Sunday, May 23, 2010

State of Craft at Bennington Museum

Bennington Museum, Bennington, VT

I feel very fortunate to have one of my weavings, "House," be included in the current exhibition, State of Craft, at The Bennington Museum. The subtitle is Exploring the Studio Craft Movement in Vermont 1960-2010. Although I am new to Vermont, my tenure here is encompassed in those years, and the curators of the exhibition, Anne Majusiak and Jamie Franklin, felt my weaving of our Randolph home, with words superimposed on a street map of the town, appropriate for this exhibition.

Area with weaving by Bhakti Ziek and weavings by Elizabeth Billings; Mark Goodwin and Elizabeth Billings on the right

Anne came to my open studio last Memorial Day weekend. (I leave for Chicago during this year's Open Studios and couldn't participate, but I plan to next year. It is a wonderful chance to see artist's in their working environment. Here is a link to David Hurwitz's studio in Randolph, which is on the tour--and David also has a beautiful table in the Bennington exhibition.) Anyway, Anne came at the suggestion of Liz Billings, and when we arrived (Liz, Mark and me) and discovered our work was in the same area, I think we both were thrilled. Liz must be psychic, she dressed to match the wall behind our works. As you can see the opening (this was for the artists, trustees, and other people who have supported the exhibition and museum) was very lively and crowded. I will have to go back later in the summer and have a quiet look at all the work. The exhibition is open until October 31, 2010.

Sunsets in Vermont

Driving down and back to Bennington from our area (2.5 hours each way) has left my shoulder sore, not good since I have to sew all day with that arm, but it was so worthwhile to be part of the celebration, and then to see the Vermont sunset at the end of the day--which looked pure New Mexico to me.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

New Weaving, New Group, New Pots

Code Weaving being woven on TC-1 loom

With all the talk about an open source loom, I hope you didn't get the wrong impression--my TC-1 is still my first love (not counting my family of course). I have been standing at it this week, weaving the code I discussed previously on my blog. I am still deeply immersed in reading about code, and working on my own website. I even dreamed code the other night. But don't think I have any fluency yet--I just think I do, but I don't. I realized that making a website using xhtml and css is very similar to the process of weaving--there is structure and there is style. xhtml is equal to the weave structure that makes up a weaving and css is equal to the yarn, color, and distribution of color in a weaving. I wonder if coders split themselves into structuralist and colorists, like some people like to divide up the weaving community?

Detail showing white weft working alone in box on left and with a supplementary weft added to the white weft on right (brocading)

My current weaving not only has code in it, it also is brocaded. I wanted to use a white weft on the white warp, and hoped the two versions of white (a warp-faced structure versus a weft-faced structure) would result in the popping of the image that is found in damask. Sometimes I let the white weft images remain that way, but sometimes I increased their visibility by adding a supplementary weft, as seen in the words in the image above, bottom right corner. When the piece is off the loom and I can see it hanging on a wall, then I will decide whether I should increase the visibility even more by embroidering the letters. Over the years I have often noticed that I will spend a lot of time on elements of a weaving that end up being invisible. Even aware of this happening as I am working, still I continue, because it seems important. In a discussion this weekend with a new group of weavers, I learned that other people also experience this sense of weaving the emperor's new clothes.

Explanation for cardboard box--Mali

The TC-1 loom does not come with a used cardboard box wrapped around the bottom springs--a rather ugly addition, in fact. But the picture above clearly shows one half of the reason that I have one on my loom. I don't really know whether Mali or Dylan was the culprit that had fun clawing the springs--but now I am very careful to protect my loom.

