Friday, February 29, 2008

In Your Face

Here's a montage of several recent Woven Shibori's -- I just took these down from my show at the Eureka SBDC and I couldn't resist piling them up together for a group shot. I do so love the colors together, all that heat jumping out at you.

Below is another shot that includes a couple other pieces that aren't shibori's...Wow, look at all these diagonals again!

I'm all dressed for spring today but it's clouding up for another downpour. At least it milder than it was. But I'd better put on something warmer for the time being.

I'm on to a new couple of scarves on my loom, using green and gold silks and cashmere. Working on building my collection of smaller woven scarves.

I hung my part of our Artists in Flight show at The Ink People yesterday and our reception is tomorrow evening during Eureka's monthly Arts Alive! walking tour of galleries, studios and shops featuring local art. I'll be taking photos to post here so definitely check back to see our group efforts. It has been quite an adventure this past 10 months, and the momentum has become strong to where we're all fairly bursting at the seams to share our creativity.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Remodeling My Life...

Actually, not my entire life, not today anyway...just my blog. I love fooling around with the templates and colors and would consider having an entire catalog of blogs of my own just for the pleasure of designing them.

I have been thinking about starting one on the Arts & Crafts Movement, of which I am a die-hard devotee. I'll see how my time holds out over the next few weeks. Right now I hardly have time to post to my other blog, A Crone's Chronicle.

Anyhow, I'm on my way back downstairs to try to get a few rows knit up on the scarf I'm knitting for my dear boyfriend. I'm afraid he'll have to wait to put it to use until next winter!

Undulating Diagonals

I've been increasingly enchanted recently, watching migrating birds fly over our area. I usually see them when I'm out driving and oftentimes have to pull over to the side of the road to watch.

This photo is NOT birds in flight, obviously, but the thing that attracts me about migrating birds is the constantly shifting undulating pattern of their formation.

The photo is something called homopolymer blend, and I'm pretty sure it's something mathematical. Maybe kind of like fractals, but perhaps in some other kind of universe.

I love things placed on the diagonal. The diagonal is the hypotenuse, the longer distance than either of the two sides of a right triangle, but shorter than the sum of those two sides. Maybe that's where the term cutting corners comes from, as in taking a short cut to get somewhere.

Anyway, back to my fascination with diagonals...I've got my bed placed at a diagonal in my bedroom (logically because I sleep under a joined peaked ceiling so there's no other option here), my living room couch is at a diagonal (logically again, because the room is small with a bay window and doesn't leave much room for a couch without placing it on a diagonal), the work table in my kitchen is at a diagonal (doesn't cut up the space as drastically were it straight, and it's easier to negotiate around being in the middle of the room).

As I mentioned some posts ago, I love undulating weaving patterns, shadow weave, twill, network drafts, any application where a line snakes its way up and across a piece of fabric. I aim to achieve this effect in my woven shiboris as well although sometimes that works out differently than I had imagined.

And the squiggle has always been a meaningful image or symbol for me. It's watery, it's wavering, it's snaky, it goes up and down, it goes in and out, it scooches along...everything I underline when I write by hand gets a squiggle. One of my beaded earring designs is called Squiggles.

I'm thinking this image may also say something to me about moving upward and onward in life, in that spiral way we do, in fits and starts, growing from the material to the spiritual. No straight and narrow for me, thanks.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Upcoming Spinning and Dyeing Classes

There's still room in my Spinning Luxury Fibers class on Saturday and Sunday, March 8 and 9 in Eureka. Students will learn to spin a dozen different specialty fibers, including silks, alpaca, yak, cashmere, tencel, bamboo, cotton and a variety of blends. They'll also learn how to make a beautiful silk novelty yarn from silk noil and angelina, to knit, crochet or weave with. Cost for the class is $120 plus $25 materials fee.

On Saturday and Sunday, April 12 and 13, I'll be teaching Dyeing and Spinning Silk, where students will learn two methods of dyeing silk top and silk hankies, and different methods of spinning them into fabulous, unusual silk yarns for weaving or knitting. Cost and materials the same as above.


For out-of-area readers of my blog, I travel and teach, so please contact me if you'd like me to do a workshop for your guild, or at a local resort, or wherever! I'd love to!

Spinning Slowly

Spinning speed is a relative thing. Take the Earth, for seems sometimes to creep through a day, all the while spinning around the galaxy at something like 18,000 miles per second.

