New England Adventures…

This is the second weaving conference I’ve attended in the last month.  Part of me really wants to retire from conferences, I wrestle with what my future holds, I’ve been attending weaving conferences since 1981.  I was 26 years old.  That’s just about a year and a half older than my daughter.  I remember my first conference, I think I was even interviewed for public television, and if I look hard enough, I might even find the video.  The Mid Atlantic Fiber Association Conference, it might have been their first one.  They had a swatch exchange that year.  I had never participated in a swatch exchange.  My weaving friend and guild mate, who actually attended MAFA this year, found this in their archives at the conference.

MAFADraft

This was done the year before I moved to Lincoln Park.  A lifetime ago…  Of course the experienced me looks at it and says to self, “It should have been sett denser, 20 epi is too loose; the little motifs would have been more rounded with a better warp weft ratio.”  I was 26.  Who knew where life would take me?

Anyway, I didn’t attend MAFA this year, because I usually don’t attend conferences unless I’m teaching.  Last month I went to Indianapolis for the Midwest conference, where I taught a number of classes/seminars, and judged the fashion show, and moderated it as well.  Two weekends ago, I headed straight from a painting class at Peters Valley to Northampton, MA, Smith College, and NEWS, that’s New England Weavers Seminar for those not in the know.  

I’ve had a lot of experience with conferences on University and college campuses.  You do a lot of walking.  And a lot of hauling.  And every university it seems, starts a massive construction project as soon as the confetti from graduation settles.  Smith was no exception, the library had construction fencing completely surrounding it, limiting access to many of the buildings. 

I arrived early to NEWS, on a Tuesday evening and checked into my hotel room, an inn about a half mile up the road.  The room was comfortable and I right away found the partiers, right across the hall, and I felt good this time, because I drove, I was able to bring a number of bottles of wine.  Usually I fly and have no access to liquor, so I have to gratefully accept what is offered.  

Wednesday morning I spent the day judging the fashion show, there were three of us.  Though the work was lovely and well done, I mourn the fact that there are less and less garments, in fact two thirds of the entries I believe were scarves and shawls.  There were a number of scarves and shawls that were sett a bit dense for the purpose, and I really wanted to take the scissors to them and turn them into some smashing garment!  Anyway, I knew the other judges and they were all great to work with, and towards late afternoon we had to come up with decisions on the special prizes.  I’m always relieved when there is an immediate consensus.  And I’m always relieved when a committee is on top of its job and organized and eager.  I don’t have a single photo to show you because, well I never got to actually see any of the exhibits at this conference.  My only free time was Thursday, and they were all still in set up mode.  

Once I managed to get my huge suitcases to my classroom Thursday morning and arrange everything as best I could, I decided to take the day and do some of the things that had a personal meaning to me.

My daughter went to school at UMass Amherst, a stone’s throw away, and on a couple of our trips to visit her, my husband and I would stop at a place called Magic Wings, up in Deerfield.  It is a Magic place, a butterfly conservatory, or arboretum, where you sit, and watch, and listen to classical music, and see beautiful butterflies flutter from plant to plant, colorful, magical and so stress-less.  When I got there, a summer camp group filled the space, and I sighed and waited patiently until the noisy jumpy kids and their stressed out leaders vacated.  And then I sat.  The staff I found to be really eager to show what they know, and many of them spent time filling me in on all the things to know about butterflies and the sensitive ecosystem they have to maintain.  I took a number of photos.  I may paint them.  I know last time I was here with my husband he took about 200 photos.  They are there somewhere in the archives.  Maybe I’ll paint them too.

MagicWings6 MagicWings5 MagicWings4 MagicWings3 MagicWings2 MagicWings1

I left Deerfield and drove back to Northampton and went here

WEBS

Of course.  I really didn’t need anything, really.  But it was fun to look at all the yarn, and the tools, and I found this towel.  

DishtowelDraft

I bought the draft.  I may weave this for my holiday towel gifts.

