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, 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.

coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, Reading, weaving

Saturday morning coffee pot post

Scenes from my front garden:

This Virginia Creeper vine grabbed one of my rocks from my collection atop this low wall a couple of years ago and it is still hanging onto it. Those are some strong tendrils!

I washed and ironed fabric to make masks with earlier this week, and hauled out Mama’s Singer, but before I could get to it my left wrist suddenly hurt so bad it felt like it was broken. After babying it for a day it got much better, then my right hand started hurting, although not nearly as bad. So I walked to my office, and worked there for several hours, and brought home my ergonomic keyboard. Much better. Yesterday I went back to my office for half a day. I get so much more done there, and hardly anyone is in the building. It is locked and you have to be on a list and swipe an ID card to get in. I will go back Monday morning, and haul that keyboard back and forth in my backpack.

This week and next is my crunch time at work, and it has always been so, but some deadlines actually got moved UP so it is even more stressful as I try to keep up with new processes, policies, and software.

I was in a Zoom meeting yesterday where the person talking referred to “hair on fire” moments. What a great description of how I am feeling sometimes!

The walk to work is always nice. This is the iris patch that I got my iris tubers from. They tilled it up a few years ago and some pieces were on the sidewalk, so I nabbed them. I like that the vetch and cleavers are surrounding it.

The herb garden is doing well. Those pots will eventually have peppers in them. My seedlings are still not growing so I will transfer them to the greenhouse at some point this weekend and start some more seeds.

Let’s see, what else. Reading “Bridge of Sighs” by Richard Russo, one of my favorite writers. On my library app is “Swamplandia,” which I feel meh about so far, and “The Essex Serpent.”

On TV, the most recent season of “Better Call Saul” was excellent. I am watching “Star Trek Picard” until my CBS All Access subscription is over. Turns out I was paying for it twice, and it has been so confusing that I just cut off the auto-renewal for both of the accounts. We should buy an antenna.

Really, there is SO much good TV on that I am overwhelmed with the choices and go back to my books, where I have always found comfort.

Every April I have anxiety attacks and I used to beg my mother not to schedule our big family reunion at the end of April but she did it anyway. Usually I go to the lake for Easter weekend and get some water therapy there. Only residents are allowed there right now, and I can’t blame them. I miss my sister. Most days I am functioning fine, but some nights I cry and don’t sleep. Once I get through this month, I know I will feel better, even without my normal travel to look forward to.

Sandy went to the doctor’s office for a diabetes check and he said that there was nobody there except a few staff members and his physician’s assistant. We have been walking more.

Before the hand issues, I had started playing with wedge weave on the rigid heddle loom. I think that I will only do two rows, though. Not super into it.

Coronavirus Chronicles, depression/anxiety, weaving

Yesterday

Earlier in the day I started over on the Macomber loom with the warps that I had not cut the cross on. I have enough to do another set of curtains, and I spent SO MUCH time winding that warp that I can't stand to see it go to waste. Besides, I am not in any hurry and I could use another straightforward pattern weaving project. I promise myself that I will never ever wind a warp this long again.

I had originally started tying this warp to the old warp so I wouldn't have to rethread, but the knots were not being cooperative as they were pulled through the reed and the heddles. I decided that it would be less of a pain to just rethread the whole thing.

And it will be something that I will have to concentrate on without thinking about other stuff.

Ready to finish up that collage video workshop now.

Allergies seem better today.

Later I spent several hours in my bedroom, door closed, dealing with the emotions that bubbled up as I missed my mother, then I started grieving for the situation as it stands now. My husband is driving me a little crazy at this point. He means well but I am used to having more solitude and not having my reading or writing or art making interrupted so often. Thus I finally closed my bedroom door after snapping at him. He has never understood how to deal with my depression, or with my grief. After my mother died was THE WORST. He was just awful. I finally ended up going to the lake house by myself for several days. I was so angry! I suppose that is what is starting up now. I will have to get out into the garden and pull some weeds. That is always good therapy for me.