Handspinning speed is one of those factors that need to be considered when spinning different fibers and/or when making thin yarns as opposed to thick yarns. Thin yarns, because there are so few fibers in a strand of yarn, need to be spun at a fast speed, giving them a lot of twist, so the relatively few fibers hold together. Thin yarns also have less air in them because there are so few fibers that there's little room for air space between them, and this can give the yarn a polished quality, although that's not necessarily bad.

Fine yarns are typically "worsted" spun whereas bulkier yarns are "woolen" spun. Picture a wool sweater with thick-ish yarn, yarn that is somewhat fluffy with air between the fibers. Part of the warmth in the sweater is due to the air trapped in the yarn. Now picture a summer weight wool suit, with finely spun worsted yarn with no air between the fibers, and now you understand why summer-weight wool is so cool!

Anyway, back to the matter at hand, I've been working with cotton fiber lately, 100% cotton and a cotton/silk blend. I've spun mostly protein fibers in my career (animal fibers) and have stayed away from cellulose (plant) fibers largely. Cellulose fibers generally need to be spun much more slowly than protein fibers because it's so easy to overspin them. The quality of the fiber is different, it needs less twist to hold together, can become kinky and hard with too much twist.

Both these yarns are 100% cotton. The one on the left was spun at a faster speed than the one on the right, and you can see kinks in it as well as a shinier finish and an overall harder quality than the one on the right. The "hand" of each of these yarns is totally different. The one on the left is less likely to be used to make something than the softer yarn on the right.

Perhaps the point I really want to make with all this blathering is that after all these years of fast spinning, I am slowing down! I have been spinning very fine yarns, mostly silks, for years, and even with plying them for 2-ply yarns, they're so fine it's hard to use them for anything but the sheerest fabrics. So now I'm beginning to slow down, spin yarns somewhat less fine, and get back into the meditative quality of spinning, rather than just see how many yards I can get finished in some period of time.

In short, I suppose you could say I am beginning to enjoy the journey now, rather than merely relishing in the results of my labors.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Artists in Flight

You are warmly invited to a showing of ARTISTS IN FLIGHT, a group exhibition for the Artists in Business Focus Group sponsored by the Northcoast Small Business Development Center in Eureka. Since May of last year, I have been participating in this SBDC program, developing my textile art and business.

Please join me and the entire group at The Ink People Center for the Arts during this Saturday's Arts Alive! Here are the details:

Saturday, March 1, 2008
Reception 6-9 pm
411 12th Street in Eureka

Show continues through March 29th, T-Sat 11-4 p.m.

Monday, February 25, 2008

...And More Color

These are some of what I have to work with for my next simple silk scarves. That chartreuse is to die for. It's one of my very favorite -- mostly-green silk hankies with inch square dots of turquoise and orange painted on here and there. It spins up to where there are these little nubs of orange and turquoise throughout the chartreuse. It's so beautiful I haven't wanted to use it! Kind of like getting a new dress and then keeping it in the closet for a year before you wear it, like a secret.

The variegated purple in front is hand dyed and spun bombyx silk top. Another fantastic colorway.

I'm between projects at the moment, letting my thoughts gather for what to do next. Sometimes having too many ideas waiting in the wings creates this momentary sense of overwhelm, to where I can't focus on any one thing. That's where I am today.

Deep Color

Here are the two woven pieces I completed this weekend...

This first one is made entirely of hand dyed, handspun silk hankies, two different 2-ply yarns for warp and weft. The finished size is 7" x 56" and the scarf weighs in at a mere 1.4 ounces! I love the deep subtlety of the colors together. This reminds me of the madras fabrics which were so popular in the early 1960s.

The second piece, below, was woven on the same warp of handspun silk hankies, but the weft is a handspun merino/tencel yarn that I spun up several years ago. The scarf shrunk considerably more because of the wool, so the finished length is only 50". But I love the colors, again deeply subtle, low contrast.

I waited until finishing this project before warping the loom again, because I wanted to see how these turned out. Now I think I'll warp with more of my handspun silk hanky yarn and weave up another couple light-weight scarves.
I have lots more to share so I hope to be back later today. If not today, I can fill the week with goodies to show you.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Rainy Day Saturday

Many thanks to my friend Sue O'Kieffe for the awards she bestowed on me this morning and for her continual support of my blogging voyage.

I'm not sure about the etiquette, but I guess it was okay to save and copy these images to my blog.

In case you couldn't tell, I'm loving blogging, Thank You Sue!, and I wish I had even more energy than I do to make and photograph stuff to show you all.

