Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Year! May it be a better one than 2018

Yes indeed... hoping for better times in 2019.

I started off by listing all of the bad things that have happened during this year in our family.  And then going on to also list other sad and tragic events world-wide.  But I stopped and deleted the list.  Rather than dwelling on those events I have to say they're now history.  And history always holds both downs and ups.  And I'll have to admit there were a few times during 2018 when things were hopeful--and even joyful.

I haven't made resolutions for an upcoming year in a long time.  I do have goals that I set throughout the year.  And I feel good about each one of those that I'm able to accomplish by a (usually) self-imposed deadline.

One of the goals was met this morning when I completed weaving the last day of my 2018 tapestry diary and cut it off the loom.  Here we are--the 2018 version of my tapestry diary series and me, holding it aloft--like a prize fish, according to my husband:

The 2018 tapestry diary is 61" long x 11.5" wide.  The warp is linen, sett at 8 epi.  The weft is wool with the colors all of natural dyes I've done during the last year and a half.  Most of the colors are from black walnut, henna, Osage orange, madder, indigo (with some top dyeing with indigo over the yellows of the Osage orange to give various greens).

After taking a look at the 2018 tapestry diary I put it aside and prepared for 2019.  I want to weave the first day tomorrow and so I had to get a warp on the loom.  I wound the warp yesterday and today spent a couple of hours tying the new onto the remains of the old warp.  I like to tie on because it saves time.  I also like the thought of linking the new year with the remains of the old one... just like our lives.

Here's a look at the preparations for 2019 on the loom:

I have the new warp in my hand, holding the cross (a separation of every other warp end that keeps the threads in order).

One by one, I tie each in order to the old.  I use an overhand knot for the ties and make sure to snug each one tightly so they won't pull apart as I'm winding the warp onto the beam.

After tying all of the ends, I have to work the knots through the reed.  I do this by pulling a small group at a time.

After the reed, all the knotted ends have to be "helped" through the heddles.  This is a bit slower than going through the reed with the knots because the eyes of the heddles are smaller than the reed spaces.  Looks like a mess here but it's really fine.

Next, I begin to wind the warp onto the beam.  I'm winding paper between layers of the warp.  I measured out 3 yards for the new warp--more than I'll weave during next year but I probably won't have to tie on new until 2021!

It's now tied onto the lower rod.  The initial spreading of the warp ends is done and tomorrow morning I'll put in a half-hitch to hold it all in place as I begin one more year's tapestry diary, to be done one day at a time to make 2019 part of my woven history.

I wish all of you a very successful, safe and happy 2019!  A better year than 2018... please!

Friday, December 21, 2018

Happy Solstice! Let the light return--in more ways than one.

A sunset from October will be the stand-in as it's gray and damp here today and I don't expect to see the sun going down this afternoon at 5:29.

Instead, I'll fondly recall this sunset I saw while sitting on the porch of Peeler Cottage at the Lillian Smith Center earlier in the year.  Two of my favorite times of the day when I'm there are sunrise and sunset.

2018 has been a tough one in many ways and I'm hoping that 2019 may hold better, happier, and healthier times for one and all.  But... those days are yet to come.

My energy level for weaving came back full steam after Thanksgiving and I've been able to finish a couple of tapestries that have been languishing since March of this year.  Here they are, just off the looms:

This one was cut off on Monday.  It's 52" long x 31" wide and is based on a painting I did when at the Lillian Smith Center a few years ago.  The colors are natural dyes, mainly madder and Osage orange, as well as indigo and some black walnut and henna.  I've now woven four pieces based on the paintings I did during that two week stay.

The photo was taken as the tapestry lay on the floor in the studio so you can see the cut warp ends at top and bottom.  I have a lot of finishing work to do on it before having it photographed for "real."  I entered it as a piece in process to Artfields and learned this week it's been accepted!  I'm grateful that I was able to submit to the exhibit with images of it in process and statement of intent.

Here's the cutting off underway, photographed by my husband:

 And here's the empty loom waiting patiently for the next warp:

The other tapestry that I cut off this week is the one I had on a smaller loom as a demo during the exhibit at the Hudgens Center earlier this summer.  Here it is as it was still on the loom on Wednesday:

And here it is, turned 90˚ to the way it was woven.  I've cropped the cut warp ends off the sides so that they weren't so distracting.  It's 20" high x 18" wide, also natural dyes used for the weft.

And the empty loom--also ready for the next warp:

Yes, hard to see the loom with all the yarn bins on the shelves behind it!

And I'll end with a photo of the state of the 2018 tapestry diary today.  I've finally started the stone for December.  I have a few days left in the year to weave the image, the days as they come, and then the year's date.  I think I can do it!  Oh... also have to make the warp for next year's tapestry diary and have it ready to tie on to the old on January 1. 

Here's to a good New Year to come as the sun returns!

