A Story…

Because life isn’t nearly as much fun if you can’t make a good story out of it…

There is a wonderful fiber school called Sievers School of Fiber Arts on Washington Island Wisconsin. I taught there for probably a dozen years before Covid put an end to my travels and I chose not to reschedule after Covid ended.

Sievers has a willow patch, that they tend and harvest every fall, and they have always offered a class in making a willow chair. Many of my regular students talked lovingly of coming in the fall, with their spouses and making a willow chair, and would show me photos of the pair of chairs on their porches, decks, verandas, whatever. I can’t tell you how much I wanted to come with my husband over the years and do this class with him, so we would have a pair of willow chairs on our deck that we made together.

It would have meant that my husband and I would have had to drive from NJ to Wisconsin and back, with two large chairs in tow, and somehow, that class was never at a time when both of us were available and could make the trek.

When my husband died, of course that dream came to an end, and since I no longer teach on the road (though I do miss Sievers), traveling out there by myself to bring back a chair didn’t make sense.

But I live an hour away from another craft school, Peters Valley School of Craft. When I looked at the course offerings back in January, I couldn’t believe they were offering a willow chair class. My husband was gone, but I could still do the class myself and not have to drive back from Wisconsin.

I signed up, though this one was a five day class, not a three day class. I didn’t care. It was actually one of eight classes I signed up for at the Valley this spring/summer. I want to learn.

What I didn’t realize at the time, was the actual dates of the class coincided with the 8th anniversary of my husband’s death. Which was Monday.

Working with willow is challenging for someone used to manipulating fibers, soft things, that though they have a mind of their own, will work with me, or rather I learned to work with them to achieve my goal. I’m still learning to understand live wood. Freshly picked. Shipped in from Montana, since Peters Valley is in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area , part of the National Park System. You can’t pick anything in a national park. So no willow patches.

There were only three of us in the class, which was great as I usually needed a second set of hands to help hold the bent willow in place. The teacher Walter Shaw, of Wapiti Willow Studio, was generous with his time. And he created a chair as a demo, staying one step ahead. Right next to where I was building mine.

This voice in my head kept encouraging me to ask Walter what he planned to do with the chair he was building. He said he wasn’t sure, his wife (who was teaching a ceramics class at the Valley the same week) was encouraging him to make furniture for her new ceramics studio. I asked if he would sell me the chair…

He agreed, and on Monday, like I said, the 8th anniversary of my husband’s death, I wrote a check for Walter’s demo chair, which matched mine perfectly, same willow, same maple base.

Since I was commuting, I brought home one of the chairs Monday night, and the second chair Tuesday night. I felt my husband there the entire time, and understood that he wanted me to have a pair of chairs too. And so, now I do, sitting proudly on my deck, under the gazebo cover.

We had time at the end of the class to make a willow tray. This was a challenge. This isn’t basketry willow, these are willow branches and they were very hard to weave in and out of the supports. But the tray is lovely.

This is the second class I’ve taken at Peters Valley since I wrote my last post. The previous one, at the end of May, wasn’t the best class I’ve ever taken. The instructor was overly enthusiastic with all of the techniques she wanted to try with us to explore Eco Printing, within a three day period. Since the current trend is to Eco Print, or print with botanicals on cloth, by dyeing the cloth first with natural dyes, much of the class was focused on natural dyeing and the use of modifiers. We made lots of small samples for a notebook. We learned to make print paste as well, and experimented with block printing, flower pounding, making our own soy milk for a mordant and print paste base. It was a lot in 3 days, and though I took a notebook full of notes, I’m no longer sure which sample goes with which technique. We even tossed a cotton tote back into a “dirty pot” on the last day.

We did print two silk scarves, one dyed with madder, and the other with logwood, using an iron blanket, but I will honestly say, I wasn’t happy with anything I did there. But I have a lot of things to explore, and I’m already starting to save leaves, since I have a yard full of very printable botanicals. Winter will be fun this year.

