base, but the boucle I intended to combine in the warp (the saturated blue and green one,) was too strong and killed the sporadic natural/brown bits in Mom's, so I lined up all suitable merino and boucles and made a mishmash of a warp. This is going on the 4-shaft loom after my purple piece, and will be woven in plain weave, double width for the back, two layers for the front. I have no idea what is going to be the main weft; there is Mom's handspun green yarn, (not photographed,) which would create a lovely texture but I may, if lucky, have enough to weave about 30cm of the back. It will end up like a patchwork of colors and textures, but inadvertently it's also going to turn into a good stash-reduction project of my nicest wools.  

Stash was what Pat and I talked about while we "womenned" the gallery yesterday for a couple of hours. I was disappointed Pillars used up surprisingly little. I now freely admit I'm delusional if I think I can make headways into my current stash in a "few" years; I think, if I stay productive, it's more between five and ten years.

Pat recommended I read "Art & Fear" by David Bayles and Ted Orland some time ago. Last week it popped up on sale at and bought it right away, and man, this is good. It's a pre-New-Age, tell-it-like-it-is, short and sharp description of how we may feel/perceive/think as makers and putting them in context. I've never felt fear that I've been aware of, more disappointment or anger, yet this book is exactly what I needed now. I've listened to it twice so far, but wouldn't mind having a used paperback to read, reread, highlight, underline and scribble in the margin.

I'm going home for six to eight weeks in Jan/Feb/Mar, and I've started looking into air fares and schedules. I've signed up to a Kay Faulkner (Australia) workshop in April; it's residential, plus I need transport to there and back, but I've never been to Whanganui and my good friend Joan Rosier-Jones has made it her home a few years ago and I've never visited her there, either. And I thought it may mark a nice "full circle" at this juncture. I just have to weave a whole bunch of merchandises between now and my trip. There is also a "market" day on the last day of this workshop, so I shall schlep buttons, as well as scarves, then. I mustn't forget: I've got the Sketchbook Project to work on before I leave for Japan, too.

Finally, with Dianne and Alison's exhibition opened, I can pick Alison's brain about that same step where I get stuck in the design process. I'm looking forward to that.

Back to Shaft Envy

Mine is a "middle class" problem. I'm not sure if it applies to our working-poor-on-one-income middle-class-ness, but considering the equipment and stash I have and the fact I don't have to work for a living and looking at my experiences and skills, I think you'd agree with my broadly categorizing my work and me "middle class" in the weaving scheme of things.

I talked about sort of giving up getting my hands on a bigger, badder, meaner loom. I thought about my attitude towards my making, which is the same as how I spend my life. I listened to Adrianna Huffington and Nora Ephron several times when they spoke at the 42nd St Y, possibly in 2006. Best US 95cents I ever spent! They parade their very-high-up upper middle class women problems, but just because they're well-off doesn't diminish their efforts, you know. But I digress.

I have been thinking about getting older vs growing older. Life this side of 42 for me has been a process of resignation (bad!) and contentment (good); resignation from things I had always assumed I'd do some day but physically, emotionally or financially/geographically can't any more or won't so I can invest time/energy/money into something else. (And I add, I really didn't expect to live in such a small place and how this would impacts my perceptions/expectations.) I gave up serious writing, a higher degree or three, and most regrettably travel and workshop/education opportunities. Instead I looked for deeper investigation/contemplation in weaving in the first instance, and my understanding and participation in visual arts locally and on the Internet. These coincided with my efforts to turn down the noises in my head and approach something like internal peace, which made me more realistic about my abilities and thus made me more timid, too, rather than optimistic. I even started thinking my lust for equipment and experiences is a sort of materialism and immaturity, covering what's lacking within. I even looked forward to revisiting ideas and working on many iterations in my lifetime.

And observing my parents' aging process, the better I'm equipped to look inside myself for my own happiness/contentment, the happier/more content the rest of my life will be, and the earlier I get started, the better. 

