Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Thinking, Thinking...

Last night a thought popped up in my mind regarding my Pics to Picks project. It's a project Lynne, who sent me the images, worked on a while ago, called "Mrss Mary Atkins-Holl". I'm not sure why this piece or where this story came from, because it's not my favorite; my favorite has always been "Candy. C" because it looks so different in light and dark. I do remember reading a story about Mary Atkins somewhere, (could be this post, but I can't remember,) and I connected that, for some reason, with this photo.

I'm unsure how much I want to connect my project with Lynne's work; granted it won't get too near because her thing is so different from mine, but part of me wants to keep my project, at least in the early stages, very much influenced by my interpretation of Lynne's aesthetics.

Meanwhile, I'm really enjoying following Kaz's thinking. What I find most interesting today is her interpretation of the bamboo slats. In Japan, and I understand in cultures where Chinese have migrated, bamboo are/were used in environments surrounding foods, because of their antiseptic characteristics. And because bamboo was so readily available, we used to make lots of cooking utinsils and containers. Our first drink bottles and lunch boxes were sections of bamboo, and our first plastic wrap, bamboo leaves. And so it would have been an easy choice use it to separate the kitchen section of a restaurant with bamboo slats. Not to mention the straight, geometric appearance of bamboo appeals to the Japanese aesthetics.

And have you had a good look at her mind map? I'm downloading the software as we speak.

I have to unpack and do laundry now but I'd like to keep thinking about these things.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Saturday Daydreaming: Dreams, Or, Anna Said I'll Never NOT Be Japanese

While working on the collages this week, I had Akira Kurosawa's "Dreams" playing off and on the telly. It's not so much a movie as it is an eight-part visual essay, stunning-looking, but no coherent story. Imagine, if you will, a visual version of a short story collection, and you'd be right.

I was astonished how familiar it felt: I did not grow up in the country (i.e. I lived in the city,) I was born a later than when most of the stories take place, and yet I so got it. The sentiments, the symbolism, death, the survival guilt from The Pacific War (WWII), the exaggerated line delivery, the Kabuki-style acting. I don't necessarily like them all of them, but I so got it, far more than modern Japanese films and TV shows. And I cannot put into words how relieved I felt to see something so familiar; that that sort of a world still existed in the mind of someone else, because the physical word didn't survive. Never mind Kurosawa was 80 when he made it, or that it was released 20 years ago. I loved it, and I soaked it in. You could say I didn't listen to it with my ears nor saw it with my eyes, but the film seeped into me through my pours. And I've never, ever experienced this with a Japanese film.

I bought this DVD while I was in Japan because this museum in Asakusa had a room with his drawings, a costume used in this film, and some photos, in one room. (And you haven't heard anything about that museum because I haven't gotten that far in tidying my Japan pics. It's where India Flint visited the day before Mom and I.)

Which leads to my problem of being Japanese, and a weaver, but not a "Japanese weaver". I learned to weave in New Zealand. I don't know much about Japanese textiles or the kimono tradition, except there was much around me when I grew up. I can't be held responsible for explaining techniques and processes and regional characteristics and history, because I don't know. And yet, every time someone mentions in passing that something I did looks Japanese, I cringe, because I feel like an impostor. And that's been my biggest block in signing up for the Wada workshop; I don't want to embarrass myself, and I don't want to be found out. But I think this year is a year of learning, and thank goodness to my aging father who still funds my education, I think I might go.

And a full circle. The said museum in Asakusa, Amuse Museum is exhibiting "Boro" and Wada is writing/has written a book that involves Tanaka Chuzaburoh's collection, which this Amuse houses.

I might as well bite the bullet. As Anna said, I will never not be Japanese, so until I invent a word that means "born/schooled in Japan, further schooled in Minneapolis, and having lived and changed life in Nelson", I am what I am.

I got three books on art/contemporary textiles of Japan. Many are outrageous and... ahem... some are ugly, and Changing Threads might love it but they're so not me. Some are huge and I can't think in that scale. There are a few lovely, beautiful things, and I could really go in those directions, but they wouldn't be considered "textile art" in New Zealand.

