Category Archives: weaving

What a difference a year makes


With the start of school, the parade of kids with backpacks and parents with umbrellas began today (yes, we are getting some rain — not much, but a little).  Last year, Finn rocketed between windows offering up his noisy volley of barks. It was nerve wracking. I had to keep the curtains closed.

Today? One little growl. That was it!

And here are a few progress shots of a cloth totem I am calling “Woven Girl”.


Even with red and green in the crown it doesn’t show up very well. Deanna suggested silver beads. I may give that a go.

I was inspired by Jude’s critters. Needing a use for the many rectangles of woven strips I’ve made. And, I wanted to show myself how much easier it is to craft a figure in two, as opposed to three, dimensions.

But she feels a little anonymous to me. Without a season. Or a purpose. I could think of her as a sampler and be done with it. But maybe she just needs a better name?

Waiting to become

IMG_9898This morning, I revisited the little gem of a book, “Steal Like An Artist,” by Austin Kleon because it’s good and worth revisiting and because, well, seeing my blue indigo woven square on Instagram turned my stomach, just a little, because of how much it said, “Jude” to me. Not arrogance here. Rather:  dissatisfaction. The thing is far from done and woven strips are kinda woven strips, but still, I thought I’d share some of the excellent things Kleon has to say about this, “this” being developing a style or a voice, even though the “Hearts for Charleston” quilt is not about this. At all. (and, as you take a breath, can you tell I’m reading Faulkner again this summer?!)
indigo-woven-deemallon“A wonderful flaw about human beings is that we’re incapable of making perfect copies. Our failure to copy our heroes is where we discover where our own thing lives. That is how we evolve. So: Copy your heroes. Examine where you fall short. What’s in there that makes you different? That’s what you should amplify… ”

And: “Don’t just steal the style, steal the thinking behind the style. You don’t want to look like your heroes, you want to see like your heroes.”
IMG_9854Also this: “… you don’t just steal from one of your heroes, you steal from all of them.”

[Who are all of them?!! The blog roll on the right is a starting place. This morning, Robert Rauschenberg, John Singer Sargent, the Gee’s Bend quilters, Susan Carlson, and Ruth McDonald all come to mind. Jude Hill (obviously). Maybe I don’t think about this enough].

“Nobody is born with a style or a voice. We don’t come out of the womb knowing who we are. In the beginning we learn by pretending to be our heroes. We learn by copying.”

“We’re talking about practice here, not plagiarism…. Copying is about reverse-engineering. It’s like a mechanic taking apart a car to see how it works.”

This is not hand-wringing, per se. Just follow-up to a little turn of the stomach. It’s important to follow up on little turns of the stomach. That might be a piece of advice I’d give an artist. Or just plain a person. It’s a little like Julia Cameron suggesting that we use a list of people we are jealous of as a laundry list of things we need. It works. Try it.

Meanwhile, I am in love with some new double exposures. I wish I could figure out what to DO with them!
IMG_9884These feel wholly mine. And yet? Thumb tapping? Digital code? What ARE they?!
And, not free of influence, obviously.
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“Explored” on flickr

IMG_5541What a shock to find more than 18,000 views on this picture! The pleasing (and to me, astronomical) number was the result of flickr posting the image to their “Explore” gallery.

It came at a time when I’ve been reconsidering flickr. I’ve adjusted to their new format, I have. But, I don’t enjoy going there so much anymore and I don’t groom the way I used to — don’t always bother to populate my albums, add tags, see that there are comments, never mind respond to them.

Don’t look to it for connections. Been thinking that instagram might better suit. [I also found myself wondering in a paranoid flash, “Wouldn’t it be really, really creepy if flickr somehow KNEW I was ready to bail?!!”]

Anyone else? Where do you put your pictures, with what expectations and what results? Where do you find connection? Have you switched platforms in the last few years? Is blogging dead?
As for the picture, it is another weaving study that came out of Jude‘s most recent online class. Below is a pictorial narrative. I am hoping to make nine woven patches in the cloth.
IMG_5531 IMG_5532 IMG_5538IMG_5544IMG_5547Third of nine, in progress:
IMG_5560This morning, a fall wind blows warm air around. The tail end of last week actually found me putting the heat on. Thankfully, a sweater will do today.

P.S. The vintage linen base came out of my 2012 indigo pot. The dotted indigo fabric and the indigo threads woven in — from recent weekend in South Carolina.