But mechanism/structure of/in weaving is still what I am most interested in in the first instance. And it helps to have big, bad machines to hone in on this aspect, though by no means the only. So when Pat introduces me to works by a weaver who has 32-shafts and at least access to a jacquard, in this case one Jenny Robertson of Canberra, Australia in the context of multi-layered weave, I can't stop slipping back down the shaft-envy/materialism (as opposed to thinking-ism) slope.

Wanted: more growing up.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Debriefing - Part 4 of 3 (and I Think the Last)

We had a lukewarm meeting yesterday. Some were unwell, some were tired, and someone was very late, (though she did text the hostess, honest!) It was not quite the debriefing I had hoped for, but then I knew it was too soon for that. We mostly talked about where we want to go in our making individually.

I learned, or Pat told me, I work differently, at least from the other members of Strands. I have to see things in my mind, be it a specific piece, how it's installed in an exhibition in a specific part of a specific gallery, or the exhibition as a whole. I looked forward to discuss our exhibition as a whole at earlier meetings, but that wasn't to be, which still feels like a lost opportunity for me, because among the five of us, we've been to a fair few exhibitions in a fair few countries.

Things I make are site-specific, if you can call it that. It's always been so. Someone who's helped me a lot at one point was a woman whose back I saw at the Nelson School of Music, late-middle-aged, petite. In my mind, she rushed down a cobbled street as best she could in her heels, in an autumnal early evening to meet her husband, who is patient and kind but always annoyingly punctual, at the Opera House. She wore black some days, very dark brown other days; her husband preferred grays and blacks. Because it had been the kind of day where Summer had clearly refused to leave completely, she foolishly left home without a coat. Goodness me, I'd have to make her a large shawl, won't I? This is why my non-commission pieces tended to be very short at first, not just because I am short.

A whole cast of characters lived in my head, taking turn in telling me what they needed. There's no doubt I enjoy this process, and over days and weeks I fine-tune the item in question while ignoring them speaking, singing or humming. But I've always done this so I never gave it much thought. More recently, I don't always have a human protagonist, but the cloth flies on its own accord, in a specific context.

Pat told me others probably didn't work like this, and that's why others found it difficult to talk about what I wanted to talk about sometimes. 

About a year ago I declared to Ronette, Pat and Nola that after nine years of trying, I gave up designing according to prescription. While working on Pillars, Curvy and the Friends(hip) piece, I played around some, using tricks I've picked up in various design courses, but on the whole I ended up working the way I normally do. I'm always open to other/new ways, and if I come across a better way I'm more than happy to amend/switch. What I'm saying is, I finally don't feel the need to catch up with people who went to art/weaving school. After all, I say I'm self-taught in my blurbs. 

So working with the group for 18 months ended up a kind of a home-coming, a full circle, getting a little sharper picture of myself as a maker. I feel a kind of a quiet contentment, almost a confidence, at having tried other things, having observed other people work in their own ways, and relearning/reconfirming what works for me. Yeah, I don't fell like I need to catch up with anything or anyone, but need to keep making the way I've done. And I love working by myself.

Interesting that Maria, too, found her returning to where she was once, but more focused.

If I think of something else I learned, I'll tell you about it, but I think that's beyond debriefing. 

Hitting a Bump

Or a few in this case.

I like my cloths to have as few wrinkles as possible, so I steam press them while damp to within inches of their lives, samples and proper pieces. (Wool bounce back; mercirized cotton stay down some.) Though I do like textured cloths when other weavers make them, I never wanted to make them myself. Until the latest sample.

I was in such a hurry to get weaving that I washed but did not press the sample, and for some reason I'm really enjoying the tiny gentle bumps, and I'm wondering if I should wash and size the two scarves from this warp instead of power-steam-pressing. (I don't have proper facilities to size pieces so it will most likely mean pinning them down on the carpet where we don't walk around much.)   
A-side of Draft 35842 and a glimpse of Draft 40317 on the left; I'm about to finish weaving 40317 with the olive green weft.
B-side of Draft 35842; too, too Waffly for my taste, and yet, and yet... I'm weaving this teal/peacock weft next; it's a color I don't care for, but in this warp it makes the overall cloth so saturated and each little unit in the structure pop up.
Draft 40285 and I'm even thinking of trying this in wool, in what feels like a total departure for me.

