Oh, Heck...

I've been weaving a little on the widened warp, and I'm just weaving, because I have a hard time remembering what I wanted to do.

Analogous colors are easy. The minute I saw the picture, I wanted to weave in mostly oranges, plenty of yellows, murky dirty greens, perhaps a hint of brown or black, with a little bit of teals as highlights. I wasn't sure how else I was going to make it interesting.

While making the warp, I wanted to mix purples because I had only one brash orange and wanted to tone it down, make the warp more interesting, and make the overall value darker.

I like the warp well enough, but I wanted to tone down the orange.

Had I a couple of browns, things might have gone smoothly. But I didn't. So, without thinking, my body automatically added some darker analogous stuff, and dilute the orange. It's not ugly, but it looks like two bits of analogous gradation with a smidgen of contrast squeezed in, and visually so not what I had wanted to do for this project.

I know these things are natural progression of projects/processes, and as long as I'm playing everything by ear, it was bound to happen.

At one point in the afternoon my weaving became "automatic", selecting analogous wefts and creating a weft-wise gradation as well. My body was home, but my psyche was back in Paraparaumu, October 2006, in Randy Darwall's workshop, desperately trying to make "painterly" color transitions. Randy doesn't advocate just analogous, but that was the easiest painterly/watercolor/wash transition I could think of. And it's so not what I had in mind for this project. I took out some picks. Not a lot, but a few.

What I want for this project, at this point, are blotches of squares/pixels, in different sizes, in relative but not complete harmony. A tiny version of a vibrant, tantalizing modern geometric painting. Something like that...

PS: I've about 10cm woven - 140cm to go.


It's a Little Like 3D Chess

I threaded and sampled last night. Under artificial light, the sample was too, too cheerful, like a summer table cloth. I will use proportionately more of dark wefts in the pattern and especially in the tabby, if I have any, and I will widen the warp by two inches - a bit of toned-down reds on the orange side, and either more light blues and greens, or purples, on the other side, while trying not to make the bright yellow portion the dead center of the warp. I think I'll get more desirable results because a) whilst the colors are nice as they are, I had intended to create a much more subtle cloth, and b) for the complexity, for want of a better word, of the interaction of the blocks, I wanted a slightly bigger field to play with/in.

Today, we have sun and clear air, and I can see the interaction of the tabby colors, and I like the sample better than last night, and the late night decisions proved very valid.

The random threading, I like, but when I widen the warp, I would like some more in the block on Shaft 3 on the blue/green side; I hope you will be able to see what I mean when I'm finished with the piece.

I don't know which face is called summer and which is winter on this piece; it look more like Spring & Autumn, but I like better the side I don't see while I weave. The warps are more dominant, meaning not many shafts are lifted at any time, and I like the tiny squares making sparkle-like pixels. But I'll keep weaving the way I sampled, because as Uber Teacher Bonnie Inouye said, "Lift fewer shafts where you have the option."

Usually in Summer & Winter, one unit, or a pixel if you will, consists of four warps and four wefts, so initially I had planned to make a warp where colors changed every four ends. The narrowest bits in the above sample is one pixel wide. At 36EPI, a pixel would be 1/9 inch or 3mm wide, and I wanted smaller, so I disregarded the weave structure in this respect and mixed as I pleased. I started making the warp from the orange end, so you can see by the time I reached the purple part, I was all Right Brain.

The side I see as I weave. In real life, the colors are more vibrant and intricate,
particularly in the left half.

The side I don't see as I weave. I like the blocks of weft colors creating the sparkles;
these are one pixel wide by four tall, so I can make smaller bits of sparkle.
Again, the colors are more vibrant, but this is the best I could do.

A previous sample, in same size yarn combination and same EPI but
8-inches wide on the loom, showing different pixel widths.

And because of the randomness in warp colors, I wondered if Birdseye is the right treadling, and wove the sample in Alternating treadling; Alternating is also easier to remember.

Warp colors, weft colors, threading, and treadling - it's as mind-boggling as the concept of 3D chess. This is turning even more fun that I had anticipated, if that was ever possible.


The Warp is Wound

Nelson and most of New Zealand continues to have pretty dreary weather; our house has been dark most of the day but I had to get started, so I switched on all lights on around the hallway and stairs, and made a warp under six halogen bulbs.

The problem I have with selecting colors under artificial lights is the colors appear less saturated than they actually are, so I end up making noisy garish warps. In addition, the main orange I have is screamingly loud, not the soft, elegant orange found in the photo. I reduced the proportion of the orange, and increased the yellows and purples. I also decided not to include white nor black in the warp, as the sharp contrast added to the already saturated warp colors would render it ... unbearable. Still, I didn't want the pale blues and greens to predominate because I didn't want a cool, sad warp.

One of the very pale violets appear so susceptible to theory of simultaneous contrast: it appears almost brown at the right end of the warp, but quite purple at the left. If I believe the weather forecast, it's going to be a few more days before I can see the warp under natural light, and by then, I'll probably well on my way in weaving the piece.