But lest you think I'm on vacation from being creative, I will today finish two simple scarves I've just woven with handspun yarns, and I am finally completing that huge dye sample project over the next day or two. I'm currently spinning up the bamboo/silk and cotton/silk samples I dyed yesterday with acid dyes -- and will complete the natural dyeing on Monday. Next week, sometime, I'll post photos and my narrative results from the whole process.

Have a good weekend, all!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Fractalize Me

A couple of years ago I was hooked on fractals. These are a few of my digital creations...

I'd love to do more of these, it's just a matter of time. Actually, what I'd like to do, is use some of them as patterns for painted warps that I would then weave up. Humph, what a good idea! That idea just came to me and I'll have to try it, maybe sometime this spring.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

New Website!

My new website is fully operational. Check it out here and let me know what you think. I'm really excited about it, it has been in process in one form or another for close to nine months. Yeah, I feel like I just gave birth!

Here's a color wheel of hand dyed, handspun silks I thought you'd be interested in seeing. (Now that I look at the photo, I think I'll do another one because I've dyed and spun many other colors since this one!) Enjoy!

Color Vibrations

I photographed my textile show today, hanging in the hall at the Eureka SBDC. The space is really narrow so I wasn't able to get any decent group shots. But I did a series of closeups of my favorite works and I just tinkered with them in Photoshop. I love pushing the colors and blowing up small segments of the photo. Here are a few of the resulting shots...

I really love getting right up there, "in your face" with minute color areas. When I work the images over in Photoshop, the colors absolutely vibrate off my computer screen.

Textural Simplicity

I'm working on this new woven piece...very simple, plain weave, using two hand dyed, hand spun yarns, both made from silk hankies. It's darn near impossible to get the actual colors represented here...actually the weft is a brown/black/chartreuse heather, and the warp is a brown/green/red/turquoise heather.

I've had buyers of my textiles ask for smaller scarves -- 7 inches x 58 or 60 inches -- the kind of thing they can wear with a nice blazer. And in the past couple years I've been making larger pieces, more like shawls or big scarves you can wrap a couple times around your neck. So I'm experimenting with some smaller pieces.

And I've had it in my mind to try simple weaves with knock-out yarns, fairly loosely woven. So this is the first one of these. It's working up quickly so I hope to be onto the next one in a day or two.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Tequila Sunrise

I've been spinning up samples from that big dyeing project I did about 10 days ago. My plan was to dye four different mixed-fiber blended tops with acid and natural dyes, to determine what kind of results I'd achieve with each dye. The challenge is that protein and cellulose fibers usually need different types of dyes and so these mixed-fiber blends would take up each kind of dye in unusual ways.

After I began spinning the samples, I realized that what I thought was going to be the cotton/silk blend, turned out to be 100% cotton, and the silk/bamboo blend turned out to be 100% silk. I am awaiting the newly-shipped blends from my supplier so I can continue my experiment as originally planned. Nevertheless, I completed the samples with the 100% cotton and 100% silk tops and those pictures are shown here.

These first three photos, on the left, are 100% cotton samples. The sample on top was dyed with acid dyes -- interesting, because dyers don't normally use acid dyes on cellulose fibers, but the results were noteworthy. Bottom line: the cotton took up the acid dyes and with steam setting, the colors are fast.

The middle sample was dyed with natural dyes (fustic, madder, cochineal and logwood gray), and mordanted for protein fibers (i.e., with alum sulfate). Still quite a bit of dye takeup even though cotton is a cellulose fiber.

This third sample was dyed with natural dyes and mordanted for cellulose fibers with alum acetate. There was even more dye takeup, as I expected with the cellulose mordant.

The next set of photos is of 100% bombyx silk samples. In the top photo on the right, the sample was dyed with acid dyes, which are a typical dye class for silk fiber.

The second silk sample was dyed with natural dyes, and mordanted for protein fibers with alum sulfate. There was less dye takeup than with acid dyes, even though silk is a protein fiber and this sample was mordanted for protein.

The last silk sample was dyed with natural dyes and mordanted for cellulose fibers, with alum acetate. There was an amazing amount of takeup even though the silk was mordanted as if for cellulose fibers. This last sample was also spun in singles, rather than 2-ply. I am experimenting with handspun silk singles, which I will eventually weave with, to see how well the handspun singles works as woven warp.

I'll be moving onto another project until the new fiber blends arrive, then I'll complete this project. I did already dye and spin the merino blend fibers, but I want to do a four-fiber comparison before uploading photos.
Meanwhile, it was my birthday today and I worked on my business plan for my textile art. It was a highly productive and fun day, lousy weather notwithstanding.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Waiting for the Sun

While I await the sun so I can go out in the garden, here's the latest weaving, finished yesterday.

