Thursday, August 26, 2010

Things people say about tapestry weaving

Sometimes people say things like "you must have patience to do that". My answer is that one doens't need patience for something you love to do. I guess it could be a similar response to those who find it incredibly boring, tedious and slow and I don't find it is at all. Though I often think of the process of tapestry weaving as being like a meditation, that leads to more creativity, ideas and thoughts. I usually have classical music playing, my favorite being piano solos. I also often use my weaving time to listen to podcasts that I download from CBC radio, my favorite source. Shows like Ideas, The Next Chapter with Sheila Rogers, Tapestry with Mary Hines, Spark with Norah Young. All of these shows keep me more than stimulated and learning. It's too bad there aren't any shows on weaving! I'd certainly listen to them. Interviews with other weavers would be interesting too.

The hours vanish quickly while I'm in the studio. And studio time is something most of us feel we never have enough of, much as we like our social lives and other distractions. "Everyone needs a sanctuary to gather thoughts and apply personal tools. It's in a sanctuary where a sense of self is daily repaired and polished. Things begin to make sense in a sanctuary. Even for the most limited among us, a santuary is where progress is made and work gets done". Robert Genn.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Convergence 2010: Day 4, 5, 6

Day 4: July 23 Friday.

Another Breakfast presentation by Jill Heppenheimer, owner of the Santa Fe Weaving Gallery. Her shop carries one of a kind handwoven garments. What an excellent speaker. I wish we could get her to come talk to fibre artists here. Her talk was about how to get into a gallery, the pros and cons of being in a gallery; of accepting that its never a perfect arrangement but that one should choose stores/galleries that have the kind of work that is compatible with yours, and people who feel a connection to you and respect your work. Your retail price range must also match the stores/galleries price range. She stresses EVOLVING, to not disengage with your work, to feel passionate about it, to feel good about it and what you are expressing.

Tablet Weaving workshop at 9a.m. and Inge Dam, a fellow Canadian is the instructor. Inge demonstrates each step very well. My single biggest complaint about the workshops are that there are just too many registered for each one. Often there are 50 or more and I believe we definitely had that many. I find tablet weaving fascinating, and will be happy to impart what I have learned to others, however, it definitely is not my calling! I felt awkward working with the cards. I'm glad that I understand how it works and for anyone interested, it is amazing what one can create with this technique though you are limited in width.

In the evening I attended the opening for, Dialogues, a group tapestry exhibition at the South Broadway Cultural Centre. A great venue and the tapestries were flatteringly presented with suitable lighting and hanging devices. The work was thoroughly enjoyable by the artists Linda Wallace, Elizabeth Buckley, Lany Eila, Katherine Perkins, Elaine Duncan and Dorothy Clews. Linda and Dorothy had the decomposed/deconstructed tapestry pieces that were featured in FiberArts magazine recently, as well as other tapestry work. I am sorry not to have pictures to present on the exhibition but I stronly encourage people to look up these artists to see their work. Earlier in the week, I went to the New Directions in Fiber Art on Central Avenue in Albuquerque featuring the work of Jennifer Moore, among others.

Day 5: July 24 Saturday and July 25 Sunday
A two day workshop in Natural Dyeing with Liesal Orend of Earth Arts. Sooooooooooooooo much too learn and its helpful if one is chemistry oriented. It was fascinating to see what all the dye plants could do and how colours could be shifted with various mordants. Definitely easier for those of you who are scientifically minded (not I) however I don’t think I will let that stop me from wanting to continue practicing it and sharing it with others. It's amazing what we can do all in the name of weaving that is not directly related to it! Liesel did say that the natural dye plant extracts work quite well and are much less time consuming.

By Saturday I had somehow managed to have laryngitis so I was very disappointed I wasn’t able to take more time to get to know and befriend other tapestry artists at their Enchanted Evening gathering of tapestry weavers, which overall was one of my primary reasons for wanting to go to Albuquerque. There were also a couple of other matters that added to my disappointment in regards to the tapestry situation at Convergence this year. Usually the American Tapestry Alliance exhibit is held at the same time and location as Convergence but this year, the one year I could be there, and in addition a year in which one of my tapestry was selected to be in this year's ATA exhibit, the ATA exhibit will open in Lincoln Nebraska in September! It would have been so wonderful to see the exhibit of all the tapestries selected at this time. I hope that is a situation that will change and some kind of resolution can occur between both parties. It also troubled me to see that there were no workshops on tapestry weaving, techniques that can be employed or even on designing and tapestry.
From left to right: Tori Kleinhart, Kathe Todd Hooker, Diane Kennedy

I had a chance to pop into the William and Joseph Gallery in Santa Fe where the Small Expressions tapestries were on display. One had to go to the very back of the gallery in a small room one does not see from the front door......hmmmm.....I think they deserved more prominence in my humble opinion! They were exquisite and mostly whimsical little gems.

