Wednesday, May 20, 2020

In for the Long 68 or so..but who's counting?

Well, I've tried to count the days we've been mostly at home so far. I think it's at least sixty-eight by now. When I say "mostly at home" I mean we've not visited friends and only had one brief trip to see family early in April. Our outside activities include placing online orders for groceries from Walmart (our ONLY grocery store option in town) and picking them up in the parking lot, taking masked trips to the post office (1), the bank (2), and one or two other places for curbside pickups (6 or 7). I've continued my daily walks and those are done early enough that there aren't any other people around.

When I'm out to walk I almost always photograph one or more things. In fact, on Facebook I usually post a "Good morning, Dahlonega" photo each day. It's something that catches my attention--even sometimes making me stop in my tracks to take another look. I don't go out looking for what might be found... but there are so many wonderful details in the multiplicity of things that make up the world that something will be there. Here's what I posted yesterday:

We have a few friends who've stopped by to drop off fresh eggs and to have a conversation through the open window. My husband had a nice chat with a friend who was driving by when he walked out to the mail box last week--she in her truck across the street and he on the sidewalk.

Our big excitement was to get a haircut at our house last week. The fellow who cuts our hair was willing to come over and use the "salon" we'd set up with a chair on the back porch. My husband and I each had a turn getting our pandemic dos altered into something less scary. All of us masked throughout. It was nice to see the lawn, blue sky and clouds while getting shorn!

My studio work is slower now, even the daily tapestry diary parts I weave. My focus for monthly images to inset into the days is feathers this year. So far, I'm lagging behind in getting the one for May well underway. I've selected the feather (blue jay), drawn it and have woven to the point of starting the feather itself. I have now eleven days to complete it.

I've done a bit of other weaving for another project and sewn the tapestries into a couple of things:

This pillow has the tapestry center sewn into the larger cotton flannel fabric borders.
And, this pincushion is about 3" square.

In early March before the virus began to take its own horrific march through our state I borrowed a Mirrix loom from a friend (thanks, Dinah!) to weave a couple of small tapestries, each based on a photograph of a periwinkle I made earlier this spring. These are for an upcoming project that I'll talk more about later when the time's right.

I hope soon to be able to adjust to whatever the new normal will look like in our world. In the meantime, I have more masks to make and give away.  

Health and safety wishes to all!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Stay at home, shelter in place, hunker down...

...or whatever you choose to call this time of being dormant. Suggested and/or forced, yes. But necessary. It's almost impossible to comprehend what's going on. How could we have been participating in our daily "normal" lives as the new year began ... and three months later be in this situation?

I don't have an answer to that and neither does anyone else, no matter how loudly one says it.

So we get on with our lives as best we can, knowing that many are much worse off and others are in different, more fortunate circumstances.

My daily routine is much the same as always up to a point: get up; write morning pages and have coffee; walk a mile or two around town; weave my daily bit on the tapestry diary; get ready for the rest of the day. By then it's about 11 or noon... if noon, I have lunch and then go to the studio. If 11, I pack lunch and then go to the studio. Once there, that's when the routine changes.

Here's the April tapestry diary feather of hope, a guinea feather.
Since early March it's been quite difficult for me to concentrate on anything at the studio. I have three tapestries underway but all have come to a standstill in the last two weeks. I've been making cloth masks to give to family and friends. I've used several online examples to work from, with the best tutorial for my reference being the one shown through the Northeast Georgia Medical Center site here.

This is one hand-off of masks for a friend: tied to the kitchen door, sealed in a ziplock bag, inside another plastic bag. Text friend to say it's there, ready for pickup.

Although most of my stash is yarn, I had a small amount of fabrics and even some elastic to work with. At first, I fought with my old Singer sewing machine through the construction of about five masks. The machine's foot feed doesn't work consistently and that's a PIA, big time. The back stitch also doesn't work so I had to turn the work around to sew in reverse in some places for seam security. I did a lot of cussing and shouting for a few days while doing those.

Then I remembered an impulse purchase I'd made at a fabric store about a decade ago... a little sewing machine called a "Sew Mini" by Janome. It was less than $100 when I bought it and I tried it out a few times at home, then put it away thinking I'd use it for stitching on paper (I was doing some bookmaking at the time), but never did. Once I remembered I had it, thought I'd give it a try. And, it works the way I need it to!

