Friday, December 25, 2009

Moire Christmas

May You Have a Very Moire Christmas!

Well, like most of my projects--do you think perpetual dissatisfaction is a key ingredient to being an artist--my linen curtains are up, looking crisp with nice moire patterning, but we have concluded that the side panels are so much nicer with the wall and trim colors than the central yellow-tan panels, that I have decided to weave new panels for the three central lengths of linen. Yesterday I went through all my closets and shelves pulling any linen that mimics the color of the lea 16/2 Normandy linen (from Henry's Attic) used in the side panels. Why? Because I only had a partial cone of the 16/2 left, not enough to complete the project, and one of my resolutions is to use what I have rather than purchase new yarn. Not even 2010 and already my resolutions are giving me a headache.

Dining Room with Current Version of Curtains

I found several tubes of different linens and decided to use a rotation of three for the sides, with the remaining lea 16/2 linen in the center. The warp is wound on my Macomber now and I can start to thread the loom when I finish this post. Maybe I just like weaving plain weave and this is an excuse to keep going.

Detail of curtains showing different linens used in wider panels

Last night on NPR I heard a discussion about Gateau Basque and it sounded so good that I decided to make that instead of empanadas for the brunch we were going to attend. I made the dough last night and this morning, just as I was about to start assembling the cake, got a phone call canceling the gathering--too many people are sick and one of our friends is vulnerable to germs right now. Of course I was disappointed, but decided to proceed with my baking. The dough is suppose to be rolled out into two 8" disks--and I had made both of them too big--so I cut them down to 8" each, then used the sides to piece together a smaller gateau in another pan. I filled one with blueberry and the other with apricot jam. We have already eaten the apricot one and it is DELICIOUS. I definitely recommend you try it. And to the people at NPR, thank you for this and all the other wonderful stories each day.

Weaving I made for Holly hanging as backdrop to Christmas flowers

Holly told me I had to come over and see my weaving hanging behind the amaryllis that is blooming in her kitchen. She was right. So Merry Moire Christmas to you all and may your new year bloom and bloom.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Halifax - Part 2

Halifax Night Lights

Halifax was lit up for the holidays, as well as the usual city lights, but pictures taken in a moving car in snow and rain show it off even better. Last time I was in Halifax there was a fierce snowstorm that shut down the enter east coast, causing a two-day delay in my arrival. School (Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, i.e., NSCAD) was cancelled but some students came in anyway to hear my talk. There was no traffic on the road, snow was knee deep, and I thought the town was a small fishing village. This time I realized it is quite large--especially if you consider Dartmouth and Halifax as one city. I liked everything about it and hope to get there in warmer weather when we can walk along the water and not freeze.

Lesley Armstrong in her studio, Armstrong Textiles

I met Lesley Armstrong on that first visit to Halifax and knew I wanted to see her studio. Lesley produces wonderful contemporary textiles that are woven and then felted and manipulated to become textured and lively. She weaves these fabrics on old looms that she has saved from disuse, bringing some of them from England to Canada. I loved the contrast of the up-to-the-minute cloth with the machinery, which is really industrial revolution (ancient compared to modern equipment). You can see that Lesley is as lively as her cloth--always laughing, smiling and exhibiting genuine enthusiasm. Besides running Armstrong Textiles, she is on the faculty of NSCAD.

Robin Mueller (l) and Frances Dorsey (r)
Textile Faculty at Nova Scotia College of Art & Design

Images of NSCAD Textiles Studios
Morag weaving on tapestry loom, top left
Michelle Alarie at TC-1 Loom, center left
Maddy Andrews wearing her jacquard cloth, bottom right

Robin Mueller and Frances Dorsey are the two full-time faculty in textiles at NSCAD. Although it was the end of the term, and everyone was very busy, they kindly asked me to do a lecture for their students. Before my talk I got to visit the studios, which are in a charming old building, one you could easily get lost in. Michelle Alarie, the technical assistant, was my guide and kept me out of trouble. They have a wonderful TC-1 loom with 12 modules. I wove on it the last time I was there. This time I only looked with envy at the width and the extra modules that i would like to have on my loom. There is a strong possibility that I will return to NSCAD in the summer of 2011 to teach, and perhaps there will be a chance for me to try their loom again too. NSCAD has been a strong program for many years--Sandra Brownlee is one of their graduates. One of the reasons it continues to thrive is because the faculty are working artists, as well as teachers. If you click here you can read an interesting review of Fran's recent exhibition, Saigon. There is also a catalog that can be ordered from the exhibition. Though I don't know Fran well, every time I see her I have the feeling that we are old friends. I guess we must have been sisters in a past life.

