Category Archives: Weaving

My First Gallery Show

Nerves and butterflies and anxiety. Oh my.

This was me in the weeks leading up to my very first gallery show at the University of Portland in the Buckley Center Gallery. I would vacillate between calm and collected to wild-eyed panic. What might happen? What should happen? Did I prepare everything right? Did I forget anything? Doubt and uncertainty and SO many questions without answers.UofP Gallery 1 UofP Gallery 2

In the middle of all this preparing for the show and finishing Raven 1, it occurred to me that these two things together were trying to tell me something; actually, they were trying to tell me lots of somethings. That being uncomfortable is ok. That growing as an artist or a person should not always be easy or straightforward. That doubt is an important part of the process of learning. Most of all, that if it is really important to me it will be worth the effort, no matter how difficult it is at the time.

Whew!

With all that I have some very big Thank-Yous to give. To Pat Bognar of the U of P Buckley Gallery for offering me the opportunity to have this show. To the Pelley’s for introducing me to Pat. To my family for their unceasing support, advice and love. To my wonderful spouse for being, well, wonderful! And most of all to my Grandparents for teaching me these skills to become an artist and to try and give some more beauty to our world.

 

Also posted in Musings

O Raven, How Frustrating Art Thou?

Well. He’s done. Easily the longest thing I’ve had on the loom in a while, though not out of necessity. Raven, well, he is a handsome guy. Technically the most complicated piece I’ve done. A new technique (for me) involving lots of single warp wrap-and-join…something I had to figure out as I went and a technique that was figured out only after hours of work, tearing out the mistakes and trying again. And again. And again.

A piece that I nearly took off the loom and burned no less than four times. (Thank you, Carl, for talking me off that ledge!!!)

Yes he was maddening. Yes I’m still not happy with it. But after many days of being really sad about how he turned out I did find room for the very cool things that it does come with. Things like how the subtle feather colors really did work out well, how very much attitude mr. raven projects, and how in a not-so-subtle-way it really good for me to be uncomfortable with what I’m doing.

Not uncomfortable in the ‘oh-no-what-have-I-done’ fashion. No, definitely not that! More that discomfort you feel when you are stretching, whether your muscles or you mind, and allowing space for something else to be.

I am proud to present Raven 1, as there will definitely be another. 52cm x 99cm, 165 hours. Raven 1

 

Crane Above Waves at Night

It is finished and I am super emotional. As in: I cried a solid 10 minutes after taking this one off the loom. Not sure why exactly.

This piece was a technical challenge, but not so great as the cherry blossoms. It actually took me less time to complete in terms of hours, but longer in terms of days passing due to an injury that prevented me from weaving. It is a simple image and perhaps that is why; I worked so hard to make those lines look simple! Then again perhaps it is emotional because it caps my first year of working as an artist and all the things that have come to pass, and all the things I have learned, and all the things I know I still have to learn.

I am humbled and grateful. It is done and I am pleased. 50.8 cm x 99 cm (20″ x 39″).Cranes Above Waves Jan 2015

Motivated

I’m sure I’ve said this before: warping the loom for a new weaving is a heady thing. It never ceases to amaze me how a blank warp is so irresistible, so full of potential, and so infinite in possibilities. The pressure to do something amazing is ever present given the difficulties of the medium and how the size of the weaving is now unchangeable. Yet the pressure is not a negative thing, but an opportunity to do my best at that given moment; to be the very best weaver that I can be right now.

It was with this anticipation that I re-warped my loom 3 weeks ago. I had an idea inspired by a beautiful piece of fabric and several Japanese woodblock artists, and a serious motivation to see if I had the technical capabilities to execute the idea. I might, and I might not! Therein lies both the beauty and the excitement of a new piece. Here is the first 38cm (15″) of what will be 53.5cm x 96.5cm (21″ x 38″)Waves 1

Tenacious

Finishing the last inch on any piece is a slow, painstaking process. Each row must be sewn in as the space between the warps grows tinier and tinier. The last row forced into place almost always resulting in bruised fingertips. This time as I finished the growing bruises felt appropriate; I spent all these hours mentally challenging myself with the technical difficulties of this piece, and emotionally challenged as the piece allowed my past year of grief to fully ebb… what are bruises but the beginnings of calluses? Not in the sense of becoming numb to things, but in the sense of becoming adapted, of developing a greater capacity for the effort, wherever that effort lies.

Tenuous

 

I adore cherry blossoms (and apple, pear and plum blossoms too!) because of the hope they represent. How can something so fragile persist year after year? How does such a delicate thing create such a bounty of food? I never cease to be amazed. I am pleased to share ‘Tenacious’ with you. This piece represents over 140 hours of work  and is 87.6cm x 53.3cm (34.5″ x 21″).

