My Convergence To-Do List…

I’m nothing if not organized.  Compulsively organized.  Obsessively organized.  I took a daytimer, the old fashion kind you write in, and I plotted out everything that needs to get done before Convergence, crossed off days where I wouldn’t be in the studio, and carefully filled in the remaining days so I had a feel of the time crunch ahead of me.  It all fit in nicely, and I did a little exhale.  And then the universe laughed at me.  I know well that nothing goes as planned.

First thing up on my list, which I started Tuesday afternoon, was to finish the Rest in Peace Diptych.  The story here, is I created one of my woven postcards, a Diptych, and entered Small Expressions.  The piece wasn’t accepted.  So I decided to send it to the faculty exhibit for Convergence.  No problem there.  Except I entered an exhibit in Massachusetts on a whim, and of course, it got in, and the timing is too close to ensure it will be back from one exhibit, to turn around and ship to the other since I’ll be leaving more than a week ahead for Convergence.  (For a mini vacation with my husband, can you believe it?)

The exhibit committee, graciously agreed that I could send a replacement piece to them, actually the same piece in a much larger scale. As long as it matched the photo of the original piece.  Which meant I had to weave it.  One of the panels had been finished last year, but I needed to do the second one.  That’s the piece I wove last month when I ran out of warp.  I squeaked it out, splicing in 900 ends.  So all I had to do was mount the two pieces, right?

I budgeted a day for this effort, maybe a day and a half.  Silly me.  I spent an entire afternoon at the art supply store, just trying to figure out how to mount the two panels, so they would look like the original.  The original piece was 6″ x 10″.  I mounted the woven fabric by wrapping it around stiff interfacing and used the spine of a spiral notebook for the bridge in between the piece.  The replacement work is nearly four times that size, roughly 24″ x 38″.

I bought all kinds of stuff, and came home and plowed in head first.  After careful measurements, the pair of 18″ x 24″ canvases I purchased were actually one inch too wide.  So I consulted my tech guy, who happens to be in the country for a brief week or two before heading back to Saudi Arabia (I hear this will be a year long back and forth commute, and I’m trying hard not to think about that).  He came in an with a few swipes of a utility knife, he sliced off the offending inch, and now my canvas backboard is 18″ x 23″.

I wrapped the canvas board in two layers of craft fleece, and lashed it on the back side in both directions so it was really drum tight. I covered the lashing with two layers of fleece, and stitched that all the way around.  Then I decided that I’d like that side to be face up.  It was slightly more rounded.

I wrapped the entire panel in grey silk, and carefully pinned that together.  Then I stitched the grey silk all the way around.  I laid the woven panel on top of the grey base, and turned under the edges until everything measured perfectly and pinned.  I wisely decided not to stitch the panel permanently at this point, until I mounted the second panel.  So I started the process all over again for the remaining panel.  Now I’m seriously into day two of this project.  And it isn’t looking good for finishing any time soon.

I got to the part where I started to pin the second panel to the second grey silk covered backboard and I did a big fat groan.  Bet you heard it all the way to Canada.  See, when I printed the second  8 1/2″ x 16″ silk strip to create the image, at the very top of the strip was a little plop of yellow ink jet ink, right at the top edge, in the sky over the twin towers.  There were only two choices, to reprint the strip, but that would mean replacing the cartridges, which I didn’t have, and then it would more than likely not match the first half of the image, or make the whole image a half inch shorter.  I chose option B.

No matter now I stretched and shrunk, and manipulated the second panel, (which was actually the original panel, woven in full last year), there was nothing to be done but take out two rows of the design.  Because you know, fabric only stretches and shrinks and can be manipulated when you don’t want it to…

So I pulled out two silk strips, and then carefully pulled out the tie down threads at the top of the panel.  Each thread had to be pulled through to the back and tied off.  Now I’m seriously into day 3.  I’m groaning because my to do list is already off by a couple of days and I don’t know where to put all the things that were on the list that haven’t gotten finished.  Or started for that matter.

But the good news is now the panels are exactly the same size and the second panel (which is really the first, is anyone still following this whole escapade?) perfectly fits the back board.

