Another lake retreat

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(Don’t worry, s/he was a little critter, about three feet long head to tail. More scared of me than I of her.)

I ended up going to my cousin’s house at Lake Waccamaw on Thursday afternoon, after a stop at Mama’s house to pack up some of her art supplies, including many very nice watercolor technique books, and to assess the room and make a plan. The whole house is a nightmare to think about – every closet packed, every drawer and cabinet stuffed to the gills, every space under every bed used for storage. We will have plenty of time to clear it out, probably, since it is in a difficult area to sell a house. I decided to focus on the back bedroom that also served as her studio, since I will probably take most of the furniture in that room for my own house and I’m the only practicing artist in the immediate family.

Part of the problem is that we can’t just toss stacks of old paper or magazines without looking through them. There are buried treasures to be discovered, such as photos, my grandmother’s ration books from WWII, my father’s bronze star. In the bottom of one drawer that was mostly full of junk, I found a manila folder with papers from my childhood, mostly handmade autograph books which were all the rage in the 4th-6th grades. I took four stuffed boxes to the lake with me and poked through them, throwing out most of the ballpoint pens, the paintbrushes with no more bristles, the instructions for things long gone. I kept watercolor paints, watercolor paper, fabric scraps, and many brushes, exacto knives, ink and ink nibs. I will need to do better with the purging. Most of the books will go to the used bookstore.

In the back of my sixth grade autograph book, I found an entry from my Grandmother Jones, who I shared a bedroom with and I adored. I wept with joy. I don’t have anything else in her handwriting addressed directly to me. I also laughed to read Art Britt’s wish that the bird of paradise build a nest in my nose. Art was the class clown and his sister is now my sister-in-law. It was a time when children would ladle out the insults and then say Ha ha. Apparently I was both ugly and pretty, sweet and mean, always smart and nutty, already boy crazy. One girl told me that she liked me but she couldn’t stand to hear me laugh. Huh? One boy told me that I was his favorite girl in the class, but I apparently didn’t take it to mean much then. Six years later we shyly went to the senior prom together, after being pushed together by a mutual friend.

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Anyway, once I got to the lake, I was able to get some peace and solitude and it was very healing. Not having to worry about anybody else’s wishes or needs or questions, what I was going to eat, when to sleep, etc. I cried when I needed to instead of choking it back. I wove my tapestry on the screened back porch and read Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I swam a little and ate dinner at my sister’s house a few houses down a couple of times. On Friday morning she and I drove to Lumberton and did some financial things related to the estate, then ate fried shrimp at Dale’s. I had planned to go back to Mama’s house on Saturday, meet my brother, then drive back to Greensboro. But on Saturday morning, I had just really been able to start relaxing so I called everybody, stayed another night, and slept well for the first time in days.

On Sunday, I wove this little duck feather piece on a piece of driftwood I found in the lake. (More views on Flickr if you are interested. Look on the right sidebar and click on a photo.)

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Tapestry progress

98 % water tapestry

Actually, I’ve gotten about an inch farther than this, but I don’t have my camera with me.

Really loving getting into this part of it. For the dark area on the right, I split the navy and dark teal yarns (each has five strands) and wove them together. I thought about twisting them but this is giving me exactly the effect I wanted.

The plan is to go to Lake Waccamaw today and spend a couple of days boxing up my mother’s art supplies and art books and weaving tapestry on the back screened porch at my cousin’s house. Maybe trying out the indigo crystal dyeing kit if the midges aren’t bad at the lake. It has been a very stressful week and I could use a break before the construction begins on our new bathroom.

Pablocito, yarn inspector.

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Tapestry progress and bark weaving

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I’ve gotten about another inch done on the tapestry. The lower part will have more blocks of solid color, but as I get higher, there will be more color mixing such as in this detail:

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That is where the sacking needle comes in handy.

I think that the solid chunks of color near the bottom will help balance the large dark areas that will be near the top.

I’m taking Jude Hill‘s Considering Weave class online this summer. Jude has the only online art classes that I can actually get all the way through. I’ve subscribed to several of them, and I take lots of time to do them, which means I am normally way behind the others in the class and I don’t comment much. That’s okay because one of the reasons I do visual art is because I get tired of words.

She asked us to consider different things that can be used as looms. I admired another artist, Linda, who posted photos of her birch bark weavings. On my way to work yesterday I found a piece of sycamore bark with three small holes in it. I carefully cut out another hole to match and poked a few needle holes and started playing with it. Oh, it was such a big old messy spider web of silk thread. Then it wanted to be an eye, so I let it.

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It’s sitting atop one of the cloth weavings I’ve been working on from an earlier class of Jude’s.

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Beginning the tapestry “98% Water”

98 % water tapestry

I’m calling it “98% Water” for now.

The light green band at the bottom is meant to be turned back for a hem or stretched to the back if I decided to mount this on canvas stretchers. It was the color that I began with for the teal color and realized that it was entirely too light to contrast with the light pinkish color. The pink is actually a very light lavender but it looks pink when combined with the other colors.

I couldn’t get my energy up for dyeing and my local yarn shop did not have all the colors I needed, so I found what I needed at Webs online. I’m using the 4-ply mercerized Tahki Cotton Classic that I love. So soft, and I can pull it apart for plying colors together or for smaller wefts.

Of course, as soon as the order shipped I found the perfect color for the medium teal – some yarn I dyed umpteen years ago with that subtly mottled coloring that makes interesting streaks as I weave. I think that I have enough of it but if it looks like I will run out I’ll start working the commercially dyed medium teal in there to make a transition.

Traditionally, tapestry is woven with wool but I love the sheen of mercerized cotton for this project.

Here’s Pablocito being reasonably well behaved, and the design and cartoon that I posted a few weeks ago. As you can see I’m not using anything expensive or fancy, just four strips of wood with nails going across the top and bottom. I use a sacking needle instead of bobbins, and sometimes I only use my fingers. The taut warp sounds like bass guitar strings sometimes. I like that.

98 % water tapestry

tapestry design

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Let Freedom Ring

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

(In memory of Terrilynn, who posted this on her blog every July 4.)

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