Monday, December 29, 2008

The Transition from Nylon to Wool

I was pleased with the performances for Christmas Eve and for Sunday morning, 12/28. Each time is a monumental step for me since I've only been playing for 4 years. The big steps this time were in being better prepared and dealing with the nerves. I was the most prepared this time - even staying up until 11 pm see how the music goes that late. I've also learned recently that our bodies respond to being nervous and being excited in the same way - same rush of hormones and flutters in the stomach - it's what we think about it that changes it into something negative or positive. So, I would tell myself that I was excited - which I discovered meant I didn't have to control or eliminate the flutterings or the shaking in the hands. The "symptoms" didn't go away - but they also didn't control me - or get worse. Therefore, I was open to being relaxed and musical and that was appreciated!

In the congregation on Christmas Eve, there also was a harpist - and I am so glad I didn't know she was there until afterward! She owns a number of harps and rents out what is not currently in use. I've been wondering what it would be like to move to a pedal harp - so maybe in 2009 I'll get a change to try it without the huge investment! Hmmmm.... All I need is something new to pick up!

So now that all of those performances are over I can make a serious move from the harp's nylon strings to the wool of the weaving! I did finish the transparency sampler before Christmas Eve. I do like it in the fact that I did achieve the trans- parency and did get some definite lines between the blocks. The choice of colors and blending did hinder seeing all of the blocks. Still, the engineer in me was hoping for more definite lines just in this case. So I'm thinking of remaking the sampler with eccentricly woven blocks. I'm hoping the texture change would give better definition. That'll be the project the next few days.

One other weaving project I've been keeping secret can now be told since we are past Christmas! I have 4 nephews. We had found fossils sometime in September for them and learned in my tapestry weaving class how to make pouches by weaving around cardboard. On and off as we traveled, I would pull out wool from needlepoint days and made 4 pouches with their initials on them. Once opened, my sister even hung them on the tree - what a happy addition. Maybe she'll fill them up every Christmas....

However you decide to spend it,
I hope you have a happy new year!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas (Eve) is coming!

We've been ready for Christmas Day for quite a while. Mostly because all the presents were completed prior to Thanksgiving and we decided to not put up a tree this year. We did spend last Friday night wrapping presents with a mug of cherry cider in front of "White Christmas". Since then all I've had running through my head is "The theatre, the theatre, what has happened to the theatre - especially where dancing is concerned? "

I have 7 harp pieces to play at an 11 pm service Christmas Eve. So this is where I've been spending most of my time off from work! --------> The biggest hurdle is that I generally am in bed by 9 pm! So I thought I may have an experiment of playing at 11 pm tonight. Should be interesting!

I have found it's best if I only practice for 15 minute intervals and take a break to do laundry, update my blog, but the most fun was singing with our German Shepherd, Dakota.
Some of the breaks I actually have been able to get some weaving done. Imagine that??? I've started on a sample of the transparency design to make sure I am going to get what I want. It's my first venture with the new bobbins and with a cartoon. I have discovered that the bobbins would be better with a rounded or chamfered shoulder. The hard 90 degree angle keeps catching on the warp as I pass the bobbin through. It's been slow going, but I'm just glad to be weaving at all at this point.
I hope all of you are spending your holidays just as you would like also and I look forward to more of creating and learning in 2009!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Happy Day!

This weekend my husband and I were celebrating. Friday was my birthday AND our anniversary. We have a tradition of traveling somewhere for a weekend or a week as a mini-vacation. Each year we come back with a tree ornanment to mark the day. This year we headed to Highlands, North Carolina mostly because I had committed to perform with the Carolina Bronze at the Reserve on Lake Keowee.
Highlands is just an hour away. There are many waterfalls and great galleries. That makes for a popular destination for the summer and the colors in the fall. It is also quite beautiful in Decemember, but I do recommend dressing warmly. Today we went to see the Bridal Veil and the Callasaja Falls in the Natahala National Forest. There also was rain earlier this week so the falls were "roaring".

