The computer gods smiled at me today…

I spent the last couple of days really focused on the guild website I’m building, wanting to get it put to bed so I can concentrate on getting this yardage done.  I am not proficient with the software at all, the learning curve is huge, and I find that I occasionally get something I just don’t know how to correct.  That happened last night.  I actually had the whole site created, and uploaded, and when I checked the web pages, I just couldn’t get rid of the ugly blue active link boxes around all the little menu buttons.  I knew I had to code the fix somewhere in the CSS, but I went to bed frustrated and depressed, and not sure how I was going to fix the problem.  So of course, no way to shut my little brain off.  I really didn’t sleep at all last night…  🙁

I got up this morning, determined to figure this out, or redesign the whole website, and my wonderful buddy Sally tossed me an email that said, why don’t you query the problem in Dreamweaver online help?  Duh (she says as she smacks herself on an already bruised side of the head…)

And of course, Sally was right on target.  It took about 45 seconds to find the little piece of code necessary to fix the problem, which I embedded and viola!  I had a site that looked the way I envisioned.  Now I’m just waiting for feedback from the group, typos, missed links, weird things happening with obscure browsers, and whatever else they can come up with.  Check out the site if you are curious…   Frances Irwin Handweavers

So the computer gods were my friends today, and after a frustrating week, I’m happy with the final product.  And I made a big ceremonious cross off my to do list on that project.  I still have to build the gallery, but I don’t feel so pressured on that part at the moment.

ReginaMeanwhile, I got a couple of calls/emails today from former students, just checking in on how much my workshops meant to them, and one of them Regina Novotny sent photos of what she’s done with the information from the class.  Regina wove the fabric for this coat, and tailored it from the pattern we used in the jacket class. Talk about a great big vote of confidence.  I felt really proud of my students, and how they’ve taken what I’ve given them, and run with it.  Two of the students who called today, want me to come and do a private session at their studio in the mountains of West Virginia in June.  I’m really really looking forward to that…

cutting tableSo, having a huge smile on my face, and a finished website, I turned to my cutting table which was completely unusable and cleaned it off.  There is nothing like a clean workspace to get the muses dancing…

MSU3On Sunday, I attended the opening at the George Segal Gallery at Montclair State University, for the Art Connections 6 exhibit.  I have two pieces in the show.  The opening was packed, hard to see the work, which was hung salon style, filling the walls floor to ceiling, and of course, one of my pieces was near the floor.  We all had stiff knees after squatting down discussing the imagery and iconography of the piece.

I had one of my smaller Personal Posts pieces there as well.  It was sort of lost between two bright and colorful pieces, yet there were a lot of people peering close to really see what was happening in the piece.

MSU2MSU1I met a couple of women I hadn’t seen in more than 25 years, one of them I went to art school with in the mid 1970’s.  I love the connections one makes at these kind of openings, and lots of business cards were exchanged.

So, now I’m going to focus on getting this fabric off the loom before the end of the month, so I can get it photographed and entered in the Convergence yardage exhibit.  I would have liked to have submitted more than one piece, but that’s not going to happen…

loomweavingfabricThe fabric is weaving pretty well, the sticky springy cotton lace is still giving me a bit of grief, but I just ignore it and build up a rhythm.  I’ve finished about a quarter of the yardage, and I’m hoping to blow through another couple of yards tomorrow.  It is so pretty to weave, each time the cloth is advanced a whole new color section reveals itself.  🙂

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 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…

All my children and roller coaster rides…

What a week!

EricFirst, my children are of the ages when roller coaster rides seem like canoe trips on a lake…  My son, who wore camouflage  his entire third grade year, has finally signed on the dotted line and joined the military.  He leaves for basic training for the Army National Guard on January 4th.  I’ve been asked by a number of friends, how do I feel about this?  Honestly, no one knows where life is going to take them, he parties hard for a 19 year old, and his motivation for anything involving work is pretty low.  I adore being around him and his friends, who seem to be living in my basement on a full time basis now, eating me out of house and home.  He is entertaining, kind, interesting, and I know I’ll really miss him when he grows up and goes out on his own, but I don’t see that happening without the structure of something like the military.  So, I’m OK with this decision, and pretty proud, he did this all on his own, gathered all the paperwork, medical records, and he is pretty excited about the future, for the first time in his life.

layoutIsland_DressMeanwhile, he has a roll in the musical Once on this Island, at the community college where he attends, and happily volunteered me to help the frazzled costumer, who has to come up with island/Carribbean costumes for 40 cast members.  My stash proved to be quite useful, where do I find these things?, and my first assignment was to copy a Hawaiian wrap dress out of a vintage handscreened handwoven silk from Thailand.  That was a fun 3 hour diversion.

