I’m still here, but badly distracted by some stuff on the calendar, all of which is good, and I probably needed a major break from the studio anyway. This weekend, I’m heading down to the Jersey shore, without my kids or husband, to be with my sisters one last time before my mom sells her place. I am really looking forward to just being with my sisters, they are a blast to hang with, and we laugh a lot!
Meanwhile, a few commercial announcements before we get back to our regularly scheduled programming…
I had a major brain hic-cup apparently, when I last bound a large amount of monographs. It would appear that I switched covers on two of the monographs, and I’m starting to get letters! If you’ve ordered either the Inkle Loom Monograph, or the What to do with Leftovers Monograph in the last couple months, you might want to check that the content inside is what is suppose to be inside! I’m thinking there is at least one person out there with a monograph on Leftovers that hasn’t opened it up yet to discover they have a great tutorial on Inkle Weaving lurking under the cover! 🙂
Also, there is a guild in the UK that would be interested in having me come and lecture and present a workshop or two, and would love to find another guild or two in the UK that could share travel expenses. If I fly to the UK, I might as well stay for more than one workshop for more than one guild! This guild is looking for dates in May of 2010, so if you are reading this from the UK, and think your guild would be interested, give me an email shout, and I’ll put you in touch with the Course Secretary for this guild. email@example.com
OK, back to our regularly scheduled programming…
I’ve had a couple of really fun days. Which is great because the weather here has been absolutely dreadful, though at least it isn’t snowing. A cold windy rain, pounding down on everything, wrecking the beautiful spring blossoms, major thunder storms, house rocking kind of thunder storms, and I even passed through a hail storm driving to the High School the other night to pick up my daughter. At least I don’t feel guilty about not being outside working in the yard when the weather is cold and rainy.
Anyway, on Monday, I had sort of a first. I had a weaver here in the studio all day, with her beautiful handwoven yardage, and I gave her a private workshop, making my standard jacket from her handwoven fabric. I rarely have private students, largely because there isn’t a lot of room in my studio, it is sort of a one butt studio, but this seemed to work well and my student got her pattern made and the fabric roughly laid out, and she went home to do the actual cutting. I’m looking forward to having her back tomorrow, to sew the jacket. I love working with newer weavers, they are such sponges and things I take for granted, I’m been a weaver for longer than I haven’t, are new and fabulous concepts for the novice, it makes me remember what attracted me to weaving in the first place, and that no matter how long I weave, I will always just barely have scratched the surface. There is always something else to explore or experience!
Monday night, I spent the evening packing. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. I hate packing. I will admit it. That is the one task of all the tasks I do that make up what I consider my life as a fiber artist, that I really find tedious and painful. I have preprinted computer lists of what to pack for every workshop/lecture I teach, which help to make sure I don’t forget anything. So it isn’t like I have to really think. And it keeps my ADD under control since I go down this list systematically and just check things off as they go into the suitcase.
Monday night’s packing experience wasn’t so easy. First, I needed to pack equipment like the table loom and the spinning wheel. Second, this wasn’t a lecture I’ve given in the last couple years, so what I wanted to cover didn’t have a current computerized packing list. I was asked by a local school district, to give a series of 45 minutes lectures to each of the four second grades classes, on fiber, where it comes from, and how it is made into cloth, and then ultimately a garment. They do a unit on clothing as part of their curriculum, and though I’ve done this series of lectures for this school district in the past, the teacher that coordinated it had retired, and there was a gap of a few years before they rediscovered the need for my services. I love doing this. But I really had to start from scratch. I didn’t have a free loom, and didn’t feel like warping up a loom for just a couple of quick shots of demonstration weft, for four short lectures, and then be stuck trying to clear the loom for something else. So I opted to bring my already in progress table loom where I was weaving one of my silk strip photo images, (see the previous blog for a picture of the loom and what’s on it), but I had to tie that into the topic, since it wasn’t yardage for clothing.