By the way, we've seen many of these or similar works, sometimes with different names and countries attached, in FiberArts magazine. So not all are unique to Japan or come from Japanese aesthetics, plus I wouldn't be surprised if there are more chances to exhibit textile art in the West so Japanese artists send them overseas.

It seems to me to boil down to this: Japanese are obsessed with textiles, most people, most of the time, and they, all kinds of textiles, are everywhere. But the same could be said of ceramics.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Wolf Book

I was recommended the book, "Women Who Run With the Wolves" today by a classmate in the drawing class, and not for the first time, as I remembered the title. I just ordered one.

Has anyone read it?


I so want to go to this drawing workshop, but I'm going to be in a design symposium in Napier this very weekend. Darn! But that's OK, I'm thrilled to be going to this symposium.

Another Fruitful Friday/Textile Lunch IIX

"Life is a rich collage," said Dot. How beautiful.

I had my last drawing lesson of the term; we have a long break while Ronette wanders off on a holiday, and today concluded my second year of drawing. I had a horrible fore-shortened view and had to amputate the lovely model's right leg 12 times below the knee and thrice from the thigh, and still the knee-foot length was much too long, but that sort of thing doesn't bother me any more. Next term we are going to get fiddly, apparently; we need to prepare/gather a some stuff.

Then we had our first Textile Lunch of the year. Most of the time was spent discussing which pieces we liked/didn't like in Changing Threads, and why, and what we thought of the overall exhibition. Whilst I hope to not take anything away from victims of such deeds, I was frustrated such themes as domestic violence, child abuse, and death are still in vogue, wondered why "happy" is not in.

We also discussed the loveliness of having a dish washer, (don't ask me how we got there,) which lead to my reporting that I recently overheard Ben calling me his "partner" for the first time, and whether we, Ben and I, were due for a model change. End of April we will have been married 20 years, and Ronette and Ali said I've been demoted, ("dissipation of commitment" said Ronette,) but they also told me in no uncertain terms Ben is a keeper and I should stick with him as long as I can. Nice to know people important to me think that, but they said nothing of Ben keeping me as long as he could. Hum....

Then I went to the library to study, but I got side-tracked. This may be old news to you all, but I've been blogging one month short of four years only, and I found this fabulous, mind-booggling eye-candy of a book published in 2002; it's called "fabric" by one suzanne trocmé, (very cummings, this cover) published by Mitchell Beazley. I think I have to have it. Big pictures, macro shots, more modern than ethnic/old textiles, but a good variety.

We're going to Wellington tomorrow, for four days, and Keeper Husband Ben has next week off, and this time it's not a short-leash holiday. Yippie! We're going to do touristy things, maybe go to the observatory, film archives, Te Papa, our national museum, and their Pompeii (Doni, two i's??) exhibition, my main purpose of this trip. We're staying in a different part of town this time, too, so that should be interesting!

And we might even take our laptop, as the entire hotel is Blue Ray-read?/fitted?/connected?/whatever!

Marks on the concrete floor at DeVille, our regular Textile Lunch venue.


Got another from Deep End of the Loom - however did you come with this name, I always wonder. You do have a wicked sense of humor! Thank you! Anyone want to grab this and run with it?

Craft Matters!

Tell the world why! (I can't even see my dot in New Zealand... Darn.)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Another Day of Collage

Today didn't proceed as swimmingly as yesterday, (possibly because I used fewer food photos?), but I completed all 16 basic exercises in Clare's instructions. There are hints on how to do more, different things, but I think I'll take a break, and observe the 46 collages I did in the last four days. In class, some students were coloring in, adding, subtracting to the collages they've completed, and I might want to try these, or, observe and find out more about what I've already done. And weave.

I found the first two terribly difficult. The idea is to cut up a photo into small squares and remove some but maintain the original "picture". First, removing any piece appeared as if I took away an important piece; then once I got started I wanted to remove almost all of them. When I paid attention to the shape of the negative space, some pieces needed to come back in to make the overall picture attractive.

With this one, I wanted to leave in many of the dark piece in the lower right corner.

I also worked on some of Lynne's photograph.

Is this my favorite of the four because of the colors?

Alas, no, I love the B/W and the "scene" I see here. As well, I like the band of bright lights one third of the way from the top; it gives a great focal point, secondary only to the person.