Did I mention how much I love the color green?! If I don't have the color green around me, life feels incomplete. I have a selection of woven pieces in one area of my studio, in cool greens, purples, blues and aquas...and another selection in another area in golds, tans, rusts. And a piece like this new one, here, ties them all together for me.

I love shadow weave, as this piece is, in this case, an undulating shadow weave. I also love undulating patterns that snake across a woven field. Shadow weave is a technique of using two different warp and weft threads, usually one light and the other dark, although I prefer to use two similarly-colored yarns with different finishes, like matte and shiny. The yarns are threaded alternately across the loom -- one light, one dark, and so on. And then the piece is woven with alternate picks (weft threads), one light, one dark, and so on, using two shuttles. So you get these patterns that shadow one another. In this piece I used herb tencel and lizard green mercerized cotton. The result is fascinating.

Regarding the similar colors and different finishes, I usually did the exact same thing with my beaded jewelry -- I used bronze metallic beads with bronze-colored matte finished beads, or luster beads, or translucent beads all in similar colors. But when you held the finished piece up to the light, each type of bead would refract light differently so it would look like transparent areas juxtaposed with opaque or shiny metallic areas. Very engaging to the eye. Visual texture. That's what I'm up to in my work, woven or beaded.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Definitely A Spring Day

What a gorgeous day it's been today -- sunny skies, mild breeze, everything budding everywhere. Days like today always fill me with immense joy. I'll be starting in on the garden this weekend -- cutting back lavenders and hydrangeas, mowing the lawn, cleaning things up a bit. There's such promise in the air.

The website is moving along and I'm feeling good about it. I finished a weaving this morning, and after doing the fringe and hand laundering it, I'll post a photo over the weekend. The spinning projects are moving along, as well. I'll have one group of samples finished to photograph and post by Monday. I received shipments this week of a lot of new fibers, now posted at my Etsy shop. I'll be thinking over the weekend about the next few weavings.

Here's an interesting piece I did just a few years ago -- a hand knit shawl out of hand dyed, hand spun silk, then beaded along both short edges.

Originally the shawl was more of a scarf, narrower and quite a bit longer than I had envisioned. So, being the perfectionist I am, after it was finished, I completely ripped it out and started over again! Same pattern, only wider, and the finished piece shorter than the original, although still a healthy six feet.

I'm slowly knitting a scarf for my beau, a complex pattern of 32 different rows. So it's impossible to just sit down and knit. I have to mark each row as I complete it, so it's more of a project and less of something to just pick up when I have a few moments. And then there's BeeGee, my yarn freak, always pawing at or running off with the yarn as it advances...makes it difficult to get anything knit up these days!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

My Other Website

I've been working on a website since last summer. What an experience that's been! I wasn't keen on what the first designer did for me, so I decided to design a new site for myself. Then had problems getting what I'd designed to translate across computer platforms once uploaded. So now I'm working with a new design company, Precision Intermedia in Fortuna CA, which will be my new host as well, and I'm creating new sets in Flickr for galleries of my works for sale. The whole affair seemed, at the outset, like it would be relatively easy and trouble free, given the number of sites on the web these days. I suppose, though, that the seemingly never-ending quality to this project is due to my being an artist and very particular.

Anyway, I'm missing posting photos for your viewing pleasure, so here's one I like...

Happy Valentine's Day! This is the first year in over 20 that I've had a Valentine! So I share my love with you all.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Addicted to Spinning

All I really wanted to do today was spin. So that's pretty much all I did for most of the day. Although I did dye up some samples this morning, various things I'm still trying -- different fibers, different mordant percentages, new ways (for me) of processing things.

I think I'm in overwhelm. I go along just fine for a while, humming away, getting things accomplished, moving forward, and then something hits me and stops me up short for a bit. When I get like this, I retreat inside myself, set about spinning with a near-vengeance, and sort things out internally. When there are too many things to do, part of me shuts down. Guess it's like a mini-vacation that I give myself periodically. If only I would do it more consciously instead of feeling partly guilty when I'm in these moods.

Note to myself: Listen to myself more deeply, stop trying to do everything all the time, on time. Be good to myself, be gentle with myself. Amen.

Embroidered Dreams

I used to be quite the embroiderer -- I embellished everything I could get my hands on, especially pant legs and shirt yokes. I just fished out this piece from my personal archive, from a pair of jeans I wore in the early 1970s.

