Thursday, September 28, 2017

Testing Some Handspun

I have quite a pile of hand-spun and I'm beginning to think I should pay attention to it. Although I've owned wheels in the past I only use a drop spindle now, so I though I would pull it out and see what happened with some dyed roving I have...from somewhere.

This seductive painted roving can be tricky - what looks great in a roving becomes grey and mixes as you spin the sections. I was interested in what I could do with such a bright multicolored hand-spun (of course a face came to mind) and so I began to spin.

fleece, singles, 2-ply and wound bobbins

I started a 4 inch warp with no planned idea other than a face at the end. Although I often don't ink on a cartoon, usually a sketch is involved at some point along the way, just to get the idea growing. In this case it was entirely designed on the loom.

4 inches wide, 10 epi, no name yet...

Naturally a bit of the wedge weave had to sneak in. The red parts are some hand-dyed norsk, so is the yellow. Otherwise her outfit is from that roving.

I'm intrigued by what an impact that yellow triangle's fun to explore.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Coffee Conversations

Time to update the tiny T's I keep on my website and sell via Etsy . I never tire of heading to the coffee shop a few blocks away and so I've created an ongoing series called Coffee Conversations. It brings together my two favorite pastimes - sketching and weaving.

The first part is simple; spend Saturday morning with sketching bag and coffee at the coffee shop. Saturday is pretty active there with lots of turnover and that's what I'm looking for. I usually fill 2-3 pages with an assortment of people I see and include any amusing observations that might help me remember something later.

7 x 10 inch sketchbook, ink pen and colored pencil

Once home I look at the sketches and decide which will be the most fun to weave. I want a variety of different types of people and lately I've been combining wedge weave with traditional tapestry, so I'm looking for opportunities to use that too.

didn't stray too much, but there are differences in the weaving...

Usually I draw a quick cartoon to size which I place next to me and slip under the warps when needed. I only completed 3 coffee tapestries this time as a few landscapes snuck in that warp.

4 inches wide, 10 epi

No problem, it's nearly fall and time to head back to see who I can sketch for the next round of conversations.

Coffee Conversation No. 6

Coffee Conversation No. 7

Coffee Conversation No. 8

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Tapestry Weaving at Sievers

I'm back from my workshop at Sievers Fiber Arts School, back from the quiet cups of coffee at daybreak, back from the four days where all we thought about was weaving. In fact I only got in my car once.
What a treat. It all started here. This is called The Walter Studio and it is a room filled with light and views of the willow patch planted and used in classes at Sievers.

The nifty batik hanging there was made by a previous batik class.

I designed this class around color blending and values used to create landscape inspired by our surroundings. Washington Island is an unusual place with a distinct landscape and I wanted my ten students to take advantage of it.

The rain cleared just enough to draw at Jackson Harbor one afternoon.
I was very pleased with the ways students integrated the results of that afternoon into their woven pieces letting tapestry language guide them rather than being too attached to their drawings. It really reinforced the value of spending this time sketching and looking and I hope to combine the two more often in my workshops.

So proud of her...she had never woven before!
My biggest take away is that there is so much power in The Group. Whether it was sharing info on materials, offering suggestions on each others work or just have a cup of coffee together, there was so much wonderful energy. Imagine a chance to see what nine other people are going to come up with on the loom, 9 different ideas.
What an opportunity.

Discussing looms...

We even had a mother/daughter team...

And more bragging...

Take time from your daily duties to celebrate the landscape where you are and, as the 11 of us did last week, stay creative.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Almost Ready for Washington Island

Sievers here we come!

On August 16th eleven eager tapestry weavers will come together at Sievers School of Fiber Arts on Washington Island in Wisconsin. This will be my second visit there and it's really a unique part of the country, accessed only by ferryboat. The ride provides a good opportunity for sketching and I'll have the sketching bag packed.
Right now it's time to focus on tapestry. I've been doing dye pots like crazy,

complementary color gradations, Norsk 2ply

but who can resist all those little balls in a row.

Making last minute landscape samples in the wee hours of the morning...

when I get up, it's coffee and weave, every day.

Checking the cupboards for samples I made last winter,

Schoolhouse Beach, 9 inches x 6 inches
And seeing if the yarns hanging outside are dry enough to put into balls.

series of scarlet red overdyes

So much to do, but so worth it. After all, is there anything more fun than being with 10 other weavers for 4 days away from the duties of life?

I'll be ready Washington Island.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Progress on Substitute Tales

Last you met these tapestries they were in a pile after cut off, the other side of the Donut Man warp.

