Weaving Goddess Giveth, Weaving Goddess Taketh

And in this case, it's the "taketh" I appreciate. I'm blessed with a husband who doesn't mind my buying yarns, book or equipment, and parents who occasionally buy me more yarns. And I have little will power when it comes to weaving things, hence the current more-stash-than-fits-the-house problem.

Along came one Jo Kinross, a Nelson textile artist, who sets up a fiber stash sale, on Sunday, August 16!! We pay $20 for space the size of a tressed table and sell whatever fiber-related overflows we've got for "reasonable" prices. And there will be coffee and cakes on offer, too, and that money goes to charity.

I don't have any yarns to get rid of, in spite of unfavorable space/content ratio, but I've got duplicate books, old magazines, embroidery charts, dyes from four (4!!) different sources, fabric, and duplicate or unnecessary weaving equipment. This sale also saves me (and by that I mean, Ben) from photographing everything and listing on TradeMe (NZ eBay). I don't care how much they go for, as long as all my things find a good home and be used for a change.

I'm wondering if I want to shed myself of some beads and the unsentimental portion of my step-grandmother's kimono. After talking to Jo this morning, the stash room cleanup continue at a much better pace today.

Bless you, Jo.


A Thought

Something Ronette said at the Textile Lunch last Friday made me think: if I could sew well, would I be worried about being a purist in exhibiting handwoven textiles as they were? Most probably not. Of course I would make attractive garments. Wouldn't I? Hummm...

One Step Forward (Design Ch 2)

I feel good having learned art writers are not journalist, that they are almost obliged to add their own slant, in addition to or instead of reporting what the artist says, and both perspectives are valid, though in some cases, either can be, you know, BS. Which seems self-evident now, but I never saw art writing in this light before yesterday. And in the end, it's up to me to like or dislike whatever I read, but I still would like to be able to understand some of them better.

Today was my monthly Design Mentor Day with Ali - our First Wednesday of August slot, but I got a bit confused so happened today. Regarding the design book, some exercises were fun, some tedious, but all were far more time-consuming than I expected. Once I got over trying to finish a certain segment in the time allocated completely arbitrarily, most of it was unexpectedly enjoyable. And though there are things I could have done on the computer, (and will most like do in future), like anamorphic distortion, I did them all by hand with pencil, pen and paper, which will do me good, I'm sure, in some mysterious way.

These are called supergraphs, where I was to fill tiny squares with marks, not repeating the same mark two squares in a row, but diagonals were allowed. I can do this with colors, hues, or different elements, but I chose simple marks, like X, O = and t he like. As I got used to the process, patterns started to emerge, which made the supergraphs more predictable. I like the one I did first (marked with the arrow) when I wasn't sure where I was going, as it seems to have more energy. Supergraphs can look quitte different close up vs from a distance, which is what I want to do with my weaving.

These are called counterchange patterns. I work with one basic design, and create an "opposite" across an axis; the pair is my basic unit. I repeat the unit vertically (or horizontally or both), but the grid need not be strait or regular. I really liked the examples made on wobbly grids, the top two on the left.

Both supergraphs and counterchange patterns may become my favorite pastimes in the evening, but I would source graph papers with bigger squares before I go completely blind!

Now that my books are in the new, reinforced bookshelf, (though I have to get rid of some), Ali went through what I have and picked Doramay Keasbey's "Designing with Blocks"; starting in August, in addition to the design book, I need to work through this book and produce samples. As well as, Ali reminded me, continuing with my "normal" weaving.

If anybody has a spare, or hear about a pre-loved, copy of "basic design, systems, elements, applications", by John Adkins Richardson, Floyd W. Coleman and Michael J. Smith, (Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville; published by Prentice-Hall, 1984), please, please, please let me know. I'd love to have a copy of my own and I've never seen a design text book with some laugh-out-loud passages.

Edit: Ali's suggestions were:
  • Try the supergraphs replacing marks with colors, or values.
  • Can I make drafts based on sections of the supergraphs?
  • Introduce textures into counterchanges, e.g. the way I color them in.
  • Consider the quality of lines, too, wobbly/straight, thin/fat, etc.


Do I Make Sense to You??

I just had a moment of hesitation. I read non-English weaving blogs using Google translator, and make comments based on the translated text. Even though I know when it comes to Japanese/English, automated translation is dysfunctional and hilarious at best, misleading and dangerous at worst.

