"I Make Nice Things"

Corresponding with Cally propelled me to behave more weavery, (shouldn't it be weaverly?) not quite all the way to the loom bench, but: a) in reminding me of an idea I've really wanted to work on, with tied weave of some sort, and the idea came more developed than when I left it on the back burner; b) in making me realize I was actually sick of not weaving; and c) in making me work on the pop-up store some more. Even though just four days ago I wasn't feeling it, handling my stuff was nice. As well, I saw one of my wobbly-selvedge culprits; a pale green, (one I call "lime sherbet",) in spite of the label, may have been be thicker or fulled differently from other 2/26s, although this discovery is far from "solving" my technical problems.

But my cashmeres felt bloody marvelous.

I'm hoping to hold two Pop-Up sales, one after the other, the first being mostly mid-sized cashmeres and the second, a Big Old Chunky Wooly sale with lots of with-scale wool pieces. (Can you think of an adjective starting with C I can use for the cashmere sale? Capricious?)

I've been thinking of Pop-Up since I was in Japan in Feb last year. It's a lot of work, (oh, dear me!) but I enjoy the direct interaction with prospective customers. I can sure use some income, and let's face it, being remunerated is one way of validating one's work, and if your work represents your person, then your life, in these modern times.

Early April, Mrs Cady had a significant birthday at the end of their holiday. Dr Cady had hinted it would be fun if we could fly up to the North Island to celebrate. It was a lovely invite, but also expensive; Ben couldn't go but I dithered. I couldn't justify the cost, but I wanted to go because of an exhibition in Auckland, because I'd been so stuck in my making and cities do me good, and I wanted to take part in a significant birthday when normally the Cadys would be surrounded by their many friends and family. So I went. And had a great time.

(The exhibition itself was underwhelming. There were too many genitals and not enough nudes for my taste, if you get my meaning, but the exhibition had a socio-political angle and Thomas at Volume told me to rethink it in that context after I gave an unfavorable report. This exhibition was curated by a Kiwi working in Sydney, from memory, and tours Sydney and Auckland. I couldn't help thinking had the show been intended for larger cities, say, Tokyo, (because exhibitions from Europe usually travel to three large cities in Japan,) Tate might have loaned works with a bit more... spark. But as has become the pattern, I had a totally satisfying two days walking around large spaces amidst artworks, many from their permanent collection, and the birthday brunch was lovely.)

Sometime in late-April/early-May, Mom said I should go visit her in the Northern fall rather than the usual February, because we can't go places in February. Trains have stooped somewhere every time I've been home last several Februaries, and I take it she wants to travel with me. I do love winter in Yokohama, but big exhibitions take place in spring and fall there, and goodness me, what do I find but van Gogh and Japan! (Incidentally, while I was focused reading about Vincent's relationship with Gauguin in the second half of last year, there was van Gogh and Gauguin at the same museum. Darn!)

I tried to suss out Ben's opinion on this new plan, and for the first time he expressed concerns with the expense. I never imagined there was anything we don't talk about whenever, and I thought he'd become such a home body he gave up travelling. Not so. It was the money, and my lack of income, (how embarrasing!), his dental work, our increasing medical bills, and rising cost of living.

Then someone reminded me of van Gogh and the Seasons, not in Japan but in Melbourne!

We haven't had a holiday together since 2003 in Scotland and Ireland. We have been to Japan several times together but they involved family illnesses/death so we only had a day here and there. We've been on one or two road trips in New Zealand but they were all connected to my attending workshops, so Ben was on his own during the day.

So we bit the bullet and decided to have a week in Melbourne.

Melbourne is one heck of an attractive city, beautiful, full of places of foody interest, with the CBD/downtown area relatively small and easy to get around either on foot or by public transport. I am drawing a list of art and craft supply shops; Ben, of coffee equipment shops, and both of us specialty bookshops. And our accommodation is near many theaters, I would so love to squeeze in a play. But our main goal is always walking around town, looking at architecture, stopping to refuel, and this trip, Ben will take pictures but I may try some drawing/sketching. And meet up with two sets of friends. Oh, we can't stop talking about Melbourne. And a proper holiday.

