Friday, September 16, 2011

New York, New York

Beginning and Ending of Trip
Just back from a week in New York City. We went there primarily for art but of course I took advantage of the fact that macarons are everywhere and did some scientific research on taste. Prices ranged from $1.95 to $3.00 per cookie, and texture and flavors varied considerably. They all looked pretty but I would not purchase any of them a second time. On the other hand, the cappuccino pictured above at the Espresso Bar on 6th Avenue near 57th Street was definitely something to repeat.

New York Moments
The weather was beautiful, the moon sublime, and the city familiar and strange at the same time. We noticed so many wonderful new buildings, and visited some classics, like the Chrysler Building above right. We made pilgrimages to some art supply stores, resisting temptation until we got to Kremer Pigments, middle left above. It wasn't just the seductive shelves of color, but the kindness of the two people working there that convinced us to make purchases. I found the current bible of natural dyes there (Dominique Cardon's Natural Dyes) and snapped it up (okay, Amazon would have been less but this place had character).

We went to museums and galleries (I will post about some later) and were amazed at the crowds viewing art. I remember turning to Mark and asking, "Do all these people really love art?" He reminded me of the high entry fees for entering the museums, so clearly they must have some commitment to be there. In the past I could always find an area of the MET that was quiet and off the beaten path--the crowds staying in the current blockbuster, the art lovers wandering into the corners--but this trip every room of the MET (and we probably entered most of them) was crowded.

The city seems much cleaner and upscale in all the neighborhoods than before. We went north, south, east and west and it was very rare to see someone asking for money. The one street dwelling that I saw had an Ikea chair like one I used to own. Of course I am older than when I last visited New York (it has been almost 11 years), but the population of the city also seemed much younger and wealthier than I remembered. I was a resident of the city at 21, so I know about "owning" the city, about posturing and attitude, but we did it on a shoestring. Even today I feel hailing a taxi is an outrageous way to spend money. The 7 Day Metro Cards that we purchased made the buses and subway extremely easy to use.

This trip was really a "grant" from two wonderful friends who went to Portugal and invited us to stay in their apartment. We missed seeing them (luckily had dinner with one of them the last night) but we were able to spend time with some other friends.
David Reisman and Mark (above bottom right) studied art together at University of Kansas in the late '70s--and they are both still making art. Going to Chelsea galleries with him was lots of fun. 

Egyptian Order at the MET
When I got home I noticed that Mary Early had posted an interesting article on Facebook about organizing things and it reminded me of these images I took at the MET in the Egyptian area. Aren't the stacks of linen wonderful?

Just a note to say that the exhibition I am in with Pat Adams, at BigTown Gallery, has been extended until October 23, 2011. Things are getting back to normal in Rochester, Vermont with many of the roads accessible now, but that town has been badly hurt and if anyone wants to contribute to helping this town that truly has a heart, you can make a donation. Click HERE for a link. New York Times mentions Anni Mackay, owner of BigTown Gallery, as one of the town heroes.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

After the Storm

Opening of Pat Adams and Bhakti Ziek exhibition at BigTown Gallery, Rochester, VT

Hard to believe that a week ago I was at the opening of my show with Pat Adams at BigTown Gallery in Rochester, VT. We knew the storm was on its way, but the evening was clear and calm and lots of people showed up to make the opening very festive. At 4pm there was an informal talk between Anni MacKay, Pat Adams, myself, and the audience and then there was the whirlwind of conversations and greetings that happens at openings. It was a really great evening, and as we left, Anni said she was heading out to pick her vegetables before the rain started.

We had 24 hours of rain, nothing seemed particularly severe, and I woke Monday morning to a clear blue sky day and fresh crisp air cleansed by the rain. We had electricity and when calls started to come in asking if we were alright, I was a bit puzzled. The news up here didn't mention Vermont, but apparently the rest of the country knew that Vermont was a mess. Then at 10am our electric and phone went out. Rumors flew about causes and length of time--I really didn't like the prediction of three weeks before it would be fixed. A small stream turned into a river and took out a substation and most of Randolph was without electricity for 2.5 days. Minor inconveniences (we got charcoal and pulled out our weber grill and I bought these 14 hour candles and found that reading by candlelight is not much fun) compared to many places in the state, and to some other people in Randolph who did have serious problems.

