Friday, April 5, 2024

Yes, And weaving update; Half Way

I am just about to the half way point on "Yes, And" which is in the the yellow weft, the brightest color in the middle of 9 different colors, against the black of this weaving. I was able to start weaving this at the beginning of March (I warped the loom and dyed additional rayon in February while waiting for final approval of the size/design). I wasn't sure how long this would take me to weave as I've never had a commission for this kind of piece before (and keeping track of timing can be a pain, so I don't do it on my personal pieces). Commissions take the front seat ahead of most personal projects because I don't like the feeling of someone waiting on me, so I've been weaving at least a half hour nearly every day, up to 5 hours some days. I am now remembering how I finished 3 pieces per semester in college, I wove a lot, I slept when I could and worked more. I have better balance these days. 

I originally quoted about a year to finish this piece but I think if I keep working along this steadily it'll be more like 2-3 more months. That being said, as it warms up I tend to want to start putzing around our gardens in the mornings instead of weaving.  Maybe I'll just start getting up earlier with the birds, that being said, this weather change kicked my butt and I've been too sick to do much but sleep the past 3 days, along with a medical thing I had to deal with last week I'm feeling a bit behind over these past 2 weeks. I haven't promised anything yet, but I'm sure I'll get it done before the projected dates on the agreement in the fall, I just need to see what my weaving pace is once it warms up. 

Hyperlapse x10 of 1 full circuit of the treadling

So far I have 60 hours of winding, warping and weaving on this final piece and about 30 hours of dyeing (I didn't do a great job of tracking that because some of it is just preparing a dye bucket and throwing the skein(s) in to soak for the day) and 8 hours into the design work (that's after I taught myself what I needed to know to work in Inkscape). These numbers do not include the time for the samples I wove to make sure the design was going to all work out. 

I'm really excited to see this piece in full, as I move from color to color I get to see glimpses, but my color sketch and samples are the best I have to go off of to envision the final piece. It's part of what's exciting about weaving, the work has a baseline but you never quite know what the final piece will look like until it's off the loom and up on a wall.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Golden Boundary Bangle [nope.]

It's interesting, a couple weeks ago at the Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild meeting I was asked if I was still making jewelry and the short answer is "not really." Then as I was driving home from the meeting I had an idea that spiraled into like 3 different pieces. A large weaving, small weavings and this bangle, which, I think may become a series of bangles. I've been reading, journaling and talking a lot about boundaries and staying away from people who are dramatic, chaotic, demanding and needy.

There was a point in my life where I didn't know what boundaries were and I felt like I had no control over who was at my house or in my business, it seemed like there were always people over, I was having to stop what I wanted to do with my time to entertain. I was miserable and I hated my life. I tried to be social and a good hostess but I couldn't wait until I had the place to myself to be creative and work on my artwork alone. 

I finally have that, I never thought I could have that calm unless I lived alone, but Bryan is so good at giving me the space I need and would never have anyone over without asking me if it's ok, and visa versa, we do not force socializing on each other and it is glorious. For the first time I feel safe at home and like my time and space is safe from being taken up and taken over by anyone else. It turns out I was just faking being social and now that I'm cozy I can be the introvert that I was always meant to be. Being pushed into an uncomfortable situation? nope. Someone trying to pop over to my house without advance plans? nope. Being guilted into doing something I've already declined? nope. 

I know I'm not alone, and I've already been asked if this bangle is for sale. This specific one is not since it had a 24K gold seed bead in it that I can't find anywhere anymore, and I have plans to exhibit it. I am happy to make it again, and in different colors. Give me some time and I think there will be more options with other fonts and styles, because boundaries are important. 

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Yes, And: Second Sample and Checker Colors

Before I got going on the full-sized weaving for "Yes, And" I tried a second sample warp with a little bit of color in the black warp. I was curious as to how it might read. I didn't want to be weaving that idea later and think "oh man, this would have been great in Stacey's weaving." I got 6 inches of it done before my meeting with the church to take as a sample to pass around. 

