Tuesday, December 30, 2008

To design a tapestry...

In this coming week many new things will happen in my life. Not that breaking up with my partner, quitting my job, and moving back to NM weren't enough... But the new things this week start with an apprenticeship in Santa Fe with my mentor James Koehler.

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

A White Christmas... in Gallup.. and other abundance

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

A snowy day in New Mexico

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

New Ways from the old

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

A new place to live...

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!