I stitched the panels onto the grey silk back boards, all the way around with invisible stitches.  Then I had to invent some kind of spine in the middle.  On the original piece, the spine represented a child’s copybook or a photo album, and alternately represented the barbed wire that wrapped the perimeter of the roof of the World Trade Center.  You can see it if you look carefully in the photo of my two kids on top of the World Trade Center Tower, which we took two weeks before September 11.  I remember at the time looking at the barbed wire and asking about it and being told that it was there so the public wouldn’t climb past the railing and do something like try to jump.  And I thought about all those people jumping off the towers two weeks later and I remembered the barbed wire…

I found the perfect spiral wire in a sketch book at the art supply store.  I could only find it twelve inches long, but I figured I could splice two end on end and come up with the 24″ length I needed.  And turns out there was enough spring in the wire binding that it could be squished to 23″.  I carefully removed 100 sheets from two sketch books to get the binding wires.  Then I had to figure out how to stitch them onto the two panels.  With a series of long straight needles and a curved one and some strategically place T-pins, I managed to lash the wire spine to the two panels.  Now all I have to do is mount some kind of hanging device on the back, take a formal photo of the piece, label the back, and figure out how to invent an additional two days over the next couple of weeks to accomplish everything I didn’t do while I was working on mounting this diptych…  No sweat…

Re-Entry…

I’m home now, having safely returned from Monterey, VA, where, in spite of actually being paid to teach, I had a wonderful restful, restorative week with two women whom I adore.  Both creative spirits, felters, not weavers, but both interested in using their skills to create art clothing, and it was a pleasure to work with both of them.

The flight home was a bit frustrating, though I’ve had much worse experiences, I was anxious to get home, since I hadn’t seen my husband in almost a month.  We were to fly in 10 minutes apart.  Sadly it wasn’t meant to be, he made it in, and then a line of severe thunderstorms moved in, over the mid-Atlantic region, and our plane had to turn around and land back in Richmond.  We waited out the storm, and finally got clearance to return to Newark, where I battled lines and angry New Yorkers, and traffic, and delays, and I exhaled slowly and remembered that this is home and I really do love to live in the metropolitan NY area.  Mostly…

I took some lovely photos, and I hope to refer back to this blog periodically to remind myself of this lovely get-away, in this lovely mountain town, in lovely western Virginia.  Did I mention it was lovely?  From the sunrise in the morning, tea on the porch before walking into town for Evelyn’s egg, bacon and cheese croissant, across the street from the studio.

There were dinner parties in the evening, Lisa’s friends joined us or invited us to dinner, each night I got to share in some of the wonderful stories of small town life.  They write books on this kind of stuff.  Everyone was so gentle, so friendly, so helpful, and I feel like I have a new family there.  We visited Deborah in her home further up the mountain, isolated, and full of the sounds of the tree frogs, and the birds.  She cooked us an excellent meal, including fresh garden pea croistini, and cold avocado soup.  I wanted to live on her porch.  The view was incredible.  (And then the rational part of me took over and all I could think was, who cuts that lawn?)

Gisela and Lisa worked hard, we all did, Gisela created patterns for simple garments, we did two and three muslins before we got them right, fine tuning the fit, so she can use the basic shapes as templates for her lovely nuno felt.

Lisa got a bit sidetracked on one of her muslins, and dug out some felt scraps, and veered off onto an adventure that netted this amazing vest.  She worked furiously to finish it so she could wear it to the final dinner party at Deborah’s.

We talked at great length about turning this into an annual retreat.  There was a lot of interest from the local residents of the town, in joining the class, there were quilters, and those interested in making garments, and we are looking at dates in May of 2011.  Once a decision is made, I’ll post the dates in my schedule on my website, and consider joining us on this retreat next year, for a Wearable Extravaganza.  We will more than likely be limiting the class to 8, and Lisa has an entire house available for lodging, which from what I understand will be included in the cost of the retreat.  There is so much to see and do in the area, I wished I’d had a few extra days to play tourist.  As it turned out, I settled for lunch time wanderings in the local craft shops and galleries.  Of course I did my best to support the local economy.  And Hap’s Sweet Potato Fries are the best!