A couple of weeks ago, I came home from wherever I was, and discovered the mother lode of magazines in my mail box. I’m a member of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and get their bulletin a couple times a year, and they are always interesting and informative. In the mailbox was also the latest issue of Shuttle, Spindle, and Dyepot, from the Handweavers Guild of America. And there was the much anticipated Journal of Weavers, Spinners, and Dyers, a gorgeous publication from the UK.

This issue was much anticipated because I wrote an article on sewing with handwoven fabric, some many months ago. I finally got to see it in print. It really is a lovely article, and it is fun to look at my heavily edited manuscript written in British English, British spelling, metric equivalents, etc. The article is available as a PDF download from their website.

And of course, through it all, I’m out there daily tending the garden. The planting is complete, for now, and my job is to keep everything alive. It is lovely to watch the changes each day. Something is always blooming. Though I do watch the weather app in my phone hoping to see some rain in the forecast so I get a break once in a while!

Lots of bluestone walkways. The landscape designer built a stream bed for heavy rain runoff, that meanders down along the “ridge”, under the shed steps, and through a trough out the back of the property. Those are Clethra bushes, Itea, and a couple of American Hornbeam trees.

One of the pond complexes…

The rebuilt gazebo

This is my view every morning when I eat my breakfast. There are baby koi along with the Shubunkins goldfish. They are quite hilarious to watch. Spunky little critters!

I’m getting to take lots of pretty flower pictures, all of these already existed on my property. The perennials the landscape designer planted are still very small. Next year they should start filling the spaces, so there won’t be dirt to weed and they shouldn’t need watering. Each day there is something new to appreciate. These aren’t native hydrangeas, but the landscape designer did plant a few native ones. I think they are white, but still early to tell.

I have lots of volunteer Fleabane peaking out around my property. I love the little white daisy flowers.

After we ripped off all the invasive Akebia vine from the gazebo, we were left with a structure in desperate need of support. We shored it up, and discovered we had a crossvine that was barely surviving, and this year the trumpet flowers from it were glorious. There is a large white willow that frames the gazebo.

My clematis survived, which I wasn’t sure about since it was tangled in a mess of oriental bittersweet.

And of course peonies are gorgeous for about 4 hours, and then the rains always come as soon as they open up, which makes them not so gorgeous. But for a day, I had beautiful peonies.

My landscape designer planted two southern Magnolia trees. The flower blooms are gorgeous.

And of course, I have roses.

Though the irises are gone now, they were the most spectacular I have ever seen them this past spring.

One very rainy day, I hunkered down in the basement and got the body of my pieced jacket together. It is quite fun. Only needs a lining and perimeter bias trim. Waiting for another rainy day, but the forecast is calling for hot and dry. In the mid to upper 90’s. Sigh…

And when I can, after dark, I sit curled up and continue working on the appliqué cat quilt, a project of my mom’s that she asked me to do for her, since this kind of work at age 93, is challenging. The kit is one from the 90’s from Maggie Walker. This is block number 5. I still have to finish embroidering the whiskers and stitch the name along the side, Abyssinian.

I’ve already started #6, which will be challenging, because it overlaps #9, and I have to wait to finish much of #6, until I build #9. This is the coolest puzzle I’ve ever assembled.

My retrospective at County College of Morris is still up, running through August 22. It isn’t open on the weekend but the new summer hours have been posted.

Wednesday, May 8 – Tuesday, June 25 Mon-Fri, 8:30am-4:00pm. Sat-Sun, CLOSED

Wednesday, June 26 – Thursday, August 1 Mon-Thu, 8:30am-8:00pm. Fri, 8:30am-4:00pm. Sat-Sun, CLOSED

Friday, August 2 – Thursday, August 28 Mon-Fri, 8:30am-4:00pm. Sat-Sun, CLOSED

And finally, my exhibit is up on their website.

