art, fiber art, tapestry, weaving

Weaving update

Finally cut two tapestries off their looms.

First up, the “O” postcard tapestry for the Tapestry Weavers South collaborative project for the “Follow The Thread” exhibition, scheduled in January 2023 at the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville, NC.

20221105_170230

Secondly, I finally, reluctantly, cut a dog off the loom so that I could set “Mr. Blue Sky” free. I feel better now that I’ve done it.

20221106_114941

Here’s the dog. I’m going to recycle the yarn if I can stand unweaving it for very long. I think this would have been a good weaving, but it was clear that I wasn’t going to finish it.

20221106_115602

Now, I have to trim the backs, hem them, and design the “H” tapestry.

art, art retreats, dyeing, fiber art, tapestry, Tapestry Weavers South, weaving

Tapestry Weavers South Retreat 2022

Playing a bit of catch-up here. I was in Elkin, NC at the Yadkin Valley Fiber Center for the 2022 Tapestry Weavers South retreat a couple of weekends ago. I drove up there on Saturday morning, stayed in a hotel, and left on Sunday afternoon after a very relaxing, fun time.

20221015_192259

^Beverly Walker’s work in progress

We welcomed a new member, Beverly Walker, whose tapestry includes mixed media. (She’s a teacher, also.) Betty and Terri shared some of what they learned in Fiona Hutchinson’s pulled warp workshop at Convergence. We all had little looms or projects to work on or show and tell.

20221016_102400

^Betty Hilton-Nash’s work.

On Saturday, lunch was from the Barking Coyote Kitchen, and I HIGHLY recommend their sandwiches. That night several of us went to Southern on Main even though we knew we were going there for brunch the next morning, because there are never too many times that you can go to Southern on Main. It is that good.

That afternoon, Leslie brought out the indigo buckets and we had a great time dyeing yarn, fabric, paper, and bamboo socks that Betty brought to share with us. I mostly overdyed some cotton yarns which I have way too much of but don’t particularly care for the colors. I also dipped some papers and found out which ones won’t stand up to dip dyeing (hint, it was the recycled ones that I had pulped in a blender).

20221015_14403020221015_14404420221015_144218

On Sunday morning we socialized, worked on our projects, then had a great brunch on the patio of Southern on Main. That afternoon we had our annual business meeting, but there was really very little business, mostly enjoying each other’s company.

Here’s my O postcard for the collaborative postcard tapestry project we are doing for our upcoming exhibition at the Folk Arts Center in January. I’ve almost finished it now and I’ve been given the letter H to weave.

20221015_210205

book arts, coffee pot posts, critters, Reading, tapestry, weaving

Saturday morning coffee pot post

20220903_123252

Here’s Diego looking all sexy for you.

I missed writing my weekly blog post last weekend, but we did get a lot of things done. Our focus was on cleaning the front porch and everything on it. I never knew that window screens could get so dirty. It is mostly done, and the cobwebs are already back. Pablocito likes to eat the cobwebs for some reason. This weekend began with a heavy rain and the forecast shows rain for the next three days. It’s unfortunate because our city’s big outdoor event, the North Carolina Folk Festival, is happening. George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic is supposed to play tonight. Sandy still wants to go downtown to see the arts and crafts, but I don’t feel enthusiastic about wandering around in the rain. Sandy and I have to sit down a lot and I don’t think he minds having a wet butt, but I do. So he has asked me to drop him off downtown.

This means that I have to decide if it is worth it to go to the studio at the Cultural Arts Center. I could take an Uber and not have to deal with the parking, although I wonder how many people will still come now that it is raining so hard. Last Sunday I continued with my idea for redoing the cover on the book I made in Dan Essig’s class in June. This is a bit tricky, because these tiny washers are made from mica, and mica and glue don’t usually work together well. Mica is made from hundreds of tiny layers and glue will pull off the layer next to it. So what I tried to do is encase them in acrylic gel medium. I’ll see how well they will stick when I get back to the studio. I also prepared several more illustrations to go into the pages.

