Monday, May 25, 2009

Virtual Open Studio

Ideal breakfast nook

I came downstairs on Saturday morning to discover this beautiful vase of lilacs on the table. Our neighbor, Laura Morris, an avid and professional gardener/florist, put them there. They made this corner of display the ideal breakfast nook. I was too busy to sit and enjoy it myself. 81 people signed the guest book this weekend, but I think a few slipped in and out without signing. There was work shown on three floors, and each floor had a "host." Holly Walker greeted people on the first floor, my husband, Mark Goodwin, was on the second floor, and I was on the third floor demonstrating the TC-1 loom. I created a slideshow of the weekend (a Virtual Open Studio) on my Picasa site and if you want to see it, click HERE.

Map of First Floor Work, minus the labels

I made maps of each floor of the house, and labelled the art work and listed information such as size, date, materials, and price. I think only a handful of people noticed them, and maybe people didn't realize the work was for sale. I know our friends who visited from Utica weren't sure, and so I tried to place the maps in more prominent places on Sunday, but they still seemed to be invisible. Maybe our work was so brilliant the visitors didn't notice anything else. I prefer thinking that than entertaining the thought that nobody liked the work. Personally, I thought everything looked great.

Connie, Patty, Jane and Andy (left to right), four of the 81 visitors during the Open Studio Weekend (Jane and Andy are weavers themselves)

For the weaving demonstration, I had my Macintosh computer where I do my Photoshop work set up next to the PC which runs my TC-1 loom. Using the processes described in The Woven Pixel (yes, I did have a copy of the book out for visitors to see), I had four files open to show my guests--the original digital image of an Ottomon tile which I took in Turkey a number of years ago; the design file which had the tile reduced to three colors and a layer of descriptive words on top (something like "this is a demo during Vermont Open Studios by BZ in her beautiful Randolph studio with visitors watching"); the layered weave file where I could click pattern on and off to show people how pattern is placed over color; and the final bmp file which is brought to the PC computer. You can see these four files in the slideshow. I usually wove about ten picks each time I showed people how the loom worked, but it added up to a significant amount of weaving. You can see in the image below how much was woven, start and stop all the way, this weekend.

Demonstration weaving at the end of the Open Studio Sunday evening

Saturday afternoon I finally had a break and ran downstairs to offer Holly lunch. We both got bowls of yogurt, fruit and granola and sat out front. We were stunned to discover it was almost 5pm, and the lull was because Open Studio stopped at 5. Both days were busy, though Sunday morning started slow, with rain, but then became a glorious day and we had a steady stream of visitors. It was very exciting to have so many people interested in weaving. I even had a few visitors weave on the macomber loom I had set up in case anyone wanted to try.

Demonstration weaving finished today

This morning was another beautiful day in Vermont, so we took our dog for a ride and went to the book and plant sale in Tunbridge. We didn't get anything, but it was fun to walk down the street which was packed with people greeting one another. It was like that in our house this weekend too--it seemed like all our visitors knew one another, and perhaps in a few years we will know everyone in Randolph too. When we got home I went upstairs and finished the weaving. No visitors watching today.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Open Studio Preparation

Florence Cross-Sections above desk

Our house is in chaos as we try to get ready for Open Studios this weekend. I have to put out signs at the end of our street tomorrow evening or early Saturday morning. The other artists involved with the White River Craft Center will put out signs near the highway exit and other places in town, and if I am lucky, some people will come see my work. It has been fun to take work out and put it up on the walls. Florence Cross-Sections is shown in the image above, and Empire I is seen in the image below.

Entry room with Empire I hanging 

Across the room from Empire I, I have hung Creed 2 and Creed 1. They both say "textiles are my religion" which about sums it up for me.

Creed 2 on left and Creed 1 on right

On the second floor Mark has cleared out most of his work to let me hang weavings. You can see Mirror I on the left wall, and NM Scrolls 1, 2, and 4 (left to right) below. The box is one of Mark's new pieces.

Second floor studio: Mirror I on left wall, NM Scrolls 1, 3, 4 on right wall, 
box by Mark Goodwin on floor

Recently I ended my relationship with all galleries and organizations that were representing my work. I am very appreciative of their support but I wanted the ability to offer lower prices for my work from my studio, and did not feel I could do that while I had outside representation. Though I never expect that work is going to sell, I am always pleased when it does. At the Open Studio, I will be able to offer significant price reductions, and I am curious to see if it increases sales or not. If anyone reading this blog is interested in purchasing work, please email me for the new prices.

On the third floor, my studio, I will be demonstrating the TC-1 loom both days. I intended to show you an image of the studio in chaos (just to prove I am not always neat, though it is my preference) but Mali stopped me at the top of the steps and insisted I take her picture. She was quite annoyed that Dylan, her brother, got on the blog before her. I doubt if any of the visitors this weekend will get to see her or her brother--they have their secret hiding places.