All this means that I’m frequently asked to meet groups of weavers and sewers and friends, and relatives at the exhibit, (when I’m available), give them a tour, and go out to lunch, or dinner, or in the case of my sister from Maryland, have a glorious weekend of family, including the sister from NY. We saw my exhibit, and then my studio and gardens, and then headed to NY to see the NY sister’s new home and gardens. We even got to walk across the Hudson River on the NY Rail Trail bridge over the Hudson. Something I’ve never done. Somebody has a photo of the three of us on the bridge, I forget who!

And I did manage to squeeze in a visit last Tuesday to the MET museum last week to catch the final days of the Weaving Abstraction in Ancient and Modern Art, and the new costume exhibit Sleeping Beauties. My head was full, all of my senses on fire, and I was home by lunch time.

It was really important for me to stay busy this year. My son is still deployed in the middle east, and I worry about him daily. Keeping busy has always been my antidote for stress. I still play with Montclair Early Music, and volunteer weekly at the Shakespeare Theatre of NJ as a stitcher in their costume shop. My life is exhausting, but I couldn’t be happier, because all of these things I chose to do.

Stay cool dear readers, it is summer out there and record heat doesn’t bode well for the future. Enjoy your gardens, or volunteer in one, and get your hands dirty. And when gardening season ends, there will always be fiber to play with…

Stay tuned…

Japan or Bust

I know I’ve been home for a couple of weeks, and I’ve been getting kind notes wondering when I’m going to talk about my amazing trip, and it was amazing, I can assure you.

I hit the ground running as soon as I landed, and struggled for a couple of weeks with serious jet lag. I had just started to adjust to the 13 hour time difference when it was time to head back to the states, so it took almost another 2 weeks to try to explain to my poor body that I needed it to wake up at 7 and go to bed at 11pm. I had just a few days to buy my vegetable plants, get them in the ground, thoroughly clean the house, and prep for a private student coming from Montana for 5 days. That included meal planning, and food purchase, and making sure all was ready.

My student was a delight. When I think that housing and feeding a student for five days and spending essentially 24/7 with them, teaching them all they want to learn, is way too much, I have a student like this who reminds me why I continue to do this. Just before she arrived, I spent hours one evening in the doggie ER with a dog who apparently got tangled with the other dog, fell down the stairs, and scared us half to death with what appeared to be either a broken hip or spine. Turns out nothing was broken, and he is mostly healed. But life has a way of completely getting in the way of best laid plans.

Like this trip to Japan. My daughter and I had originally planned the trip for May of 2020. We all know how that went. By the time we were able to go, the stress of going away for two weeks, and boarding the animals, and thinking of all the things that could go wrong, made me almost not want to go.

But we went. And it was wonderful. Everything I hoped it could be. Our tour sponsors were Tom Knisely and his daughter Sara Bixler of Red Stone Glen. Sara was the hostess with the mostess, she was super prepared, had kits made for all of us that wanted them, to keep us busy on the long bus rides, in kumihimo braiding, flat origami shapes, and sashiko stitching. Our guide and translator Juka, was just a joy, really experienced, she has been leading tours for 30 years. This was her first time with weavers, and she got to try all the looms we tried, and experience all the techniques too. The tour company was Opulent Quilt Journeys, and I highly recommend them. They know textile tours.

Anyway, I have about 900 photos to process. So much of what we saw and did went by in a blur, but I grabbed images and English text translations on the signs as best I could, so I could sit down later and create a digital album of the incredible journey. I am just into Day 4 (of 13), and have hit 48 slides already. Here are just a couple of the highlights so far, hopefully you will be able to read some of the text.

In the meantime, I had started a sweater somewhere in 2019, because I traveled so much, knitting was a great airport pastime. Typically in any give year, I’d make a winter sweater and a summer top. This poor sweater sat languishing in my knitting bag since March of 2020, the last time I got on a plane. I finished it, and got to knit a pair of socks as well.

