time just flies...
before I get completely immersed--
I'm off to vote!
time just flies...
Do you get caught up like this too?
before I get completely immersed--
I'm off to vote!
There are just so many things to try.
-print making paper cut into a continuous strip
but not yet spun
- sheets of variable annuity semi-annual report
-an iris leaf
- the silk long underwear shirt
that I wore every day on my backpack trip
and fell apart when i got home
It is, of course,
that the careful dyer
adjust the ph of an indigo bath
for each of these fibers
(or at least each type)
but this time
I decided not to worry about it.
And as far as I can tell,
it all worked fine.
Well, the Iris leaf was not interested in indigo,
but that may have been a function of
-an exterior water-repellant coating,
-the molecular structure of the actual cells
-that leaf I chose
preferred to remain
its own natural color
thank you very much
-something else entirely.
Of course it could have been
my laziness about the relative alkalinity of the bath
and experiments may ensue on that score.
Most likely I'll let the Iris be Iris
and dye corn husks if I need colored leaves,
since the latter seem thrilled by the world of color.
That one tiny strip of purple in the photo above
survived --even thrived--
in the post-indigo alum and cochineal baths
into which it fell
(or deliberately snuck on the coattails of the wool).
This paper loved the indigo.
(Rives lightweight white from my basement
that I've been using to make my comic diaries).
The variable annuity yarn
did fine, but only with with VERY short indigo dips.
The coffee filters were happy as clams.
I spun both on the Charkha as shown above.
Each kind of paper has its own personality --
and as a newbie at this business of making Kami-ito
I'm in a constant state of beginner mind,
which means I keep teetering on the edge
of pushing things too far
(fingers covered with damp shreds of dissolving paper)
or not far enough
(pirns wound with great wads of unweavable twine).
But as I wait for Hiroko Karuno's book to arrive:
Kigami and Kami-ito: Japanese Handmade Paper and Paper Thread
(it is being reprinted),
experimentation is my friend--
the ensuing messes and variations,
a good part of the joy.
There are, indeed, any number of experiments
happening in my studio just now.
Sometimes I'm working with wool
(with which I have a fair bit of experience)--
adjusting variables and designing a yarn
that will take months of spindle twirling--
in a year or so,
it starts to become the thing I imagine,
which may require techniques
about which I know only a little.
I'm working with materials
with which I have virtually no experience,
adjusting variables and designing yarns,
that I'm going to try out
I know very well.
Such a funny, magical old life.
Velma Bolyard (paper maker, spinner, book and fiber artist) Her work and devotion to using local materials is utterly inspiring
Velma's Blog (most recent post talks about her milkweed harvest)
Aimee Lee (artist, papermaker, writer, and the leading hanji researcher and practitioner in North America) . Hanji is Korean hand made paper, and the things Aimee does with it are mind-blowing. The dresses! The Knitted books! The Ducks!
Aimee's Books (as you can imagine I am in love with the milkweed paper making zine)!
And as I said above, I'm waiting for Kagami and Kami-ito by Hiroko Karuno
Some day I'll get A Song of Praise for Shifu by Susan J. Byrd
And of course,
to learn Four Selvedge Tapestry Warping
(the technique I'm using for all my experiments
and praise in the quiet of my studio every day),
The title seemed appropriate first thing this morning.
After all, I have been having a grand and interesting time
weaving walnut-dyed coffee filters and zip loc bags
into mountains, rivers, houses and meadows
and I was excited to tell you about it.
Indeed, I've been taking pics all along the way,
both to remind myself of what I did when,
and so I could share them here.
But a short while ago
after transferring said photos to my computer,
I discovered that Apple,
in its wisdom
(and endless desire to make our lives easier, don't cha know),
converted all my photos to some new
(and oh so efficient),
my website/ blog builder
(for some reason it left the photo two up as a jpg. Why? Maybe because it was out of focus?).
Turns out that delving into the bowels of my settings
I could turn this new feature off for future photos
(though of course the device urged me not to),
which is how I managed to take
the pics you see here.
But all of this has annoyed me more than I can say.
so I think
instead of downloading and learning
some OTHER new app
that will allow me to transform all my other photos
(the ones they automatically changed),
back into a form I can use,
so I can do what I originally planned--
which was to wax poetic
about the delicate process
of making yarn
from annual reports
and coffee filters--
I will go back to the loom
Oh, let me me swing,
let me sway
under starry skies above,
Don't Stitch me down.
Let me float,
let me fly,
in the morning air I love,
Don’t stitch me down.
Let me twirl by myself in the evening breeze,
Dance with the the trees like the cottonwood leaves,
I’m yours while on the loom-- but then I ask you please,
Don’t stitch me down. *
that these seven tapestries
will be part of the
the fall pop-up show
November 3 and 4
at the Little Pink House Gallery
in Genesee, Idaho
It is a magical spot for local artists,
an inviting destination in the midst of the Palouse,
and a joy to twirl and dance beside
Ellen Vieth's soul stirring oil paintings.