The Bridal Veil Falls are right on US 64 and there is even a portion of the road that passes underneath. With the cold the water was creating wonderful ice formations on the side of the rocks. I had taken a few pictures and James decided to make the drive under the falls. Any other time of year that would likely be a great idea. The falls always get the road wet. This time of year that can mean ice - black ice. So the Vibe started sliding and James put the breaks on. With a couple of attempts to get out, it only got worse. We are obviously too too citified! So, we started calling for help. Saturday was hard to find anyone. Finally a few people stopped to see the falls and wonderfully had a shovel so the ice around the tires could broken. With that, the Vibe came out beautifully. No harm, no foul!
Oh and before I forget - my present was an great encouragement for my tapestry weaving. James made 4 bobbins from his CNC class. He made the first out of polycarbonate from a rapid protoyper then the others out of Delrin from the CNC machine. His colleagues at Greenville Tech did not think the bobbins could be made on the CNC machine. He very proudly proved them wrong! I'm looking forward to using them over the holidays!

Monday, December 8, 2008

still small voice

It began simple enough. Take the pinwheel window, find a pleasing portion of the pattern and try out some colors. It even became a great puzzle and how I LOVE puzzles - how many colors did I need? where are they involved in the transparency? which colors are better to overlap and which should not?

I wasn't real pleased with the software I've got available to me. I think something new will be on my after Christmas shopping list. Suggestions are always welcome!

I played with a rectangle and a square that was taken out of the original window. But then I was compelled to look at reinserting it. I had a list of contrasts between the window and the inserted rectangle - B&W vs color, opaque vs transparent, rough vs smooth, low vs high epi, "leading" vs no "leading" around the blocks... The list went on and on. I even was looking at limiting myself to my little loom and creating the leading by sewing the woven pieces of glass together.

Then last Friday, I spent the day quietly meditating. The intravert in me thrives on those moments and it's a luxury to take a whole day. There were many things to pass through my mind. I fought hard to not dwell on new color combinations, but to spend time elsewhere. In the end, I succeeded in staying on task and I was rewarded with a moment where the weaving concept changed.

The window is full of groups of threes. That can only be seen in the whole window. So now there are three vertical rectangles each a third of the width of the window. By themselves they are interesting, but together they have meaning and place. I'm excited to see where it goes.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Fiber Glass?

My weaving thoughts keep turning to transparency - which was one of the drivers for the color blending sampler. I wanted to see what could be done with colors. Now I'm at a point of seeing what I can try in transparency. I thought about simple geometrics - maybe even just dropping some squares on the floor to see where they land. Everyday - at least twice a day - I look through a stained glass window I made a few years ago. It attempts to mimic the pinwheel tile pattern in that room. The "twist" I put on the pattern was to make various sizes of the pattern that intersected. As I started working, the studio artist quickly pointed out that the glass would shatter if I stayed that way. So the design then morphed into three layers that decreased in size and later, each layer was placed at different angles like a spinning pinwheel.

What I love about glass is how light brings the piece to life. With the layers of glass, I have the bonus of seeing light change each layer's texture individually and combined. It's one of those things that I discovered after the window was installed and the sun rose the next day.
Now I am sensible enough to know I am not in a position to recreate these glass patterns in my tapestry weaving. (That challenge is for another decade! ;-)) But the pattern begs me to ask - what if these were plain blocks of glass - and what if the blocks were different colors? What effect would the layers bring?
So I've headed back to my CAD package I used to design the window and updated it to how the window really turned out. Now to play with some colors...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Remodeling the Kitchen

Weaving on the loom has been put on hold for just a couple of weeks, partially because I'm still considering what to do next and mostly because Thanksgiving is this week. So I thought I would share the other BIG thing going on in the Peavey household. We've begun a project of moving our kitchen. I keep a newspaper cartoon on the fridge just to keep things in perspective:

My husband started demolitions when I cried out - "We need a plan!" So here's what we are living with until that plan is a little more defined. We started by taping off the cabinets and the island - so we could "walk" through it. My husband then discovered Google Sketchup which has been GREAT for being able to see what we are imagining. We've already made two major improvements from the "new sight".