My right brain continues to predominate the process. I looked for better light and height around the house, and the loom was precariously perched on a soft cloth couch as I wound the warp. Then, without thinking, I took out the cross sticks and tied one to the front of the loom! I don't have a threading plan, but I know the rules of Summer & Winter so I'm threading by ear.

This, That, and The Other Stuff

Thursday night's pattern making course was fantastic. There are 15 of us, including five young, beautiful, perky, confident high school students; I can't stop staring at them because they are so beautiful and fearless and I don't know if I ever felt that way; I certainly didn't look anything like them. The rest of us, middle-aged women bar one, have varying degrees of sewing experiences in different eras; I realized when we sewed have great bearing on our knowledge and vocabulary. We have one young chap interested in making theatrical costumes and it's nice to have someone trying to do something different.

Even though I struggle with some sewing/pattern vocabulary, (I remembered on Thursday that I learned to sew in Japan first, because I remember the Japanese words more quickly), Jill shows us everything, so I see what she means. It's a pity I can do only one thing at a time because Jill also has enormous knowledge about historical styles/eras and I would love to Google the images later. Alas, during the first session, I was too busy trying to keep up with the work, and even then, I cut parts I wasn't supposed to and had to borrow others' samples to tape the severed bodice ack together. Still, it brought back my happy days of high school geometry, because pattern making is 3D modeling.

* * * * *

I belatedly read Time Magazine's article on Facebook, tried to catch up with Slow Cloth discussions, and about curating: one about what motivates the curators to curate certain works, or works by certain artists, as opposed to others; the other about artists trying to subvert curators and putting their own work in the public eye, in real physical spaces. And my continuing discourse with Kath Bee about "making it" in our respective worlds. Out of all these, one thought kept coming back to me: the notion of self-made Internet celebrities.

Over the years, we've grown familiar with self-proclaimed performance artists/wannabes using YouTube to catch the eyes of those who could make them stars, some successful, many not, and a few being celebrated because they are so bad. But somewhere in my reading, I found writing on artists/makers promoting/touting themselves as something more than they are; that they equate the hits on their websites, blogs, or the number of folks who "like" their Facebook pages, with success or artistic merit; that some become self-appointed maestros just because they answer questions or become pseudo mentors to the less successful/public/whatever.

We place information online to suit our own needs/purposes; blathering/notes-to-self, friendship/discussion, collaboration, questions/tutorials, or promotion/advertising of our own and others' activities/works/businesses. But I think we're also smart enough to gravitate towards others who fulfill our needs/expectations. We try to be discernible consumers, don't 'we?

I'm not sure where I'm going with this, except I never associated any of us with such self-appointed celebrity, and was more than a little taken aback to read these. I'm not saying we are, but never associated blogs and such with celebrity, particularly in our art/craft/maker circle/s.

* * * * *

Friday drawing is getting worse for me. If contour/gesso/small weren't a killer combination already, Ronette has added layers yesterday; e.g. paper/gesso/chalk pastel/drawing, or paper/gesso/drawing/wash. I'm doing them, but they are getting too messy and "too much information" rather than subtle and suggestive. Though I add that some of my classmates are getting wonderful results. Just so not my thing. Enough said.

* * * * *

Having said that, Ronette making us try all kinds of things have begun to influence my weaving. I cannot stress enough how so-not-me it is to even think of designing on the loom just a short while ago. Most of my energy was and still is spent on numbers, drafts and sampling so I know as best as I can, (i.e. exactly) how a piece is going to look when it is finally washed, pressed and on a moving human body. I call it quality control. Now things are being left to chance. Ronette was pleased to hear that. But we'll see how the piece turns out.

* * * * *

Speaking of influences, I'd been closed to suggestions for so long, but now I'm more open, which cannot be a bad thing. But I wonder how I'm supposed to navigate through all the influences and still stick to my own aesthetics. I look at my tea cosy, and my next warp, and even though I like them both, I see clearly influences of where and when I live. Specifically they are from what I've seen in Nelson and around New Zealand in the last three or so years. Most art in vogue (in public and dealer galleries, magazines and newspapers, what people talk about), appears to me to be messy/irregular and multi-layered, (as opposed to simple, beautiful/pretty, orderly) and many are colorful, or in color combinations that clash in my mind.

It's one thing for me to view and appreciate them, even when I don't like them, but when it comes to making my own stuff, I often wonder if I am keeping tabs on how far I'm being influenced, and how far I wan to go.

I'm wondering what happened to my very simple, pared-down aesthetics; I still like those cloths, but I haven't made any in quite some time, nor do I have any of those in plan in the near future. I realize my taste or penchant can change, too, but I can't decide if it's a good thing or a bad thing. And I guess I won't know until I see what I've made what I am going to make.

* * * * *

I can't remember what triggered me, but once again, I was thinking of all the different pronouns in Japanese. And there are many, depending on the speaker, the intended listener, the absolute and relative social status of both, and the social context. And the speaker's background or penchant for the degree of honorifics. And I remembered self-deprecation is part of the Japanese language; heck, it's considered good manners in some circles. So I may overdo it, in two languages, but it's also in my DNA. That was a tiny baggage off my shoulder.

* * * * *

Two P2P participants have completed their projects. I had better get out of this chair. Now.