Harrisville Silk and Wool/Matlock design.

Noro Sock Yarn

A few blog posts ago, I talked about all the writing assignments that had come across my desk. The final one has been published, in the Summer ’23 issue of Shuttle Spindle and Dyepot, from the Handweavers Guild of America. You can read all about weaving mohair, now that it is summer!

My days are ridiculously busy, which I know is my fault, though it really isn’t a complaint. But I have this cool studio with 64 named looms all of which I worked really hard to get warped up, and I haven’t been able to get out there to weave on anything. A couple days ago, in a determined mindset, I went out, randomly picked a loom, probably as a response to the SSD article, which I submitted months ago, and finally finished the warp yesterday. I decided that until I need the loom for something else, the fabric will just stay on the loom finished. Because I don’t like naked looms, and I don’t have a place to put 3.5 yards of mohair yardage that the cat won’t adopt. So it will safely stay there…

There will be more of the Japan trip, I’m sure, and I’ve already had guild requests for presentations. They may regret that inquiry, as I time a guild presentation – 40 slides = approx 1 hour… I’m at 48 for day 4… This digital album is for me though, so I can remember all we did in a visual way. I don’t care if anyone sees it. I recently looked back on the one I did for my trip to Morocco in 2019. I’m so glad I had it because I had forgotten so much. Lots of people asked me about it on this trip, but I couldn’t remember the names of some of the things we did and saw. Even this trip to Japan, I find I’m running down the hall asking my daughter if she remembers the name of the robe each hotel provided. It was a Jukata… Should have taken better notes…

On the days I’m not full of places to be and things taking up my time, I’m hoping to weave, and work on the Japan album. That’s in between garden tending and keeping things watered. We had a ridiculously wet spring, my yard was a swamp, and I started planting things that loved to “keep their feet wet”, like elderberry. Now everything is bone dry, ground splitting in spots, and I’m looking at plants thinking, what’s drought tolerant? Right now we are downwind of the Canadian wildfires and you can’t go outside without an N95 mask. Good thing I have a supply. My heart bleeds for my Canadian friends.

I will leave you with a couple of overall thoughts about Japan. I will miss the kindness, respect and courtesy of the Japanese people. I know every culture has its issues, but it is not lost on me how hospitable the Japanese people are. And the toilets. I loved that even in the train station, there were Toto toilets, with heated seats, and built in bidets… And I miss the convenience of the breakfast buffet…

Stay tuned…

Shopping In The Attic…

A long time ago, seems like another lifetime, I gave up ten years of craft fairs and production work, because 1) I was so burned out I didn’t want to weave anymore and 2) I was pregnant in my mid 30’s with my first child.  He turns 30 in February.  It was a long time ago.  Talk about an abrupt life style change…  As much as I can’t imagine my life without my children, especially since my husband is gone, those early years were tough.  I had my daughter just about three years after my son.  So most of my 30’s was about raising kids and desperately trying to recreate myself creatively, incredibly challenging.  For many years the looms stayed fallow.  It was just too hard to set up a loom, be uninterrupted without paying someone to watch my kid/kids while puttered away designing and threading.  And without the source of craft fair income, it was had to justify yarn purchases.  

But I had scrap.  Boy did I have scrap.  Handwoven yardage that is.  I was able to recreate myself and make use of lots of those scraps in the years my children were young because it is easier to be interrupted at the sewing machine than at the loom.  I’ve talked about this before, because a few years ago I started looking at all that scrap in the attic and downsized a bit, especially the early fabrics by making one pound packages and selling them off.  Those are all gone, but there is still a lot up there, and more recent work has netted me some pretty fantastic colorful scraps that I can do some pretty fantastic stuff with…