All three are on 14 shafts, straight draw. I've included a tiny bit of basket weave in the selvedges.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


The local newspaper has done a review of our exhibition. I must say, I never ever thought of Shoji screen partitions in Japanese homes when I was making the pillars. It's always interesting what others see.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I'm in Torres Straights Islands Heaven

I caught the African episode of BBC's Hidden Treasures of African, Indian and Australian Art yesterday. I've always liked Griff Rhys Jones, and preferred Jones' docos to Michael Palin's. Jones' observations on where culture/life interfaces art, be it his own or another writer's, were honest and touching.

After that, I went searching for the other two episodes and watched the Australian one twice so far. So thoughtful. So wondrous. I heartily recommend it. You can start from here and at the end of the clip, one of the tiles will be the second, third and fourth part.

It's about Torres Straights Islands artifacts/arts and life, and there, to this day, they are so intertwined and mysterious. I've seen some Torres Straights Islands artworks in Auckland and Dunedin, and have been struck how "modern/contemporary" they looked to me. (There are few prints at the Suter for another week, too.) I've searched the Internet several times about their art, but I never found such a comprehensive art-in-its-context package. Wonderful. If you are as interested as I, you can even read Haddon's book here

I haven't done anything else today yet. The Indian episode is all about textiles, Jones tells us.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Throwing an Idea, or Three, into the Mix

I was unravelling the navy sweater some more last night; this has got to be the most indomitably constructed garment I have ever come across. I don't have a good knitting vocabulary, but where the separated pieces are connected, they've used a stronger, non-wool thread which, if I don't cut carefully without pulling, tears the cashmere. At the shoulders, they used a separate, non-cashmere knit-wool tape to protect the top of the knit-cashmere bodices. And the ribbed part of the wrist has another synthetic, possibly formerly stretchy thread plied with the cashmere. While parts of the knit-cashmere is disintegrating and I'm having to gently pull the cloth in all directions to see if the yarn is willing to come out in reasonable lengths. I don't think weaving with this as weft is going to be nice work; I might have to spin and try to incorporate these short lengths.

I must still be in the name-giving, blurb-writing mode from the exhibition. If I were to put a mean spin on "concepts" as starting points of worthy contemporary art, which in my rough and imprudent interpretation means a piece has a delicious back story, I couldn't stop myself last night. 

The title might be something like "Retelling My Story".

Blurb stories can be, (and I'm typing like I'd tell you a story, not how I'd put it on the gallery wall): 

Scenario 1) During WWII, my maternal grandfather lost three houses to bombing; luckily he had enough $ to keep moving and renting. What kimono my grandmother didn't loose in the fires, she traded with rice and other foodstuff to feed one husband, five kids and a small household staff, (and then she died, ostensibly from a common cold, a week or month after the war ended.) So Mom and sisters got next to nothing of their mother's silks. In Japan, until about the 60's or mid70's, a lot of women had their mother's, grandmother's and their own old kimonos dedyed and redyed, so the silk cloth was the heirloom handed down. I don't think Mom ever did this. Grandma's story was no unusual for urban women 70 years ago. (The kimono, not the dying.) 

Scenario 2) Referring to the wartime trade of "valuables" with foods in sadness and desperation, I wonder how much of the stuff is still stored away in country homes, and how much was sold off dime a dozen as country treasures since the 80's. Makes you think the next time you find a "vintage" Japanese kimono for $10, doesn't it? (Not that I'll unfriend you if you got some; they are attractive objects in and of themselves. But the next time you go at it with scissors, give these women a moment of recognition, please?)

Scenario 3) Ben and I have no kids so we have to be selective what we hand on to our nephews and niece; I don't think I have any garments or textiles worth doing that, so I'm the end of the road. I bought the navy sweater when I was invited to a weekend in the mountains by Ben's work group, six months after I decided Ben's the guy for me and six months before our first date. Needless to say, I couldn't throw it away; it still transports me to one late Thursday evening after work when I went shopping for nice casual clothes in the era of my life when I lived in tailored suits. (Tailored because I was too short/fat nothing in stores fit me.) 

