Saturday, August 15, 2009

John C. Campbell Folk School class

I've returned from a wonderful five days at John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC. The Folk School is a place dear to my heart for many reasons. I grew up just a few miles from the spot--just barely over the line from North Carolina and into Georgia; the landscape is much the same with small farms and fields surrounded by wooded mountains all around.

Another reason I love to go to the Folk School is that my very first weaving class took place there--in 1974. I'd taught myself to weave by reading a few books and buying a little "Dorothy" table loom a couple of years earlier but there was still so much that puzzled me. Reading weaving drafts, for instance, was something that I just couldn't figure out from the one or two books I had available. When I took that weaving class, the instructor showed me the simple secrets for reading the relationship of threading to tie-up and treadling--and my life in weaving really took off.

I've taught at JCFS for a week-long class almost every year since the 1980s but haven't been an instructor there in a couple of years. The past week's class has reenergized my love for the school and its mission. It's so gratifying to have a fantastic group of people come together from different parts of the country, as this class did, and find all to be interested in and supportive of each other. Even though one of our class members had to leave early, I believe everyone found it to be a rewarding experience--I can certainly say I did!

I'll post a slide show of more images at some time but just have to do a few quick shots today. The rest of the month will be busy with meetings and then even a short vacation with my husband. So more photos will have to wait, I guess.

The weaving studio with frame looms warped and sampling begun--Tuesday morning.

Assistant instructor, Meredith Dahle, has just cut her piece off the loom.

Thomas holds his second piece of the week--he'd never woven tapestry before and he did two incredible pieces.

Michelle poses with her two pieces.

Meredith and I are winding down the week--she was a great assistant instructor.

Gwen was able to spend a bit of time browsing through tapestry books and catalogs I'd provided--and in the comfortable chair she brought along with her

The "Graduation Photo" of class, taken Friday morning.

And our show and tell display on Friday afternoon. I'd taken photos throughout the week of work in progress. These were being shown in a slide show on the laptop in the center of the display. After sampling a few basic techniques, everyone moved to planning and weaving a small tapestry of their own design. Meredith prepared mounting boards for everyone to showcase their work.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Folk School class draws near!

My preparations for the class at John Campbell Folk School next week are drawing to a close--have to, since there are only three days remaining before I leave!

Things get pretty hectic around the studio when I'm getting ready for a class--no time to sort and arrange... just work and leave things where they fall... including one lamp that I managed to break while adjusting it to get better light on a piece while weaving. Its carcass is sort of visible next to my chair--amazing how thin, cheap metal can just snap in two when forced in a direction it doesn't want to go!

I've been weaving new samples to take to this class--for several reasons. One major reason is that I needed to empty my looms for the class--I have twelve people signed up, plus I'll need a couple of demo looms for both my assistant, Meredith, and me. So I must have 14 naked looms on Sunday. As I frequently put warps on frame looms as demonstration pieces and then don't complete the weavings right away (like maybe within the year) I sometimes have five or six frame looms tied up with partly woven pieces. I don't like to simply cut off a few inches of weaving and waste rest of the warp. Eventually I complete the piece--really, some of them after several years time. So now was the time to complete those "ghost" weavings that have been sitting around the studio.

A second purpose for doing new samples was to take photos of stages of various techniques for my handout revision.

This is a detail of joining wefts.

Table full of assorted samplers--six of the small ones are newly birthed this week.

Luckily I completed the handout revision and got to the print shop at the university yesterday--I'd forgotten summer graduation is tomorrow and the print shop had the 1800 + programs to print for the event. My 15 copies were able to be squeezed in before that madness began!

More work today includes making my list and checking it twice while I continue to fill boxes and stack them in the front room, ready to throw into the car on Sunday morning and head north. So off to do it!

Later today...I'm adding a few more photos of what I'm working on today while thinking about what should go on the infamous list. This is a piece that's sampling various eccentric weft methods, including wedge weave and Silvia Heyden's "half-rounds" --I'm doing it on the opposite end of a demo piece that was used last at the Tapestry Weaver South exhibit in Asheville in 2007. The demo piece allowed children to work on a tapestry but only a few lines and shapes had been woven when I brought the loom home after the last demonstration session. I finished it off as a simple geometric house and landscape, since that seemed to be what was suggested by what had been done.

The loom sat around with the rest of the warp in place since I didn't want to cut it off with so much warp remaining--good example of one of the ghost weavings that I mentioned earlier in this post.

Last summer I took the loom to Asheville when I was demonstrating at the Southern Highland Craft Guild Fair. Again I allowed a few children to work on the warp; this time we used yellow and red in a section a few inches above the little house tapestry.

As I started the eccentric weft sampling last Sunday, working from the opposite end to what had been woven, I decided to try to move the few inches of yellow and red down the warp and incorporate it into what I was working on. It took some manipulating but I was able to shift the weft down and fit it around what was in place. So the bright area of yellow and red running across the sample came from that shifting, working in a curving edge around what was there.

Now these two pieces are almost ready to be cut off of this loom... just a bit more to weave to end the last of this sample. Now, where's the paper to start that list?!?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Works selected for exhibition

I was quite happy to learn that two of my tapestries have been selected for the upcoming Chattahoochee Handweavers Guild juried exhibit. Glen Kaufman was the juror; here's a link to an interview with Kaufman for an exhibit in which his work is featured, Tradition/Innovation: American Masterpieces of Southern Craft & Traditional Art. I'm hoping to see the show in Asheville at the Asheville Art Museum in a couple of weeks. According to the tour schedule listed at the site, there are four more states in which the exhibit will be shown before it ends in 2010: Alabama, South Carolina, Mississippi and Louisiana. It's already been in Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Florida. Funny thing is that I MISSED it when it was at the Atlanta History Center here in Georgia last year!

Preparation for the class I'm teaching next week at John Campbell Folk School is consuming my time right now and my big tapestry is taking a breather. For every week I teach I usually spend about two weeks in prep work--even after all the times I've done a similar class. This time around I'm weaving new samplers and photographing steps, revising my handout to incorporate the new photos, figuring out ways to add leashing options to my litter of copper pipe looms (think I have a solution short of building new tops for all the looms). Of course, packing up supplies, books, and other assorted materials will take about half a day--that will be done closer to departure. And it's hard to believe, it's just a week from today! The last time I was there was a couple of years ago and I posted photos from that session earlier in the blog.

I really enjoy teaching the short classes, even through I drive myself crazy as I get ready to do them. Ask my husband--he bears the brunt of my prep focus, yet again. But the opportunity to spend 9-5 (and beyond) each day for several intense days, sharing what I continue to learn about the wonderful process of tapestry making, makes me very happy.