Sunday, November 9, 2008

Time flies when you have children....

What has happened to the last five months? I posted at the end of June, and boom, here it is November already. I haven't seem to have gotten much art work done in that time. The kids were home most of the summer, with a few smatterings of camp, but by the time I dropped one off at one camp, then dropped the other one off, I would have an hour or so to do a little something before picking up the first one again.

I should be sorting through photos for an art project for a class I am taking on creativity. But, I decided to update this blog since it so woefully out of date. I have been riding my horse up until a week ago when my daughter came down with the flu, the car needed to have major repairs (this is the first and last Saab we will own--although I do like having a station wagon rather than a big SUV gas hog. I get good mileage, but where have all the station wagons gone?), and now I am suffering from a sore throat, hoarseness and a cough. I am not sure whether I picked this up from my daughter or my husband, but in any case, I don't really feel up to riding right now. Plus, my husband is really busy at work, which leaves me spending more time trying to keep things going here. Is there anyone out there who can really get stuff done? I feel as though I let so many things slide, the leaves are abundant in the yard, our horse fields are a wreck, the winter chicken coop is still not built, my weaving is slow, my painting is non-existent, and I have a dozen projects in my head I want to get to before Christmas. Then I still have the volunteer stuff to do at two different schools. Yes I know, whine, whine, whine, but I have to say when I woke up this morning, I listened to my children having a discussion on whether it was better to be eaten by a shark or a lion, and then headed to the kitchen to make themselves breakfast. This was indeed a first for them, letting mom sleep. I am lucky to be home with my kids and to even have some time to make art.

I have made some small progress on my sandpail weaving as you can see. I am almost ready to start weaving the sandpail and not just golden sand. In the meantime, I am trying to complete a second weaving of "Winged Rain" to submit to the ATA Small Connections exhibit. I have about 9 square inches more to weave. I have been weaving on that one some at night, but the last three nights I have vegged out in front of the TV sniffling, coughing, and generally groaning over my sore throat.

I hope I will have some more progress to show in the next few weeks....

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Finishing other projects

I still seem to be finishing unfinished projects. I cut a bunch of clothes out for my daughter in the early spring thinking, piece of cake, these won't take long to make. Well, three months later, I am finally finished with all the ones I cut out. They are shown below. They look better on her than on the sofa!

Now, if I could just get back to weaving, maybe when both kids are in camp at the same time. Although, our fiber arts group has taken a summer hiatus. Between kids at home, sick children, visits with parents, vacations, and other commitments, no one is getting any art projects done. Now I don't feel so bad!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Tapestry workshop

I have finally started to weave my sand pail tapestry. I was lucky enough to have my husband look after the kids for two days, and I was lucky enough to take a workshop with Joan Griffin. I loaded up my Shannock in the back of the kid/dogwagon and hauled it to Joan’s house. I spent two days weaving with four other women from around the area.

The first day I didn’t seem to make much progress. I was in dire angst about whether or not I should include hatching in the piece. I did a bit of it, but I was stressing out trying to get my wefts to “meet and separate” in the same shed. That was causing me no end of grief. I finally decided to just go with the piece as I had drawn it and not to include hatching in this piece. Then, the weaving began to go much faster. I left having gotten almost two inches woven. This photo was taken a couple of days ago.

Of course, since then I have hardly had any time to weave. My kids are at camp this week, but by the time I get them there, get back here, work my horse, look after my setting hen (keep your fingers crossed for us, hopefully we'll have some chicks in a month) and the other chickens, and get a drink, I have about 20 minutes to weave, so much for my goal of getting this tapestry done my July 1. Goals are good though.

Now, I have to come up with my piece for my fiber arts group, medusa and warmth, hmmm, medusa and warmth….