And I bought a few packages of Cushing dyes, I still have a box full, but no blues.  I added some blues.  I left with my credit card reasonably intact.

Smith College has the most wonderful art museum, and I took Thursday afternoon and explored.  They had an exhibit on the excavated villages of Oplontis, near Pompei, yes that Pompei, it wasn’t the only village decimated by Mount Vesuvius.  The exhibit was unbelievable.  2000 year old fragments from beautiful friezes and painted walls, superimposed on digital recreations.  Gold jewelry marked by which skeleton they were removed from.  Loom weights, from warp weighted looms.  The exhibit is there until mid-August, after which it returns to Italy.  The theme of the exhibit was the juxtaposition of the working class and the upperclass, and in the end, it didn’t matter what class you belonged to, everyone and everything was buried under volcanic ash for 2000 years.  There was pottery and glass, gold and stone.  I love discovering worlds that are so far from anything I’ve ever encountered in my lifetime.

Smith College website photo

Smith College website photo

I wandered through the museum, they have a lovely collection of paintings from pre 1800 and post 1800 and I came upon a separate room, apparently a teaching gallery, where faculty select specific pieces from Smith’s vast holdings, for study during that school year.  I found this…

CliftonPotteryAtSmith

The label says Clifton Pottery, Clifton, NJ.  I live about 15 minutes from Clifton, NJ.  I had no idea that there was such a thing as Clifton Pottery, manufacturing from 1905-1911.  There isn’t much on the internet, but from what I’ve found, this is an unusual motif.  It is usually stylized native american imagery.

I had the most lovely day, poking around favorite haunts, and being inspired, and I was ready for the festivities at the conference, starting with the keynote Thursday night, one of my favorite people, Tom Knisely.  I just took a workshop with him back in April at my guild.  I wrote about it here.  He gave the same talk to our guild, on collecting and interpreting historic textiles and what they can tell us.   It was a lovely start to the conference.

Friday night was the “shop ’till you drop” event after dinner.  The student center was loaded with vendors, including WEBS.  I chatted with so many old friends, hugged so many people, and on a couple of occasions, I actually pulled out my credit card.  I don’t need yarn, but I’m weak kneed at wood tool vendors whose tools have a velvety feel.  I came home with these.  StephenWillette.com

 Vendor2

Yes, that is the most adorable miniature lucet, the thing to the left of the tapestry needle.  Another tool for making braids.  

And I stopped by the Mayan Hands booth, the fair traded goods from weavers in Guatemala were gorgeous, colorful and I couldn’t get past the sea grass smell of the two round mats that slipped into my bag, perfect for my new round outdoor deck table.

Vendor1

The next three days, I acted as teacher, mentor and slave driver, I had 13 students and they all had to get as close to completion on their vests as they could.  Some nearly got there, many of them still had bands to apply, lots of handwork to complete.  But they all turned out beautifully.  Two students had to leave early for family commitments, but most of the students had handwoven fabric, and I’m hoping that a few at least will send photos of the finished garments.  I was too busy cracking the whip to get close up photos of any of the vests.  The last few hours of the class are always a bit of a panic.  

NEWS_VestClass2 NEWS_VestClass

And so I’m home, been home for a week already, trying to play catch up.  There is a part of me that really finds conferences exhausting and not worth the planning and prep.  And then there is the part of me that knows how much I love the contacts, and the inspiration, and the experiences, and the chance to see all the people I’ve come to love from a particular region, sort of like going to the biggest family reunion, with yarn, and tools, and books and great food and great people, and yeah…  There’s Reno next year. That’s the big one… I’ll be there…

Stay tuned…

 

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Pineapple As Metaphor…

Grab a cup of coffee, this is going to be a long one…

I had of course, an amazing bunch of adventures over the last 10 days, so much to share and tell you about dear readers, but I will do it in bits and pieces, because as will happen when you are off scampering about having fun, life sort of builds up and hits you between the eyes when you return!  I’m sure everyone of you can identify with that.  And that’s partly what this blog post is about.

