Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Summer Ends Soon--Time for a bit of catching up!


Yes, a bit of catching up although I won't put the whole of summer in this post. Maybe I'll follow up shortly with another post or two (or more).

In the last post I mentioned the break I'd had in late April while I was at Wildacres for an artist retreat. Since then, I've had good recovery with the help of physical therapy. I still have some pain but not so much that I have to take anything for it other than topical application of arnica gel. I'm continuing the exercises recommended by the physical therapist and added those to the ones from the abdominal surgery PT follow-up last year. The morning routine now includes those exercises, along with writing morning pages, walking, and--of course--weaving my day in the tapestry diary.

I've had a busy summer in spite of the temporary setback from the broken arm. I was able to finish an article for an upcoming issue of Easy Weaving with Little Looms, weaving with one hand to complete the samples. I took a writing class at John C. Campbell Folk School with Annette Sanooke Clapsaddle in June and another writing class there with Dana Wildsmith, that one in August. I was able to put warps on two of my larger looms at the studio and develop cartoons for both of those. I started weaving on the largest one a couple of days ago and I'm hoping I can finish it before the end of the year. I had tapestries included in the exhibit "Three Voices" with two other artists (Jennifer Sargent and Pat Williams) in an exhibit at Clayton Center for the Arts, Maryville College, Maryville, TN throughout the month of July. And, I was able to teach a long awaited workshop for Convergence 2022 in Knoxville in July. 

Convergence was originally scheduled for the summer of 2020--and we all know how the summer of 2020 turned out. Handweavers Guild of America (HGA) holds their major conference, Convergence, every two years at different host cities in the U.S. I was excited to learn of the Knoxville location back in 2018 when it was announced because it would be a little over three hour drive for me. For the first time, I applied to teach a workshop. My proposal was accepted and I was happy to be part of the instructor roster. When the event was cancelled the same schedule was postponed until 2022 with the hope that by this year the pandemic would be past and all would be back to normal. Well, that hasn't happened but we're learning how to carry on in spite of the virus. 

I really enjoyed my Convergence experience even though it was a hectic few days, The Convention Center next to the World's Fair Park was the location and the conference hotel was just across the street at the Marriott. Each morning I walked to Market Square or through World's Fair Park before going to the Convention Center. The first morning, I was at the Schiffer Craft booth in the vendors' marketplace to do book signing. Later that day Pat and I drove to Maryville College to attend a reception for the exhibit we were in.

On Sunday, my workshop was held during the day and in the evening I was part of a panel convened by Cathryn Bergeman "The Handweavers of Modern-Day Southern Appalachia" along with Karen Donde, Pam Howard, and Barbara Miller. On Monday, the American Tapestry Alliance had the speakers' session and later in the afternoon I was able to see the small format non-juried exhibit sponsored by ATA, "Tiny but Mighty," at Emporium Gallery. 

A busy summer! I'm glad I was able to do everything that had been planned in spite of the little setback in late April. Now, continue to stay upright for the rest of the year and get some weaving done! Here are a few photos from Convergence:

The Sunsphere from the 1982 World's Fair was just across the street from the hotel and next to the Convention Center. 

I was thrilled to discover that a detail of my tapestry "Revelation" had been selected to use for the cover of the Conference & Gallery Guide!  

I was at the Schiffer Craft booth on Saturday morning for book signing and a classmate from Dana Wildsmith's online writing class showed up! What fun to meet him and his wife in person.

Bob Thomas and I are communing with the Schiffer Craft crane.

This was at the reception at Denso Gallery, Clayton Center for the Arts, Maryville College.

Conference room where the workshop was to be held. The intern assigned to me as an assistant and I set up the room the evening before to be ready for the 15 participants first thing the next morning.

Lots of activities squeezed into the day! The workshop focus was to explore the elements and principles of design with paper, paint, charcoal, and crayons rather than yarn.

Tiny but Mighty exhibit. This is only a small portion of the over 100 small tapestries that were on display.

One of the morning views as I started walking.

And at the end of the stay in Knoxville I took the last walk in World's Fair Park.

Friday, June 17, 2022

Lordy, it's been awhile!


Or, lots of things have happened since I last posted.

In the last blog entry I was finishing up a tapestry of sweetshrub. I did that, took it to the frame shop and it's now ready for an exhibit I'll be in with two other tapestry artists soon. That's to be at Danso Gallery, Clayton Arts Center,  Maryville College, Maryville, Tennessee. The show, "Three Voices," opens at the end of June and runs through July--it will be up during the Handweavers Guild of America Convergence and is on one of the tours offered as an option for conference attendees. The opening is on July 16. 

So... what else has happened since my March post? Well, I guess the most important thing was this: I went to a long-awaited artist residency at Wildacres Retreat near Little Switzerland, North Carolina in late April. I say "long-awaited" because I'd applied for a residency there twice before and hadn't been accepted. When word came this year that I was selected for a week-long residency I was elated. 

I arrived on April 25 and settled into the cabin I was assigned and found it was a great space for doing work of all kinds. My goals while there were to concentrate on a new book I'm working on and to hike the trails, photographing and drawing what I saw while there. I also took a small loom to work on.