Saturday Daydreaming: Day and Night

Lynne always says to try back-lighting; Jane says to try strobe-in-the-dark. I'm game for most anything once I understand what they're saying.

Meanwhile, I still can't believe I did this.


Warp Candidates

I don't have lovely soft oranges in this size, so I'll have to dilute it. It's been dark and rainy all day, not a good day to pick colors, but I've got to start some time!

15 candidates, but I think three or four will come out, perhaps more. Quite a difference from when I had to have a lie down after adding just a few colors in supplementary warp only 18 months ago. I think I can say I am making progress.

Luckily, I have far more choices of oranges in my 2/60, so planning the tabby colors has been the best part of this project so far.

Rightie Replies... Which is More Musing Out Loud...

Gray, wet, cold afternoon. The fire has been on for three hours, but I can hardly feel it. It's only when I move around that I know where my pants end and socks start; there is definitely the comfort-free zone below the knee. I was to make my warp this afternoon, but didn't feel like it in this dark, or under artificial light. Besides, it's a design challenge; what's the use of rushing to get things done. Heaven forbid if I make something ugly!

It's a design challenge. I can do things I've never tried, I've never thought of trying, things that may or may not work. The big 16-shafter is a nice loom, but I don't want to weave a fine-tuned contrived design. So, Lefty, thanks for the table loom. I'm thinking of doing that thing some people do: design on the loom! Keep the sample warp on Klik in case I want to test out something. Use the last remaining loom: the 8-shaft table loom.

Let's go "unplanned", swapping warps, not just colors but shafts. Swap weft colors, both the pattern and the tabby. But I still want to have fun, so let's eliminate potential grief; What can I get rid of? Oh, I know, I will stick with either the alternating or Bird's Eye form of Summer & Winter from start to finish. The latter would probably suit better, whereas the former is easier to memorize on a table loom.

It's a design challenge. I don't want to just recreate the colors of my favorite photo on cloth; that's not a challenge. Let's bring in, let me see... Some bubbles or lights into the mix.

The loom has eight shafts; I'm weaving Summer & Winter; that leaves six blocks. How about using three or four shafts for the main colors, and two or three shafts for the bubbles. That's like... two levels of pattern and background.

Something like this...

This is so much fun, now I really want to choose the colors!

The Battle of the Brain Halves

Or Half-Brains? Here are the things Left Brain is now insisting, and rightly so:
  • I've seven more days to work on it; that is, ideally, to fringing, washing, pressing and photographing. Of the seven days, I have commitments for three full days!

  • With the time constraints, use some knowledge/material I "know":
  1. 2/20 cotton, between 30-36EPI,
  2. 6 inches on the loom, it's quick to make a warp and I "know" this size.
  3. Make a short warp, not the 8 meter default,
  4. Weave a short scarf - from my waist, around my neck, back to my waist; for once it's good to be the shortest grownup around me!
  5. OK, OK, use the 8-shaft table loom; I'll give this to you, Rightie.
  • Issues to be solved by Right Brain:
  1. I don't have the soft oranges I wanted to use to fill the majority of the cloth, but I do 2/60.
  2. I have more soft blue-greens in 2/20. We I flip the proportion?
  3. This is a design challenge. Just using a color scheme in a photo and reproducing it on the loom is not challenge enough. What's the "pushing myself a little bit further" bit?
  4. If you must include designing on the loom, go ahead, but would you please get off your achy bottom, now?
To which, Rightie is giving the slow, contemplative, full-of-meaning, and slightly puzzling, slightly secretive smile.

Play nice. Both of you.


I Think It's a Go

I have been thinking about my Pics to Picks project in an abstract way for a while; the development of this idea was unfamiliar and I felt rather lazy about not tackling it proactively, but nevertheless I let it progress at its own speed. This week I decided on a technique I will execute the said vague idea, and felt the left- and right-hemispheres ready to cooperate but emotionally remaining aloof from each other. I'll let you know as the steps reveal themselves to me, but looking at the calendar, Lefty is going to coax Rightie a little today.

These are some of the color combinations and placements I liked from ooodles I cut out from one of the photos I received from Lynne; the selection was not purely an artistic one in that I concentrated on combinations I can do with the cones I already have.


Thinking Cap

I can't recall the last time I had so much fun with a fiber project. Some of the best things about these two tea cosies were the multitude of colors, and that I had no idea what they were going to end up looking like as I worked on them. There must be a way to include that kind of enjoyment in my work, surely.

With the tea cosy project out of the way, I spent the afternoon studying and manipulating pictures for P2P, and weaving more Summer & Winter samples. A few ideas are slowly converging in my head, I think, and in a few days will become clearer to me so I can make it on my loom.

At least I now have a colorful thinking cap to wear in the cold mornings.


Plan A, the one that was too wide, Side A.

Side B. I shall wear this as a collar/cowl, or stitch up the top and wear it as a cap.
Plan B, Because Cally said "it's already a tea cosy." Ben had fun photographing this Sunday night while I was away at a girls-only pot-luck supper.

