Severe Weather Alert…

The little stop sign with the exclamation point in the lower right hand corner of my Firefox Internet screen on my computer has been staring at me all day, with dire warnings of the impending nor’easter on its way up the coast.  I’m checking the predictions, sort of, every once in awhile, largely because we have tickets to the Baltimore Consort at the Cloisters in northern Manhattan tomorrow afternoon, when the storm is suppose to hit, but I’m not paying too much attention, because weather patterns are unpredictable around here, they make better headlines than true predictions.  At the moment, there is a 3-6″ prediction of snow for our area, which by Jersey standards is pretty nothing, if it turns out to be more like 3″.  An hour south of us, there is a prediction of 6-12″.  But the winds are suppose to be fierce, so weather patterns can shift a few miles and come in faster or slower, and the whole prediction ends up causing a lot of eye rolling and unnecessary panic.  Nevertheless, I sent my son out to pick up a couple of things at the grocery store, that we desperately needed, like half and half, because you can’t have coffee in this house without half and half, and he came back to report that the grocery store was mobbed, and shelves are being cleaned off like there was a severe famine on its way up the coast.

computerSo, I decided to spend the day, keeping an eye loosely on the radar, in my pajamas, in front of my computer, researching colors for next spring.  Sounded like a good antidote to stupid headlines and dreary bleak weather.  I have a couple of favorite sites, Design-Options, and Pantone, both have information about colors for the upcoming seasons, and I get an idea of the general direction of the trends.  Not that it is that important, but I’m always curious, and sometimes I YouTubeget inspired by a particular palette.  I found a very cool You Tube Video on the Pantone site, and I watched it about 8 times, sitting with my little fan of Color-aid papers, getting a feel for the combinations.  If you watch the video, which talks about how the colors are forecasted, make sure the sound on your computer is on, the adjectives the narrator uses are important, but comical at times, like the Thesaurus was brought out and dusted off.  There were some great phrases like “subtly sumptuous”, “halcyon days”, tapestries of experience”, “adaptive attitude”, and “symbiosis of hues”.  I particularly liked, “inventive integrity” and “soul searching and sustainability…”

I have a large block of Color-aid papers, there are 314 colors in all, and I lopped off the top one inch of each paper and put them on a screw post, so I would have an easy reference for playing around, while maintaining the paper order.  Each of the papers in the full set has a code on the back that helps identify the color.  So I watched the video, and pulled palettes that I thought I’d enjoy dyeing, I’ll spend more time this weekend tweaking and narrowing down, but I had a good start.  Also, ProChem, where I buy my MX Fiber Reactive dyes, has a PDF on their website that gives the Pantone colors for Spring of 2010, with directions for how to dye each color.  How handy is that!

ColorAidPalettesAnd I spent the day just playing with color.  I outlined the eight palettes as I interpreted them from the Pantone site, comparing them to the Spring 2010 colors from Design-Options, and I cut little Color-aid chips, and played around with arrangements.

This is the sort of thing I would do twice a year for Handwoven Magazine when I use to do the articles for them on Color and Fabric Forecasting.  I’ve heard during my travels, how many mourn the loss of the column, but the reality is, the column was costly to produce and you the reader can easily with a handy computer and your own block of Color-aid papers, do your own search and experiment.  Google “Colors Spring 2010” and see what you get…

Now that I have a bunch of potential palettes in front of me, I started looking at space dyed skeins I had laying around the studio, to get a feel for narrower palettes and more monochromatic possibilities, and largely this was just fun to see the palettes next to yarn. The skeins are from Cherry Tree Hill and they are a funky novelty knitting yarn.  I think these were from the batch of novelties I picked up last summer at the Midwest Conference.

Palette1Palette2Palette3Palette7I may be housebound this weekend, but I have a bunch of white warps, and a cabinet full of dyes, and I can crank up the wood stove to keep the room temp about 70 degrees for curing, and I can have a colorful weekend in spite of the frightful weather outside!

9/11

This is a hard day for New Yorkers.  For the rest of the nation as well, but especially for New Yorkers.  We mustn’t forget, we can’t forget.  It is raining steadily here, from a nor’easter hitting the Atlantic coast, unlike this day eight years ago, where the day bloomed gloriously, blue sky, cool dry air, the most perfect day.  I had been offered the job as Features Editor for Handwoven Magazine that day, eight years ago, and as the days unfolded, my emails to Madelyn van der Hoogt, editor in chief of Handwoven Magazine from Interweave Press, netted this letter to the editor, written September 12, 2001.  It appeared in the following issue of Handwoven Magazine.