Negative of B/W, and you can see the shape of the band of light looks like land, and below, water. Almost Monet-esque. But even though I changed the blade tip, this picture didn't cut cleanly, and I was so unhappy, I decided not to do any more collages. But I did some photoshopping.

I'm learning that, like anything else, (drawing!) it pays to stick with collage so that I can improve on the technique and be able to put in a little bit of me into what I do, to really enjoy what I'm doing. When I'm there, I can get into the moment and not worry about how this is going to help my weaving, or weighting out if I should be making collages or weaving.

I think, I hope, my mind is ticking even after I finish the work for the day. I keep looking at them and going back to them, and not exactly thinking about them specifically, but they don't leave me for a while. The last three nights I've preferred to watch mindless television for a couple of hours in preference to good shows, or reading, and though I'm not aware of it, my mind seems to be thinking about the collages. Only after a couple of hours of watching, or having the TV on but not exactly watching, can I read.

Strange but wonderful. But then it's autumn here, and nothing can possibly go wrong!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Why Collage?

And by that, I mean, why do art/design teachers make us do collages? I've continued to work on them Monday and Tuesday. They take a while to cut, (I've gone through 11 box cutter tips in the last three days,) but I started to put some meaning into some of them; that's the start of "conceptual", yes?

The color and B/W version of the same, less abstract, photo. I finally got this out of my system, and I'm glad, but this is boring compared to abstract photos or even other things like...

Faces! Great exercises, Clare. These were interesting, though I think I had the wrong kind of magazines as I didn't find very many full-page portraits.

I wove only part of one picture. Kiwis might recognize Linda Topp in her caravan, with Jules inserted above.

Actress and Earth Woman

Enjoying colors and shapes...

While cutting up magazines, I found this advert for magazine subscriptions and wanted to keep it in tact.

I've done 12 of the 16 exercises; I'd like to get the other four done this week, if possible. Also, I started something else Clare spoke about. Once when she was in a design (??) workshop in the US, each student was given a large piece of paper. Every day, for the duration of the workshop, they had to do something on/to that sheet. I got started on my large sheet of paper, but I don't know how long I will keep going. It looks very sparse now. I'll take a photo every day and show them to you later.

New Material

They really boggle my tiny mind. Conductive ink, anyone?

Have You Ever...

Have you ever thought of making a book out of your photographs? Of course you have! Some of us actually take action, and it must be deeply satisfying. Thanks, Doni, for showing us.

Attention, Cat Lovers!

Do/es your cat/s have as interesting (a) lif/ve(s) as this one? Theresa, you spoil them. And they indulge you!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Ben Says...

Instead of calling myself a "weaver" and what I do "weaving", Ben says I should call myself an "orite" and what I do, "ori" just so I am different from the rest of you. NOT! It's all marketing, isn't it?

"Boro" is a combination of embroidery and quilting, as it turns out! I got the proposal written by Waka from the workshop coordinator.

* * * * *

3 Day workshop SLOW CLOTH
“Boro Transformed: patching, piecing, stitching”
Tutor: Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada

Hands-on workshop for artists who are interested in Patchwork, Quilting, Embroidery, Collage and Painting.

This workshop is inspired by a group of Japanese folk textile and clothing from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, such as padded sleeping mattresses and comforters, fisherman’s coats, lumberjack’s vests, and other everyday wear. These were dyed in indigo and extensively patched and darned as necessary, utilizing regional resources to the limit.
In my forthcoming book, I am using the Japanese term boro to define a new aesthetic and to bring new meaning to an alternative creative process, e.g., darning = healing, meditative action = marking time, reuse/repair = recording history. "Boro" represents the transformation of inconsequential material to something precious and valuable. Ordinarily, these tattered, castaway rags and the articles pieced together from them would be considered of little to no value. Boro, on the other hand, are viewed as beautiful in a way that defies convention. This type of imperfect beauty possesses a power that resonates with people almost like an emotional barometer. It points to an alternative value of "beauty" slowly coming to surface in our social consciousness.