I left just after the 4th, to head to Peters Valley, one of my spirit places, a craft center in North Western NJ.  If you are from the mid Atlantic Region and don’t know about it, you should.  I have been a part of the Valley in many different capacities since the late 70’s.  The facility is on National Park Service property, near the Delaware River that divides PA and NJ, and it is rural and gorgeous and full of life and energy and quiet and stillness (except for the shooting range over the mountain, those rifles make noise!).  Yes there are ticks, and bears, and mosquitoes, but there are new friends, and opportunities for your spirit to soar.  Many of you know that the last place my husband and I stayed, was Peters Valley, I was teaching, he was taking a low light Photography class, the morning after we returned was the morning we found out he had stage 3 inoperable esophageal cancer.  His spirit will always be at Peters Valley, and when he died, in lieu of flowers, those that loved and supported him sent donations to Peters Valley instead.  They will use the money to help build a digital photography studio since darkroom photography is no longer viable.  He learned to love digital photography taking classes at Peters Valley.  

Anyway, I am going to try each summer to take at least one class up there, because I’m almost never a student and there is so much to experience there. (Though next summer I’m already booked to teach beginning weaving twice).  Last spring, I looked over the offerings and decided to take a five day water color class.  It fit with my heavy travel schedule this summer, and I haven’t done any serious painting since college.  That was a lifetime ago, I was a fine arts major, and we stood in the painting studios back then, looking at a large canvas, and we had to paint.  There were no still life set-ups, no ‘en plein air’ painting (that means going out and painting on location, literally in open air, very impressionist.)  We had to look at a canvas and invent.  And I was really crappy at that.  Painting comes from seeing life and interpreting it and I was 19 years old and what did I really have to say.  I hated it.  I wanted to be in the textile studio.  It really pissed off the painting instructor because he thought I had talent.  The rest is history…

Until a couple of weeks ago, when I started assembling the required materials, which I wrote about in my last post, not knowing if my refugee equipment and paints from the 70’s and beyond would be usable or hold me back.  In the end I bought about $300 worth of supplies, mostly the paints, because there is a difference in what you spend, which is probably just about right in everything we do in life.  I got the recommended palette, and some extras and some excellent Arches 140 pound cold press paper and took all the brushes I had and a camp chair and outdoor side table and hoped for the best.  

I bonded instantly with the rest of the class, and adored the teacher Jane Brennan, a new friend, we had a lot in common and chatted at most of the meals.  Both of us have gone through some major life changes over the last year, and though the stories are different, we are both creative spirits who’ve had the rug pulled out from under us and yet we persevere.

It poured rain the first day we were there, beautiful in the valley, but tough to go outside and paint.  Jane the teacher had brought a number of items for creating emergency still life set ups, always a good exercise, and we all dug in.  There were seven in the class including the assistant, so there were still life arrangements scattered around the studio.  I assumed Jane would spend the first day having us do endless color studies, figuring out what we had in our palettes, and lots of tutorials.  Much to my delight, she spent about an hour going over her favorite products and why, and then told us to just start squishing out paint, fill a water container and get to work.  We would learn the rest as we went along.  My first painting of artificial peonies and a very ripe peach went sort of well I think.

watercolor1

I know Jane thought I was a bit tight, she is a very different kind of water color painter, and the class was actually called Wet and Wild, or something like that.  She wanted us to fill the brush full of water and slop on the fluid.  I tried the big plastic pot of petunias next.