I live approximately 20 miles from ground zero. I put my children on their respective school buses and sat down with my morning coffee. My husband called to tell me to turn on the television and my life, and the lives of all my fellow countrymen were in that instant changed forever. I watched in horror as a second plane crashed into the symbol of the free world, a structure built to stand up to bombs, earthquakes, even a 747 direct hit. Within the hour, the World Trade Center towers were a twisted pile of ash and debris. All of us will remember this date for the rest of our lives, where we were at the exact moment we heard the news, the powerlessness, anger, and fear that gripped a nation who never thought it could happen here. I turned the television off, I couldn’t watch anymore. I went into my studio, my hair still in hot rollers; I had a class to teach at the university, in about four hours. I am a professor of fine arts in the fiber department at Montclair State University, an artist, and a handweaver. I sat down at my loom and began to weave. Although the structure I was weaving, an 8 shaft shadow weave, was complex, I blindly, numbly, and mechanically, treadled the sequence, threw the shuttle, and found my mind wandering back to the devastation occurring just over the river. How many friends, community members, parents of my children’s friends were in those buildings? I called my mother. We cried together, we watched as the horror of the day unfolded. Over the next few days I watched with grief, fear, anger, uncertainly, my whole world crumble like the dust of the mighty structures that stood like a beacon to the abilities of mankind.

I wandered aimlessly in my studio, unable to motivate myself to create, weave, sew, suddenly all of it seemed so pointless. I sat at the computer and began to write. Fiber is a slow medium for self expression. I am a fiber artist, my pieces take upwards of 6 months to complete. I was to teach a class that day to a new fresh group of university art students, mostly educators, and the first lesson was in two element plaiting. Basic under/over… We use newspaper strips. We make mats, vessels, enclosed forms. Over/under… I couldn’t face a class, I knew they couldn’t concentrate; most of the roads in this part of New Jersey were either closed or clogged anyway. The university cancelled the class.

WTCPlaitedLRWhat is the role of the artist in a society that is grieving the loss of its countrymen and basic freedoms? I kept asking myself, since, it is the artists who record the events, question, criticize, and document the emotions of a nation. I am an artist and a weaver. It was a simple gesture, but for me a profoundly cathartic one when I went to the computer, printed two identical photographs of my children standing atop the South Tower of the World Trade Center less than three weeks ago. They had never been and I wanted to share New York with them. I sliced the two photographs into horizontal and vertical elements and wove, in a simple over/under pattern, the two photographs back together. Because of the process of the interlacement, the images have an eerie offset quality. I made sure my children’s faces were whole and readable, and the rest of the photo, the World Trade Center became shaky and unreadable. It was a small gesture. I shared the piece with my students on Friday. A different class, we had already met once. We cried, we shared, we talked about the role of the artist in our society, the role of the art educator helping students too young to write, who can’t express themselves any other way but through art. It was a very healing experience. As I thought about those elements passing over and under each other, the most simple of interlacements, the most basic tool of the weaver, I thought about how each of us must find a way to heal, to share, to communicate, and to move forward. I will go back to my loom; I will find comfort in the gentle rhythm of the shuttle. I will sit at the sewing machine again. Work will come from my hands again. I feel centered and strong and very, very grateful.

-Daryl Lancaster

September 12, 2001

Earlier this year, I wove this image using the technique I’ve been playing with  for the last two years, an inlay technique, stripping treated silk fabric, printed with an image, and reweaving it back together again.  I believe I wrote about this piece in an earlier blog.  The piece is titled

“Remembering: On Top of the World”

TopOfTheWorldLGTopOfTheWorldDetailLG

Day 2 in MA…

The weather is getting warmer here, more like summer.  But there was a lot of commenting at breakfast at the almost record low this morning of 48 degrees.

firstaidI got my classroom  set up for the all day Inkle Weaving class, and welcomed 17 students.  We dove right in, and by lunch time almost all were ready to weave.  One of my favorite New England Weavers, who is originally from England, lesliefootis Leslie who proudly informed me she was 18 months shy of 90!  She was happily working on her inkle loom when she said to me, “I wonder if there is a first aid station on campus?”  I sort of looked a bit panicked, and she very gently said, in her lovely British accent, “Well I sort of fell off the curb this morning, and I’m afraid my foot is swelling up.”  I looked down at the very badly swollen purple ankle, bulging out of her sandals, and we all jumped into action.  Someone had an ice pack in a cooler, I pushed it into one of my little handwoven bag samples, with the inkle trim handle, and wrapped it around her foot while someone called campus security.  Bless her, she wanted to stay and finish the class.  They whisked her off to the hospital, and three x-rays later, on a pair of crutches, Louise came back to class by 2pm with her badly sprained ankle all wrapped up, and continued the class.  We weavers all have our priorities…  We laughed about it tonight at the fashion show, she said her friends wanted to come pick her up and she said no, she still had to take another of my classes…

I had been told by friends that Smith College has an amazing Art Museum right on campus.  They weren’t kidding.  Imagine my shock when I walked around the walls and saw a Georgia o’Keefe, paintings by Edward Hopper, Max Ernst, Diego Rivera, Ben Shahn, Robert Motherwell, and Willem De Kooning.  And a wonderful sculpture by Louise Nevelson.  I had never seen any of these particular pieces before in an other exhibits so that was a real treat.  What a treasure.  And in the lower gallery, there was an installation by Brooklyn artist and Smith alumni Lesley Dill.  To say this artist’s work was powerful would be an understatement, her materials are largely found, and her voice huge.  Take a look at some of her images on the website of the George Adams Gallery.  And if you Google her name, there are lots of photos of images of her work available.

