Saturday, May 29, 2010

happenings around here

First, I've been under the weather for a couple of days this week.  Something absolutely knocked me out on Wednesday and Thursday.  I fought back nausea all of Wednesday, then whined (and slept) through aches and pains on Thursday.  Friday, I was back at the studio feeling about 80% of my usual self.  I very rarely come down with something and whatever this happened to be was wicked for about 24+ hours.  Yuck!

I had to beg out of visiting with friends to see the finale of American Idol--my husband went for a brief while to take the dessert we'd promised (fresh strawberries he's gotten at the local farm and ice cream--rather than the cobbler I was going to cook).  I managed to drag myself to the sofa to see the show; yes, I've gotten addicted to it in the past three seasons.  No, my pick didn't win this year--nor last year.  Oh well--their careers will move on anyway.

And speaking of musical careers, I was very glad to be fit and able to see Shawn Mullins last night here in town at The Crimson Moon.  Shawn's a fantastic singer-songwriter who's had one big hit with his song, Lullaby.  He always does a great show and last night was no exception.  A couple of shots from my phone:

He played for about  2 1/2 hours to a very enthusiastic crowd.  He's in town for two more performances--but those are already sold out.  In fact, I was lucky to get our two seats, high stools near the kitchen... but, as it turns out, great view of the stage.

Now... today, back to the studio and to work.  My studio is part of an arts tour during the second weekend of June.  I'll be joined by several colleagues who'll both be showing finished pieces and also be demonstrating for guests during the three days of the event.  This is the first year our county has been included in this tour and we have quite a few of the artists in the town and county who've signed up to participate.  Link to the website at to see what's going on all over northeast Georgia on June 11, 12 and 13!

Friday, May 21, 2010

New kudzu tapestry is now underway...-

I selected another drawing from those of the kudzu I did in January for this smaller tapestry.  It will be about 20" high x 24" wide; I'm weaving it turned since I want the seed pods and vine to be as smooth at the edges as I can make them.  I'm using a diamond pattern to fade in and out in the background to be suggestive of the density of the mass of kudzu as it grows.  I don't really have a determined plan of how those diamond will proceed--I'll just let them grow like the kudzu, I guess!

I'm weaving this as a donation for a raffle to benefit the Blue Ridge Fiber Show, a biennial exhibition.  Here's a link to more information about the raffle.  This exhibit (formerly known as the Blue Ridge Handweaving Show) will include felting and spinning, in addition to weaving, this year.  It's organized by the Western North Carolina Fibers/Handweaving Guild.   The show is an "open" exhibit in that there isn't a pre-selection of works made by image.  I believe there may be a limit to how many pieces can be shown in a venue so it might be "first come" for acceptance although I don't know that, for sure.  There are three categories for the show--"Professional," "Amateur" and "Junior" (under 18 years old)--and one is asked to select the category into which the entry will be placed.  However, typically there is only an indication of this category on the label since the works hang together.   The show is open to anyone in the world, I believe, not just to those who are in North Carolina.

The overall quality of the weavings that I've seen in the show in the past has been outstanding.  In fact, I've often thought this is the best exhibit of weaving in the nation since it hasn't been pre-selected to reflect the bias of a juror.   I expect to see the same result with the addition of both felt and spinning to the mix.

I've exhibited in the show several times, have been fortunate to have been an award winner a few times, and I even was the judge for the show a few years back.  In fact, it was that experience that caused me to swear off of being a judge in the future.   I found there were so many worthy pieces and so few could be selected for awards of recognition; I realized that on a different day my eyes might see and respond to works differently--and I became convinced that judging the work of heart and hands was going to be ultimately unfair to many.

As I work, I'm referring to my many photos of kudzu for color inspiration, I have the smaller version of my cartoon pinned up, as well as the drawing from which the selection was cropped.  I used the bottom group of leaves and seed pod from this sketch since I liked the position of the seed pods better.