Funny when different part of me meet/converge/collide. Just musing.


The Immediacy of Music

Fabrizio, who is a City Daily Photo blogger in Torino, Italia, pointed us to this clip. Once again I was reminded of the one-shot-only nature of performance art vs the dither-ability of visual/material art. Thank goodness I'm engaged in the latter. (And yes, I talk to myself, or someone/something, on the loom.)


High School Reunion

Later tonight (Saturday night Minnesota time) there'll be a class reunion I will miss. The Class of '77 is apparently a slack lot and there hadn't been "regular" reunions, so this is a 32nd "We're All Turning 50" reunion. I say "apparently" because I had never gotten any information about it until this year; thanks to the Internet, I was able to find it and get in touch with some. And with turning 50, (I lost a year moving from Japan to the US so I'm a year older than everybody else), I guess there won't be the anguish and tension seen in movies about class reunions; they can all let their thinning, graying hair down and enjoy themselves.

I discovered one of my classmates is a practicing artist; I remember Joanne as a delicate, almost bird-like creature, but funny as heck.

I hope everybody has a great time; I'm afraid I'll be asleep by the time the party starts.

Does Art Jargon Help or Hinder?? - Textile Lunch III

We had another textile lunch yesterday. Two regulars were absent, and two others non-textile artists joined. Once again I was put in the position, at least I felt that way, to explain what I was seeking, and my concern yesterday was how to raise and keep high the profile of handweaving and handweavers in the art/exhibition context, but also in the public eye. This was in conjunction to what and for whom to make our respective "things".

I get a bit flustered expressing myself because I don't know art jargon and everybody else (five of them) were either art course or ex-teachers. I feel compelled to be understood, so I feel compelled to speak articulately and precisely. Talking to Rosie I learned I was hoping to pick up art jargon and concepts from these lunches; things these ladies know without remembering they probably had to learn at one point.

Afterwards, I went to Page and Blackmore and started to read an article on Australian textile artist and national treasure Liz Williamson in on the latest issue of Craft Arts International. It takes me a long time to make my way through art writings, but yesterday, after a while I began to wonder if Liz thought in ways this writer/critic/reviewer wrote. In other words, I realized it’s the writer/critic/reviewer’s job to write well, in an art-educated manner, to sell magazines and/or get people to see exhibitions and like/dislike the works accordingly, but I am not meant to know for sure whether the artist herself thought/said/created in ways described in the writing. It's the writer's opinion, isn't it?

Another thing I noticed was this; pertaining to non-pictorial textiles, reviews/articles often focus on colors, material, and the artist’s personal background, as elements/expressions realizing the initial concept, sometimes making what appears a fairly tenuous link. I felt the writer's need to unravel the textile and nitpick on elements of the cloth rather than to take it as a whole. The hand or the way a wearable piece looks on the human body is seldom, if ever, discussed in the art context, but is sometimes included in the craft context. Yes? Meaning, art writers are not well-versed in craft and craft techniques? I need to read a few reviews about paintings, sculptures and perhaps architecture or installations to compare with what's written about textiles, as I can't recall anything right away. This nit-picking might be a universal thing. In addition, here's a big disclaimer: I couldn't afford the magazine, so I haven't finished reading it, but Tim at Page and Blackmore has been warned I'll be back to read to the end.

To myself, I ask two and half questions: a) Do I need to think in art jargon as I work; do I need to be ready to explain myself in art jargon? If not, does reading art-talk about textiles help or hinder me, for now? And b) how do I work my concepts into non-pictorial cloth?

As for our collective fame/glory/fortune, I'm still working on it.

Not-So-Subliminal Message

The local TV station was sending me a message this morning to get to work, I think.



Craft Art International, 2 year subscription, 6 issues, NZ$135.
Ornament, 2 year subscription, 10 issues, NZ$112.
Counseling, 1 hour, NZ$95.

If only life was as simple as credit card advertisement.


It's been a Bad, Bad Winter, Charlie Brown

I learned that I was fooling myself to think I was getting used to living with depression, so I'm back to the drawing board, with new books and plans to read up and approach my GP more intelligently. But I have a group of friends with different knowledge and experiences (or lack thereof) with depression which has been a blessing. So though it's nearly the end of July, there's very little to show for in what I've managed to get done this year.