For gallery and sales info,
contact the amazing Ellen Vieth
-on Facebook at the links above
- @ellenvieth on Instagram
For information on how to warp your loom
to weave Four Selvedge Tapestries like these,
check out Fringeless,
the online class I teach with Rebecca Mezoff.
* With apologies (and thanks) to Cole Porter and Robert Fletcher
I call this one "material inquiry"
when I want to impress myself --
or use the other elegant phrases
I tried to conjure last week--
but while in its midst,
this infatuation mostly feels like joy.
Caught up (dare I say twisted into), whatever it is,
I find it hard to know what to say here
"isn't it cool?"
But Thanks to Kate's query
in last week's comments
asking about the how of it all,
I'm determined to explain... something.
I am learning as I go
so my information has gaping holes
about which I know nothing,
and the things I do know
are somewhat situation specific.
Water, for instance.
Here in Idaho it is very dry right now
so I've found it necessary to soak the dry leaves
before splitting or twisting them into cordage
to prevent the strands from breaking.
A tub of water for a few hours works pretty well,
as does rolling in a wet towel overnight,
depending on character of the material.
A good soaking rain is great
(we had one once),
as the brown leaves around the edges of
iris and daylily plants can be twisted immediately.
Freshly made cordage (everything still damp),
is easy to weave with.
It packs in best
when going through a small section
of the open shed before packing
(one or two warps at a time instead of five or six
or, heaven forbid,
traveling selvedge to selvedge before packing).
If the cordage has had time to dry, however,
(about five seconds around here right now),
it needs to be soaked till pliable enough
to bend smoothly around the warp.
If, however, a gal happens to soak her cordage
for too long in extra warm water
(cuz...tea... hot water in the kettle...),
said cordage may become over-saturated
and this may lead:
first --to lovely, easy weaving
second --to shrinkage as the cordage dries,
third --to undesired needle weaving
and a revision of her original vision
if she happens to have woven other elements
over the too wet cordage
using techniques/ materials that do not
want to slide down the warp
at the same rate as the cordage.
and fourth-- to a bit of house wrecking
when trying to force things
in an attempt to avoid needle weaving
and vision adjustment
Luckily, I kinda like the wrecked house
and its new island location
so decided not to repair it.
Of course I (that mystery gal),
likes all of it enough
to try other aqueous experiments,
for instance tossing a couple of rings of cordage
into a linen scouring bath
(linen skeins and washing soda
simmered for an hour+).
note: Fringeless Four Selvedge Students, I also included this photo to demonstrate another instance of splitting the doubled warp for fine detail -- each house wall is 1 1/2 warps wide and the window is two warps acting like three since it uses half of each side one. Upper needle keeps twist in second supplemental warp from messing this up while I'm weaving (with a needle for the window section since it is easier than shoving a bobbin through that not very big shed-- a pain but useful for tiny elements and a reminder of the bliss of getting back to the lovely big shed provided by the supplemental warp).
the cordage did not fall apart.
What it did do was grow plumply darker (dying itself?)
and develop a new character.
Wet, it felt a bit like holding
a string of dark brown pearls
and was lovely to weave--
when damp but no longer wet, that is.
Some lessons stick.
One person said the photo above looked like woven coffee beans.
After drying completely though,
the pearl/ coffee bean effect went away.
The cordage stayed quite dark,
and didn't exactly shrink as a whole,
but the character of the individual strands
ended up different from any cordage I've used so far,
wet or dry,
and the bit with which I didn't weave
No chance to try weaving with this weird stuff yet,
but rest assured that soon enough
it'll be damp once again
to see how it behaves, both off and on a loom.
Finding things out is addictive, don't you think?
Part of me wishes that I knew
what I don't yet know,
so I could figure out how
to learn whatever those things are
in an organized way.
But then again...
The mystery is better.
At least until I do learn a thing,
whereupon I'm sure to write about here
I'm blabby that way
even when apparently speechless with delight.
-stuff that's in the studio,
-four selvedge tapestry,
-all of you.
What a plus to know
you're here with me.
a restful break from weaving tapestry--
a brief and low-key
period of exploration
and direct tactile engagement--
all of which
is a pseudo-artistic,
way of describing
my visceral response
to glimpses of cordage
on the internet--
a response so strong
that each time I saw one of
Alice Fox's cordage-wrapped sticks
I felt the power
of the girl I once was--
a girl who knew that there was a way
to transform fistfuls of dead leaves
into houses for fairies--
and magic carpets,
and potions for flight--
if only she understood
how it was to be done.
What joy, then--
to learn --
or maybe just to notice--
that the knowledge is right here.
What I clearly don't know --
and perhaps never will--
is where bits of idle curiosity will lead.
what on earth I am going to write
when I start these blog posts.
Sarah C Swett