Thursday, November 25, 2010

Small tapestry and random Thanksgiving

I finished this little tapestry this month.  It was inspired by a barn I saw in the Austrian alps.

Barn Burned Down (now I can see the moon)
5 3/4 x 16 3/4 inches, hand-dyed wool

And here is the random part...
On the way back from Nebraska we stopped at this great yarn shop in Buena Vista, CO.  I was disappointed that my usual interest and innate yarn-drive did not kick in.  I think Germany's more reasonable yarn prices ruined me for yarn in the United States.  So I went home to my yarn stash to find my next project...  the stash is fairly large, it was still hard to decide.
Yarn shop in Buena Vista, CO

And this is what happens in the San Luis Valley during potato harvest.  Small town living.
Sign on bar in Alamosa, CO

Friday, November 19, 2010

Michaeliskirche revisited

Interwoven Traditions: New Mexico and Bauhaus came down the end of October.  I am waiting for FedEx to return my tapestries to me.  They were picked up in Erfurt on November 6th and have been stuck in the vortex of customs both in Frankfurt and Memphis for quite awhile.  Finally it appears they are on a truck and should be in my driveway any time now.  With the return of my work, I am reviewing the Bauhaus project again as I write some articles about it...  and fortunately, I received photos from photographers much better than I and I thought I would share some of them here.
Emmy and I hanging Contemplative Garden
photo: Cornelia Theimer Gardella

photo: Cornelia Theimer Gardella

Left to right: Inscription and Emergence II (Rebecca Mezoff) and Wheelmaker I and II (James Koehler)
photo: Cornelia Theimer Gardella
Left to right: Contemplative Garden (Rebecca Mezoff), Topography, Abiquiu Lines, and Passages (Cornelia Theimer Gardella), Halcyon Days II and Inscription (Rebecca Mezoff)
photo: Cornelia Theimer Gardella
James Koehler Harmonic Oscillation XLVIII-LIII
Crowd listening to the organ concert at the opening
photo: Wolfgang Theimer
Frau Hecker pronouncing the show officially "open"
photo: Hamish John Appleby

James Koehler talking about his work at the opening
photo: Hamish John Appleby
Cornelia Theimer Gardella talking about her work at the opening
photo: Hamish John Appleby
The crowd in the courtyard
photo: Hamish John Appleby

photo: Hamish John Appleby
James Koehler, Rebecca Mezoff, Cornelia Theimer Gardella
photo: Hamish John Appleby
The Bauhaus project was a wonderful, challenging, educational experience.  I would do it again in a second...

International Quilt Study Center and Museum

This one's for you Aunt Mary Lou!!!

After going to the ATB8 show in Lincoln, Nebraska last weekend, we stopped at the International Quilt Study Center and Museum which was recommended to me by Jan Austin. Quilting is another fiber art with a long history and I was interested in the fact that there was a museum about quilting. The place was more fantastic than I expected... and I don't even quilt anymore.

The museum was beautiful. They have a collection of about 3500 quilts, a large gallery space that has innovative exhibits (we saw one about doll quilts—the newest exhibit, "Marseille: White Corded Quilting" was opening a few hours after we were there so we didn't get to see it), a large restoration room, a gift shop with books, a reading room, and a virtual room with a life-sized screen that showed the quilts of their collection. There were multiple interactive computer displays and two audio rooms where people could tell their quilt stories or listen to other people’s. I was intrigued by the study focus of the museum. The restoration room had huge tables for quilts to be spread out and a viewing window for the public to watch. The computer exhibits in the virtual room were just wonderful as was the ability to look at the entire collection of quilts projected life-sized.

The building was beautiful with a long stairway along the glass exterior wall.

Childhood Treasures: Doll Quilts from the Ghormley Collection

I left with dreams of a similar space to celebrate, catalog, restore, and showcase tapestry. What better place than New Mexico since there is a long history of Hispanic, Native American, and European tapestry weaving here…

This visit brought up many questions for me (again) about fiber art, art vs. craft, professionalism, and funding for a project like this. This museum started with a large gift of quilts from a private donor and a promise from the University of Nebraska to maintain them. But Santa Fe is full of museums to all sorts of things, and perhaps a place like this devoted to furthering the art of tapestry could be successful in this state...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

America Tapestry Alliance Bienniel 8: A road trip to Nebraska

This week I went to Lincoln, Nebraska to see the American Tapestry Alliance's ATB8 show at the Elder Gallery at Nebraska Wesleyan University. I am glad that I went (despite the 1700 mile total drive!). The show was inspiring and I was grateful to have the opportunity to study the tapestries first hand. There were many surprises as the tapestries are quite unlike the reproductions in the catalog. Don't get me wrong, the catalog is lovely, but the photographs don't capture the real feeling of many of the pieces--and how could they? You must experience tapestry in person.

The piece that I kept returning to for study was Hallaig by Joan Baxter from Scotland (link to the poem that inspired the piece is here). This piece made amazing use of color which merited close study. I wish I had a few more days to look at this tapestry. After looking at this piece as well as Maximo Laura's Dos Peces Payaso largely with a look to color use, my own piece (Emergence) looked flat to me.
Dos Peces Payaso (Maximo Laura) on left and Hallaig (Joan Baxter) on right.

