Tuesday, March 24, 2009

this and that--and a lot of both

The past few weeks have been quite busy with assorted tasks and trips. I realized the other day that I hadn't posted to my blog lately and then got too busy to proceed in that direction! So, here's a tossed salad of what I'm up to... and almost all are indeed "works in progress."

Let's see, where to begin. I noted the completion of a wonderful experience with a recent tapestry class here at my studio. Since then we've continued to keep in touch and have started a private blog together to share more about tapestry. I've got several private blogs going and those are each good for specific purposes.

I also mentioned, in the last post, the jacquard woven fabric I'd gotten--design originating in a loose charcoal sketch I made while at the last Hambidge Center retreat. I'm still contemplating what to do with it but have cut one off from the others. Today I'm going to do some other things to that piece... maybe cut it into strips and reassemble it using the back and the front sides together since the back and front are positive/negative of each other.

I also posted earlier about completing the oak leaf tapestry a few weeks ago although it's still on the loom (enough warp remains to work on another small piece.) Since then I've re-tied onto the Tissart loom with the remnants of the warp from the black walnut tapestry. I've started weaving on it with left-over wefts from past tapestries and also using handwoven fabrics cut into thin strips. I'm hoping to develop the warp into a suitable piece for an upcoming Piedmont Craftsmen exhibit that has a recycled/repurposed focus. Interesting things are happening with the thin strips of handwoven fabric... they're turning into a chenille-like weft with fuzzy ends. I've got several pieces of yardage bits remaining from my days as a fabric weaver in the 1980s and 90s so have dug them out and had fun cutting them up--after all, what good are they sitting in storage boxes?

I've tried several other things by cutting and reassembling other previous handwovens, too, but I'm not happy with any of those results yet. Still have a bit more manipulation of the cloth to go before I might like the efforts, I think.

My tapestry diary continues to grow--I've been able to work on it each day except for those few days that I've been out of town. Those times are marked with the white blanks and I sort of like the spots of those showing up, sprinkled around and about within the color blocks. I continue to be challenged with ways to indicate the day as the month grows older! This morning, for instance, I wove 24 pick and pick dots... not too hard... but yesterday's 23 were more challenging. I'm still putting 10 days across the width of the warp and realized a few weeks ago that I can count the number of days I've woven by counting up the left selvedge X 10, plus however many I've woven in the next series across. I'm so mathematically challenged that that certainly wasn't something I planned ahead of time!

Spring break was last week at NGCSU so I didn't go to my weaving class the previous Monday or Wednesday. The students have critique of a project tomorrow night and when I left the studio at 9 p.m. yesterday, several were still frantically weaving away. This is a good class but have fallen behind in work and now the crunch is on to complete everything before the end of the semester on April 22. This semester will be my last one spent teaching at NGCSU--at least for awhile. I'm ready to spend more time in my studio and with other short-term teaching stints.

About other teaching--I have two classes scheduled at John C. Campbell Folk School in the future. One will be August 9-15, 2009 and the other from March 28-April 3, 2010. I'm also planning a two or two and a half week class at Penland for sometime during 2010. That date is yet to be determined but I'm looking forward to teaching at Penland again--last time was summer of 2001. I haven't yet planned teaching dates at my studio but will probably try something like the recently completed three session class again in 2010.

Now... about other opportunities for exploring weaving that I'll be part of in the upcoming year. I traveled to Knoxville, TN this past weekend to meet with Chicago based artist Anne Wilson. She was at the Knoxville Museum of Art for an initial meeting with textile folks from Tennessee and other southeastern states. She described her upcoming exhibit at the museum, scheduled to begin in January 2010. Her exhibit concept concerns the hand production of woven fabric and will involve many people, to wind bobbins and to also create a woven striped fabric during the course of the exhibition. Her work is exciting and quite innovative, taking the concepts relating to the creation of textiles to levels beyond the making of fabric. I'm excited to see what develops with this venture and also to be part of it in a small way.

And I have a tutorial with Bhakti Ziek on my calendar; that's going to take place at her studio in Randolph, Vermont in early May. I've been intrigued, even quite puzzled about jacquard textiles for quite a few years now. Not puzzled in the sense of how are they made but in that the technology has developed to the point that individual artist/weavers have access to small jacquard looms and may use them in a studio setting--not a mill. I've read a number of articles over the past decade about artists using this technology, and have also visited exhibits in which jacquard woven fabrics have been shown along with other handwoven fabrics. I haven't yet figured out what to think about these textiles, some of which are quite beautiful and others only so-so--just like the other textiles exhibited. And most often these jacquard woven textiles have been labeled as "tapestries." That term is one I have, in my own understanding and use of the word, limited in application to those "handwoven weft-faced textiles made up of discontinuous weft."

So this use of the word tapestry for jacquard woven fabrics has alternately galled me, puzzled me, concerned me, intrigued me. How should I consider and feel about these textiles? Is my response to them simply being colored by my ignorance of what goes into the making of the fabric? Does the small studio jacquard loom, like the TC-1, put the hand of the artist/weaver back into the textile in the way my personal preference demands? And if it does, why should I get my back up when I see works woven with this means exhibited along side more "traditional" tapestry works--or woven works in any method, technique or medium, in fact?