Stash Room: The new bookshelf will be secured this weekend, so I can sort books and sketchbooks on the weekend, but the hardware store hasn't gotten back about the shelving parts, so I'm not sure about the rest of the stuff. We might move everything into the stash room and move the bed back into the bedroom because I am throughly sick of sleeping in the living room, cold or not.

Figure/Life Drawing: Term III resumes tomorrow. We have to submit one piece for the exhibition, signed and all, and I spent the day looking at everything I drew since the start of this year. I still like the extreme close-ups and will choose one of these.

Of interest to me is the contrast of the two B/W works; the larger one I did first; I worked with willow charcoal on gesso, which after a certain point starts to rub off, so I applied pit charcoal for darker areas, and white pastel and eraser for the lighter areas. Because I was learning as I went, it exudes an unexpected wild energy. When I drew the smaller, rectangular piece a week later, I knew which media I could use and what effect I can expect, and unintentionally the outcome, well, came out smoother and more polished. I like the wild one better, I think, which is strange because I like polished-looking textiles. With drawing, I have no preconceived goal or expectations, and I love the unexpected and I don't feel responsible when the work is "bad". Which is probably why I've felt more enthusiastic about drawing than weaving for a while.

But my favorite is the yellow neck - that would suit the new stash room well!

Weaving: Yes, I have been, more or less to supply the galleries and to finish off long-suffering warps that have sat on the looms for upwards of 10 months. And I have a few more to go.

Design Studies: the book is much easier to read than expected, but because I've been concentrating on the stash room and finishing warps, I've not made a serious effort. Embarrassingly little in fact, except reading and taking notes, as I've had to report back to Ali this morning.

Miscellaneous: Back in May when we were in Wellington, I found a book on French design motifs with loads of visual and very little writing; what little it had was on Rococo. I wanted it but didn't think I could afford it so I didn't get it. Last week I couldn't stop thinking about the information and inspiration that must be packed in the not-so-large volume, it so I contacted Unity; I couldn't remember the name of the book nor the author nor the publisher, but I knew the price and could describe it and knew exactly where in the shop it was. Well, they had every staff on a lookout for a week but couldn't find it.

Yesterday when I was waiting for the museum shop to open, I came across Australian Vogue Living magazine's May/June collector's edition issue and it had loads of photographs of the kind of motifs I was after so I rushed to the magazine shop, then to the bookshops, but to no avail. I asked the cafe owner if I could buy it when they decided their copy became too old, and she might let me have it if none of the staff wanted it. I've googled about back issues all morning, but haven't found the right url. If you have a chance, have a look at the Australian Vogue Living and Vogue Travel and Entertainment; they are beautiful and have lots of photographs you might be able to use as a design starting point. Or just nice pics to stick on your fridge.

When I delivered the scarves at the museum shop, Andrea asked me to be on the lookout for certain textiles at charity/op shops. Op shop peeking is something I've started recently, partially because I'm strapped for disposable income, but partially because friends have found terrific material to rip and paint and sew to make amazing creations from their finds. I didn't find what Andrea wanted, but for NZ$2, I got these six pieces of upholstery fabric samples; they're too small for cushions, but I'm tempted to do something more than just putting them on my bulletin/cork board.

Money: I mention this only so we can laugh together. After finally paying off the renovation, Ben needed his first multi-focal eye glasses, and the car needed new transmission. I might need a new pair of glasses, too. He also has so many holiday days left over and since we haven't had an alone-together holiday since 2003, we'll probably go on a South Island road trip in early spring. Yes, we worry about the money, but boy, we can use some R&R.


Gray Misty Friday

Last weekend, Carol wrote "I can see that my unpacking is going to be an ongoing, and probably to the reader, invariably tedious business so while it will be in the forefront of my mind, I don't want to bore everyone else by going on about it. Except to say that it will happen eventually and one day I'll be able to say "All done" and then I'll show you photos of my [potentially] wonderful workroom. Perhaps by then I'll be confident enough to call it my bindery."

It was about the time I was getting sick of updates regarding the acute lack of progress with my stash room, but she said it better. In my case, I still haven't been able to reconcile the amount of contents vs. the size of the room so it's an ambitious "[potentially]" for me. You know those tiny games with 16 or 25 tiles where you take one out and try to reconstruct a picture by moving them horizontally or vertically? Enough said.

It's hard, too, to combat a particularly cold winter, when my stash room doesn't reach the required 10C (paint manufacturer's recommendation) without excessive electrical heating, or more crucially, the sun doesn't come and this old lady can't see well what she's doing with one halogen work lamp. It's in the hands of the Universe.

