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.



Friday, December 1, 2023

Black and Grey Wide Bracelet and Earring Variations

I've been working with the color black a lot lately.  Usually I'm super inspired by lots of bright colors and, for no specific reason, black feels very cozy right now.  I do feel like my jewelry stock is lacking in black options and I'm having a tendency to lean toward a black base for my personal style as of late.* It layers with all other colors easily, so, I'm just following my spirit and letting my hands make what they want. 

This is what has come of it. First, a black, gunmetal and grey wide pearl clasp bracelet. In the past I have simply striped the colors with one full row of color at time for this style bracelet. This time I striped the strips every other row by row. I like the busyness of the patterning and I think it turned out stunning. 

Wide St. Petersburg Striped Strips Bracelet

Next is a pair of "huggie" earrings. I really like this style for work, it's simple, clean, a little bit flashy but not dangly. I think I meant to make them a little tighter to the ear but I always end up worrying that it looks too short between the post and the backing so I did an extra row and it made it a little longer and it doesn't "hug" my earlobe. I also have to remind myself that one can't account for where holes are in ear lobes so it may be loose on me but snug on someone else. In any event, I love wearing this style so I made another pair.

Huggie Earrings

Last, I decided to make a new pair of beaded blob earrings. I haven't made any of these in a long time and they're just fun to make and to wear. I hadn't done a pair in this color range, I feel like they always end up having some blue in them so here's a nice change for this style. 

Beaded Blob Earrings

Lets face it, I created this colorway for something new to wear at tonight for Midnight Madness in Ann Arbor. I'll be set up at my friend's meadery, Bløm Meadworks 100 S 4th Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48104 from 5-11ish. This has been my one pop-up holiday show the past few years and even if I don't sell much I love the vibe, other makers and people that attend this event. A big thanks in advance to my friend Jenn for joining me as it's kind of a long day and it's nice to have company on the drive. 


*Sidenote, Bryan and I were laughing about this a fe days ago because when we first met, he basically only wore black and I barely had any in my wardrobe. I had never seen so many black tee shirts before! Now I'm wearing black a lot more often whereas he's been leaning toward more colorful outfits.

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 wi...