I’m heading to Whidbey Island next Friday with a stop off in Bellingham, WA to give a lecture to the Whatcom Guild.  They chose to have my lecture on what to do with Leftovers.  I haven’t given that one in a year or two, and it was really lovely to go through and pull all the ingredients for the lecture, because when I teach someplace where I have to fly, I have to ship a lot of stuff ahead.  The “ingredients” or samples and examples for the Leftovers lecture won’t fit in the suitcases I need for the five day garment construction retreat on Whidbey Island so they all have to be shipped head as well.  And because this is the Pacific Northwest, and I live in the Northeast, I have to give lots of lead time for stuff to get there.  Which means a lot of preplanning and prepping.  So earlier this week, I focused on cutting and printing and binding and packing everything I need for both the retreat and the Leftovers lecture, which made me go through the content of the Leftovers lecture and remind me why this topic is so much fun.  Everything has been shipped out and I have some time to kill…

The fun part for me is that I already have all the “ingredients” for a lifetime of playing with handwoven pieces that are really just trash.  The garment they came from is finished and somewhere in my closet or sold.  I only have one venue a year where I can sell things I make from scraps, and there isn’t a whole lot of money to be made, once the guild takes its percentage, but still, my Jockey Hollow Weavers Guild show and sale in November is a pretty strong venue if I take the time to actually make stuff.

So I have a week or so before I fly out to Seattle, and the prep work for the workshop is done, and I pulled a large pile of miscellaneous stuff from my attic, and set out to see what I could come up with.

I’m seeing a lot of images of bags and items on social media that use my long ago developed technique for piecing.  All you have to do is show a person or two the technique, in a class or lecture and social media spreads it like wild fire…  I’ve already made two bags and sold them immediately at the guild sale last year, and this last one used the remaining bits.  The technique uses a tricot backing, scraps are fused to the backing with cut edges butting together, and the joins are covered by bias tubes using a duct tie as a press bar.  I’ve documented the process along with the rest of the technique suggestions in my “What to Do with Leftovers” monograph. 

I also found a very large hunk of a woven piece I did years ago featured in a Handwoven Magazine article, using a Theo Moorman inlay technique with Pendleton Woolen Mill “worms” or blanket selvedges (I shipped home a couple of bales from the mill during a tour after the Pendleton Oregon ANWG conference back in 2005 I think).  I wove them in using tie down threads on a wool background using up stuff on my shelves.  This made for a great two sided fabric and it was a perfect candidate and just the right size to squeak out a vest from my collared vest pattern.  No need for a yoke since the “worms” changed color midway up the scrap. Here is the link to the original coat, long ago sold to my favorite customer.

And I made another padded zipper pouch last night, with a leftover piece from last year’s dishtowel run.  The piece wasn’t enough for a full dishtowel, and not really the right size for a napkin. I showed the first one I made a couple blog posts ago I think.  There are a boat load of YouTube videos from quilters on making zippered pouches, though I’m having issues with my serger, this still came out quite lovely.  (Note to self: figure out what’s wrong with the serger, changing needles didn’t help…)

And I got the idea of making greeting cards out of the smaller scraps, from some I got from a guild or conference tote or something.  I ordered a bunch of Strathmore blanks with envelopes and cello sleeves  and my daughter immediately stole all of them and made them into cards so she could sell them at the sale.  Her scraps are infinitely more interesting than mine, but I’ll have competition at the guild this year for greeting cards.  Hoping people still send snail mail greetings…

And of course there is nothing like a deadline.  

Additional sidebar…

I am a huge fan of the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, their productions are incredible, and I always try to attend their annual gala fundraisers whenever I’m actually in town.  This October they are hosting another fund raiser, with requisite tricky tray, called “A Bard’s Barbeque“.  I’ve donated my handwoven scarves to their tricky tray in the past, but the BBQ theme needed something different.  I spoke with one of their development directors about donating a couple of handwoven dishtowels, you know, the Lady Macbeth “Out damned spot” kind of thing.  They loved it but it means I have to clear the loom of the 14 dishtowels to get two for them before I leave for WA next Friday.  No pressure. 