Scenario 4) and this is probably the most "timely" one if I want to get the finished piece into an contemporary exhibition: in this day and age of disposable clothing, the notion of "heirloom" doesn't come anywhere near our clothes. At least not mine.

And all these lead conveniently to something like, "If I am to tell a story through cloth, I have to start with me, blah, blah." You get the picture.

All these scenarios are true stories, though Mom did get one kimono of Grandma's in 1997 when Grandfather died, along with a couple of her step-mother's. If I plan a project from these stories, (and Mean Meg is tempted to say if it's especially un-pretty and un-utilitarian,) it would fit the "conceptual/contemporary art" prescription  as I understand it. But I just wanted to recycle, because they are cashmere, and in the case of the navy sweater, I wanted to keep it in some way. And though I'm always up for a challenge, I don't think making un-pretty, un-utilitarian cashmere something-something for a challenge's sake is for me. Is it? 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Debriefing - Part 3 of 3 and the Last on "Beginnings" (I Think)

This will probably the last post regarding "Beginnings" unless something dramatic, funny, or dramatically funny happens.  I've not thought about it for a while, but I prepared these debriefing drafts a while back and the sentiments are still true, so decided to post them.

I feel a little bit confident in being able to bring to life pictures in my head, albeit it in a much-revised (reduced?) version, and within the limits of knowledge/skill/equipments. I've done this with shawls, but I have now done one that's bigger and unutilitarian. (Though I still insist Pillars fabric make really nice jacket/three-quarter length coat; just mind the floats.) I don't know if it's the same thing, but I feel more at east with where I am and what I make.

For years I hoped to one day buy a purpose-build computer-controlled loom with preferably more than the current 16 shafts, and to that end I tried to save my pennies, though they have a nasty habit of dissipating when I "needed" books and workshops. In the last year or so I've started to think I shall never be blessed with that kind of funds and am slowly coming to terms with it. One of my goals was to have such a loom by the time I was 55, (6 months to go now,)  so I am fully familiar with the loom by the time I'm, say, 60. I've noticed in recent years I forget things faster than I ever have and it takes me so many repetition to learn something new.

I'm not sure if I've given up, grew up, or something else. Part of the decline in equipment lust has been due to living with a project for longer, and I hope, delving deeper. I also enjoy revisiting an old idea. This new mode gives me great satisfaction I did not experience when I was hopping from one idea to the next. I even stopped wanting every new weaving book that comes out, which is a big change. And I've become addicted to the quieter, more subtle, inner satisfaction in my making.

(Still, if you have a computer-controlled 24 or 36 (or a home Jacquard!!!) sitting around unloved, talk to me before you turn it into fire wood.)

In the event I do accumulate some nickels and dimes, I think I prefer to travel now. And experience other places, architecture, and cuisine. And speaking of food, I most definitely have to exercise; six months lock-down was good for the soul but most definitely not for the body. I feel fat in my fat clothes now!  

Debriefing - Part 2 of...

Last night, members of Strands and some husbands/partners met for a lovely Indian dinner in town, and we decided to meet on Wednesday for debriefing. So I'm thinking about what I got out of the Strands/Beginnings experience.

As usual, my weakness is technique. If I can weave better technically, I could spend more time and brainjuice on ideas, concepts and desgin and such. But, oh, it was lovely to weave not colorful things but muted and nuanced Pillars. That is my old 0,0.

As regards design, I came across this definition while drafting an earlier post; "linearity, 5. Compare painterly designating a style in the arts, esp painting, that obtains its effects through line rather than colour or light and in which the edges of forms and planes are sharply defined."

This made a light bulb go on. Six years ago, Randy repeatedly said to make the color changes painterly; he also used many music terms, which I didn't know, and the impression I got from Randy's repeated instructions was, "not how you usually do it." The above definition, and six more years of weaving, make better sense to me in a passive way; I understand the words, and I may be able to look at artworks and point out what's happening, but I'm still not sure how to use this as an active knowledge.

