fiber art, Journalfest, Port Townsend, Slow cloth, tapestry, Washington, Washington state, weaving

The Sunrise tapestries

Both were inspired by a spectacular sunrise seen from a bluff at Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend, Washington, on Oct. 25, 2009, the morning I left the first Journalfest. Don’t believe the colors? Look here.

Cotton warp, mostly silk weft – some handspun and hand dyed – hanging in wooden shadowboxes. Each tapestry measures about 7 1/2 x 4 1/4 inches.

$360.00 each, will be for sale at Elements Gallery sometime late next week.

This is why I need the hand surgery – I need to hold a needle in my left hand to do this, and I want to weave more in this series.

fiber art, Port Townsend, tapestry, weaving

Puget Sound Sunrise tapestry finished

Well, almost. I’m going to weave another half inch of blue to turn back for a hem at the top. And I’m trying to decide between the names “Puget Sound Sunrise” and “Port Townsend Sunrise” – I like the second for the preciseness of location, but the first for the sound of it, and that more people around here would recognize the words.

I left it alone for a while because I couldn’t figure out how to weave those top clouds. I took out the very dark cloud I began with and I am much happier with the results.

I didn’t use a cartoon for this tapestry. I usually had the photograph up in front of me to refer to. But sometimes it is best to strike out on your own and trust your brain. Weaving is not painting and has its own peculiar challenges – I left the days behind long ago when I thought that every image I created had to match an image in real life. Sometimes the little bit of OCD left in me nags at me and I have to push it away and have faith in my hands and eyes. So I didn’t refer to the photograph much when I wove those top clouds, and that helped me break through the artist’s block.

Here’s the photo:

I think that I’ll do another one based on this spectacular sunrise since I have many photos and it changed so much over the course of 30 minutes. But I’ll need to dye some more silk first. I am out of that luscious purple.

fiber art, Port Townsend, tapestry, weaving

Puget Sound tapestry progress

The clouds at the top of this piece are going to prove to be the most challenging. I may need to dye some silk. But I’m going to try to go back in with a little dark grey on the tops of the bottom clouds and mix in a little more light grey on the top clouds if I’m not happy at the end. I’m enjoying this piece a lot but I have to stop myself from working too long at a time because of my tendinitis. Holding a needle is not good for me these days!

About half of this silk weft was handspun by a group of women in the mountains of, I think, Colombia. It was a project sponsored by a US group to set a community up with a legal and sustainable business in an area where lots of coca is grown. Unfortunately, the US also blasted them with paraquat so I think that they were not able to continue. They were raising silkworms and learning, so some of the silk was badly spun. But I was happy with it for my purposes, because I like uneven textures and it was perfect for a cloud tapestry. I dyed much of it myself and rest of the silk is commercially dyed silk floss from Treenway Silks in British Columbia, on a cotton warp.

art, book arts, Journalfest, Port Townsend

Journalfest 2010 Journal

I finally finished my Journalfest journal yesterday while waiting at the doctor’s office. I’m posting some of the pages here in case you think that art journaling is hard or requires special talent or something like that. An art journal is just for you, and it contains a combination of art and writing, or maybe just art that reflects where you’re at or what you’re feeling that day. I mostly use photography in my art journals. I played with a cheap little mini watercolor set with this one too. Some of the pages were not scanned because they contained some personal thoughts or weren’t very legible.

I did some of the pages at Journalfest and added them in later. Since I didn’t realize I would decide to use this particular journal, they had to be cut down to fit. And I didn’t want to cut down the pages I made in Orly Avineri’s class, so they are not included, but I included photos of them in the making.

Sometimes I thought that a page looked awful and then when I looked at it the next day it looked so much better. So always hang on to the pages you don’t like for a little while. You can always work over them if you decide that your first impression was correct.

