Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fall has come

I live very close to Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. Last weekend I climbed to Mosca Pass in the park (a great hike along a stream which is not too strenuous--although people have complained that when I label a hike as "easy" that doesn't mean they won't need to be carried out on a stretcher. All I can say is, get your Colorado Search and Rescue CORSAR card before hiking with me). It was beautiful, but I was completely shocked to find the aspens well on their way to full yellow. I don't know how I let this sneak up on me. It happens every year around this time. I like to keep my level of denial high in the fall. I desperately cling to hiking season and hate to admit that I might have to abandon my beloved mountains until as late as June unless I'm willing to take up backcountry skiing... which I'm not because I'm a total klutz and afraid of smacking into a tree at 60 mph.
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

Eppie Archuleta

Today was my last day working at the hospital in Alamosa. It was a good job most days, but being a medically based therapist is really no longer for me. I'm glad to be finished and have some more time for weaving--and also to only have to focus on one job (at the schools) besides my REAL job of being an artist and making fabulous tapestries.
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

From skeins to tapestry...

This is a photo of the yarn I dyed a couple months ago for the piece currently on the loom--also pictured here. The dye job took about three days as I only have one two-burner stove currently... so it takes a couple hours to get two colors. There are many more than two colors here. And since I was attempting to dye on the porch of the cabin on three of the windiest days summer in the San Luis Valley had to offer, I had to build little wind breaks around the stove with coolers and pieces of plywood and do the measuring and stirring on my knees. They're still recovering. But the sight of the finished yarn drying in the wind (the wind is good for fast drying) with Mt. Blanca behind them was worth the effort.
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

Actual Size

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

Amalia, New Mexico

Yesterday I took a day trip over the New Mexico line to the Rio Costilla Studio Tour. This tour was for the towns of Jaroso (CO), Costilla, and Amalia, NM. I love studio tours--at least for a few hours. I always have hope that I will find the most wonderful undiscovered artist living in some enchanting studio in a little town in backwoods New Mexico. Studio tours are kind of what New Mexico art is all about to me. There are artists tucked into every corner of the state, living in all kinds of places, making art under all sorts of circumstances. Regardless of the circumstances under which these artists are working, the inspiration for me is that they are actually DOING the art that they love.

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.