I was meant to be a hermit, I think. The other day I told someone that if this had happened when I was a teenager living with my parents, I would have been out in the woods all the time. Probably riding the roads on my bike or in my old car too – we didn't have much to do where I came from. I had my secret places where I would take my journal, my sketchbook, and a pack of cigarettes. Multiple hideouts that I built out of logs and mud or scrap lumber that I found. One of the best was in an old schoolhouse back in the woods. Someone used it store hay in at one time and it was probably full of mice and rats but I never saw any. It burned down when I was an adult and I remembered all the teenagers who used to smoke in there around that old hay and I was sad but not surprised. Another was at Page's Mill Pond in Lake View, South Carolina. I would slip under the barrier that said no trespassing, DANGER, and sit on top of the dam out of sight of everyone. I was so invincible.

Back Forty, Coronavirus Chronicles, critters, Upcycling, weaving

Mindless weaving

This morning I got up at the usual time to feed the cats. They are insufferable now that they are getting canned food. Odd, because they would not touch it for a very long time. I guess it is a texture thing, because Pablocito turns his nose up at the formerly loved dry food that I have ground up with a blender in case Diego decides that is what he wants.

Then I went back to bed, slept hard, and when I awoke I was shocked to see that it was afternoon. I guess I needed it.

I don’t watch a lot of TV or movies or videos – I don’t know why. It just doesn’t appeal to me after an hour at most. Reading books is much more my thing. It’s been that way since I was a child. I don’t remember ever not being able to read – according to my family I shocked them as a toddler when I picked up a newspaper and started reading out loud to them. When the library bookmobile came to my little community every two weeks, the librarians had a hard time stocking enough books for me that I had not read. I would finish my stack within a week. So I read the World Book encyclopedia and the classics we had at home over and over again. I especially loved Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. My mother easily got me to whitewash our fence by referencing Tom Sawyer.

You’d think that I’d be smarter, but I guess I burned out a lot of those brain cells from age 15 to 40, when I was self-medicating for anxiety and depression.

Anyway, I need something to do with my hands while watching TV and I haven’t been feeling the love for what I normally do, which was stitch or crochet. Last night I suddenly realized what I could do with all these cotton warps that are going to go to waste when I cut my abandoned project off the loom. I set my “new” rigid heddle loom on a table in front of the TV that I had warped for a Saori style workshop and started weaving washcloths and dishcloths.

I got through two episodes of “Better Call Saul!” My favorite show.

Sandy keeps recommending shows to me, but he really loves horror and war movies. I can’t go there, too prone to nightmares. I guess I will finish “Star Trek: Picard,” then subscribe to HBO again so I can watch Westworld’s new season.

We are enjoying front porch sitting and listening to the family next door with their five year old son. He is so smart and so cute. They play charades on their porch every evening.

Tromboncino squash seeds started coming up today.

Squirrels were digging in my planters on the wall next to the steps so I stuck plastic forks and jagged pieces of plastic that I cut from a sour cream container. I don’t mind sharing some with the critters, but there aren’t any nuts buried there, gang.

Diego is doing okay. He follows me from room to room. Anyone who thinks all cats are aloof never met my spoiled kitties. I had laid off the pain injections but I might give him one when he is asleep.

art, Back Forty, coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, weaving

Sunday morning coffee pot post

I am spending a few minutes at a time tying on a new warp. Maybe I will get these curtains finished before the end of the year!

Looking back to yesterday. I did garden clean up, threw down some fertilizer, and put in a small area to plant peas with metal hoops and the screen fabric I saved from when we took down the gazebo roof and screening. Inside I planted Zephyr squash, tromboncino squash, and some kind of cucumber seed that I got at a seed swap and no longer know what it is. One luffa gourd seed. Gosh, maybe I should be crazy and plant two, ya think? They might come in handier than I expect one day.

One thing about being a papermaker is that I can always make my own damn toilet paper, thank you very much.