Today, my husband just loaded up the car with the kids to take them to a driving range and there is a birthday party this afternoon. Now, if I can get off this computer and stop looking at everyone else's blog I can get some weaving done. Yeah! I did get an afternoon of weaving and feel I made some real progress. Here is the latest view of the sandpail project. I have about 3 vertical inches woven, only 11 more to go! (This tapestry is to measure 12x14 ".)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Winged Rain

I am a member of a fiber arts group that meets twice a month, “God willing and the crick don’t rise.” We missed the last meeting due to sick kids, costume design for a play, a boyfriend leaving for a stint on a salmon boat, loss of a car due to a camping trip… However, we started the group in January, and have been meeting regularly since. We have enjoyed sharing our work which is quite diverse. I bring my tapestries, sewing projects for my daughter, my knitting, and my art quilt (on which I have stopped work, gotta get back to it). We have a clothing designer, Rose, and a dollmaker who does amazing embroidering, Susan (see her blog Threads of Inspiration). We also have Kate, who make amazing sculptures out of different media (felt, foam, …). And finally, Susan who makes all kinds of things in her shop. Check out her blog at the Dandelion Factory.

We meet and have great things to eat. Share some laughs and then help each other with feedback and encouragement on our various endeavors. Two months ago, we started giving assignments that you could do if you wanted. We threw a bunch of words in a hat, drew two, and then you were supposed to design and make something around that theme. The first time the words that came out of the hat were telephone and closeness. Not a theme that I wanted to wrap my threads around! If you want to see the results of this first go round, then check out Susan’s posting on the projects on her blog.

This time we threw more words in a big pot and drew two out. It is funny how diverse the words are, and that they can come out with such an interesting theme. Considering that the first time I had thrown in mud and laundry and some of the other words included geometry, pigs, box, and orange, that we should get out telephone and closeness, I find rather amazing (mathematics and probability aside). Anyway, two meetings ago, we drew words again, and this time winged and rain were drawn.

I decided I needed to get going on some tapestry weaving. The last time I threw together a small quilt without much finesse. This time I decided to spend a bit more time than the 3 hours I spent on the first assignment and put together something I liked. I first went very literal as is my usual mode in life and took a photo of a drop of rain on a chicken feather. Although the feather is quite beautiful in the daylight, it lacks the life in the photo and I didn’t think I could capture its iridescence in a tapestry.
My son suggested rain with wings, I wasn’t so sure about this theme for myself, but he really dove into that idea. Here is his rendition of winged rain.
I had mentioned seeing a beautiful scene of dark rain clouds juxtaposed against the spring green of our poplar trees. Ever the Rothko fan, my husband suggested a color field of green and dark grey. I have learned to appreciate Rothko over the last 12 years of our marriage, but I didn’t want to copy (which I know is something that all artists do to learn about their style and technique). I wanted to put my own spin on the color field idea. (Another interesting color field artist to check out is Blinky Palermo, a German artist who put bought lengths of fabric on stretchers. I saw his work at a MOMA color exhibit recently.)

I warped my loom, and decided the piece would be 4 inches high by as long as I could get it on my loom, which is an Archie Brennan lap loom. It turned out 9 inches was about what it could do. I selected a couple of spring greens of Silk and Ivory by Brown Paper Packages, and then a range of greys. I started weaving (after some time spent warping the loom and readying the warp with selvedge and thread). I looked out our window and drew a tree line, and then wove in the grey. I had a color study but no rain. I decided to put the rain in with glass beads, so I sewed those on with clear thread, and I finished the top selvedge last night and cut it from the loom. So here are the results. Looking at the photo, I still need to do a little more work with the beading, and then I have to figure out how to mount it. Any ideas? Now I need to get back to work on my sandpail project, which by the way, I have started weaving.

I have no idea how I will mount this piece. Then, in the last few days as we have been taking little fun trips with our kids, I have been looking at the sky and the tree line at different times of day and have decided to do a series of these tapestries. We'll see how they turn out.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Finally ready to weave...

