It has been a colorful couple of weeks. I warped up another Structo, this time with a summer/winter motif, that can explore the many ways to manipulate the tie-down threads to create different looks. I just did the first one, in brick formation, and this just made me smile, in the bleak mid winter days of February. I love the black background.
Over the weekend, I taught a two day remote class, actually it was one day, spread over two afternoons, with a group in California. I just marvel that I can wake up in NJ, do my usual morning routine, work a bit in the studio, flip on the computer and guide a dozen women 3000 miles away through a project. They were an enthusiastic group, and had some wonderful scraps, leftovers and workshop samples to play with. And one woman described how much the project made her smile when she remembered each bit of fabric, handwoven or otherwise, and the story behind it. I think I should call these memory mats. Anyway, here is a sampling. Photos are still rolling in!
The Magic Puzzle Company, which inspired a fabric I wove this time last year, in spite of a broken shoulder, issued three more puzzles in the series. We dove into the first one, and I grabbed the poster and ran off to the studio with it. The colors were glorious, and perfect for the grey days of winter, and I knew I was jumping into the deep end on the next project.
I pulled as much yarn as I could fit on the counter, almost all of it is hand-dyed, except for a couple of commercial coned yarn fill ins and some extreme novelties, which I toss in here and there.
I used the draft from the puzzle fabric I did last year, converting it from 12 shafts to 8, because the floor loom I want to put it on is the only one that’s free. My daughter commandeered the 12 shaft loom! Because I’m using so many different weights of yarn and so many different structures, all requiring different setts, I carefully printed out the threading sequence, added yarn samples, and outlined a custom sett, which was important to know how many inches this baby would take up, since the loom was only 25″ wide. The number of ends is misleading, and the sett is an average of about 27epi, but it depends…
And then I started winding. I did five different 8 yard chains, each with about 5″ worth of warp.
And here they are all together waiting to be sleyed through the reed.
I had just the best time this week, carefully working from the skeins directly to the warping board, taping the ends to the mill frame instead of knotting, less waste and quicker, as I changed warp ends, sometimes every thread. Though I had a plan, often I deviated a bit with the color or blend of colors, throwing in a novelty here and there. It is the most creative I get in the weaving process and it is so much fun to see it all come together. I can’t wait to get this sleyed, threaded and beamed, and try the first couple of inches. I can’t imagine I’ll hate it, there is just too much fun color, but you never know…
My friend came to visit this afternoon. She said, “You haven’t posted in a while, I keep checking… I miss your posts…” My friend isn’t a weaver, has no sewing skills. We are musicians together, and raised our kids together, but she loves reading my posts. Who knew?… So, I promised her I’d sit down tonight and post one. And I was shocked at how behind I was on all the interesting goings on in my neck of the woods.
I made it through the holidays. They were quiet and somewhat challenging, but this is January, and a fresh start, and unlike this time last year, my shoulder is mostly healed and I’m carrying on. But January, after a couple of years break for Covid, means it is time to buckle down and do the final preparation for the Learn To Weave Class that I teach for my weaving guild, the Jockey Hollow Weavers. I spent the last few months rehabbing a number of additional small Structo looms I had acquired, and though the looms were ready to go, I had to wind 16 warps (I wind two at a time, cross at both ends and cut in half), and print all the handouts, and of course packing and loading the car. All on account of I had agreed to do this. I always ask myself why, until I’m actually doing it and I realize why I agreed to it and how much I love it.
We ended up with 14 students after a number of last minute cancellations, mostly from people not feeling well and terrified of spreading something nasty to fellow weavers. In the past no one would have thought twice about coming with a little cold or cough. But I appreciated the caution, and to my knowledge everyone from the class was and still is healthy.
So I give them each a small 4 shaft loom for the day. Most have no previous weaving experience, though a few are rigid heddle weavers, wondering what the shaft experience is all about. I prewind a warp from 8/4 cotton, in two colors, with a striped section in between, and they sley the reed, thread the loom according to the draft I give them, which has a point threading and straight draw, learn to read a draft, and weave off a small sampler of all the cool structures you can do on that point threading and straight draw. In one day. They work hard, and learn a lot.