20220904_163327

I guess I’m back into dots and circles these days.

The event that disrupted most of my plans for Labor Day was this little fellow. As I sat down to eat dinner on Sunday night I heard a loud cry and fluttering from behind our fireplace insert, which I thought was a bird. When Sandy detached the woodstove pipe and cover to the fireplace, he found two dead squirrels, a nest, and this guy, apparently unhurt.

20220904_202301

We ran around all panicky trying to figure out what to do, and of course ended up doing some things that we shouldn’t have done, but I posted on Facebook and tagged a couple of people who have done wildlife rehab or knew people who did, and was reminded that my friend Leslie who owns the Yadkin Valley Fiber Arts Center in Elkin, a little over an hour away, had successfully rehabbed a baby squirrel and released it to the wild this spring. She still had supplies such as two cages and the formula needed and volunteered to take him. Susan rode with me to Elkin in the pouring rain and we made the transfer. He was a little dehydrated but a day later he was drinking formula and seemed to be doing fine. She named him Archie after Archie Brennan!

I may be seeing him again about a month from now when Tapestry Weavers South has its retreat in Elkin.

Fortunately, the guy we use for chimney cleaning had a cancellation on Tuesday, and he cleaned out the dead squirrels and the nest material and inspected the chimney with a camera. Unfortunately, he says that the old terra cotta flue lining is cracked where there has been a past chimney fire and says that it is unsafe to use. He recommends a stainless steel lining which would cost $4000. I don’t think that we need the wood stove for that much money so I might get a kerosene heater for emergencies. For that kind of money I’d rather get a few more solar panels and one of those electric heaters that looks like a fireplace. He will come back in October to critter proof our chimney caps.

Speaking of that – why the hell does anybody manufacture a chimney cap that critters can get into? I spent a lot of money repairing and rechinking the mortar on these three chimneys and putting metal caps on them in 2011. Grrr.

Earlier on Labor Day, Susan and Jerry and Sandy and I went to Oscar Oglethorpe, where I picked out new glasses and got my old frames repaired. Then we went to Natty Greene’s for lunch. I’m looking forward to my new eyeglasses – they are bright blue.

Today I’ll work on getting this “O” postcard sized tapestry underway. I ordered this artist’s backpack from Amazon after seeing a tapestry weaver recommend it on Facebook. It is the perfect size for my frame looms and some yarn, and I use the front pockets to carry my lunch and drinks to work and back. My co-workers say that I look like I’m going backpacking with my hiking shoes on, but I don’t care. It is convenient to store the loom and yarns in the backpack, and I don’t get cat hair in it.

20220910_10485120220910_105031

 

Reading: I finished “The Known World” by Edward P. Jones. It is one of those books that makes it difficult to decide what to read next because it was so good. I’ve finally settled on “Telegraph Avenue” by Michael Chabon.

art, coffee pot posts, critters, dyeing, Nature printing, tapestry, weaving

Sunday Rainy Morning Coffee Pot Post

While Portugal and other places in the world burns, we have a sweet reprieve from the oppressive heat since a cold front with rain came through last night. Diego and I are sitting on the front porch. The rain is pattering and gurgling, wind is wafting, a cardinal is chirping, and a train horn is blowing. Now a mockingbird sings. We have many mockingbirds in the area.

20220710_113811

This weekend so far I have not left the house except to pick a couple of hot peppers for our chili last night. An ancho and a poblano. They didn’t seem so hot after I did a test nibble, but after I minced and seeded them, soap and water did not clean my hands and I wiped my itchy face with my hand. I remembered a tip from my sister and dabbed some sour cream on the stinging areas. (Cream cheese works too.) It worked and the chili turned out perfect.