On April 28 I hiked Azalea Trail to the lodge and walked back down another trail to the main graveled road. I had my hiking sticks and sensible shoes, and was bundled up for the chilly morning with coat that had a separate liner, a fleece vest, turtleneck shirt and jeans. I was back to the gravel road and walking along, looking around, as I typically do when I walk, when my toe hit a stone embedded in the road. The stone didn't move but I did--I stumbled and fell hard on my left side with my face and left arm taking the brunt of the blow. It hurt like hell!

I was stunned for a few seconds but then I rolled over and immediately put my hand to my face and looked at it to see if there was blood--I was sure I'd really cut my face up. Then I tried to get up and realized I couldn't do that easily because I couldn't use my left arm! Somehow I got to my feet and slowly walked another 1/8 mile or so to where I was staying. I called the office when I got to the cabin and asked if there was an emergency department nearby, thought I needed to go. I was asked if I could drive myself and I said I didn't think so. 

From that point--and for a long time afterwards, I've depended on others. I depended on the kindness of the Wildacres folks, especially Kathy who took me to Spruce Pine hospital's emergency department and Wendy who kept phone check later on me through the night. I really appreciate the staff at the hospital who treated me quickly and sent me away with a couple of slings to immobilize my arm, offered  prescription meds for pain (that I refused--but had a good dose of Tylenol instead), and a with CD of the X-rays they'd taken.

I called my husband when I got back to my cabin to tell him what had happened. I also talked to my sister and my niece. All were willing to come get me. And we arranged that the next day, the 29th of April, my husband and sister would to drive the four + hours together in her car, and then he and I would go home in mine. Bit by bit, through the day of the 28th, after getting back from the hospital, I packed up my car. And then got what sleep I could by sitting up in a chair with ice pack on my shoulder, arm in the sling, taking Tylenol every 6 hours.

The next day my husband and sister arrived, picked me up and we came back home. What an inglorious end to a retreat!

Since then I've had several visits to an orthopedic specialist, X-rays galore,  CT scan, and even an ultrasound (to look for blood clots), to add to the mix. But all has been going as well as possible and I'm able to have physical therapy now. However, the pain has been amazing. At the emergency department I was told that a broken proximal humerus was very painful but I thought I knew a bit about pain since I've had a couple of abdominal surgeries, as well as a broken ankle in the past. Well, I didn't know s**t about pain! 

But I'm grateful that I'm now seven weeks and a day away from the fall and that I don't have pain like I did before. It's still with me and is more so at times. But I have to keep it in perspective, I have to realize that I do have relief from the pain for times--and now for extended times.  Others who I know have constant pain. There's a Flannery O'Connor quote about pain that I have in a journal somewhere. Maybe I can find it and post it in the future.

For now, I'll be grateful for relief from pain when it comes and that it comes frequently now. I'll also hope to have another opportunity for a Wildacres artist residency in the future--if I'm accepted for another one, I'll try valiantly to stay on my feet and healthy the whole time!

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

New tapestry update



A short post today with a couple of photos of the current tapestry I'm working on. This is the sweetshrub that I wrote about in the last post.

I've been able to spend a few hours almost every day with it since beginning the weaving in early March. Possibly, if I really push, I can finish it by the end of the month! At least that's the plan right now.

I have an online class for John C. Campbell Folk School coming up this weekend and I'll be working on prep for that in the next days. But a little bit of weaving time each day will go into this sweetshrub. Maybe.


Thursday, March 3, 2022

A blog post about a blog post! And a few other things.


Is this meta or what?

I want to link to a blog post that I recently wrote for Gist Yarn here.  It was fun to explore the new tapestry yarn that Gist Yarn began offering last year. Having an opportunity to write the post for them gave me a chance to use the yarns as weft and also to try the cotton seine twine the company carries. If you read the blog post you'll see that I liked both the wool and the cotton seine twine quite a lot.

In the past year I've written and submitted several articles to fiber magazines, some that have been published and others to be in upcoming issues, and a blog post for another organization that's soon to released. Although each of these writing projects were challenging, especially the ones for which I'm also weaving examples to illustrate the articles, I've enjoyed it all.

My in-person teaching career has (mostly) wound down. But I still feel that I have a lot to share about what I've learned from wonderful teachers and mentors through the years. Finding ways to do that through writing, occasional zoom and webinar presentations, and even a couple of online classes keeps me connected to the teacher side of my life.

The artist part of me is ready, though, to get back to weaving a larger tapestry. I've gotten the warp ready, made the cartoon, and by this time tomorrow I hope to be putting in the first passes of weft! A trip up the warp for several months is ahead of me.

The next tapestry will be one with sweetshrub as the subject. I've been fascinated with this plant for some years. Last May when I was in residence at Lillian E. Smith Center, the sweetshrubs were in full bloom and I made lots of photos, drawings, and prints based on them.  I did several with loose watercolors on the paper before printing and I'm using one of those as the cartoon for the tapestry.

Recently, a podcast interview on the In Defense of Plants podcast was with a botanist, Katie Horton, who's research is about sweetshrub! Her thoughts give me more to put in the stew of sweetshrub ideas while I'm immersed in this tapestry.

So... here are some photos of Sweetshrub from the north Georgia mountains and my versions. Or Calycanthus floridus, common names: Bubby Bush, Carolina Allspice; Common Sweetshrub; Spicebush; Sweet Betsy; Sweet Bubby Bush; Sweetshrub; Sweet Shrub.