Saturday, September 27, 2008

Off to Arrowmont

Well, I'm almost packed and ready to go to my week's adventure of teaching at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. This will be my first time teaching there. I've taken several classes over the past twenty years at the school so I'm eager to have an experience from the other side. Arrowmont is in the midst of an uncertain situation right now as the property the school is located on is possibly to be sold. The link has latest news about that.

But, in my preparations for this wonderful opportunity to teach at the school while it still is as it is, I've been working hard to revise my handouts, developed over the past several years while teaching workshops. I've also gotten two new samplers underway as suggested teaching tools for the class.

I'm focusing on a really basic skill in the class, meet and separate. After moving through the first passes, getting used to moving back and forth to build vertical edges and matching passes, noticing hill (high) and valley (low) turns of the weft, we'll try a few angles to see effects of turning on a high or a low. After a bit of this meandering, a third color will be introduced. The excitement with that comes by solving the problem of meet and separate with the existing two colors moving happily in the way they should, and the third color coming in to cause a problem with one or the other! And, in tapestry weaving, this "problem" happens over and over and over again. Sewing the slit between shapes as you go will be also shown at this point.

A second sampler will have color blending as the focus using four strands of thinner wool. Then we'll move on to other things as time allows, including designing, preparing a cartoon, transferring it to the warp (or stitching it behind), and following it. I'll be showing a few finishing and display options.

We'll have wireless available in the studio so I hope that we'll be able to visit the ATA website to see the wealth of information there, along with many of the other wonderful resources available on the web.

AND, I was very pleased with myself yesterday for coming up with a solution to making my copper pipe looms (Archie Brennan's design) stand on a table. A student whom I'd had at John Campbell Folk School last year had given me a set of wooden legs that he'd made for my loom, based on some he saw at a workshop at Vesterheim. I haven't been able to have more of those made but wanted to have an option for setting the frame loom on a table. I've found that in workshops some people have trouble holding the loom in their lap and bending over it as they weave, tiring their necks and backs. Anyway, I started thinking about plumping pipe components in PVC and went to the local hardware store where they typically leave me alone, staring into their hardware bins, to figure things out when I'm working on a project. After several minutes of digging through various bins, I found the combination T joins that slip onto the bottom of the pipe loom, with a threaded opening to allow for a 12" pipe length to be screwed in. This then extends behind the loom serving as a leg, one on each side (got to put the legs on to the bottom of the frame before the loom's assembled and warped, of course!). I put a cap on each of the leg ends and angled them together, holding in place with a rubber band. Works fine to hold the loom up and will be as stable as needed. So, now my frame looms all have little stands for them, at least the ones I'm taking to the workshop.

LATER this morning....I've just taken a break to make a run to see if I could get my car's gas tank topped off. A friend called just around 8 a.m. to tell me of three stations in town that had gas as he went by this morning. I have just over 3/4 of a tank right now, I think enough to make it to Arrowmont--but probably not back again, so I'd hoped to fill the tank before leaving town at noon today. the time I got to two of the stations the lines of cars were backed up quite far...and I don't have time to wait, using up some of the gas I DO have. I'll just head north and hope for the best. I remember the gas shortages we were having in the 1970s...seems like old times...and unsettling signs of more to come.

So, even more reasons to concentrate on the lovely tasks of meeting and separating. If we all kept our hands to our looms we'd be better off, I think.

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