art, dyeing, fiber art, tapestry, weaving

The Lake Tapestry

I really finished this last weekend, and I was going to wait until I had it mounted and framed, or whatever display I decide on, but I couldn’t make up my mind about whether to back it in black or not, so I decided to go ahead and post it.

lake tapestry for web

Originally I was planning to name this “Lake Effects” but since it changed into a mystery place as I wove it I am renaming it after a comment my friend made: “A Place You’ve Never Been.”

99% naturally dyed silk threads for the weft and cotton seine twine for the warp. 4.75 x 6.75 inches.

What do you think? Should I use this black background and frame it? Or should I mount it to a cloth covered board with a lighter, neutral (beige or cream) color? (I can already see a cat hair, so I’ll have to re-photograph it!)

When I cut this tapestry off the loom, I also cut off a sweet little painted silk weft weaving that I began at Pam Patrie’s cabin long ago. I don’t think it can technically be called a tapestry since the weft is woven all the way across, but some people call any art fabric a tapestry. I’m a bit more picky in my labeling. I have no idea what I will name it, but it is inspired by the beach near Cannon Beach, Oregon.

painted weft tapestry for web

art, fiber art, tapestry, weaving

Progress on the lake tapestry

The lake tapestry has taken an unexpected turn as I inched (millimetered?) my way to the finish line. I decided to weave a strip of the brown/grey threads at the top for a hem, and started on the right side and took a break.

When I went back to it, it seems that my lake needs a cliff jutting out into the water in the background. Which means it is no longer Lake Waccamaw, which is round.

Yet, this weaving was abstracted anyway. It began with a very quiet photograph of raindrops on the lake and the blue sky just beginning to poke through the clouds and reflect on the tea-colored waters of Lake Waccamaw. I cropped the photo down to a small area and increased the size. I added the movement of the water on top and below the surface, and it became much more animated. The raindrops would not have really looked this way on the surface if the water had been moving.

Now it seems to me that the raindrops in the tapestry have transformed into boulders and rocks in the water. There are no boulders and rocks in the swampy sandy waters of eastern North Carolina. Not naturally placed ones, anyway.

What do you think? I need to make a decision.

dyeing, Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina, tapestry, weaving

Lake Waccamaw, April 2021

20210426_150338I spent a few days and nights down at the lake house with my sister last week. Lisa spent most of her time with me since she was having her bathroom remodeled at her house, which is within walking distance. It was the first time we have seen each other since July, and it was a good time.

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Other than to ride with Lisa to get takeout meals from a couple of places and to walk down to her house, I didn’t leave the house. The weather was a bit cold the first couple of nights and we discovered that the heat is not working. Lisa brought out her electric fireplace from storage and it made the place very cozy. Then the weather turned perfect, although still too cool to get in the water. By Wednesday afternoon when I left, it was getting hot.

Happily, my weaving muse came back finally came back and I starting weaving on this tapestry that I began three years ago at a Tapestry Weavers South retreat. It is an abstract interpretation of a photo I took of a calm reflection on the lake when it was just barely raining and a little bit of blue sky was reflected on the tea colored water.

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All but a little bit of the darkest color are silk threads that I have dyed with natural dyes at various times. Sometimes I threw them in with a bundle of fabric or paper or tied them around a bundle, so those are variegated. The blue is from indigo, and the warm brown coppery colors from black walnut. The other browns and grays – I don’t know. I’ve enjoyed designed from the perspective of the threads, and adjusting the design as I go. Not my normal process, and maybe this was why I had a hard time getting going again on it. Decision fatigue! I am very happy with it, but it won’t be finished in time for the TWS show, I’m afraid. My eyesight gets too blurry to work on it very long. Guess I need to make an optometrist appointment.

coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, critters, depression/anxiety, Reading, tapestry

Saturday afternoon coffee pot post

^^^Pablocito in his nest.

During which we need to consider what to have for lunch today, since it is already 12:45.

Things aren’t great in Laurie Land, but I am getting through it a day at a time. The main concern is Sandy – he is in a lot of pain this week and started seeing his old chiropractor on Wednesday for hip pain. He is quite upset and I empathize, having gone through the kind of pain he describes for years. There are other things going on that I won’t go into in a public post, but suffice it to say, the shit is piling up quickly.

