Sunday, November 27, 2016

Leigh Square Residency - the penultimate week (8)

I've always wanted to use that word, and yes, I did know what it meant before we read "The Series of Unfortunate Events" - possibly my favourite children's book series ever.

To get back on topic, yes, this is the second to last week of my residency. I gave some thought to what I wanted to get done in these last two weeks. One thing that hasn't been working out as I had hoped is the community weaving. I can't quite remember how long I made the warp, but there's lots left and it won't all get used if I leave it for other people to weave. I just don't get that many visitors. I've decided to spend time weaving on it myself. I was going to leave it behind as a gift to the community, but since not that many community members have actually contributed to it and I've done most of the weaving on it myself, I think I will keep it as a reminder of my time at Leigh Square.

This week I wound up what I call a "magic yarn ball' - a ball of random yarns of different lengths tied together, and did some weaving with it. I love how random the weaving is, with little bits of nubbly texture from the knots which just get woven in wherever they land. This is the technique I'm planning to have people use in the "Weave a Scarf in a Day" workshop that I'm doing at Muckabout Studio on December 3rd.

I also did some patterns using two shuttles with two different yarn colours. It is so simple for beginner weavers to get some interesting patterns this way. When I was weaving in Mexico, they called this type of weaving "pick and pick". The students in last week's classes really enjoyed working with these patterns.

Speaking of last week's students, Joanne came by to visit and brought in the weaving that she started last week. She's already finished it and says she has lots more ideas that she wants to try out.  I think her next plan is to make some journal covers.

I spent a lot of my time this week setting up a loom to do 1/2 twill. There are two ways to do 1/2 twill on a rigid heddle loom:

.1 Using one heddle - it's faster and easier to warp, but you have to use a pick up stick and repick every third shed.

2. Using two heddles. This is slower to warp, but supposedly the weaving part is more straightforward. Since this is a very long warp (for a rigid heddle loom in any case), I decided to spend the time up front and warp with two heddles. When I wound this warp, I had not planned to use two heddles, and in hindsight it probably was not the best choice. It has three different yarns. The light pink is tripled (it was wound into balls this way, and I didn't bother to separate them). The dark pink yarn is quite thin, and the red is slubby. To complicate things further, I decided to move some of the warp threads around rather than just put them on the loom in order. It took me all of Wednesday and well into Thursday to get it set up, and along the way, I remembered why I don't like to do two heddle weaves. Let's just say it's very creatively threaded. Admittedly, I was distracted on Wednesday as Joanne came to visit. It was fantastic to have the company and I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with her, but perhaps the complicated warping sequence was not the best choice of activity to do with someone else around. I'm hopeful that it will give some interesting results, just like the creative student warp last week. We'll see.

I also rethreaded a simple blue warp. It also somehow ended up with a few funky things going on. I didn't notice until I started weaving on Thursday night. I've certainly been reciting the mantra "there are no mistakes" a lot this week.

I started work on another tapestry on my Salish loom. I've been wanting to do a Sakura themed weaving since the cherry blossoms were blooming last spring. I'm really enjoying this loom with the chunky yarns for tapestry. I took it along to the Dyepot Club meeting on Friday and someone asked why I started weaving from the top, and I said "That's what Debra does". She said it doesn't really make sense when there is a fixed bar at the bottom. There are some vertical frame looms that just let the warp threads hang, and in that case you have to start weaving from the top, I've been enjoying the challenge of thinking about the image from the top down, but maybe for my next project, I will start from the bottom.

I have a short "to do" list for next week. Let's see how much I get finished.

Possible Omissions Show and Sale

Last weekend, we held the Possible Ommisions show and sale at the Mission Possible studio. I took along a few things to exhibit and sell. Making things to sell is most definitely outside my comfort zone, and has been causing me a fair bit of anxiety. I'm usually a fairly relaxed person, so this is not a feeling I have very often, but it's important to do things that make you uncomfortable now and then right?

So, the next time I get asked to participate in a sale (like next
weekend for example), I have a bunch of things ready to go.

We had lots of bare wall space, so I hung some of my recent paintings and asked people to give me feedback on them. Several people commented that they look like my textiles. I don't feel like they are finished yet, but I haven't decided what I want to do with them next. I expect I'll get them out every once in a while and play around with them.

I took a loom along and let people try it out. It was a leftover warp from one of my earlier workshops with an interesting threading arrangement. I liked the way the warp is spaced out with some areas with larger floats. I like the way the piece turned out, and lots of people asked what I'm going to do with it. I think it is the perfect size to become the back of a vest. Now, I just have to collect some weaving for the front.
I took my button maker along and people had lots of fun making little collage buttons. Interesting message choices. The ones that say "be kind" and "It's not the end of the world" were made by a librarian from the US. I think she's planning to wear them to work.

And, why yes, that is reference to A Clockwork Orange in the upper left corner.

I think my favourite is the forest with the little green heart that says "How beautiful you are!"

I was thinking of selling the button maker last year because we hardly ever use it anymore, but I'm glad I hung onto it.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Leigh Square residency week 7

 This was a bit of a different week for me. We are having a show and sale this weekend at the pottery studio. Instead of weaving, I decided to spend some time making things to sell there. Since most of the other people in the show are potters, I decided to do something different.

I stitched some glass beads onto the felt beads that I made as samples for the mini workshop i did a few weeks ago and turned them into necklaces. I'm quite pleased with how they turned out.

