Sunday, February 27, 2011

painting yesterday

Using my left hand (I'm right handed) I rolled black acrylic paint on a canvas stapled to a plywood wall in my cellar.  Then I squeezed out a glob of red paint on a palette and began painting as best I could with my non-dominant hand.  No image, just slashes of paint.  I used up all of the red then squirted out a mass of white and began to paint with that.  The canvas is maybe 48" square and my brushes were wide.

After about half an hour of slashing at the canvas with strokes of red and then white paint I began to write What Now? over and over again with a large piece of charcoal and also with a graphite stick.

My writing is very crude when done with my left hand but that's OK... will be OK now, a week after the accident... that's the answer to What Now?  I'm not sure yet how long it will take me to get back to weaving at the speed I am used to but I know it will happen.  Thanks to good friends who've helped me see the light where the black seemed to be.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Update about recent injury

I just posted this to the Tapestry Share blog but want to also do so here.  My hand is improving daily and I hope to back to full-time weaving very, very soon.

Thanks to Karen Donde, the loom company which manufactures the Baby Wolf loom that collapsed when I was unfolding it and causing my recent injury has made some changes to printed instructions that may help prevent it from happening to anyone else.  Karen, of Sutherland Handweaving in Asheville, is a Schacht dealer and she contacted the company with news of my injury.  Within 24 hours I had an e-mail from Jane Patrick at Schacht saying that they were sorry to hear about the incident and they were immediately making changes to the wording of the instruction manual; they're also considering a possible change to the loom to make it impossible for the same thing to happen again.  Below is the latest e-mail from her, reprinted with her permission:
Dear Tommye,
Here's the new copy for the instruction manual for the Baby Wolf, Wolf Pup, Wolf Pup LT, and Mighty Wolf Looms. These changes will be made in our instruction booklet tomorrow. I've also included the notice that we'll attach to the outside of the loom on all new loom shipments.
Best regards,

Jane Patrick
Schacht Spindle Co., Inc.
6101 Ben Place
Boulder, CO 80301
303-442-3212; 800-228-2553

    Change for Wolf Pup, Wolf Pup LT, BW and MW instructions—printed and on-line instruction change.
    Unfolding the Loom

    Remove all plastic wrap from the loom. Slightly loosen the two black plastic fold knobs on both sides of the loom. Generally, a single turn will do. Note: loosening the knobs all of the way or removing them will cause the loom to collapse which could cause injury. Hold onto the front and rear beams and pull them together slightly. Pull the slide lock bars out toward the back of the loom. Continue holding onto the front and rear beams and allow the loom to unfold all the way. If there is a warp on the loom, you may need to step on the brake release pedal while unfolding the loom to loosen the warp. When the loom is all the way down in the open position, push the knobs down to the bottom of the slots and tighten them.

    Tag to add to side of loom used for shipping.

 Caution: When unfolding the loom, slightly loosen the black knobs (generally a single turn is enough). Loosening them too much or removing them may cause the loom to collapse and cause injury. For the proper unfolding instructions, see the Assembly Manual included with your loom.


This effort on the part of Schacht Spindle Company to address a problem is to be applauded.  I hope no one else has to have such a gruesome experience with ANY weaving equipment in the future.  I appreciate what Schacht is doing toward that goal with their products.  I also very much appreciate Karen Donde's quick response in contacting the company after she read about the accident at my blog.  Contacting the company wasn't on my agenda--should have been but wasn't.  So a big thank-you to you, Karen!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

WARNING!! This post contains blood and other shocking things!


Yes, the warning is for real.  If you're a Facebook friend you may have already seen these photos so no need to take another look--unless you want to, that is.  This is really a cautionary tale so it might not hurt to read even if you avert your eyes when the photos come up--they're all at the end to be more easily avoided.

First, let me say that a cautionary tale may begin by mentioning that something might be foolish or even, egad, dangerous to attempt on one's one.   Next the story is told.  And then the fate will emerge... in grisly detail!

This particular tale began to unfold around 2 p.m. on Sunday, February 20, when I went to the studio to spend the afternoon as I usually do, by myself weaving tapestry, doing design work, or other assorted things.  That afternoon a new-to-me loom sat folded up in the studio.  My husband and I had picked it up the night before, a small Baby Wolf loom.  I had several things to do at the studio on Sunday but before I got started I thought I'd see how the loom would fit into the studio when it was unfolded.  My thoughts ran something like this:  "I know how to unfold this loom since I've done it before.  I'll move a few things around and set the loom up quickly to see how much space it will need."  