The design for the tapestry was developed by photographing the drawing, opening it in Photoshop and cropping the lower portion of leaves.  That crop was then manipulated with several filters to simplify the pencil marks into areas of different values.  Then, the digital file was taken to the local UPS store where there's a large printer.  There, the image was enlarged to the size I wanted to weave (at a cost of $3.75, plus tax).  I'm glad to have this service in town since I've wanted to use this method for enlargement of designs but just haven't had easy access before.  Earlier this week, for instance, I had another of the kudzu drawings enlarged to 42" x 60" -- that cost less than $6.00!  I'll be starting that one on the larger loom next week.

And finally... here's the finished first kudzu tapestry.  It's 60" wide x 24" high.  The title is Life Force.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Demo days at Asheville

I've been in Asheville since Wednesday to do demonstrations of tapestry weaving at the Southern Highland Craft Guild's Folk Art Center.  Today was the Guild's annual Fiber Days and lots of other of the Guild's members in fiber were set up in the auditorium with demonstrations of many techniques, including felting, spinning, quilting, weaving, bobbin lace and more.  Several of them also had hands-on activities for children (of all ages) planned.  Tomorrow is the fiber fashion show that Liz Spear coordinates, at 1 and 3 p.m.  I'll end my demo stint tomorrow afternoon and head about an hour south to spend a short time in a much needed retreat with my friends Noel and Patrick, Parker and Erika, Macroni and Professor, and assorted chickens.

Here's an overview as the event opened... the crowd grew through the day...

My demonstration area is in the lobby; here's a view of one side of it:

The tapestry that I'm working on is one based on another kudzu drawing.  It's of a cluster of leaves and seed pods.  I'm weaving with the image turned 90˚ to the way it will hang.  The size is 20" high x 22" wide, sett at 8 epi with 12/15 cotton seine twine.  Weft is both Vevgarn used two fold, and 20/2 worsted Norwegian wool used five fold.  

Here's a detail of the images I'm working from... have lots of the photos nearby for color inspiration.  The drawing from which the cartoon is based is on the board, also.  I chose to crop one section of the drawing for the tapestry design... the lower cluster of leaves.

A detail of the piece:

I'm donating this tapestry for the raffle being held to benefit the Blue Ridge Fiber Show, to be held in the fall at the NC Arboretum.  I'll be sending progress photos to Karen Donde as I work on it so she can use it for her raffle efforts.  Check out the blog of her and her partner's hand weaving studio and shop in Asheville at this link.

I've always loved being able to participate in the Blue Ridge Fiber Show (formerly known as the Blue Ridge Handweaving Show) and want to give a little something back.  One of the very important thing about this exhibit is that it's a open exhibit--no juror selects what's going to be exhibited.  At this point in my life, I think these kinds of exhibits have more validity than juried exhibits so I will do everything in my power to promote and aid these sorts of shows.  No more pre-juried events for me... too subjective.  

So, if anyone would like a tapestry of mine, a one-of-a-kind that's related to the ongoing theme of nature that I have been doing for the past decade or more, please check out the raffle details.  Many others are donating work to be included in the raffle to aid this very important fiber exhibit.  I'll post how one can participate later.

And, here's another shot of some of the activity at the Folk Art Center today... this is a view from the second level where the galleries are located, looking down at the Allanstand sales shop area.  A tapestry of mine is hanging at the end of the shop (the apples that you see in the distance).

And, lastly... here's an overview of part of the Focus Gallery exhibit of the work of my friend, Diane Getty and mine, on display until June 15.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Kudzu is off the loom!

Ok, so that cutting off of the infamous kudzu tapestry happened earlier in the week... but I try to keep my ducks in a row, so to speak.  I hadn't posted about my last days at the Anne Wilson exhibit at the Knoxville Art Museum so had to do that before I noted that I'd finished the kudzu tapestry and cut it off earlier this week.

I'm in Asheville, North Carolina, right now at a four day demonstration of tapestry in the lobby of the Southern Highland Craft Guild's Folk Art Center--the Guild's annual celebration of all fiber crafts is this weekend--the Fiber Days on Saturday and Sunday.  Lots of demonstrators in the auditorium of the FAC on Saturday, then a fantastic fashion show of all fiber works on Sunday--two times for the fashion show (same fashions), one at 1 p.m. and the other at 3 p.m.