Usually they either kindly thank me for opening their eyes to the work involved in weaving, or they want to jump right down that rabbit hole and immediately join the guild and borrow loaner equipment and become our newest weavers. I already have three who have since joined the guild. And one discovered a two shaft structo loom hiding in her basement purchased from some consignment shop years ago. It is only 2 shaft but she is on her way. These were her samples.
All on account of I did something really really dumb, something I’ve never done in 35 years of teaching, I double booked the day. Apparently back in May, I agreed to pencil in a date to give a lecture for a guild in Oregon. The same day as the Learn to Weave class. Which wasn’t officially in my calendar at the time. I didn’t hear back from the guild until the end of December with final plans. That’s not unusual, but what was highly unusual was there was no record of the lecture in my calendar. I never ever make that mistake. They couldn’t switch speakers from another month, and I’m too professional to just say, “sorry…”, so my daughter and I decided to actually film a video on the topic of What to Do with Leftovers, which was what the guild had asked me to lecture on. I scripted it, used the slides from the original presentation, and we created a YouTube video, about 48 minutes long, which I offered to the guild for free as compensation. I admitted to them they were basically doing a beta trial for me, so I didn’t feel like I wasn’t benefiting from the experience myself.
There were some technical challenges streaming the video, my daughter worked with them to try to iron out any issues. This was a guild who was not only showing the video to the in person meeting, but to those out in Zoom Land who were tuning in. That in itself presented challenges. I was on pins and needles all afternoon during the Learn to Weave class, hoping we wouldn’t get a call that they couldn’t get it to work, or something technical went wrong and they didn’t have a program. In the end, it all worked well. I heard they loved it, there was laughter all through the video, something about my deadpan comedic expressions (all my daughter’s clever editing, I can assure you) and applause at the end. They told me it was one of their best meetings. The palpable relief at the end of a successful Learn to Weave class and a successful guild lecture happening at the same time, was incredible. All on account of I screwed up.
Last year I saw this lovely project download on Webs (www.yarn.com) that had kitchen and dining room textiles, in three color ways. The structure for the striking mats and runner was Summer and Winter on 6 shafts. I bought the download and printed it. It called for 8/2 cotton, which I had a tonnage of…
It was all on account of I couldn’t see what I actually had because the cones were all stacked to the ceiling on top of the wall units four deep. So I had my daughter climb up and pass me down all the cones, which I lined up on the dye sink counter so I could start keeping a log of what I had, where it was from and how much of each color I had.
We eventually got all the yarn labeled, catalogued on little cards, and stacked back up, but I held back yarn I thought would work for the mats. I didn’t have a key color for each of the colorway choices, but I wasn’t about to order more yarn for a missing color, so I got creative with what I had. I substituted out the green for a more celadon color, I didn’t really like the green anyway (I did have that green, just not enough).
And I spent the day Wednesday, winding the 8 yard warp, sleying the reed, threading the loom, and beaming the yardage. I was weaving by Wednesday night. It is nice to know what’s on your shelf!
Meanwhile, on account of I was giving a remote lecture to another guild, also on the west coast, late last night, on the topic of Doup Leno, I decided to try to see if I could actually do that technique on one of my four shaft Structos. And so, I spent the early part of the week figuring that out, and was really pleased that not only did it work, but I really liked the fine lacey cloth from the 10/2 cotton, and I could use it as a second live demo during the lecture last night. I’m still experimenting with the cell height, but that’s expected.
And earlier in the month, or maybe it was during Christmas week when nothing happens, and there is always fun to be had in my studio, I set up an eight shaft Structo with a honeycomb structure, from Malin Selander’s book, Weave a Weave. I am having a blast with this one. All on account of I have these 30 Structo looms…
I’m sorry January is nearly over. I like this month, it is cold and nothing happens in the garden and I can hunker down and really play. Once the Learn to Weave class is over.