Ultimately I think the color in the black warp is a little too distracting.  The color portions came out as dotted lines in the twill weave structure and I feel like it takes away from the design overall. I am glad I tried it out just to see what it did and so I could confirm that it wouldn't work how I wanted it to with curving text. 

Now this...

I had warp left over to just play and weave fabric. I decided to see how I might want the color to move in and out of each other for the final commission piece.  To keep things simple, a little quicker and not mess with another paper cartoon I went with my favorite pattern: checkers. I really love how this fabric turned out and it confirmed that the way I want to move the colors through the 48 inch long weaving; bright to dark to bright again...I don't want it to look like a rainbow but I still really want to use as many colors as I think will look good without being stripey feeling.   

With the checker pattern I don't feel like the dotted lines of color in the the black warp are as distracting. I suspect its because because the design is straight lines so the dotted lines of colors just sort of fit in. I really love this fabric and I'm torn between finishing it to make it into a little wall hanging or washing it to use as part of a clothing accent piece. One of the things I enjoy about being a fiber artist is I sometimes get to wear my work. 

I had created a smaller checker sample at the end of the warp for "Playing with Fire" so I could see how it washed up. I usually don't wash this fabric as it ends up as wall-hangings so, even though I know weaving has shrinkage, it definitely shrank more than I realized it would. 1 1/8 inches to be exact. The twill allows the fabric to get a little squishy with some stretch.  It washed up really nice though, which is what I was hoping for.

Monday, March 11, 2024

Playing with Fire (Small Weaving)

I doodled these matches back in 2015. I had gotten divorced, I was out a lot and "playing with fire" was feeling like the best description for me and my life at the time. I was either lighting a fire or burning everything to the ground. I liked the look of this small sketch that I had drawn one night and set it aside. I didn't forget about it like I usually do when I doodle, it resonated with me.

Fast forward to now, my life is rather calm and I no longer have to manage drama and chaos. No more "playing with fire" in the figurative sense, it's a reminder of what that part of my life was like. 

So here we are now, I started sampling for a new commission and it seemed to be the perfect warp setup for this image that's been hanging around in the back of my mind and in my computer files for 9 years. I blew it up and started weaving. I don't feel like I have had a ton of success with my hand drawn designs but this is making me think that maybe I'd been trying too hard. Maybe I simply need to doodle and then blow up the design.

Black side detail

I'm referring to the side with more color as the "front" and the black based side as the "back" on this work. I'm quite taken with both sides. Just when I think I like the black based side better, the stark "sketchy" black lines of the colored side rope me back in. 

Colored side detail

This is woven from rayon that I dyed myself, the colored warp is plain weave and the black is a 2-2 twill. The finished piece measures 8.75 in x 16 in.  

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Yes, And Sample 1

In November and December I went about dyeing new rayon for a church commission that I have agreed to do this year. I did a lot of playing with colors and had a meeting that included putting skeins of yarn that I had dyed up against the wall that the weaving will hang on. We (the committee at the church for this honorarium and I) agreed that saturated colors looked really wonderful and so I set about winding a warp and dressing Beatrice. 

Drafting the way I wanted to warp for this double weave pickup became an obsession. I was rolling it around in my head and sometimes waking up in the middle of the night thinking about what I needed to do to make it work.  This piece is the first where I have one warp threaded as plain weave (which is normal) and the second warp prepared for a twill weave option. The colored layer is plain weave with a striped color warp and the black is twill.  I thought it would be nice to make the more textured fabric in black and it's absolutely wonderful in person. 

One of the things about weaving something that's been in your head can be that you hope it works out in some sort of interesting if not exciting and perfect way, but it can end up being a flop. I was ready, I didn't have my hopes too high, I knew I'd probably have to go in and fix threading errors that would pop up and drive me nuts, or the 2 fabric structures wouldn't play nice together or...something.  It's a miracle. No threading errors and as I started to weave the design it just...worked. I'm still waiting for the shoe to drop on this but it's not, it's just perfect. 