Rochester was one of the 13 (or more?) towns that were cut off from the world. Bridges were destroyed, the road over the mountain that we had taken the night before had become a river bed and washed away the road and some houses. Once we got power back we started looking at everything we could find online hoping to get some info on our friends at BigTown. Finally we saw a photo and could identify Anni and Dunne, so at least we knew they were okay. And yesterday we got a call saying everyone there was okay, and would it be acceptable if they extended the show until October 23rd! Seems a bit selfish to be thinking about my show in the midst of all the mud and cleanup and suffering, but I admit I was happy to hear that people will have extra time to see this show. Pat's paintings and my weavings share the space in very compatible harmony and at times seem to be talking to each other.
 So what did I do as soon as the electricity came on? I baked Macarons! I have made them before following a Martha Stewart recipe and I thought they were delicious and perfect, but what did I know? Recently I bought a new cookbook (Sugarbaby by Gesine Bullock-Prado). The cover picture of spun sugar spoke to my heart and then I realized this was the Gesine who had a pastry shop in Montpelier when we first moved here who made magnificent sweets, so of course I had to buy the book. So I followed her recipe and they were a total failure. Because I had eaten at her shop, I knew it was me, not the recipe--so I went on line and found this great video of her making macarons. And I watched it several times, maybe more than that, and then I tried again. The pink cookies shown above show that I still had problems--but they tasted great. 

So then I went back to the internet (this was all pre-storm pre-opening--a good way to focus my energy at stage fright time). And I discovered the most incredible blog by a woman clearly more obsessed than me. Not So Humble Pie has 8 posts on macarons--really a thesis on these cookies. So I tried again--and you can see the perfect little feet and nice flat shell of the yellow ones (though the color seemed to bake out). These not only looked great, they tasted sublime. All these macarons were done using the Italian Meringue method. I don't have a picture of the ones I made once the electricity came on--I used one of the Not So Humble Pie recipes for French Meringue Macaron. They looked okay (but again my coloring, blue this time, baked away), and tasted fine, but they were kind of hallow inside. Another words, I haven't figured it out yet and will have to bake some more.

Linen for Kelly's Curtains
Lucky for me I was already working on a project on my Macomber loom (no electricity needed) when we lost power, so I could keep working during the days. You can see the 18 yards of linen competing with the woodpile for size above. I really am afraid to cut and sew it myself (we all have our expertise) but will do it so Kelly can have her curtains.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Digital Woven Pixel

Alice Schlein and I have been so gratified by the response to our book, The Woven Pixel: Designing for Jacquard and Dobby Looms Using Photoshop. We have had two successful editions sell out and have decided to go with 21st century technology and instead of printing more books we will offer a digital version of the book.

This will be a win-win situation for all of us--especially our overseas readers who have to endure such high shipping costs from the U.S. The cost of the digital book will now be $125, payable by check in U.S. Dollars or by PayPal. There will be no shipping or handling fees. Buyers will have the right to print one copy of the book for their own purposes, and agree that the CD contents will be for their own use. Once payment is made, we will transfer the book and CD contents via a free on-line exchange. Details will be sent to purchasers upon receipt of payment.

We have tried this method successfully for a few weeks and all our readers are satisfied. This will be the same edition as the 2006 book, which was written for Photoshop CS2. Although some items have moved to different locations in the newest version of Photoshop (CS5), we have not had any trouble using our Woven Pixel methods with this version. Although, we can not guarantee what the developers of Photoshop will do in the future, we can say our methods work in any version of Photoshop CS up to now. To order the digital version of the book please email either Alice or Bhakti.

Emperor by Bhakti Ziek, 2011
handwoven jacquard using shaded satins
photo by Michael F. Sacca

I have a show opening this week at BigTown Gallery in Rochester, Vermont. The weaving above will be in the show. It goes with the weaving I posted a couple of weeks ago. Here is the information about the show or go to the gallery site for more images and more information:



August 24 - September 25, 2011



Reception 5 - 7pm

Artist Discussion 4pm

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tutorial on TC1

Karin Muller La Belle from Luzern, Switzerland working on Bhakti Ziek's TC-1 Loom