I have the kudzu tapestry with me here to snip ends at times when I'm not working on the current tapestry during the demo.  Here's a photo I made of it after it was off the loom... lots of ends yet to be finished here:

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Last Days at Knoxville Museum of Art--Anne Wilson Exhibit

At last I have a bit of time to post photos from the last day I spent at the Knoxville Museum of Art working with the Anne Wilson "Local Industry" part of her larger exhibit, "Wind/Rewind/Weave" that was at KMA from late January through April 25, 2010.  I wove earlier in the exhibit, as I noted in other posts, and then returned at the end of the exhibit to help out with the final stages of the cloth that had been being woven throughout the entire time, as it was cut from the loom.  The cutting off of the cloth when I was there at the end was actually the second cut-off since the fabric built up so much on the cloth beam, as the piece was woven by around seventy weavers, that it had to be cut off and the warp re-tied to continue with the weaving.  Anne Wilson hoped the two cloths could be joined to give a continuous length of weft-faced, striped (banded) fabric--as was her concept for this part of the exhibit--and that's what several of us worked to achieve during that last weekend in April.

I've described what we did to make the join in the last post... take the warp ends from one cloth into the other cloth, then pull to shift the two pieces together.  The next step was to take the warp end from both sides back in the direction of the original cloth.  I felt that doing this about 1/2" apart would be sufficient to hold the cloth together quite well and that's what we did.  Here's Nick on the opposite from me, working to needle those ends back in the opposite direction.

Once those warps were needle woven back along a channel of an adjacent warp for about 1/2 to 3/4" then they were snipped off to be flush to the surface of the weaving.

Above is how the ends looked before we started snipping... and below, Nick is hard at work with the cutting off of ends.

I'll bet no one can now spot where we pulled the two cloths together!  The joining came together quite successfully. 

The weaving, that turned out to be abour 26+/- yards long, was carefully rolled up for storage at KMA; an exhibition of the whole cloth is in the planning stages for the future--possibly to be in the fall of this year.  There will be a catalog available about the show then, I believe.  You might want to check in with the Knoxville Museum of Art website in the future, if you're interested in seeing more.

The length of the cloth caused us to have it spread out in a ribbon-like fashion over several tables...

Here's the entire 26 +/- yards, rolled around a cardboard core, photographed in front of the yarn wall...

I'll have to say that this whole experience has been quite a wonderful one for me.   I've been involved for a bit over a year now and in that time I've gone to Knoxville for a couple of meetings, then I returned a couple of times to work at the exhibit.  I so much enjoyed meeting Anne Wilson and hearing her speak so eloquently about the concept for this exhibit.  I appreciated working with Libby O'Bryan, one of Anne's graduate assistants at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, as Libby pulled together the many weavers who were critical to this exhibition.  The many e-mails from both Anne and Libby have really helped me feel connected to this whole project for a distance.  When in Knoxville, I really loved working with Chris Molinski, curator at KMA, and Nick DeFord, who was the Knoxville project manager of the exhibit--both were so helpful and congenial.  I met several others of the KMA staff and all were so very cordial.  During the last weekend, Ray Snyder and Pat Bing, and Geri Forkner, other volunteer weavers, were so helpful.  Jo-Marie Karst and Hailey Fowler, from Georgia, also were there to help with the finishing stages.

I enjoyed spending some time in Knoxville, Tennessee--a place I've only visited a few times in the distant past.  The small, quirky hotel I stayed in (the Hotel St. Oliver) was  a great location for working at the museum... it's in downtown, adjacent to Market Square where I could get meals easily--and also walk over to Yee-Haw Industries to buy a few things (!), as well as being just about an 8 minute walk to KMA.  Each time there I arrived, checked in, then drove down the block to the municipal parking garage where I left the car until I departed several days later.  While I was there I was also able to see my nephew and his wife, who live in Knoxville... here they are at The Tomato Head on my final trip to work at the museum... great meal we had there!

As a result of my participation in the Anne Wilson exhibit, my awareness of weavers in the world who really are working at this craft as a necessity for themselves and their families has been renewed.  Because of that I've become a patron member of Weave a Real Peace (WARP).  The good that this organization does can't be measured and I'm so glad to now have become part of the effort.

Here are the links in my blog to past posts about this exhibit and my participation: