Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Rhinebeck's just a few short days away~

Always a beautiful trip from MA to NYSW. I'll be teaching cotton spinning, corespinning on a spindle and a spindle clinic. All short classes so you can get back out and snorgle fiber and see friends!
If you're interested in any of the above, sign up for a class! Details here~

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

On not giving a yes or no response...

Someone asked, in response to a photo I posted of some cotton I was in the process of spinning: is cotton hard to spin?

As a teacher of spinning and as someone who loves to follow my curiosity, the question intrigued me. Maybe the questioner is making idle conversation and doesn't want a thoughtful answer. Maybe she means: if you say it's easy, I'll be emboldened to try it, or will she think, why bother if any fool can do it? If I say it's easy will she just jump in and then get frustrated if she finds that it doesn't conform to
her expectations of "easy"?

What does "easy" mean? Does it mean that she'll be able to spin hundreds of yards of "perfect" yarn in half an hour?

If I say it's hard, will she give up before trying or will she think it's a challenge to try because others find it hard? Maybe in trying, will a conversational door be opened...
What are the characteristics of this fiber?
What is the staple length and optimum way to spin it?
What ways has it been spun in the past and with what tools?
Might I spin for the joy of it and to explore this unique fiber, the way it behaves when I draft it one way or another with different spindles and/or wheels? 
Is there one cotton fiber or are there many cottons?
Would I be making particular use of the spun fiber?
What does the spun fiber act like when it's spun thin or thick? How does it differ when left as a singles, plied with another singles, 3 ply, 4 or more plies, a cabled yarn?

What does "hard to spin" mean?
That only a few people who've ever attempted it have succeeded?
That it will take years of practice and preparation before I'll be able to do it?
That I will have to put my body through a rigorous training program to develop the muscles and stamina to do it?
That I'll have to endanger my welfare to obtain the materials and tools and maybe end up in financial and spiritual ruin?
That there will be a panel of judges who will scrutinize every length of fiber I've spun and determine whether I'm allowed to continue?
That I will have to spin in secret and if found, the penalty is death?
That there is nowhere to go for guidance and instruction, and I'll be left foundering in the dark - that 10 years from now, I'll be discovered in a cave babbling incoherently about spinning cotton?

Why the question anyway? Why would we let someone else's determination of whether something is "hard" or "easy" be a factor in whether we attempt something? So, I don't know - do you want someone other than you to determine your experience of life or do you want to keep diving in when something piques your curiosity? Do you want to make your own unique life, full of experiences that amuse, enrich and challenge you, develop areas of your mind and soul that make you into you?

Again, maybe it's just idle conversation and doesn't merit anything other than an idle response. you have some cotton fiber and a spindle? No, it's not hard to spin.

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Klez, most beloved kitty

If Klezzie were here, I'd not be able to type, because she'd be laying across my keyboard and I'd stop, rub her furry soft bellly, pull her ears, and pet her. Satisfied, we'd rub noses, and she'd descend to her bed at my feet.

Klez, thank you for bringing such love, light and joy into our lives. We are forever grateful...
Linda, Peter and little Martini
Kaddish for Klez

...Let us not look for you only in memory, 
Where we would grow lonely without you. 
You would want us to find you in presence, 
Beside us when beauty brightens, 
When kindness glows 
And music echoes eternal tones...

above excerpted from On the Death of The Beloved
in To Bless the Space Between Us 

John O'Donohue

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Yet more Van Gogh...

My next little breadcrumbs on the Van Gogh weaving trail led me to thinking about Van Gogh's painting surfaces. Sometimes he painted on linen, other times it was coarse jute and then sometimes he'd use something like a repurposed kitchen towel (torchon).

These surfaces were mentioned in Silverman's book and doing a bit more research led me to The Automated Thread Count Project and its work with The Van Gogh Museum. In short, X rays are used to look at the canvas under the paint which allows threads to be counted in an easier and more accurate way than by looking through a loupe. Matches have been made between Van Gogh's canvasses and other artists canvasses.

So I wanted to play with linen and similar materials and see where those explorations took me. A few glimpses of different work follow...

Friday, January 04, 2013

Van Gogh's Yarn Box

While I was reading Van Gogh and Gauguin by Debora Silverman, she mentions Van Gogh's yarn box. I was intrigued and hadn't remembered encountering the subject before. There's a black and white photo here along with an interesting read relating the yarn box and its possible relationship to the then new ideas of kindergarten, teaching children and play. Color photo here.

So, inspired by that object, I wanted to make some yarn to use in this Van Gogh/Weaving project. I wanted to include colors and textures that reminded me of Van Gogh - I don't yet know how I'll incorporate this yarn into the show project...below are two stages of the same yarn. Still thinking, but will post how I decide to incorporate into weaving.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A peek...

I love to see other artists' notebooks, so am doing a virtual notebook of my work for the Van Gogh/Weaving show. Sometimes those shadows and almost somethings...


become more clear when viewed later on. 

A peek at what indigo postcard is becoming...

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Notes on woven strokes

I'm working on some pieces for a group show that relates Van Gogh to (and?) weaving. I wanted to make a few notes to myself as I go along, and since the show cannot include all of the thoughts around the process, thought I'd keep the notes here.

Van Gogh spent some time with the weavers in Nuenen around 1884 and wrote a bit then about his observations of the weavers. I've seen some of the drawings and paintings he made of them and wanted to read more of what he wrote about that time and experience. I also wanted to call upon my experience of standing in front of his wonderful paintings and create some work that would take into account my own process of creation - maybe marrying color, texture and explore some sculptural aspects - while incorporating weaving techniques.

One of the sources I started out with was "Van Gogh and Gaughin" a book by Debora Silverman. (Library copy) Pairing Silverman's analysis of Van Gogh's painting and process with Van Gogh's own writing (how wonderful to see Van Gogh's letters as he wrote them - the original script, in translation and with sketches!) on his process and observations was a good way in to thinking about how I'd like to respond to the subject.

So many possible approaches! Van Gogh used the weavers as subjects for drawings and paintings. He also contemplated the weaving process (as he saw it) and related the craft, materiality, design choices, aesthetic, and "philosophy" to his own artistic and spiritual searches.

I find myself remembering Portrait of the Postman Joseph Roulin from the MFA Boston. All that blue. I think of Van Gogh and indigo together - maybe it's just a cheap excuse to use the indigo that I love. The Postman, indigo, Sheila Hicks' woven letters (how did they get into my brain?!), Van Gogh's letters - the seen letters - (OK, maybe SH pieces got in there because I was thinking about letters?...) not any kind of linear process, that's for sure...

So, here we have our indigo and starting materials for a piece and I begin! To be continued...

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