Wendy Landry in her studio showing her velvet loom

Another woman who teaches at NSCAD is Wendy Landry. We visited Wendy's studio on Saturday. I knew she was a velvet weaver and had modified a loom, but I wasn't familiar with her work. Once I saw it, I thought that not only should I know her work, but so should more people. She has her loom set up with two different warps for the velvet pile so she can do interchanging colors in pile. She is also a historian and scholar, and her interests show up in the weaving. The bottom left image above shows a weaving she did where she combines pile loops and an area of weft tapestry, like the Coptic weavers used to do.

Sandra Brownlee weaving and images of her studio

Of course, we also saw Sandra Brownlee's studio. Sandra's work is featured in the new book, Art Textiles of the World: Canada. So if you can't get to Halifax to see her current exhibition, you can see her work in that book.

Speaking of books, if you are looking for a gift for someone who loves to read, I strongly recommend A Pigeon and a Boy by Meir Shalev. It is one of the most beautiful books I have read in a long time. Bittersweet. It made me want to visit Israel. It got me to write to my wonderful cousin Ahinoam, who I had not contacted in a long time. It's a great read.

I finished my plain weave linen for the curtains. Will take a picture soon to show you the moire effect. I didn't get to light Chanukah candles this year (Happy Chanukah if this is your celebration!) so this tree below will have to do.

Festive Halifax Tree

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Halifax - Part 1

On the road to Halifax, Nova Scotia

We took a road trip to Halifax, and in the rush to leave before the big snow storm hit, I forgot to bring the cable for downloading images. At least I remembered the camera. The main reason for going was to see Sandra Brownlee's exhibition Departures and Returns: Sandra Brownlee at the Mary E. Black Gallery of the Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design.

Sandra Brownlee with her new weavings

Departures and Returns: Sandra Brownlee
Exhibition at Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design

The show is wonderful, well-worth the two day drive to get there from Randolph, and the review in today's Chronicle Herald shows that the public is really understanding the passion expressed in Sandra's work. I am going to write an article on Sandra's work later in the year for Surface Design Journal, so it was important for me to see the current work in a gallery setting. She has always been one of my art heroes, and this show lived up to my expectations. There is a broad range of expression here, both in materials and process. The center piece of the show is her book, Departures and Returns, as seen in the vitrine in the center of the gallery. Of course for me, standing in front of her weavings is a visit to a holy shrine.

We have known Sandra since 1980, when we first visited Cranbrook as undergraduates at University of Kansas, thinking about applying to graduate school (which actually happened 7 years later). Sandra was a graduate student in fibers then, and, as the open-hearted person she is, she invited us into her studio for tea and completely awed us with her friendliness and her charisma. When we moved to Philadelphia in 1990, where she was living, she became our closest friend. Our time in Halifax just picked up where we left off--talking and laughing and drinking red wine. Raised near Halifax, Sandra was the perfect guide of this charming city.

Mark Goodwin and Sandra Brownlee
Images of Halifax

Norman Flynn Design - an amazing place

One of the best stops on our tour was at Norman Flynn Design. This is one of the most upscale lighting showrooms I have seen anywhere outside of NYC. The owners, Bruce Norman and Blair Flynn were both there, both extremely gracious and helpful (we were looking for a special bulb). If we lived there, we would save our money and become their clients. They had some outrageous chandeliers that made me smile; and admire them for their pursuit of bringing such a wonderful aesthetic to Halifax. Many of them are textile-related--but isn't everything?

Another stop on the tour was at Eyelevel Gallery, where, speaking to Michael McCormack, the director, we once again saw how friendly everyone is in Halifax. This gallery has an area of artist's books and there is still time to submit to their upcoming exhibition Re-shelving Initiative: Four.

Michael McCormack, director of Eyelevel Gallery

Although we were only in Halifax for 3 full days and 4 nights, we did so many things that I will do another post later this week with more about the trip. We visited three weaving studios--Sandra's, Lesley Armstrong's and Wendy Landry's. Lesley has power equipment, Wendy is a velvet weaver, and Sandra does pickup--three amazing weavers all associated with Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (where I did a lecture on Friday), three friends that exemplify the diversity of the label "weaver." So I will share more with you later this week, but I guess I will end with an image of our last dinner with Sandra. We heard on the radio before leaving home that the lobster boats had just left the Halifax harbor--so we knew what we wanted to eat when we got there.

Sandra and Mark with one of the lobsters