I’ve been concentrating on finishing “Cathedral.” I know that I have been saying that for years. But I actually have the top edge of the left side finished and it’s a matter of weaving up the right side and middle to match it, then weaving a hem. When it is cut off, I’ll ask Sandy to make a video. Standing at this loom is not good for my body and I will probably sell the Shannock loom when I finish Cathedral. I have many looms to choose from, mostly small tapestry looms. I have reworked the section on the right of the top photo several times. It is time to let it go now. I’m content with it.

20220710_113355

20220710_113340

Last weekend I needed to do something that was easy on the brain and would give me a dopamine hit, so Susanne and I did a couple of natural dye pots and rolled up paper with various leaves on copper pipes to make prints. This time we dipped the paper in an alum/water solution first. I experimented with three different papers and I had no expectations. We didn’t have much in this particular dyepot other than some rusty iron bits and a few old pecans with hulls that I found. It was also still dirty from the same time I used it. Susanne also did a dyepot with avocado pits but I haven’t seen her results from that one.

The first papers were Susanne’s handmade “dream” paper, speckled with herbs. It didn’t hold the leaf prints as well but I think that the yarrow leaves that I put in one of the bundles dyed everything a brilliant yellow. The texture is very nice.20220709_114441

The second paper bundle was a thin commercial paper that may have been too delicate for the dyepot, but I was experimenting. I did get prints and one section near the top of the bundle that was torn is so pretty that I’ll do something with it. This paper will be good for collage.

20220709_114500

20220709_114751

The last set of papers just floored me. I was so pleased and surprised when they came off the pipe bundle. These were heavy cream colored watercolor papers that I had torn down to make book signatures with. They turned out so beautiful and vibrant that they will have to go on covers, I think.

20220709_11472620220709_114703

Leaves used were sweet gum (called liquidambar in the rest of the world, I think), black walnut, pecan, redbud, oak, willow oak, swamp bay, and the black/purple areas were from dried petals of black hollyhock flowers. I grew one several years ago and it didn’t do well, but I dried and saved the petals. There are a few strawberry and rose leaves in there too.

People always ask about the lines. Those are the string marks from tying the paper bundle tightly. It is on the outside of the bundle so that part picks up the dye in the dyepot – in this case, the iron bits and probably residue from the last time I dyed with black walnuts.

coffee pot posts, tapestry, weaving

Sunday morning coffee pot post

Yesterday I spent weaving and cooking and I finished The Overstory by Richard Powers. I struggled through it, not because of its quality, but because I found it so depressing. The writing about the trees was magical and the character development was great. So I’m going to read Louise Penny mysteries next to give myself a change.

I filled in the place that I unwove last weekend and I’m much happier with it.  I may even weave it up to the size I planned originally.

20220130_100549

It snowed again Friday night. This time it did not stick around on the street outside our house, even though I don’t think that it got over freezing temps all day. This week is supposed to be warmer, but it might be too late for my big pot of aloe plants, which I’ve been trying to get through the winter outside on the front porch by putting it in a cardboard box and draping a curtain over it at night and on cold days. I brought it in last winter and thought that I had it where the cats wouldn’t mess with it. It’s toxic to cats and then of course I found a piece of aloe in some vomit, so it stays out this winter. I’m thinking of this as I listen to the sound of cat puking in the other room. So far the four other plants I brought it are fine, although I’ve caught Pablocito chewing on the lemon tree leaves.

I was looking at what I think are the fox tracks in the snow in the back yard, and my favorite neighborhood cat, Miss Penny, trotted right by me. She ignored my pleas to stop and visit, of course. Miss Penny doesn’t have much use for anyone but Miss Penny, but a few years ago she deigned to allow me to give her some scratches. I was surprised to see her running around in the snow, because she does have a home and a front porch to hang out on so she has a choice to be inside or out. Miss Penny is getting very old and I will be sad when she is no longer around for me to worship.

