Tuesday, December 30, 2008
I have been alternately struggling and sitting with some tapestry designs for the last couple weeks. I am not always patient with the process of designing a new piece. I find that if I do give myself time to let a design roll around in my head a little and then play with it on paper for a day or a week or a few months, the result is much better. When I just get excited about the first thing I draw and put it on the loom, I'm often disappointed by the results. I've been working on a design for this tapestry and it has changed a lot in the last few weeks--even in the last few hours. But it still isn't gelling into something I want to spend a few months weaving in a public studio situation. So more time is needed.
The design as it stands now is inspired by the rock formations of NM and the petroglyphs I find myself living among. And as always, it is informed by a healthy dose of questioning about how we all ended up here and for what purpose. This photo was taken in the South San Juan mountains of Colorado last summer. Now I could take the same photo with the South Sangre de Cristos as my view. Either way, I gain inspiration and grounding from the amazing things I see just out my window.
I'll keep working on that tapestry design... and I'll let you know how it turns out one of these days.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
SNOW! Remember when you were a kid and snow on Christmas was icing on the cake? Well, for those of use who grew up in the southwest US anyway, getting snow on Christmas is a rare and beautiful occasion. It DID snow last night on top of the couple inches from a few days ago. It is melting fast, but the snow was appreciated as it dusted the sparkly Christmas lights and covered the dirty streets.
I am in the NM town where I grew up for Christmas with my sister and her husband who are pictured here showing off my grandmother's mangle. My grandparents have recently moved to Connecticut and they left the mangle behind as apparently ironing things like sheets was no longer a priority. We're not sure what to do with the mangle, but it was kind of fun to play with.
I am excited and overwhelmed by the gift of weaving equipment, also from my grandparents. The looms are no longer used by either of my grandparents and they left them to me, the remaining weaver in the family (after Auntie who already has a Harrisville rug loom!). The loom collection includes a Leclerc upright tapestry loom, a Macomber with 10 harnesse (castle for 16), and a Harrisville rug loom. My grandparents only bought the best looms! Now I have the privelege of using them--and trying to shoehorn them into my house and still have room to live! But I'm crazy enough to give up the couch for a loom. I will NOT be taking the mangle with me.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
So I have returned to my homeland. I suppose that sounds a little dramatic, but I really feel like I'm supposed to be back here. Maybe not specifically Velarde as I have no prior connection to this particular place, but I think Velarde is as good a spot to land as any other. For one thing I live just a stones throw from the Rio Grande river--the great mother river of this part of the country whose headwaters I have hiked along in Colorado and by whose banks I have walked my dog in Alamosa and watched cranes in Albuquerque and Socorro. Now I live next to her and hope to hear the cranes flying over next spring on their trip to the San Luis Valley and then farther north. It's all connected.
It is snowing here today. We got several inches last night--maybe as much as 4 or 5 inches. This is a holiday in New Mexico. Believe me, everything shuts down when there is snow in the air--except WalMart of course. Not even a bomb could shut them down. As I have not yet nailed down a job, I don't have anywhere I need to be today and am looking forward to a day at the loom. My Rio Grande loom is set up and I'm finishing a panel for a piece called Invitation. Here it is on the loom. As soon as I finish shoveling the snow from my back walk so it doesn't become an ice rink, I'm back to the loom. This is a photo of my dog Cassy under my loom asking to play frisbee, her favorite game, in the freezing cold blowing snow. Dogs just don't care about the weather... though when I took the photo above of her standing in the snow, she soon wanted to go back to her nap on my bed. Maybe the problem is that she has no memory for cold weather. Still, there is nothing better than a furry labrador to keep your toes warm in the winter.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Does anyone know of a weaver who needs a 40 inch Gilmore 8 harness jack loom? I have an extra one lying around. No, seriously, this was my first loom and I still love it. It is made of beautiful wood, handcrafted by a guy in California. I got to pick the loom up from his workshop (I was living in Reno, NV at the time) and see the loom coming out of his cavernous woodshop. At that time (about A.D. 2000) he was largely doing the whole thing on his own. It was quite impressive--lots of sawdust and HUGE saws. Anyway, my girlfriend at the time helped me haul this loom home in her Nissan XTerra (it barely fits assembled--take note if you're thinking you want this loom and need to move it)... and it became my companion for all those years. But the loom has been neglected for the last 4 years as I have been weaving tapestry (and my family will attest to beginning to tire of moving a loom that isn't being used). I don't expect to give up tapestry at this point, and the Gilmore needs a new home.