It's been a long time since I said yes to a private student but Karin Muller La Belle asked to work with me at a time that fit perfectly with my schedule. I knew I would be finishing work for my upcoming show at BigTown Gallery--finishing meaning sewing, not weaving--and my loom would be available for her to use. Karin is the Studio Director/Manager at the Hochschule Luzern and overseas the weaving, knitting and embroidery studios. I have been extremely lucky with the people who have come to study with me--and I couldn't have asked for a more lovely student than Karin. She had some clear parameters for what she needed to learn and she worked diligently to accomplish everything. One of the things she needed to see was how to reconfigure the loom for different setts. When she arrived the loom was set up with two modules by two modules (30 epi). She wove a sample of shaded satins on the remaining warp (you can see front and back in the picture above), and then with the help of my husband Mark, we reconfigured the loom the next morning in about an hour. Now the modules are one behind another. Then together we wound back a new silk warp (60 epi) and threaded together. By evening she had half of the warp through dents, and the next morning she was weaving double cloth. I love this loom. And I think by the end of the week Karin loved it too. She wove 5.5 yards on the silk warp, leaving me about half a yard to go before I reconfigure the loom back to two by two. You can a detail of the beautiful scarf she wove at the end. I have a TC-1 loom, but anyone interested in the loom today will be getting a TC-2, which sounds like it is about ready to launch.

I had a funny experience the other day. I was doing a google search on Henry's Attic 16/2 linen and was surprised to see a link to one of my blog posts--so I checked it out. It was December 25, 2009 and I had posted an image of the curtains I had just made as well as a link to a Gateau Basque that I made after listening to an NPR program. I had forgotten about that cake--but since we had an invite to dinner that night I found the recipe and made it again. It was delicious!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Art Trip

Empress by Bhakti Ziek, 2011
handwoven jacquard using shaded satins

I am finishing the work for the upcoming exhibition I am having at BigTown Gallery. I will be exhibiting with Pat Adams, a wonderful painter. For this show I am mounting my work on stretched linen so the linen shows as a border, the way ethnographic textiles are often mounted. The exhibition runs from August 24th to September 25th, with an artists' reception on August 27th.

Mark and I had an art trip last week. We met my cousins at Mass Moca and also went to the Clark with them. Carol is a painter so we were all serious viewers. The Nari Ward exhibition at Mass Moca was worth the trip. He has made a spectacular sculpture from the floor boards that were used in the previous Anselm Kiefer exhibition. There was a boat in the room, and this huge basket form based on a fishing trap. In the next room he had wooden stalls with images from textile sample books. And beyond that he had a room of foam snowmen encrusted with debris both natural and man-made.

Nu Colossus by Nari Ward at Mass Moca

Stall by Nari Ward at Mass Moca

Mango Tourists by Nari Ward at Mass Moca

Of course a visit to the Sol LeWitt murals is always a treat for me. There are some that I stand in wonder in front of, and others that I shake my head and run past, but all together, they are always powerful and exciting to see.

Details of Sol LeWitt Murals at Mass Moca

This trip we bought the ticket that gave us access to both The Clark and Mass Moca. We all wanted to see the El Anatsui sculptures that were on display in the Tadao Ando Stone Hill Center up the hill from the main musuem. Everything looks good in that space. We also saw the Pissarro exhibition but by that time I think I had seen enough. It was a long day, beautiful drive, great to be with family, and wonderful to see contemporary art--everything fed us.

Sculptures by El Anatsui at The Clark

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

NEWS 2011

I want to share some images from NEWS 2011 (New England Weavers Seminars) with you before my next activity (Michele Wipplinger's Color Institute) fills my head. NEWS takes place every other year and is held at Smith College in Northampton, MA. There were exhibitions (a juried gallery show which I co-juried with Laurie Carlson and Carol Birtwistle; a faculty show; the static fashion show; a special exhibition of ethnographic textiles; and guild table exhibits); half-day, full-day, and multi-day workshops (I taught both a half-day and a full-day workshop on Photoshop and woven design using techniques described in The Woven Pixel); Vendors Booths selling items (yarns, Guatemalan products, tools, dyes and books) and publicizing places (The American Textile History Museum); and there was the fashion show one evening and a lecture by Laurie Carlson on the last evening. Of course there was also lots of comings and goings, meeting with old friends and new friends, meals in the cafeteria or downtown, and just wandering the campus and visiting their wonderful gardens. Many of the attendees have attended many of these gatherings. It was my first, and I really enjoyed how friendly everyone was so no matter where I went I could enter into an interesting conversation. There are some amazing weavers in New England as you can see from the images below.