I’m so spoiled for North Carolina mild temperatures that I don’t think that I could move south or north! But if I have to choose, I would always go for the colder temperatures. I can’t stand heat – there are only so many clothes you can take off in public. Of course, the way things are nowadays you only have to wait a few days for an big weather change.

There’s not much else that I want to write about so I’ll go weave now. I’m feeling the mojo again and I need to take advantage of it.

 

tapestry, weaving

Unweaving

20220123_104658[1]After a good day of weaving and also lazing around yesterday, I woke up this morning with the realization that I needed to unweave a section of the tapestry. Fortunately, this section had fairly clean edges and didn’t intersect much with the areas on either side, or honestly, I would have let it go. I let another complicated section go that I grew unhappy with. I’m not telling which one.

The funny thing is that the entire time I was weaving it, I was patting myself on the back for making such subtle color changes so that the section, although simple, wasn’t entirely flat, but it still melted into the background and gave the eye a place to rest. And when I started weaving this section, I thought it would be much smaller because at that time I had decided to stop weaving at that pen line on the cartoon behind the weaving. I think the section would have been fine if I had stopped weaving at that point.

As the section of green grew larger I started thinking about that sharp line at the bottom of it and how it represented the edge of a branch in the background and how I really needed to indicate, even if it meant lazy lines or a very light color shift, the top edge of that branch. Once I got that in my head, I knew that I wouldn’t be happy with the finished tapestry unless I changed it.

I don’t think that anybody likes to undo work, but if it is something in a piece that you have dedicated many, many hours to, and you can do it without taking a huge area apart, I think that it is worth the time. This is a lesson that I learn over years of practice. Maybe no one else notices or can tell the difference, but if it bothers you, you’ll never unsee it.

The best way for me to do it is to unweave it first thing in the morning, then walk away for a few hours. Come back and see it with fresh eyes and understand that it is something new instead of a mistake undone. Right now I feel pretty eager to get back to it, but normally I would not feel that way.

Because my mind tends to see metaphors, I am considering the way that I am about to unweave my life here in the United States or at least in North Carolina. There are times that I think of this with great relief, and then I think of the enormous energy and patience it will take to do it, and I’m filled with anxiety. My hope is that my husband and I will agree on most of which will need to be done. Those who know us are probably laughing at that statement. I’ll probably want to get rid of everything except the art supplies and art and start over. My husband probably will want to ship all our hoard overseas. And honestly, some compromise of that will probably happen eventually, but not without a lot of arguing. It would be the easier option, and probably cost about the same as buying a lot of new furnishings.

The thought of starting over from scratch is so intriguing to me, though. I have watched a couple of friends do it. A near-total fresh start. That is so appealing to me. The thought of becoming an immigrant is daunting but the idea that it could lead to European citizenship is exhilarating. Not having to worry about being able to afford health care as we age. Travel to new places, new cultures. I have been in love with Europe ever since we went to Italy in 2006, but I never anticipated that I might actually be able to live there until recently.

It won’t be as easy for us as it might have been when we were younger, but we would not have been able to do it then. I just hope and pray that by the time I can retire Portugal does not raise the income requirement or change the immigration rules too much. I’m willing to look at other countries but Portugal has the climate, beauty, public transport, and large English-speaking communities that we would need to be happy.

Honestly, even though this is a very, very complicated section of my life, I think that I want to unweave it anyway. If I let it go, I think that I will always regret it.

coffee pot posts, depression/anxiety, fiber art, tapestry, weaving

Sunday coffee pot post

20220101_135001

Usually I write a post on New Year’s Day of what I hope will happen in the coming year, but I just couldn’t do it yesterday. If I have to choose a motto for 2022, it will be “I guess we’ll see.”

I spend a good bit of time between New Year’s Eve and New Year’s morning reading over past yearly wrap-ups, and although mentions of my chronic depression continued to pop up, they were much more positive in the earlier years of this blog. Even the years when I know that I was in a terrible, terrible mental state, my yearly wrap-ups didn’t mention or barely mentioned the events that drove me into the hole. I’m trying to decide if this is a good or bad thing. Or a gray thing. This is my journal, and I want to write honestly, even when it is public. I don’t have to, and I don’t, tell everything. All the writers that I admire let their vulnerability show. I suppose that I will continue to wing it, but I regret both the negativity I feel and the false positivity that I sometimes project.