Some of you may know of my space limitations... I need to sell this loom mostly because I don't have room for it. In a few weeks I am going to inherit my grandparents looms. I can't tell you how excited I am about this. I feel like I'm getting new members of my family and I know that the two new looms I'm getting will be well used and will serve me extremely well. I am lucky to have a grandfather who bought only the best looms, and so I will be renting the second UHaul truck in a month to haul a Harrisville Rug Loom and a 16 harness Macomber to my new straw house on the mesa (I may need to rethink buying a couch however). May my grandparents weaving spirit bless my future creations on their beautiful looms. Thank you Grandpa for this amazing gift! I love you!
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
My masters thesis at CSU was called New Ways (there was more about service delivery for people with developmental disabilities, but I wanted to focus on new ways of seeing the world in general). This week I have found abundance all around me and have been nudged from all directions to see the world in new ways.
Sunday there was Polly Barton's talk for the Textile Arts Alliance of Santa Fe about her amazing work in silk tapestry and ikat. I have been unable to see her show at the William Siegal gallery yet as it was closed Sunday, but from her digital images, I enjoyed the freedom and explosion of color that her pieces are full of.
Yesterday I woke up worrying more about finding an occupational therapy job and suddenly thought to call my old boss Cheryl. Amazingly, not only was there a job opening at the end of that phone call, but an hour later I got a phone call about another job I had been hoping for. And I got to connect with an old friend in the process.
And then yesterday afternoon I went exploring near my house and found more petroglyphs. I am living in the middle of the most wonderful archeological site and I can't help feeling the presence of the people who used this place next to the Rio Grande for thousands of years. I can't tell you exactly where it is because I now feel like I must join my landlady in being a steward for this amazing rock art. The unexpected joy of ending up not only in a beautiful house with wonderful views, but of a place surrounded by historic art is amazing.
And there is a new piece on the loom. Actually it is another panel for a piece I had completed a few months ago and was not happy with. The second panel should complete the piece for me and bring it together as one entity. Sometimes it takes some time to see what has to happen in a life or in a piece of art. I am learning little by little that if I find some space and silence and wait, the new ways of being will make themselves known. And sometimes it is a really wild ride!
Monday, December 1, 2008
Well, the news officially is that I have moved. I know many of you would add a word to that sentence--AGAIN. I know that some of my friends and relatives have instituted a policy of keeping my address on post-it notes in their address books because I've moved quite a lot in the last 10 years. Since I have moved into another rental, I'd say continuing this policy is probably wise. I moved the day before Thanksgiving. I can tell you that I was so grateful for the help of Lynn, my sister Laura and her husband Luke, Ruth Ann and Jim, and Heather and Sue. You all were so great. You were even gracious about moving my Yamaha upright piano which I dearly love out of a remote cabin into a pickup and then into a moving truck and then into a new house. Bless you for your muscles, your effort, and your good cheer. I hope that I can stay in this house for a long time. In fact, I may have to convince the landlord to sell it to me because I really don't feel like moving ever again. The new place is near Espanola, NM which is not all that far from where I used to live. The house is straw bale (a dream come true for me) with big windows and fabulous views. I am blessed to have found it. Doesn't this look like a good place for weaving tapestry? I welcome social and studio visits!
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Okay, here is a shot of my newest piece fresh from the loom. I'm not sure what the title is yet, but it might be "Contemplative Garden." I'm working on a set of pieces more or less linked to garden ideas--but not the sort of garden where you grow tomatos. The sort of garden that is all overgrown and mysterious where you might find your greatest love, the most beautiful flower, time to watch a bird in a birdbath hidden behind a tree, or time to walk a labryinth.
I've also realized something critical this week--that I have to get a new digital camera if I have any intention of photographing my work well. My friend Julie came over to photograph me for some projects of her own and caught this piece coming off the loom. Holy cow if her photos weren't a million times better than mine. Okay, I know that a lot of that could be user error, but I have been running a camera most of my life and think with better equipment I could get some pretty good shots of my work--at least good enough until I get into the Smithsonian.
I've realized some other critical things lately, but those are going to have to wait for a later post.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Saturday, October 11, 2008
I spent last weekend and part of last week in New Mexico. It was the Taos Wool Festival Saturday and Sunday and I greatly enjoyed seeing all the great yarn, animals, and talking to the people who love fiber. I managed to get out of there Sunday having only bought two skeins of yarn--a silk/wool blend that should be lovely for something knitted. There were many booths, a little weaving, and all kinds of animals including alpaca and lots of angora bunnies. There were people spinning and knitting all over the place. And the festival was busy even though it was cold and overcast for New Mexico in October.
I also visited my friend Emily and her family in Dixon, NM. Her husband is a farmer and his specialty is chili. He was working on hanging these ristras all across the front of their house.