Stay tuned for more adventures on account of I have a bunch of looms that are naked and not happy with me, and of course, I have to update the prospectus now, for the What to Do with Leftovers lecture that has a viewing option of watching my video instead of me live on Zoom, for a lot less money! Seems like each time I do anything digital, there are 57 things that then have to be updated…
I truly love my weaving studio, both of my studios actually, but the garage converted weaving studio is my beloved safe space, where nothing can intrude on my life and my looms know me and we have fun together. There is infinite creativity here, and I’m so very blessed to have this space in my life.
But first, the back story… Because you know there is always a back story. I’m a story teller…
When my late husband was still alive, he traveled the globe as a telecommunications consultant. When he wasn’t traveling, he worked mostly from home, in an office in a large bedroom space we strategically divided in half. I worked down the hall in this old house, in my weaving studio, which was created back in the 1980’s increasing an existing bedroom out 15 feet. It worked for me for most of my career.
I will admit that the computer gods and I weren’t friends. Back in the day, I always felt frightened of them, and found them to be rather hostile. My late husband on the other hand, had an intimate relationship with those computer gods, and I knew they loved him and behaved whenever he was around. I had that relationship with the sewing machine gods, just ask any student in a class with me who had a sewing machine issue. But not the computer gods…
It became a joke in our house, that I’d be working on something in the studio, which also contained my office, and something would go very very wrong. I’d text my husband down the hall, and ask him to come to the studio and just stand in the doorway. 30 seconds later, all 6’3″ of himself would appear and he would just stand there. And I swear, whatever was causing me grief on my computer system would instantly start working again. It really became a joke in our house because it happened so often. He wouldn’t even have to enter the room. It was as if they saw him coming and said, “Never mind…”
I even bought this hilarious creation at a craft fair for his desk. It now sits on mine. The computer gods and I have formed a truce. They miss him obviously, we all do, but we are OK together.
So in my weaving studio, whether you think there is any truth to inanimate things having some sort of soul, I can say with complete certainty, that looms, which were once part of living trees, (except the little metal Structos) and all the yarn in my studio, which came from living things, plants and/or animals, that there is a collective energy that makes its presence known. There are days they aren’t happy, and I feel it.
So in the morning, I turn on the lights, and have my smart speaker play some type of classical music, usually WQXR, NY classical radio, or if I don’t like what they are playing, Sirius XM channel 76, which is also classical. I have a few alternatives, like my Pandora account, in case I don’t like either of those choices, but I usually find something that soothes the soul, all of the collective souls, and I get to work. It has become a routine now, that I turn on the lights, and say good morning to all the looms, all 42, and then go about my day. The other morning, I said, “Good morning” and then had a thought, that the collective energy in the room should decide what music to play on the smart speaker. So I asked them. And I instantly got this blast of a voice in my head, “Strings”. Which surprised me, since Sirius XM just started a new station available on the app, called “Strings”, which I only discovered my smart speaker could play last week. So I thought, cool, “Strings” it is. I asked my smart speaker to play “Strings”, which is all violin/cello music, anything of any genre involving a stringed instrument. I started winding a warp for another Structo adventure, using my AVL warping wheel to load another set of spools, and as I’m winding this 20/2 warp I suddenly realized the irony of a group of looms asking for a station called “Strings”. And I started laughing.
I’m sure you are all thinking at this point that I’m completely losing it. Maybe I am. My daughter thinks I need to get out more. But I’m so happy in my garage/studio space, we all get along, and there is always something cool to create, some yarn to play with, some structure to explore. I’m making progress on entering my vast library into LibraryThing.com, and I’m up to 645 books. I’ve just started in on the weaving books. So much to study, explore, I really need 5 lifetimes to make a dent.
So my buddies in the weaving studio, the loom gods, keep me good company, and we collectively finished the first mohair blanket which I just had to cut off the loom. Because I wanted to see one completely finished, and secretly because I needed to resley half the warp because I put two mohair ends in the same dent. No one will know, but I didn’t want to weave the rest with that issue.
I am just so in love. This is what I remembered weaving 40 years ago, and I never had one of my own to curl up in. This one is mine. I can’t wait for winter. Meanwhile there is plenty of warp and plenty more weft in different colorways.