I attended the rehearsal again last night, and now have a suitcase full of alterations to do today on top of finishing up my article for SS&D.  Shades of 27 dresses

ShelfThen there is my daughter.  My lovely adorable interesting and very capable pink haired daughter.  She is still in HS, and in between her honors physics and calculus classes, she has a class in Woodworking, Cabinet and Machine woods to be exact.  She loves the class, the only female, and fortunately it is her first period class and makes her mornings actually bearable.  This is the age of complete connectedness to your children, for better or for worse, and though it isn’t really permitted, the kids text blindly under the desk on a regular basis, so I know what goes on at school way more than I should!  Usually I get texts like, “Mom, the Yankee Candle order forms and money are due today.  I forgot, can you bring them over to the HS right away?”  But yesterday morning I got a text that just said, “Finished”.  Attached was a picture of her latest project in cabinet woods, a gorgeous oak shelving unit.  I know she will want to put it in her room, but I think I’ll fight her on this one.  It is beautiful!  I want it for me…

Later on in the day, I got a text that said, “I’m inspired… do you have any of that clear plastic fabric?”  This is always problematic, because when my daughter gets an idea, she runs with it, and doesn’t stop until it’s done.  Which means taking over my studio for an indeterminate amount of time.  She ended up making a tote bag, (inspired by my tote bag adventures) out of duct tape, saved candy wrappers (who saves their candy wrappers?) and clear plastic vinyl sheeting (which I did have in my studio).  She needed a small tote for her Japanese books for the Japanese class she is taking at the community college.  I’ll send along a photo when I can.

So this was more than a roller coaster week, aside from my children.  Back at the end of September, I applied to three exhibitions, where I thought my work might be appropriate.  They were all running during the same time frame, so it was quite a juggling act to see which of my artpieces I would send for which exhibition applications.  Once the applications are sent, it is a nail biting waiting game.  You’d think by now I’d be use to this.  I don’t think you ever get use to the waiting game, and ultimately the rejections that come with them.  Two of the notifications were suppose to be released on October 15th.  October 15th came and went, and nothing.  One of the applications was done online through Juried Art Services, so the notification would be online as well.  Either a green checkmark, or a red X.  Very personal.  I checked the website about every half hour for about 5 days straight.  Suddenly, there it was, two big red X’s.  And the accompanying note, if you actually clicked on the X’s read, “Thank you for your submission. We regret to inform you that your work was not chosen for this year’s exhibition.”  🙁

OK, so there were still two more applications out there, and I kept checking my snail mail, with eager anticipation, until the next notification popped up in my email box.  I hadn’t actually expected to hear from this exhibit quite this soon.  “Thank you for your submission.  It was a very difficult decision- making process as we received many applications. We are sorry to inform you that your work was not selected this year.”  🙁

OK, so there was still one more.  I was only out about $100 in entrance fees, and I had just won an award at an exhibit a couple weeks ago, so the roller coaster feeling of being high and then crashing down to the ground and rethinking your entire body of work, is all in a days work.

Then came the final notification, suddenly, in my inbox, a week overdue.

“Congratulations!  Thank you for your submission to the George Segal Gallery for Art Connections 6. This year over 175 artists submitted work for review with a total of over 750images to be juried. The quality of the work was outstanding, which made the selection process very challenging. The juror chose 182 works from 118 artists. You are one of those artists!”  🙂

This exhibit is actually at the new gallery that is part of Montclair State University, where I got my art degree in 1977.  So I sort of feel a little thrill at finally being able to come back and say to no one in particular, see what I did with your degree?  Like I said, this week has been a roller coaster ride.

fusingstashI did manage to make up that tote bag I started last week, I didn’t actually start it, more like laid a pile of the table of stuff that sort of related, and waited to see where it would take me.  I got the handwoven fabric laid out pretty quickly, but the companion complementary fabric just wasn’t working.  I rooted around in my stash a bit more, and found some raw silk I had used for sampling some fabric paints and stencils.  So I dug out my fabric paints and stencils and painted the rest.  I chose to do a more complex binding, which involved yarn and bias strips, and it took way longer than I could ever sell the tote bag for, I really find it hard to do inexpensive and simple, but I had a blast, and love the results.  I used one of my silk sari’s from India for the lining, and it made for a totepleasant day being one with my sewing detailmachine while the world rained chaos around me.  🙂


Well best laid plans…

I’m listening to The Devil Wears Prada on my new iTouch.  I’ve seen the movie of course, but I never got around to reading the actual book.  I was looking for something light, to download from my library service for audio books.  They don’t have a lot of the type of literature I like, but this caught my eye.  If you haven’t seen the movie, rent it, a great chick flick.  New college journalism graduate lands her first job as the assistant to a wickedly sadistic boss, Miranda, the editor in chief of Runway magazine played by Meryl Streep, sort of an obvious take off on Vogue.  There is a scene, repeated quite often in the movie and the book, where the poor overworked assistant, Andrea, is sitting at her desk, and “Miranda” sweeps into the reception area, dumping her sumptuous full length fur coat on Andrea’s desk, completely covering her and sashays off into her private office, leaving Andrea to deal with the coat.