Mali guarding the entrance to my studio

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Perennial Gardens

Standing Stone Perennial Farm in S. Royalton, Vermont

Lynne Hall, co-owner of Standing Stone Perennial Farm

I had another wonderful Vermont experience today. Our friend Holly Walker, who is such a wonderful potter, is also an incredible gardener. For months she has been telling us about a wonderful perennial farm nearby, and this morning she took Mark and I there. Standing Stone Perennial Farm was all that she had told us and more. We met co-owner Lynne Hall, pictured above, who went and got the paint buckets of actual paint used on her house so we could copy the numbers exactly. Mark has been spending hours each day at the Benjamin Moore site trying out colors that might work on our house, and Holly is doing the same, and we all responded to the colors Lynne has on her house. Then we walked the gardens and felt deep joy from the beauty of this place.

Holly and Mark at Standing Stone Perennial Farm, note color of house behind them

Holly came over the other day and walked our garden pointing out names of everything. She had already done this once, when leaves were just peeping out of the earth and everything looked identical to me. Now even I can see the differences. I had a paper where I had diagrammed the garden and now I adjusted labels, but made a mistake and wrote names from one area on a different page, and it was a mess. So I decided I would take my digital camera and photograph the garden instead. I do remember my mother, who loved gardening (and made me and my siblings do much of the weeding), starting in winter with catalogs and drawings and complex plans of color shifts and areas of constant bloom. The idea of doing the record keeping with digital images seemed so 21st century to me. Then Mark made a joke about me weaving the garden plan and it seemed so absolutely right that I am going to do it. I took tons of photos of the garden, panning from section to section, and then returning to do individual plants. Years ago I had purchased a Native American dye chart in New Mexico where they had swatches of woven cloth in the center and lines out to plant specimens on the sides. I figure my weaving will be some variation of that with overall plan and then identifying closeups. 

"My" Perennial Garden

Heuchera Micrantha (Palace Purple) in "my" garden

Yesterday I stopped to talk to our neighbor, Kelly Green, who was working in her perennial garden, and mentioned that I had taken digital images of the garden and was planning to print it out and label each plant. So Kelly sent me the following link to show me what she has done. It is brilliant. She uses Flickr though and I don't think Picasso has this cool ability to add notes when you hover over an image. I probably will just do mine in Photoshop. Then I can keep going and work on it as an image for weaving.

So walking through the gardens with Holly was a bit like walking in a foreign country, hearing language but not understanding a word. Proudly I could point to a few plants and mutter "Heuchera" or "Sedum--Autumn Joy" which showed I was paying attention the other day, and not all my brain cells have been fryed by playing too much solitaire on the computer. Because we plan to do exterior work on the house this summer, Mark got me to agree that we would only purchase something for the wooden barrel in our front yard (seems like all Vermont houses have these wooden barrels). So this morning was more about future additions to the garden. We did end up with a beautiful grass (Helictotrichon or Blue Oat Grass) that we can transplant to soil in the fall. Perhaps we have started a new tradition--each year we can get something for that barrel that will then get incorporated into the garden. Over time, with experience, maybe I can even call it my garden instead of "my" garden.

At my Open Studio next weekend Holly and Liz and I are going to premier our table setting collaboration. Please come and see it, and enjoy the walk around "my" perennial garden.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Vermont Weavers Guild Exhibition

The Guest House-6 by Bhakti Ziek, handwoven weft-backed jacquard

Today is the opening of the Vermont Weavers Guild Biennial Show at The Chandler Center for the Arts, here in Randolph. I was one of three jurors this year, plus I am a member of the Guild, though a very inactive one. I joined in September so I could meet fellow weavers and went to a few meetings, but then there was a winter break in the schedule and after that I never remembered when they meet. I continue to be impressed with how many people in this region are weavers. Therefore I was surprised at the jurying that so few people entered work. Still, the show is respectable and worth seeing if you are in this area. It will be open during the Vermont Open Studios next weekend. The Guild is housed at Kimball House, The White River Craft Center and members will be demonstrating weaving both there and at the Chandler. If you come to Randolph on either May 23 or 24, be sure and visit both White River Craft Center locations, as well as my studio. The information for specific locations is on the map in Orange County (click on the link above for Vermont Open Studios).

Nasca Blue by Bhakti Ziek, weft-backed jacquard

Most of the work in the Guild exhibit is small and functional. They invited the jurors to exhibit two pieces each. I chose to put in two weavings that would give the audience another sense of what it means to be a weaver. When I created my series of Flying Monkey Textiles, I also did a warp-tapestry of The Guest House, which incorporated Rumi's wonderful poem. I used Coleman Bark's translation and gave him a commission on every one of them that I sold. The Guest House-6 was created before I made the edition. Rumi was one of the original whirling dervishes, and I used an image of one of my husband's sculptures as the background, since the holes in the sculpture reminded me of the motion of dancing dervishes. Nasca Blue, the other weaving I put in the show, used sections of my writing from letters written to friends, arranged in a format that references both block weaving patterns as well as assembled quilt designs.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Comparison Charts

The Weaving Lesson: Warp-Backed

I have woven three weavings for my series, The Weaving Lesson, that are comparisons of the same starting image. Above is the warp-backed version, and below is the lampas comparison and a detail of it.

