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...