I think I just finished number nine…

And while I had my morning tea, I leafed through the new Shuttle, Spindle and Dyepot that has been sitting on the table for a week now.  It has the conference registration for next year’s Convergence in Knoxville, TN, and I’m not on the roster by choice.  I didn’t apply to the conference because, well if you have been following my blog you know that I’m not interested in doing conferences anymore.  That said, I was surprised as I leafed through the magazine, to find myself on page 25, or rather my coat, which I had forgotten had won the coveted HGA award back in 2018 and was featured in a spread in the magazine that featured all the HGA award winners from last year.

I read on, and was surprised again to see me, like a picture of me, on page 7 of the conference registration book, because I’m one of the invited fashion show artists.  There are three of us invited, I was the juror for the fashion show in Reno in 2018, and now, I’ll be sending five pieces of work, so my work will be there, just not me.  Talk about a serious deadline…

And then I really was surprised when I turned to page 44, almost at the end, and saw a lovely ad featuring my dress, it was an HGA ad for Professional Membership.  I have this vague recollection of the editor asking permission to use my piece in something…  The ad is beautiful.  And of course I’m a professional member…

Nice to be featured prominently in a magazine without actually having to write anything!

Stay tuned…

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…

Candiss and Daryl’s Excellent Adventure

I got the biggest treat this week, a call from my favorite fiber buddy of all time, and probably my closest longtime friend, Candiss ColeweddingCandiss is a handweaver from Sedona, we met around 1980, across the aisle from each other at the Gaithersburg, MD craft fair, and have been the best of friends ever since.  My husband gave Candiss away, and I stood for Candiss at her wedding in 2004 to Rodger Footitt, in a tiny little hamlet in northern England called Bagshaw.

Sidebar: I made the dress I’m wearing, and the vest is another long story, I handbeaded it over the beadingcourse of 9 years, finishing it up for the wedding.  Two beads at a time, a labor of love.  The ground fabric was a vintage jacquard upholstery fabric, in the color Candiss and I referred to as Starbuck’s Caramel Macchiatto.

Candiss continued to do craft fairs, while after about 10 years, I stopped to have a couple babies and redirect my career.  Her work has evolved and she continues to reinvent herself year after year, each time I look at her collection I think, Wow! Candiss, this is the best one yet!

Anyway, Candiss called, she was en route between a fall show in Maryland, and the show in Westchester, NY this weekend.  She had a couple of days to “play” and play we did!  Her husband headed off to the golf course, and Candiss and I hopped in my car and headed into Manhattan.  On my list of wannasee was the textile woven from Golden Orb Spider Silk now on display this month at the American Natural History Museum in NYC.



This is an amazing textile, if you can’t make it to NYC to see it, make sure you look at the link from the American Natural History Museum, there is a slide show of details that my poor little camera phone, (yep, the one the dog ate), couldn’t begin to capture.  The story is amazing, and I’m glad I slipped in to catch it before it leaves NYC.

Candiss and I had a lovely lunch together, just like old times, chatting about stuff that only Candiss and I can chat about, old friends, museumwho have spent a lifetime together, and then we went on to see the Cezanne exhibit at the Montclair Art Museum in Montclair, NJ.

First I want to say that the Montclair Art Museum is a lovely old architectural beauty nestled in a residential area of a very wealthy section of Montclair, NJ.  It is always a pleasure to venture over there, but alas, I am spoiled, for another 10 minute trip on the bus, I can be at the MET in NYC.  So I don’t venture there nearly as often as I would if it were the only game in town.

There has been extensive advertising for the Cezanne exhibit that just opened there, more correctly, the title is Cezanne and American Modernism.  More correctly the title should read American Modernism and the Cezanne influence.