The Weaving Lesson: Lampas

detail of The Weaving Lesson: Lampas

The third one, a double cloth using 12-shaft satin structures, is finished, but still on the loom. I can only show a detail for now. I used two wefts, but changed their colors to delineate sections--the main weaving, an addendum, and then a second addendum.

detail of The Weaving Lesson: Double Weave

I can see the end of this warp. It was ten yards, which is long for me, but it wove quickly because I was interested in the work (plus I had some help from my two tutorial students). Thinking about involvement, engagement, and interest, I have decided that time is too valuable to squander on things that don't interest me. I could say it is aging that makes me this way, but actually I have always been following this philosophy. It didn't make sense to me in my 20's to spend my prime energy on a sensible career so I could be comfortable in my old age--travelling was much more enticing and in the end those years in Guatemala were crucial to my development as a weaver.

Now that I am old, it still seems crazy to spend my energy on something that seems like drudgery. I like to work, but I guess I made demands on that work--that it interest me. I also put a ten yard warp on one of my macombers last week, intending to do more place mats. The Vermont Open Studios is quickly approaching and I plan to have some place settings on my table that show the collaboration between Holly Walker, Elizabeth Billings and myself. However, I think now that my contribution will have to be selected from what I have already woven. And the ten yards on the macomber loom can be used by visitors to sit at a loom and experience what weaving is like.

Here is the totally inspiring view from the window at the top of the steps as you enter my studio.

View from my studio window

Friday, May 8, 2009

Working with Tommye Scanlin

A radiant Tommye Scanlin weaving at the TC-1

I am so glad I decided to offer tutorial weaving lessons in my home. In the last two weeks I have met two of the nicest women in the world, and even better, I have gotten to work with them. Working side by side with someone is the best way to become friends. Sharing a passion for weaving, as I did with both Betty Vera last week, and Tommye Scanlin this week, means these friendships will go on for a long long time. Tommye had never woven on a TC-1 before, but she took to it like a fish in water. You can see how radiant she looks weaving on the loom--and she looked like this for three solid days! She is home now (she called from Georgia to say she arrived) and probably, like me, dragging her feet, since we were up at 4 a.m. to get to the airport for her early flight. I am also sure, like me, that she is euphoric from the burst of learning that occurred for both of us in the last three days. 

Tommye's four weft taquete in process

The first day, to familiarize Tommye with the process of going from design in Photoshop to cloth at the loom, we took one of her drawings and worked it as both a two-structure damask and a shaded satin with multiple structures that shaded in the weft direction. Since Tommye is a tapestry weaver, working with a loom controlled weft-faced structure made sense, so the second day we began exploring taquete. She wove many two inch sections of a leaf design, using different variations of the taquete structure but at the end of the night none was quite right. In the morning, fresh from sleep and aided by good strong coffee, we tried something different--resizing the image down in size to the "face" dimensions. Of course this was suggested in the taquete and samitum chapter of The Woven Pixel, but maybe as co-author I thought I could ignore it. When weaves were inserted, and the image expanded for weaving, the wefts could pack down and cover the inner warps. After several more two inch sample sections were woven, Tommye made her choices of file, type of yarn, and color, the image was resized for the correct picks per inch, and she wove a lovely piece, which you can see above, in progress.   

Tommye cutting off her weaving

When Tommye cut off her weavings, they measured 108.25 inches. This is really amazing considering that we spent hours sitting downstairs at the computers going over ways to modify images in Photoshop as well as creating weave structures. She told me she hadn't expected to weave much, perhaps a few inches of samples, just to understand.

Dylan loving Tommye's weaving

As soon as we cut off the fabric and put it on the floor to look, Dylan (also known as Biggie), who always knows where the action is and who likes to be in the center of the best energy, took possession of Tommye's cloth. 

Tommye holding up her finished cloth, which measured 108.25 inches (not all of it is showing in this photograph)

So another very satisfying experience teaching and learning from another master weaver has come to an end. Really, I should say, has started. I imagine Tommye will write about these days from her perspective on her blog, and I hope she will post good images of the weavings, since I couldn't capture them in the evening light. We had several discussions about the possibilities of having a dialogue between the contemporary tapestry weavers, active in ATA (American Tapestry Alliance), and jacquard weavers active in Complex Weavers. This experience working on the TC-1 gave Tommye a much better insight into the creative possibilities of handweaving with today's jacquard technology. Sometimes it seems as the fiber field has splintered into many focus groups, and forgotten to talk together about common ground. Maybe in Albuquerque in 2010 there will be an opportunity to get these two groups together for a dialogue. If not, it has already begun with the two of us, and has generated an exciting collaboration that we will pursue, but I will leave that to discuss when it has actually happened.