Yesterday I came home from work with a really bad headache, which is not unusual for me to get a headache that time of day, but then I saw my full mug of coffee still sitting on the counter. If you know me at all, you know that I cannot exist without coffee. For many years I drank it all day long, until insomnia put a stop to that. I drew a cartoon poking fun at myself during my college years, in which I always had a cup of coffee or a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Anyway, I drank the coffee at 5 p.m. and therefore I read a book until 4 a.m. At least it is Saturday and I could sleep all morning, but I had just gotten my sleep schedule more on target. Next week I have so much to do that there isn’t going to be the option of sleeping all morning.

Today I am looking at ice covering the branches of the trees and the back porch steps. I hear the ice fall off the branches with little crashes as it begins to melt and let go. I could probably learn a lesson from the ice today – I just am not sure what that lesson is. Do I let go and crash? Would the breaking apart on impact be a good thing or a bad thing?

The book that I became entranced with last night is Paper Wife by Laila Ibrahim. I was reading a paperback copy of The Silver Swan by Benjamin Black (aka John Banville), trying to get back to my quest of reading as many physical novels as I can before I get rid of them, especially those by Irish writers, and getting away from screen time just before bed to help me sleep. I had downloaded a copy of Paper Wife to my Kindle as part of the Prime Reading freebies, and decided to read the first chapter to see if I wanted to keep it. Next thing I knew it was 4 a.m. and I am over halfway through the book.

I also keep a copy of The Autobiography of William Butler Yeats beside my bed for heavier reading that helps me snooze after a chapter but also teaches me a few things. For example, with all the art history that I took, I had no idea of what he was referring to when he wrote about the Pre-Raphaelites. I researched it and learned that was a small art movement that included William Morris and writers, actors, dancers, and artists of the 19th century in Great Britain. Well, yeah. I’m interested.

Also, I never realized how little I knew about the history of socialism until recently. Somehow I thought that it started in earnest in the early 20th century, not mid-19th century.

Hopefully I will get some tapestry weaving done today, but there are a lot of things that need to be done in this house that I’m pretty much doing my myself now, and I probably need to do a little of the work I do to earn a paycheck, since next week will be pretty hectic. I got a little weaving during the week.

Daydreaming about Portugal, but honestly, for me Portugal is a way to get EU citizenship so that I can go to Ireland. And if I stay in Portugal, I will be closer to Ireland. I probably spend too much time noodling around the Portugal ex-pat sites and AirBNB.

Looks like I may be able to get vaccinated after March 10, and my workplace might set up a clinic for its employees. Now if we could only get Sandy an appointment. He says that by the time he fills out the form online, the appointment slot is taken and he moves to the next available, and the next, and then skips ahead, and they’re gone. This week has had other challenges, so I doubt that he has checked since Monday. I’m going to call on Monday for him. He finally agreed to calling his doctor on Monday, so maybe he can get one there. I don’t know. The other issues are actually more pressing right now.

It has reminded me of the night when I finally decided to sit down with him for a serious talk about my own health challenges and how I needed more help from him, and he was so distracted (“I think I drank too much caffeine today!”) and obviously not listening that I got angry and walked away. I had a funny feeling about an hour later that I should check on him and found him sweating and gray and in the middle of a heart attack. That was eleven years ago.

Getting older ain’t an endless picnic in the park, but I hope to get some lunch in today.

coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, critters, tapestry

Sunday afternoon coffee pot post

On the last dregs of the pot – I got caught up in Facebook.

Yesterday was a better day. Sandy called an old friend who worked for a bird breeder for years and she advised us that Bernie will be okay as a solo parakeet. He will probably bond with Sandy now that Liz is gone, which would be a very good thing since Sandy enjoys having him around. Bernie has bitten the crap out of him twice when he had to handle him. She offered to clip his wings so that he could have him out of the cage but both of us shudder at that idea. We won’t declaw our cats either. Bernie has a big roomy cage just so he has the ability to flutter about. That was one of our requirements if we were going to have a pet bird – he would be able to do birdie things as much as possible.

This friend had ninety birds at her house at one time. Can you imagine the noise?

Anyway, I spent most of the day out of my bedroom and took a walk around the block. Here’s proof:

^^^A long cropped shot of the back of our house from the other side of the block. You can see why we have a problem with water flowing downhill!

^^^The corner bar.

