Sunday, November 30, 2008

What's on the loom now

I'm going to be at the Folk Art Center in Asheville on December 4 and 5 for a tapestry demonstration. The loom I'd warped when I was at Hambidge Center a month ago is the one I'll be taking with me. It's the black pipe loom I built earlier this year using Archie Brennan's plans. I also wove the fiddlehead tapestry on it but this time I've changed the size to make it narrower since the tapestry I'm weaving is only 12" wide. I used the 24" pipes for the top and bottom beam, rather than the 36" ones I'd used in the earlier configuration. This will also make it easier for me to maneuver it by myself when getting it into and out of the car.

I decided to develop a cartoon from one of the drawings I did while at Hambidge. Since the fall colors were in full effect when I was there all of the drawings and paintings I did there were about that glorious season. This tapestry subject is a dried hickory leaf, along with a pattern of oak leaves.

The hickory trees were absolutely stunning to see--they were luminous, in fact. A few photos of the several hundred I did while at Hambidge were of the hickories, in addition to the several drawings of hickory leaves and nuts.

Friday, November 28, 2008

My new website

Over the past few days I've spent some time to put together a website using the iWeb available through my Mac account. The link to that is: -- I found the process to be very easy through iWeb. I used one of the simplest templates for the layout and for most of the pages of the website I cut/pasted from posters I'd made for my demo booth at the Southern Highland Craft Guild fair this past July. Those small posters gave simple, short definitions for tapestry weaving, designed to be seen and read quickly. I added a page of tapestry resources near the end to give those interested in learning more links to a few things I've found to be helpful.

A friend asked me a really good question when I mentioned I was putting it together-- what was my intent for the website since I already have a webpage though the Southern Highland Craft Guild website ( and I have this blog. Her question caused me to really think about why I'm doing this. I realize that my main purpose with the new website is to share about tapestry with those who are unfamiliar with the medium, either as consumers, viewers, or potential tapestry weavers. Of course, I'd like for my work to be featured, but I also want to give information helpful for learning about tapestry from the beginning--as viewer or maker.

As I do this, I fully acknowledge that my way of setting up for, beginning and weaving a tapestry is only one of many ways, all which may be equally successful to the end result. And hope to also be clear that I've learned from so many others about the process I use... nothing is mine completely.

I first sent the link to about four friends. After making some changes based on their comments, I then posted the URL to the tapestry list. That gave me additional helpful feedback from several people. Other suggestions are welcomed! Send them on and I'll see how the web page can be improved.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Here we go again... another year begins!

No, it's not New Year's Day for all of us. But it is New Year's Day for me since it's my birthday. Wouldn't it be interesting it we had fireworks on everybody's birthday? That would mean fireworks all year long, wouldn't it?! OK, so the snarkiest card I've gotten so far is from my sister, the cover has a B-movie film noir look, a woman tearing her hair, screaming into a telephone --one of those old heavy celluloid black kind from the 40s/50s. The inside says: "collect call from Father Time... will you accept?" THANKS, Deb! Maybe I'll save this one for you--send it to you seven years from now when YOU turn 61!

Moving on, in more ways than one... Thanksgiving is tomorrow and I have many things to be grateful for. Family and friends top the list, followed closely by many other things including the ability to pursue my passion for making art work. I've often recalled the heartbreaking tone used by Mrs. Robinson, in the movie The Graduate, when she revealed to Benjamin that her major in college had been art. By that point in her life, she was a frustrated, manipulative, arrogant, demanding middle aged woman who was plunging both herself and her recent college graduate lover into a downward spiral. I first saw the movie when it was released in 1967 and, of all things, that line struck a chord with my 20-year old self at the time. I think the pity I felt for her at that moment made quite an impact on me and, in some small way, played a role in my dogged determination to live my life as an artist.

Of course, my artistic life is like one of the many bricks that make up a house. My personal impact on the world of artistic creation is too minor to be noticed. Yet I like to think that my contributions to the "house of art", whatever that might really be, are found in the people I've taught through the years. I believe I've encouraged many to find joy in the things they can make with their hands, expressing something from within themselves.

I have also found joy in art making and hope to continue to do so for may years to, accept the collect call from Father Time? Your darn right I'll accept! Bring on more time!

Monday, November 17, 2008

When can a weekend can feel like a lifetime?

When it's spent at one of Steven Aimone's workshops! Pat Williams and I just returned today from an exhilarating and exhausting 3+ day workshop at Aimone's studio in Asheville, NC. We arrived Thursday afternoon, unpacked our supplies at the studio, met the other participants and had an informal discussion about our goals for the workshop. The focus for the weekend was directed studies--each of us was asked ahead of time to come with a contract that stated our goals. These we shared on the first night. There were five of us in the workshop and all have worked seriously in art for a number of years. Yet we all were hoping for informed guidance from Steve Aimone and were eager to begin. After a couple of hours discussion, we dined together, along with Steve and his wife, Katherine Duncan Aimone, at a nearby restaurant and shared more about our lives in art and in general.