Watercolor2

I nailed the pot, and actually loved the way the colors ran at the bottom.  So not me…

Then came the dreaded pineapple.  In fact everyone painted this pineapple at some point or other, and at the end of the class, though one student had to leave early, we all put our pineapples on the mantel and I was struck by how each of us given the same basic tools and experience, saw that pineapple in completely different ways.  It made me realize that in this polarized world we live in that everyone has a different criteria for viewing life, and it allows us a different vision and what a wonderful and positive thing that is.  There were six pineapples on the mantel, all creative and energetic (mine less so, but that’s just fine too) and it is too bad in this world at the moment that we all can’t appreciate what each other has to say and learn something.  Painting is about listening.  And learning.  And trying.  And trying again.

Watercolor4 Pineapple

The second morning of class, we went out ‘en plein air’, and I was a bit nervous.  I’ve never painted in real life before.  Except for the occasional still life and life drawing classes at college, I have never sat and drawn trees, and architecture, stone and brick work, grass, windows, sky, flowers, and ponds.  So I picked the hardest thing I could, and faced the kitchen at Peters Valley.  It had all of the above except for the pond and it took an hour or two just to figure out the perspective, because I haven’t drawn a building in like, ever?  

Watercolor3

I didn’t get it quite right, but I’m still so happy with this painting, I can do it, and more importantly I loved doing it.  It changed the way I looked at everything I took for granted.  How many different colors there are of leaves, stone, shadows, and grass.  And I figured out what to mix with what to get good greens, and I figured out quickly which of the 30 brushes I brought would be my favorite.  That afternoon, we went back to the studio and played with tossing water and color and more water on a wet paper and letting it dry between and seeing what we got.  After a couple of days of this process, I ended up with this…

Watercolor5

We met up at Bundy’s Beach, a popular pond to paint and photograph and inspire, which is across the street from the weaving studio where I have spent many years teaching.  I think I caught the water, and again, got what I wanted out of the experience.

Watercolor7

Jane had coated some small canvases with a watercolor ground, that allowed direct painting on regular canvas.  We all got to try one and in the afternoon I attempted another still life.  The treated canvas board was much more challenging than water color paper and I loved the effect and the ability to subtract.  I think this is one of my favorites.  That jug was hard!

Watercolor6  

I brought wine in, we needed it to wash down the now very ripe pineapple which Jane cut up for a late afternoon snack.  We needed to add empty wine bottles to our still life repertoire, and so after dinner, my seat mate Sharon and I went back to the studio to paint.  We set up a quick still life, with a bunch of carrots and a colorful ceramic cup from the mantel, and we decided to spend only one hour to see what we could come up with.  Though we sat next to each other looking at the same three items, including the wine bottle, we saw something completely different.  Even the canvas orientation was different.  Sharon immediately turned hers to portrait, which allowed her to get the height of the wine bottle, and I had mine in landscape mode, so I could get all the carrot top greenery.  I immediately regretted my decision.  Where Sharon zoomed in tight, I had way too much background to contend with for a one hour painting.  Still, I’m happy with what I did in an hour and would like to try timed work again.  But hers on the right turned out bright and fun!  

watercolor8 WatercolorSharon2

We went on location again, back to the pond on the morning of the fourth day, and I chose instead to cross the street and draw a building that means a lot to me personally, the weaving studio.  Plans are underway to turn this building into housing and move the looms up to the mountain to join the rest of the fiber studio, about 3 miles down the road.  Logistically it is necessary, but my heart will always be in this building.  It is called Hilltop.  I got better at the perspective stuff.

EnPleinAir2 EnPleinAir1 Watercolor9

The last day of class, we traveled down the road a few miles to Walpack Village, another historic town that the government bought up when they planned to flood the entire area back in the 60’s.  There is an old church there, and I started sketching, with my paper horizontal, and underestimated the height of the steeple.  I needed about four more inches of paper to do it justice.  I think I just need to buy bigger paper…  Unfortunately it was a very overcast day, and I had no shadows which created a very flat painting, but again, I’m completely satisfied with what I did.