I spent Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday taking a tapestry weaving class from James Koehler in Taos. James is always ready to challenge me and this class was no exception. I enjoyed learning some new gradation and hatching techniques as well as being part of a group of tapestry weavers for a few days. It was a quick class, but I did manage to start a small tapestry. While I was there I stayed at the Columbine Inn in the Taos Ski Valley. I highly recommend the place! It was quiet (off season) and beautiful. I was able to hike right from the hotel. I did have to scrape ice off my car in the mornings and there was snow on Wheeler peak. The colors are changing fast and winter is on her way.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
So, the winter is approaching. I'm hoping for one more backpacking trip into the Sangres the end of October... but the thought of camping under a tarp covered with snow is a little daunting. BUT winter is a good time for weaving and my studio space is sunny and warm in the winter. So bring on the snow (and if you don't know, Alamosa is often the coldest place in the nation--routinely hitting -30 degrees F especially in January)... maybe I'll get some weaving done.
This little guy was hanging on for dear life. Sort of how I feel about letting go of summer.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
My co-worker Julie didn't know that it was my last day today. But she left me a gift which was far more appropriate than she could have guessed. She is from La Jara which is also the home of famous Rio Grande tapestry weaver Eppie Archuleta. (Actually I think Eppie might live in Capulin, but close enough.) Eppie is one of the even more famous Agueda Martinez's children. Agueda died in 2002 (at the age of 102 I believe) after leaving a legacy in both weaving and famous weaving children. Julie was at a Hispanic Heritage Festival in La Jara recently and met Eppie... and she bought me a little sample of Eppie's weaving (a bookmark). Somehow I felt that it was a good sign for me... leaving the hospital and going forward with Eppie's work in my pocket. They say to follow your bliss, and really I can't think of any other way to find happiness. So maybe with Eppie's talisman on my studio wall and one less job to worry about, I can create some happiness of my own.
Friday, September 19, 2008
And then those colors started making a tapestry--this piece on the loom has a labyrinth motif (which really isn't a labyrinth at all because you couldn't walk those paths continuously, but it was what I had in mind while designing). The design hanging on the loom in the photo is only part off the piece. Just wait a few more weeks and I'll show you the whole thing (with luck and some extra time).
Weaving has been good for me lately. It brings me to a similar place that yoga or long distance hiking brings me... some indescribable place of peace (and sometimes exhaustion).
Saturday, September 13, 2008
They say size matters, but sometimes smaller is better. This is a photo of a car I saw outside the yarn shop in Buena Vista. I'd love to drive a Mini Cooper, but there is the small matter of being able to afford one, and then fitting four big dogs into it not to mention weavings, yarn, and stacks of books that usually accompany me pretty much everywhere. I guess the mini is not for me. My little Volkswagen Golf will have to do for now... and once it goes to the big car place in the sky (hopefully after many more years although I may be deluding myself as it has almost 170,000 miles on it now) maybe then I'll be ready for a mini. Or maybe by then someone will be making a super fuel efficient, small, high-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicle that can handle my tendency to drive up dirt roads looking for trailheads (which has caused me twice to have to replace the oil pan on my Golf--thanks to my brother-in-laws it didn't push me into bankruptcy), the snow drifts that form instantly after a half inch of snow falls and the wind sculpts it into cement walls, and the mud that is axle deep after that snow melts. And we can't forget the 4 big dogs. I don't think that is too much to ask of a vehicle. Oh, and considering the miles I drive for my job working in the rural school districts around here, I'd like it to get at least 45 mpg. I'm pretty sure this car doesn't exist at this point. I'm also pretty sure the mini isn't going to meet any of my criteria.
But really this post was connected to weaving because the car was sighted at the YARN SHOP. Of course I was buying knitting yarn, not weaving yarn. Fortunately for my budget, the weaving yarn I use is all the same and comes from a mill in Harrisville, NH in very big boxes, all in white which I dye myself. This doesn't leave much room for impulse purchases. As far as weaving goes, the yarn shop holds little temptation. Unfortunately, I also love to knit and find it an essential activity when stuck in situations where I have to stay awake (like meetings involving lots of boring discussion on policy and procedure or gatherings with people I'm not the most interested in)... so the knitting gets me in trouble in yarn shops. I've recently discovered the Yarn Harlot. This woman is an unbelieveable knitter. I want to watch her knit somehow because I just can't believe she knits as many items as her blog features. She is a knitting goddess for sure (and her books and blog are damn funny). I'm not sure if the knitting has just become a distraction from my focus on weaving, or if it is an essential part of my life. It does often save me from falling asleep or drifting off into reverie at inappropriate moments when used as described above. And I've knit up an impressive collection of baby hats lately. I don't know enough baby heads to wear all those hats.... but I figure eventually I'll be off on some other kick and the hats will last until the baby heads show up. Despite the overpopulation problem on this planet, babies seem to continue to arrive. And when you consider how cute those hats are, how could you not want a baby to put under it?