Saturday, November 17, 2018

I'm back... almost

I've been missing in action for the past month.  I had surgery on November 5 and was in the hospital for five days following that.  I'm pretty much on the mend now and get stronger every day.  Although I can't really concentrate to read for long or get settled in comfortably in any place I'm weaving a little each day on my tapestry diary.

I have a lot of days to make up to weave the image for the month.  I'd anticipated a few weeks of down time following the surgery so in late October, I'd drawn a stick that was pretty thin and planned to use it for November's image.  About the tapestry diary work I do, you may or may not know that I weave an indicator of every day of the year in my tapestry diaries.  So each color change in the margins around the larger images represents a separate day and is woven on that particular day.  This 2018 tapestry diary is the fourth year in which I've shown larger images woven throughout the months, surrounded by the individual days. 

My hospital days were woven on the second day after I got home and are the black and white alternating bands at the left margin.  My follow up visit to the surgeon was yesterday and he release me.  That happy red-letter day is shown in the red band on top of those black and whites.  Last week's dreary days of pain and discomfort are the gray areas at the right margin.  Today is dawning bright and beautiful so I wove the soft yellow above the gray for the day.  Every day will be better.  I keep telling myself that--and, so far, it is!

I believe I can finish the November image by the end of the month.  That's my goal.  My husband asked me yesterday what my non-medical goal for the day was... I said walking two blocks.  He said that, no--that was medical-related.  What else?  So I said I'd work more on my tapestry diary if I felt like it.  Every day that's going to be my goal now.  Stop thinking about the medical and start thinking about other things I need to be doing.  And do them as I gain strength and focus.

So many people are going through much worse than I am.  Health, hurricane, fire.  On and on it goes.  It's hard to see positive things but they're always there.  They're there in the faces of loved ones, young and old.  In the caring shown by strangers through donations or physical labor to help rebuild.  Here's to a new day and one that will be better than some of the ones before. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Another wonderful time at the Lillian Smith Center

I'm so very grateful to be able to spend some time here at the Lillian Smith Center again this October.  I was here about a year ago and had quite a productive time.  I've returned a couple of times since for shorter periods and gotten some things done.

This time I have a goal in mind that I'm not talking about too much yet.  And in the other part of the time here I'm walking in the woods and finding things to draw and paint.

Here are a few of my adventures so far:

I started off this morning with a walk to the Common Room building and onto the deck at the back to take this selfie with Screamer Mountain reflected in the windows:

Later today I took a walk to the woods and the trails that the Piedmont College students have so wonderfully marked.

 And here I am at one of my favorite spots on the woods trails... the giant white pine tree that's near the once-upon-a-time pool for the girls camp, Laurel Falls, that was here at the Center.

I say hello to it every time I walk past and today decided to try a selfie with the tree... ask me how long it's taken to get the leaf litter out of my lighting connector (if I have been successful at all!)

Sitting on the porch at my cottage is always a great thing... this was yesterday afternoon when the sun was shining.  It was rainy today...still a great porch time but no photos.

And, I always love to indulge in drawing while I'm  here.  These are with earth pigment and from a pine cones I found in the yard in the past couple of days.

More days here to come.  Maybe another post before I leave.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Moving along

My time with Sandy Webster last week was so enlivening!  I've been able to use the earth pigment watercolors I prepared at her studio every day since I got home.  Here a couple of the results--these are painted into the pages assembled while there.  All of the papers are either Arches or Fabriano 140 lb. watercolor paper.  All are pages are ones I'd dyed a couple of years ago with either black walnut or with acorn dye.

On Tuesday I had a visit to my studio from the weaving students at UNG and one of the young women from the class was quite excited about the earth pigments.  I invited her to come back to the studio yesterday so I could show her a little of what I'm learning about the process.  If she can work it into her schedule, she'll probably be dropping by occasionally to use some of my tools to process earth pigments until she gets her own.

I'm moving ahead on the five leaf tapestry--it has no name other than that, at this point.  It's been on the loom since March and I'm really wanting to get this completed.  It has some good things in it, I think, but those are hard for me to see right now.  This may be the last piece I do for awhile (or ever) with such an expanse of white/natural.  I really do find it tedious to weave!  Sameness-- yet difference within that.  Much more challenging than working with many colors, I'm finding. 

Here's an overview from a couple of days ago, then a detail as I left the studio yesterday.

Third leaf of the five completed and the background beneath and to the side of the fourth leaf is being built up.



Saturday, September 29, 2018

Workshop time for me!

I've had a busy summer and not taken time for updating my blog in over a month.  In that time I've had a brief stay at Hambidge Center--brief because I had to leave before the end due to a sinus infection that wouldn't get better.  After some antibiotic and rest the following week I was back to normal.  Mostly.

The leaf tapestry that began in March is still on my loom--will it ever end??  Not at the pace I'm currently working on it.  I haven't finished a large piece this year and that's beginning to get to me.
Here's the state of the leaf tapestry right now.  This is the third of five leaves completed.