And speaking of using knowledge actively, I'm going to bother Alison to see whether she can shed light on where/why I get stuck at the same place every time while following her process, once her joint exhibition with Dianne settles. I believe understanding it will give me alternatives in designing, even if it may not be my preferred method. But who knows; I'm always changing my mind about things.

The Strands member to go through the most marked change was Pat in my view. Her tapestry style used to be clear and crisp, represented here at the far left, but sometimes even more stark. Her new "River Walk", far right, is a great departure for Pat, in the finished piece and in the design process. I love the nuanced lines and the contrasts of big and small color areas; it is as though her spirit was freed and I still hear her sigh of relief. Click on the picture to see the tiny shapes on the sides of the river; that, to me, represents what's new about Pat's making. It's wonderful she can do both styles, and no doubt in-between ones now, but having said that, my preference is still for her cleaner pieces. And I know I don't have to apologize for my taste. I'll need to ask her to let me photograph some and show you some time.
Me, I liked having monthly show-and-tell sessions because it made me work incrementally, and regularly, not just when it felt right, and I didn't have to aspire to make all my samples pretty, as discussing ugly samples helped me get a better inclination of why I liked what I liked. I observed a broadening of my taste, and, cough cough, a little less cynicism.

I didn't observe any change in the way I worked, I still prefer to make what I see in my head and bring it into my world. It's time-consuming, requires many revisions, but in the end pretty straight forward. Sometimes I enjoyed the powwow about ways of exploring ideas, sometime not. My allegiance is still to loom- and cloth-weaving, and makers engaged in more "free-hand" techniques just don't comprehend the restrictions, and the subsequent joy, of our grids. Often Pat and I would have to reflect on how another member's suggestion would translate to my kind of weaving.

The people/group-dynamics was, ahem, difficult. I wasted a lot of time regurgitating conversations and chewing on Rescue Remedy pastilles. It was roller coaster ride, some meetings leaving me on an unimaginable high, some wanting me to leave the room and curl into a fetal position. I am a person who requires a lot of time and effort quietening voices in my head at best of times, and my honest feeling is, A) I don't need the interruptions, B) I'll gladly forego the highs for stability, and D) oh, but I might miss out on some spectacular joy.

So, I guess that's where I'm at for now.

EDIT: I'm not saying Strands members are particularly difficult people; I have too little experience working in an intimate group, but they are all good people, and I'm probably the most opinionated.

Life of a Less Frantic Weaver

I'm thrilled my life is going back to normal, and it seems to be a good, new normal where I'm able to mix work and housework in good measure. Six months of lock-down was wonderful for my soul and psyche, but the house and garden suffered, and incremental housework is about all I can handle. The garden will come later, but also very incrementally.

Where work and housework converges is me sorting through exhibition-related stuff, putting work stuff back into the stash room or workshop, and restoring what is as close to "order" as I had before the lock-down. I know I'd be so happy if I did an overhaul of the stash room, (not redoing shelves or painting, but wiping all surfaces and reorganizing contents,) but it makes so much more sense to get through a few pending projects before I do this. So I might clean my closet and polish my shoes and purses instead.

I used surprisingly little yarns for Pillars; disappointingly little to tell you the truth, but I got reacquainted with my stash and have a lot of ideas for nice, kind merchandises. And maybe even some gifts for the family for my next trip. Even then, I won't have a roomy design room; I'll still have large cardboard boxes under the table. But I think workshop and stash room reorg would be, oh, soul-cleansing. So that's something to look forward to.

Speaking of stashes, Deanna from DEA rang a couple of days ago; she is hoping to holiday with her family in the Nelson/Tasman Region. Of all the people in the world, including Ben, Deanna is the one person who knows my yarn purchases and I can't fool her. Once again she asked me when I'll be working on Ben's Happi; though it's always been one of my top priorities, I think I'm hesitant because it involves, albeit basic, sewing. It would be nice to get on to this one, as it will be my first for-sewing weaving.

While cleaning out my files, I found these two pics Ben took I hadn't noticed, but really like. It's almost a fading memory, this exhibition. Do you enjoy exhibitions in which you have your work once it opens?  

Saturday, October 6, 2012

New, as in Old

Boy, I'm glad I got around to posting the pictures of the exhibition. I'm sure you know what I mean; don't we feel "over it" by the time the exhibition is finally hung? I can't imagine what it's like for authors to have to schlep their books when they have so moved on to the next, and perhaps the one after. Still, I admit, I'm glad I did the pillars.

So it's great, in this case, I always have unfinished projects so I can get back on the loom bench full speed. Last week, I tried to make two drafts for scarves on the Warp of Shame, but they didn't look good sampled, so I revisited I guess it stands to reason, but every time I go there I have a specific project in mind, a mood I want to create, and yet often I gaze at the same drafts. Do you? This time I made myself sample ones I've never used as far as I can remember. I'm going with the *'d ones.
I also finished fringing one of the two Hearts blankets under the coffee table. I wove these in or before May 2011, apparently. It had been so long since I last fringed I my hands had to get used to the motion. I hope to wet finish this on the weekend and put it in the Refinery shop next week.

I'd like to continue getting a few more unfinished projects out of the way before I start new ones, but I am working on two projects in my head; a pink/ivory/brown baby blanket for Hearts' sister, and scintillating colorful cotton pieces, possibly 60cm or wider.

And if I wasn't chipper enough this morning, guess what awaited us in our PO Box, after a long journey from California...  Remember this?
Yay, yay, yay! Life, and my head, are getting back to normal.

30 Months of Work - My Bits in "Beginnings"

Catalogue: "I weave cloth on looms." 

Collaborative Book: Meg Nakagawa

I grew up watching my mother knit, sew, and embroider while listening to her chant how she yearned to weave. That weaving is the ultimate textile work thus became my creed. Mom started weaving when she was 60.

I had my heart set on becoming a writer since I was six. After coming to New Zealand and studying editing, I discovered my two contrasting preferences: to write flowery descriptions and saturate the pages with ambiance in the first draft, and to cull to the bare minimum in the second. Unable to reconcile the two, I took up weaving for non-verbal relief.

 In weaving, the vertical warp threads are either up or down; they trap and hold the horizontal weft threads. This simplicity suits me. “Weaving” comprises of a series of steps, only one of which is the weaving on the loom. Small decisions made in each step present potential points of no return, after which editing becomes onerous or impossible. I find this linear progression serene. And now I write for fun.

Growing old and becoming an invisible middle-aged woman is not fun, even if one’s shape never changed much after Age 3, skipping the svelte teens. Late last century I caught my middle-aged shape in a Bridge Street shop window. Since then I see it everywhere. The line in this piece was originally my chin in a self-portrait.

West End (of The Silk Road)

As a child growing up in Japan, I knew the Silk Road started at our end, winding through China and India, reaching somewhere beyond the Big Buddhas. I imagined colorful cargo undulating on camelbacks.

Early this year I learned there are indeed tributary routes crisscrossing my old stomping grounds; silk products from the region were collected in Hachiohji City, transported on carts pulled by animals or carried on the backs of men, to the port of Yokohama and shipped beyond. I imagine growers and weavers in years past may not have known where their silks went.

This is a mirage of the old capitals in the West imagined from my end of The Road.
Wool, pine

Buttons covered in handwoven cloth (and this is the best Ben or I could do with the colors.)

Postcards: my postcards are not in the Strands Shop, but at the front of the gallery for now. We are meant to give the pinter 24 hours for orders, but depending on how you look at it, I gave them 4-7 hours, so I wasn't sure my cards can be done. The printer got them done, but by then I was too tired to negotiate a plinth, so I'll go do it next week.