I’ve been playing around with felt since I did this lecture last, and thought it would be fun to incorporate it as well, but with only 45 minutes per lecture, I wanted to make sure I didn’t try to cram in too much and over pack. I also had a brainstorm of an idea, as I was puttering and packing and getting really distracted. I had taken a workshop with feltmaker Loretta Oliver at the Grand Rapids Convergence, just a one day workshop, on making an amulet bag from felt. In essence, we wrapped river stones with carded fleece, put them into a zip loc baggie, with hot soapy water, zipped the baggie, and then just rubbed until the wool felted around the rock. Later we cut the rock out of the felt in a way that the amulet bag would have a flap, but I decided that I’d stop packing and try to see if I could do this a bit simpler by just wrapping the fleece around the lower part of the river rock, put it in the baggie, and have the kids rub the stone while I was talking to them. Each student would rub both sides of the rock and pass it to the next. I had a towel with the baggie in case any of the students got a bit aggressive and ruptured the baggie. That didn’t happen. It was a complete hit! When I finished my lecture, I removed the felt from the rock, and rubbed it some more to further felt it, and then rinsed and presented to the students their small vessel. We spent a couple minutes talking about the word ‘vessel’, it was in fact just a fancy word for container, but the teacher and I devoted a few extra sentences explaining to the second graders that a vessel/container doesn’t actually have to hold anything. It could be just to look at and remember the experience. I also brought a tapestry I had done about 30+ years ago( titled Est Esse Percipe, Latin for “To Be is to Be Perceived”), which always impresses the students, it is quite large, and very colorful, and I still have the original watercolor I had done when I first designed this tapestry.
Sidebar: My last year of college in 1976-1977, I worked at a famous Bergen County rug store, demonstrating rug weaving to the public, I had a Cranbrook countermarche loom in the showroom, and on Wednesday nights and Saturdays, I’d sit and work on pile rugs and tapestries. I made five tapestries during that internship. They sold most of them, except the last tapestry. The assistant manager kept it for many years, hanging in his office. Occasionally I’d go back to visit the store, and sometimes purchase rugs for my house, but I always knew where the tapestry was. When I started to be asked to give lectures and demos to kids, having a tapestry to show them was really important and since I didn’t do tapestries anymore, in favor of clothing, I called up this famous Bergen County rug store, and asked if I could buy the tapestry back from them. They graciously sold it to me for about $100. After all they paid me minimum wage to make it, and in the 70’s that was probably $1.75/hour. So figuring 50 hours to make, we figured they paid me around $100. I was thrilled, and I always get BIG OHHHHHHHHHHS, when I unveil my 5 ft. tapestry.
Back to the story. So packing Monday night, meant inventing a project for the kids, finding all the things buried in my studio that I knew I had put somewhere, but couldn’t remember where, like the tapestry, the bucket of river stones, etc. In the search of course I find books I forgot I had, supplies I forgot I bought, raw materials that just needed to be made into something, and my poor ADD brain was running amok so badly I didn’t sleep the whole night. Not good.
But I made it through the day yesterday, completely exhausted by 3pm, but the kids and the teachers were so excited by the information I gave them, and the possibilities I presented, and at the end of each lecture as I was packing up to move to the next class, all the students were turning their t-shirts around to see what country their t-shirt was made in, and asking the teacher to show them where Laos, Vietnam, India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Honduras, Nicaragua, China, Hungary, and Mexico were on the world map. Isn’t it great to use fiber to teach all other subjects? And of couse, showing them my articles in Handwoven magazine, with the actual garments in my hand, that appeared in the magazine, and stressing how important it was for the students to learn to write in case one day they got to write about what they love for a magazine, left every teacher on their knees in Thanksgiving for someone motivating their students to pay attention to writing skills. And of course there were a ton of math references as well…
I’ve had some great fiber adventures in the last couple days, and treated myself this morning to a much needed massage, and hair cut. I’m also cleaning my house since it was looking a little neglected. I still have some unpacking to do, but I’m sort of counting today as a good old fashion day off. What a concept.