Watercolor10

And the last few hours of class were spent back in the studio. I decided to try some internal architecture and a different technique.  I ran out of time,  but this is really my favorite of what I’ve done in the class.  I still have to define all the white woodwork, but I finally  have the perspective thing, and brush/water control and I am confident and comfortable with the medium.

Watercolor11

And then I packed up and left and headed north to Massachusetts and a weaving conference and my role as an educator.  So in an instant, it was all a distant memory…

I just placed an order at Jerry’s Artarama, one of my favorite haunts for art supplies.  I ordered water color ground, a couple of additional paints, a much bigger plastic palette, and a folding easel for going out on location.  I really want to do this on a regular basis, but now I’m facing the dilemma that most of my students face when you return from a wonderful intensive and really think you are going to add this group of skills to your life and then life thinks otherwise.  This is my travel season, I do not have the luxury of sitting out under the gazebo painting the flowers, I’m in the middle of two articles for Threads Magazine, I have samples to make, I’m on deadline, I have a beginning weaving class to prep for, August 5th at Luna Parc, (If you are anywhere in the northeast, this is an amazing place!) and then on to southern California.  I really don’t stop until November.  2018 is mostly booked and it’s even worse.  

Even if I never paint again, this was an amazing experience and I highly recommend lengthy classes in anything, because in five days you really get into the meat of something.  Down the road, I see myself limiting my teaching to a few five day retreats a year, because students have the time to explore garment construction. Maybe then I can paint.  I’ll talk more about that in my next post, when I talk about NEWS, the weaving conference in New England.  For now, this is probably the longest post I’ve ever written, but I wanted to remember all of it, because I doubt I’ll be painting in the foreseeable future…

Stay tuned…

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You want fries with that?

I am oddly enough having the best time developing new options for my basic patterns, jacket and vest that I offer my students for classes. Each new addition makes me think of something else to offer.  My fear is that choices will get so unwieldy that the the handout with directions will be the size of the phone book!  If we still had such a thing…  There is the jacket, the jacket with darts, the jacket as a swing coat, and maybe you want a shawl color?  Or a swing coat with side pockets, or maybe a lining with that?  How about princess seams?

Last year I taught a class, it may have been for a PA Guild, I’m having trouble remembering, that was basically the opportunity to trace my patterns.  It was a great option for those who already know how to sew, or have taken my classes and just want the additional options.  Like the tunic.  They traced patterns like crazy people!  I don’t know if anyone actually made any of the silhouettes, but one can hope that I’ll eventually get photos.  And even at the Midwest a couple of weeks ago, in my garment construction class, many of the students chose to copy patterns instead of trying some of the seam and edge finish techniques I talked about.  I went through 60 yards of pattern paper.  It makes it tough when you have to set a very specific materials fee that can’t be tweaked once in class!

In the spring, I was urged to apply to Convergence 2018 Reno.  That would be in Nevada!  I haven’t applied to Convergence, the National weaving conference for the Handweavers Guild of America, in four years.  I had taught for more than 12 years of Convergences, starting back in 2000 when it was held in Cincinnati and the rest is history.  I’ll always be grateful to the HGA for the exposure I got as an educator from the northeast, and how they helped me break into the national scene.  And it was at that Convergence in Cincinnati that introduced me to Madelyn van der Hoogt, the editor then of Handwoven Magazine.  Within the year I was their features editor, writing for some 35 issues.

Along the way I became disenchanted with the HGA, not an uncommon occurrence, there are a lot of stories out there and I hear them all too frequently.  I stopped applying to all their exhibits, their conference, and even for a period dropped my membership.  I’m terrifically happy to report that if you haven’t been following things in the weaving world, there is a new leader at the helm and she is delightful.  Liz Williamson is from the non profit world, with tons of experience, and tons of personality, and the ability to listen endlessly to long lists of grievances from former members who have not had the best experience with a very overworked and underfunded organization.  I know this because I’ve watched her. She flew in to give a presentation at the Midwest weavers conference, very encouraging about what HGA can offer in its many levels of membership.  There is now a professional membership for those who actually make their living in this field.