Lively dinner conversation, I meet such interesting wonderful people at these conferences, many who share their stories with me, especially since I bared my soul at my keynote address.  Then it was off to the informal fashion show, followed by the formal fashion show, followed by the announcing of awards.

marjoriewheelerbackThe informal fashion show was a treat, and one of the garments modeled was a great variation on the “Daryl Jacket”, the pattern I use for teaching my garment construction workshops.  Marjorie Wheeler modeled her jacket, she made the bias yoke in the front and back, the fabric is all handwoven, and she looked so happy in the jacket.

The final garment in the informal fashion show, was actually not a garment, but a guild exchange from the Mainely Weavers.  They paraded in a clothesline stretched from one end of the chapel to the other (odd place for a fashion show), and all the members displayed their miniature kimonos, made from what I understood to be three folded kimonoshandwoven towels, based on an Erica de Ruiter article in Handwoven Magazine, which I believe they said was Nov/Dec 2007.  I did a search on Interweave Presses’ index, and I think this is the article, though I’d have to confirm it when I get home. What a great idea for a guild exchange!

Three Towels or One Wall Hanging—
or Both! (de Ruiter, Erica).
ND07:56–57

The fashion show itself was wonderful, they always are, I don’t have photos, but as a judge, I can’t tell you how differently a garment looks when it is on the person who made it and coming down the runway, or in this case, the church aisle.  So many of my comments during the judging would have been different had I seen the garment on the real body it was designed for.  Looking at a garment on a table, or trying to try it on the body it doesn’t fit, doesn’t do justice to the garment or the maker.  I’m looking foward to judging the Michigan Conference fashion show because I will get to see the garments on the runway before I make my final selections.  Finally!

Oh, and the weaver/designer of that lovely plaid jacket I modeled in the previous post was done by Sharon Baker Kelley.  I didn’t know the piece was Sharon’s until tonight, and obviously I couldn’t say yesterday that we had given it the ‘judges’ choice’ award!  Congratulations Sharon!

OMG!

I just got an alert, my dress, Frosted Florals is on the front page of the Threads Magazine website!  Thanks Tien!

The conference is going well, course I haven’t done anything all day but hang out, chat, and set up my class room.  It is beastly hot here.  I’d say 110 degrees in the shade.  And the poor vendors, are in an airless gym with no AC, and people are dropping like flies.  Still, it is a feast for the eyes, enjoy the photos, looms, yarn, shuttles, books, too much to look at!yarn1

yarn3loomsshuttlesbooksThe cute looms are from Glimakra, I spent a lot of time in their booth, though I’m not in the market for a new loom, I can’t help but be impressed by their ability to keep up with new trends in looms, always thinking and redesigning, and they are always a joy to chat with.

I spent some time with Joanne Hall getting a real demo of their band loom.  I like this loom, and I think I’ll put it on my wish list, it is for making inkle bands, and has a warp and cloth beam so very long lengths of bands can be done without having to rewarp the inkle loom every couple of yards.  Hmmmm…….

inkleloom

I was able to get back to the Faulconer gallery this afternoon to take a better look at the Small Expressions Exhibit, and grab a couple of gallery shots.  gallerygallery2This is a beautiful space, and I enjoyed the intimacy they were able to achieve with all of these very small works, if you can believe, my tiny post card size works are in the first photo  all the way in the corner furthest away from the camera.  Sort of the last pieces on the wall on the left.  You can’t even see there are two pieces side by side.

So I don’t cause you any further eyestrain…

exhibitedworkI got my classroom set up, and I have to say this, I have died and gone to faculty heaven.  I want to be buried in this classroom.  It is high tech, just popped my little pen drive into the system (and after much fiddling, etc.) my presentation came up on the huge wall, I played with the little wall switch for awhile, making the window shades go up and down electronically, the table space is huge, and there is a nice wall in the back to hang my garments for display.classroom

And as I walked across campus, I grabbed some shots of the gorgeous colors in the gardens, I think these would make beautiful palettes for fabric, especially the ones with the greys.

flowersflowers2The keynote address is tonight, it is always a joy to listen to Madelyn van der Hoogt, editor of Handwoven Magazine from Interweave press.

I have to say, I adore mid-western weavers.  They are so great to work with, so helpful, and so kind.  Lots of smiles, and lots of hugs, though we are all doing virtual hugs because of the heat…   And there isn’t a lot of handwoven stuff being worn today, I can assure you.

Stay tuned…