So I wandered around the gallery some more asking myself which pieces had that flat look and which seemed to draw me in by the use of color. I found that the pieces that had blocks of color and unmixed color bundles did indeed look flatter than the pieces where there were clearly many colors in each bundle of weft. (I think by "flat" I mean that my eye easily interpreted the color in a certain part of the tapestry and moved on looking for more interesting things to look at. While looking at Hallaig and Dos Peces Payaso, that never happened even after several hours of looking.) My piece definitely had color mixing throughout, but the colors mixed were fairly similar in hue and value. But what happens when you throw purple in with brown or green? Magic. I also found myself fascinated with Sarah Swett's Pizzicato and Jane Freear-Wyld's Raindrops and their use of color.

Hallaig detail

Dos Peces Payaso detail

Pizzicato detail


I had other favorite tapestries for other reasons than color use. I enjoyed Sarah Swett's Hang Up and Draw I think for her use of gesture. I was looking forward to seeing this piece in person as I couldn't figure out how she created such smooth beautiful lines with tapestry from the photo. I was surprised to see that many sections of the weaving that I had interpreted as being actual lines of color in the photograph were just slits that were not sewn. The gestural nature of this piece fascinated me, as did the questions it was asking. Nesting #1 and #2 by Inge Norgaard were also pieces that seemed largely gestural and lived large in my imagination. I loved the movement in these two pieces.

Hang Up and Draw detail

Nesting #1 and Nesting #2

Another question I had before seeing the show was about sett. What warp sett do other tapestry weavers use? I always assumed that Sarah Swett, for example, used a sett that was much closer than mine to get the fantastic detail in her tapestries. I was surprised to see that most of the setts in this show were between 4 and 8 e.p.i. with many being around 6. I have been fascinated for years with how the brain interprets what the eyes see and I think this is what is happening in this case. Apparently weaving at very fine setts is not necessary if you look to color use... and also use the brain's tendency to fill in "missing" information. I currently weave at 10 e.p.i., but after seeing this show will consider other setts depending on what I want to communicate.

There were a few pieces with a fantastic sense of humor, and as I believe we need more humor as humans in most areas of life, these were favorites also... Lany Eila's Any Time Now: One Family's Soft-book Primer of Anticipated Catastrophes and of course, Peggy by Joanne Sanburg. Peggy's face graced one of the announcement postcards for this show.

Any Time Now: One Family's Soft-book Primer of Anticipated Catastrophes


Seeing this show was a fantastic learning experience for me. I suddenly felt like there was so much exploration to be done--tapestry worlds opening up right at my feet. I couldn't wait to get home to the loom to play with my own use of color and see what jumped out at me.

Here are some shots of the gallery:

The show at the Elder Gallery closes tomorrow. It will open again January 20th at American Textile History Museum in Lowell, MA. The opening is January 20th from 5:30-7:30. The show runs through May 1, 2011.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls

In this post last month I mentioned that one of the important life questions was "where can I get gluten free cinnamon rolls?"

I'm happy to report that this week I found the answer... (perhaps unsurprisingly they came out of my own kitchen--though I certainly didn't make them!)

Now if I could find the answers to those harder questions...

Dixon Studio Tour and Weaving Southwest show

I always try to make it to the Dixon Studio Tour--first weekend in November. Dixon is a little town that I love and their studio tour is one of the best around. This weekend was beautiful and we spent yesterday in Dixon. I didn't get any pictures of the crowds, but I couldn't believe the number of people packing the streets and studios.

Metier gallery is a weaving gallery owned by Irene Smith. I have enjoyed going there for years. The stone house is fantastic and the gallery is right in the middle of town. As far as weaving on this studio tour goes, Irene is about it!
I visited Stanley Crawford's garlic farm for the first time. Admittedly I mostly wanted to meet the guy who write A Garlic Testament, and he didn't disappoint me. I didn't know that he has written other books. He is most famous for Mayordomo and A Garlic Testament, but he has written a lot of fiction and I took the opportunity to pick up a few of his other books. The garlic was all in the ground for winter but he had squash and books for sale.
One of my neighbors in Velarde is a singer songwriter and she and her band were playing during the studio tour. We caught them at Zuly's, a new cafe in town. Fletcher and John were fun to listen to--I love their celtic/folk style.

Today I was in Taos and went to see the new show at Weaving Southwest. It looks great. There was a lot of work I hadn't seen before from Mary Zicafoose, Skaidrite Mckaeg, Karen Benjamin, Sherri Coffey, La Donna Mayer, Michael Rhode, and others. I loved seeing La Donna's new work as she was an apprentice with James Koehler the same time I was. Her new work is very enjoyable. Way to go La Donna!
And I am hoping this blank wall above the entrance to the yarn room will have a few of my pieces on it soon. They are currently held up in customs in Frankfurt for some unknown reason. Hopefully they will be freed soon and on their way back to New Mexico.