I am glad I have been able to experience what the Japanese call "soft head", the ability to think flexibly. So not me; I'm a poster girl for a "rock head". Neither is this tea cosy, which is now at Page and Blackmore Booksellers in town. One winner will receive Loani Prior's fun book, "Really Wild Tea Cosies".

With this out of the way, I feel I can get back to weaving in some depth for a while. I also want to knit a finer, more practical cowl. And make dye some more cute baby things.

Niggling, But in a Good Way

All my life I've loved curvy, swirly notifs, particularly those inspired by oak leaves and grapes. Rococo, Art Nouveau, some of William Morris' wallpapers. And what we call the "Chinese Vines", a group of motifs inspired by vines in Persia, sometimes modified in Central Asia or China on the way, arriving at our end of the Silk Road. I collect them, I feel at peace looking at them, I will go to great lengths to see them in exhibitions. I've tried to weave diluted versions of them, and will probably always be on a look out for a small Jacquard loom to I can weave more elaborate motifs. I will never not like them.

Arts and Crafts, on the other hand, always fascinated me in their philosophy and writing. I've studied the photos and drawings in several books. Mackintosh in particular. Even Bauhaus, Wiener Werkstatte, and Larsson. which in my mind are somewhat connected. Leading to Art Deco. But other than some of Morris' floral wallpapers, the geographical-leading-to-industrial motifs never did much for me, particularly when the item was outside of their context.

But my attention has been drawn to Mackintosh-like motifs in the last year or so. I "find" these in my environment and on websites without looking for them. This is one of the scraps from Jill's waste basket. I wonder if I'm about to change directions.

That is Part of Me, Too

Some of my friends have told me in recent years to stop telling so many self-deprecating jokes. This is hard because I've been doing it at least half my life, and pretty consistently at that.

I'm 52 and when I turned 50 I made a conscious effort not to talk about the bad things my parents did to me, the mean things they said. At least to keep them all to myself, and I renewed that resolve on my birthday this year.

Friday night at an all girls' post luck dinner, I was at it again. But I was aware I of what I was doing, and I kept at it, not because I wanted attention or had nothing else to say, but because the stories I have to tell are quite funny. And you know what? All that is part of me. They are part of, (well, all of???) the origins of my issues, what motivate me to behave/react in certain ways, my world view, and in particular, the cynicism and self-criticism that are the first port of call whenever I have a quiet moment. And probably why I remain an upbeat depressed person, even when I am depressed, which I am not just now.

So I think I only need to choose my audience so as not to bring them down.

The stories are quite funny...


Bad, Bad, Bad

On the lighter side, I've been wading through some French and Italian online bookshops, (somewhere I can pay with Euro), armed with only five years/three months of studying the language 30/14 years ago respectively, Google Translator, and, heaven forbid, an online foreign currency converter.

Thank goodness it's proven to be a tad onerous, I haven't clicked on anything dire. Oh, but a book on Italian industrial designs or French architecture, in their own languages... Or cookbooks.... OK, I need a time out; I'll be at the naughty steps.

Saturday Night that Was

I blurted out on Facebook just now; it went something like this:
Rosie posed the question: "If you're the director of the local gallery, happen to see a famous sculptor walking on our beach, tell him the gallery would love to have his work, but funding is short. He selects one driftwood amidst a bunch of beach stuff, studies it, signs it and hands it to you. Is it art?" I think Ali thought yes. I thought that would be the same as a Catholic church relic, or,

more like which panties Tom Jones decides to grab/pickup - more about celebrity, though I do understand there is a slight difference in "intention", and Ali is probably far more inclusive than I. I know it's not about the driftwood, but this morning, I see a piece of log in my head I can't erase.

Or Kusama Yayoi installations, which I compared to mirrored rooms in an amusement park. Again, Ali is always more inclusive and forgiving, whereas I have a narrow, rigid definition of what I like, but I guess, not necessarily what I consider art.
I don't worry so much about what is art and what is not any more, whether it is urban or beach debris, self-indulgence, or heaven forbid, craft, we are discussing. Thank goodness.

I'm more interested in my ability to make something in real life, something that often starts as an imagine in my head. Whether you can call this a concept, or abstraction, or process, or whatever else it's called. This has been a great relief, because I only answer to myself.

But in discussing art, I've come to know what I like: I like pretty; I like to see evidence of the human-thouhgt/hand-made somewhere in the process; I like something that I could/would have never thought to do, particularly when they start from a similar starting point or in reaction to a similar event or things. And I am very attracted to something that is just beyond my reach - something that has gone one step beyond my thinking, something technically a few steps beyond my competence, aesthetics that's a tad more sophisticated than mine, that which I can understand, but have not been able to make. Yet.

I feel more at peace. And that's great, because I am able to listen to others' opinion a bit more.

EDIT: I used to see the word "juxtaposition" everywhere I looked in 2006/07, and it annoyed the heck out of me because, you know, I don't necessarily like layers. Now I see "contexturalization" all around me. I don't know if the fashion has changed, or it's my thinking that's changing what I am picking up from my environment.


Jo Wants to Know...

Do you know the best methods or materials to use in transferring photographic images on to canvas partially covered with paint?