I started with an 8 x 10 of the actual cartoon that I'm working on. The 32 in x 48 in cartoon is just being finalized and working a narrow section of  it gives me a good idea of how the spacing and font sizing is going to look.  After weaving one small portion of the warp (in case I couldn't find the time after a stint of multiple days off in a row) I decided that I wanted to have a long strip to weave and move from one color weft idea to the next. So I printed a 10 x 48 strip of cartoon to work with next. I didn't do too long of a warp because I knew I might want or need to change it up and I didn't want to get stuck with feeling like I had to weave all of it. I think its safe to say that most of us weavers hate to waste warp. So this warp ended up with a 10 x 8 sample and a 10 x 25 sample.

In the above photo I also have a 3rd sample. I tried one more warp with a little bit of color in the black warp.  Just to see how it reads. I didn't want to be weaving that idea on a later project and think "oh man, this would have been great in Stacey's weaving."  I'll talk more about that one in the next blog post.

I met with the church on Sunday. They had a lovely service and afterward an annual meeting that they were happy to have me at to introduce this commission piece in honor of Pastor Stacey. I was so glad to have samples that I could pass around so the church members that attended had something to touch and see as the project was explained. I held the pieces up against the wall. I was afraid to let the blue be too bright, but I need to dye the next batch brighter. I don't naturally tend towards really bright colors, I want more muted tones. This has been nice to get me out of my color-comfort-zone and it really brightens the studio! 

You can check out my YouTube, I post sometimes.
Here I am working on one of these samples.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

The Beginnings of a Commission for the First Baptist Church, Ann Arbor

Entrance the weaving will be hung closest to

The Agreement has been signed and I have cashed a check so I think I can publicly talk about a church commission that I am SO excited to be doing. I usually don't take on commissions, but, after a phone conversation and a deep-dive on the internet researching Stacey Simpson Duke's life as a Pastor, knitter and fellow fiber-addict I was quickly moved and inspired. (I could go on and on about her, the people I get to work with to discuss and celebrate her life, and how I'm moved to tears even though I have never met her, but I'm trying to keep my posts project-focused). There are so many reasons I took on this commission.

Proposed Wall, right side above the stairs

This commission actually had perfect timing. The last sampler piece that I took off of Delilah before I sold her I wasn't that pleased with and I'm not really driven to put together the cartoon that I have printed out. I did everything right, the yarn sett was correct, I liked the colors ok, but trying to use stash yarn is hard and it turned out just chunky and stiff. Through this I learned that even though I'm weaving for art-installation work (not wearables), the way the fabric feels and moves is really important to me. I weave with really thin rayon which allows the fabric to be airy. I love how it feels and moves with the slightest breeze. I ordered some small spools of rayon that I thought would work for this new piece and started winding and dyeing it. It dyes up beautifully and is thin, soft and light. It's going to be wonderful to weave with, so I ordered the large 4lb spool of it.

I also have been working on getting a feel for the design. I'm sticking to my usual layered words but we want it to be less static than my usual word-based designs.  Stacey had a lot of energy and brilliant curly hair so the feeling of movement and curling twisting motions comes to mind when people think about her and her personality. For this I decided it was officially time to learn a vector-based design system. Adobe Illustrator was always scary and unnecessary for me back in art school as I wasn't doing any graphic design and here I am, almost 20 years later, needing it. Thankfully, I now have Google and YouTube to help me figure out what I need for a free program and tutorials to go along with it. I downloaded Inkscape and found some videos to show me exactly what I needed to know. We won't discuss how Bryan pointed out that I should try a vector-based program years ago when he painfully watched how I was creating my cartoons with a very time-consuming process in Photoshop/Gimp. I'm needing to make words bend and twist and Inkscape allows for it. Yay for being open to change and learning new programs and tech!

