A Sunny Day?

Wow, the sun actually came out today.  What a surprise!  Course more rain due in tomorrow, there was even a front page article in the newspaper today about how serious climate/weather pattern changes are here.  Well the plants are loving it!

shippingI’m now in wind down mode, tying up loose ends, starting the preparations for my trip next week to the Midwest Weavers Conference in Grinnell, Iowa.  I’ve never been to Iowa, so this should be a treat.  A week before I leave, I need to ship out the consummable stuff, like the handouts, raw materials, and some monographs to sell.  So yesterday, I spent the entire day printing and binding stacks of monographs, and the handouts, and burnt out my year old new binding machine.  Bummer…

The box is packed, and on its way to Grinnell, and the good news, is it contains about 50 yards of Red Dot Tracer, which I’m happy to say, is finally available, from Pellon, after months of gnashing of teeth and complaining, and moaning, I got 150 yards of it via UPS yesterday, in time to chop it up in two yard packs and ship it with the handouts.  I have been in a quandry since HTCW stopped shipping early last fall, and the product became unavailable.  Pellon bought the plates for the Red Dot Pattern Tracing Material, but they printed it on their Tru-Grid base, though improved from the original Tru-Grid base, this one is more stable than the old one, I still don’t like it because it doesn’t hold a pencil mark well.  For a number of reasons, this is really important to me.  I have multi-sized patterns I use for my classes, and the lines have to stay true and accurate.  And so do the lines the students trace.  Anyway, the Red Dot has now been printed on a different base, one closer to the original one from HTCW, and I’m hoping it will perform as well.  I’m crossing my fingers.

So, now to the next project, which is a gallery talk I have to give next Wednesday as one of the exhibiting artists at HGA’s Small Expressions Exhibit at Grinnell College’s Faulconer Gallery.  I wanted to finish one of the pieces on the loom that I started last spring, so I could get a shot of it and include it in my talk, since it is woven in the same technique as the pieces on exhibit there.  (If you click on “Small Expressions” under “Upcoming Events/February 24th” – which was when the show originally opened in Missouri, you will see the pieces they selected for exhibit)

loomsilkI’ve blogged about this technique, a Theo Moorman Inlay on a cotton ground, in many previous posts.  Search for “Big Sister” and you’ll find many references.  I printed the image on silk, and then cut it into quarter inch strips, and wove them back into the loom, in sequence while weaving a backing fabric at the same time.  One of my blogs has detailed shots of the process.  If I have time I’ll search for it.

wtcAnyway, the image here was shot the end of August, 2001, while vacationing a mere 20 miles away with my children.  We took them to the South Street Seaport in Manhattan, and then up to the roof of the World Trade Center.  I titled this photo “Top of the World”.  I don’t need to tell anyone what happened a mere two weeks later…

It is a chilling photo, the shaky appearance of the towering structure, from the rewoven strips, two innocent children doing what children do when posing for a photo for dad, (notice the rabbit ears my son is sneaking in behind his sister’s back),  I am haunted by this photo every time I look at it.  Reweaving it back together row by row, was somehow healing.

My daughter walked in tonight while I was photographing this for the blog, and plopped her latest adventure in boxesfront of me, a large paper box, carefully folded into a square.  She said, “Guess how many boxes are inside of this?”.  I took a wild guess at 10, and was sort of surprised when she told me I wasn’t even close.  Can you believe there were 20 little paper boxes, all just a fraction smaller than each one they nest into, and she proceeded to unwrap each origami box to unveil the next box, until she had them all lined up on my cutting table.  The smallest one was half the size of my thumbnail.

You have to love hanging around with my daughter.  She disappears into her room, and comes out with the oddest adventures, she should have been studying for her Spanish final tomorrow, but folding paper boxes was much more soothing to her soul, and she was quite proud of her accomplishment.