Lastly, here is a photo of one of the dogs on top of my Golf. I think she was trying to tell me that she is both a goddess, and that I shouldn't be so angry when she misbehaves. After all, well-behaved women seldom make history! Her name is Ten. Actually, her name is such a long story I can't get into it... but her full name is Big Ten-Jita-Pumpkin Martinez-Diez-Barbie Cinnamon. And sometimes she just gets called Trouble.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
I saw some wonderful ceramic art along with functional pottery (like mugs that fit into your hand like they were made for you), found some gluten free bread in a kitchen full of bread I was sure I wasn't going to be able to eat, and saw Randy Pijoan's studio. Randy is certainly NOT one of those undiscovered artists, but seeing his studio in person was inspiring to say the least. Now, if you haven't seen the painting of Randy Pijoan, look him up. His work has a depth that makes you feel you have touched something essential in life. I could have stayed in his studio all day looking at those paintings. And besides painting, he runs a non-profit called Ventero Open Press which benefits art in these small communities, especially art for kids.
Randy's studio is in Amalia, NM. Amalia is one of those rural NM towns nestled in a river valley full of old adobes and cottonwood trees. It is one of those sleepy artsy towns that makes me want to move there immediately--especially if I can find one of those adobes in which to set up my weaving studio. We drove through Amalia and up to the Valle Vidal for some hiking. The Valle Vidal is an amazing caldera of open meadow ringed with pine trees, streams running throughout. After the dogs chased some cows and we had had enough walking, we drove the "back way" through Ventero, past San Francisco--towns I didn't even know existed until yesterday...
It was a stellar day.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Living in rural Colorado or New Mexico where I have spent the last few years has a lot to teach me. I have more time to look at the landscape--often while driving long distances to work or meet with friends or family. I was wondering about how our environment leads us to choose certain things--a way of building a house or perhaps a color of yarn or technique for the next work of art. Definitely the landscape leads me question what building methods I use when discussing building a house or a studio (hopefully some day soon)... I have always wanted to build a straw bale house and I think this comes partly from growing up in New Mexico where the sky is big and you feel more connected to the ground. A straw bale house feels grounded. The walls are thick and the air inside is cool and quiet in the summer and warm and quiet in the winter. The walls are covered with mud and it fits into the landscape. I imagine the porch where I can watch the thunderstorms in August and dye my yarn. And I wonder if I'll put little designs or perhaps broken tiles into the mud as decoration to make it my own.
Yarn choices also stem from my environment more than I would guess. NM and the San Luis Valley encourage my sensual addiction to yarn and color. Somehow it is a place that feels more real to me than the suburban neighborhood I lived in with manicured lawns in Reno, NV. Somehow experiencing the dirt, the rock, and the cactus under my feet every time I step out the door as well as watching the clouds moving across the Sangre de Cristos, hugging 14,000 ft. Mt. Blanca connect me to the land and maybe to myself. This probably doesn't work for everyone, but for me it is an important part of my life. Somehow yarn is part of that sensual connection. I love nothing better than going to Village Wools or Serendipity and feeling the yarn, imagining knitting a scarf or wondering how that dyed-in-the-fleece yarn would change the look of my tapestry.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Bauhaus project description
We are working on finding grant money to help us fund the project and also trying to firm up some show locations for the summer of 2009. We are hoping to get into a community gallery in Erfurt, Germany as our first stop. We'd like to find a gallery in New Mexico to hang the show in late summer or fall of 2009.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
2009 is the 90th anniversary of the Bauhaus—a German art school that existed between 1919 and 1933 in Weimar, Dessau, and Berlin, Germany. The Bauhaus’s students and teachers were such people as Anni Albers, Josef Albers, Johannes Itten, Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Georg Munch, Walter Gropius, and Gunta Stolzl (among many others). Although the Bauhaus ran for less than two decades, the influence of the design theory and ideas about art had far reaching effects. Many ideas begun at the Bauhaus continued at schools in the United States such as Black Mountain College after the German school closed in 1933.