Yesterday, I did move forward. I took a walk and looked for different oak leaves. Then I wove a lot on my tapestry throughout the day. Sandy and I did an exercise video and we ate vegetarian. Canned field peas and collards, with a big salad.

I succumbed to a Facebook ad and subscribed to Body Groove. I like the attitude of the instructor and the different videos. Dancing is one thing I can do standing or sitting.

Look at these oak Siamese twins, then some of the other leaves follow. I found at least a dozen different ones so far.

The reason that I decided to weave farther on Cathedral is because I wanted to include more of the blue skies peeking through the shadows on the north side of the tree. This was a particularly tough section to weave, but maybe the most gratifying. All those verticals! I used a lot of weft blending and crosshatching.

20220101_135017

I’m trying not to dwell on the fact that I have to return to the office tomorrow even though we are at a height of the pandemic. I am fortunate that I can isolate with my door closed, but it infuriates me that our administration will not let those who are high risk or have high risk family members work from home, especially since we proved that we could do it efficiently last year. I heard that an office worker with an excellent reputation in another department was terminated when she tried and failed to get permission to work from home because of health reasons. Yet our “leadership” is so proud of “getting back to normal.”

Anyway, I guess we’ll see if it all turns out okay.

So, for the coming year, here are my hopes and plans. In May, Sandy and I will adventure for 17 days in Portugal. He and I will be more physically fit by that time, with less pain, more stamina, and less fat to carry around. My brother-in-law will continue to improve. In early June, there is the Tapestry Weavers South retreat in Elkin. In mid-July, I have to choose between Convergence in Knoxville, Tennessee, a drive-able distance away, or across the country to Focus on Book Arts in Forest Grove, Oregon. Susanne and I plan to go to Focus on Book Arts. It’s a shame because Convergence doesn’t often happen within driving distance of Greensboro, and my tapestry guild will be involved, but that is how it shakes out. It would be nice to find a place to go in September – maybe check off another national park on our bucket list?

Other than that, lake trips, the usual purging, and a resolve to go to the print studio at least once a week, even though it might not be for printmaking or collage or painting. I’m going to have a tapestry to finish trimming, hemming, blocking, and mounting.

coffee pot posts, critters, Reading, tapestry

Sunday coffee pot post

20211211_152408-800

Yesterday I mostly did laundry and cleaned and read, while Pablocito hung out on the damp warm porch until the storm system blew through that had spawned the terrible tornadoes in the Midwest the night before. I wonder if they have tornadoes in Portugal? Now it is winter weather again, in the 40s.

Diego is breathing much better and sneezing from time to time, which is a good thing because I don’t know how else to get that congestion out of him. I can’t teach him to blow his nose. They both love the new dry food, which I’ve mixed in with the old dry food for now. I hope that I haven’t jinxed this by saying so.

I spent a couple of hours, off and on, weaving the Cathedral tapestry. I turned the photo above so that you can see part of that top section as it will appear when hung. When I step back from it now I can see the form of the tree in the shadows more clearly so I think that this part of the design will still be effective even though I’m stopping about a foot shorter than planned.

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy was a stunning, difficult, and wondrously worded read. I have a weakness for authors who create their own languages. This plot caused a lot of anxiety for me as it unraveled, because it is full of trauma and you know from the beginning that it is a tragedy. Yet the children are delightful and the stories behind the characters are rich and complex, so I am glad that I stuck with it. It amazes me that this is the author’s first novel.

Near the end, she quotes the lyrics from “Ruby Tuesday,” and I went to bed with this ringing like a chime in my brain. No wonder it was hard to fall asleep.