I'm not sure what she wants to do, but my first thought was the iron-on printer sheets (??) but she said it goes on paint as well. Naturally we thought of screen printing, but she was reluctant to go that route and I suspect she wants to do just one or a few.

Jo's going to look at some multimedia and surface design books in the library, but if you have tips for her, can you let me know? And no, I don't know what kind of paint, but most probably oil or acrylic.

Thank you again.

Saturday Daydreaming: Reclining Woman

Weaving Today

Interweave Press now has Handwoven - Weaving Today page on Facebook.



Today being Friday, I went to drawing in the morning. It was OK, but as you know, I don't like drawing contours, (I love my friends' drawings, though); I don't like drawing small; and my gesso'ed paper were all stripy and difficult to work with. Enough said. Ronette said I should try doing thin application in multiple layers; Jo said I should try applying gesso with a brush. I might. Enough said. Oh, I said that already.

I've been classmates with Jo and Marie since Day 1, and we've been to a few color and painting courses together as well. They're both lovely women. Marie's daughter is New Zealand designer Jill Alexander, of Mad Cat, Work Dog, and Puss Puss corsets. Marie said I could go to Jill's studio and ask for any scarps or sample cloths. For weaving inspiration or collage. I knew of Jill when we both worked at the Polytech, but I had never really met her. Jo sensed I didn't have the guts to go on my own, so she took me there. This afternoon.

This is my loot. One not-so-small laundry basket full of weaving inspirations, dye-practice material, and brocade cloth I can gesso small areas to draw on.

In a heated moment of me rolling amongst Jill's scraps and selecting pieces, she told me she's running a pattern making course, again. I read about it in the newspaper a while ago. But I know nothing about patterns, (Vogue or McCalls?) and can't sew much beyond a straight line, so it was one of those "wouldn't it be nice" things at the back of the back burner. Well, yeah, sitting amidst a pile of beautiful scraps messed with my head, and before I knew it, I was signing up for the course. Five Thursday evenings starting next week. It's either the start of a beautiful new adventure, or the biggest impulsive mistake I've made in my life, but I think I'm putting all my eggs in the synchronicity basket.

Professional Pattern Cutting
Stage 1: Basic Theory

This is a fast moving, enjoyable 5 week course that covers the basic theory of patterncutting for tops, skirts and trousers. It includes moving the dart, panels, yokes, flare, gathers, button openings, necklines and simple collars. At the end of the course you will have developed your own easy reference notebook to use when cutting your own patterns. This course does not cover block making or how to fit garments. Students need an understanding of garment construction / sewing to fully appreciate this course.

The workshops move progress like this:
Stage 1: Basic Theory
Stage 2: Skirt block making
Stage 3: Ladies trouser block making
Stage 4: Ladies bodice block making
and other 1 day workshops and individual tuition
I'm interested only in the very basics at this stage. I think it's time to calm down, read the whole thing over, and think again.

EDIT: Ronette also asked that we all photograph our drawings and give her a memory stick full of drawings for Christmas. I told her English is my second language.


Interweave Press Books

I was checking out the Interweave Press book sale this morning. To me, they are the absolute last bastion of weaving book publishing, and not a shabby one at that, but a while back I was sad to see a reduction in weaving books and an inverse (is that the word?) increase in knitting publications. Then, beading. Now it appears quilting/mixed media/textile art/art cloth is all the rage. And though these books are very attractive, it's weaving I'm interested in. And if Interweave won't publish weaving books, I'm not sure whom I can count on to continue to produce quality weaving books. (Not to mention the wonderful books on herbs they also had once.)

A casual perusal yields the following numbers of books and magazine back numbers under these categories, though I think some books appear in more than one category:

Beads/Jewelry: 1266
Knitting: 847
Mixed Media: 471 (Some exquisite books in this category.)
Quilting: 427
Sewing: 58
Spinning: 55
Weaving: 65

Their website looks like Opera.com in that they have everything and, for me, a bit too much, but sadly, there is no weaving community.

I'm glad they continue to do well, and I know it's because they develop new markets and are not afraid of "in with the new and out with the old" policy. But as a weaver, I can't help feeling a bit sad.

What's It All For?

So, I've carded, spun, and knitted, a little bit. I enjoyed each process, but they need to connect, because in the end, I need, (errr, "would like" ?), to be able to make yarns that yield a beautiful final product, yes?

I know a little bit about how yarns behave in weaving. I know I don't want regular stripes in the weft, (because I will only ever use my handspun in the weft,) but I would love sprinkles or blotches/splodges of colors.

I like complementary colors in carding and spinning, but I can't decide if I feel that way in a knitted piece; I suspect it's all about proportion and placement.

And in the weft, I would definitely like a more even twist, though I am still game for very-thick-and-very-thin.

As for the tea cosy, after a few false starts, I started knitting it. And, ooops, it grew bigger and bigger and now it's huge. I can get a new teapot to go with the cosy, or I can move on to Plan B.

And I just remembered I don't remember how to close the top end of this loop - you know, after I've got the height I want. Mom is not going to be able to explain this to me over the whole, so I guess I'll be visiting YouTube again.