I have finally finished my cartoon on vellum so that I am happy with it and I am finally ready to weave. I have been working on this idea for months. I thought I could just sketch something and be ready to go. It has been a real learning experience for me to find out that to get ready to weave would take so long. I found my first drawing had no depth and the shadows on the pail were not very realistic. After spending an afternoon outside in the afternoon light, and then two days off and on coloring on my vellum, I am finally happy with my drawing. I finished weaving my selvedge this morning, and I hope to start weaving today or tomorrow.

I should have ridden today, but it is very windy here. It is really hard to ride on a very windy day. The horses are likely to be spooky and not really willing to pay attention to you. I had a riding lesson with Mike Shaffer last week. It was an interesting experience. He had me start working with Oliver in a small circle and to have him walk and trot in a small circle. Mike is like the horse whisperer of the dressage world. He believes that you can’t put a frame on a horse and move them into the bit, but that you need to let the horse discover that frame themselves by carrying you in a small circle and help them to find where their head should be carried, then let them move their heads around. Then, bring their frame back to the correct head carriage, and then let them go, so that it is a fairly quick process. The horses quickly discover that the collected mode in which you want them to go is the most comfortable for them. It does mean that you have to start with the basics and master them before moving on. Therefore it takes patience, but it is supposed to pay off with a happy horse that can quickly learn the upper movements of dressage quickly. I guess we’ll see. Now I need to get back to weaving…

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Another longterm project finished...

After learning to weave a tapestry four years ago while my daughter was an infant, I have finally finished the series of tapestries that I began. I started with a sampler, and then I moved on to a series of persimmons. I had taken a photograph of five persimmons in various stages of ripening. I had first thought I would knit a sweater based on the photograph, but then when I saw Joan Griffin’s class on tapestry weaving I got other ideas. I took a series of lessons from her, and then I embarked on a process of weaving these persimmons. At first I thought I would weave five of the persimmons in various phases of ripening. But, I wove my first and it was rather more like a diamond than a circle, and had poor color representation. So, I began again. The second persimmon was better, but I still was not happy. I began a third tapestry, but this time I worked on the yellow or golden persimmon. I was finally happy with my result. Next, I wove yet another green persimmon. Finally, I wove an orange persimmon. I did end up weaving five persimmons, but was only happy with three of them.

So, here I am with three very traditional 5X5” tapestries. My husband and I like modern art. What am I going to do with these tapestries? I had a few ideas: build multi-layer shadow boxes out of wood and stain them a light green, or mount them with painted canvasses. My fiber arts group liked the last idea. So, I have spent the last two weeks painting canvasses. Yesterday, I joined them altogether and hung the piece. My husband likes it. Earth colors are not his favorite pallet, and after painting and weaving for the last four years, I have changed the pallet in which I work. So, I now tend to work with brighter colors. However, that said, I still think the piece turned out pretty well. And of course, the next piece I am working on, the sandpail in the sand box has a lot of gold in it, but it also has purple, red and pink.

Anyway, I am really happy to have these pieces finished and mounted. Now, I feel like I can move on to other subjects. But now that I have said that, I still have two persimmon pieces to finish. I started a triptych with one weaving of a green persimmon, one small quilt piece, and then a paper collage piece. I mounted them but then when I saw them altogether, I decided that I did not like the paper collage piece. I decided to embroider a green persimmon to replace the paper one. So, now I am in the midst of embroidering yet another persimmon. Finally, I have a painting with persimmons hanging from a branch that I need to finish. After these two pieces are done, I WILL BE DONE WITH MY PERSIMMON PERIOD. Yeah!

I haven’t been able to ride for two days. My silly horse has a tendency to roll into fences. For some silly reason, he lays down to close to the fence, rolls over and gets his legs stuck. Low and behold, he came in yesterday morning with two huge scrapes on his leg and with it swollen. He had rolled into the fence during the night. It seems after doing this 3 or 4 times and really scraping up his leg he would figure it out. My husband just laughed and said, “well, I always thought horses were a little dull…”

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Finishing up projects....

I have been trying to finish up a lot of projects that have been dragging on too long. I first have to give you background on this first project that I recently finished.