I’m still unpacking, but I managed to get through the stack of mail.  One media mail package intrigued me, I didn’t recognize the return address.  I did one of those, “Gee, wonder what I ordered?”

I couldn’t believe it when I pulled out of the envelope three Award Certificates.  My Frosted Florals Dress took first place at the Fiber Celebration 2010 exhibit sponsored by the Northern Colorado Weavers Guild, held in the Tointon Gallery for the Visual Arts, Greeley, CO . There were some photos of the exhibit posted on the internet, though I didn’t see my dress in any of the photos.  There was a monetary award with the first place certificate, and then to my incredible surprise, there was another certificate under it, for second place (with another monetary award) in the functional division for my Celebration Bag.  I’m really thrilled to get this award, since I had entered that bag in the Convergence Tampa Bay Functional exhibit and it wasn’t accepted.  And so it goes…

The final award of the three turned out to be the Halcyon Yarns Award, no mention of the criteria, but with it came a book on Collapse Weave by Anne Field, creating three-dimensional cloth.  I already have the book on my shelf, but I’m sure one of my guilds could use it in their library, or I’ll start a library collection for my daughter…  Maybe this is a sign from the universe that I have to actually open the book and experiment with the structures…

So now, I have mapped out a strategy for preparing for two very intensive workshops, one at the Newark Museum, a fiber boot camp, no experience necessary, just four days of all kinds of fiber techniques, great for fiber artist wannabes, and of course, the unwieldy Convergence, where I’ll be entertaining more than 230 students in six seminars and a day long workshop.  I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m a little overwhelmed…  So the next couple of weeks, interspersed with some family events and getaways, will be all about printing, prep, packing, and preparing for both of these events.  Oh, and there is my Weavezine column to write…  But first, a trip to Jerry’s Art supply in search of a 24″ spiral bound notebook so I can use the spiral ring in my Rest in Peace faculty piece…  Stay tuned…

Blogging is not publishing…

Or so the word came down from the mountain last night, as I finished up my blog post.  I’m guessing Julie Powell (of Julie and Julia fame) would probably disagree, look where her blog got her, and of course TLo, with thousands of followers, probably the best source for who is wearing what in the fashion world, a fashion icon in and of itself, I’m going to guess they would probably disagree that blogging is not publishing.  It all doesn’t matter really, as long as the answer is, for the purposes of HGA and entries into their Convergence exhibits, “Blogging is NOT considered published by anyone’s standards.”

So there you have it.  Thanks to those who emailed me about this subject, and thanks Cally for starting the conversation.  I have so loved following the whole design process, especially in bloggers like Tien, from the initial idea, “I’m going to weave my wedding gown…” to the final days of hems and appliqued lace, and beaded trim.  It would be so great to see a garment you’ve been following like that in a Convergence exhibit, so I’m glad to hear that blogging doesn’t count as publishing as far as the HGA is concerned.

That said, I woke up this morning, and rethought how I finished the piece I pulled off the loom yesterday.  First, the piece is titled, Rest in Peace.  It is a diptych, for those who haven’t studied a lot of medieval art (like my poor husband who said last night in the pizza restaurant, “What’s a diptych?”) here is the definition courtesy of Answers.com.

diptych n. A work consisting of two painted or carved panels that are hinged together. An ancient writing tablet having two leaves hinged together.

Having looked at my share of ancient art, diptychs and triptychs have always fascinated me, two or more images that tell a story of sorts, where the images together tell a more powerful tale than each alone.  With that said, I had two images that I thought, needed to be “hinged” together, and so I wove them side by side in my inlay technique I’ve used for much of my two dimensional artwork over the last two years.