So, even though there is only one speed (no fast stitching along straight lines here), it has been able to handle the several layers of fabric, plus the pleating of the masks. And it goes in reverse! Thank you, little Mini, for your hard work in the past week. I can truly say that was one impulse buy that I (now) don't regret!

 I even resorted to sewing my own bias tapes once I ran out of those in my stash.

I'm off to the studio to make a few more masks today and these will probably be the last ones I sew since I'm running out of supplies. I will be back to the tapestry looms after that.

May your lives be healthy and safe.

May we all come out of this awful time as better people, if that's possible.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Troubled Times

It's hard to write about anything now. Difficult to move from moment to moment in the uncertainty that surrounds us. It would seem as a tapestry weaver who's used to spending long hours alone, and also as an introvert who prefers to have little interaction with people, this time would be ideal to be in the studio working. But anxiety is a constant companion and keeps me from staying on task with much of anything. I jump from project to project and don't really complete much of anything.

One of the plans I had for the spring was a one-person exhibit at Sarratt Gallery, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee. And a workshop during that time to be held there. Well, I shipped my tapestries to the gallery on March 2. It was installed just a day or so before the university there went to online for the rest of the semester. Hadley, the director's companion dog, was with him when he sent this photo of one wall of the installation. Remember seeing sweet Hadley from a post last year when she was with him at Aya Studio in Florida? Scroll down at the post and you'll find her several times.

Photos of Sarratt Gallery installation by David Heustess
The gallery director is showing my work periodically on social media and I appreciate that effort to share my work through that means. But the tapestries won't be viewed on site in the gallery; that's one of the best things about having an exhibit--getting to see one's artwork in a gallery space.

Another plan was to submit a small tapestry for the American Tapestry Alliance small format, non-unjuried exhibit to be held in Knoxville, Tennessee this July in conjunction with Convergence. Over the past two weeks, the ATA Board had to assess the impact of the pandemic and, after much discussion, made the very difficult decision not to hold the actual exhibit, but rather to create an online exhibition of the tapestry entries. I had shipped my tapestry earlier in the month and it joined the over one hundred that had already been received by the volunteer working with the exhibit. The Board asked that other shipments be suspended (the deadline had been March 31). This was an extremely hard decision to arrive at--and I know first hand because I'm a member of the ATA Board. Many people have been disappointed by this turn of events and some are even angry. We certainly don't have a crystal ball to see what's to come but the likelihood of plans for the summer event being in jeopardy is distinct.

Here's my small tapestry, 10" x 10", called Springtime in North Georgia.
I've had to empty the studio freezer of the dye materials I'd been storing: zinnas, marigolds, black walnuts.  Making room for extra frozen food items seemed like a better use of the space right now. I've dyed several skeins of yarn so far and plan to do more today.

These are minor, unfortunate disruptions to life. Nothing comparing to the illness and death of thousands. And the fear that has swept the world since the beginning of 2020.

Springtime has arrived in north Georgia. I am still able to get out in my neighborhood to walk each day. And in the woods at our creek house nearby. In the past weeks I've watched the bloodroot and the fiddleheads return once more and that is a solace. It helps me think that things will recover... maybe not ever be the way it was before this novel coronavirus entered the world. But a new normal. Until the next crisis.

My husband and I are self-isolating and plan to for some time to come. How long? Who knows but hope is still with us for health and safety in these trying times. I wish the same for each of you.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

YouTube conversation about "Streams and Strands"

In the last post I mentioned the two-person exhibit that Dianne Mize and I are having at the Sautee Nacoochee Cultural Center right now. The show, called "Streams and Strands," is there until March 1.

Dianne is a painter and teaches primarily through her online courses. She also has free "Quick Tips" online about many different facets of art making. Check out her website for links to her Quick Tips and other information about her courses. Her book, Finding Freedom to Create: A Painter's Roadmap, is one that I've recommended to students and that I often refer to for ideas about design and creativity.

Last Sunday, Dianne and I met with Roger Williams of SauteeLive, a video production company. Roger filmed our rambling conversation about our art making practices. Here's the YouTube link to that conversation. In the video each of us talk about a few of our works that are hanging in the show.