Saturday, November 23, 2019

An Old Mill - A Labor of Love

I have written about the Yadkin Valley Fiber Room before.  The recent tapestry show of Tapestry Weaver's South just completed it's run there.  Dear hubs and I traveled to Elkin Friday to pick up my tapestries  and do some Christmas shopping.  Leslie surprised us with a sneak peek of the new location, the old Chatham Mills facility.

The Chatham Manufacturing Company was started in 1877 along the Elkin River in Surry County North Carolina.   What started as a grist mill for corn, then a carding mill for wool became the largest textile mill in the United States.  It employed 3,500 people in the 1970s.



It is impossible to overstate the importance of this mill to the people and history of Elkin.  The mill employed workers from Surry, Allegheny, Wilkes and Yadkin counties.  They were known for the Chatham Blanket, first produced in 1893.


Many a soldier serving overseas in World Wars I and II were warmed and comforted by these blankets.  



The North Carolina Textile Encyclopedia  states that between 1975 and 1985, more than 800 mills closed nationwide, and employment in North Carolina's textile mills fell from an all-time high of 293,600 in 1973 to 211,300 in 1986. The North Carolina Department of Labor estimated only 27, 500 people were employed in textiles in the state in 2017.  Many former textile mills have been transformed into other uses unrelated to fiber or sit in ruin.  

Thankfully the Chatham Mill has a champion in Leslie Fesperman and her colleagues.   The mill will have new life as a fiber center.  A place for appreciating all the history it represents as well as the future it promises for fiber artists.  It is not hard to share Leslie's passion and vision for this place as a destination fiber center for people from all over the country.



Preston,  Leslie and Fiona check out the future weaving classroom.   Reeds anyone?  These are just a few from the mill.  Leslie is being very cautious about culling any equipment.   There are wonderful treasures here.  There will be a textile museum on site to preserve them along with a fully equipped dye studio and individual studios.


The center is having a huge yarn sale on December 6th and 7th.  Check it out here.  Thank you Leslie for the tour and for doing such important work!

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Taking a test drive and losing my pajamas...


Dear hubs and I headed to Arrowmont for a week of classes.  I have long wanted to share the craft school experience with him.  I picked this week at Arrowmont as there was a bowl turning class for him.


The instructor,  Rudy Lopez lead twelve woodturners in creating bowls of all different shapes and sizes.  I took a Doll Making class with Nicole HaveKost.
Test driving a new craft as we do.  It was an adventure.


An incredible array of dolls were created using paper clay.  I used a hacksaw, sandpaper and got covered in clay and paint.  I am not sure tremulous hands and superglue are the best combo, more about that later.


Meet Splinter, a woodturner addicted to coke and Lucy the most disagreeable knitter ever!  These were fully completed after I got home.  There was an unfortunate incident while I was supergluing Lucy's hair on her head.  I was wearing my favorite pajamas as I worked last Sunday morning.  
I inadvertently glued my pants to my leg.  When I grabbed the pajama leg to pull it away I ripped the leg off below the knee.

There are no pictures, I need to preserve a little dignity.   My foray into doll making has sent me running back to the tapestry loom and away from the hazards of doll making. 



No worries Arrowmont, I still love you.  Although, doll making is not my cup of tea the class was great fun.  Also I think exploring new materials and art techniques have spurred my tapestry muse.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Wool Piggies

Another wonderful SAFF weekend is history.  I traveled to Macon County Thursday for work.  It was a pleasant drive with brilliant color.  On the way down the mountain to Asheville, I stopped at Barber Orchard for apples.

The entrance

We stayed in an air B & B in Fletcher, a goat farm.  Beautiful setting and adorable animals, goats, horses, ducks, chickens, pigs, dogs, cows and a farm cat or two.


If Peggy looks unhappy with this particular goat it maybe because he chased her from the car to the house earlier.


Whatcha got?

McGough Building

I will not point out who the wool piggies are.  That would be rude.


Cousin It at the Veranda Cafe in Black Mountain.   

This weekend combined all my favorite things, good friends, fiber and a beautiful North Carolina fall.

Monday, September 23, 2019

The Tale of the Three Postcards

Months ago I signed up for the American Tapestry Alliance post card exchange.  You are assigned a partner and swap tapestry postcards.  To my surprise my assigned partner is Alex Friedman.  Alex is a professional artist from San Francisco.  I have long admired her work with eccentric weaving.

