Friday, March 16, 2018

Cultural Appreciation or Appropriation

The name of this blog is based upon a traditional Navajo weaving song.  I was drawn to Navajo weaving initally by the beauty and high degree of weaving skill embodied in the work.  Very quickly however I became fascinated by the culture and cosmology of the people and the central role weaving played.

I began to build my library of Navajo weaving books and reading everything I could get my hands on.  A trip to the southwest with my daughter in 2016 fed the passion.

I was visiting the places I had been reading about.  The landscapes and vistas were stunning.

The Hubbell Trading Post was just as I pictured it.

Fast forward to this week.  The The Gregg Museum of Art and Design had a demonstration of Navajo weaving and basket making.

The exhibit was small and informal which gave me the opportunity to watch and speak to the weaver,  Mary Redmustache Kealy.

Crystal Rug, a modified Two Grey Hills pattern 1955 - 1970. Handspun yarns

Wide Ruins Weaving  1920 -1950, vegetal dyes, primarily rabbitbrush.

Handmade weaving forks

My tapestry for the ATA show in Reno, The Biggest Little Tapestry Show.  Traditional wedge weave technique, with vegetal dyed wool using madder, osage orange, logwood and goldenrod.
Plus a bit of lurex for sparkle.  I would love to give this small piece a Navajo name but am conflicted.  The use of a Navajo name would be out of my love and passion for this culture and the art.  But I am not of the culture and do not want to appropriate what is not mine.
What would you do?

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Tolstoy and Tapestry

Tolstoy said "Spring is the time of plans and projects."  We have had tastes of Spring, warm days, daffodils and birdsong but now are back to winter's chill.  Be done already!  The gloomy February days are reflected in my tapestry diary.

I started the diary on my birthday, January 28th.  The bowling pin and token represent my 62nd birthday party with family and friends, which was so much fun!  My plan for the tapestry diary is an entry per week. This picture is a couple of weeks ago.  I have some catching up to do.

My dear husband made me the loom using copper pipe and purpleheart wood as well as some new tapestry forks.

I love beautiful tools, using them brings joy.  Meeting with other tapestry weavers also brings me joy.  I am thankful to have found Triangle Weavers Guild and am loving our tapestry study group. Here are some pictures from our most recent session.

Tapestry is a relatively solitary endeavor but what a treat to have opportunities to weave together.  In addition to my guild, I also belong to Tapestry Weavers South TWS.  We currently have a show at the Folk Art Center  Go see it!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A Strand, A Shape, A Story

Tapestry Weavers South new show will open January 20th at The Folk Art Center.  Dear hubs and I took a road trip Friday, January 5th and delivered these two pieces for exhibition.

Beauty and the Break and Rust and Ruin.

I blogged previously about Beauty and the Break here.  Rust and Ruin is my ode to 2017.

I attached this page to the back of each submitted tapestry.
As it explains, 2017 was a year of fits and starts and this tapestry reflects that.

C. Cactus Flower Loom warped at 10 ends per inch with 12/6 cotton seine twine.  Weft is linen,  wool, rayon and metallic yarns augmented with rusty bits from a friend's farm in Meadow, NC.
Last year's challenges included sudden hearing loss and some dizziness diagnosed as Meniere's Disease.  Many discussions with physicians about my fluctuating hearing loss and the efficacy of hearing aids.  

When I wanted to do a self portrait, it made sense to title it "Say What"

My self portrait.  "Say What".
 My drawing skills are crappy  rudimentary at best.  This is my first attempt at weaving a face and was great fun.  I used unsewn slits for the ears to  illustrate my hearing loss.  I do love a chunky necklace and had to add one.

Ruth Manning is a wonderful tapestry artist who does portraits with wedge weave backgrounds.  I am so inspired by her work and how she captures facial expressions and personalities. I so hope to take a workshop with her someday.

Dear hubs pointed out that my self portrait wasn't smiling.  I think that is appropriate.  It has been a time of reflection, pulling back, and seeking new ways to live a little more "quietly" and deeply.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Savoring SAFF 2017

One of the best events of the year is SAFF.  Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair is one of my favorite things.  I love seeing my fiber friends, like Peggy and Kristen.  Not to mention fiber superstars like Gale Zucker.

I love Peggy's t-shirt, "What up my knittahs."

SAFF started in 1991 in Winston-Salem, NC and grows bigger each year.  I have only missed one year in all those years and had a good excuse, major surgery.

Somethings don't change, beautiful yarns and a desire to knit all the things.

The fleece show is hard to resist even if your house is filled with bags of fiber.

Beth Smith judged the fleece show this year and managed to entertain and teach me something!

Fleece face plant!

Today I took a class with Carin Engen, a felter (pictured above) who recently moved to WNC from California.

Some of Carin's samples.