My mother was always sewing or knitting something. It used to drive my father crazy, "Click, clack, click, clack...all that clicking drives me nuts". Of course this statement came just after he was forced to give up his 3 pack a day smoking habit after suffering a massive heart attack. So, I think my mother's clicking needles normally didn't bother him, but, his 3 pack a day cigarette habit had turned into a nervous 5 pack a day Dentyne habit. My mother continued to knit, sew, and at the age of 65 decided to learn to quilt. In the last two years of her life, her arthritic hands prevented her from sewing and knitting, but she still loved to do handwork. I had decided to try and make this as my first quilt project. I thought it looked pretty easy. After cutting out the first few squares I was flagging in my efforts. Then, my sister suggested that my mother needed a project: enter the quilt square cutting project. Over the next few months, my mother started cutting up blue jeans gathered from my husband, my sister, my brother-in-law, my father, our neighbors and friends. My father passed away at age 87 and then my mother’s health continued to decline. After a two week hospital stay, she was told she either had to move in with me or my sister or move into a nursing home. My sister brought our mother to live with my family under hospice care. She continued to cut squares every day. Then, one day she seemed really driven and cut out 60 squares. The next day she lapsed into a coma, and died two days later at the age of 83.

This quilt was such a wonderful gift from my mother to her young grandson. After 4 years, I have finally finished sewing together the squares for this quilt. My son is very pleased with it. Now, after finally finishing this quilt, I made a discovery about myself. Traditional quilting is not for me! Lining up all those squares made me crazy, but I am pleased with the result and it is a great heirloom for my son It is a blanket of love as a last gift from my mother to me and to my son.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

My newest tapestry...a beginning

I have been working with Pat Williams since November. I have been weaving for almost four years now, but have a woefully small number of tapestries to show for it. The last four years have been busy…my daughter was born and now has started her first year of preschool and my son is in first grade, I lost both my parents whom both died at home with hospice care, and just life that goes along with being a parent of small children. Anyway, I have only woven small tapestries on a lap loom. This year I found a Shannock loom for sell on the web and I bought it. Pat and I decided that I should stretch myself and weave a bigger tapestry. I searched for lots of subjects.

I have a small cheap digital camera that I bought when I was looking for a new horse. It has come in handy, and my kids love it. They love to take photos and sometimes they surprise me with their photos, although many of them are of thumbs, close-ups of legos, blurry pictures of the dog, … However, I found one of a bucket in our sand box and it really called to me.
I took this photo, and after many sketches I came up with this one.

I wove a sample with a mixture of Appleton wool and Brown Paper Packages silk/wool blend.

I am almost ready to start weaving. I took my sketch and copied it onto vellum. Now I have to figure out how I am going to represent the colors in the various areas, simply by coloring them, or just calling them out by number or name. Hmmmm, I am still thinking about this.

Meanwhile, I figured out my sett and warped the loom with a few too many warp threads, then a too few, now I have the number just right and I am working on the selvedge at the bottom. It is supposed to be a table loom, but I am afraid the kids will pull the heavy thing over onto their heads, so I have it sitting on the floor and just sit cross-legged on the floor with my dog, and weave. It suits me, I have never really been one who likes to sit in a chair with my feet straight (which also makes it hard for me to correct my son’s wiggles and squirms in his chair at dinner—“Sit straight” doesn’t quite ring true when my legs are sprawled out to the side of the table.)

The rain has cleared, and the kids have gone to school. I need to go out and work my silly horse. We both need the exercise. After Oliver's second day of work at home again , (He just came home from being away for the last 7 months after breaking my arm), he was really trying. The first day he was angelic. Day 2 of work, he refused to trot, and after a couple of discussions gave in, and then it took 10 minutes of work to get a good trot. He then refused to canter, and started bucking. Now that I have broken my arm and have a family to take care of, I don't have the nerve I once did. I used to ride pretty much any horse. Now, I want to have fun, but don't want to injure myself again. We had another little discussion, and then he finally came around to my way of thinking and cantered nicely both directions.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

My first post....

