Thursday, January 7, 2010

My Almost Perfect Life

Final Version of Curtains

I finished the new central curtains yesterday. As you can see, the panel in the very center has a seam through it. I was using a pin to measure the lengths of the panels--so I would hang the yardage, put a marking pin in the cloth, return to my sewing machine and sew two parallel zigzag lines that allowed for turning under the cloth so the pin would be at the bottom hem, and then cutting the cloth between the zigzag stitched lines. Then I turned under the hem, sewed it down, ironed the cloth, and hung it. Much to my chagrin, I discovered the length was too short. Now how did that happen? I went back to the remaining yardage and found another pin in it--at the place where the length would have been correct. Obviously I must have left one of my marking pins in the yardage, the ones I use when measuring the cloth on the loom. How annoying!! Now I am not a perfectionist by any means, but I do like to get things right, and this mistake really upset me, even though I quickly resolved that I would add the additional fabric to the panel and live with a central seam.

Detail of a Korean Pojagi

Then Mark brought over one of my books on Korean pojagi and showed me the page above and said, "Look at all the mistakes they made!" I laughed and laughed and felt better about myself. I have two excellent books on these wonderful Korean wrapping cloths--Patterns and Colors of Joy: Korean Embroidery and Wrapping Cloths from the Choson Dynasty and The Wonder Cloth.

Wooden Collage by Mark Goodwin

Once the curtains were up, we changed the art work that was over my grandmother's desk to the wooden collage, shown above, that Mark made. The whole room is so pleasant and inviting now, and I am glad to be able to check off one project so early in 2010. I am trying to get myself more organized this year, so that my studio work takes priority over everything else. Sometimes in the evening now I will make a list of what I hope to accomplish the next day--and even if I don't write it down, I tell myself my intentions so I can prepare myself to get to work. I have a lot of small projects I want to finish--one is a vest I started knitting for Mark about eight years ago (honestly, I don't really know if it was 8 years or 4 or maybe 12--but it was a long time ago). But before I pick that up, I am trying to finish a double hat that I am making for myself. You knit one hat and then continue on to the other, and when done, you push one inside the other so it is double thick, warm, and reversible. I am being spurred on by the fact that I lost my hat and gloves on New Year's Eve.

Knitted hat project in process

Another project I am working on is the long heavy white cotton warp that is on my wide Macomber, where I am weaving dish towels. I am putting borders of turned twill blocks at both ends of each towel, and the body is plain weave. I think I put a 10 yard warp on the loom. Maybe I was crazy, but this is part of my thinking about money and being a weaver. Maybe it even has something to do with living in Vermont, where it seems many weavers make lovely, simple, functional textiles. Or it has to do with my sense that I want to understand all the facets of what it means to be a weaver and production weaving is something I have not explored. So I thought I would make a commitment to a product and limit myself to only that, and see how I fared. So far it hasn't been a project that generates much energy for me. I guess I am not good at repetition. However I have found by telling myself that I should do one or two towels a day, as a reason to get up to the studio and be in it, sort of creating an energetic path up to the studio, I am moving through the warp. I am also telling myself that this is the start of a body of woven work that will be affordable for people who might like my work but not be able to purchase my art weaving.

Detail of cotton dishtowel

Like many people in this country, the flow of income has slowed to almost non-existent in our household. I keep trying to think of ways to generate more money, many of which involve this blog, but a long-held idea that my work should be separate from money has been a hindrance. I have never wanted money for money's sake, and even today I think my needs are modest--I want to be able to pay my monthly bills on time, I want to be able to buy whatever groceries I want (now that might be extravagant), and I want to have a small cushion in the bank so I don't worry about checks clearing. When I was younger, I was told that if I planned to make my living as an artist I would have to do lots of activities to have income add up--sell work, do lectures, teach, write--and I have done all these things. Only when I taught full-time, did I not have to think about income. When we moved to Vermont I figured my reputation as a teacher and artist would be enough to bring in the money needed for living. It is close, but not enough. I had wonderful tutorial students come study with me in 2009, but no inquiries yet for this year. I really enjoy these one on one learning experiences, so if you are interested, please contact me.

Another idea I have had was to put an older work on my blog, one a month, in a silent auction format. I could let people know the retail value of the work, but also make it clear that I would accept the highest bid of the month for the work. Friends have encouraged me to do it, but I have been embarrassed or, as I said above, hindered by my ideas about money, to do it. Why should I feel this way about selling my work? I love it when people buy a weaving and live with it and find joy in the work, I just don't like to think of the work as a commercial product. Since this is a new year (HAPPY NEW YEAR to all of you!), I am going to try to change my mindset so I can be turned on to making money. So let me say boldly that all of my weavings and all of Mark's drawings and sculpture are for sale. If you are interested, please email me for prices.

Also, I am going to end this post with an image of one of my weavings, Felted Study #2, woven in New Mexico in 2003. The felted weaving is sewn onto cloth, that is stretched on a frame and measures 18" high and 22 " wide. The materials include wool, cotton, chenille, boucles, and natural dyes. I used coffee, logwood, and indigo on the warp, and wove it as a lampas pickup. After weaving, I fulled the cloth. Because the various materials had different properties of shrinkage, the diamond forms became dimensional. It was previously offered for sale at a retail price of $2800. Today I will offer it as my first silent auction weaving, with the caveat that bids must start at a minimum of $300. If you are interested, please email me with an offer. I will notify bidders throughout the month of what the current high bid is, if it is higher than theirs, or maybe I will add the auction to the sidebar of my blog.

Felted Study #2 by Bhakti Ziek

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