Since I will be doing a lot of collage, I inventoried and found that the only thing I am short on is PVA glue so I ordered that from Amazon. As long as I was doing that I ordered some Equal Exchange hot cocoa mix and coffee beans.

My main goal today is to get some more yard/garden work done, and prepare for some online classes. I need some easy projects to pick up between phone calls and emails and breaks from work that don’t require a lot of brain power too, so I’ll put together some stitching projects.

I have a Coronavirus Chronicles art journal going, from a book I made in a class with Traci Bunkers eleven years ago. I have a bunch of postcard sized junk mail and I’m going to sand and gesso them for a junk mail journal and collage.

I got out the Nature Journal I did in Roxanne Stout’s Mixed Media Nature Journaling class from Art-is-You Petaluma 2014 and found that it is mostly done as a photo and sketch album of the trip, with many photos from Cornerstone Gardens in Sonoma, California. I can do backgrounds for these pages since many of the photos are barely attached and sew in the photos. Fun!

Roxanne is offering this workshop free online (without the trip to Cornerstone Gardens, of course) on her website under workshops. Check out all her workshops. I love her style.

Other free art stuff: as always, Jude Hill’s web site is a treasure box. Please send her a donation.

Karen Abend is offering a free workshop called Sketchbook Revival that begins on Wednesday.

Many art communities are revving up on Facebook. Seth Apter and Crystal Neubauer are two that I love for collage and mixed media. Oh gosh, I cannot possibly name all the inspiring artists on the web and Facebook.

Of course there are literally thousands of online classes available for a fee. Support your artist teacher community at a time when they are reeling from their workshops being canceled. Personally, I don’t like learning through video for some reason. I don’t even like watching movies and TV that much for very long. I much prefer books. But I have taken quite a few classes online and I’ve learned a lot and had some fun. I just take a whole lot longer to finish them.

My next-door neighbors got home last night from Thailand. Whew! I was worried about them, and I still am considering that they just flew halfway across the world in airplanes. It’s good to have a child growing up on the street again.

Here is Pablocito to say that every little thing is gonna be all right.

coffee pot posts, tapestry, Tapestry Weavers South, weaving

Sunday Morning Coffee Pot Post

Wow. So much to write about. Guess I will do a bit of catch-up. I already wrote quite a bit on my personal Facebook page this morning and realized I should have been writing here.

I am on my phone on the front porch, where the weather is perfect. There are some clothes strung up on a line across one corner. Hopefully Diego won’t tear it down today like he did last night. I have started trying to reduce my dryer loads, and there isn’t a good place in the back yard to string a clothesline, but I am going to see if I can make one.

The Tapestry Weavers South retreat was wonderful, and it renewed my excitement in weaving again. The people in this group are such a pleasure to be around. I changed my mind at the last minute when a space came open in Connie Lippert’s wedge weave workshop and I am so glad that I did. Leslie Fesperman, the owner of the Yadkin Valley Fiber Center lent me a Schacht school loom and warp, since I did not come prepared. Leslie and Connie are AWESOME.

I ended up with a piece that I love, called “Mr. Blue Sky.” At first I was riffing off a blue jay feather that I have been using for inspiration in Jude Hill’s classes, and “Mr. Blue Sky” took over my head. I decided to let this earworm guide me. Now I have decided to do a series of work based on the earworms that, quite frankly, plague me terribly sometimes. Turning a problem into a plus.

After finishing “Mr. Blue Sky” at home, I have some warp leftover for a companion piece so I thought I would weave “Bad Moon on the Rise,” a frequent earworm for me. However it is the nature of earworms not to cooperate, so as I wove it changed to “Blackbird,” then “Moondance.” We’ll see. The earworms can influence, but once I get to a certain point they will have to step back.

Since the trip I was stung by a yellowjacket on the bottom of my foot and that misery lasted a week. Work has been busy. Butterbeans have been picked, shelled, blanched, and frozen.