Top Left: Brenda Rosenbaum of Mayan Hands, a truly remarkable and compassionate woman; Top Right: a view of the Faculty Exhibition with my weaving Continuum on the table and Sara Goodman's stitched, dyed and pieced work behind it; Second Row Left: some of Sara Goodman's samples of natural dyed fabrics on a table in her workshop; Second Row Right: Jody Brown and Norma Smyda standing in the inspiring Special Exhibition that they organized of world textiles; Third Row Left: Co-First VP Programs Ruth Ward and Virginia Coolidge standing in front of the display of the American Textile History Museum which was enthusiastically manned by Linda Carpenter, a trustee of the museum; Third Row Right: a table runner by Janney Simpson of Connecticut that was entered into the table runner category of the gallery show; Bottom Row Left: an image of the gallery show; Bottom Row Right: some of the new weavers setting up their first weavings in Carol Birtwistle's class.

Top Left: Best in Show was given to Scott Norris of Pioneer Valley Guild in Massachusetts for weaving these incredible linen towels; Top Right: Jurors Choice and Peoples Choice both went to this fascinating shawl woven by Suzi Ballenger of RI (it was woven in plain weave but had variable denting that changed in the cloth creating undulating stripes that reminded me of Syrian textiles); Second Row Left: Michele Belson and Deborah Holcomb in the Lunatic Fringe Yarns booth near the beautiful natural brown cotton yarns they are selling (I thought I was going to get some linen this week but when I saw this yarn I just had to have it--it is called American Maid Yarns); Second Row Right: a detail of the Guild Booth supporting breast cancer research; Third Row Left: Dorothy Solbrig of the Nashoba Valley Guild of Massachusetts entered this colorful deflected double weave to the gallery show; Third Row Right: Carol Birthwistle showing two of the new weavers how to do something at the loom; Bottom Row Left: Diane Villano taught several workshops on polymer clay and in the one depicted students made buttons with wavy marks that reminded me of marbleizing; Bottom Row Right: another view of the Faculty Exhibition showing my weaving Mindscape on the table with Laurie Carlson's optical fiber sculpture in the background.

Top Left: Wonderful scarf by Norma Smyda of RI with undulating threads shaped by the special reed she uses (some scarfs were in the fashion show, shown here, and others were in the gallery show--it was the weaver's choice were to enter them); Top Right: Marjie Thompson of NH is a legendary weaver in these parts and you can see from this image of a table runner that she entered into the gallery show why she is so revered; Second Row Left: a lovely space-dyed scarf shown in the gallery exhibit by Carol Wooten of Cranberry Weavers of MA (Carol too is well-respected and she won prizes in both the gallery and fashion shows); Second Row Right: another scarf by Carol Wooten, this one entered in the Fashion Show and Static Exhibition; Third Row Left: Laurie Carlson Steger helping one of the students in her workshop, Carolyn Wetzel, weave fiber optics on a backstrap loom; Third Row Right: a close-up of the fabric Carolyn Wetzel was weaving which lit up when finished; Bottom Row Left: the table display by the weavers who were supporting breast cancer research; Bottom Row Right: a fantastic textile in the Special Exhibition (which I think was woven in Peru).

Woven Pixel Almost Sold Out

After five years of wonderful support from our customers, both editions of The Woven Pixel are nearly sold out. Alice (co-author of The Woven Pixel) and I have three copies of the book remaining in its physical form. When these are gone, there will be no further copies printed. If you have been thinking of purchasing the book, act quickly! Plans for making the book available in digital form are in discussion, but as yet we haven't made a firm decision.

To order the physical book and accompanying CD of illustrations and pattern presets, see information on the sidebar or go to my website by clicking here.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Preparing for NEWS 2011

Rain by Bhakti Ziek, 2011

I am preparing for NEWS 2011 which stands for the New England Weavers Seminar. It is being held at Smith College from July 14-17, 2011. I'm doing two workshops and also co-jurying the gallery exhibition. I'm putting some images of my new work in a powerpoint presentation--so I thought I would share them with you too.

Detail of Constellations by Bhakti Ziek, 2011

These weavings are done on a warp painted with natural dye extracts (from Earthhues). I wanted more texture in these pieces and have been using boucles and novelty yarns.

Detail of Vowels by Bhakti Ziek, 2011

Vowels is still on the loom but here is a preview.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Erratic Blogger

Mark's Woodpile Summer 2011

Maybe you noticed I added something to my blog heading--"erratic blogger." I thought about sporadic blogger but decided erratic was a better description of me. This way I can blog daily if I want to, or monthly, or as it seems right now, not even monthly. I think about it...but I don't seem to get there. Mark's summer woodpile shows the seasons here. Another round has started and we are drying out the wood we will need over the winter. Last year we actually had enough wood in the basement to skip a new pile, but this year's stack seems to be generating lots of neighborhood comments. All positive--it is an impressive form.

