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


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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...