Wrap up

But before I go off to my LIST and my PAGES and the CLEANING I like to do on Mondays, I wanted to assemble a collection of pictures from the summer class I took —  ‘Considering Weave’ with Jude Hill over at Spirit Cloth.  Just as a place to see what I did.  How much I learned.  These kinds of visual bookmarks make a difference down the road…  it is so easy to underestimate or lose track of the volume of threads/cloth that went through the process with me… this will help me remember!

And, by the way, the act of doing this — its value both now and later — is just one of the many, many things learned from Jude.

in-process butterfly received a needle woven body

in-process butterfly received a needle woven body — idea to embroider words inspired by Cindy over at handstories

some actual weave; some figurative

some actual weave; some figurative

one of my indigo cloths with woven opening

one of my indigo cloths with woven opening — made so many mistakes!

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a woven patch

a woven patch — lumpy, loveable, functional

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the “Triscuit” crater — backing from my indigo vat

woven strip square open and woven at center with butcher's twine

buckling caused by size of opening could not be fixed even with machine stitching to a heavy weight backing

woven 'islands' extending patterning over edge

woven ‘islands’ extending patterning over edge — one of my favorites from the class

woven islands partnered with Middle Passage piecing

woven islands partnered with Middle Passage piecing

visual weave with vertical and horizontal running stitches

visual weave with vertical and horizontal running stitches

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the crow got a woven base and flew off to Wendy Golden-Levitt

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seeing warp and weft all around

seeing warp and weft all around

continuing on a piece in context of weaving

continuing on a piece in context of weaving — many sections begun in another of Jude’s classes

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more strip weaving because it's hard to stop; travels well

more strip weaving because it’s hard to stop; travels well

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speckled vintage linen from Deb Lacativa’s dye pot

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blue sky — arashi technique with commercial dye — by moi!

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sampler:  Corn Guy

sampler: Corn Guy

as I started 'sewing' more, back neatened up (worked top down)

as I started ‘sewing’ more, back neatened up (worked top down)

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copy of Jude’s waves. Woven on primitive box loom (which was a rectangular basket in my case)

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Planning to order a bead loom so that I can continue without some of the frustrating tension issues caused by wrapping warp around a basket and taping it to the back.

I didn’t get a chance to make any fringe and look forward to trying.  Would like to edge some of my Star Maps with it. And, I can’t wait to try some of the more experimental techniques offered this month. Any more meaningful reflections on the class will have to wait.  It was a terrifically provocative journey (as usual)… and if other classes I have taken are any indication, the fruits of the learning will keep coming over the next months and seasons.

Bye for now!
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Corn guy and Womb

IMG_5131.JPGFunny to be weaving “fall” when it got so sticky hot here today. This guy got his start on a napkin-basket-loom.  I was trying out some things from the weaving class with Jude Hill (Spirit Cloth, side bar), and sort of having fun.  The warp caught in the grooves of the basket edges and stayed put well enough, but I could only use tape to secure it on the back, so it got loose in places — sometimes to the point of near unworkability.
IMG_0009 IMG_4746Mostly today I pieced rectangles of cotton together, pressed the seams one way or the other, and enjoyed the cool of my basement.  I ran the fan all day to churn some of the mildew smell out the back door. That sounds awful but it wasn’t. It was a nice retreat after two very intense weeks of travel and settling the boys in.
IMG_0278In fact, the cool quiet of the cellar was perfect for my first ‘official’ day of the empty nest — a day that found me tired, disoriented, a little sick, and in real need of silence.IMG_0295 I stitched a linen frond to the woven island piece (above, left) and excavated some of the sections representing Africa from the Middle Passage series (above, right)IMG_0297In the little square above, I put some of the ‘Ghost House’ remnants next to fabrics being used to designate ‘Strange Fruit’ in the ‘White House of Privilege’ series. A panel with a moon stitched on it is being blown sideways by the fan.  I like that almost more than anything else!IMG_0302 IMG_0308 IMG_0310Middle Passage scraps partnered with Ghost House piecing (above). Reading the recent ‘Atlantic’ article, ‘The Case for Reparations’ (by Ta-Nehisi Coates) has got me thinking about all this again (as if the events in Ferguson, Missouri weren’t prompt enough)…IMG_0316And all these tiny little ‘doodles’ wanting a home. The grid has one inch squares, so you get the scale.
IMG_5030I’ll close with a few pix from Vermont.  We camped at a state park located on an island in Lake Champlain.  We did this to save money, but it was really wonderful!  So quiet. So pretty.