Electronic Weavers Get-together
(left to right, back: Sara, Dini, Tom, Sandy, Kate, Ruby, Julie, Ruth, Sandy, Ginny; left to right, front: Barbara, Deb, Trudy; not shown Georgia, Bhakti)

The new group I mentioned is a group of electronic weavers that gathered yesterday in Craftsbury, Vermont. Laurie Autio (who sadly had to miss the gathering) and Dini Cameron thought it would be a good idea to get together with some weavers who work on electronically driven looms and talk about the experience. Fifteen weavers gathered, from Canada, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Dini, well-known as the developer of ProWeave software for weave design, is an amazing weaver. Everyone showed samples of work they have done on dobby or jacquard looms, a wide-range of explorations in weaving, but I was most surprised by Dini's beautiful work. I wonder why I didn't realize what a fine weaver she is--and that her knowledge is the basis for why her software program is so good. Anyway, I was very glad I participated yesterday--we discussed work, design, loom issues--and enjoyed a delicious meal together too. The gathering took place at The Craftsbury Inn, owned by Kathy and Bill Maire, and now I know a wonderful place to suggest that visitors to Vermont spend a night, and eat a good meal. Also, they can watch Kathy spin on a spinning wheel. This was a self-selecting group, more people were invited and could have attended, and I am sure it would still have been good, but I do think that the size of the group as it turned out allowed everyone to have a chance to ask questions, talk, and learn about and from each other.

Finished pots, left to right: Bhakti's, Liz's (2), Holly's

Another small group that I have been part of, maybe we should be called pinchers, gathered this week to see the results of our actions. My pot is on the left, above, and now at home it is full of wooden spoons and large utensils. Liz did the middle pots, and an older piece by Holly, head pincher, is on the right. This experience really gave Liz and I, both weavers, insight into the process Holly employs, and respect for her master skill at what she does.

Gathering in small groups and learning from a teacher and from each other is one of the shared experiences most weavers have experienced. Learning a process that is different from the one you are really familiar with can bring new insights to what you know so well. This summer, through the Vermont Surface Design Summer Workshop, run by Pippa Drew, in Post Mills, Vermont, Akemi Nakano Cohn will be teaching Katazome (rice paste resist technique) to a small group of students. Akemi is a gifted teacher, and anyone working with her comes away with a renewed sense about the kindness and generosity possible between people. Here is an opportunity not only to study with a master, and learn a new process, but also to make friends with a new group of people, and to enjoy the beauty of Vermont. This sounds like a winning combination to me! I think there still is an opportunity to join this group, so contact Pippa for details.

I will get to meet my own new group of people in Chicago in two weeks. As I prepare, I really feel the excitement of possibilities. Learning from each other is a superb reason for groups to gather.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Dance Recital

Life's a bit busy right now, trying to move forward on my website designing, weaving, and preparing for SAIC (class is full and overflowing, which is great)--so instead of words I will post images of the fabulous day I had yesterday. Thank you In Motion Dance Studio and all the budding ballerinas in Randolph.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Building a Loom


1971. Paragon in NYC was sold out of the red Kelty backback that was essential for my upcoming trip to Mexico. Panicked, my dear friend Marty agreed to take the train to Westchester with me so I could get one there. I moved to San Miguel de Allende to do graduate work in crafts, but dropped out when I realized it lacked any standards or rigor. By then I was living in a three-story building on a street that crept up one of the hills. It had a glass-walled room on the roof that opened to a patio. Rent was higher than my former NYC apartment, but the view was better. I decided to stay. And I decided to have a loom built--an eight shaft loom--which was four times the normal number of shafts available on any other loom in that town. Vaguely I remember traveling to Mexico City to purchase some parts (was it the heddles? the shafts? both?). How did I even find a carpenter to build the thing? And how did we communicate--my Spanish was very sparse at the time. I do remember the loom sitting outside on the patio, and how much I loved looking at it from my bedroom--the glass-walled room. I also wove on it too. I know I made some tapestries on it, and my memory says, just tapestry. So why 8 shafts when the norm for that town, two, would have been enough? Well, that is hindsight--of course at the time I wanted more so I could explore freely. At that time, 8 shafts meant total freedom to me.

I only had that loom about six months. Friends came through, I sold the loom to a potter, and we headed off to South America--or so I thought. My friends actually got to the tip of the continent, but I settled in Guatemala. We all have our own karma. The Osloom project, which is now fully funded, got me remembering that rooftop loom and the thrill of building it. 193 supporters will all share in that feeling of having built a loom when the first Osloom is done.

I have to chuckle when I think of the future--a two car garage--on one side someone is building a boat, on the other, someone is building an Osloom.

Spring Blooms