Saturday, April 27, 2013

Lace Collar

At first my eye sees the circles. . . 
It's been a long time since I last selected something from the chest of inherited family textiles so I thought I'd do so for today's post. This delicate lace collar was from my Great Grandmother Louise's things and belonged to my Great, Great Grandmother, Addie. Made entirely of thread, this lovely lace with its flowers and Maltese cross motif drapes like gauze over my hand. Maybe somebody can tell me what the name for this kind of lace is. Measuring 26 inches by 10 and a half inches, it would have been beautiful falling over a woman's shoulders and perhaps closed with a pin. Handmade, it would seem a spider gifted with a unique vision hooked all these longs threads together.

. . . then on closer inspection the Maltese crosses stand out.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Wonderful Weekend

Last Friday my weavers guild an I all went on a retreat together. We packed our cars with looms and spinning wheels, baskets of yarn, knitting needles and over night bags for a three day stay, and headed north two hours. It was wonderful! Everything except the weather was beautiful, but who cares too much about on and off agin rain and hail when you have a stone fireplace to sit beside while knitting or spinning? The lake was wide and peaceful. The trees were deep and silent. There was the smell of woodsmoke in the still, chill air and the echo of voices and movement wafting gently up around the high rafters of the lodge ceiling. There was a lot of natural light in the lodge for working in because one wall was nearly all windows. The grounds had a distinctly  good old summer camp feel of the best in summer camp traditions from the 1930's: small cabins, swim floats at anchor in a cove, small boats pulled up on shore, winding woodland paths, a gathering place for a large campfire. Inside the lodge was a large stone fireplace. It was ideal.

There is so much talent, so much skill in this wool group! It's overwhelming! They have been spinning and weaving for years. I find them all so inspiring and they are all very helpful.

I enjoyed all the looms in action, but it's not a style of weaving I feel is for me. I have tried it and tapestry makes me feel closer to the fiber I am handling. Here, Jan works away at her loom on a scarf as part of a guild challenge using specific fiber such as tensel. I am not sure I spelled that right.

Such simplicity, yet such beauty. This I thought was a lovely wheel.

Lots of visiting and sharing of information and inspiration took place. Shirley on the left is a master weaver who is retired from the university she taught weaving at. Many at the guild learn all they can from her still.

Lillian at her wheel. Notice the sweater she is wearing. In person you would see it has many cables and braids running vertical and horizontally. Its beautiful much like a lot of her other work in knitting, weaving and spinning. She came to the USA from Norway as a young woman. I have always felt the scandinavians are excellent textile artists due to their beautiful traditions in wool.

Anna with two thirds of the lodge in the background. Down there at the far end you can see my wheel near where I was working at my loom.

Anna at her wheel

Meant to be religious in theme, the hand carved wall art was very fitting for a wool group's retreat. I loved them.

Exactly how I feel about sheep.

Look! I made this loom designed by a weaving master. I have added weft. I am weaving and it really feels and looks like a blanket or something. Really I am just making a kind of sampler to begin learning some of the techniques.

My friend and tapestry weaving mentor, Gail. She is talented, skilled, a good teacher and hugely generous. Thank you SO much Gail!

It's going to be beautiful; her own interpretation of trees. You know tapestry. It can be wall art, or large Navajo style blankets. They are done the same way and its an old art.

Picking the warp to weave in the weft is done with small wooded picks or fingers, then packed together with a comb-like tool. The beauty of tapestry is that small bits can be woven together into a whole piece thus letting the weaver work great detail, blending and interlocking. It's an ancient technique practiced the world over through time right up to the present.

Its working and I love it. The beauty of a simple tool. I admire the way the Navajo and other indigenous groups used what they had on hand to create beauty. My PVC pipe loom has very few limitations except size. But I have seen works of art woven on larger versions of the same PVC loom. One member of our group taught me how to make it and her work on her pipe loom travels the country to gallery showings. I have a long way to go before I can make beauty, but the techniques are fascinating me for now.

What I've learned so far. Basic weaving, dovetail joins and a slit join. I'm hooked.
Around the grounds during a break in the weather. Swimming anyone? How about a row or a sail?

The lake, with a beach for walking.

Lots of rocking chairs set around for sitting or for just sitting and being present in the moment. Such peace.

A small footbridge across little ravine to the original cabin. It was built by hand in the later 1900's by the family that once lived in it. They were missionaries to the local natives. The Father had a mission circuit which he traveled to reach the surrounding native groups. The family descendants donated their homestead in later years and it became the summer camp.

The original cabin again from the side.