Jessica Smith and Bhakti Ziek

This week seemed to bring Lawrence, Kansas energy into my life. I realized that I am living my Lawrence, Kansas Victorian house dream in Randolph, Vermont. A good example of not getting what you want when you want it, but if you persevere you might get it in another form down the road. I love this house, and the way I am working in it -- seriously creating new work absolutely reminds me of my days as an undergraduate in Lawrence. Something about working in such a diligent way brings so much hope and insight into my life. Jessica Smith, who teaches at Savannah College of Art and Design was one of my graduate students when I returned to Lawrence in 2000 as a teacher at the University of Kansas. She came up here to hike and I was lucky to have visits on both ends of her camping trip. I loved having her be the teacher now, and me the non-teacher. Her work is amazing and I am going to show it at the workshops I am teaching next week for the New England Weavers Seminars (NEWS). So I guess sometimes I am still a teacher, but not too often.

Mark Goodwin, Bhakti Ziek and Gail Moran

Just after Jess left to continue her travels, our friend Gail Moran showed up. We know Gail from Lawrence, Kansas also--but from those undergraduate days in the late 1970s. We remember going to a waterfall with her in 1983 in New Mexico, when we were travelling across country after 16 months in Asia, and she was living in Albuquerque. She doesn't remember that but remembers visiting us in Philadelphia when her eldest son was a baby and her 18 year old son wasn't even born. We remembered that visit but not the Philadelphia part. It was so great to catch up, and also go down memory lane. She said I was passionate about weaving back then, and I still am. In fact, I just finished a weaving today that I am really excited about. I am working towards an August two-person show that will be at BigTown Gallery. I will post about that later, sometime, sooner than later.

Randolph's Fourth of July Parade

Like the woodpile, the Fourth of July Parade is another marker of time. The parade comes right past our house so we always have front row seats. This year seemed especially nice--and though the oxen were missing, there were a few small horses, chickens, and sheep, as well as tractors, old cars, and lots of fire engines. I told Gail she was going to experience quintessential America in this parade, and I think she wasn't disappointed.

Did I ever announce that I finished a website for Mark? You can click HERE or go to this website if you want to see his work.

Later this summer, or early fall, after the workshops at NEWS, after Michele Wipplinger's Color Institute Workshop which I am taking at Long Ridge Farm in a few weeks, after tutorial teaching, and after my exhibition at BigTown, then I plan to do a new website for myself. Maybe I will blog in there too--but now that I am an erratic blogger I won't feel guilty that my posting is unpredictable.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Report on Road Trip -- Part III

Beautiful Washington D.C.

Washington D.C. was showing all its beauty last week, and I was thrilled to have a strong fix of urban energy. One stop was to see the work of Ford/Forlano who were exhibiting their incredible jewelry in a small show downtown. I might not wear jewelry myself, but I am always inspired by the creativity of Steve and David. We also stopped by Hemphill Fine Arts to see the current exhibition and catch up with one of the directors, Mary Early, whom I met in Vermont recently. Mary's sculptures were featured in the January/February 2011 issue of Sculpture Magazine. Next time I am in D.C. I will definitely make time to visit her studio.

I was very concerned about the potential government shut-down (not just because it proved that politicians think life is a reality TV show and the public so stupid that they can't see through their cliff-hanging-wait-to-the-last-minute shenanigans) but because I really wanted to get to the Hirshhorn Museum to see the Blinky Palermo exhibition, and of course all the Smithsonian Museums would all be closed if the government was shut down. Mark has mentioned Palermo to me for many years, and he particularly wanted me to see the work shown in the image below (which I found on the web since I wasn't allowed to photograph in the exhibition itself). When I walked into the room I thought they were paintings, but in fact they are dyed cloth impeccably sewn together so you hardly notice the seam lines. Beautiful nuanced use of color, and a very innovative way to paint back in the late '60s. Even today it would be considered innovative (in any other world except the textile world). Another contemporary artist who works with fabric but is not defining himself in terms of textiles is Sergej Jensen.