There were only a handful of Cezanne paintings and a few of his watercolors and drawings mixed in with well over 80 early paintings of American greats like Marsden Hartley, Man Ray, Max Weber, and Arshile Gorky.  The American painters weren’t even exposed to Cezanne until after his death in 1906, when Cezanne’s work first appeared at Alfred Stieglitz’s gallery in 1910, largely in the form of photographs of the paintings and then at subsequent exhibitions including the 1913 armory exhibit.  The Montclair exhibition was well done, but I have to say, I kept getting the nagging feeling as I wandered through the paintings, looking at numerous Cezannesque still life’s and nude bathers and impressionistic landscapes, that there is a fine line between “influenced by” and a direct knock off.  We struggle with this fine line today in fashion, and I kept thinking that in the artworld, this is almost expected, you learn from imitating the masters.   Each of the above mentioned painters went on to create their own vastly different styles, and the early paintings, clearly “influenced” by Cezanne, were sort of a surprise.

Anyway, if you live in the north jersey area, it is a great show, but don’t expect to see a retrospective of Cezanne.

Yesterday Candiss and I met up again, this time at a veritable institution for handweavers, Silk City Fibers.

Sidebar:  I live about 15 minutes from Silk City Fibers in Paterson NJ.  I’ve had an on again off again relationship with them over the last 25 years, most of my yarns came from them in the 1980’s when I did craft fairs, many from that era remember the old stand-by Contessa, rayon and silk, a staple in most handweaver’s stashes.  Silk City Fibers is a wholesaler, which means only those who establish wholesale accounts and buy in large quantity can purchase from them, but there are a number of retailers across the country that carry their lines of yarn, for both knitting and weaving, most know about Bambu 7 and 12.  They are Silk City yarns.

I did some color consulting for Silk City Fibers around the time my son was born, (he is almost 20), and I used their yarns heavily in the color forecast column I wrote for Handwovensilkcity Magazine for a number of years.  They open the warehouse once a month, on the second Saturday of the month I believe (same day as my American Sewing Guild meeting), to handweavers, knitters, and other interested fiber enthusiasts, where they discount their discontinued colors and lines, and offer them for sale.  Though I am choking with yarn, and have no need to add to the stash, I jumped at the opportunity to tag along with Candiss and her husband, see Mady, who I’ve known since 1980 ish, and is now probably in charge of everything Silk City, haven’t a clue what her title is, but there were lots of hugs and how are the kids, and how’ve you been kinds of greetings exchanged.

I found some thin rayon rickracky kind of yarn, Skinny Majesty, (I remember the plain old Majesty line, which I still have remnants of floating around on the shelf, twice the diameter of it’s skinnier counterpart), and picked up a few cones to fill in the stash.  I also got a number of cones of assorted cottons and rayons that are undyed/unscoured and will really need to get out the dyes and start winding and painting warps soon!  I of course haven’t a clue where I’m putting this yarn, but an opportunity is an opportunity and there is always room for one more cone, (or in this case a dozen).  In addition, I found a gorgeous fine linen, that I think will work in my adventure with converting my two Structo looms, into one that can weave postcards for my artwork series.

Candiss opened the back of her truck and showed me her latest garments, and like I said earlier, I always feel like, “Candiss, this is your strongest line yet!”  Check out her website to get a preview.  It was great to see my old friend, and it gave me a wonderful diversion for a couple of days, I’m feeling worn out and burned out, and just want to sleep for a week.  Are you surprised?  Now I have to focus and get my next article out for Shuttle Spindle and Dyepot.  It is dreary and rainy and cold here in NJ today, I’m scheduled for a lunch date, the Thursday Philosophy Club, but I think I’ll crank up the wood stove when I return from lunch.  And I really have to scrub every inch of the house because it still smells of the smokey remnants of seriously burned bacon from my son’s cooking adventures while I was out playing yesterday evening.  And the dog ate two of the pieces of our expensive chess set on the coffee table this morning, silly me, I heard him chomping but I thought he was eating a bone.  Dumb…  This dog and I are not friends at the moment…