A little intimidated, I wanted to do something different.  Decided to do this little postcard of the Cape Hatteras lighthouse using recycled plastic bags.  It was fun but I had alot of drawn in with the plastic.  Sad little postcard wasn't up for the trip to California.


What to weave instead?  I decided to weave what I love, wedge weave of course.  Still fascinated with alternative weft materials, I spindle spun some newspaper.  



What was super fun about this piece was using a variable warp.  I am sure there is a proper name for that but I don't know it.  I warped at 10 ends per inch, wove the newspaper at 5 epi and the colorful linen at 10 epi.  I will definitively play with the technique again!



On the left is the postcard Alex sent to me from San Francisco.  On the right is the postcard I am sending off to Alex.


Proof that Alex's card was post marked in San Francisco and made it to North Carolina without incident.  Alex sent me a bit of her home.


I am sending Alex a bit of my home too.  The handspun newspaper is the Raleigh News and Observer.  In addition, the linen is from my guild's stash.  Triangle Weavers Guild is a wonderful group of weavers and we have a stash of tapestry yarn.  Our most celebrated member, the late Silvia Heyden donated yarn as have others.   I like to think I have included some of Silvia's magic in my little postcard.

Last but not least, some pictures of indigo fun with dear daughter Rachel this weekend.


Sunday, September 8, 2019

Ode to Gunta


The primary benefit of practicing any art, whether well or badly, is that it enables one’s soul to grow.
                                                                                                           —Kurt Vonnegut Jr


After reading about the role of women at the Baushaus I wanted to try to interpret some of the principles in wedge weave.  The minimalist style of design embraced ideas of functionality and true materials. Bauhaus artists favored linear and geometric designs, line, shape and colors were the focus.  The stripes of Gunta Stoltz above are a prime example.


Finished.  Not sure Gunta would appreciate this interpretation of her work.  However, it was an exercise in emphasizing line and color.


Our tapestry study group met today.  I love the opportunity to weave together.

Working hard!


I love these colors!


Mistakes are almost always of a sacred nature. Never try to correct them. On the contrary: rationalize them, understand them thoroughly. After that, it will be possible for you to sublimate them.



Monday, September 2, 2019

Point of View


I have spoken often of the joy and benefits of having a community of tapestry weavers.  Of course, there are facebook groups and instagram hashtags but nothing beats real live face time with your tribe.

Tapestry Weaver's South opening
Tapestry Weaver's South  new show Point of View opened at the Yadkin Valley Fiber Center in Elkin on Sunday.  It was wonderful to see everyone and see the tapestries.

Mirage by Connie Lippert and Miss Headwinds by  Louise Halsey

Jennifer Sargent

There were so many lovely pieces, I was inspired by the range of techniques and approaches to tapestry.


I submitted two pieces for entry.  I experimented with alternative materials.

Hand spinning newspaper 


Wedge weave of course!



This piece is titled "Fine Print".  The warp is wool and the weft is handspun newspaper.   It wa woven at 10 ends per inch and is 8" by 8".

Recycled grocery bags and handspun newspaper

This piece is titled "Paper or Plastic" and is woven on a C. Cactus Flower loom at 10 ends per inch.   It is 14" x 6".


Next post, I will tell the sad story of the postcard that stayed home.





Thursday, August 8, 2019

Why? Why? Why tapestry?

I have been puzzled about my desire to weave tapestry and trying to sort out why it is something I am drawn to do.  I came up with a list of reasons I weave tapestry.  Here you go; expression, play, color, accomplishment and exhibition;recognition.   Sorting this out may seem to be an extreme of navel gazing.  But there is value here for me.


  If I weave to satisfy my need for expression, play, color and a sense of accomplishment then I weave for MYSELF.  Do you know what that means?  There are no rules, no shoulds and no requirements to go big to be a "real tapestry weaver."

 I can stick to the smaller pieces I love.  I can weave with plastic and handspun newspaper.   If my interest in weaving and spinning are self directed then I can weave what I want when I want.  What an amazing concept! 

As a kid, I loved going down a slide or pumping my legs to swing higher.  I didn't worry about what my purpose was or what was being accomplished.   As adults we need play as much as children.  Maybe more.


The great advantage to weaving tapestry versus playing with knitting myself something is.....You do NOT have to wear it!  Especially good if you are playing with hand spinning and weaving newspaper.