Plan B

I'm noticing a drastic change in my .... receptiveness?? This is something I started to work on in 2002 when I first encountered "The Artist's Way", though I'm not doing AW right now nor any of the squeals.

Friends comment on something I do or say, (not even constructive criticisms, but just observations or a good laugh,) and I hear suggestions of alternative ways of looking at or making something. And before I know it, I'm doing it.

Most of my life, I've been resistant to criticisms. I took them personally and became good at defense or rebuttal. I had to train myself to ask questions, initially to disguise my hurt and hostility, so the other party had to come up with suggestions, and I'd write them down and think about them for years and analyze them to death, and then sometimes I'd try them, but often put them at the back of the back burner.

I like my new attitude. It's less complicated and less time-consuming.

Pics to Picks 2010 Rose Pelvin

My initial scribbles on my reactions to the three images and then, because yarns talk to me louder than pictures, some bundles of yarns that are possibilities for each. I haven't decided yet which one I will choose to follow through as they all have great potential. I thought my teatowel idea might win because I was about to weave some anyway, but it hasn't quite fallen into place yet and it may be the medieval colour and texture that I run with. Time will tell (though I realise there is not a lot of time left.)


Emotional Color Wheel

This sounds so "The Artist's Way", but I still love it. Has anyone seen the latest New York Times Magazine illustration/commentary by Andrew Kuo, a graduate of RISD? I found it from here. Unfortunately, the text in the enlarged version is still too tiny for me to read, but it sounds wonderful.



Stuff from last week. Not very interesting, but because I love pictures on your blogs, I like to reciprocate.

Carded, spun and washed. They still look overly-twisted, but for now, I'm not interested in learning/improving, I'm just interesting in turning this into a crazy tea cozy.

My Shirts 4: I liked Kaz 4 so much I tried to recreate it for myself. I hadn't realized I pinched a part of the shirt until I was taking the stitches out. Ben's calling that dot "Tasmania". This turned out to be a very bad quality shirt, so it'll never have the proper T-shirt shape, but I'm happy to wear this to bed.

Shirt 5 was one of my favorite shirts, with a Cecily cartoon on, but as usual, I had a few stains in the front and wanted to hide it. I didn't want to obliterate Cecily, so I bunched a few areas with rubber bands to create the very 60's tied-dyed look. Instant shibori.

My poor, poor Shirt 2 was dedyed with dedying agent, and then left in the same dye path the above two shirts. Now the curvy wedges are blue, showing less contrast with the rest, while the brown "engine grease" is still very evident. It's had five dye baths so far, but I think it's going to go into one last one, probably red.


Napier, Balance and Hanging with Clare Plug - LONG

The conference in Napier was great. There were a lot of designers, many of them furniture makers, I understand, and art teachers and students. Many spoke specifically about how they design, and spoke to the central theme of the conference, how to transition from a solo studio artist or member in a collective, to a cottage industry or an industrial designer.

I had this quasi-Synesthesia thing happening, too, where I'd be listening to the talks and looking at slides and suddenly see designs or fabrics to do with work and had to make notes. So my notes are littered with rather specific work ideas.

Many of the presenters mentioned they had their first or main break at previous conferences/symposia. I know I should go to the social parts of these gatherings, but I don't. Hawkes Bay Museum and Art Gallery, I understand, do wonderful do's the night before, with good Hawkes Bay wines, gorgeous nibbles and live piano in the art gallery, delegates mengling amongst the exhibition. These, however, remind me too much of my standing near the door with warm beer in hand trying to look busy or bored at a frat party in college and are too painful and embarrassing. I don't even like the tea and lunch breaks. So again, I didn't go, only to find out again that there was quite a bit of networking that took place.

Among other things, I was impressed with the number of New Zealand artists and small industries operating in environmentally friendly/sustainable ways, and/or keeping an eye on how to improve their operation. That evening, the first programmed that popped up on the telly was a documentary on Methyl-Bromide on textiles from India and China; this very chemical has been in the news a lot because they spray it on logs at the port of Nelson, and I began to think about getting hold of "kinder" cottons and dyes, and perhaps going back to using more wool in my practice. The enormous price tags and the long-distance shipping is usually what stops me, but perhaps I can start looking for more sources, or discuss alternatives with my existing yarn sources.

Many of the presenters taught/teach in art school, and there were lots of messages to the art students in the audience. I felt a bit sad as I was reminded once again, I'm in the very minority of having stumbled upon weaving late in my life, and not having gone to art school. I felt like an intruder, an impostor, and not the real deal. The next day Robbie Grieg, furniture designer for CandyWhistle among other things, took me aside and told me the flip side is I'm not encumbered by the art school experience, and to keep making things I like to make.

The most memorable visuals were Robbie's Milan experience and how things go wrong, Robert Foster's Fink designs and how he studies each material and then created/modified the designs. It also hit me that nowadays, when people say "textiles", often they mean what's on it, as in surface design, or how they're used, like stamped and made into cushion covers, and seldom about the cloth itself. Again, that made me feel an outsider.