Participants will learn about traditional Japanese common textiles made with boro (rags and fabric scraps) and will reinterpret this folk tradition by creating a fabric collage using layering, piecing, sewing and darning. Participants will also explore the use of water-soluble sheets to create open, lace-like structures in collage. Scrap fabrics will be provided by dosa inc. of Los Angeles (, and participants are also welcome to bring their own recycled, used, stained scraps or motheaten woollens to incorporate into their project.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Clare Plug Collage Workshop

Today was Clare's workshop. The first thing we were told was, "Ignore all rules except this one." It wasn't the kind of collage workshop that required layers upon layers, necessarily. The work was more of cut and position, study and paste, and if you like, add layers, draw additional lines or frames, or hide some of what you've pasted.

Being the slowest student, cutting and pasting was all I got around to doing, but I must be getting used to these workshops because I was able to jump straight in without wasting time thinking. Or, it was a well-constructed workshop. Or Both.

Negative of one of my glass photos

Arranging vertical pieces: another of my glass photos.

I like that this looks like a composite of two guys, but it's really one man.

De-constructed/reconstructed chook and eggs, immediately after lunch, after Jo gave me some tips on how to prepare for the dye workshop.

The weaver wove badly. These two sheets are of the same glass photo, but one is the color negative and the other the B/W negative. The idea was to have one sheet where some areas have colors and others showing just the values, but I used strong two-sided tapes to secure one side, and since there is no give when weaving paper, the bottom sheet in particular became very warped. I shall try this again.

My table-mate Sharon and me. Thank you for this, Jo.

A big treat was the short talk at the end on how Clare designs, and we were shown some of her collage and scrapbook work.

It appears there will be a play group based on today's workshop, where we'll get together and just do some more collage on our own. I'm in!

Edit: with simpler lines, it is possible to make the two sheets fit almost one on top of the other, but not quite. After finishing this one, I realized, the two were not different versions of the same photo.

Whereas these are. With even simpler cuts, the sheets are almost the same size, with a lot less warping. And now that I've completed what I set out to do, it's boring. Next, please!

What the....

Yoshiko Wada is coming to Nelson later in the year to conduct a... "boro and stitch" workshop including dye resist techniques. Everybody told me it's a shibori workshop, but I'm not sure!. Somebody please tell me what "boro" means in the Western textile context? Because I'm not going to pay 400 bit ones for a workshop to create - what? - tattered fragments of textiles! No, way. I don't want to miss out on a great workshop opportunity, right here in Nelson, but so far I've only found terribly old Japanese cotton clothes turned into patchwork quilt on the Internet, and it's so not what I want to learn. Does anybody know about her "boro and stitch" workshops?

What is "boro" in this context??

A far more appetizing prospect is the India Flint workshop, which Jo Kinross tells me will happen, though the format is undecided. No worries, I'll take India anyway I can. Jo had some superb suggestions for me, though, which I'd like to share. In addition to fine merino cloth I was going to weave to dye in the workshop, Jo suggested knitting or crocheting something with yarns I would normally use in weaving, then dying the knit/crocheted piece, then unraveling and using the yarn as warp or weft. I also think I'll make some warp chains and dye them and use them to weave. Come to think of it, not all of these "prepared" bits need to be undyed merino, do they? I might even mix a bit of color, or even polyester, a little bit.


Teacher Extraordinaire Bonnie Inouye said, "Play with the tie up; play with the treadling," and I'm getting quite a different expression, though I'll accept it may be same-old same-old to you.

Editing is the time consuming bit. But today I'm collaging.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Changing Threads

"Changing Threads", the "concept" exhibition opened at Refinery Art Space gallery today. We went to the opening, but I had to get out because the gallery was so hot and I felt sick; Ronette thinks I weaned myself off of pain killers too soon after having a tooth extraction on Thursday.

Anyhoo, from my Marlborough group, Rose Pelvin and Moorhouse had work accepted to this exhibition. I'm allowed to photograph with the makers' permission, so I can show you only theirs. Should have talked to more friends; sorry.

The exhibition will be open until 10 April.

Shooting Glass

We had a last minuted homework before Clare Plug's collage workshop tomorrow. I'll paste the instructions in case it's useful to my fellow Pics-to-Picks weavers.