I have a student coming next week, for a week, for a private class in my weaving studio, and I needed to clear the loom I’ll be putting her on. I started this yardage last fall, from a weaver’s estate sale/donation, from some handpainted wool for the warp, along with some alpaca and merino, and the weft is merino for the ground and some 4 ply baby llama I bought from a knitting store. I put on 6 yards of warp, and thought I’d have enough of the llama for the weft. I’m less than a yard from the end, and have run out. So I found a couple balls of a similar weight 4 ply alpaca in a darker brown, and I’ll finish the yardage out of that. Don’t ask what I’m going to make. I never have any idea. (Except for the mohair blankets). I weave because I like to weave.
And I’m making progress on warping up many of my little Structos. These are such fun to work in miniature, and every time I set one up, I hear a small cheering squad in the background. My daughter named all the looms in the studio, and she gave all 19 Structos names of characters in Star Trek. They seem to love having personal identities. It seems to give them a soul, or at least a cooperative energy.
Here is Riker with a four shaft overshot gamp, by Robyn Spady, from a draft in the May/June 2014 issue of Handwoven. 20/2 cotton ground sett at 30epi. Pattern is 10/2 perle.
And here is Kira, with a Krokbragd warp, 8/4 carpet warp, sett at 15epi, from a project in the latest Handwoven magazine, May/June 2022.
It took a bit for me to get the courage to write this blog, because though I’m really loving my happy place, the world right now seems very cruel, uncivil, and just downright scary. I use social media when I have to, I have 2800 friends on facebook, and many, or rather most of them, I don’t actually know. Most are from the fiber community, and I love seeing what everyone else is working on, inspiration comes from many places, and no, you can’t create in a vacuum. But along with that, I have breaking news feeds from about 10 different news sources, some liberal, some conservative, some right in the middle. And the news this past week was about as unsettling as I’ve ever experienced. I’ve tried incredibly hard to keep my personal beliefs and politics to myself, because it isn’t anyone’s business, and I have a lot of students, friends, acquaintances around the world, and even family members who are passionate about what they believe and I have to respect that. As a trained artist, I’m taught to see all sides and perspectives of something, to extract out my vision, and act on it. But so much of life depends on so many factors, where were you raised, under what conditions, and in what generation. Do you have children and how old are they? My perspective has expanded having two children on either side of 30. And one is a staff sergeant in the military. He definitely has an opinion. The other is a member of a couple of marginalized groups, and so definitely has an opinion. Respect, and civility have always been my method for approaching life, pretty critical when you traveled and taught for a living. I tried hard to keep politics out of my classroom.
So this week, the US Supreme Court handed down a number of decisions that were really unsettling. Facebook exploded, and lines were drawn in the sand. And there I stood in the middle, not sure how to respond to any of it, because, though I knew how I felt about gun issues, and abortion issues, many of the people I love and respect, feel very very differently. (On the gun issue, NY and NJ have some of the toughest gun laws in the nation. NJ is the most densely populated state in the country. The Supreme Court ruling knocking down NY’s Concealed Weapon law was at first glance disheartening.) So I spent the last few days, talking to many people who pay attention but feel differently than I do. Creating a dialogue. Because that’s what we are missing in the world today. I did not take to facebook to scream vitriol, I reached out to those I respect who see life differently. I read as much as I could from different sources, keeping in mind which sources slanted liberal, and which slanted conservative. I NEVER watch cable news. Cable news is designed to scare you, get you angry and keep you coming back for more. I read. And talk to people who don’t see life the way I do. It is enough.
I will say, that in 1974, the end of my first year in college, when I ended up with a nervous breakdown, desperately trying to extricate myself from a relationship that was abusive and controlling, spending a week in the infirmary trying to heal physically, and mentally, and just get through my first year of college, that I found myself in a situation where I thought, after everything I’d been through, that I was pregnant. I have never been more frightened and alone in my life. Roe V Wade was newly passed, and I made my way to the nearest Planned Parenthood, and I’ve never been more grateful for anything in my life. Turns out I wasn’t pregnant, just really really messed up, and I began the slow process of healing. I told my mom years later, no one really knew what I went through, but to think that someone wouldn’t have that option, should they find themselves in a situation that there doesn’t seem to be any viable solution to, I’d want them to have that same set of choices. And my heart grieves that in some areas of the country, those options no longer exist.