Part of the design I've been carrying around in my bag to look over on occasion

Dyeing for me is meditative. The amount of filling, dipping, stirring and rinsing with water is slow and steady. I'm keeping track of my time but I cut out the wait-time that I have for pots to boil, yarn to soak and dry, etc. I do small-batch one-color-at-a-time dyeing these days and it works well for me. I also keep the kitchen extra-clean to keep dye and fabric separate from dishes and food. I miss having a dye lab but I found I don't need to large-batch dye since I dye project-by-project. I don't even wind extra long warp "just in case I want to do another piece and I'll already have the loom warped for it."  All of my work is fully their own entity these days from the dyeing to finish work. 

I grabbed everything I had dyed so far for our meeting at the beginning of the month to hold up to the wall that the weaving will be going on at the church. I was glad I brought everything I had dyed so far; one color combo was stunning (where I had originally thought it probably wouldn't work) and some of the gorgeous more muted tones that I had dyed looked drab and boring against the wall. We looked at it with no track lighting (the space doesn't have any lights pointed on it right now) and put held them skeins under the lights on another part of the wall to see how it looked. It's very much the color of the wall that's effecting the way the yarn colors play off of it. So I started dyeing to get really bright, saturated colors. 

I ordered more dyes to get a better purple (a base color option I also have in mind) and some other green and yellow options. I'm in love with how the chartreuse green turned out and having fun blending other colors although I'm trying not to go too overboard, they can get mucked up pretty quickly if I'm not careful.  Meanwhile I'm planning to sample a few different striping options to see how they look along with the "wavy" wording" which I hope I will have them ready for when we plan our next in-person meeting at the church to, again, put up on the wall.

I spent about 2 hours winding skeins into balls yesterday, these colors are so wonderful, I haven't done anything this bright in a really long time. I still have a few more skeins to wind and then I'll be able to wind the warp. As I said multiple times in my Instagram reels yesterday, I'm super excited to see how these stripe out in the weaving samples. 

Spinning swift during ball winding

Saturday, December 9, 2023

4 Pod Earrings for Brave New World Reception

Sometimes I miss planning outfits for work and I definitely miss the automatic jewelry design and color inspiration that comes with thinking about what I should wear to dress up for work or something important. Now that my day job has me happily at a "working warehouse" I no longer have to make sure I'm wearing and looking a certain "brand." So I was excited about going through my closet to put together something for this important exhibit reception. I hadn't showed this many pieces in one place in a very long time and I was honored to be invited to show with this noteworthy group of fiber artists.

 The first step for this outfit was the shoes that I had finally decided to bite the bullet and purchase. I had been looking at them for months. I love John Fluevog shoes but I rarely have a reason to get dressed up anymore, still, I needed the Daisy Monster Mash in my collection when they went on sale. These were perfect for the "Brave New World: Fiber Art in the 21st Century" exhibit that I had a number of pieces showing at. The shoes got lots of attention along with the art.

Then do I wear a skirt or pants? The reception was over an hour away and was going to be an all day event so I opted for dress pants leftover from my days at Talbots and a favorite lavender tank with pattern details that went well with the pants from White House Black Market. I always prefer to have a tank or tee on and then I can layer it with a sweater/cardigan/zip hoodie if it gets cold.  The reception was on a warmish day and we had so many people attend that it got hot in the gallery.

So I had about a week to create a "statement" piece of jewelry. Only enough time for earrings, but at the very least big earrings I decided I should be able to put together. Besides, I didn't have a set of triple pod earrings in this color range yet. 

As I started beading pods, I let them talk to me as to how they wanted to be organized. Only three pods didn't seem to be suiting the layout with my chosen beads so a fourth pod was added to create an earring that flares nicely at the bottom half of the design.  These are currently, as of this post, available on my website for sale HERE.

Yes, And weaving update; Half Way

I am just about to the half way point on "Yes, And" which is in the the yellow weft, the brightest color in the middle of 9 differ...