Ah to be 16 again…  See, that’s my problem.  I never blow anything off I’m suppose to be doing for the shear joy of creating.  I’ve gotten way too responsible in my old age…

Speaking of old age, we had a couple of great theatre adventures, last Friday we saw The Full Monty at the Papermill Playhouse, which was absolutely a terrific piece of theatre, the cast was unbelievable, one scene stealer after another, and if you live anywhere near Northern NJ or NYC, get yourself a ticket now!  The show runs until July 14th I believe.  There is a cameo appearance by stage veteran Elaine Stritch, who according to the papers is 84 years old.  I want to be able to get out there and still perform in my studio and on the road at 84.  That would mean I have another 30 years to go!

And last night, my husband and I escaped to the movie theatre to see “Up”.  Another Pixar/Disney hit, one of the most charming stories I’ve seen in a long time, well, you just have to take my word and go to the movies.  You won’t be sorry.  The star of “Up” is a very old man, who is about to be forceably taken to a retirement home, the love of his life is gone, and he gets his house to lift off into the air with a gazillion helium balloons and flies it all the way to Paradise Falls in South America.  I know it sounds like the oddest plot line imaginable, but to see it, and how the story develops, is truely amazing.  It is almost believable.  It has been a long time since I’ve been to the movies and heard an audience applaud at the end of a film.  The show was packed, and they did applaud.

I’m Here!

I feel so loved!  Emails have started coming in wondering where I am and if everything is OK.  I’m happy to report that yes, everything is OK.  You see, this was my 16 year old daughter’s spring break.  By Wednesday, the calendar was fulldiscus.  Even though it was spring break, my daughter had a track meet back at the High School.  She throws discus and shot put.  I have to admit, I’ve never watched the throwers.  My son did a stint as a pole vaulter, but soon tired of not getting over the pole.  He’d rather be skiing.  But my daughter is showing some potential, and seems to be enjoying herself.  It is a personal sport, though you are competing against others on your team, and another school, it is still a solo sport, and you are always trying to do better than your last throw.

After the meet, her friend from Girl Scout Summer Camp, who lives in a different county, came to spend the rest of the week.  So it has been a busy few days, where I try to get in bits of work time, but haven’t had a whole lot of luck.  Her friend is a delight, it has been fun having a couple of teen girls hanging around, and Wednesday night, we went to see the opening night performance, of Cinderella at the Community College.  You might remember that my son has an ensemble role in this performance, and the role of the coachman, hence the mad couple of days where I was trying to make pantaloons.  The show was cute, and we all enjoyed ourselves, and my son looked great in his pantaloons, but I have to honestly admit, that of all the theatre I’ve watched, and we’ve seen a lot, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s, Cinderella is my least favorite property.  Maybe it was seeing Leslie Ann Warren too many times as Cinderella, the songs just grate on me, and the message here is revolting.  And as I listened to the songs again, I still shudder at the messages they send.  And I looked at the audience of young Cinderella wannabee’s, dressed in their Disney Cinderella dresses, wishing their fairy godmother would make them beautiful and fitting for a prince,  and I shuddered some more.  But I’m reading way too much into this, my son danced his heart out doing the waltz, and made a great coachman even if in a former life he was a rat from the basement and would turn into one again at the stroke of midnight!  🙂

Today, I took the girls into the city.  There are a couple of shows that were closing soon, and I wanted to catch them.  We started at FIT, and saw the Seduction Exhibit, seductive clothing to enhance physical attractiveness, or convey a sense of power and social status.  I’ve seen better examples in other garment exhibits, but the FIT collection is world renowned, and it really doesn’t matter what the theme is, their exhibits always enlighten and are a feast for the eyes.yurt3

We left FIT, heading uptown all the way to 91st street in Manhattan and the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum.  There an exhibit titled Fashioning Felt, opened in March.  This is a must see exhibit, and it will be there until September 7.  If you are anywhere near New York City between now and Labor Day, do not miss this show.  The range of felt, from Jorrie Johnson’s felted vessels over lacquered wood, and the architectural industrial felt furnishings and wall coverings, the stunning nuno felt garments, to the modern interpretation of a Mongolian Yurt, with spectacular panels of dripping nuno felt, cascading from a dome of felt, down the windows, with light coming from the outside, through the ethereal felt, we all took a moment to sit and reflect and reenergize, and realize what a privilege it is to be able to come into Manhattan on a lovely spring day and experience the best.