No and Taller Than You in progress

Now here they are neat and tidy (and professionally photographed, thanks Radlund Photography). The question then becomes, what next?

Eggs for Papa, 6 x 8 inches

Make Me, 6 x 10 inches

No, 6 x 8 inches

Taller Than You, 6 x 8 inches

I'm fortunate to have the Goodman Community Center here in Madison, offering a variety of services including the Ballweg Gallery , a venue for Madison artists. I'm signed up for December 2017 for an initial showing of the work.

Yikes! I better get going...

preliminary work

Along with tapestries there are sketches, drawings, haiku, and even my journal where I made the notes after each day of substituting. I'll also need to write some explanation for viewers.

The first thing I'm working on is the presentation of the tapestries. Simplicity will be important with these distorted weavings; you want to make sure every zigzag and slit shows. Smaller traditionally woven pieces will need some frames made...

Looks like a busy couple months ahead.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Summer 2017

People will ask, quite rightly, any plans for the summer?

I can truthfully say every time, "making art, yard work, and dyeing yarn" (and I believe I speak for Porkchop when I say this).

Porkchop finds a sun spot.

The focus this year is complementary colors which is usually the case. I've zeroed in even more as I'm heading back to Siever's Fiber Arts School in August for a 4 day workshop where these amazing complements will work their magic with the landscape of Washington Island. It's a pretty special place.

first half of the red to green complements gradation

violet to yellow, one of my favorites

So jars of gradations are appearing. You know how seductive that can be. I'm trying to stay focused on the task at hand but there is the urge to gradate every possibility.

But then July 4th is around the corner and family fun ahead (sketchbook in hand of course).

Ruth on location in the dye studio (corner of the garage)

So it looks as though this summer is turning out like all the others; art making, yarn dyeing, and....oh right, all those weeds.

Look around, take notice, make a sketch and stay creative.
Enjoy your summer.

Friday, June 16, 2017

It's Official!

We all know a tapestry is not truly done until the professional photograph is taken so my friends, it's official, Donut Man is complete.

To review, this all started with a drawing, an experience I had one Sunday morning in Times Square, NYC. I was so attracted to the particular way Donut Man held the donut, the careful and tender way his fingers balanced it all.

finished last summer, 2016

You know the rest, all that weaving.

they're all sewn in now

Last you saw here was the pile of ends to tidy up. It happened and then a trip to my friends at Radlund Photography in Madison, WI where I live (and weave).

I like taking pictures in  my yard, but this just wasn't meant to be outside

Something like this, it makes a difference, this business knows what they're doing. An added bonus was the interest photographer Mark showed in how I actually produced this piece, not to mention the story of course.

Of course, it's all about the story.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Cut Off

Remember Donut Man?

Cut off, clean up, Hagen back in the storage spot

We haven't seen him lately. He was held hostage while I madly wove the reverse side of the warp, a victim of my penny pinching - why waste my perfectly good tan seine twine?

Both of these are about 6" wide

Besides, I was able to work a bit more on my series of Substitute Tales.

The final piece on the warp has the working title "Taller Than You" Great credence is made over height among young folk. It doesn't take much for someone to get past me and this girl was only in 3rd grade. She was jubilant, so was I. I love an assertive young woman.

warp is ready to cut!

What happens with these pieces? What's next?

Porkchop, as usual, sits and waits

That's the way with art...the questions never end.
Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

More Substitute Stories

The next student is done, the final begun. For this warp at any rate.

Substitute Tales continues.

crayon sketch from journal entry

The working title for this one is simply, "NO". I was most entranced by her rubber rain boots, which, for those of you out of trends in elementary school, are quite trendy.

pearl cotton on the boots, most of these boots have flowers

This friend has a habit of meltdowns.

6 inches wide, and you can see the next one started

But then, don't we all wish we could hide in a corner sometimes?

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Substitute Stories

I'm beginning to see some results from my series Substitute Stories. These are developments from the daily sketching I've done after each substitute teaching job for the past two years (although I've done it for 6, just had to say that).

The daily practice transformed my attitude toward this job. In case anyone wonders, the job is not easy, but it does supply endless stories if you are listening.

I'll be talking  more about this in upcoming posts, but here is my first idea off the loom and some photos that show you a bit of the process. The title of this piece will most likely be "Make Me".

Original journal sketch to the left

enlarged with black crayon as a guide

on the loom, 6" wide, 10 epi

very much improvisation, not directly from the sketch

off the loom, waiting for finishing

This young woman is finishing 7th grade and she is no pushover. I'm not worried about her path in life.
Stay tuned as the stories develop.