I would still like to go to Japan Oct/Nov if at all possible, but we'll play that by ear. There is also a good chance of a road trip down south in November. Ergo, the Pop-Up sales.

And here are some raw, (not in RAW format, but untreated,) pics from today. I'm so out of practice, I had to relearn a few things. Aside from the selvedge, though, I do make nice things, even if there is always room for improvement.
Nowhere in my house makes a good backdrop, but the entrance hallway gets good light in the late morning/early afternoon. I practiced using different white balance settings to capture the truest colors of the pieces. Except colors on the camera's LCD panel are quite different colors from those on the laptop, so... there we have it.
I have four red pieces, the hardest color to capture.
 After 2-ish/3-ish only harsh light comes in from the living room.
But I liked the dark/light photos today. I might experiment more of this style for detail/moody shots.
A self-portrait of my thumb.


Thinking and Stuff

I've been thinking a lot lately, at least I hope so; I hope I haven't been not thinking. My word-forgetting has gotten so bad I hesitate to go out and meet up with humans some days. I don't know if this correlates with not thinking, but that's something Ben's Dad hinted at when he started having memory problems. On the other hand, I've been providing some hilarity; a while back I couldn't remember the word, "marinade" so even though I knew it was the wrong word, I said, "kinda like 'mutilate'", and since then we've had a lot of nice mutilated meals.

It's marginally better when I type, especially because search is always there. (Well, when we have Internet connections, which has been super dodgy; a day with a dozen interruptions is now a splendidly productive one, but heck, it's not war or natural disaster.)

Then there is my worry that verbalizing, typing, and especially publishing on the internet, changes my thinking into different kinds of thoughts. Sure, vague thoughts sometimes transform into actionable bullet points, (ugh, management-speak,) but sometimes slight variations and nuances get lost. I can actually see, as I type, second-fiddle, third-, the whole orchestra fading away. I also some of the times I think I'm not I'm thinking, ideas are working out their own solutions, like elves planning a surprise party at night; I've learned to leave those guys along. I still worry when it feels like there's no thinking going on, due to my first ever encounter in my first ever philosophy class, (senior year, Washburn High School, the saintly Mr Ario,) having been with Descartes.

Some thoughts are returns/reincarnations/rehashing of old thoughts, many of which have been shared here before, and I don't feel compelled to repeat, even if I may be able to paraphrase them better. (Now, shouldn't that be "betterly"?) Some of these thought sound same-old even to me, and I also wonder if "recurring" issues/topics are all that paramount, or just a list of stuff I can't get over.

Which makes me routinely assess, should I keep blogging? It's not that blogging is a chore for me, I'm the only one I'm embarrassing, but with no new thoughts, no news, no new weaving, and blogging as a form of communication playing second- and third-fiddle to flashier, newer ways of internetting, is it still a viable method? Should I make Unravelling private and age gracefully? Why bother with the internet, why not a Word file? But here, the answer has invariably and inevitably been no. I don't associate with many folks in person; I've shed most social responsibilities so I can live in hiding, and occasionally I hear from you based on what I say here, so this is my umbilical cord to the world. Kinda sad, but this is how it turned out, for now.

I've thought to volunteer in town, something refugee-, art-, or third-word related, but every time I give it serious thought, I pull back, because I don't want to commit, don't think I can commit. There is the voices-in-my-head thing where I regurgitate conversations after mingling, but also niggling minor health problems, from which I'm taking a break. Fixing them, that is. I can't be bothered. (The right hip problem has become a left knee problem, still caused by the way I sit, and left shoulder problem has gotten worse, but I can't be bothered going back to acupuncture. Before extending my head meds prescription, Good Doc Karl wants me to get tested if I'm allergic to any of the new foods in our diet, but I can't be bothered, and it's a little expensive.) And then paranoia sets in; I'm convinced "they" know I won't do an adequate job, or they really don't like me, so here I sit.