I was also wild about flowers back then -- still am! -- and embroidered several pieces that I designed, with flowers on black fabric. Only one piece remains in my collection, framed and glassed in so it was difficult to photograph (notice me in the background taking the photo). This piece has an interesting story behind it...

I had an art teacher in the 7th grade who was big on color wheels. Far as I can remember, most of what we did that semester was make rainbow circles of construction paper objects glued on black paper. I think this was my first introduction to the color wheel and how light separates through a prism, and it turned me on immensely. I remain enchanted by color progressions, as noted herein a couple of posts ago. Anyway, back during my embroidery days, I designed and executed this color wheel on black fabric, and it continues to bring me joy all these many years later, whenever I look at it.

In my travels back in the 70s, I came across these silk embroidery threads, probably about 100 years old now.

So, a project that's been swimming around in my mind for years is to weave some special cloth to embroider on, and then embroider a piece with hand spun, hand dyed silk embroidery thread. I wonder if I'll ever really get to it...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Purple Haze

The sun shines today, it's a bit warmer, I think the dead of winter is past, and my spirits are rising.

This is that fantastic Heliotrope bamboo that I spun up last week. What an incredible color, eh?

I have weaving to do and I keep getting distracted by so many other things. There are times when I can easily embrace all that needs to be done to move my art forward, but sometimes all the busyness of the business side of it seems overwhelming, and doesn't leave a lot of time to actually make art. I keep planning to get four pieces woven each month, and each month I'm really lucky if I can get two or three pieces finished. And I have years of projects on my mental list. If only I didn't need to eat or sleep!

With that, I will go weave for a bit. Spring is just around the corner!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Monday Afternoon

I haven't gotten much done today -- and I'm big on being productive -- but maybe I overdid it this weekend.

Here are photos of my latest woven shibori, painted this weekend. I wove this piece months ago; it's 100% silk...

I'm totally stoked about this piece, the colors are so ME! Here are a few photos of the shibori process:

It's no wonder I'm pooped today -- besides the woven shibori, I also did that extensive dyeing experiment I mentioned last week, the one with four mixed-fiber top samples dyed with both acid and natural dyes. I'm working on spinning up the samples, then I'll post the comparison photos. It was a wonderful experiment and I'm satisfied with the results. Hope you will be, too.

Oh yeah, what I did get done today was to start a new blog! It's called A Crone's Chronicle -- rants and raves of a more personal nature. If you like it, subscribe to it, and let me know what you think. I've been a paper journal writer sporadically since high school (100 years ago!) and pretty religiously for the last 25 years. Don't know whether the Chronicle will replace paper, I still really love the process of hand writing, the ink on paper, seeing the pattern of my words on paper, and especially writing on grid paper. I'm a grid paper freak! Anyway, check it out.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Texture, Pattern and Color

Sitting in my Art as Business class last night (through the North Coast Small Business Dev't Center (SBDC) in Eureka), I had an epiphany. Lodged between and inspired by my two local online artist cohorts, Sue O'Kieffe and Joan Gold, I realized that what actually turns me on about the art that I create is TEXTURE, primarily. That it's all extremely tactile for me, in terms of what my hands feel and what my eyes see.

I took 750 photos over 15 photo-shooting days in Italy in October, and looking back over them I see how texture, pattern and color heavily inform my way of seeing the world. I've never realized this at this level before. And that what I seek to create in my textile work is a representation, tactily or visually, of pattern and color and how they interplay.

I see that I'm usually not going for the things themselves that I photograph, as much as the PATTERN that many of those things together create, and/or how different things play off each other on my mind's visual screen to create a textural image of reality.

And then there's COLOR. I look at my world through color filters, especially green. If I don't have green, usually plants, in my field of vision anywhere in my home for instance, then that space doesn't feel complete to me. I think I'm continually composing textural pictures in my mind's eye -- fields of texture, patterns, areas of color. Even my clothes, hanging in my closet or sitting on my shelves, are grouped by color, or arranged in a progression from one end of the spectrum to the other -- white, tan, gold, bronze, russet, brown, black. This is my way of organizing my world, visually.

I just hung my first show last night, of my textiles, in the hallway at the SBDC. Arranged in color order. I selected pieces that worked well together colorwise. I have another show coming up, at The Ink People Center for the Arts in Eureka (as part of the SBDC program) and I'm planning on a different color focus. Which means I need to paint another woven shibori piece this weekend in colors that will work well in that grouping.

I'll be thinking a lot about all these things from now on. I feel like I've just awakened to an organizing concept of how I see the world and how that insight exists underneath my art and behind what I create.