"Beginnings" - A Textile Exhibition

Approaching the gallery. You see the collaborative book to the left. Facing us is Jo's page, with her first eco-dyed piece, and it's not for sale. Mine's to the right of hers.
Pat's tapestries beyond the book. The far right piece is a big departure from her normally tighter look.
Exhibition blurb and sign fashioned after our poster.
We decided two exhibitors will be present on Saturdays to speak to visitors. Today was cold and rather empty, I was gold. But it's a good time to read each other's statements and have a closer look at the work.

Ronnie's banner and Jo's scarves to the right, Maria's dress in the middle (sideways, unfortunately,) and Ronnie's Spain piece. 
To the right are Pat's black & white work in the manner of Ohshima Tsumugi, with recycled pine paper. 
Looking towards the biggest space. On the lower plinths are two of Ronnie's works based on maps.
Turning slowly clockwise, we see Maria's other garment using peat moss from Finland. 
Further clockwise we see Jo's areas with the strongest political overtones. (She's a dedicated environmentalist.)
Looking back.
Back in the front room we have the Strands Store.

Until last Sunday night when we finished hanging, I was ever so disappointed about not being able to complete my Friends(hip) piece. But looking at our exhibition as a whole, because it is full of muted natural colors, I didn't regret not having the oh-so-saturated red piece any more. It was meant for another exhibition, as Dot suggested Sunday morning.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Breathe, Weavers, Breathe

"Making things that take attention and care is not a waste of time; it’s reclaiming time."
Elaine Lipson

A Quickie

Maria has her exhibited items on her blog, and points to The Nelson Mail article on our exhibition. Her Un-Wedding Dress is particularly lovely when a breeze comes in from the back door; I like to think there is a guardian angel looking over our entire exhibition during its duration and she likes to remind us of her presence every so often.

I've been reading Elaine Lipson's recent TSA presentation in Washington DC. I like rereading her thoughts on Slow Cloth every so often to make me recalibrate my thinking. I'm a stubborn and slow learner so I can be achingly impressed by others' work and other influences but I don't feel it filters through to my making easily. At least not in less than half a dozen years. Still, getting away from visuals and taking in Elaine's words nudges me back to my 0,0 position. How do you see your work? What do you think of Slow Cloth? Her words are easy to read and, I feel, invites you to explore your own interpretation. Leave a comment on her blog, if you will.

I've been dying to weave a scarf with on the Warp of Shame but just can't seem to come up with a suitable draft. So instead of getting back on the bench this morning, it seems I need to do some time with draft-drafting.

I'm not liquefying-soft-membrane-melting-ly tired any more; just a bit tired from sleeping so much. I should have a tour of the house and pick up work stuff and put them where they belong and make a list of how/where/when to clean. But, you know.... Meh.... 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Well, they're up, the brouhaha has finished, and I don't have to go into town today. Imagine, my first quiet day in five days! Now if I could only stop the ringing in the ears...

I shall do a proper exhibition coverage here at Unravelling, but for that I need some more/better pics. Even though Ben and I've accumulated a couple hundred so far, they just don't seem to be... you know... the right ones.

But the opening happened last night. I so didn't want to go, and I dithered in different areas of the buildings hiding and bothering Vicky who "manned" the reception area as people started to come in. But I spotted a friend, and then I felt more at east. It was nice to see people; weavers, textile folks, our lovely, lovely photography friend Diane, former workmates, and my drawing class classmates. Some memorable moments: Deb Donnelly organized Yoshiko Wada workshop two years ago, but she was the minder and I was the, well, the trouble student so I didn't have the chance to get to know her then. She popped over from the North Island, and there may be a chance to see her in April if I decide to go to a workshop on the North Island. Errol Shaw and I talked a little bit about scale of work, but darn it, he speaks so softly and, again, I'd liked it better if we could sit and talk in a quite place. I might track him down and ask him more in a while. In the pic is Sharon, who is not only a textile artist but a very close friend of Jo's. After most of the crowd had left, we were lamenting the slow and excruciating death of New Zealand wool/textile industry and how hard it is for us to source wool yarns with scale left on.     