“There’s no time to lose, ” I heard her say
Catch your dreams before they slip away
Dying all the time
Lose your dreams and you will lose your mind
Ain’t life unkind?
 
Next up on the stack is The Overstory by Richard Powers, which I bought from Cricket on the Boomerang Bookshop bus.  I’m really looking forward to this one.
 
It is good that I’m getting my focus and concentration back enough to read for more than a few minutes at a time. Maybe soon I’ll be able to watch a movie all the way through. Strange what an ongoing global crisis can do to your mind.
 
Portugal is calling. I hope we will be able to go. The photos coming from Lisbon of all the Christmas festivities make even an old Scrooge like me feel the spirit.
 
I have a date with the studio at 2:00ish and I am planning to keep it. Last Sunday I ended up collapsing at 3 p.m. I just couldn’t keep going. My problem now is that I have too many projects in my head and I need to choose one. I hope to spend a lot of time there during the week after Christmas.

tapestry

Thursday deferred

I wrote this post on Thursday evening, but somehow it wasn’t published so there will be a two-fer today.

My mind these days is becoming more focused on getting my WIPs done and planning for my retirement, both at home and at work.

The biggest WIP for six years has been “Cathedral,” the tapestry based on gazing up into the bald cypress tree at the lake on a sunny day. I made some progress on it last week, enough that I feel like I might actually get it finished and off the loom soon. By finished, I mean that I have decided to finish it smaller than I originally planned. The tension all over this loom is horrible and I don’t know how long than I can keep weaving. However, I think that the design will be fine if I don’t go on for another 12 inches. Here’s a turned photo so you can see it as it will hang. I’ve been weaving it sideways.

So now it will be longer than it is wide.  That’s okay, if I can block the tension issues once I get it off the loom. I’ll try to weave another two inches and a hem of about an inch.

20211114_110202[1]

Then I will have to decide whether to tie the remaining warp to the bottom and weave another tapestry, this time with much bigger yarns and a simpler design, and sell this Shannock loom, or just go ahead and sell it. Either way, I want to sell it. I need more space in my studio, and my body prefers weaving on small looms.

20211112_122630[1]

I love the details of this tapestry. The ePic yarns are a dream for combining colors for a painterly approach to tapestry. Eventually I will wind off a lot of these yarns and sell them through my Etsy store and this blog, because I have so much of it that I will never use half of it. I just have to figure that part out, but when the time comes, I’ll set up a payment process and announce it all over the place.

When I do the yarn purge, I will also go through my huge stash of old dictionaries and books and maps and make collage packets for sale.

Gotta get rid of this stuff before we move to Portugal! That’s still in the aspirational stage, but with this much stuff it’s better to start early so that the only problem we’ll have to deal with at the end is Sandy’s hoard. He is hard to move toward that goal.

At work it means that I’ve put a lot of paper in the shredder box, and I’m also deleting files that are no longer useful or out-dated. Considering that I’m heading for my 18th year in this job, I figured I’d better start now. By the time I retire, I will have worked for the state of North Carolina twenty years.

We finally have a state budget after three years of unreasonable GOP demands and Democrat governor vetoes. This means that I will get a small raise over the next two years and a bonus this year. The bonus will probably go toward repair on the 2008 Honda, since it has some deferred maintenance problems. We are lucky that we can get by with only one car these days, since I walk to work. But there may come a time, especially with my foot issue, that I may need to drive to work. Or travel on my own and so Sandy will need a car. He might have to get used to the idea of using Lyft or Uber or a taxi. That makes sense to me, financially. I’d be willing to do that for trips around town rather than put money into another car, especially if we decide to move to Portugal.

My feelings about the budget are very mixed. It has a lot of really bad stuff in it, including more dilution of the governor’s power. But the state of public education on all levels in NC is really awful. Employees needs raises, schools need repairs, broadband needs to be improved and accessible. So I guess I’m somewhat happy about it.