I am currently engaged in a Bauhaus project which is the brain-child of a good weaving friend of mine, Cornelia Theimer Gardella (www.corneliatheimer.com). She is a native of Erfurt, Germany and she and her husband Kurt split their time between Germany and northern New Mexico. Conni wanted to do a project connecting the ideas begun at the Bauhaus in the early 20th century and its influence on contemporary tapestry artistry. She approached myself and James Koehler (www.geocities.com/jamesrkoehler/) to collaborate on a project that would explore the ideas from the Bauhaus and connect them to our current work in the southwestern United States. James, Conni, and myself are all contemporary tapestry weavers. Conni and I have been mentored by James Koehler for the past several years and I definitely feel grateful to be included in this project which will continue our mentoring relationship and further my knowledge not only of contemporary tapestry, but of some of the art forms’ roots in Bauhaus ideas.
We are planning a show of our work in Germany during the 90th Bauhaus celebration. All three of us will display works hopefully in a gallery in Erfurt--Conni’s home town. Our plans also include a workshop accompanied by lectures designed to connect the Bauhaus ideas with our current work in New Mexico (and Conni’s continuing work in both Germany and New Mexico). We are currently looking for a venue for the show in New Mexico when we return from Germany, probably in the fall of 2009. If we’re lucky we’ll be able to also make a connection at Convergence in 2010 (we’re hoping for Albuquerque!) and perhaps show the work and repeat the workshops a third time. Our next challenge is to secure venues and find some grants to support our travel and teaching.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
I grew up in New Mexico, and have spent many happy years since leaving for college living there and visiting. I now live just north of the Colorado border near Blanca, CO, but the red rocks and the blue skies of New Mexico call me back over and over. Last week I made a trip to Ghost Ranch--a place of many happy childhood memories. Now I go there to hang weaving, mostly through Espanola Valley Fiber Arts Center. The Piedra Lumbre (the name for the area around Ghost Ranch which means valley of shining stone) is most certainly one of the most stunning places I have ever had the privelege of spending time. It is really indescribable--the blue sky, multiple colors of red and yellow rocks, the blue reservoir, the sagebrush, Georga O'Keefe's famous Pedernal mountain... and then there is Ghost Ranch, that oasis of green alfalfa and friendly people. Anyway, I went to Ghost Ranch's Piedra Lumbre center to hang a new set of weavings there. One of them was my newest piece, This Time I Dance II. The new piece was a further exploration of ideas from This Time I Dance (see prior post) and used the same colorways.
In my experience, when hanging weaving shows in New Mexico, the weavings all get laid on the floor as they are chosen to put on the walls. This is always difficult for me. After all, I spent many hours making that piece of art which is now in danger of being stepped on and is undoubtedly picking up fuzz and dirt from the old carpet it is lying on. But my friend Conni (www.corneliatheimer.com) convinced me to take a deep breath and let it go, and indeed, the show was hung without incident. If you visit the show (it hangs from now until July 6th), you'll notice the wide variety of art hanging there. They are not pieces I would probably group together, but it is an interesting representation of work being done in northern New Mexico fiber arts. So if you're going through northern NM any time soon, stop and visit. Ghost Ranch is always worth the time, and the weaving shows there are always something to see.
My partner and I spent 5 days in Utah last month with my extended family, some friends, and 5 assorted dogs (fortunately only 2 of them were ours). The weather was beautiful and the amazing canyons of Butler Wash and Comb Ridge near Bluff were just as fabulous as ever. If it weren't for the rainstorm and the clay puddle my tent was sitting in the morning we were to leave, I might still be there.
I especially enjoyed the rock formations on this trip. The striations in the rock and the colors that swirled around each other reminded me of weaving. The tactile aspect of the various rocks and the walls of the cliff dwellings were interesting to me and brought to mind my love of the tactile nature of fiber and weaving. Touch is so important to experience. Can we allow this when we're making art also? There were many remnants of cliff dwellings in those canyons. I marveled at the way the rocks were stacked and placed decoratively in places. I could feel the grooves fingers had made in the mud used for mortar so many years ago.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
This is my first foray into blogging. It has not been a process that intersted me in the past as I do my journaling on paper with a fountain pen. But a smart woman convinced me that it would be a good addition to my website and a great place to explain in an informal way my weaving process. So here I go!
This week I mailed the last piece I finished (titled This Time I Dance) to a friend who purchased it in Denver. It is always a little sad to see a piece go (especially because this one just came off my loom a couple weeks ago and I like to have a new piece hanging in my studio a little longer to push me along), but it is good to know that it is appreciated by a friend. After all the work of designing the piece, dyeing the yarn (which for this piece was a lengthy process of about 50 colors), weaving the piece, finishing it, photographing it, and looking at it on the studio wall for awhile, putting it in a box and relinquishing it to a postal employee seems a little shocking. But we have to let our art go so it can find its own way in the world and so that we artists can move on and create something new.