One of the Shuttle, Spindle & Dyepot issues last year (Summer 2008) had as the cover feature an article about the artist, Bhakti Ziek. As I read the article and studied the images I realized I was really being moved by her work--and all of the images featured were listed as handwoven jacquard. Her comments about her approach also resonated with me--one was: "It does feel like weaving chose me... now it is a deep passion....It has become my metaphor, my way of seeing and understanding the world." At the end of the article was noted that she offers tutorials at her studio and her e-mail address was given. I though, "What the heck, I think I'll e-mail her to ask about the tutorials...." and now I'm heading to study with her for four days in May!

I still don't know how to feel about these kinds of weavings but I believe the experience I'll have actually working with Bhakti and her TC-1 loom will help enlighten me. After all, that's all that I'm seeking with most of what I do with my work--enlightenment with a small "e!"

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Embarking on an adventure...

of a different kind for me--having a textile woven of my design on a jacquard loom.

Bethanne Knudson standing beside jacquard loom at Oriole Mill as group fabric is being woven

This came about when the members of SEFEA--Southeastern Fiber Educators Association--began talking about the potential of this opportunity for a future exhibit. The conversation about a collaboration grew into this project.

One of the SEFEA members, Bethanne Knudson, is design director of Oriole Mill in Hendersonville, NC. Those who were at the fall SEFEA meeting provided Bethanne with a tiff file, developed from whatever source we wanted. Then she prepared and wove the pieces at the mill, five of our image across the width of the fabric for each of us.

We received the fabric recently and our creative task now is to manipulate jacquard woven textile in anyway we want to. The end goal is for a joint collaborative work that will be exhibited in an upcoming show of SEFEA members, at Gray Gallery, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC in June.

The drawing was done while I was at Hambidge Center in October 2008. Here it's hanging on the wall along with the hickory leaf "model."

The drawing was done with a Magic Rub eraser, lifting lines and shapes from vine charcoal.

I cropped the digital image with Photoshop and converted to a tiff file to send to Bethanne.

So far, my fabric is simply hanging up where I can look at it and think about where it might lead me. Even though it's from my design, right now I feel detached from it since my hands weren't involved with the creation of the weaving. I'm going to have to handle it before ideas surface, I think.

The pieces are 8" square repeated five across the width of the cloth.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Chattahoochee Handweavers Guild tapestry class--last session

Yesterday was "graduation day" for the tapestry class here at my studio. The photo of happy tapestry weavers taken at the end of the day shows these great students and some of their work. During the three weeks of the session (three consecutive Saturdays spent, 9:30--4:30, at my studio) the students made great strides in their tapestry making abilities.

Earlier posts show photos from each of the previous sessions: February 21 and February 28.

We're talking about ways that the conversations and learning experiences about tapestry might continue. We'll see what the future holds for us all!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Oak leaf tapestry completed

I just finished the half-hitch at the top of the tapestry and took the photo. The loom has a bit more warp on it so I'll probably weave more before I cut this one off.

This is the second small tapestry I've done from designs created while I was at Hambidge Center in the fall. Weaving details are that I used cotton seine twine (12/18) at 6 epi for warp. Weft was 20/2 worsted wool from Norway (Fine Fiber Press has this yarn now) used 8-fold. The piece is 18" wide x 13" high. I began it in early February but wasn't able to work on it consistently until this week. I used quite a bit of single weft interlock throughout the piece, although did sew a few slits as I wove. I also used a bit of vertical weft twining to make a vein line in part of the leaf.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

"Doing a Penelope"

Or what I call unweaving.

I spent a bit of time yesterday morning unweaving a shadow that was not only too dark in value but was awkwardly placed. The unweaving was a bit more complicated than it might have been since I've been using a single weft interlock periodically with this tapestry rather than sewing slits. Hence, more had to come out than otherwise would have been the case. Oh, well, nothing else to do but to do it.

Here's the tapestry before ripping out the dark:

Here it is later in the day, old out and new in.

Here's the piece today, around 4 p.m. I have a few more hours of weaving time but I'd like to have it finished by the weekend.

This week has been eventful in the studio. Not only have I had time to weave quite a bit, but a couple of days ago, my 60" Gobelin-style tapestry loom went to live in a new home, that of a young tapestry weaver named Meredith. She's excited about the loom and I know she'll do wonderful things with it in the future.

Here's a last picture of the loom in my studio before Meredith arrived. I bought the loom from another tapestry weaver several years ago. It sat in pieces in my garage for about two years after that because I didn't have room to set it up in my home studio. When I got the opportunity to move into a studio at the Buisson Center in 2006 I jumped at the chance because it allowed me space to put up the loom and to finally weave on it. Over the next two years I wove five pieces on the loom. But, in 2007 I bought another 60" loom, the Ruthie loom that I mentioned sometime back. Although I have a studio that can hold both looms, I've found that I don't devote time to two large pieces at once. So I made the decision to pass the LeClerc Gobelin style loom on.

My husband and Meredith load it up in her truck.

Meredith ties the loom down, ready to drive the six miles to her place. I know both the loom and Meredith will be happy in the new relationship.