Maybe we as a country can work together to find solutions that aren’t so black and white, because nothing is black and white in this world. Meanwhile I’ll scroll on past the vitriol on Facebook, look for the really pretty creative stuff, and keep reading and asking and having meaningful dialogue that can lead to some kind of middle ground. One can only hope. Meanwhile, “Strings” from Sirius XM is playing for my looms, and they are happy, and there is life and soul and positive energy in my happy safe space.
During the interview last month on the HGA’s Textiles and Tea, the host Kathi asked me the proverbial question, “What’s next for you?”
I really didn’t have a definitive answer, because I really didn’t know. What I do know, is that I have a studio full of looms and yarn and books and cloth, and I never tire of exploring, creating, and seeing what happens if…
I had hoped once retired from teaching, that I could indeed turn this business of 45 years into a hobby. A real hobby. Where I have no deadlines, or immediate goals, other than getting a loom set up for a coming workshop, like the one next week on Huck Blocks with Rosalie Neilson. Done and check…
Soon, I hope, the weather will be glorious in my gardens with ponds. They are beautiful now, but the weather is still very windy and chilly, and not enticing to sit outside with a simple loom, and just breathe. Every year I have this goal, this vision of life in the back yard, listening to the birds, the quiet drone of small planes overhead, and watching the fish in the pond while I weave. Sounds lovely, but I can assure you it never happens. Because I am always too busy, and more importantly, I get easily distracted and depressed by all those weeds and deeds that need attention in said poetic back yard.
Our vegetable garden is already producing. My daughter took over the gardening of the vegetable plot, and I’ve managed a salad at lunch and dinner all this week.
So what that means, is I need little looms to easily carry outdoors, and just weave. I have plenty of inkle looms. And many have projects on them. But I have a large collection of 18 little Structo looms, the 8″ wide metal kind, four of them are 8 shafts, and I have a couple of adorable 4 shaft Leclerc 10″ wide looms of about the same vintage. I had visions of setting them all up with different weave structures to explore, and one of the perfect ways to do that is with what’s called a Gamp, which is a sort of sampler with blocks of design across, so whatever you ‘treadle’, affects all the different threadings across. It is like creating a library of little designs.
There is no purpose to these for me, other than an opportunity to learn. Not everything has to yield an end product. Learning is a really good reason to do anything. And I’m in a position that I can invite in a student or friend to just come and try out a structure they might be curious about, because a loom is already set up…
So over the last few weeks, as my broken shoulder starts to heal, I’ve been really busy just playing in the studio. I’m making progress on the overshot placemats I agreed to do for a friend (this is a really good friend), and I’m actually half way done. I’ve completed three mats and only have three more to go. And I’m really enjoying the scale, working with 20/2 cotton for the ground, and 10/2 for the pattern. I thought I’d hate it, but I can weave half a mat in an hour, and I’m getting really smooth at handling two shuttles. (The pattern is from Handwoven Magazine Nov/Dec 2010 in an article by Mary Berent, pg 38).
I had a guild friend come and help me set up one of the baby Leclerc’s, with a doubleweave sampler, from Jennifer Moore’s book called Doubleweave. This is a pretty complex and lengthy sampler, and just drafting it out in weaving software is time consuming. It doesn’t look like much at the moment, but I’m actually weaving two layers of cloth simultaneously. One layer is light, and the other dark, and then they switch.
On the other baby Leclerc, I used the spools that came with it, when my late mother in law gave me the loom years and years ago. The spools had linen on them, and I managed to get them threaded and I started a linen huck sampler. I’m using the “Stuck on Huck” sampler in Best of Weaver’s, Huck Lace pg 6, by Lynn Tedder.