^^^What lies beneath. This is the red clay that our region is famous for. Less than an hour south is one of the oldest pottery communities in the nation – Seagrove, North Carolina.

^^^Tapestry progress. It’s just coincidence that this part looks like Liz.

^^^Robbie Rabbit is still alive and kicking. What a lucky bunny, because it spends a lot of time in the open and we have foxes and big hawks around here. I hope s/he’s still around when our young neighbor returns from Thailand. He will be delighted to see the baby bunny that he fed is all grown up.

^^^Rabbit yoga.

We made a quick run to Bestway Grocery to get a few items, mainly Smithwick’s ale for me since I ran out a while back, and a Smithwick’s after work is a good incentive to get through the day. I forgot that snow and ice was forecast for last night so the place was fairly crowded, although they enforce their masking rule and people were good about spacing. We double masked. Since we were there I ordered one of our favorite meals as take-out from Fishbones next door: popcorn shrimp burritos. It is such a small space and the patrons were fairly spaced out, not quite enough in my opinion, but all the unmasked people in that small indoor space gave me the willies. Thank God I only had to step inside for a few minutes. I feel sorry for the staff.

I will be so glad when we can sit at the bar in Fishbones and drink a pint of Smithwick’s there. It is one of our favorite places.

We had snow around 9 p.m. By the time I got up this morning and looked out the window, it was cold rain and the snow washed away. No ice that I can see. The temperature is just above freezing. I feel for my friends in the northeast who are about to get blasted again.

tapestry

01-25-21

Taking a break to write a post and to remind myself that I am not my job, and of that second agreement:

Don’t take anything personally.

“Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.” – Don Miguel Ruiz

Often I am frustrated with one of the people I support as an admin. This is the sixth year that I’ve been his support admin in two different capacities. He is a smart man, and personally we get along, but he isn’t good at working as a team. I happen to be very, very good at what I do so it is quite irritating to ask questions and hear that there have been email discussions that I haven’t been copied on. I really need to at least be informed in order to do my job well.

I guess a silver lining might be this: if he (and others) really think that there is no need for me to know a lot of what they discuss, it won’t be a problem for them when I retire in two years. HA

The other good thing is that the people that I actually report to as my supervisors are well aware of the problem, so it doesn’t reflect on me badly. And I’m still managing to do a good job despite that.

I’m finding that my back is not at all happy about this “new” weaving activity, but I have a goal to finish this in time to exhibit in the Tapestry Weavers South exhibit this June. I’ll do a little more after my work day is done – at least fifteen minutes.

coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, depression/anxiety, tapestry, weaving

Sunday morning coffee pot post

Yesterday ended up being a very good day. I felt some sense of normalcy coming back to my brain. Sandy was very caring, and encouraged me to go back to my tapestry loom. My back muscles aren’t in great shape right now, so when I took a break he gave me a massage. I’m going to set a timer today so that I have to get up every 10-15 minutes and turn it off. It is too easy to get wrapped up in the weaving and then say I’ll take a break after this, oh, maybe after this…next thing you know your back is locking up in the sitting forward position.

As far as the tapestry, “Cathedral,” goes, this is one that I’ve been working on for five years, with many breaks that have sometimes gone for months. The breaks started with my neck issues, which are now nearly non-existent, and then depression. The weaving is beautiful but what people don’t see is that the tension is terrible and there will be big problems in getting it blocked to lay flat when I cut it off. I haven’t done this before because I’m usually pretty good with even tension and straight edges, so thinking about it can make me really anxious and obsessive and shut me down. Will all this work be a waste of time? Anyway, the photo is a detail of the area I wove yesterday.

When I went back to it this time, I reminded myself that this is the section that is mostly in shadow, and I don’t need to worry over the details so much. I am using a very painterly approach to this tapestry, blending 2-3 colors of fine wool yarns to create depth of color. Some of the yarns are handspun naturally dyed samples that someone gave me long ago. I’m pretty much through with them. The round metal circles are rare earth magnets that hold the canvas with the cartoon to the back of the tapestry.

Sandy made blueberry pancakes for lunch and we got Wendy’s for dinner through the drive through window after picking up my prescription from the Walgreens drive through window. As much as I’d like to boycott Wendy’s, I guess it is just not happening right now. It’s the easiest choice we have for food when we are depressed and tired. I like their chicken pecan apple salad.