I knelt at one side of the folded loom and unscrewed the wing nuts holding the bracket on the wheels (the "baby stroller").  Then I went to the other side and took off one wing nut on the corresponding bracket.  Next came the final wing nut to allow the bottom of the loom to be pulled apart.  Suddenly--and I can't even begin to emphasize HOW suddenly--the loom collapsed with my hand somehow inside the frame of the loom. I felt a tremendous pain.  "XX)(@(@(**! I've mashed my hand!!" I thought.  I tried to pull my hand out and then realized I couldn't move it and there was blood--a cut.  Then I saw it was more than a cut--I COULDN'T pull my hand away since I'd been impaled by a metal bracket that was firmly attached to the loom at one side and that went through the back of my hand to extend several inches past my palm at the other side! 

I managed to get one knee under part of the loom to release some of the tension on my hand.  By this point I was screaming.  Of course, screaming behind a locked door and around the corner and several houses away from possible help (my husband) wasn't going to accomplish much of anything--except cause me to hyperventilate.

"I have to call Thomas! I have to call Thomas!" I thought and saw that my phone was maybe within reach at the opposite side of a table near where I was kneeling.  I stretched as far as I could while balancing the loom on one knee and was able to get the tips of my fingers around the phone.  I pulled it closer to me on the table and punched my husband's number.  When he answered, I said "YOU'VE GOT TO COME RIGHT NOW!"  He said, "Are you all right?!" and I said "NO!!!"  The phone went dead as he hung up and ran for the door.  Then I dialed 911 because I was beginning to bleed pretty badly and I knew I'd need more help than Thomas could probably give.  By the time I was telling the dispatcher where I was, Thomas was unlocking the door and rushing in.  

He quickly got pliers and took out the bolt holding the bracket to release it from the loom.  But, it was still through my hand and so he pulled it the rest of the way out.  He ran for a towel, wrapped my hand and told me to grasp it tightly and to hold my hand up.  He helped me into a chair, then called 911 again since we weren't hearing a siren.   As it turned out, there were several accidents in the county about the same time as I was creating my own accident and it took a few minutes for the ambulance to arrive.

When they got there the EMTs put me on a stretcher and loaded me up for the 30 minute ride to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville.  We chose to go there rather than our local hospital because we didn't know the extent of my injury and whether I'd need a hand surgeon right away or not.

As it turns out, the Emergency Department of Northeast Georgia was having an extremely busy afternoon and evening--several stroke victims, car and motorcycle accidents and more.  An impaled hand was low in priority, so we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  And waited some more.  At last, around six hours after we arrived one of the doctors was able to treat me.  I'd had x-rays done by then and he felt that bone wasn't involved.  He flushed out the wound, took four stitches inside, then multiple ones on the outside--both on the back of my hand and also in my palm.  He'd called a plastic surgeon, who also does hand surgery, and I was told to see him the next day (yesterday).  

When the plastic surgeon inspected my hand yesterday morning he determined that I didn't need surgery since what was done in the ER on Sunday night would suffice.  He did say that I'll need physical therapy and that my hand may not totally function as it had before.  

But, I'm typing with my hand right now and know that my fingers are working.  I wove a few passes on my tapestry diary this morning--and can do that.  The pain level isn't bad at all.  I have a prescription for antibiotic and also for pain medication.   I've taken only a couple of the pain pills and will try to do without those from this point on.  I cleaned and dressed my hand by myself this morning, and was able to drive the car (although turning the key and shifting the gears is a bit tricky!)   If I can type, hold a pen, pencil, and paint brush to draw or write or paint with, and if I can weave... those things are what I desperately need to be able to do.   And, by the grace of God, I'll be able to do them all, I believe!

So the end of this cautionary tale may not be too gruesome.  Lesson learned?  Perhaps more of the same that seems to always be presented to me--be mindful.  Be aware.  Pay attention to now.  I thought I'd learned the lesson when I fell a couple of years ago and gained a black eye from that experience.  But I needed a reminder.  A refresher course in humility and the need for patience has been given to me.

