Thursday, July 12, 2018

tapestry changes

for many years the only weaving besides darning socks  i did was tapestry.
they were small,
less than seven inches in any dimension, most about three square inches.
i wove many one of a couple  little canvas stretcher frames
or sometimes on warp wrapped round a book.
i made dozens and dozens.
at first they sold for $35.
i used all kinds of weft yarns
everything from quiviut to raw flax.
and much wool and dmc embroidery floss.
i also made igolochkoys with a tiny punch needle
with silk and cotton thread which allowed
for imagery that was more complicated than my fairly thick warps allowed me to make.
i didn't make so many of these.
they often had animals on them,
celebrating my other passion,
the animals filling up my now fallingdownbarn.
every single one of these except the ones my dog Tater chewed on
is somewhere else, not in my possession.
the tapestry thread basket is still here
then came a period when i was studying shifu and making kami-ito
and books for my papers and stories and poems
and i wanted to make shifu books.
of course.
i was trying to make fringe-free discreet pages.
i was driving my subaru one summer when it came to me
(i know it was summer because i remember my bare legs under the steering wheel)
make a loom that is just warp and weft at once.
and is plain weave.
which is what tapestry is, except tapestry is scrunched together,
weft beaten down to completely cover the warp
but it's still plain weave.
anyway, make a loom--a stump loom.
                    side story: i later discovered that the amazing jim bassler
                    started making four selvedge pieces about when i did,
                    inspired by the same weavings. he wove with nettle, i with paper.
i went into the paper mill and found a 4 x 4 x 8 chunk left over from a deck project

i used in the paper press,
and very very carefully eyeballing,
and bearing in mind that i like odd numbers,
i hammered two parallel lines of small brads in the chunk of hemlock.
it's a tiny square, 17 brads in each side
and i took one long kami-ito thread and warped it and began weaving with a nice long needle.
well, my idea had been to make each unit or page with one piece of kami
but that proved too hard with this size
because of abrading the thread before I was complete with the weaving.
I later achieved this with goal a smaller stump loom that's now in the possession of a friend.
i've made more than dozens of shifu squares now. maybe hundreds.
pages for books.
little bags,
little stories,
patches on clothes,
a couple tsunobukuros
sometimes writing on the paper before it's spun
weaving in tales.
some dyed, some printed.
and now
in a return to those tapestry roots i guess
i'm taking an online class with sarah the magnificent
and her friend rebecca (also seemingly magnificent)
called fringeless.
i didn't know that this was coming when i told my PBI classes this history
more or less, you know how stories are,
and said that i really didn't want any fucking fringe.
i'd looked at old peruvian textiles trying to figure it all out
but i couldn't quite, but those ancient ones were calling to me
make it without fucking fringe.
or, as sarah says, fringeless. 
the side story: 
 my first weaving was fringeless.
pot holders.

one loop doesn't              
  count as fringe.
       my first tapestry was woven when i was 17.
  there was fringe. 
and beads,
and holes. 
    and linen! delicious linen.
     it was 1975 and i had a lot to learn.
      but i was smitten.
detail of how i solved the top fringe problem.
pretty clever for an untrained weaver.
this is my new pipe loom for fringeless,
the class
here she is with the warping jig taped in to see if it fits
i wonder where this will take me.
or if, 
in frustration because of computerese and my inability to understand it, 
i give up,
but i've constructed my loom, my jig, and have fly line.
i have yarn here, or if i need any i'll make it.
 since beginning this post,
and because i don't have the heart to do more right now,
one of the dogs you sometimes see here, the orange and white setter,
our friend Gwen, has died.
i'm sad, but it's ok.
she was a fine bird dog and a good companion, 
my partner's best friend.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

blue and yellow

 indigo and silk.
stitching on the indigo flax paper is making me so happy!
 working this surface is very different than sewing with linen or kami-ito
the silk is easy and wide.
you can see that one french knot made an appearance.
so far.
 little filaments all stuck together with seracin 
 there are little dots on the paper's surface
that showed up with the dyeing
i'm exploiting dot-ness.
 this double sheet was made at pbi.
the inclusions are rubberbands that were sliced when removing
from another of Mary's projects.
i'm happy to give them this new life
playing with their shapes and, of course, poking holes.
truly, more holes may appear.
and knots.
and stitches.
the heat we're having interferes with hot projects,
but i have made a bunch more big sheets of heavy flax.
going to bring them home today.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