The Ontario Arts Council is an agency of the Government of Ontario

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Convergence 2010 Day 3 July 22

At 7:30 a.m. I attended a talk by local fibre artists and a fibre gallery owner. Jill Heppenheimer (on right), part owner of the Santa Fe Weaving gallery, opened the presentation. She also organizes textiles tours around the world. Irvin Trijulo (on left) is of Spanish descent and his family has been in the area for many generations. He has a shop and studio and lives in Chimayo. He has seeds he uses to grow his plants for natural dyeing that are up to 200 years old. He uses the wool of Truro Sheep. He has established a reputation for weaving Chimayo blankets which are woven in the tapestry technique. For bobbins he uses cardboard tubes from yarn cones and the looms are of the most rudimentary construction. He employs 14 weavers and has orders from all over the world. Designs were handed down generation to generation within the family. I loved listening to Irvin. He has a humble and gentle way and has a lot of integrity. I found listening to him very moving, and I found it so moving that he continues his family tradition of weaving that had come down through the generations. His respect for these traditions is evident.

DY Begay (centre) is a contemporary tapestry weaver of Navajo origins and in her rug and blanket weaving tradition too, designs and technique were handed down generation to generation. Children were supposed to learn by watching and doing and were not supposed to ask questions. This really resonated with me. For the Navajo weaving was introduced to them through Spiderwoman. Her own interpretation of her Navajo traditions are abstracted landscapes. Colours and motifs are inspired by the land, by her environment. Her work can be seen at the Heard Museum in Phoenix Arizona.

My first workshop today: Warp Painting on the Loom with Jannie Taylor. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh....what fun AND it feels so good to be weaving again! I can’t wait to share these techniques with my students and can’t wait to continue exploring them myself. I see infinite possibilities. I made another new friend – Judith Shangold....we initially had talked on the bus for the Santa Fe Opera House and Fiber ArtistTour. She too took the warp painting. I really enjoyed her company!

The workshop took place in a room the size of a football field. About 4 or 5 other workshops were taking place simultaneously. A fellow Canadian spotted me in this melee, Melanie Segal. Melanie and I went to the Ontario College of Art and Design a long time ago! The second Canadian I ran into while I am here. One of the workshops taking place was Rio Grande rug weaving.
Afterwards checked out the various exhibitions of fibre art works and the garments that were featured in the fashion show. Here I bumped into Ted Hallman, one of fibre art teachers from my OCAD days! What a small world. He lives in Santa Fe 3 months in the summer and the rest of the time resides in Philadelphia . Also had a stroll around the vendors hall where I ran into another Canadian, Joyce Newman from the Burlington Spinners and Weavers. Funny....we come all this way, hardly see each other here, and we bump into each other thousands of miles of way!

The Ontario Arts Council is an agency of the Government of Ontario

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Convergence 2010 Day 2

July 21 Wednesday

I didn’t sign up for anything for this day. My new friend Jean, started her 3 day workshop with Robin Spayde, whose binder of notes were the most spectacular we have ever seen for a workshop. Robin is a very thorough, organized and knowledgeable teacher and Jean highly recommends her. Bobbie was still trying to recupe so Cynthia and I took the light rail train to Santa Fe and visited the Georgia O’Keefe Museum which had of course, an exhibition of her work. The museum shown here is a good example of the adobe style homes that are the norm in New Mexico. Cynthia had gone on the Ghost Ranch Tour on Monday, organized by Convergence. Ghost Ranch is where Georgia O’Keefe lived and painted for many years before she died. I love Georgia’s spirit and who she was as a person.

We ventured up Canyon road where all the galleries are in Santa Fe. We didn't venture to far into them simply because we had to rush to get the shuttle that would take us to the light rail transit. I've already planned to come back to Canyon Road next week and make a day of it in Santa Fe before heading to Taos.

For dinner we took the bus to Old Town Albuquerque which is reminiscent of European squares found in cities and towns, albeit certainly not quite as attractive, yet has some charm.