This is the bracket that impaled my hand.  It's 9 1/2" long, 3/4" wide , 1/8" thick.

The loom collapsed like so.  I was at the left side and balanced the end closest on my knee while I reached for the phone that was at the opposite end of the table that's on the left--can only see one leg of it here.

My hand was impaled by the bracket and wedged here.  The hole at the left is where Thomas took the bolt out to remove the bracket and pull it on through my hand.

Yesterday morning, photo taken with my iPhone as I was getting ready to go to the plastic surgeon.

After the nurse cut the dressing off and left the room for a minute I snapped a couple of photos with my iPhone.  My palm side... 

Top of the hand yesterday.  It looked much better today when I took off the dressing to clean and rewrap it.

The loom as it should be.  My husband and a friend put upright yesterday.

Here's the bracket that wasn't held in place by the black knob when I tried to unfold the loom, causing the collapse.  The end of the right side bracket was what did the deed.  Thomas cleaned the blood off the bracket and the loom and also washed it out of the carpet.  I am so very lucky that he had his phone turned on and that he was still at home rather than at work when it all happened!

I posted a comment in reply to Katie and Jan's thoughts that the loom company should be contacted... here it is, in case you miss it in the comments below:

Thanks to Karen Donde (who is a dealer for Schacht) the company knows about my accident and is taking measures to improve the printed instruction manual to include a clear warning about possible injury when unfolding the loom if the black knobs aren't in place as they should be. Additional warnings will be attached to the loom when it is shipped. Those printed changes are being made right now.

The company is also considering possible solutions to add to the loom as a feature that will make such a collapse impossible.

So if anything good (other than causing me to slow down a bit) comes from this accident it may be that others won't have to have a similar experience in the future!

Thanks to all for you the comments of concern! I appreciate them all very much.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Spring is just around the corner--maybe!

Earlier in the week as I was walking I had my first glimpse of 2011 jonquils.  When these begin to pop up I know that winter will be indeed be ending sooner or later.  For me, the first blooms of the new year mean more than that silly old ground hog's predictions!

Yesterday, I had a wonderful time walking near the creek at our cabin.

The temperatures were in the high 60s and I was outside without a coat on for the first time since I left for England in early November.  How exciting was that?!  Pretty darn exciting for me, at least.   I took a few photos with my iPhone and then manipulated with my Photoshop app (see below).

Later in the afternoon, at my studio I took the Hagen loom to the screened back porch and continued to weave on the small tapestry that I'm determined to finish this week.  I have a few more passes to level it up, then the half-hitches at the top before cutting off.  I'm going to donate the tapestry for a silent auction that will be part of an event I'll mention in a few days. 

Oh... if anybody notices... yes, I'm using a Mirrix shed device on my Hagen loom.  Leashes are at the top, not being used for the upper part of the tapestry.  The shed had gotten tiny and I thought I'd try out the shed system from the Mirrix to see if it would fit this Hagen... yep, sure did!  Interesting circle being completed with this since the Mirrix was pretty much designed based on the Hagen loom.  What comes around, goes around.  I've also used the floor stand for the Hagen loom with my Archie Brennan copper pipe looms.  All things are just tools.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

small tapestry about finished... at long last!

The small leaf tapestry shown in the photos has been on my small Hagen loom for about three years now.  I began it when my husband and I were staying at a cabin near Mentone, AL;  I didn't have a cartoon ready as I began so started out with a pattern of diamonds as a bottom border.  I didn't continue with the tapestry after getting back home because, at that time, a larger tapestry awaited work in my studio.

Later, when I needed to prepare a small loom for display during last year's exhibit at the Focus Gallery in Asheville, I did a simple cartoon based on a drawing of leaves I'd done while in my last residency at the Hambidge Center and began weaving the interior of the piece. So, bit by bit during various demonstrations the tapestry has grown.

In January this year the loom went with me to John Campbell Folk School where used it for demonstrations a few times while there:

And just this past Sunday I took it to the Chattahoochee Handweavers Guild's Open House for a demonstration:


I'm using vertical soumak for the stem of the leaves... color being used in the soumak is a bit strong for the piece but that's OK...  I'm ready to complete this small tapestry and move on.  I can't agonize over the color at this point.  I'm now determined to complete it during this week... maybe!