"I am sending some suggestions for a pre-assignment that some of you may like to consider, but of course any/all of these are optional! But doing something from this list may help you make the very best use of this class time in relation to your own art making.

"1. Go on a photo shoot.
Take the equivalent of a roll of film worth of photos of just one thing that captures your interest. It may be an object, something abstract, a scene….something that catches your eye! Really get to know it. Print these out, either as standard sized photos or even better, as basic colour prints on A4 sheets just using your printer at home- you may then like to use these for the class.

"2. Visit an exhibition, ideally alone.
Spend time with each work, trying to get to ‘know’ it a little and try to defer judgment about whether you like it or not!

"3. Prepare some of your own ‘papers’ for the class. These can be prints of photos as in #1. above. Paper you paint yourself, in any way you like. Photocopies or photos printed of your own work (weaving, patchwork, stitchery whatever you do), or of the fabrics or materials you use."

Because I was amazed how much I liked the crudely treated photos of the one that didn't take my fancy straight away, I first set out to shoot the only baubles I have, old, small silver ones that got a bit cloudy over the years. Didn't work. No matter how I tried to reflect the colors of the flower pots, it showed my camera too prominently.

I assumed Lynne's bauble was glass, so I got out the only colorful glass object that came to mind, a Mexican recycle-glass wine glass, and with I had great fun. Clare said an equivalent of a roll of films, so, well, you know I got a few.

I find those photographs I like because of the colors are often boring in B/W; this must mean where colors are concerned, I must like photos relatively uniform in value. Ones I love when converted to B/W or even B/W negative, I often don't look at carefully in colors.

I still intend to work with all of Lynne's photos at this stage, but tomorrow I might concentrate on these.

OK, off to the opening of Changing Threads. I'm sure Refinery will update their website, soon, please???

Saturday Daydreaming: The Importance of Seeing/Looking

I've been feeling more relaxed in the drawing class this term; too bad next week is the last week, and then we have a longish break.

This model poses for us often. So I've drawn her at least a couple of dozen times in the last two years. And I've been thinking about that seeing/looking thing we are supposed to do.

Being a restless type, I often scan the world around me and at best take in the impression of the things I like, without really registering, analyzing, or "really looking". But in drawing, I have to do a lot of that, and as I become familiar with some of the models, I start to remember, or "know", certain things about the bodies, or the forms. In subsequent sessions, if my mind is alert and in the right, quiet place, I discover new things about the bodies, and then later, some of these new discoveries start to appear on the page.

In drawing figures, I'm just thrilled when that happens, but I wonder how it can be used in weaving. I have started to occasionally draw things that I find interesting, particularly people, but though those occasions have fun, and helps to quiet my mind, I haven't used them to develop into or assist in my weaving projects yet. The two may never connect, and I'm not worried because drawing gives me enough pleasure, but it would be a bonus if they did.

Feeling Small-Minded

Do you know the Kayan people? They are the Burmese ethnic group most famously known for their women's metal neck braces. There are Kayan refugees in Nelson, and recently they made our national magazine, The Listener, because the women decided to put the neck braces back on, because these braces are a symbol of who they are.

These women in Nelson also resumed their back-strap weaving, and The Suter is going to sell their textiles. As well, I've been approached by a few people in the arts/textile sphere to see what we can do to help them.

My first reaction was: just when I thought I'd weave lots of things with my sewing threads and target a niche market, I've got a hell of a formidable group of "competitors". They have the tradition, their stories, and the visual impact of the humble back-strap weaving, and possibly a lower price range. And though my stuff will be different from theirs, for people who see the textiles side by side in shops in galleries, well, they are alternatives, aren't they?

But my more immediate worry is this, (and this is where I feel even smaller-minded,) I feel very uncomfortable speaking face to face with heavily tattooed or pierced people; how am I going to react when I see women with neck-braces? My friend Rosie lives near one of the families and she went around to their house with Christmas mince pie last year. Rosie said when they don't have the braces on, their necks look normal, and she told me to have a good look at the photos, because the braces start at the shoulders and go straight up to their jaws. Still, I can't help myself feeling queasy anticipating meeting the women.

I'm feeling a bit discouraged in a vague way this morning. Meg 0, Weaving Goddess 1.