Last week’s installing of the pull out baskets in the lower cabinets went well. I didn’t screw them down to the bottom of the cabinets because once the weight of the cans and storage containers was in them they worked just fine without that. If I eventually use them for lighter weight storage I will have to attach them.

It had the further purpose of me pulling everything out, cleaning, reorganizing, and throwing the cardboard trays I had been attempting to use in the recycling bin. I can see what I need to reorder more easily. I’m putting things that I don’t use in boxes to either go to Goodwill, Reconsidered Goods, or the lake house. As I finish a book, it goes in the box to take to the used book store, the book bus, or I walk it around the block to the Little Free Library. (The problem with that is that I usually find something to replace it!) Little by little, room by room, I’m getting this place cleaner.

Pablocito is sneezing a lot so we are going to tackle the dust in the laundry room where he spends much of his time on a cushion on top of a cabinet, watching the birds and squirrels and napping. It is one of those rooms that you suddenly realize that there is a coating of thick dust on every door and window sill and lintel, and there are a lot of windows in that room. Surely he is not allergic to cat hair but it makes sense that the dryer lint could be the culprit.

art, collage, Coronavirus Chronicles, tapestry, weaving

Afternoon in the studio

^Detail, “Cathedral”

I have managed to get started in the studio again – there’s nothing that I am over excited about happening BUT I have actually started weaving on Cathedral again and glued some stuff down for collage and doodled a pretty good page during a long Zoom meeting.

As far as Cathedral goes, I finally worked out why I couldn’t weave it for so long. The tension is terrible…so uneven and I tried warping and rewarping this sucker for a solid month before I finally said fuck it and started weaving it anyway. So, after all this time and work I became terrified because it is definitely going to have puckers and and crazy tension problems when it comes off the loom, and I just couldn’t bear to think about it. I was already suffering from severe depression and that just added to the pain.

But all that work and time is wasted if I DON’T finish weaving it, and once I get it off the loom I can warp it with a much shorter warp (at the time I was warping for multiple tapestries – big mistake) and begin another weaving. Now the plan is to be less persnickety about the details and get it to a place that is even on the top and finish it as a smaller tapestry.

^Lighting makes a big difference in how we perceive color. I chose the cool lighting on the left.

Today we are getting some remnants of Hurricane Laura moving through but it’s not bad at all. Sandy and I have decided to go to Haw River State Park tomorrow for our adventure since the weather report is a bit better and I don’t want to stop the studio energy.

I do need to remember to take frequent breaks for my back and neck and shoulders. Yesterday my massage therapy studio emailed to say that they will be re-opening soon for existing customers and I hope that my therapist will continue to work there. I have been seeing her for about four years almost every month until after January. I canceled my February appointment due to bad allergies and at the time we didn’t know that they would be shut down so long.

The good thing about working from home most of the time is that my physical problems are much much better, which leads me to believe that I don’t get up and move enough when I am in my office. Here I can take my laptop to the porch, or to the sofa, or to the bedroom, or answer email on my phone. I get up and play with the cats, take breaks lying down if my back or neck hurts. Teleworking has been good for me.

Not doing too well mentally, though. I brood a lot in my bedroom, play games to numb my brain. Read a little. I can’t watch TV or videos for long – I wish I knew why. It would help to have that distraction and to be able to focus on online workshops.

Okay, break over. Back to Cathedral. I am accepting that it won’t be getting into any shows for technical skill, but it is worth finishing, puckers and all. Who knows, maybe I will be surprised.

Coronavirus Chronicles, tapestry

Zoom Thursday

Like everybody else confined to home, I am having a tough time remembering what day of the week it is. I know today is Thursday because I have a Zoom invite to a meeting with my co-workers.

Work emails that I have been accidentally copied on show me how dysfunctional certain other departments are. Our department rocks.

Anyway, while I wait for the Zoom meeting to begin, here’s what I’ve been doing: a whole lot of nothin’. I did send a photo of my caterpillar tapestry to ATA for the (now) online small-format tapestry exhibition Renditions, at the last minute because I can’t remember much of anything these days unless I have it on a to-do list. I have some collages calling my name, but I haven’t managed to get up the motivation.