And on one of my 8 shaft Structo’s, I found a beautiful Shadow Weave sampler from a draft from Webs Valley Yarns #199, Shadow Weave Sampler Scarf in 8/2 tencel. I wound four spools with the color sequence using yarn I had in colors I already had, and the effect is charming. Can’t wait to sit in the garden and weave on this.
And on one of my 4 shaft Structo’s, I had my guild helper help me wind four spools in 16/2 cotton (I wind the spools using my AVL warping wheel) (this was a couple months ago when my left arm wasn’t strong enough to wind on the AVL, I’m good now). And I threaded a twill gamp I found in Handwoven Magazine, Nov/Dec 2008 in an article by Robyn Spady, pg 40.
I have three more drafts planned out for another group of 8″ Structos, an 8 shaft Quigley from Tom Knisely’s handwoven table linens, a deflected double weave gamp from Marion Stubinetsky’s Double Twist pg 204, and another Robyn Spady gamp, in overshot on 4 shafts from Handwoven Magazine May/June 2014.
Did I mention how much fun I’m having?
And yes, there is still life to contend with. I managed to film two more episodes on Monday of The Weaver Sews, one launched last night, part one. I had so many people ask about how I made the doubleweave sampler jacket I featured in my last blog post, I decided to just do a couple videos.
And yes, there is always stuff to update, and organize, and work to be done for places I volunteer for, like my guild, where I am the treasurer. I spent the whole morning on the phone with the state of NJ trying to get the Division of Revenue and the Division of Taxation to talk to each other over the official guild address. Occasionally there are really helpful people in our government, with a sense of humor, who can actually get something done. Still, it took the whole morning…
I spent a couple days updating my design journals, both tangible and digital because I realized that I hadn’t done that since before the pandemic, and I’ve created a lot of new work and there are no records of what I did in permanent places. Just lots of scraps of paper… Now what weft did I use for that fabric?…
And on a personal note. Today would have been my 44 wedding anniversary. I miss my husband, I would just love to have 10 minutes with him to hear what he has to say about the mess in the world right now. I’d probably need more than 10 minutes. We were married in the spring of 1978 in a little chapel in southern NJ. The Kwanzan Cherry tree outside the chapel was in full bloom.
When we bought the home where I’m currently living, in the early 80’s, the first thing we did was plant a Kwanzan Cherry in the front yard. It has bloomed every year for our anniversary. Never fails. Recently I had to call in a tree expert to save the tree from some fungal infection, which really brought the tree back to life, so much so that the top became too heavy and it was in danger of splitting right down the middle of the trunk. So the tree experts came back, and for a considerable sum of money, I had them bolt through the trunk, and top the tree, by about half. And sure enough, on my anniversary today, this beloved tree hasn’t let me down. What we do for love…
Stay tuned dear readers, there is lots more adventures awaiting in my studio as I plan to head outdoors for the summer, which we all know probably won’t happen, but it is still fun to plan and dream. ‘Course weaving on a small loom in the comfort of an airconditioned house works too…
I have a confession to make. This is hard for me to admit, but I suffer from Blank Canvas Disorder, a common yet debilitating disorder that makes one’s brain cells completely shut down when faced with a blank canvas, paper, or anything requiring the brain to invent content for that blank canvas.
So that’s exactly why I agreed to participate again in this year’s “Blank Canvas Benefit: For Art’s Sake” at the Visual Art Center of New Jersey in Summit. Participants are given a blank canvas, and have to create something on it, and donate it for a pricey fundraiser/auction which will happen in mid December. Those of us who donate get a lovely reception where we get to preview the work, but alas, we don’t get to attend the auction so we have no idea how much our pieces sell for, and they won’t tell us.
I have to deliver the finished piece by Friday. Do you think I’ve procrastinated long enough?
Knowing I have this Blank Canvas Disorder, I try to compensate by not actually trying to think of what I’m going to do with the canvas. This is a perfect place for not thinking. I can over think myself right into a paralyzing lather, and instead, I need to just enjoy the medium, play, and see where life takes me. In my cleaning up of my studio, in the aftermath of the photo shoot and the guild sale, I came across the now minuscule baggie of scraps left from my Sandstone jacket and tote bag I created earlier this year. I really had no idea what I wanted to do with this canvas, and I wasn’t even sure what medium I wanted for it.