Teaching sample illustrating the ways different silks respond to felting.

This piece is the one Carin is pictured wearing.  I love the look of "bricks of silk and wool as mortar."

This is a classmate's piece, laid out with the silk scarf, thin wisps of 19 micron merino and the design "tiles" of silk.

Rolling, rolling, rolling 450 times.

Checking to see if felting is progressing and making sure netting is not sticking to the scarf. 

The big reveal.

This is my scarf, there is still some work to do.  First it needs to dry then some embroidery and beads.  This was a fun class and I enjoyed playing with the silk remnants and wool.  Carin is so knowledgeable and laidback that she created a fun no stress zone for us.

Tomorrow, we return to SAFF for a final day of catching up with old friends, meeting new ones and sharing our passion for all things fiber.  Thanks to all the volunteers who organize this festival every year. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Beauty in the Break - kintsugi

The  fifteenth century Japanese art of kintsugi involves a philosophy not of replacement, but of awe, reverence, and restoration. The gold-filled cracks of a once-broken item are a testament to its history, adding to its character and value.

This has been a valuable and persistent thought for me.  If I can embrace and honor my own brokenness,  my heart opens to see and value your cracks as part of your beautiful history.  I love that tapestry weaving gives me a way to focus on this concept and represent it artistically.

Because of the slow, meditative nature of tapestry weaving, I gave myself time to explore the cracks and experience filling in the space with gold thread.  Other than a rough idea of fractured old pottery aggrandized with gold, the image developed on the loom.  The warp is linen and the weft threads are rustic wool and linen singles from treasured Sylvia Heyden and Martha Matthew stashes.  I wove it on my Cactus Flower loom at 10 ends per inch.

Beauty in the Break, finished October 18, 2017.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Holding Space; Beyond the Basics

Taking tapestry classes is one of my favorite things and Tommye Scanlon is one of my favorite tapestry weavers.  I admire her work and love having the opportunity to take another class with her.  The Triangle Weavers Guild brought Tommye in for a Beyond the Basics class.

The Triangle Fiber Arts Center is a great venue for classes. 

Happy tapestry weavers!

Friday, day one we discussed looms, warping and setting tips.

Tommye has dozens of woven samples to illustrate different techniques.

This sample was woven to demonstrate the use of blending with complementary colors.

Decreasing, increasing, hills and valleys oh my.

Saturday, day two involved specific techniques, attaching the cartoon and inking the warp.

Tommye talks about her design process.

One on one assistance with hands on by Tommye.

My yarns and sampling progress.  You may remember these yarns from here.  I dyed them ages ago for a project entitled Holding Space.  I have been waiting for a clear vision of how to weave this piece. My inspiration is the fabric scrap pictured below.

Holding Space is to walk along side someone, be present without judgement or one's own agenda or ego.  When we hold space for other people, we open our hearts, offer unconditional support, and let go of judgement and control.
What is most amazing for me is that in August of 2016, my interest in holding space was related to a dear friend undergoing challenging treatment for cancer.  I wanted to be a support and not presume to know what were the right choices for her.
The yarns and fabric remained to be used and I continued to endeavor to hold space and be present for those struggling in my life.  December 2016 my sister had a tragic accident and endured three weeks of intensive care.  The opportunity to be present, make decisions against self interest and love unconditionally were abundant. Holding Space for my sister and then for myself after her death was all encompassing.  I am ready to weave this tapestry now.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Ode to Goldenrod

they rise in a stiff sweetness, in the pure peace of giving one's gold away.

~Mary Oliver

The scientific name for goldenrod is Solidago which means "to make whole."  This weekend involved experimentation with dyeing wool with freshly gathered goldenrod.

Norsk Fjord Fiber vevgarn Frid is imported from Hiilesvag Ullvarefabrikk, a fifth generation spinnery on the west coast of Norway.  This is my favorite yarn for tapestry.  It comes in multiple natural shades of natural grey and white, which made for fun dyeing possibilities. 

Dear hubs was alarmed when I explained my plan to gather goldenrod along the highway.  He decided adult supervision was required.

3.25 pounds of goldenrod.

After washing all the yarn in Synthrapol, I mordanted it.  Some in alum (4 tbsp in 4 gallons of water) and some in iron (2 tbsp in 4 gallons).  

After mordanting and rinsing the yarn the goldenrod was placed in a large enamel pot and covered with water.  The pot was brought to just under a boil (about 200 degrees) and simmered for one hour.  I removed the goldenrod and divided the liquid between two pots.  The iron mordanted yarn was placed in one pot and turned dark olive green immediately.  The alum mordanted yarn was placed in the other pot and began turning yellow.

The yarns to the far left were the iron mordant and all the yellows were the alum mordant.

All in all a successful experiment with goldenrod.  I tied some skeins before dyeing and played with ikat as well.