Participants Nancy and Pat getting ready for last day's discussion...stitting and standing in front of my wall of work.

Steve and Pat have discussion about work by viewing images on his computer.

Work in progress throughout the studio

On Friday morning, we continued what we'd started the afternoon before and what turned out to be a daily practice--circling our chairs and talking for about an hour +/-. Steve told us how we could proceed immediately to work with our contracts or that he could suggest a few exercises that any one (or all of us) could do if we wanted to. Everybody wanted to get started in that way so we spent much of the morning and early afternoon with three challenges from Steve. His goal was to loosen up our working methods which might then allow us to move into our own directions with more ease.

The studio was a bright, open space with high ceiling, white walls--full of light. Each of us had about a 12-15 feet of working area of wall and a rolling cart at our spot for our supplies. A studio sink was in the entry area, along with microwave and refrigerator. Coffee, tea, fruit and other snacks were always available. Steve made it clear that we could use the studio space freely, so immediately we pinned paper or canvas to the walls and didn't worry about dripping paint onto the plywood floor or painting outside of the boundaries of the format on which we were working.

Each morning we discussed the previous day's effort, looking at the work in progress. On Sunday afternoon we had discussions about of the whole output of each person throughout the weekend with everything pinned to the walls all over the studio. Each day Steve was available to talk to us individually about our own work, brought to the workshop with us either in digital images, photos, or actual pieces. He moved from person to person throughout the three days also, discussing work in progress. And his wife, Katherine, an artist, curator and writer, also visited the studio from time to time as we were working, offering her comments.

Because I'd had a very helpful art coaching experience with Steve several years ago I expected the workshop to be good. Yet, for me, the results far exceeded my expectations. I believe, based on what everyone said during the last session, each of the other participants shared the some of same feelings I was having. Steve worked with each of us in an extremely sensitive way, guiding us with thoughtful comments when needed. He encouraged and allowed us all to push beyond our expectations in our art making process. He enabled us to look at our art work in ways that considered both design and intent.

I feel that the contract I proposed for myself as I entered the workshop is not yet completed--but I also feel that the goals I've proposed have gotten validation over the weekend. I feel good about my art path right now--and I can see changes on the horizon!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Exciting days ahead...

I'll be leaving on Thursday for a weekend workshop with Steven Aimone at his studio in Asheville, NC. I'm hoping to expand on the work I began at Hambidge and possibly develop new design(s) for future tapestries during these days. Steve Aimone has written a book about design that I like quite a lot. Design, A Lively Guide to Design Basics for Artists and Craftspeople. Here's an online review of the book.

I've also had a critique session with Aimone in the past and it was quite helpful. He was the guest speaker for our Tapestry Weavers South group a few years back during a retreat, as well. His wife, Katherine Duncan, has written extensively for Fiberarts magazine and currently has a profile of tapestry weaver, Micala Sidore, on their website.

I'm going to the workshop with my workshop bud, Pat Williams, and I'm eager to get there and get started! After getting back from Hambidge with the lovely shiner my body decided it would give me more "down" time and let a wicked cold attack me. So this past week has been R & R for and recover. Now, I'm feeling much better and am ready, willing and able to begin work again...just keep those Puffs nearby!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Hambidge ends with a bang!

Quite literally!

I ended my fantastic stay at Hambidge with a fall to the floor on the day before Halloween. I still have quite a shiner from the episode. Here I am on the night after the fall -- still at Hambidge and taking a picture of myself in the bathroom mirror to commemorate the event.

So, as you might imagine, the last couple of days were not quite as full of walks in the woods and art making as the previous ones. The fall put quite a good perspective on things though ... like "better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick!" OR "you ought to have your head examined!" OR "you really fell on your face about that, didn't you?!" OR "put the right brain to work" OR....

Sometimes it takes a lot to get me to stop, look, and listen.

So, the falling down part has made me stop.

It reminds me that I have to look at the step I'm taking at the moment. Part of what caused me to fall was that I tend to be focused on where I want to be... not where I am. Moving too quickly beyond this moment, beyond this space I now occupy can cause a problem as was so clearly pointed out by the plywood floor of Brena studio.

Listening to myself is something I can put off, frequently. I hear what I'm telling myself but I often do a Scarlett on what I hear, the "tomorrow is another day..." thing. Yes, but today is today. What must I attend to today, in my relationships, in my home, in my community, in my artmaking?

Americans have now stopped, looked, and listened for the future. I hope we're on a better path but we have to take careful steps to where we're going. And we have to listen to all. I truly believe Barack Obama will bring into the administration people who will be able to look and listen, and act for more than a few. There aren't easy solutions but I believe we can be hopeful for our American future with this choice.