Still, Changing Threads exhibition opening this afternoon at 4, Clare Plug workshop tomorrow, Wellington later in the month and Napier design symposium in May. Ben got me a whole gob of nice-smelling moisturizers and hand creams as early birthday presents yesterday, and we live in Nelson. I have an easy life.

And, imagine the benefits I will get from meeting and working with the Kayan weavers. I must stay open to life's opportunities.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Playing Around

Even though I edits photos almost daily, I don't use photo editing softwares as a design tool, even though many of the instructions and books recommended it.

So this is where I started today, and when you tweak it just a little bit, I have another favorite photo! You should try it, and if you don't have a photo editing software, try photocopying color photos black-and-white.

The original photo

Negative of the original


Negative of B&W

I was thrilled with this photo in the morning, but all day I've been mesmerized by the two negatives of this photo. Although I am not supposed to be thinking of weave structures at this point, I can definitely see fine lacy weaves.

Who's the Naughty Interpretor/Guide???

I got an email from Pat, which included this:

"When we were in Tokyo, I had arranged for an English-speaking guide to take me to a natural dyeing shop and to a yarn shop. When he showed up, he had printed out pages from YOUR website (don't ask me why!!) but he was impressed that I knew you."

I must be famous. Ha!

Rash Decision

I just signed up to go to a design symposium in Napier in May. It will be held at the Hawke's Bay Museum and Art Gallery, same place as the Textile Symposium last year. It's called Balance, and I have no idea what's going to happen there!

I suppose I should let Ben know about this.

Pics to Picks: My Turn

I received my pictures this morning from Lynne. I really, really like one, (oh, the colors!!!) and I find another terribly attractive, (so much back story potential), but I want to approach all four equally up to a certain point, so I'm not telling. More than I have already.

I've followed Lynne's work since she started blogging and I love them, but her work is quite different from mine. I wonder if I am influenced by her work as I look at her/my pictures, and if it's necessarily a bad thing to stay influenced as I start my design process.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Yarn Lust

Machine embroidery threads were on sale at Spotlight, the Australian-owned craft shop. 3- and 9-packs polyesters were much cheaper than the 6-pack rayons, but Rose and I chose them pretty much by color. Rose told me that if I wet them, I can break a rayon yarn easily, but not the polyester, though Sue told me polyester can be overdyed. I got 18 spools. Rose got a bag full for Marlborough Weavers group.

We also looked at and discussed sewing patterns for the garment projects. If I were to make something for myself, or something in a standard size to sell or enter into exhibitions, one of the things I would consider are raglan-sleeved jackets. I had never heard of Kwik Sew, (Butterick was always my favorite,) but their catalog had a great number of simple patterns. Last night we were told by the more experienced garment-maker-weavers to first make a dummy garment with old sheets or muslin and make adjustments with these before planning the fabric to weave. By the same token, I'm sure I could adjust the patterns somewhat at this stage, but I have very little experience in this area.

Anyhoo, today I thought these patterns might work for my project, but I didin't buy any because I might change my mind.

Kwik Sew patterns, raglan/dolman sleeves, very easy jackets: 3564, 2829, 3459 (favorite of the day.)
Also 3292, (ummmm... maybe?) 2925 (not sure.)
Regular sleeves: 3438 (massive braiding opportunity), 3096, 3379 (braiding and tasseling options)
Nostalgic, and easy to envision these in handwoven fabric: 3679

For these, I'm thinking of light-weight merino or wool fabric with some merino in it. I don't want to line, even if it's in wool. But I may have an opportunity to buy an overlocker; my friend Nancy is moving back to Australia and doesn't want to take hers back.

Edit: Some sewing pattern websites for your convenience:
Butterick, McCall, Vogue
Simplicity (Project Runway Kit for Kids???)
There is a Folkware Design Challenge halfway down this page.

Gifts from Weavers

A wee sample of what you might receive if you go to Marlborough Weavers meetings in the summer...

And what Doni sent me from Italy; 60% Australian merino, 25% silk, 15% cashmere, in clear aqua blue and pale delicate silver. I am definitely going to plan something for myself with these lovely yarns. Thank you so much, Doni!

(See the shuttle she drew? Two ends of the yarn connect Doni and me. I love it!)