Fabric paintings by Blinky Palermo

One of the things that really delighted me about the Palermo exhibition was that they gave the work the space it needed. In one room, there were four small cubes of color attached to a corner, two on either side of the wall joint. That was it. It just thrills me to see work displayed like this. On my way home, I stopped for lunch in Philadelphia with my friends Michelle Liao, Meg Richter, and John Struble. We had a delicious beet salad in Michelle and John's loft, which is above Michelle's store, the Liao Collection. It also happens to be blocks from Chinatown. So I was impressed that I enjoyed the salad so much (so much that I made it for Mark's birthday a few days later) that I didn't kick and scream about not having dim sum with them. Maybe it was because hanging out in that loft is like going to the museum--there is nothing redundant or frivolous in the space. Every object is perfect, and they are placed so the whole is about air and light and beautiful energy. I love these three people so much that I could weep every time I think about leaving Philadelphia and our weekly dinners together. What is incredible though is that life has brought important changes to all of us, but the heart connection is still so strong and vibrant. A trip back to Philadelphia is definitely in the works.

Philadelphia Friends: Meg Richter on left, Michelle Liao in center, John Struble on right

I drove from Philadelphia to Greenwich, NY without problems--but arrived at my friends Cyndy Barbone and John Golde's home in the dark. I must have driven up and down the same stretch of road six times before I finally parked my car in someone's driveway and got out to try and find a house number. I found one four houses down from my car--and when I counted back, it turns out I had pulled into their driveway. Cyndy is an amazing weaver. She usually makes narrative panels that add up to a story about light and spirit. A visit to her studio the next morning showed some of those, as well as fabric being woven on her loom that will become a winter coat. Since Cyndy has visited us in Vermont a couple of times, I was so glad to reciprocate and see her place. It is really rather close, so I imagine we will see more of them this summer.

Cyndy Barbone with her weaving and Peanut on the left;
work in progress and sample woven and shrunk on the right

So that pretty much covers my amazing, energy-filled trip to Maryland/D.C. area. While I think about it, I want to mention a book I just finished: Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton. It is not the art world that I know. In fact, I doubt if anyone I know on a day to day basis is part of this art world--but it is a world that influences all of us, and perhaps what we aspire to (sort of). It describes a type of collected work that is beyond my sense of ambition. I keep thinking, how could I possibly return to the loom and make new work if one of my pieces sold in auction for 2.5 million dollars yesterday? I would be paralyzed with doubt. It would be out of all proportion to the sense of exploration that I need when I go in the studio. In order to work, I have to allow myself to fail, but if I had those kinds of expectations surrounding my work, I would certainly fail because I couldn't start. That said, I am excited that one of my most ambitious weavings is going to be on exhibit in Barre, Vermont at Studio Arts Place. I am not sure where it was seen, but someone who saw the piece on line (I think) suggested to the director that this work would fit the theme Refuge. I liked the idea, not just because the weaving forms an enclosure, but because it also has references to the Buddhist Wheel of Life and has an image of the sleeping buddha on one of the panels. Buddhists often "take refuge in the Budhha, the Dharma, and the Sangha." My weaving, Wheel of Life: The Passing on of Knowledge will be on view from April 26th to June 4th.

Exterior Views of Wheel of Life: The Passing on of Knowledge by Bhakti Ziek

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Report on Road Trip--Part II


Friday afternoon, after the study group left, Chris Spangler and I went into D.C. to the Textile Museum. They were just mounting their exhibition Green, so we couldn't see everything, but we did manage to get glimpses. One work in the exhibition is a Safavid embroidery dated 16th/17th century that I feel is an old friend. I first saw it in a show that originated at that museum called Woven from the Soul, Spun from the Heart, curated by Carol Biers. I used to give a slide lecture on Safavid textiles, and always included this delightful narrative about Yusuf and Zulaykha. Another piece we enjoyed seeing was a woven leaf by Emily DuBois. I like that the show is a mix of contemporary and historical textiles.

The next morning I gave a talk on my work to The Potomac Fiber Arts Guild. With the names of people I had met the day before fresh in my mind, my sister Robin in the audience, and several people that I have met before also in the audience, I immediately felt rapport with this group. They were very receptive to my stories, and afterwards, honestly, I felt high with excitement and appreciation. One of the people who came up afterwards to introduce themselves was Claudia Segal, shown below with me. Claudia is one of the co-founders of Weavolution, an online gathering place and forum for textiles. My co-author of The Woven Pixel, Alice Schlein, did an online class for them recently. It looks like it will become an important resource for our field, and maybe in the future Claudia and I will figure out something interesting for me to offer on their site.