agnewAfter a quick bite, we raced to catch a bus back downtown, to Columbus Circle, and with 45 minutes to spare, we flew through the new digs of the Museum of Art and Design, which moved from across the street from MoMA, a year or so ago, to the new Columbus Circle location, to catch an exceptional exhibit called Second Lives: Remixing the Ordinary.  The show is closing Sunday, so I’m really glad we got to see it.  We could have spent the day in this exhibit.  Most of the pieces here required a second look because it wasn’t until you really looked, that you realized the pieces were created from the teeth of combs, or hypodermic needles, sunglasses, or the triggers of guns.  Puzzle pieces, rubber tires, spools of thread, telephone books, plastic spoons and forks, the list of recycled trash was inspiring and eye-opening.

Terese Agnew

Portrait of a Textile Worker


Photo Credit: Peter DiAntoni

I think this was our favorite piece, because of the subject matter, and the exquisite portraiture, but looking more closely revealed that this work of art, and it was quite large, over 100 inches, was made from 30,000 garment labels, all arranged and stitched in a tonal order to create the lights and darks of the work.  The girls were blown away, and so was I.

fire1My daughter’s friend is a pretty good cook, so I enjoyed eating teen friendly food all week, her omelets were excellent, and last night’s Chili Mac was pretty tasty.  We have lots of leftovers so I know what I’ll be munching on all weekend.  Last night’s dessert was quite unusual, fried Oreos.  She dipped Double Creme Oreos into cake batter, and deep fried them.  I only had one, which was actually really delicious, I was afraid my gall bladder would have a hissy fit.  Tonight she made another unusual dessert, banana boats, wrapped in foil and grilled.  When warmed through, I opened the foil, peeled back the banana peel that had been started, and found oozing dripping marshmallow and dark chocolate mixed with the warm banana, well, with my glass of pinot noir, I’d say all is well with the world.  I stayed behind to clean up my kitchen while my daughter and her friend built a lovely bonfire in the back firepit.  It is a warm spring night, and though the fire was inviting, I left them to their teen musings, and came in to blog.muslin

All was not lost, I did manage to get a couple things going in the studio. I sewed the outer shell of the princess seam dress, in the brocade, which was acting like a muslin.  I took project6the pattern in a bit too much, but I was able to let the dress out enough that it fits beautifully, now I’ll alter the pattern again, and I feel pretty confident I have it right for cutting out the Splash fabric.  I am really looking forward to making this dress for the summer.

And finally, I started to weave another one of my Theo Moorman images, this time from a photo we took of my children on top of the World Trade Center Twin Towers, in August of 2001.  I don’t know why that day I told my husband we should take the kids in to see the sites in NYC.  We hadn’t done that with the kids, and I’d never been on top of the Trade Center Towers.  It was an unbelievable feeling to be on the top of the world, looking out at Manhattan on that beautiful August day, and I will say that every strip I weave in is a painful memory that within two weeks, those towers would be rubble.  I was just preparing to teach a class at Montclair State University in the fiber department when the towers were hit, and I was encouraged by Madelyn van der Hoogt, editor of Handwoven Magazine, to write my thoughts that day in a letter to the editor.  That letter and some other essays I’ve done are on the Extras page of my website.

topoftheworldworld_trade_centerSo I am slowly constructing this piece, rebuilding what once stood, like the innocence of my children on the roof that day, strip by strip, on my table loom.  I need to take the loom into a classroom full of 2nd graders on Tuesday, and it is odd to think they weren’t born when this event happened.  I want to show them how I can weave pictures, and I’ll take with me the Big Sister piece I did last winter.  I’ll take one of my bags of fleece, and my carders and my repaired Ashford wheel, and some silk cocoons, and a cotton boll, and some examples of my work and my articles, and I’ll teach some 2nd graders about art, and fiber, and where their clothes come from, and who knows, maybe some day one or two of them will be drawn to a loom and vaguely remember when that weaver came to visit them in 2nd grade.