Well, if you read my last blog, you’d know what a horrific week I had prior to flying to Reno for the Handweaver’s Guild of America biennial conference Convergence. I had hoped that all the drama I encountered would be an indicator of how the conference would be, my experience is the more drama, the more successful the event. I was not disappointed. I arrived uneventfully and the director of HGA Liz Williamson snapped a photo of me dragging my 150 pounds of luggage through the airport.
Convergence was an amazing event, full of eager weavers and fiber enthusiasts, in a sparkling city full of lights, gambling, cigarette smoke (yeah I know) terrific food, and enough inspiration to last until the next conference in 2020 in Knoxville. I was hopeful that this conference would represent a real turning point for the weaving community, after years of decline, weavers retiring, dying, or moving on to less physical forms of fiber exploration, weaving is back in full regalia, it is the next big thing, which amuses all of us who have been hanging around for a quarter century or more. I couldn’t be happier. I will say that the weaving and textile surfaces I saw this past week have never been stronger, more complex and diverse and truly pushing the envelope. It was an intense week, I’ve never worked so hard. Someone asked me if I was having fun, that actually didn’t even occur to me. I had a job to do and this is my life. The logistics of each new class kept me awake at night, but I am thrilled to say that everything involving me went off flawlessly. Huge sigh of relief when it was all done.
I took no photos at all until the last day, when I was finished and just hanging around Reno waiting for my flight home. I was that busy. I didn’t get a single photo of the 50 people in my Friday morning lecture, nor the gorgeous turned Krokbragd on the inkle loom my 20 students learned Friday afternoon. I didn’t get a single photo of the fashion show, even though I sat through two of them. I was the judge and had to wait for my cue to come up on stage at the end of each and give out the awards which I had selected the day before. I did not get a photo of me in my new handdyed handwoven duster I made for the occasion. I’m hoping someone did and will send it to me.
I did not get a single photo of my beginning inkle weaving class on Saturday, they all did great work and were doing Baltic pick up on five threads at the end. I did not get a single photo of my two day class Sunday and Monday while they went through 140 yards of pattern paper tracing everything I brought, including the new bias top, that was many participants first choice!
I did not get a single photo of my juror’s talk, both of them, Sunday and Monday nights, as I dragged 35 interested but exhausted participants around the gallery. My roommate and dearest friend and felter (she calls herself a lapsed weaver) Amy Morris did manage to get a photo of me having breakfast, thank God for a Trader Joe’s and a refrigerator in the room. We stocked up on breakfast and lunch things because there was absolutely no time to wait at the fabulous restaurants at the Peppermill Resort where all this occurred. I brought my swimsuit thinking there would be time… Hahahahahah…..
I made up for it on Tuesday. I spent the day looking at all the exhibits with Amy in tow, we took a cab to the downtown area and started with Complexity: Innovations in Weaving produced by Complex Weavers at the Reno City Hall Metro Gallery. I took photos of my most favorite pieces.
We left the Metro Gallery and walked a couple blocks and I got my first and only look of the landscape of Reno and the Truckee River.
We found the Sierra Arts Foundation Gallery and saw a gorgeous exhibit by four artists, an East-West Conversation in Fiber. I did not get a full gallery shot, but I was drawn to the work of one of the artists, Mirka Knaster, born in Italy to parents from Poland, who came to the US as a child. She creates 2-D and 3-D fiber pieces in a studio on the Sonoma Coast. You can see more of her work at mirkaart.com . I particularly loved the small units, each a treasure, that fit together as a whole covering one whole wall.
We headed back to view all the exhibits at Convergence and hopefully take a few photos.
The exhibits were one behind the other in an expansive narrow ballroom off the vendor hall which was closed by Tuesday. My only opportunity at the vendor hall was Saturday night in the Shop ’till you Drop. I managed to get to three booths.
The carpet in the ballroom that housed the exhibits was quite the textile in itself.
I started with the leader’s exhibit, where I found lots to love and my coat was the first piece on display.
Here are some of my favorites. Descriptions are embedded in the images.
We moved on to the Truckee River Yardage Exhibit, and there were some really beautiful works. The first one is by my friend John Mullarkey, and it is card woven using 160 cards, each with four threads, in an unbelievable feat of complex weaving. John won the Complex Weaver’s Award, as he should have!
This last piece didn’t look like much from a distance, but up close, I realized that those little boxes were formed by supplemental warps and wefts. It was so subtle and inspirational.
In the center of the room was the Great Basin Basketry Exhibit. I’m not particularly drawn to baskets, but there were two standouts for me.
The next area housed The Playa Mixed Media Exhibit. This is a mixed bag of techniques, everything fiber that doesn’t fit in with the other exhibits is fair game. There were a lot of standouts here.
And finally, the last gallery housed the Fashion Show. Since I was the judge, I had really studied each of these pieces, and I will tell you it was the hardest fashion show I’ve ever judged, there were so many prize contenders and I had only a handful to give away. There were many I was drawn to including a delightful student piece woven on a rigid heddle loom…
And the winners. These three all received honorable mentions from me. I chose the winners because of the layers of thoughtful engineering, and complexity of design. Each time I revisited them, I found more to love. Sadly what you can’t see is the energy that happened on the runway, Reno showgirls modeled the hell out of these garments and sold every single one to the audience. The best fashion show of handwoven and other fiber technique wearables I’ve ever seen.
I gave third place to this gorgeous jacket from Lillian Whipple.
I gave second place to this outstanding jacket by Canadian Inge Dam, the purple stripes are actually card woven simultaneously with the regular hand painted warps. And for the non weavers reading this, know that card weaving is pretty challenging, not my drug of choice in textile techniques.
And my first place winner was a complete delight both on and off the runway. Congratulations Mimi Anderson.
If anyone does not want their piece shown here, please let me know and I’ll remove it.
We left Reno in style, first the limousine ride to the airport, thanks HGA and Peppermill for a wonderful experience. Too bad the ride to the airport was only 15 minutes… I was upgraded to first class in both legs of the flight home, a nice ending to a fabulous week.
Now that I’m home from my exhausting yet wonderful and inspiring week away, all the drama I left and then some has come back to haunt me. There are a couple of technology issues that will cost me months of work to redo every file associated with my name, through a series of unfortunate events, my business phone number is no longer available, and though I’m fighting to get it back, the thousands of handouts and monographs that have 973 628-0185 are no longer accurate. My phone number, should you wish to reach me by that antiquated method is 973 706-7745, but email is much better, trust me, and it will take me probably the rest of the year to update all the prospectuses and all the downloads on my website. And I spent last night, until 2am with my beloved brat Ranger at the emergency vet hospital, it appears he has a nasty case of cDiff or Giardia, and you don’t even want to contemplate the visuals of that infection. I brought him home and had to sleep outside the rest of the night because I couldn’t risk my brand new carpets, and yeah, well…
And so this horoscope greeted me this morning. I’m not even sure what to do with this…