The pages are different sizes and shapes. Sometimes I added business cards to the edges and folded the edge of the page over. Sometimes I glued stuff in. I used two-sided tape. I made pockets for treasures. I cut pages into shapes that suited me. If I messed up, I colored or collaged over my mistakes, or I left them there. It’s my journal. I make mistakes and I’m cool with that.

art retreats, book arts, Journalfest, Port Townsend, Washington state

Journalfest 2010

Journalfest was, as expected, another awesome experience. I flew to Seattle and took a shuttle bus over to Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend, Washington. The town itself is beautiful and if I did nothing but walk its beaches and explore its shops and restaurants for a week, I’m sure that I would have been happy. However, I got to combine this beautiful place with inspiring art classes with three top instructors and great food!

The first day I took Painted Pocket Journals with Roxanne Padgett. This is taking me in more of the direction that I’m interested in exploring – fabric/fibers combined with book arts. We painted and stenciled fabric with gesso and acrylic paints, then stitched and fused them together to make folded covers for books. Pure play for me, and I loved it so much that I forgot to take photos. Sorry! But I did take a photo of the journal that I made for Journalfest in this class. I will be filling it with my thoughts, photos, and drawings of Journalfest. I have many ideas for this as far as little cloth journals for sale on Etsy and at the Indie Market.

Thursday evening brought a bonfire on the beach and a journaling party in the building next to it, heated by a woodstove. Believe it or not, I think that I had my first s’more at this party. I don’t remember ever eating a s’more before. I’ve camped a lot, but mostly in 18th century reenactments, and I’ve never been fond of marshmallows. Yes, it was good!

Because I was on East Coast time, I woke up before dawn every day and wandered out to the beach to take photos as the sun came up. I explored past the limits of the state park this time so that I was legally allowed to gather beach stones. Here is my favorite photo, taken on Friday morning before Orly Avineri’s “Mapping Me” class.

On Friday afternoon after class, I walked a mile up a steep hill and back down into downtown Port Townsend for dinner. I had company. The deer in Port Townsend are like squirrels here – everywhere and quite used to people. Unfortunately, most of the town there rolls up the sidewalks at 6 p.m. so I wasn’t able to explore the galleries. I did get to eat a delectable, decadent seafood/wild mushroom pasta at the Fountain Cafe.

I could hardly hope for better weather that they had when I was there. It was chilly, but mostly sunny and I was able to see the mountains clearly across the water. A local that I met on the beach told me of a good place to find sea glass, so I set out in the dark. I didn’t make it to that beach, but I watched the sunrise sitting on a rock below Point Wilson Lighthouse before I realized that I had been so enrapt in the beauty that I didn’t notice that I was very underdressed and freezing! It is hard to take good photos when your hands are shaking.

So I went back for breakfast and Jody England Hansen’s “Finding Your Niche” class.

This class was good for me – I really want to include found objects in my work, and so I’ve been trying on my own to create niches and doors. I’m not very good at the technique. I wasn’t very good at it in this class, either, so I won’t post the photo of one work in progress until I get a chance to get it to a point where I’m happy with it. Jodi gave me a lot of useful information and good advice though. She has arthritis in her hands so has the same issues that I have with pain. She repeated, “Persuade the fibers to part,” don’t fight with them. In other words, make many light strokes with the craft knife instead of bearing down and getting in a hurry. We also poured resin over objects in shells and niches – what fun! I can’t wait to play more with resin!

I’ve been saving this book to use for my Alaska journal – I made rather a mess with another one its size on my own, trying to make niches in the text block. Jodi used it for a demo and promptly removed the text block, saying that it was perfect for a box. It turns out she was exactly right, and I now have a great structure to contain my Alaska travel journal and some stones and other natural items that I picked up on the trip. I’ll take another photo when I’m done collaging and painting it.

I felt powerful and blessed and courageous and strong on this trip.

Now I am ready for Journalfest 2011!

art, book arts, Journalfest, Port Townsend

L.K. Ludwig

I took two classes from L.K. Ludwig because I love her book Mixed Media Nature Journals so much and I couldn’t decide which class I wanted to take. She is teaching a monthly online photo journaling class – it’s not too late to sign up because it begins November 1! Take a look at her blog here for the description: The Poetic Eye

Here are a few photos of her and her work from Journalfest.