I got to see BERNIE at the Greensboro Climate Strike event! I don’t talk a lot of politics here but I have wanted Bernie for president since before he ever decided to run the first time. This was a real thrill for me.

And then there is the Greensboro chapter of the Tiny Pricks Project. That will have to be another post, another time.

art, art retreats, bloggy stuff, fiber art, Rebel stitching, Slow cloth, Upcycling, weaving

Latest news from moi

Suddenly I feel like Miss Piggy today. Couldn’t tell you why.

A lot of things have happened since I last posted. I stopped paying to have my blog ad-free and the ads are pretty disgusting, so I may break down and upgrade to a paid account. I hate to do it, because between that and paying for my photos to be hosted on Flickr, that adds up to over $100 per year. I can’t really let the Flickr account go because I have linked most of my photos to that account. That would be an enormous amount of work to correct that. Plus, I really am attached to my domain name. I’ve had it since 2005. The thought of letting it go has become more intolerable to me.

I am going to convert this over to more of an artist website, and my postings to Facebook and Instagram should appear on the sidebar. But that will take a while. Maybe over the winter break. I’ll have made a decision about whether the cost is worth it by October.

^^^Pablocito, studio assistant, and the reason why there is aluminum foil everywhere. (He doesn’t like it.)

I took a week’s vacation at home in late July because it was slow at work and I have a lot of vacation time built up. It was marvelous. Really, I almost preferred it to traveling.

The first thing on my agenda was to warp up this “new” Beka rigid heddle loom for a sakiori workshop later that week. It was not anywhere near as simple as I thought it would be, and by the time I rewarped it and got the tension right, it took three days and some help from a friend! However, now I know some things I should and shouldn’t do with this type of loom. For one thing, I doubt that I will put three yards of warp on it again.

This patchwork from Jude Hill’s online class (see below) really scratches an itch for me. I love that it is portable. The only problem is my hands can’t take as much hand sewing as I would like to do. My sewing machines (plural) are a constant pain in my ass to keep running and maintained, but I did abuse them pretty badly when I was doing the denim and t-shirt quilt projects. It still amazes me that you can buy a new cheap machine for as much as it is to repair one.

Anyway, bitching aside, I LOVE making these little “puzzle pieces” and putting them together in different ways. It reminds me of my favorite toy growing up, which I think was sold by Tupperware. It was like Legos, but with tiny little pegged pieces in different shapes that could be pushed into a plastic grid. I constantly played with it sitting on the den floor, and I still have a box with the pieces somewhere. It drove my father nuts because he was always stepping on them.

Later that week when I felt like dealing with warping a loom again I caught up on the Rebecca Mezoff/Sarah Swett “Fringeless” online class that I began LAST SUMMER, and by the end of the week, I had this Mirrix loom warped and ready to go. The warping method produces a four selvedge tapestry that is ready when it comes off the loom, no sewing in ends or hemming edges required. To be honest, it was pretty easy once I got the hang of it.

Then on Saturday, I went to the sakiori class that was taught by Dawn Hummer of Saori Song Weaving in Chapel Hill, and sponsored by the Triangle Weavers Guild in a great space that they rent on an ongoing basis in an old school near Durham. I didn’t really learn that much, and I don’t need any encouragement to cut loose and play, but it is always good to hear how and why other artists do what they do. I got to see Saori looms and how they work, and that was really cool. It was fun and that was the whole point. I decided to make some pieces to use as book covers. Here is the first one. There is room on the warp for many more.

In other news, I’ve had to learn how to live without air conditioning for a few days. I hope it won’t be much longer. It is good for me to be reminded not to take this for granted. Work is revving back up with the fall semester classes beginning in only two weeks. The Tapestry Weavers South retreat is in nearby Elkin, NC on Labor Day weekend, so I have that to look forward to. After that, I doubt I will be able to afford any other art retreats or workshops because I am going to have to dip into my savings to pay for the Ireland trip before January, and to be responsible I will pay my savings back. It will be totally worth it to go back to Ireland, where I belong.