Budget cuts at work are gonna be brutal. Having to wait for other departments to make decisions until I can do what I need to do is excruciating to me. I’m not a procrastinator when it comes to work – I like to do my part and get it over with.

A lot of departments also like for me to do their part.

Sleep has eluded me for the past two nights. Neck pain has increased since I haven’t had massage therapy since February and the ergonomics of my home office space suck. Right now I am sitting against pillows in bed on my laptop. I have a fabric pack with rice that I microwave that works well for a heat pack, and I have a lot of acetaminophen and ibuprofen on hand. I’m trying to lay off the xanax as much as possible.

I am not feeling panic. I felt panic after Trump was elected. Then we began mentally preparing for chaos. I just didn’t anticipate it taking this form. If one of us gets sick in the next few weeks, I might feel panic. So we are staying home.

We have decided to stop going out for take-out food and supplies, even for curbside pick-up. I ordered a few more things from our local Costco delivery as opposed to Costco online. We’ll see how that goes. I ordered more of the cat food that only Petsmart carries that the boys like, although they have started, very grudgingly, eating the prescription cat food from Chewy that I ordered several months ago. I put a little of it on one side of the bowl and if they are still hungry after eating the food that they like, they now eat it instead of leaving it in the bowl. Pablocito begs for dry food as a treat! I have to give it to him when Diego is asleep.

Later today I will place an order to Deep Roots Market for fresh food. They started a bike delivery service and they made the news!

I realize that the people who pull the items and make the deliveries still put us at risk by them touching them, but we’re doing what we can.

I will have to take Diego to the vet for a follow-up on his stitches next Tuesday though. I hope that they are following social distancing better than they were the day of his surgery.

Okay, enough noodling around on the blog. Time to get back to work.

tapestry

Super Tuesday and a caterpillar

I started hemming the caterpillar tapestry on Sunday and noticed that it wasn’t laying flat and was ready to steam and block it when it occurred to me that it didn’t need to be and should not be flat and rectangular! I am so used to working in 2-D and in rectangular shapes that I had not considered otherwise. It does need to hang for this show (the non-juried small tapestry show at Convergence this summer) in a particular way, so I am stuffing it lightly in the middle and leaving it flat on each end. When I get it back I may take off the backing and stuff it more.

Spring break means that it is very quiet at work, giving my nerves a big break in spite of our offices still being open. I got outside for a little while yesterday and did a bit of yard clean-up. We still need to get some outside help with all the wood in the yard. I had hired our next-door neighbor to help and he volunteered to split wood. Said he loved doing it, then he smashed his finger and broke it. Somehow I need to deal with all this wood. Now I wish that I had let the tree guy take it all away. I was doing him a favor and instead he left it in chunks too big for us to handle…he turned out to be a real jerk. Corey split enough for us to use all winter and it burns very well in our wood stove. I am going to text the guy who dug my garden bed and hugelkultur bed and see if he wants it.

I panicked a bit this weekend when I heard that my friend’s husband is in critical condition with coronavirus. Her mother had pneumonia and was at a nursing home facility recovering, then her husband had pneumonia a few days later. Then he was tested and the whole thing was hitting the news and on Monday the Washington Post reported that one of the two people in critical condition had died. When it affects someone you know and love, shit suddenly gets real. I’ve tried not to pester her with texts but we are still playing Words with Friends and I’ve checked her daughter’s Facebook page and so he must not be any worse.

I realize that it is not nearly as important in the larger scheme of the world, but I can’t help but worry about how the pandemic will affect my Ireland trip, which is less than four months away. I bought travel insurance for the flight but not the art retreat, which was very expensive and I had to pay it in cash from my savings. So I don’t even have it on my credit card. It’s paid for, but what happens if I can’t get there and she doesn’t cancel it? I had it in my head that I had covered it with the travel insurance for the flight, but I didn’t. I’m waiting for my insurance agent to call me back with information. Oh, me.

We went to Oden Brewing last night and played rummy and then bingo. We have become such an old couple! It’s been nice to have it so close by. They are going to host an Irish music jam twice a month. Now if they would just brew another malty stout or porter that isn’t high alcohol, it would be perfect.

If you haven’t voted yet, please do so! Every vote does count, no matter what you’ve heard. Even if your candidate has dropped out, the numbers say something about how you would like for our government to work. And be nice to people who aren’t voting the way you are. Everybody is sick of the sniping.