Having said all that, after a day of being immersed among creative minds and their desire to make beautiful, (and this lot wanted to make utilitarian) things, I came out freed and energized.
I felt overflowing with strong desires to concentrate on the making, and making well, and though I love to share, I don't always owe anyone any explanation about what or how I do. And that I don't have to filter my making though words and concepts if I don't want to.

Because I continued to have a hip/leg pain, I walked around a lot, and discovered a many more design shops, cafes, independently-owned shops, and a Turkish takeaway place. I picked up dinner at the Turkish place Saturday night to discover two of the chaps who worked in a Turkish place in Nelson for years had moved up there. One of them was amazed I recognized him right away, so I updated him on the Nelson shop, the owners, and their new restaurant. This is so... New Zealand, shall I say.

Saturday and Sunday, I was lucky I got to hang around Clare Plug. And not only did we sit next to each other and talked about the presentation, but she took me to a kitchen store where I finally found a respectable whisk, (ergo my thank you with a whisk-themed tea towel); a giant garage sale where I got another, wonderful, idea about work; and a Mediterranean food store. And she gave me a bag full of feijoa picked Sunday morning, which unfortunately I can't show you because they are gone.

Clare understands my penchant for a simple, sometimes even austere, aesthetics, and I don't have to explain why I had to cut out colors so I can concentrate on structure and texture. And yet her understanding of design is sophisticated and she can explain to me the process of bringing an idea into reality, and she appreciates others' processes. She particularly liked Robert Foster's presentation.

We also talked about how Nelson and Napier are similar in many ways, but to me, somehow Napier appears a tad more vibrant than Nelson, with a tad more money for arts, for example. I'm aware sometimes I sound very negative about this paradise we live in, but I think it's because I believe Nelson can be so much more. We also talked about living in big cities vs. large towns, and we agreed that as lovely as the abundance of artistic stimulation in cities like Wellington and Auckland could be, we might be too busy being stimulated and don't have enough time making art. And we concluded we both live where we are meant to be living, and being allowed occasional jaunts to these fabulous gatherings.

By the way, her "Look South" exhibition will be held at the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch, July 2 – September 26, 2010. For now there appears to be no official opening planned, but if I find out anything, I'll let you know.

So it was that I was coming home with more impressions than knowledge, and reconsidering the benefits of going to conference social. On my Wellington to Nelson flight, the very end of my journey, I sat next to a man whose picture I've seen. He turned out to be Dr Richard Nunns, something of a godly figure in New Zealand, preserving and promoting indigenous Maori musical instruments. Because I do better one-on-one, I began to talking to him. I didn't know he lived in Nelson, but I know his artistic other half, Brian Flintoff, who carves many of Dr Nunns' instruments. It was a most wonderful 25 minutes, learning about his travels, about how he stumbled upon his calling, and that one of the most famous shakuhachi players is one Mr Mitsuhashi in Yokohama, my maiden name and my home town, but alas, no relation.

So it turned out to be a another fabulous weekend in Napier. But then trips to Napier always turns out that way.

The Week that Was

Monday I wove. Resolved not to think too much but to weave/make much, much more. I have no right to bit/moan/rant about making if I don't do the making.

Tuesday I went to the dentist, then to the Suter to look at old-male-angst drawings - so not for me, but I know the genre is popular. They were like huge pages from an art student's sketchbook. The drawing techniques were good, but the subject so not for me. Resolved not to go on about my old-female-angst too much. Made warp chains. Bought a locally printed tea towel with whisks on it and sent it to Clare. (Will explain on the Napier post.) I hope she cracks up when she opens the package.

Wednesday, made more warp chains. I've tons of immediate future projects in mind, but cannot weave much due to continuing hit/leg pain, which bothers me when I'm sitting in any chair/bench for long. However, I'm fine walking and standing up, so have managed to get almost a silly amount of housework done. Also carded and spun. Also colored in my doodles in my sketchbook. Resolved not to worry if I can't explain my process or thoughts in words, including posting about the Napier conference. Resolved not to worry if I crash and burn in the future because I am usually not this energetic.

Thursday, crashed and burned. Slept in, and then carded and spun some more. Then, went to Norman McLaren films with Rosie. Resolved not to card/spin in too concentrated a manner - sinuses shot. Resolved also to give some thoughts to green weaving and green textiles.

Friday, drawing resumed; it's the start of my third year and this term we're working on small drawings, A4 (roughly Letter). I go to drawing lessons to try to broaden my horizons and look at the big picture and draw outside the square and free myself. I feel I'm in a straight jacket. Plus, I can't do contour drawings. So I cheated. I want my money back.

Resolved to have no resolve, no goals, just doing what I think I like or am good at, a total change in my outlook. Which worked swimmingly. New members may think I am the odd/exotic one in the class; now old-friends just coax me on, and I love that aspect. I love my friends.

Spoke to Annabelle about "Woman who Run With Wolves"; she said skip parts I don't like and read only the parts I understand. I didn't like Annabelle when I started drawing; she overanalyzed/intellectualized everything loudly, and got in my way of trying to change my ways. She annoyed me for acting the way I might have at one time. She's stopped talking about a year ago, and, I hope, started enjoying drawing.