In terms of eating, I know it's bad manners, but when Ben's not home I prefer to stand by the kitchen counter and eat, not sit properly, because then I don't have to sit and resit to make sure I'm doing it correctly.

Because we "quit" carbohydrate, (we cheat, but far less often than Doc Karl allows us,) I lost my hobby/pet sourdough, and now I'm into fermentation/pickling. For a few weeks I was cutting up something every single morning. But there are only two of us and we can eat only so much fermented veg, and while I got used to the warm, sweet aroma of fermentation in my fridge, some age more quickly than others and yesterday morning we woke up to quite an alarming smell, (picture a jar with a small black furry life form in it,) but I couldn't see it. So I cleaned the whole fridge, wiping every surface with vinegar, opening every single jar/bottle/container and sniffing them, and still no casualty. I replaced all three containers of baking soda, again, but this morning, there was a hint of the same critter. So I think the universe/fridge is telling me to make a far less at once. (If you want quicker fermentation of sauerkraut and the like: dilute a small amount of miso in the brine, or rub it in with the salt when mixing with the veg. Because miso has so much salt in it, I tend to make weaker brine to cover the veg, but I think this may be causing the white mold, and the regular 2-3% brine is better. I get a while film on the surface of the water often, which I skim every day, and can't tell if this is caused by miso; my fermentation knowledge is still in its infancy.)

I've been listening to a lot of podcasts/audiobooks while cutting veg and washing jars. And I do love auto/biographies and author interviews as they do make me reflect on my life. But are recurring thoughts/issues really paramount or even important, or am I just not able to get over them and move on?
Because of Cally's Feng Sui comment, (my description, not hers,) I went downstairs and wound a warp yesterday. Apparently after I made the warp, my super sharp scissors' got too near it and seven ends were severed at the same place, about the middle of an 8m warp; I put in temporary ties but that is going to cause me some headaches at the green end. Not sure on the threading yet.

The wild ride continues.

PS. There are a lot of people feeling, I hope low-level, anxiety and depression right now. Let's talk to other humans and get medical/financial/legal help, especially if we start to feel we are not our usual selves. With changing times, if the "help" is not adequate, let's look elsewhere, because "they" might be as confused; let's persist until we get what we need. Even if a whole lot of this is a big, f-ing, unnecessary bother if it weren't for the few who don't know how to publicly/civilly serve. Promise.



Something our mutual Letter Journal friend Fran did, paper weaving, got Tess and me thinking about... me talking about one of my favorite things, warped paper weaving, last night. That's weaving plain weave with paper strips, but not in regular, rectangular strip in my case, and how it's hard to maintain shapes-with-intentions, (either the shape/dimensions of the finished piece as a whole or some shape/outline I want to highlight,) in the finished piece. It's easier to show you rather than describe in words.
I drew/traced more or less the same heart on four sheets of extremely thin origami paper.
I cut two sheets in straight-edged strips from one edge to the other, one horizontally and one vertically, and wove them. With this example I laid out all the horizontal strips and inserted the vertical strips starting with the left edge. Afterwards, I tried to make the right and top edges as straight as  possible, and ran out of vertical strips to fit last vertical at the right end. The resultant whole is not the same square size/dimension as the original, and the heart outlines don't match; the more strips I weave, towards the right, the more wobbly the outline becomes.
Here I cut two sheets in curvy lines, some cuts not going all the way from across the paper. Again, horizontal strips were laid out and vertical inserted starting at the left end, and tried to make the top and left edges straight. With these wobbly weaves, I often concentrate on the outline/shapes, worrying less about the whole piece's shape. It's the same with the naked ladies, the sixth picture down, where I focused on a few points like elbows, knees, and tried to match them. I may have even trimmed the edges where particular strips were way out of line, as it were.

With thicker/harder paper, the wobbles get worse, as it gets harder to fit the strips closer when allowing for the thickness. Although the distortions are also intriguing, surprising and in cases quite pleasing.