Almost all of the other participants are painters, collage artists, photographers, etc, those who are accustom to working in two dimensional media. I’m the lone fiber person. Last year I mounted a version of Big Sister onto the canvas, it was an actual real canvas, the one we were given this year was a 2″ deep cradled “Claybord”. I read the label on the board or “bord” as the label explains, and the surface will take paint, ink, gouache, egg tempera, acrylics, airbrush, encaustics, collage, photo transfers, pencil, casein, and it can be used for mounting papers, prints and fabrics… 🙂
That last word got me to thinking, and the little bag of Sandstone scraps started me to rooting around in my stash. I came up with a few things that I liked including a scrap of ikat cotton from a bag of scraps I bought many years ago from Mekong River Textiles at a conference. I also found a scrap of silk where I had tested some stencils with fabric paint.
So, without any idea of where I wanted to go with this, I just played. 🙂
I played with the fabrics, and liked what happened when I took the long ikat scrap and put it together creating a “schism” between, and then taking the long selvedge of the Sandstone fabric, I began to play with the idea of binding the schism back together. There is a lot of political content here, and I liked where the piece was headed, and loved the play of the fabrics. I played around with yarn, making it look like brain waves, and then found my little “happy” basket of Habu yarns, I’m talking a small basket here, and found a course green cotton novelty yarn that I just started wrapping around the bundle. I liked the effect and the purpose the binding yarn gave to the piece.
So now my next step was to actually construct the piece. I thought about just gluing the whole thing together, even using gel medium to paint and stick everything into place, but I decided to actually sew it all together, maintaining the tactile quality of the actual fiber. Sort of like a bound package…
To give the piece some support, I cut out two layers of a thermal fleece, the kind I use in clothing, and I also decided, as pretty as the sides of the “Claybord” were, I wanted the fabric to come all the way around the sides as well, so I could ultimately just tied the binding cords around the entire box.
Then I found an 8×10 mat I had laying around, and used it to check on the actual design that would appear on the front of the board. I had no idea what I was doing here, just feeling my way along and having way too good of a time…
I used the sewing machine to baste the layers of fabric together, and then quilted the ikat fabric to the padding, using a metallic variegated thread in a pattern that played off the ikat. I hand sewed the Sandstone strips in place, and then basically upholstered the box. After making the four box corners, I covered the messy back with a piece of the stenciled silk. I listened to the end of my Elizabeth Berg book on tape while I hand sewed the silk onto the back.
Finally, I wrapped the Habu yarn around the box, and I’ll hand sew it in place in key spots so it doesn’t shift tomorrow.
I can’t tell you how much fun I had doing this piece. Is it good? Will it sell at the auction? Does it really matter? I had one of the quietest and best days I’ve had in a long time, no stress, and I just played. Like a kid in a sandbox. It was good for my soul and my spirit, and I am happy with what I have sitting in front of me on my desk. I called the piece “Ties that Bind”. I think a trip to the art supply store for more of these “Claybords” is in order…
I can’t tell all of you how much all of your comments have meant to me in yesterday’s post about selling your work. I’ve been emailed some comments privately, and I’m waiting until more come in, and then I’ll jot down my thoughts. All of you have such valid perspective, and there is clearly no right or wrong answer here. And I was sort of glad to hear this isn’t just an issue in the United States, there was a comment from New Zealand, and the discussion is pretty much the same, half way round the world.
One final note, I received the 6 1/8″ Texsolv heddles for the Structo loom I talked about last week. The one my husband magically fixed, finding all the right parts in his vast stash of hardware. I paid my son to put the 400 heddles on the shafts, and I really think they will work fine. They aren’t real tight on the heddle bars, so they should slide OK, and I’ll have to eventually cut the bridge cords between each of the heddles, they come all attached, because I think the hooks that raise and lower the shafts will get caught on the bridge cords. I just have to make a trip to the hardware store for some apron rods, and I have another Structo loom in working condition. 🙂