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IMG_0269The weather was perfect, and it was nice, as it turns out, to break up the drive and the border crossing over separate days. Since we’ve had some really nice visits to Montreal, including a few memorable dinners, there was no feel of a pauper’s compromise in this plan — none at all. IMG_5084IMG_5092Look at those skies!!

how purpose matters

The decision to give The Crow to Wendy  Golden-Levitt to share with traumatized children as part of their therapy (see yesterday’s post), not only inspired subsequent design choices, it gave energy to completion. Like the commissioned quilt, I wanted there to be very soft textures (this one: angora knit, silk wings, satin woven sections, velvet backing). After mounting the rectangle to a jacket, with visions of children running with the crow on their backs, I cut it away, because it wouldn’t fit the little ones, and anyway, three feet of streaming ribbon could possibly problematic.  The captions tell the rest.

damp stretching knit onto felt

damp stretching knit onto felt

defining wing area

defining wing area

rejected bead eye, used button; added silk for wings and belly, felt for feet

rejected bead eye, used button; added silk for wings and belly, felt for feet

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split running stitch to better define beak; a strip of my mother’s wool challis scarf to get her in there

stitched to velvet jacket, then cut away, leaving lots of velvet still; added runners of lace and satin

stitched to velvet jacket, then cut away, leaving velvet edges; added runners of lace and satin

vision of child wearing crow and streaming tails changed to something that could sit in their lap, not get caught on anything; size shouldn't matter

vision of child wearing crow and streaming tails changed to something that could sit in their lap, not get caught on anything; size shouldn’t matter

returning to 'treasure map' idea, this time with star map and red X's marking the spot

returning to ‘treasure map’ idea, this time with star map and red X’s marking the spot

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IMG_9895 crow communing with birds; tapering rectangle shows need of additional cloth

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kept little blue tab on side — it looks to me like a way out or a way in

added soft polka dot panels to even lower edges

added soft polka dot panels to even lower edges

ready to fly away!

ready to fly away!

flying moon cloth, True Detective and Ruin Porn

Here is a 38-second YouTube video of the cloth I’m working on flapping in the wind during a boat ride this past week.  Watch for the moon.

IMG_4571The white bands of stitching were added to the moon’s surface last night. More needs to be done to stop that off-white square from resembling a Triscuit. Triscuits look woven. So was this:
IMG_3678_edited-1Yesterday, K. and I finished watching the spell-binding first season of ‘True Detective’ — a Louisiana murder mystery with Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. Holy cow!  The sociopath was deviously smart and a worthy opponent of two driven and clever detectives.  The creep could do voices, accents, and evade capture for decades.  But he also made these very cool pagan-influenced twig and rag and bone sculptures that I just loved (think: Andy Goldsworthy).  It was odd to be enamored of the evil character’s creations.

In looking for an image from the show, I came across this:  “ruin porn“.  I understand the magnetic pull of run down and decrepit structures.  In ‘True Detective,’ the central ruin was a former plantation — complete with greying, rotting big house, rickety slave shacks, and an underground fort.  These sets were beyond creepy, and yet mesmerizing, proving, I suppose the “ruin porn” article’s point. (For the record, they went overboard with the piles of broken, vacantly-staring dolls. They were not needed to create the ambiance).  See add on paragraph below about set design.

My cousin Ginny Mallon (photographer/painter/blogger) has been exploring all kinds of ruination, especially along coastlines.  Most recently she photographed Dead Horse Bay, which is in Brooklyn near the Marine Parkway Bridge.  Its beach, “Bottle Beach” is so full of garbage from such a long span of time, that it’s considered a ‘living museum of trash’.  Inexplicably, her photos of the garbage are gorgeous.

Driving from Newton to Brookline today, I almost stopped to photograph a robust rose bush spilling over with vermilion flowers. It screamed ‘summer’. It was beautiful. This is almost the exact opposite impulse of the one I documented a few weeks back — the desire to shoot pictures of parking lots, guard rails or gas stations, in part to upend a narrow sense of what constitutes ‘beauty’.
IMG_3023I guess I am allowed to feel both urges. This door was captured about a year ago after fabric shopping in Arlington, I think.

Debbie’s comment inspired me to find out who designed the sets for ‘True Detective’.  His name is Joshua Walsh and you can read about him here.   The ‘vulture’ blog post had this to report: “’He’s the son of a family that ran a funeral home, and he’s an avid hunter and taxidermist — basically, the perfect dude for the job,’ DiGerlando told Vulture.”

I had just commented below that Louisiana itself is a landscape of ruination, and one we’ve seen before in ‘True Blood’ and ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’.  It is was no surprise to discover that Walsh also did the set design for ‘Beasts’.