A good, sturdy door on the original cabin, deeply satisfying to open and close. It swung easily on those massive hinges and the sound of the latch dropping into place was the very voice of good craftsmanship, security and simplicity of life.

I pushed these two beds together to show you, every bed at the camp and had a hand made quilt on it. They have been donated over the years by quilting groups on retreat. The textile lover in me appreciated all the colors and design.

This one leads to the lakeside. Many smaller ones branch off into the woods inviting you for walks and hikes.

A beautiful little window at the back of the original cabin.

The main lodge, built in the 1930's, but given a face lift on the outside. 

Come, sit, feel the peace. . .

and contemplate the lake through the trees. It was a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

More Art in the Barn

Continuing on where I left of last post. . .  there is more wonderful fiber art from talented artists to enjoy

This beautiful garden against a blue sky was done by felting dyed wool together. 

Meet Joanne. She works with carded, un-spun wool, and needles to create garments and art. She was working on decorating a felt bag she'd made. Tiny jabs over and over with a sharp needle attaches wool to wool.

Here is Jean's hand working the needle over and over on the wool decorations on the wool bag she made. She has turned all of it into felt.

More of Joanne's felt. She does some abstract pieces.

Do you see kites in the wind?

The next artist was Ellen. She makes little cotton quilts with flora motifs that were flowers from her own garden directly transferred to prepared cotton cloth, then embellished with beads and stitching, but no further dye, just the natural flower's original color and shape.

Here's how she does it. The plain, ordinary white cotton has been soaked in a solution of Alum and baking soda. Then she picks flowers from her garden and lightly taps on the flower until its shape and color comes through the fabric. she gets some wonderful shades and textures. 

She then adds embellishments. Those flower shapes were actual flowers tapped with a hammer so their stain came through so perfectly. It was almost like pressing flowers because you can preserve your garden blooms in this way.

There was some wonderful loom weaving on display, some of it done by Jean.

So pretty and so much more alive than machine weave! OH! It just looks and feels amazing!

Who would believe you could do so much with the different variations of basic "under, over".

So well done and so pretty. Doesn't it make you want you own loom?

And her is Lee with her display of wool from her own Icelandic sheep. She has been dying with natural dyes since the 1970's.

Shetland wool can be course or very soft and it knits up so well. Lee had some of her hats and neck warmers there and a woven shawl dyed a very pretty natural yellow and brown.

She had some red dye in the pot over a heat source. It was made from the small cochineal beetle. She added some white Icelandic wool and it turned a very enticing cherry red!
A wonderful day. Art shows are a good way to get inspired and an even better way to be amazed at all the creativity there is in people and all the artists there are living amongst us. I leave you now with two more wool rugs. This one was done for a lucky elephant loving child by another gifted rug artist.

For the love of coffee!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Art in the Barn

Saturday I left the garden behind and drove down the road to the art barn located between Union Town and the town of Coleton. I took my spinning wheel with me because I had been invited to demonstrate wool being spun into yarn. It was a day full of spring-time squalls as I drove to the art show in the renovated barn .....

Local life

Quiet as it all seems, people forget that family farms are a business, much like any other. Still, I love to know these are all family farms, not big corporations and the same families still make a living from them as they have since the 1870's when their ancestors first settled this area. Most the farms are still in the hands of the original families.

Some local grandeure. I love to see the gracious old ones being taken care of so well. 

Some of this year's lambs.

My drive ended here. The renovated barn where local art and music is offered to people in the area or to people just passing through. It was donated to the town by the previous owner when his farming days were done. He said the town must shore up the barn and then use it for some kind of public use. Bringing people and art together is what the town decided on.

Upon heading inside I found. . . .
Displays of beautiful work by talented people

All done in natural textiles since the show was about making art from natural materials

This is Louraine and she floored me (no pun intended) with her beautifully hooked rugs! She creates them from scraps of old wool clothing. She cuts the wool into slender ribbons, rather fine in measurement, than loops them up with a hook through a piece of burlap backing to create designs of her own making. Here she is being watched by another visiter as she works at her rung frame. 

Work underway. A close-up of her fine wool strips looped through burlap in the process of being made into a new rug.
A large floor rug

Her work. Look at the colors and the shapes she gets from working the colors together. There is no top stitching or embroidery etc. Just hooked wool strips.

Here you can see the backside of one of Louraine's rugs flipped on top of the front side. She neatly finishes the edges to complete the rug. They will last lifetimes!
I will share more in my next blog as I don't want to make this too long. More fiber artists later. Stay tuned!