This project is really more than just the kitchen - it includes the den, the dining room, the laundry room, a room for the music and the weaving.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sample of Color Blends

My husband was excited when I finally brought out some colored yarns! I bought some small quantities of primary and secondary colors just to see how far I can take blending. I want to know how many colors I will want to buy when I get the serious quantities for bigger pieces. So I wanted to have a record of different blending techniques and even thought about the shading. I started with red, yellow and blue and blended by

  • hatching

  • two colors on the same bobbin keeping then straight

  • two colors on the same bobbin letting them twist
and compared with the secondary color. Just for kicks I then blended the secondary and primary colors to see how far that would go.

Lastly, I wanted to understand my options for shading. My colored pencils class years ago taught me to use the complmentary colors to make the main color pop. Would that work with yarn?
It was a good exercise because it only caused more questions!

"Figure 8's" on the Leashes

An engineer generally can't leave well enough alone and one that becomes a tapestry weaver is no exception. In class, it was mentioned one weaver added paper clips to the end of the leashes and slipped the other end of the paper clip around the warp. She did this to eliminate the need to releash every time she warped the loom. Leashing can be more complicated than warping, so I agree there is room for a design improvement. I wasn't sure about the paper clips on my little loom, so I ran down to the store and looked at all the jewelry findings. I had hoped to find small slip rings, but only found jump rings and Figure 8 connectors. I chose the figure 8s and placed them on my leashes. We'll see how this works out.

Get My Angle?

I have an enormous list of things to try since my class. Coming up with ideas is one of my gifts. I've just over the last few years gotten over the fact that they all won't happen! It's just means I've become more selective about my time. So the first sampler from my first loom was chosen to be ....... a study of angles! We learned in class it matters how one creates an angle - whether it's smooth or jagged. Neither is right or wrong, but I just need to make sure I get what I want. So I went to my CAD package and created an image complete with a grid. I hoped to have a smooth and a jagged angled line side by side for direct comparisons. That could have been on either side of the white. The first thing I learned is that CAD and math don't always translate over to the loom - and the second thing is that despite working hard to not have the weaving narrow in (as my piece did at Arrowmont) I overcompensated and it expanded - consistently! It's all about learning!

Loom, Warped with Leashes

My husband is a pewtersmith and has been facinated by the tapestry work I learned at Arrowmont. I think what he loves best are the copper pipe looms. These can be found at Archie Brennan's website. I came home from Arrowmont and spent all of $26 at Lowes to make my first loom. It was a joint effort with my husband and we even combined two plans to put leashes on this little loom. Leashes help to speed up the weaving by allowing one to pull the warp that's in the back to the front. Otherwise each string must be pulled individually. The next day I did warp the loom for a 3.5" wide piece and even completed the leashes - see 'em?

Where to begin?

Last September, I took my very first tapestry weaving class at the Arrowmont School of Crafts. It was a wonderful week and what I loved best was the ability to focus on that one thing - the art. Someone else dealt with the cooking, the cleaning and the teaching. I just needed to show up and glean all that I could. And I did! What I have learned since is that many of the weavers keep blogs and in reading them I have been inspired to keep my own. Even if all it does is function as a journal for me.

So this first entry will recall my class at Arrowmont. The class was creating a sampler and learning the basic techniques of tapestry weaving. The beauty was in not having a plan, but allowing the time to just see what you see. I had chosen to work in black and white since I have a heating hall full of black and white family photos. I thought that was the weaving would already have place to be displayed.

I started to see building in the shapes and started to think how I could make a building out of the next technique. That worked well until we got to color blending. All was dark and would blend to white - why? I took the night off to think about it. Somewhere in that time, I realized that what I want is to live in color - full, free color. So I went back and blended to white as a light coming from an arch. Through the arch is another world of random color. Even the arch is not created in straight lines, but allowed to be eccentric. The random coloes and the arch also caused the weaving to expand beyond it's borders. There's no confining it!

So I keep this piece where I have my morning quiet time to remind me my life to be as full of color as it can be. I look forward to seeing where all this goes.