reading design

i'm reading about two compelling things,
(when i'm not reading Phryne Fisher stories)
design and craft.
phryne i reserve for the very humid and hot days, in the afternoon
when my head feels enormous and mushy
especially after i did this
have you tried to walk or make paper or garden 
when your big toe is swollen and bruised
or hauled a fan up and down stairs (16) because you only have one?
i did, however, complete this chore first:
i felled a basswood that was growing in my perennial border
where it's not allowed.
sawing basswood takes almost no strength, 
such a pleasure to do this job quickly (the cutting, that is, stripping is still work).
i clip off the branches
and then stripped the bark leaving outer and inner bast intact, 
to send to Heather from PBI
who is sending me a trade.
grin. this is fun.
and basswood, well, it's delicious.
it doesn't smell or feel quite as lovely as slippery elm, 
which i still have to "weed" out of that know,
the end of the border where it becomes forest?
i also made a little stack of 27 square flax papers
laying them flat to air dry without restraint.
(black cases hold typewriter and sewing machine)
as they dry they become dimensional
which always pleases me
stacking them is fun
especially when i can stack them on top of some shifu
that i dipped several times,
i lost track how many,
maybe 7 or so,
 in the vat.
and below is one of many dimensional pieces i made in Mary Hark's PBI class
flax with inclusions,
dipped in the same indigo vat,
see how the dye works on different fiber
and different numbers of dunks?
can you guess what the inclusions are?
so this morning,
toe feeling much better,
i worked in the mill for 2 1/2 hours
made a big stack of larger heavy flax sheets.
(i'm beginning to understand flax)
and reading design and craft?
i'm still very much pursuing that, 
 today, after spending the early morning with this book
i went off to make paper.
a very good balance for me.
andrew's book is a treasure, teaching through stories. 
i read a a few pages,
go away mulling it over, and return to read and think some more. 
his understanding of the creative process, of problem solving, 
and building well designed and beautiful environments
combine teaching wisdom with caring wisdom.
i am learning so much--
a very good book.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

gone and rain

i'd not been walking at the farm much (my place) because of
and being Home.
and there it was--or wasn't.
the structure I'd laughed at and called barnhenge or woodhenge,
 and so did this little one, 
gone before it hatched
the most beautiful of blues.
except for all the other blues.
 reading about color and how we respond to it, and what moves me,
i read about ochres, i add them to pulp, i paint with them,
i read about madder,
five new plants will go into the garden soon.
i read about the properties of dyes and pigments and lakes
and find i know so little.
but still i get extremely excited about it all.
two writers online have been exploring madder's properties
as dye and as ink.
(are you reading these two?)
(hint: Sally and Tim)
i recently ordered a new copy of Hiroko's book,
a second edition which includes more treasure.
i ordered it from Washi Arts
Linda Marshall's wonderful online store.
Linda carries Japanese Paper Place products for US customers
and she is a delight to do business with.
(and to know--she was in my Seattle North Country Shifu class last summer)
 i got these little somethings in my package:
 such beautiful wee samples to touch and use up happily.
 here's the sample sheet of the kozo Hiroko favors,
added in right before the title page
 and in the 2018 edition: 
these samples of kami-ito,
one natural, one dyed
 a special thank you to my PBI student James Spyker 
who told me about the new edition 
which included these kami-ito samples!
a soft rain happened sometime today after noon,
after some morning gardening and then mowing my lawn
one of the most dreadful jobs I have
isn't quite so awful anymore.
 anyway, off my porch i saw this little one
 unafraid in the beginning rain
 munching grass in my porch perennial garden.
 this baby needs to be watchful and wary
(there is a narsty disheveled old he-cat who ambles by every now and then)
but little cottontail was quite calm so close to human me.
 yesterday i saw a doe with two beautiful fawns, in, of course,
the middle of the road.
i had no time to get the camera, watch the three on the hilltop, and watch for traffic.
a dangerous place to be pulled over.
so you will have to imagine them
in their cinnamon and white spotted legginess, 
mamma all legs and exquisite ears herself.
on the road, 
on a hilltop, 
the north woods holding them in close
disappearing into the green at the beep of my horn. 

Saturday, June 23, 2018

being here

my town.
the marquee at the American Theater:
sometimes when you have big events and so much going on it's hard to return to the day to day just because you want it so much and yet you still have things to do: mowing the lawn, laundry, cleaning enough so i can bear living in it... dealing with the wildlife is always an issue, at my house or at Home. 
where i am for a few days taking care of the elder dog Gwen and her younger and quite silly friend Tess. summertime is always busy in the north country, things to do, plants to grow, ideas to nurture, hikes to walk. i had the very great pleasure of meeting with a Master Naturalist on Saturday, who had sent out an SOS regarding populations of a lily he's helping research. while my observation located three plants, not the exact but a related species, but it did contribute to his data and he'll monitor them. I got to ask a ton of questions, and see how the science brain pays attention in a similar way to the artist brain. 
twilit birds are hard to capture
with my old red canon:
a great blue heron on the pond
i now often feel like the plants and animals and indeed the rocks and streams are fellow beings, not features of the landscape. at Home my partner found a woodcock nesting close to the house, so close that you could see the hen doing her job. he had seen three eggs before he realized what was happening and stopped going too close. it's been a while since then and the other twilight, after i'd started brushing my teeth, and as i was wandering around with toothbrush and mouthful of bubbles as i often do, i looked and i saw a little bird that was round and chubby and odd. it was a juvenile woodcock. mouthful, i tried to tell him, without alarming the bird through the big window. then there were three, all acting like goofballs, one cocky as all get out. they were making kid-style woodcock calls, too. 
i couldn't get a photo, it was too dark.
two goldfinches (or other closely related finch)
i tried to doctor the color a little, but it was too overcast.

 one of the four i've seen this year
snapping turtle mama, with attached rider.

 down the road several miles a neighbor has four clydesdales
 this one's my favorite
 we've also watched a pair of Baltimore orioles gathering
the tents from tent caterpillars, pulling them off the tent-shape like a spinner preparing to spin silk from a hankie. 
the new fawns are growing well and unfortunately one was road killed. 
this season there are many road kills, but that's what happens when humans
speed around in motors.
just the news from the north country.

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