RestInPeaceHere is the shot I showed yesterday of the two images before I cut them off the loom and separated them into two.  The image on the right, is of my two children on top of the World Trade Center, in August of 2001, two weeks before 9/11.  We decided on the spur of the moment, to take a couple of days at the end of the summer, 2001, to take the kids into Manhattan, we live so close we never think of it as a vacation destination.  The view from the Top of the World was breathtaking.  And I noticed that all around the perimeter of the tower, behind the fence they were leaning on, was barbed wire, coiled high, to prevent the ultimate suicide I guess.  Little did they figure two weeks later…

The photo on the left was a shot either my husband or I took of the towers, graphic, like monuments rising to the sky, like tombstones in a graveyard.  (We both shot lots of images that day, and are both claiming rights to this one…)

I created little postcard packets from each of the images, like I’ve done with others in my Personal Post Series.  And then I went in search of a way to hinge the two together, like a book, like a diptych.  My first attempt didn’t work at all, I took apart a small notebook, but the spine wasn’t a continuous spiral, and it was too big and cumbersome.

Diptych_RestInPeaceMy second attempt, shown here, was to hand sew jump rings between the two halves of the diptych.  The rings were small, and problematic, without soldering them together, they kept slipping out of the thread connections that held them in place.  I didn’t want to have to take a trip to a store to look for round rings that weren’t split.  So this is where I left off last night.

This morning I woke up with a brain storm, I keep a stash of office supplies in the guest room cabinet, and I rooted through to see what notebook spines I could find that could work here, like a spiral tube.  I found the perfect spine in an old notebook of my son’s.  (He would start a notebook, three pages into it, he’d lose it, so I have a lot of almost knew notebooks from his school days, with only two or three pages written on…)  How poetic.  So I cut off all the jump rings and replaced them with this continuous black ringed spiral which so much more resembles barbed wire.  Or a kid’s copybook…

I called the piece “Rest In Peace”, it tells the story of two buildings that were brought down in a horrific way, and I paired it with an image of my children standing on top of those buildings, the day the towers fell is the day my children’s childhood ended.  Life would never be what it was for them before 9/11.Rest_In_Peace_DiptychDetail They now live in a world where people are willing to die to make a point, where orange alerts, and bag searches just to Rest_in_PeaceFinalgo visit an art museum are all very ordinary.  They now live in a world where we are at war, in places they had yet to study on a map in elementary school.

My son is in boot camp, as I write, training to fire an M-16, to become a soldier.  (On a brighter note, I got another letter from him today!  Woo Hoo!)  So this piece is pretty powerful to me.  I don’t expect a juror looking through hundreds of images on a computer screen to get all that from my drab little piece, but I’m really happy with it.  Here are the final shots, with the barbed wire/copybook hinge.

Must be the full moon…

What a bizarre day, I never left my desk, stuff just kept coming in faster than I could take care of it.  I had high hopes of working on more of the hot mats/mug mats, but alas, the universe, or the full moon, or whatever forces were causing a cosmic redirect, I was stuck in front of a glowing screen all day.  Now I’m not saying this wasn’t a positive thing.  I got the best news today.  If you followed my blog back in the end of September, I worked hard for a couple of weeks, reworking all of my lectures/workshops to make them more appropriate for the sewing community instead of the handweaving community.  I had been asked to submit proposals for the American Sewing Guild Conference in Atlanta next August.  It is a market I’d dearly love to be more connected with, after all, I am a sewer (sorry, I’ll never get use to the new PC word ‘sewist’) and I weave to have something to sew.

Anyway, I spend lots of time writing proposals, entering exhibitions, and doing the waiting game once I package everything together and send it off.  Sometimes I even forget I entered or submitted, which is probably not a bad way to handle the stress of waiting.  Today in my inbox, I got a “Congratulations, you’ve been accepted to teach…” letter from the American Sewing Guild, and they want me to teach 4 classes at their 2010 conference in Atlanta.  Can I tell you how excited I am?

