As I navigate the waters of turning my love for weaving into more of a career, the toughest obstacle seems to be focus. I'm suffering from too many ideas and not enough time. Last week I completed a commission - two hemp hand towels with custom dyed stripes. This week I pulled four yards of linen off of my loom that will soom be a beach tunic. I'm also experimenting with block printing.
I've decided to take a bit of advice and spend some time over the weekend sketching out my goals for the coming week and more generally for the month. Perhaps if I put it in writing, the threat of disappointment will be more real and I'll be less likely to head down the instagram rabbit hole where a morning can easily be lost.
While I've been teaching and designing projects for more than a handful of years, I have never ventured out into the world of selling my weaving...until now! You can find my work at the Unitarian Church on Pleasant Street in Newburyport Friday December 4th from 4:00 - 9:00 and Saturday the 5th from 10:00 - 4:00pm.
In their own words, "Creative Salem celebrates the city of Salem as a hub of creativity, and is dedicated to promoting collaboration, facilitating quality artistic events, and providing contemporary tools for local creative professionals to find and connect with new audiences while encouraging them to apply their skills to help solve challenges facing the community." Last night they hosted a two-part art show to raise funds and showcase some of the more exceptional artists in the community. Part of the event was a 3x5 exhibit where anyone in the community was encouraged to submit up to three pieces of artwork measuring 3" x 5". All of the pieces were donated with the proceeds going to the organization. I created three woven pieces for the show, shown in the not so great photo above. They sold early on, and I was too late to the event to see them displayed (see photo of vacant space). My collages in the past have been paper based, the Matisse lady and Stinker the Cat being the two examples I have retained, and while I won't be giving up my love of the paper collage, merging this interest with my weaving was lots of fun. Hopefully the person or people who purchased them are pleased.
The fabric has been dyed in an old indigo vat, and while it's not quite as dark as I had envisioned due to the age of the vat, I'm liking the washed out nature of the color. Perfect for summer (if it ever arrives!).
Indigo dyed material has always caught my eye. I created my first indigo vat several years back, and to this day I find the process, the color changing right before your eyes, riveting. I am also finding myself drawn to weaving with hemp. Lunatic Fringe has a lovely two ply hemp yarn that comes in an array of colors on 50g cones and bleached and unbleached in 400g cones. With this record setting winter of snow, snow, snow, a vision of an indigo dyed beach cover up began to form in my mind.
This was my first attempt at shibori weaving - a Japanese resist dyeing technique wherein larger, smooth threads are interspersed throughout your fabric and then used to cinch the material together to form snug pleats designed to keep out the dye. I also added space in my warp every inch to form a subtle open stripe in the fabric. I'm really pleased with the results. Next up will be sewing this thing into a dreamy summer dress.
This week I took a trip into Boston to the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art) to view their latest exhibit, Fiber: Sculpture 1960 - Present. Thirty-four artists were represented throughout five galleries. The range of color and material, texture and volume, was vast, and it took several passes through before I had taken enough in to be content with leaving. As a weaver, it was a challenge not to touch some of the pieces and bring my eyes within inches of others. I was so inspired that I purchased the book that was published to accompany the exhibit. Check it out if you can. The exhibit runs through January 4, 2015. You can also view a slideshow and other accompanying media by clicking here.
We are in the process of cleaning our attic up to create a little reading nook. Part of this effort has involved removing tongue and groove beadboard ceiling planks to remove dirt, asphalt and dust that has accumulated over the years, most egregiously during a reroofing process. As you might imagine, this is a rather dirty job. I've been slowly removing one board at a time, vacuuming its surface and moving on to the next. All of the boards are in good enough condition to reuse, so they'll be replaced once everything is cleaned up.
Unlike the modern tendency to fill a house with lots of stuff and not so many people per square foot, our modest saltbox was built back in 1750 when the average household size was greater and they shared less space. It is evident that our attic was used as a room of some sort - likely sleeping quarters for the younger members of the family. There are layers of old wallpaper and pictures of horses and their riders cut and tacked up in one corner. Two beams run the width of the house about four feet down from the peak of the roof, separating the sections of beadboard. Original to the house and therefore rough in appearance, they were wrapped in a fine cloth with a stripe detail that results from several threads perhaps woven in the same heddle as a bundle. The thread is very fine - similar to a fine sewing thread, and at this stage the fabric is quite fragile. Underneath the fabric I found a reference to President Harrison. Not sure which one, but Benjamin Harrison's presidency ended in 1893, so I think it's safe to assume the fabric is at least that old. My plan is to try and recreate this fabric, though it will take a little bit of planning and will likely result in a narrow sample thanks to the number of heddles I have. A to do for next year.
Last year a friend acquired a large box of wool strips meant for rug braiding. I was the fortunate recipent of the majority of this wool, yet after trying my hand at rug braiding and deciding it wasn't for me, the wool spent the better part of a year taking us space in my attic. And I mean for that to sound as though it was an annoyance. When you live in a tiny house, every cubic foot of space counts, and this box was using up valuable real estate and had no foreseeable future. And then I went back to a project I designed for Schacht Spindle Company back in May of 2011 - a rag rug made with tied t-shirt strips. Why not recreate this in wool, but bigger and better because I learned a lesson or two the last time around?
So here I am, about a foot and a half into the rug, and I'm already excited to get it off of the loom. Stay tuned for pictures of the finish project!
Spinzilla is officially Spunzilla. The yardage is being tallied, and while I'm guessing Team Schacht Spindle won't come in first, it was a great week of spinning. I was a guest blogger for Schacht, goofy photo compliments of my four-year-old. I was reasonably productive, spinning 862 yards of two-ply wool. I finished up one fleece and began spinning another from the same flock. Their coloring is just a bit different, and I'm curious to see how they both take dye. Dye you ask? Dye wool that isn't white? Why not. I will keep you posted.
For some time now, I have been spinning up yarn from fleeces purchased in Maine and Massachusetts as part of my own little Fibershed initiative. The idea here is to support the local economy and be gentle on the earth, among other things. When Jane asked me to be a part of the Schacht Spindle Spinzilla team, I saw an opportunity to chip away at this project. Eventually it will turn into something larger, but for now I'm content to spin my yarn and dabble a bit in dyeing with plants foraged from my yard as well as around town. And now, back to my wheel!