I’ve spent many hours talking with Liz, and in fact I am on the membership committee, we try to meet once a month through teleconferencing, and it is a pleasure to brainstorm with bright, young and enthusiastic people.

That said, it was with great pleasure that I opened my email from Liz on Saturday, that informed me that I’d been selected to teach for Convergence Reno in 2018.  I’m glad to be back.  And if I hadn’t been selected to teach, most likely I would have volunteered in some capacity anyway.  This is a pretty small community, and I think we all have the opportunity to become a small bit of glue that unites and holds it together, rather than rips it apart.  I wish I could say that about other venues in life…  Weaving is fast becoming the next big thing, and I’m thrilled to still be around to see the wonder and imagination of new weavers, and then teach them that you can actually cut into the cloth and make something cool to wear that doesn’t involve rectangles…

Anyway, I’m thrilled that Convergence had the foresight to pick my Custom Fit and Fabulous class, which is an opportunity to trace as many patterns as you have time over a two day period.  I’m expecting students will be able to trace at least one, with all the fixins’, including fries, and budgeting for at least two.  So all of you who have wanted to get your hands on my patterns, especially the swing coat, think about Reno in July of 2018!

IkatSwingCoat

In addition, I’m teaching a one day beginning Inkle weaving class, and a lecture on Fit, and then a  three hour seminar, hands on, in the more advanced inkle weaving technique of three shaft turned Krokbragd.  Which is super fun, once the loom is set up, you just weave cool designs!

Lancaster_Krokbragd2

So, here is the link for Convergence 2018, and for my schedule, because it isn’t the only place I’ll be teaching in 2018, if Reno isn’t in your plans.  Regular venues like Sievers and Harrisville aren’t on the calendar yet, I don’t set them up until late fall after their season ends, and I’ll also be teaching next September at John C Campbell, a folk school in NC, a five day inkle weaving intensive, along with a couple of beginning weaving classes at Peters Valley.  It is looking to be a very busy 2018.  

If I can encourage any of you to support the HGA, think about it, an organization is only as strong as its members and this is an organization that is once again open to and able to serve its membership for many years to come…

Stay tuned!

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Tenacity…

…the quality or fact of being very determined.

At the risk of pissing someone off, I’m going to make an observation, one that I’ve experienced in my 35 years of teaching.  You may chose to disagree, but my blog my observations…

I have traveled a lot, stayed in a lot of homes of handweavers and other fiber enthusiasts, but mostly handweavers.  I’ve seen more studios than you can possibly imagine, I’ve seen some that could easily grace the cover of Architectural Digest, beautifully designed with not a thread visible except what is on the loom.  I’ve seen studios that I couldn’t actually walk into, the debris filled every square inch of floor space, and there wasn’t any possible way my host could actually work in there.  There are usually apologies about how they are meaning to clean it all up.  I’ve seen studios that have the bare minimum, and I’ve stayed in houses that are the whole studio, that stuff leaks to every corner of every room.  I pass no judgements.  We are all doing the best we can.

I do however have an observation.  The amount of and organization of said equipment does not the craftsman make.  I have seen people with more equipment than God, than any human should ever be allowed to have, very expensive equipment, every book, bins and bins of yarns, and they do nothing with it.  And I have looked at the work of fiber artists like Lavern Waddington, who makes the most exquisite textiles I’ve ever seen with a simple backstrap loom.  She ties herself to something with a couple of sticks and some thread and creates shear joy.  My friend Diane Savona, one of the most celebrated fiber artists of this century, creates huge installations, with more content and social commentary, with a simple needle and thread and crap she finds at garage sales.  I suppose she has a sewing machine, but all of her work is stitched and assembled by hand.

The point here, is that just because you have fantastic equipment, doesn’t mean you do anything with it.  I’ve judged many shows where the weaver gushes with how much complex textiles excites them, and I look at their 42 shaft creation and think, “Wow, I could have done this on four shafts…”.