Don't you think the picture below is interesting? It looks like I have a halo--only it is rectangular instead of circular. Now what does that mean?

Bhakti Ziek (left) and Claudia Segal (right) of Weavolution

I taught two classes for the Potomac Guild. Saturday was an afternoon workshop on using Photoshop for fiber design. Instead of focusing on weaving, I introduced some skills that could be used by anyone in terms of imagery and various fiber processes. We covered making repeats, and modifying colors, and some basic tools and filters. Even though there were many different programs in use (various versions of Photoshop and Photoshop Elements, as well as Mac versus PC) we mostly managed to stay on the same page.

Dinner with Chris and Ann Sanderoff-Walker was not only wonderful because it was authentic Indian food (and I had the most delicious masala dosa), but because Ann and I had spent days together in Santa Fe in 2006 in a workshop that I taught that was the model for the workshop that I was giving for the next two days. Ann has many skills (sewer, weaver, quilter) and this trip I was happy to see her work in several places.

I didn't get any photographs of the Photoshop workshop, but I did take a few during the two day workshop on design for fibers. There were 21 people in the workshop, and they were all bright spirited, confident and engaged--so it was easy to learn and remember their names. We did a number of exercises, though I felt they were already had strong bases to their work and probably the workshop was more about community and the fun of working side by side than any profound insights into making work. We did spend a significant part of the workshop looking and discussing work by each participant. Again, I was struck by the ability of these women to talk about the work in ways that were helpful to each other, focusing on questions that were asked, and giving serious consideration to their answers. To me, this is what a gathering should be about. It is why I still feel so close to my graduate school colleagues. I do hope some of the people in this group will continue to gather for kind, serious discussions of work, that encourage and help each other to grow as expressive artists.

Workshop participants from the Potomac Fiber Arts Guild.
In the center is a compilation of two exercises done in the workshop.

At the end of the day, my sister Robin Ziek, who happens to work in Rockville (check out the Catalog of Historic Buildings she created for the City of Rockville), where the workshop took place, met me and took me to her house. She has the ideal urban farm. Five acres with sheep and chickens and just at the end of the road is bumper to bumper traffic heading here and there. It was great to have a few days with my sister and her family. I will complete this travelog soon.

Robin Ziek with her dog Cody

Robin's sheep

Monday, April 18, 2011

Report on Road Trip--Part I

Myra Serrins in her studio
Natural Dyes 1 by Bhakti Ziek on left
Woven Dyed Piece by Myra Serrins on right

My road trip to Maryland/Washington DC area was so chock full of experiences that I will have to report on it in several posts. I stopped the first night with my friends Myra and Marty--just in time to go to Myra's yoga class. She is the teacher--and a really good one too. I didn't like yoga when I did it in the 70s, and I didn't like it recently when I tried a class here, but I actually enjoyed working with Myra. It definitely felt like the perfect antidote to hours of sitting in the car. I was pleased to see a couple of my weavings hanging in their house. Natural Dyes 1 is shown above, left. I wove it in New Mexico, and the warp was ikat dyed using natural dyes. Myra is a serious committed artist (my favorite type) who works in several medium, including weaving. I love the depth of black in her weaving on the right. If you click on the image it will open in a separate window and you can see the details of it better.

Blossoms Two Ways

I left piles of snow and no traffic, but the snow was gone by lower Vermont. By the time I reached Webs in north central Massachusetts my hands hurt from gripping the steering wheel with tension. I tried to remember Mark's suggestion--just stay in your lane and you will be okay. You would never know from my fear of traffic that I am a New Yorker. The first day was the worst--then I calmed down. (And I did manage to make it home safely, so I guess everything in terms of driving went well.) The trees had fresh small leaves in Massachusetts, there was green grass in upper New Jersey, and flowering trees in Maryland. I had to go and meet Spring, since she hasn't shown up here yet.

Since I mentioned Webs, I might as well tell you that I was so disappointed with the yarn that is available for weavers these days. I needed some black novelty yarn, a boucle or something like that, and they had one shelf with some variegated yarn on cones, and nothing else. I ended up buying a few balls of expensive knitting yarn to try it, but....I really miss Irene and Cooper Kenworthy in Providence.