You can create wonderful movements/moods/intentions with the curvy lines. If shapes/outlines-with-intentions are key to your piece, using thinner paper and fewer, thicker strips work better, but for me, the whole movement is what makes these interesting. Some of the bottom pics from Clare Plug workshop illustrate this. 

It's another cold day here, and when/if the wind dies down, I expect some garden time coming. It looks pretty good already, but first, Ben has a cheesecake cooling in the kitchen. Good day!

PS. Fran has a fantastic, collaborative "pamphlet" project. Per contributor the workload is light, and I hope I get my act together so I can post about it in case some of you can take part.

Faces and More Warps

Sisyphus' Gardening Season started two weekends ago, although I haven't been back outside. It's cold and crisp unbelievably early this year and I am loving it.
A month ago, I made three tiny warps, probably 7 inches wide at 16EPI, though I might go 18EPI. Nothing to write home about, but cheerful colors meant for four shafts. I've been tempted to put one on the loom, even though I have no idea what sort of threading or overall look, but every time I go downstairs I remember the humiliation of that cashmere warp, and I stop. I've got to get over this, so I might try a very different look, whatever that may be.

At one point in April I remembered the free postcard thingie was due at the end of the month and I had to get my act together.
Typical of me, I had to make things harder the second time around and a little less fun; this lot took longer and I'm not as satisfied with the results. Harder how? Whenever I saw a face, I added more "wash" to make it "layered", even to obscure the faces. I also continued to experiment with yellows and yellow-greens, turning everybody looking sickly. Then, the paint I used this time, a Japanese student watercolor, was less transparent/translucent and behaved more like gouache, and I couldn't get a handle on it. Lastly, the postcards are different; these were smoother and less like the typical watercolor paper; at first I thought I'd have to collage, but the packaging said they are suitable for watercolor or ink. Again, the experience was so different from the previous lot, and I never got used to this pack. Half a dozen were so not working, I ran the cards under the tap! You may be able to spot a few better-blended, physically flat cards. At any rate, they were posted with a day left; some unfortunate souls are receiving more than they asked for.
These two are staying with me because I haven't figured out how to resolve them.

I painted my usual back-and-forth arc on the left card, then mono-printed, (I don't think it's a real verb, but you know, I placed a fresh card top of the wet card to let it pick up some paint,) a mirror image to the right. Then shuffled them back into the deck and applied washes, as well as picked up paint from several other cards. On the left card, I can't get over where the green paint showed up; nose, top lip and chin, although the eyes and forehead are a bit tricky. The right is a little harder to see, but there is the chin, and if you look at it too long, a profile of 45 pops up grumpy and defiant!

After these were done, I've sporadically kept working on Letter Journals, both in groups and one-on-ones with Tess, who continues to challenge me in a very good way.

I'm happy I'm completely over coveting mixed media products, but find LJs challenging at times as I try new techniques, look for fresh ideas, and try to improve my drawing skills. I must have enjoyed the postcards, too, because I bought some A5 size watercolor paper and painted backgrounds on some, then washed all of them. This must horrify those of you who know how to size paper properly, but my intention is to learn how 200 and 300gms paper react and absorb water. The plan is, because I couldn't find a suitable watercolor paper sketchbook in Auckland, I'm going to draw/paint/collage a whole bunch of faces, I think, on these and take it to the copy center and have them spiral-bound with covers. This is a long-term project, although it may morph into something else. I have been keeping up a-face-everyday project, too. Amazingly.

I've been hoping to get back to weaving and have liked a few more art/weaving pages and joined a few more weaving groups on Facebook, but even when I see nice things my heart doesn't sing/dance/tingle any more. (I sure study the selvedge, though.) It may be a good time to focus on techniques or learn new structures or dyeing, and maybe the tingle will come back. But, gosh, darn it, I thought weaving was my vocation; who would have thought one wonky warp would so quickly and completely wipe out the excitement. On the other hand, my rather clinical/detached is nothing news so maybe I just need to get back on the loom bench, yes?

And Donna, I haven't died under a pile of rubble in an earthquake just yet. I haven't been able to stay with one thought long enough to finish a post. :-D