I am continuing with my tapestry diary work each day... so I will at least have one tapestry done in 2018, unless something drastic happens, I guess!  Here's the September stick... I found a stone yesterday that I'll be using for October.

But... it takes time and when I don't give the time to the weaving, doesn't get done.  There are no elves that come into my studio at night or on days that I'm out of town to do the work for me.  Can't blame anyone other than myself for lack of tapestry production.

Oh well.  In the meantime, I've given myself a gift of a couple of days of private workshop/tutorial with Sandy Webster.  Sandy is well known for her expertise in preparing and using earth pigments in different ways.  In fact, she's written a book about the subject--one I've had for a few years and have used as a guide for my earlier earth pigment painting experiments I've written about before.

These are just a few of the earth pigments that Sandy has collected over many years.

Those paintings I'd made were OK; I'd written about those before in the blog at these posts.   But I wasn't yet satisfied with the quality of the pigment--it was still too gritty, in my opinion, for what I wanted to achieve.  I wanted to have a chance to work with Sandy to learn more about the process, figure out what I could do to improve the pigment for a smoother effect with the paints.

I've just gotten back from a two day time with her and found that my questions about what to do to refine my pigment even more were answered in the first hour!  The secret to what I needed--and didn't yet have--was an even finer mesh screen to sift the pigment.

Sandy is sifting with a 35 mesh screen first.
And Sandy sat down at her computer and immediately found one that was not expensive, a 100 mesh sieve.  One is now on its way to me and I'm eager to completely process the pigments I've collected over the past couple of years.  I have a pretty good range of colors from the this part of the Appalachians.

Here's one of the darker red colors I brought that's been sifted through the 100 mesh screen:

We went through the process of mulling the processed pigment using water and a glass muller.  To turn it into watercolor, gum arabic and a little honey were added.  The pigment and the additions were mulled again and when smooth and well blended, it was scraped up with a spatula and put into a container--small plastic pill containers were what she'd recommended for that.

Here are my watercolors made with earth pigments at Sandy's studio.
I also had the opportunity to look through Sandy's sample book she's developed for her classes--what an inspiration!

Even though my interest was at first in learning more about how to prepare the earth pigments, I got to see several of her handmade books and two of them particularly interested me--one was a simple small book made with a slot and tab method linking page after page.

Here's a pattern--although the slot and tab areas are too big in this.  Sandy's book is behind, at the edge of the cutting board.

Sandy showed me how to make the little book and I used strips from a few previous earth pigment paintings I'd made when at Lillian Smith Center a couple of years ago.  This is such a SIMPLE process but it took me a few minutes to get the hang of it.  I can see how making this could become addictive!  It's caused me to think of all those page after page of not quite right watercolors that I have stored for years.  Fodder for these books, for sure! I made my version of the small book after our day's session ended.  I stayed at the apartment Sandy has near her house and had time to do this in the evening, as well as look at her sample book and prepare pages for the next book I'd be doing the next day.

And the other was a field sketchbook with a box built into the side to hold tools and a spine holding papers, stitched in such a way that she could remove filled sheets and add more.  Even though, as I said, my primary reason for being with her for a tutorial was to work with earth pigments, when I saw the books, I immediately wanted to do both!


Here's Sandy's book cover, with the box to hold drawing and painting supplies built into the construction.

Next, Sandy walked me through a step-by-step demo of constructing the field sketchbook by doing one--and I added the pages I prepared the night before,  one's I'd previously dyed with black walnut and also some I'd painted with earth pigments a couple of years ago.

Sandy's showing me how to measure the items the box should hold to determine the size of the book's cover.  The things to be carried along as well as the size of the pages gives the size needed.

Before I left I took some time to look more closely at a few of Sandy's artworks hanging in her studio.  What a pleasure to see these in person.  And what a wonderful experience with a master artist!  Thank you very, very much, Sandy Webster.

Overview of Sandy's studio.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Arrowmont photos

My class at Arrowmont ended on August 3.  It's taken a couple of weeks to get back to reality here at home--as it always does after an intense class experience.  I enjoyed spending the days with a wonderful group of ten tapestry weavers, plus my capable assistant, Allie.  We did several design exercises and then began to weave tapestry based on something from the design work.  At least three tapestries were completed during the class and probably by now the others have also completed what they started.  That is, if they've used my strong suggestion to "Weave Every Darn Day!"

So... thank you to one and all of the students who spent the week with me at Arrowmont from July 28-August 3, 2018!  I wish you all happy weaving for many years to come.

Here are photos from the week in no particular order, except for photos of the new building at Arrowmont and our group posted at the end.

The new dorm, just completed and soon to be open!  This replaces the two that were destroyed in the terrible wildfires of 2016

The Arrowmont Tapestry Weavers, 2018 version!