Tied-Weave Study Group on left
Chris Spangler, Lanna Ray and Caroline Harlow on the right

Chris Spangler and her husband were my next hosts. A group of fantastic weavers were meeting at her house on Friday for their Tied-Weave Study Group. I don't think that is the actual name, but this year they are studying Tied-Weaves. Bonnie Inouye (second from left on sofa) was the moderator. I can name all of the people (Joyce Keister, Bonnie Inouye, Mary Pflueger, and Janet Stollnitz are on the sofa, left to right; Lanna Ray, Fern Grapin, Anna Byrd Mays, Chris Spangler, Caroline Harlow, and Larry Novak are standing, left to right) and I am sure if you are a weaver you know many of them too. If you click HERE you will go to the Potomac Fiber Arts Gallery Members' Page, and you can see work by Joyce, Janet and Larry and many of the other people who took my workshops this week.

Everyone brought food (you know how I love pot lucks) and I was entranced by Lanna's asparagus tart. It was a Martha Stewart recipe so of course it was beautiful. She shared the recipe and I am going to make it tomorrow for Mark's birthday.

Chris Spanger at her TC-1
Weaving by Chris Spangler with detail at the bottom

Chris has a TC-1 loom like mine, except she has six modules so she can weave at 45 epi at full loom width (28"). When she upgraded from four to six modules, she also purchased the new vacuum pump which has the capacity of running eight modules. She has both the vacuum and the air compressor in her garage, so weaving is much quieter than my set up. When I arrived, we photographed her recent weaving (shown above on the right, with a detail at the bottom) so I had the image on my camera to share with you. It is really beautiful. I don't have the exact measurements but I think it is about 7 feet high. The detail shows you how she pixelated the image so close up it is very abstract but from a distance it focuses into a landscape. She wove double weave with four wefts and has enormous color variation and nuance in the work. Chris has a new blog, and you can go to it by clicking HERE.

I have been very lucky in my ownership of a TC-1 loom, and now I am even luckier, because Chris had her former vacuum pump in the hallway and wanted to get rid of it. She offered it outright, but I felt an exchange was necessary--so she now owns one of my small weavings and I now own two vacuum pumps. That means I am one giant step closer to being able to upgrade my loom to more modules. If you want to learn more about the history of the TC-1, click HERE to go to a recent entry on the TC-2 Blog.

So I had a very auspicious beginning of my trip and when I went to give my lecture and teach the first workshop the next day for The Potomac Fiber Arts Guild, I already knew the names of 8 participants.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Kitchen Stripes
Bowl in Upper left and Platter in Lower Right by Susie Rubenstein

I will do anything to procrastinate workshop preparation--hence this new blog post. Actually, I have been very busy preparing. I have this wonderful lecture on stripes that I used to do with slides and a slide projector--but my projector is long gone to the dump and my slides are buried somewhere in a closet--so I decided to create a new lecture with digital images of stripes. The most fun was walking around my house taking images. With stripes in mind, I found all sorts of examples that I wouldn't normally associate with that word. I love the bowls and platters that I own that were made by Susie Rubenstein. She runs the ceramics program at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, California, and has some current work in an exhibition there that runs through April 14th.

Kilim Stripes

Obviously my lecture is full of images of stripes in traditional textiles. I had such an abundance to choose from in my collection that it became frustrating. Too much had to be left out. But then, I have to leave something for the participants to discover on their own. The image above came from the book Kilims: Masterpieces from Turkey by Yanni Petsopoulos with commentary by Belkis Balpinar (NY: Rizzoli, 1991).

Loom Parts Stripes

It was fun to go up to my studio and find stripes on my looms. They are an integral part of the process of weaving. Below you can see the most current work, in progress, on my TC-1 loom. Vibeke Vestby has started a blog about the ongoing development of the TC-2. It is interesting, technical, and exciting. As one would expect from Vibeke and Digital Weaving Norway, it is very innovative and will take the potential of jacquard weaving to another level.

On Loom Now Stripes
Work in progress by Bhakti Ziek

And of course I have to show you my latest baked goods--strawberry shortcake with bananas and apricot preserve filling. Photographed on stripes of course.

Stawberry Shortcake on Tablecloth Stripes

Who are the lucky people who are going to hear my talk? Members of the Potomac Fiber Arts Guild in Maryland. I am giving a talk on my work to the guild on Saturday, April 9th. It starts at 10am and I believe it is open to the public. Then that afternoon I give a min-workshop on Photoshop for Fibers and then will do a two day workshop on design and creativity, with a focus on fibers. That is where the stripe lecture comes in.