Yesterday was warm and sunny and I got a good 3/4 of the day's work done, which is perhaps why I'm so chipper, but this morning, it's been misty and humid and gray again. Ben suggested I weave, and I'd almost forgotten what that was all about, but I think I will and see how the afternoon pants out.

I do love reading about (or, to be exact, looking at pictures of) other people's work space, so don't you stop on my account. I started looking regularly at Unclutter, which has some good ideas and some gimmicky ones. A few years ago someone pointed to me a blog dedicated to artists' studios, and I used to envy and drool over many, but I can't find it. Do you know the one?

Well, then. Onwards and down-stair-wards, I think. I have lovely weekend.


Give Me Six More Inches, Please...

The kitchen TV still has the shower cap on from the day I sanded the stash room earlier in the week. The black mat is something designed for factory workers who stand on their feet all day; it lets me weave on the table loom maybe an hour longer per day, but it's still pretty tough; it took 8 months for it not to smell so rubbery.


Element of Surprise

I have been weaving, finally, after being asked to bring in more smaller scarves to the museum shop. Twice. I know, very bad priorities. My mind has been on a) the stash room, b) the severe cold, and c) drawing.

Everybody who took Ronette's drawing class last year is asked to select one piece for an exhibition in August. At the same time, we've all been experimenting with different media, styles and paper preparation. My favorite has been to prepare a small area of the paper with gesso and drawing with willow charcoal, but I am trying all sorts.

Because all work needs to be matted and framed, I've been thinking about cropping at the preparation stage, and I'm amazed how what I learned from photo-cropping has helped. I give myself a size and a shape and fit an attractive area of a body in it, kind of like a reverse cropping. It's also my way of cheating, a little, because I still can't get contours/proportions right, and I have so seldom managed to fit an entire body on paper. We also have art teachers, graphic designers, and Who-Knows-What-Elses whose works intimidate me enough to make me physically sick, so this is my way of showing what I can do.

I never know what the final drawing is going to look like until I peel off the newsprint and the tapes, which is so different from my weaving. It's all exciting!


It's Not All Bad...

In fact, you might say it's great. Even though late on Sunday I really felt defeated, that there is nothing I can do right this year.

The stash room situation is bad. It's been too dark to sand or paint, so the room has been left looking as if we've just walked away for a cuppa. I hate sanding, so I might leave it until the weekend even.

But something wonderful has come out of my Textile Lunches. Not only does everybody want to keep meeting, but we loan/borrow books, swap interesting URLs, and we share lots information and impressions that may or may not influence my weaving, but are just fun to share.

Rose lent me a book on design she used when she taught textiles. Ali is mentoring me, so I'll be going through this book to learn more about design. The book looked a little too serious at first glance, (it weights a ton for a paperback for starters,) but turned out to contain some hilarious as well as informative writing. I will also be weaving samples though a book Ali will select, and to start I'm weaving plain weave samples. And I'm to continue Ronette's figure (life) drawing class as part of the "programme".

Andrea keeps loaning me interesting craft books, and not only am I enjoying them, but I now know there is a knack to buying interesting craft books that stand the test of time, but I don't know the secret yet. Rosie and I have interesting discussions about lectures and floor talks we go to, and she often gives me art-historical observations which helps me sort my information.

And we all laugh a lot at the "revolting" fashions from the past.

This side of Clare's exhibition, my friends and the Universe have conspired to unload me of the "place of weaving in textile art" and other noises and concentrate on what I'd like to make.

So, no, I have it pretty good. In fact, I have it damn good. Think positive(ly)!!


It's Finally been Warm Enough!

Lovely reprieve from the very cold winter this weekend. The ochre is the new color, and no, it's hardly neutral, but the previous color wasn't either; I'm moving from pink/orange ivory to blue-yellow ivory. The room is not going to have the clinical, clean-lined look I wanted, primarily due to the weight of the books and notebooks, and we need to shift furnitures between this room and the bedroom. The plaster work we had redone by a so-called professional 11 years ago is so bad and we're not doing much to remedy it, but I know I'll live. I just can't wait to start using this room... Which will be in two weeks at the earliest. Yikes...

The upside is, since the house has been so cold, I've been weeding outside in the mornings, and that's been glorious, though our place is still pathetic looking...