Wild Spring

Whew. And what a wild spring it has been! Crazy weather, excellent time with friends and family, whirlwind trip into the desert, massive garden projects, and did I mention the crazy weather? It has been a very full time. Fortunately I have still been able to eek out some time here and there to keep weaving. My current project is 53cm x 87.5cm (21″ x 34.5″) and I just crossed the halfway mark today. It has, strangely, mirrored my hectic spring in several ways. The pattern of cherry blossoms is an obvious one, but the techniques I have had to improvise to accomplish the details was another. Like those gorgeous blossoms, like my wild spring, nothing is static and everything is in flux. Still, I wouldn’t change a thing!

 

Cherry Blossoms halfway

Rainfall

Meet the world! World, meet Rainfall!

I am so very tickled to share my latest weaving with you all. It is a big achievement for  me on many levels: technically,  inspirationally, and emotionally. Technical because I gave myself a good challenge with the yarn I wanted to use, both very skinny (for the background) and very thick (for the highlighting green lines) as I wanted to really emphasize those heavy lines. It meant adding two or three rows of the black for every one of the green! Inspirational in the sense that this piece really veered away from my usual method of sketching over and over till I had what I wanted, instead taking some of the imagery from the Big 400 pieces and just starting without a firm plan in place and just letting the design evolve more organically. Emotionally because it was scary to not pre-plan every millimeter of the project! Emotional was also the piece itself when I realized it was about water, specifically rain, and how very important the rain is to me.

The piece is 58.5 x 90 cm (23″ x 351/2″) and took about 110 hours to complete.

 

 

Rainfall

Past Halfway…

…is one of the most exciting moments for me. With a vertically mirrored pattern it is a very literal moment of seeing what the finished project should look like: I hold a mirror to that midway point and voila! There it is. It is a big emotional milestone as well: you know, one way or another, that you will soon be done. That this little germ of an idea will soon be it’s own thing, it’s own entity; that while I may have begun this project what happens beyond the halfway mark is already decided. It is a heady mix of creation and completion-to-be!untiltled halfway

BIG 400

And what, you might ask, is the BIG 400? It is one of the coolest things I have ever seen. Part social experiment, part art lesson, but 100% for a good cause!

The BIG 400 is a massive art show with more than 400 artists participating to raise money for the Oregon Food Bank. Opening day is Saturday December 14th at 2 pm at The Pioneer Place Mall. Each artist is given between five and ten 8″ square plywood pieces, resulting in around 4000 pieces. You may do ANYTHING you like with them as long as you don’t exceed the 8″ square. Literally anything.

I’ve seen beautiful oil paintings, collage, graffiti, wire sculpture, from the classic to the weird to the silly to the beautiful to the downright naughty…its all there. Each piece sells for $40, first come first served kinda thing, as nearly 60% of the pieces usually sell on the first day. A canned food donation is asked for entry and a good chunk of sales goes to the food bank.

….Aaaaaand I will have five pieces in the show! Not a huge deal in terms of presenting my art, but a very wonderful event to be a part of and a good cause we can all get behind. They were a great challenge for me from both a technical and creative standpoint, and an equally wonderful way for me to find another way to express weaving. I hope you get a chance to enjoy the show!Spatial Study 1 Spatial Study 2 Spatial Study 3 Spring Sunrise

It’s Done!

Finishing a rug is a rather difficult thing to describe. By the time you get to the last 3 or so inches quite a bit of time has already been invested into the piece. Warping takes almost  a full day. Weaving (for me) normally goes at a pace of about 3/8 inch per hour. Oh but those last few inches! The pace slows to a near crawl as every row goes in slower and slower: the last few rows typically taking an hour apiece to finish. Patience, patience, patience is my mantra during this time.

Many people not familiar with Navajo looms ask ‘Why is it so hard at the end?’ The reason is one of my main reasons for loving to work with the Navajo loom so much: the warp is continuous. What this means is that once the warp is strung the piece may become no bigger or smaller. It also means that when you are nearing the end of piece there is very little room to work. The last inch is literally sewn into the warp by hand with a blunt tapestry needle.

Happy Accident

Fixed dimensions. Limits. Great difficulty in changing design once begun. I like having to be deliberate about design and then being forced to commit to a design. It is terrifying and exhilarating all at once. It is magic to see that scary moment of commitment turn into something beautiful.

This rug represents over 100 hours of work just for the weaving and I would estimate more than 60 for making the yarn…it is not a massive time investment on a geologic or parental scale, but for me it is still a cathartic moment to take that rug off the loom, hang it on the wall and just look.