Anyway, next Thursday I leave for Peters Valley.  For the first time in a very long time, I’m actually taking a class.  I’m going to be a student.  I’m taking a five day water color class.  Yes I’ve painted with water colors before.  Yes, I actually have a degree in Fine Arts.  But I want to push myself way outside my comfort zone, and study something that is unfamiliar and so very opposite of the structure of fiber interlacement.  I want to play with two dimensions and something fluid like pigmented water with a gum Arabic binder…

In my workshops, I give a very long list of equipment to bring, and at the top of the list of course is a sewing machine.  I adore weavers.  I’d say that 75 percent of the handweavers who take my classes bring in really old sewing machines.  The kind that weight 30 pounds, solid metal, that do very little extra stuff, but make a wonderful straight stitch and sew through anything.  Weavers are the most tenacious people I know.  They have what they have, and they make it work.  Their equipment sometimes holds them back, but it isn’t about the equipment for a handweaver, it is about the process and they are determined to make it work.  They have more tenacity than any other group of fiber enthusiasts I’ve come across.  Really.

So yesterday I went shopping.  To Jerry’s Artarama.  It is a pretty well known chain, in direct competition with Dick Blick.  There is a retail location about 20 minutes from my house.  I started out looking online at what I needed for my water color class and gave up and actually drove to the store.  There was also a demonstration of a very expensive brand of German Watercolor at 11:30, and knowing absolutely nothing except the different between tube and pan watercolors, and turns out I didn’t even know that, I went to see what it was all about and buy what was on my materials list.  

I first dug through my cabinet to see what I already had.  I had some tablets of water color paper, a handful of brushes, a couple trays of cheap pan watercolors.  I had a couple of sets of cheap tube water colors we had given to my daughter many years ago.  Mostly unused.  All of this dated from about 15 years old to probably 40.  The brushes probably all came from my days working at the Craft Showcase, a mall craft shop in the Paramus Park Mall.  I left there in 1979.  I don’t think brushes or paper goes bad.  But tube watercolors?  I had no idea.  

I looked at the materials list.  There were things like, “Bring a portable table and chair, and whatever outdoor set up you like for plein air painting…”  Say what?  I don’t have a set up for Plein air painting.  I would like to, but I don’t have a clue.   There is probably a portable camp table and chair in the shed.  I’m hoping that can work.  But I don’t know if my water colors are appropriate and she gave us very specific colors to have in our palettes.  

I’m a weaver.  I work with whatever I have.  Still I find it hard for my students who have less than adequate equipment (“I bought my machine at a garage sale for $25….) to do the job needed in the workshop.  My dilemma was, do I just bring whatever was around the house?  Or do I make sure my equipment won’t hold me back.  I went to the lecture on this very expensive top of the line German watercolor brand, and it all sounded lovely, but in the end, do I really need to spend $15. a 15ml tube for something I can get for $8.?  I really don’t know.  Part of me wanted to just spend the money and buy all new stuff, but then the weaver in me won out and I sort of compromised.  I bought an assortment of good paints, in the recommended hues, and then added all the cheap ones I was sitting on.  There was no one brand that carried all the recommended hues, so I got a few of each.  I’ll see if there is a difference, and if I’m even going to continue to paint.  

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How many of us spend a fortune on equipment for the technique du jour, and then never touch it again?  I did buy the recommended paper, but I did not buy any new brushes.  There were water color brushes that cost as much as a weaving shuttle.  Mine will hopefully be fine, and I’ll find out what I truly need.  If I continue to paint.

So in the box are my old brushes, and my old paints, supplemented by some pretty expensive high end and some moderately priced new paints.  I did find out from the lecture that water colors never go bad.  Even when the tube dries out, just slice it open with an Exacto knife and it is nothing more than a large lump of pan watercolor.  Add water and paint.  