On top of that, I just finished most of the final details for the April 2011 Ontario Canada provincial conference.  I will be teaching there, and giving one of the keynote addresses.  That’s been in the works since last summer.  I spent a good deal of time today, coincidentally, on the phone with a woman from Ontario, who found me searching the internet, and wanted to know more about my monographs on sewing, I had trouble realizing that she just found me on the internet, completely independently from the Ontario conference and Convergence in Albuquerque, where I’m also teaching next July, the booklet just became available for that.  Anyway, the woman was lovely to chat with, and towards the end of the conversation, she had me convinced that I need to look down the road a bit to one of my next goals, and bring it up further on the to do list.  That would be turning my monographs into DVD’s.  I bought the camera equipment last year, to be able to film the Step by Step process.  I’ve been looking at some of the sewing videos out there, and haven’t seen anything I really thought would work for how I would want my DVD’s to read.  The woman from Ontario encouraged me to pick up David Coffin’s DVD on shirtmaking.  She raved about it, and so of course, I immediately clicked on my trusty Amazon.com account and stuck it in my shopping cart, along with his book/DVD on making pants.  I’ll let you know what I think.  Always love an excuse to buy books on Amazon.

Speaking of books, my neighbor/friend is a media center specialist for a neighboring High School, and her school’s book club was sponsoring a fund raising event at a local Barnes and Noble.  Again, not to pass up a chance to just hang around in a book store all evening, I managed to dump a couple of hundred dollars, mostly on books for my daughter, she is seriously into Manga, but I did pick up a couple of movies I’ve had on my Amazon wish list for awhile.  I love the movie genre that takes a close look at a creative genius, uncovers their pain, their obsessions, their muses, and their passions.  I got a copy of Pollock with Ed Harris, and Goya’s Ghosts with Natalie Portman.  I also picked up Frida, with Salma Hayek.  I’ll let you know what I think of them once I’ve viewed them.

I cruised through the bargain book section of Barnes and Noble, and found a couple of little treasures, Maureen Dowd’s Are Men Necessary?  First, I love Maureen Dowd, she is a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the New York Times.  And secondly, how could you go wrong with the title? The book is a snarky look at feminism and the collision of the sexes.  The reviews are all over the place, so for $5.98 for the hard cover, I’m game.  I’ll let you know.

I also picked up Julia Cameron’s memoir, Floor Sample.  It had a dress form on the front cover. Julia Cameron wrote the well respected creativity book called “The Artist’s Way”, which has been on my shelf forever.  Again, the reviews are all over the place, but I thought it was worth picking up for $5.98 for the hardcover.

I mentioned that the latest issue of Shuttle Spindle and Dyepot came in yesterday, finally, I was probably the last to get my copy.  In it is the brochure for the HGA’s conference in Albuquerque next July, called Convergence.  Since I am teaching, I get to participate in early registration, but I couldn’t really do that until my magazine came in.  And come in it did!  All four copies.  I am all over the place in this magazine.  Which is why I got four copies!  I have a book review starting on page 9, a photograph of my piece The Spouse, on page 20, from the Small Expressions exhibit, and my article starting on page 31, the second installment of a three part series on the Designer’s Challenge from the Tampa Bay Convergence in 2008.  I ripped the Albuquerque conference brochure out of the middle of the magazine, and started to look through all the offerings.  It isn’t hard for me to fill out the registration, since I am teaching in every time slot, I don’t get to pick anything, but the tours before the conference look wonderful.  So wonderful that I booked two tickets for the Georgia O’Keefe Ghost Ranch tour and I’m dragging along my husband.

So, the bottom line here, is my next summer is pretty set, I’ll be on the road more than I’ll be home.  With two 5 day classes in August, at Sievers and at Harrisville in NH, along with the ASG conference in Atlanta and Convergence, and a 4 day class in fiber basics called Fiber Boot Camp at the Newark Museum in NJ, it doesn’t look like it will be much of a summer!  I’ve also got to write up proposals for two conferences for the summer of 2011.  Can you see my eyes rolling around in my head?  It is hard to follow the “One Day at a Time” way of thinking, when you are writing proposals for 2011, and 2009 isn’t even finished.  Oh the life of an artist…

All of the scheduled events I’ve mentioned above can be found with contact information on my website.

Art ConnectionsOh, and I almost forgot, the invitations for Art Connections 6 at the George Segal Gallery at Montclair State University are out, I will have two pieces in the show.  The opening reception is January 17, 2010 from 2-5 pm if you are in the north Jersey area.  The show runs from January 17 – February 13, 2010

Stay tuned…