Sunday, September 19, 2021

Weave Every Damn Day (Until you can't)


It's been months now since I've written a post. Not because I didn't want to but because I wasn't up to it. Just like I haven't been able to weave every damn day. Sometimes things happen that are unexpected. They come out of the blue and change plans in an instant. One of those things happened to me on August 12, 2021.

But let me back up a few days before the 12th. In early August I was able to spend a few days at the Lillian Smith Center and also deliver a tapestry to the Folk Art Center in Asheville for the Southern Highland Craft Guild members' exhibit, Black and White 4. I worked on a small weaving while I was at the center but didn't complete it while I was there. I returned home on August 11. The next day--the 12th, I was scheduled to make an online presentation.

The presentation was sponsored by the American Tapestry Alliance and the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, in conjunction with the ATB13 exhibit that was hanging there at the time. The presentation had been announced weeks in advance and many folks had signed up for it. The moderator and I, along with the folks from the museum, had a preliminary zoom meeting to work out details a few days before.

But when I woke up the morning of the 12th I didn't feel right. Was I just nervous about the upcoming presentation in a few hours? I knew that shouldn't be the case because I had my PowerPoint ready to go and I knew what I'd be talking about. I started out with my normal morning routine: coffee while writing morning pages, followed by a mile or so walk through town. But I couldn't get the pain I was having in my gut to ease. In fact, it was getting worse and by 11:30 that morning I knew something was definitely wrong--did I have appendicitis? That's when I asked my husband to take me to the emergency department here in town.

After an examination and CT scan it was determined I had an obstructed bowel and I'd need to be transferred by ambulance to a larger hospital for possible surgery. From the emergency dept. cubicle I asked my husband to call the moderator for the ATA talk and let her know what was going on and she was able to pass the word on the museum organizers. They were able to announced via social media that the presentation was being cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. And I was taken by ambulance to the larger hospital in Gainesville, Georgia.

This hospital is one of the many that are currently almost overwhelmed with COVID cases. Even though I needed surgery it was an over 12 hour wait in two different emergency room areas at North East Georgia Medial Center before a bed was available for me. I don't remember much about those hours because of the pain from my gut and also the discomfort and nausea from the nasogastric tube that had been inserted before I left Dahlonega.

After several attempted interventions to clear the obstruction it was determined I needed surgery and that was done on August 15. The three days before surgery were absolutely miserable--I was vomiting frequently and in lots of pain. Finally, the surgeon first attempted to correct the problem using a laparoscopic procedure but that didn't prove to be possible. So open surgery was done with the incision being made along the same line as the incision from surgery in 2018. In fact, the earlier abdominal surgery was probably the cause of this bowel obstruction since areas of small intestine were involved with scar tissue and causing the blockage.

After surgery, I spent several more days at the hospital but was able to come home on August 19. Obviously, my "weave every damn day" directive for myself (and others) had to be ignored for awhile. Even though I was home and my tapestry diary loom was sitting in my studio I couldn't work on it at first... just didn't feel like it. But a few days later I began to slowly weave on it a little each day; I decided to mark the event in some way and wove gray and white squares across the width of the tapestry and following the shape of the previously woven areas. The leaf for the month of August was not woven... just day parts.

I've gotten back into the rhythm of the tapestry diary now and have selected and woven the leaf for September--a leaf from a cherry tree at my studio, one that showed some of the coming fall color. It was a small leaf and that was a good thing since my energy is still pretty low for weaving.


I have done a couple of small tapestries during the past month. One was completion of a small piece I'd started at the LES Center. The other one is for a writing project I have underway. At least now I'm once more weaving every damn day!


Earlier in the summer I was interviewed by Sarah Resnick with Gist Yarns for the Weave podcast. That went live a week or so ago. It was a pleasure to talk with Sarah and I'm glad the interview came out now--it made me feel much better to hear it and know that I once sounded somewhat coherent!

I was able to fulfill my obligation of a talk for the Damascus Fiber Arts School just last week. 


And I have another zoom presentation coming up next week with a weaving guild in Cape Town, South Africa, another change of date because of the hospital event. 

The missed talk for ATA has been rescheduled for November 4. I'm so glad to be able to once again feel a bit like my "old" self! I still have some healing to do and more energy and resilience to build. But I'm getting there, I'm getting there. Thank God.

Now... back to weaving every damn day.

Monday, July 5, 2021

An interview, a book, an exhibit


 Last week I had a conversation with Tegan and Eric Frisino at The Professional Weaver podcast. It was an interesting experience to talk with them and share some of my thoughts about my career in teaching and tapestry weaving.


In the podcast I also talked about my new book, Tapestry Design Basics and Beyond. It's now available through Schiffer and other booksellers online, and it's in stock at the Craft Shop at John C. Campbell Folk School. My other book, The Nature of Things: Essays of a Tapestry Weaver, is also at the Craft Shop.

I've been busy over the past month getting a magazine article ready to submit. And I've also worked daily on a tapestry that I'm trying to complete for an upcoming exhibit at the Southern Highland Craft Guild's Folk Art Center. The theme is black and white and will feature all craft mediums. This is the fourth version of this theme, one that's held every several years. It's always fascinating to see the many ways this idea of no-color can be interpreted! Black and White 4 will be on display at the Main Gallery, Folk Art Center, from August 28, 2021-January 16, 2022.

Here's a preview of the tapestry I'm working on:

I'm weaving it turned 90˚ to the hanging direction. The left side will be the bottom of the piece. It will be 24" tall by about 20" wide. The design is based on a block print I made earlier this spring while at the Lillian Smith Center. I posted about my retreat there earlier. 

Thursday, June 17, 2021

A Box of Books = A Great Deal of Happiness!


I received two boxes containing several author's copies from Schiffer Publishing yesterday! The book is a reality at last and soon to be in the hands of those who want to give some of these ideas a try.

 It's been a long process and one that I wasn't sure I was up to. But, with encouragement and help from many people it's here!


Friday, May 14, 2021

A brief retreat


I've been at the Lillian E. Smith Center for the past several days for a brief retreat. A R&R for my art spirit, I guess you could say. Rest and Recharge is the way I use retreats. Maybe not so much rest, though. More recharging of visual ideas without much else to do.


This spot on the ridge has so much to see and wonder about at every time of the year. This springtime is no exception.

Always a wonderful view from the cottage porch and also looking back at the cottages.

This time I worked with small watercolors at the cottage and used a couple of those to design block prints. I'm planning to use one of these (maybe) as a tapestry cartoon for an upcoming exhibit.

 Printing away at the end of the day and the end of this retreat. Many thanks to Piedmont University and the Lillian E. Smith Center for this wonderful time away!