My Rocking Chair

All the stress of the past year is slowly melting away.  I made it through all my teaching commitments, and if I end up with the flu, I can actually stay in bed and get well.  So far, the flu has stayed away from our house, but it is everywhere, and I’m just lying low and hoping to fly under the proverbial radar…

I spent the day tackling my to do list, besides working my way through a very dirty house, I always liked cleaning real meaningful dirt, I sent out a proposal, for a weekly sewing class next spring at the Newark Museum, and I started playing around with the design for a new website for the Frances Irwin Handweavers.  I promised them their website first.  I don’t have vast archives of photos to chose from, since I’ve only been a member for a couple of years, but Sally has a computer full, and she is traveling at the moment.  So I sketched out the layout, and played around with a “look” for the pages, and I’ll wait now for feedback from her and for her return and access to the photo archives.  Each time I do this, I get another bald spot from ripping out my hair, but I learn so much…

rockingRocker2InkleRockerLast night, I actually “got off work early”.  I know that sounds like such a normal thing, but it isn’t when you are self employed and your studio is in your home.  There is no huge push at the moment, just time to be creative, and rest.  The spring will come too soon and I’ll be on a plane again.  I don’t get caught up in the holiday madness, this is my down time and I’m not making my life crazy because our culture dictates it.  So I stopped working, put together some leftovers for dinner, and then cleaned the upstairs bathroom.  Then I curled up in my newly reupholstered rocker and sat by the fire in the woodstove, putting my feet up on the footstool Bri made in woodshop, and wove more inkle trim.  I blew through another two yards of trim, glued it to the rocker, and with six yards finished, I only have another two yards to go, and I warped up the little inkle loom for the remainder.  I’m so happy with how the rocker turned out, and I think my mother in law would be proud.  If you didn’t catch that blog, the rocker was a wedding present from my mother in law to my husband and me 31 years ago.  The upholstery wore out, and I found the fabric to reupholster it with on my travels last May, to Portland.

I spent today playing with my eShop on the website.  I have had “updating the shop” on my to do list for months, I finished the Website Success Monograph back in the early summer, and never got around to adding it to the site.  My goal was to ultimately put all of the work I took to the guild sale, that didn’t sell, up on a new page on the site, and I procrastinated on that long enough.  I spent the day figuring out how to add a page, update the product line, change around some of the monograph combination’s, all of it frustrating but ultimately successful.  It takes awhile to add one of the garments to the site, processing photos, and linking it to my website for further viewing, but I won’t reduce my huge body of work in my overburdened closet if I don’t at least put the work out there.  So I think there are six items up there for sale, and I’ll add to it every couple of days.

TiesThatBindI delivered the piece for the Blank Canvas event at the Visual Art Center today, usually I’m skidding in at the last minute, so a day before the deadline is actually a treat for me.  I’m happy with the piece, it was fun to make, and I really need to play more often.  🙂

Meanwhile, I’m looking at all of my empty looms and the brain is just churning along, and I’m thinking that one of these days, I’m going to get out the warping mill and just start winding white warps so I can do a week or so of just painting.  Looking ahead, the HGA yardage exhibit deadline is sometime in January.  And I’d like to get another colorful scarf warp on the small 8 shaft, and since that has a second warp beam, I’m thinking I’d like to try to do some doup leno in addition to the supplemental warp, for additional texture.  That’s a technique I haven’t played with for many many years.  And on the four shaft small floor loom, I’m even thinking of setting up for an additional two overshot placemats for my daughter and me, since we each ended up with only seven mats each in the guild exchange last spring.  I’m not holding out hope that the delinquent two will ever show up.

So now I have some time to be creative, and do all the computer things that have been on my list, get the two guild websites designed and built, add my huge body of work to the website eShop, and before the end of the year, I want to obtain a copy of InDesign, Adobe’s publishing software, and learn to use that.  Always something new to learn and create, and invent…

Off to watch the finale for Project Runway…

True Confessions

Bound03I 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…

Bound19Bound20Bound21To 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…

Bound22Bound24Bound25Bound26Bound27I 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.

Bound29Finally, 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. StructoTexsolv 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. 🙂