After viewing blogs by friends from my fiber arts group, and thinking of starting a blog for months, I have decided to take the plunge, so here it goes....

I struggled with naming the blog, and found this quote from the poet Austin Dobson:

"And I wove the thing to a random rhyme"

which seems to be how I arrived at this place and time in my life.

I rebelled against doing many home arts as a child. I was the tomboy in my family. My sister was the one who did the “girly stuff”. I did the boy stuff like hunt, fish, and build things with my dad. Then after I had been out of school and working for a while, I decided that I wanted to learn to knit. I bought some yarn and got talked into buying yarn for an “easy” project, a vest that I had no interest in. Well, if you don’t like it, you aren’t going to work on it. Then I left work and went back to grad school and decided to try knitting again. This time, I took the yarn I already had, mixed it with some new yarn and knitted a sweater that I wanted to wear. I still have that sweater and still wear it sometimes, mainly on really cold days, it is heavy and warm. After that I was off. The sweater is baby sweater that I knitted while I was pregnant with my daughter. I just cast on and start knitting with about 45 or 50 colors of Paternaya yarn. I love this sweater; it is very similar to many of Kathryn Alexander’s sweaters, but not an exact copy. I took my one and only knitting class from her because I admired her work so much. Her class was called "Just Cast On". That is what I did, I just started knitting it together. The idea was to do a small version and then knit one for myself. Well, myself is still waiting!

Now for a change of subjects…I will get back to fiber arts, but believe me, they are related…

I have been riding horses since I was nine, but did not have access to a serious riding instructor until I was past 30. I took lessons and boarded my horse with Tad Coffin. He won two gold medals in 1976 at the Montreal Olympics in team and individual 3-day event. I thought I was a pretty fair rider until I started working with him. He had me relearn everything I knew about riding. I went back and became a beginner spending the first few months learning to sit in the saddle and walking my horse around the arena. I was finally allowed to trot and spent the next two years learning how to sit and post the trot and truly collect my horse from back to front. I was finally allowed to canter, then jump, then show my horse. In the meantime, I got married, we found a farm, I moved my horse, and then had two children. Now after a 7 year hiatus, the death of my riding horse and the acquisition of a two year old Hanoverian, I am now ready to start back to serious riding. Here is a photo of Oliver (who is by Romantic Star) as a two year old (he is just about to turn 5).
Last fall, after surgery for OCD, Oliver had been in his stall for 6 weeks. He had been released a week earlier for going out in a small paddock. We had successfully been going out down a hill to a small field for 6 days. Day 7, Oliver bolted, I couldn’t hold him and as he left he kicked up his heels in joy. He was happy to be out of his stall and free. Well unfortunately, he kicked my arm and broke my ulna in two places. Needless to say, that occurrence really changed our family life for a while. I was in a cast for nine weeks followed by 12 weeks of therapy for frozen shoulder. I was unable to cook for weeks, couldn’t lift anything, and couldn’t drive for almost a week. Life was a bit tough for a while. My husband had to pick up the slack, taking the kids to school, driving me to the doctor, cooking dinner, doing laundry, folding clothes, giving baths, …

However, I started doing several things. I started a tapestry apprenticeship through the American Tapestry Alliance. Pat Williams became my mentor (see her website and her wonderful, whimsical tapestries). I also took a creativity and collage class from Jane Broadwater Larew. I have been working on creating a larger more complex tapestry, and I created a collage from my creativity class. In that class I created a small art quilt, modeled after Leslie Gabrielse quilt. I then decided I had found two things that I really loved to do, tapestry and art quilts.

Come on my artistic and my horse training journey with me. I am going to see where my random rhymes lead me in the fiber arts area. Of course, I work on these things in between caring for my children, spending time with my husband, our horses, our donkey, our chickens, our dog, mowing grass, caring for the vegetable garden, cooking dinner, packing lunches, doing laundry, volunteering in my children’s schools, recovering from the latest illness brought home by my young children, …If you are a mom, you know how it goes.