Checked out three children's clothes shops hunting for inexpensive T shirts to no avail, but did come home with a few dye practice material. Bought organic laundry soup - more on this later.
Wandered around the new, giant antique shop in the torrential rain. The place looks so expensive I hesitated to go in, but it turned out to be a fun emporium of everything. Also went to the Polytech library to check out two dye books and came out with seven.

Came home to a phone message from Dr Richard Nunns. (Will explain in the Napier post.) So the universe is smiling. We had fish and chips and a bottle of champagne for dinner.

Saturday, slept in and read "Women who Run with Wolves". With Annabelle's permission to skip pages I didn't like, I was able to pick up where I left off. I haven't skipped any pages, but stopped worrying about not understanding some parts. I keep thinking about how WWII really cut my parents off from "where they came from", and how I feel I'm from nowhere and everywhere at once. Perhaps this is a subject for a future post.

Washed my give skeins of handspun rather gingerly and enjoyed immensely whirling it; even that had to be "learned" and practiced. Dyed two more of my T shirts; three to be exact, but more of this later when the weather is better and I can take some photos.

Wondered why I enjoy spinning and dyeing in a very different way from weaving; wondered if I would ruin that enjoyment if I got more serious about dyeing. Resolved to continue investigating shibori dyeing, but I think my focus in the first instance is to make the woven cloth look good.

Amused by how lovingly I hold my handspun yarns and dyed T shirts, compared to how I inspect my woven cloths, but not worried about psychoanalyzing this right now.

Also deactivated my Twitter account. I felt an urgent need to simplify my electronic life.

Sunday, slept in again, and read "Women who Run with Wolves" a little bit. Ironed my dyed T shirts and caressed my still-damp hand-spun yarns.

Couldn't remember much about last week, and had to write this down. Amazed myself at how much I did get done in a week, disappointed at the things I haven't done staring and waiting for me to get going.

Resolving to work on P2P and tea cosy this week.

Sometimes thinking in words is so tiring.


Norman McLaren

I went to see a few Norman McLaren short films with Rosie last night. Some were old, hand-painted works about a minute long, some silent, later ones more political. Rosie said a week ago's showing had more art-based films. She mentioned the vertical and horizontal stripes, teh Chairy Story, and B/W ballet films. Norman McLaren on YouTube.

This was one of the best from last night.

Strung Highly Enough?

The color on my screen looks a little duller and browner than in real life. I have six colors in the mix, some parts purply, some parts limy, but mostly yellow and orangy, and the overall look is more vibrant. I've never spun a lot, but every time I do, I'm mesmerized by how colors mix into one strand of yarn that I don't pay attention to things beginner spinners are supposed to be looking at. This looked so nice on the bobbin and the niddy noddy, but whoa!

We'll see how the "settling" goes, if I can knit or crochet with it at all, but I think this would make a nice necklace.

What I Wrote to Dorothy

"Yesterday was a little crazy.

"I made three small warps, I carded and spun one skein, I vacuumed the whole house and moved perhaps 1/6 cord of firewood into the garage and swept the driveway, and made a beef stew full of veggies. And I played in my sketchbook; actually I colored in several pages I had doodled previously. And played some computer games.

"This morning, I don’t feel rushed, but I might card and spin some more, or I might weave. I’m glad yesterday was a little crazy – I must have been shedding my post-conference quizziness. While I liked being able to do one thing after another, I knew it wouldn’t last and I’d have crashed and burned hard if it kept on going. I was ready for it, but wasn’t exactly looking forward to the lows. Instead, today I’m relaxed and feeling peaceful."

So, morning cup of tea and oatmeal, checking the skeins I left in the steamy bathroom last night, and then, carding, I think.

I find carding terribly difficult, and I can't do it straight - either the carder is too big/long for my arms, or I have pitiful upper arm strength. And I think I put too much on the card. And I can't get everything off the first card. Anyway, she was my teacher yesterday:

My fluff sure doesn't come off like that!



Here. Some like them color-coordinated; some with variety. Oh, sigh, sigh, sigh...



I went to the Suter to give my Kaz 4 baby shirt to my favorite Nelson microperson's mum, but she was away. (Kaz 3 was deposited in a charity bin.) I showed the shirt to Andrea, the museum shop manager, and her response was, "So effective!". So I've been making white merino warps to practice shibori some more.

I would really like to try the pole-wrapping method, as I love the leaf-like patterns created there, but this stitching is also good.

Napier Pics

I'm only halfway through my Japan pics, (I came home on Valentine's Day!) and haven't even looked at my Wellington pics, (March??) but here goes Napier; such a picturesque place.

Group design challenge; I didn't participate, but I went to have a look. Clare Plug told me this used to be their weavers' group space, but they've moved elsewhere. Now it's a furniture makers' space.

Design student tool kit. I nearly asked him to remove the wallet, but he was engrossed in his group task.

Chair upholster somewhere. I do love old-looking cloths.

Ujazi, one of my two most favorite cafes in New Zealand outside Nelson. Their food can be a tad salty, but superb service, and nourishing food.

Clare's husband Arie left this on the dashboard on the passenger side. It must be a message!