I’ll let you know how I do, the class starts next Friday, and goes for five days and I leave directly from Peters Valley and head up to New England Weavers Seminar, a  weaving conference in Northampton MA.  I have to go a couple days early to judge the fashion show.  So packing will be my worst nightmare.  

Stay tuned…

 

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Time flies…

Whether you are having fun or not…

I can’t believe I’ve been back from the Midwest conference for a week and a half.  I’m just catching up, no never mind.  I’m never caught up.  If I catch up then there is no reason to get up in the morning except for the dogs!

Midwest Weaver’s Conference was an exhausting blast of fun.  I loved all my students, they are kind and generous and fun to be with, and I even managed to have a few political conversations at breakfast with a couple of mid-westerners, and we found much more common  ground to discuss than differences.  The conversations were civil, thoughtful and respectful.  As all of life should be.  We can’t all agree on everything.  But we can listen.  

I took no pictures.  Even judging and moderating a fashion show.  I took no pictures.  However someone did grab my cellphone and took these, one walking across campus of Butler University in Indianapolis with all my digital gear, blending into the greenery…

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And this one, at the very end, loading my ridiculous amount of luggage into the vehicle that would take me to the airport at 4 am in a Thunderstorm, traveling across campus to the parking garage by golf cart.  My new favorite way to travel.  We all waved at the passing pedestrians like the queen!

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That was Sunday a week ago, I arrived home by 10:30 am, and my lovely daughter agreed to pick me up from the airport, it was a special weekend, the first anniversary of my husband’s death.  I went to the garden center to buy more fish for his ponds, which were nearly completed.  The landscape designer had been busy while I was gone.  I found the water feature at the garden center I wanted to commemorate my husband, to lay some of his ashes beneath.  

Monday morning the landscape designer installed this.  It is a water ball, water cascades down the sphere.  It is beautiful. And simple.  Like my life.  Or how I envision my life to be…

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Tuesday amid a series of thunderstorms this happened. Sigh.

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Wednesday this happened to a glass side table under the gazebo.  I spent most of those two days picking up tiny glass chunks, and shards, picking it out between the sandy cracks between the pavers, and the spaces between the deck planking, which had swelled in the rain.  

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By the weekend I had the new table in place on the deck.  I did not replace the side table under the gazebo.  There were others.

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For the first time since I’ve lived in this house I am eager to go outside and be with my gardens.  The moderate temperatures, the low humidity, the abundant wildlife, the profuse bird song, it is heaven and I no longer have an anxiety attack when I walk outside and see all that has to be done.  I look for things to do outside, and this week has all been about handsewing.  I sat under that vine covered gazebo and spent hours listening to the birds, classical music, and handsewing…

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I’m in the middle of four issues of Threads Magazine articles.  Issue 192 should be in your mailboxes shortly.  That had the extensive article on the guts of a tailored jacket.  Last spring I spent about six weeks handsewing a white wool jacket.  Issue 193 is in photography, edits should come in shortly.  That article has a lovely vest I made using a seam finish technique, and I’m excited to add it to my possibilities for what to do with the Daryl Jacket from my garment construction workshops.  It has a zipper up the front.

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Issue 194 is up next, I’m madly trying to finish the extensive samples.  Actually I’m madly trying to design all the samples, but first I had to make all the kumihimo braids, because the article is on kumihimo closures.  I wanted to make a jacket, killing two birds with the proverbial stone, I’m good at that, that shows how my C Jacket pattern can break apart into Princess Seams for those with narrow handpainted handwoven fabric especially without a repeat.  I used a commercial fabric here, with black corduroy side panels.

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Total success.

And the closure is pretty cool too.  The braid is attached like faux piping, by hand, and then it creates the loops for the jacket.

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I’m working on a tote bag with a kumihimo closure at the moment.  This one is handwoven fabric.  Issue 195 manuscript is due next week…  No pressure…

Stay tuned…

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