I also made some necklaces from some bamboo tiles that I painted ages ago and then promptly did nothing with them. I added some beads and sari silk bits to dress them up a bit.

I'm also going to take some of the felt cuffs that I've had on display at Leigh Square, and I've done a few mixed media paintings of labyrinths and standing stones.

This whole making stuff to sell is new to me. I have no idea what people might want to buy. I keep thinking back to an overheard quote that I wrote in one of my sketchbooks: "it's an experiment, it doesn't need to be fixed". Thinking that way is making it easier for me to finish some things without getting all bound up

I had two weaving workshops on Thursday. A full day affair in Poco, and then the first of a series of evening workshops in Burnaby. Not the best planning for sure, but they went well. A couple of the students brought along  their own rigid heddle looms. The one on the left is an Ashford and the one on the right is a Schact Cricket loom. It's nice for me to see these other looms in action. Although they are made by different companies they share some features that are quite different from the Beka model that I use. There are things that I like about them, and there are things that I prefer about my Beka looms. Both the students said that they would rather have a Beka loom - mainly because it is less bulky. I have to admit that is my favourite feature as well - especially when I have to carry several of them to workshops, or put one in my suitcase when I'm travelling. (I carried a warped loom in my suitcase when I went to Europe last summer and gave a talk about freestyle weaving in Finland).

Here's some of the fun weaving that people did today. Lots of exploration of "pick and pick" patterns made by weaving with two shuttles with different colours of yarn.

The Thursday evening series will continue on November 24 and December 1. There is still space to join us for one or both nights. Send me a message if you are interested.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Interviews about my art

A few weeks ago, I had lunch with Jill Schuler of Creativi-tea. She wrote about our conversation here:

...and here's a short video clip about the Creative Weaving Project. I start talking around 1:17.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Leigh Square residency week 6

I spent Wednesday working on my Red Fish rag weaving and coincidentally, parked in front of a fish shaped bench that day. This weaving is an experimental prototype for a large commission that I'm planning to propose. I think the process worked well. I really liked the blending and subtle colour variations that I was able to get by combining different pieces of fabric. Most of the fabrics that I used are printed cottons, but there's a bit of heathery wool,  a jersey knit, a tartan plaid and some shiny synthetic bits thrown in as well. I think one of the things I liked best is that the technique uses up a LOT Of fabric. It was very satisfying to see my "stash" decrease. 

I did a hand stitched quilt workshop last year with some folks from Gee's Bend Alabama, and I found myself thinking about them after the US election results.  I decided to do a small hand stitched piece with some of the fabrics I used in the weaving. As I stitched, my thoughts went to the stories that they told us about growing up in rural Alabama and the hardships that their community faced when the money lenders came and took everything of value from them - all their food stores, tools, livestock, everything that they would need to survive in their remote community (which is still almost an hour drive to the closest town - grocery store, doctor's office, school. Imagine how isolated they would have been without cars or even horses.) Somehow, they managed to persevere, and found ways to survive and to make things out of pretty much nothing like the beautiful quilts that they hand stitched from rags to keep their children warm on cold winter nights. I wrote the words "Winter is coming" on my piece, because that's how I feel about their country right now. You can find your own meaning in the Game of Thrones reference.

 I set up a display of some of the things that I've been working on during my residency in one of the display cabinets. I've been wanting a way to show people what I've been working on, so I'm happy to have the extra for some of my work.

I had a very nice visit with Mary on Thursday. I know her through the Vancouver Artist Trading Card group. When she learned that I'm a weaver, she gave me three LeClerc backstrap looms that she found at her local thrift shop. They even have rigid heddles.  I've been saving them to play around with during this residency. It was nice to be able to show her what I've been doing with one of them. 

After finishing the Red Fish weaving, I decided to take a bit of a break from weaving for the rest of week, but I do have plans to use the backstrap loom to reacquaint myself with the patterns and textures you can get using a pick up stick or two. Maybe next week.

One of the people in the Tuesday Spinners group took pity on my poor broken drop spindle. She had fixed a similar spindle issue with some gold Fimo polymer clay and she gave me the her left over clay to fix mine. I still have to bake it to harden the clay. Fingers crossed that all goes well.

I also played around with the felt beads that I made a few weeks ago for one of the mini workshops. I did some needle felting to "fix" some loose bits, and then did some embellishments with beads and bits. I think they'll become necklaces for some of my upcoming sales.

Next week is looking pretty busy. I'm doing a full day weaving workshop on Thursday. Joanne is going to bring her Cricket loom and we're going to figure out how to get it set up. I also have a workshop in Burnaby on Thursday evening, then on Friday, I'll be setting up for our weekend "Possible Omissions" show and sale at Mission Possible in Vancouver

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Possible Omissions Show and Sale

We are beside the crawl this year, hope you will come to "Possible Omissions Show and Sale" that we are having by coincidence on the same weekend, November Sat - 19th and Sun - 20 , Dawn is weaving and will have a loom for you to try, Shelimar will have a wheel ready for you to play with clay, we also have coffee and baked goodies and other fun things going on, I hope you can come by and see what we have been up to for the past year. See you next weekend
Ps please share this post with your friends.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Creative weaving project

Here's a short video with a clip of me talking about my "Lammas daybreak in North Burnaby" weaving.