The highlight would have to be this: my Self-Portrait piece was hard to find, and many of my friends had to ask me so I'd take them to it. Well, three of my classmates from Ronette's drawing class and I walked over, they read the blurb, and we burst into laughter. We are roughly in the same age range, (born within 20 years of each other probably), and I told them exactly when and where I became aware of my own body shape, and we've all been staring at beautiful naked ladies once a week for over three years and go home and, well, to some degree look into the mirror in awe that the image looks nothing like what we had in our heads. And I'm really looking forward to going back to class in a few weeks and being among them.

I'm still not switched on. I'm babbling on the keyboard. I had hoped to plunge right into cotton scarf on the Warp of Shame, but this is the fourth morning in a row my arms can't stop shaking. I hope it's psychological. I think I'll eat chocolate ice cream for breakfast and go to bed with a book. (Gale winds outside, just so you don't think I'm slacking off.)  

Thank you everybody for your support, encouragement, compliments, and what I appreciate the most, laughing alongside me when that was the only thing left to do. I hope your laughter has been as animated and loud as mine.

Monday, October 1, 2012


I love stationary, so I do look forward to seeing my postcards.
And you can tell what kind of photos I like, can't you? Ben and I just couldn't get a good picture of the Self-Portrait in the assembled stage, so I will try again tomorrow but I might forget about that one.


I'd imagine all five of us are tired to the point of liquefying.  My last job before the opening has been to choose and edit photos so I can email four or five images today for the printers to crank out postcards tomorrow, then for me to pick them up and put price stickers on them in time for us to set up the opening at 4PM. Others have remained upbeat, but I'm exhausted; part of my problem has been that the group has met three days in a row with at least one more to go. While they are nice people, you know I spend most of my life not speaking to a living souls besides Ben and now I can't stop female voices echoing in my head. While I'm interested in meaningful conversations, (thank you, Maria,) being asked how I feel annoys me. Especially when this is asked as a space-filler. I mean, what is one supposed to feel after working on a project for 30 months and see the stuff hung for the first time? Relieved, I suppose? I won't lie; I can't wait to get out of the gallery and have quiet days in my basement.

Goodness, I'm grumpy.

My sparky, Josh Roberts, ended up coming to the gallery three times today. His conclusion was a) he really liked the job Duncan did lighting; b) with the pillars not touching the floor, he felt the light fixtures would be too prominent, especially if backlit; c) backlighting would make the texture (and therefore a bit of the pattern) disappear which would be a loss; and d) lights he had in mind are bluer, while the rest of the gallery is lit in soft yellow lights, which would result in disharmony. From our conversations in the last few months, I wondered if Josh is an artist as well; he said that's not the case, but he's lit many art exhibitions (and commercial premises); it's been a great pleasure to have him advise me from his perspective over the months. Thanks, Josh. 

Anyhoo, though not suitable for the postcard pool, I particularly liked this image. Don't ask me why but I keep thinking of Afghanistan.

Nice to See You All

This is the first time I saw them, individually and collectively, vertically and in full lengths. I felt as though I had been pregnant for 30 months with quads and finally delivered. And then the detachment settled in. I usually enjoy the editing and fine-tuning but yesterday I was tired and indecisive. Ben got a five-hour good workout. 
This is Ben's attempt: he was either sitting on or lying on the floor they look longer than they are.

Very early on, I built a scale model of a corner of the gallery with pillars of various lengths and widths and people 150cm (me) and 180cm (Duncan) tall, to get a better sense of scale and design. Yesterday Duncan said in the first instance his eyes went to right about where the design changes, so though I wasn't exactly sure what I was doing, it sure went to plan. 

I meet my electrician, who's already been to the gallery to see them, to discuss his lighting proposal. Then we get interviewed by two local newspaper folks. I also need more photos so I can have postcards made.

Until late yesterday I still felt terrible about not having the friends(hip) piece in this exhibition. But after most everything was hung, I realized the big gallery hasn't got saturated hues and now I see perhaps that piece was meant to go to another exhibition. That very red piece would have stuck out like a very sore thumb. 

This morning I'm so tired I feel like my soft tissues will slip off of my bones if I don't stay still. But onwards and upwards...