The Walk In Beauty fashion show was held this evening. I ran into Ingrid Boesel (Fibreworks Software). Some of my favourite pieces were the nuno jacket, with silk rust organza by Susan Bowman; Sarah Fortin & Catherine Pritchett’s collaboration – a brown rust coat in shadow weave; Catherine Pritchett’s woven patches and felted garment; Inge Dam’s skirt made with strips of tablet weaving; and Stephanie Abelson’s window screen bird jacket. Its worth getting a catalogue of all garments exhibited at the show.

An exhibition of double weave wall hangings many of them created by Jennifer Moore at a gallery on Central Ave in Alubquerque.

The same gallery with more current doubleweave hangings by Jennifer Moore.

The coming days promises much more!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Convergence 2010 Albuquerque: Day one - July 20

I was up at 6:00 a.m. and went for breakfast in the hotel. As I arrived in the dining room and was about to be seated, another conference participant, Bobbie (Roberta) Goering, asked me to join her table for breakfast. She had already asked 2 other women who were attending the conference on their own, Cynthia Miller and Jean Weems. We talked animatedly, our eagerness to be there apparent and vital. We quickly became ‘a group’ hanging out together at various times over the week that the conference took place.

left to right: Jean Weems, Cynthia Miller, Ann Bergeron and Bobbie Goering

At 7:30 a.m. we all checked into the conference and the tour we had signed up to take that morning. While I was there, I overheard a woman introduce herself as Nancy Harvey to the check-in personnel for the conference. It was the Nancy Harvey who wrote the tapestry book. I asked her if she’d take her picture with me for us folks here in Canada! She willingly obliged.

The Santa Fe Opera House was utterly divine. It was lodged in an outdoor space, with a panoramic view. Though it had a remarkable arched wood ceiling the sides were open to the elements. On one side of the stage area are wind and rain baffles. We were given a tour of the costume shop, where not only are the costumes themselves often made, but at times, also the shoes, wigs and hats. There are 65 people employed in this section during the summer months. Out of 900 applicants for technical apprenticeships, 78 are selected. The costumes have a great amount of technical detail. There is an ample storage area, where costumes are stored not only from the current operas, but from past operas. The frequently rent out costumes for productions of other operas around the country. Costumes are created with large seam allowances and no lining to allow them to be taken in or enlarged depending on the performer. We were shown the understage area and props. We were served a delicious lunch where we invited Ann Bergeron to join a new friends group and then it was off to visit 3 studios of local area fiber artists.

The first studio we stopped was Rebecca Bluestone. This gave us an introduction to the kind of architecture that is dominant in New Mexico, the adobe style house. They are very charming, cool in the summer, and warm in the cooler months. She does warped faced hand dyed silk wallhangings on a Cranbook Loom with a sectional warp beam and an epi of 8 using a 12/6 swedish cotton for the warp. She likes to weave with a temple because silk is rigid and does not have the give and amplitude of wool, thus its rigidity causes draw-in. Her wallhangings are quite large and to maintain such a straight edge is definitely technically challenging.

James Koehler’s studio was next, shown above. James creates handwoven tapestries with his hand dyed wool yarn. He mounts his tapestries with Velcro on frames so that they appear more like canvases than wallhangings. He has a number of apprentices and in exchange for work done for him, he trades them hours of instruction. He also uses a Cranbrook loom and works in the ‘bas lisse’ manner. He did say that he was looking into getting a gobelin style loom for he was beginning to find that always working on the Cranbrook loom was more challenging physically. A gobelin style would give him the option of also working upright and perhaps more comfortably. One thing that James did differently in setting up tapestries on looms is, instead of using lease sticks at the back to maintain threads in a more orderly way, he opted for using another reed at the back of the loom between the heddles and back beam. James also sells hand dyed yarns for tapestry. He has a new book available about his work and life available through mail order.

Jennifer Moore’s studio was our last stop for the day. The picture are at the top of the page. She creates double weave wall hangings, scarves and shawls. Jennifer’s book on double weave has just come out, and she also sells dvd’s on the technique. I acquired a copy of the book and asked her to sign it! Jennifer’s studio may be small, but she also is incredibly prolific.

I regrouped with my new friends after the tour. Bobbie was fading because she had come directly to Albuquerque from a trip to France, so she didn’t join us for dinner. Jean, Cynthia and I took the bus to Old Town Albuquerque, where shops and restaurants were organized around a very European looking square. We had dinner at one of the restaurants (Mexican). We faded quickly after that.
Attendance at this conference made possible by the support of the Ontario Arts Council.