This is a great visual for how my week has been going.  I feel like the planets are having a field day dumping huge fur coats across my desk, so many I’m drowning in them.  There are some wonderful, sumptuous opportunities being thrown at me from all directions, and I am accomplishing some really fun things in the studio, but I feel like I’m drowning in too much of a good thing.  Can you imagine?  So I don’t want this blog to sound like I am complaining…

First, there is the opportunity to send proposals to the American Sewing Guild conference in Atlanta next summer, then there are a number of late fall/winter art exhibitions that I should apply to, and there is my article to write for SS&D.  Orders have been coming in, and I’ve been invited to participate in a Fiber Arts telesummit, in November, a weekend virtual event where participants listen to and interact with presenters on the phone.  The roster of speakers looks great, and I need to send bio, lecture title, write up, etc., by yesterday.  I’ll talk more about this event as I have promotional material to post.

Meanwhile, I did talk about trying to make something to sell for my guild show and sale in November, (the same weekend as the Telesummit).  And did I mention I’m leaving on Sunday to teach for a week at Sievers Fiber School in Wisconsin?  I made it to UPS today, with a huge box of handouts, monographs, and interfacings and such, since I’ll need to be prepared for whatever the returning students want to make.  And I took a quick drive to Montclair State University this morning to drop off an application for an exhibit next January.  The application was of course due today.

sweatshirtI have been somewhat successful in making a couple of things for the sale.  Here is where it gets a little difficult.  I am perfectly capable of making stuff.  The hard part is making cheap stuff.  I mean affordable stuff.  Once into a project, it twists and turns, and usually turns out wonderful, but at a price point that would be way beyond what someone would pay at a guild sale.  I purchased a yam colored pigment dyed sweatshirt from Nancy’s Notions.  Nancy has gorgeous sweatshirts, in wonderful colors, if you like sweatshirts, and I bought one to try it out, and cut it into a jacket, and trimmed it with a handwoven scarf I had laying around.  I made one of these last spring after an American Sewing Guild chapter meeting, where the seminar leader took a sweatshirt, cut it into a jacket by cutting up the center front and removing the bottom bands and sleeve cuffs, and adding quilt fabric for trim.  I took it a step further, and used a handwoven scarf.  There were two tiny scraps left when I was finished.

Next I started on a tote bag using the piecing technique I teach in my pieced vest class, called Vested Interest (which I’ll be teaching at the John C. Campbell Folk School in NC in January).  I am trying to see if I can develop a one day hands on seminar, using the technique and developing a project that will appeal to everyone, and can be completed in one day.  bagWell, I was partially successful in making a very cool tote bag, (almost finished, just some handwork) but failed miserably trying to make a reasonably priced item for the guild sale and something that could be made in one day.  I’ve been working on it solid for three days, and yes, I take photos every step of the way, about 200 so far, and I am constantly ripping out and redoing as I think of a better way to accomplish something, but I’m at least moving in a direction full of possibilities.  I basically have to simplify, simplify, simplify, and sadly, I never learned the meaning of that word…

inkleI’m trying to finish up the inkle band that coordinates with it, and maybe use it as trim, though I’m liking it just the way it is, and think I may use the inkle band for something else…

And then there was the guild meeting on Monday.  The Frances Irwin Handweaving Guild is embarking on a fall study of rugs and rug structures, and we had to bring a loom warped to try sampling the September theme of Summer/Winter and Taquetté in rugweaving.  The directions called for a 10 1/2″ wide sample warp, and though my little sample loom is only 10 1/4″ wide, I went with it.  And the recommended thickness of rug yarn was heavier than anything I have laying around in the studio, so I went on an attic hunt and procured a bag of  yarn, some bright pink wool, and some brown handspun from my mother-in-law’s stash.  Even though she has been dead for three years, she still guides me to her stash when I need something, as though her spirit is still hanging in my studio and telling me, “Use this…”yarn

So I dusted off my trusty Ashford wheel, and plied the pink wool, and brown handspun, to make something closer to the required weight of rug wool.plying

I got the loom warped, and took it off to the guild meeting yesterday, and was pretty happy with the first samples off the loom.  I will say this is about as foreign as it gets for loomme in weaving, one because I’m using a table loom which is awkward and slow, I’m use to speed yardage, and the weight is really unusual for me, I think I’ve woven two rugs in my whole life, maybe not even that many.  I weave yardage for clothing, so this is a stretch.  But I love the colors.

So, I’ll continue working as hard as I can, because that’s what I do.  My daughter is also putting out fires, apparently there was a major summer assignment for her Spanish 4 class in High School, which was never given to her, and she found out about it only a week ago, the teacher graciously allowed her a week to complete the hugely labor intensive assignment, and my lovely pink haired daughter is alternating between ripping her pink hair out, and suffering complete meltdowns.  And trying to keep up with all the other work assigned, and the extra curricular activities, is killing us both!  And my wonderful adorable, lazy 19 year old son has finally made the decision to join the Army National Guard, the appointment with the recruiter is tomorrow, to finish the paperwork and make it all official.  Part of me of course is immensely proud of him, and part of me is scared to death.  And part of me is snickering, because when he acts like the lazy 19 year old he is, I think to myself, “The army will never put up with sleeping until lunch time…”  And there is his room in the basement…  🙂