It feels like so long ago that I sat at a new loom, putting on my first warp- with a too small cup of coffee.
It was a really amazing year- followed by a hard landing (mostly time management and the realities of reality). After sitting for several hours, I think I have finally worked out how send notifications to Facebook that I’ve posted to my blog. I have been not so secretly updating my nearest and dearest via a photo stream….and I aim to consolidate that as well.
The super sleuthy will notice that I split my post in 2 parts. This is the part about what I am doing….fairly literally.
As of today, actually as of last Friday at 11:00 P.M. or 23:00…. I have completed 1 piece.
As I write this I think …hmmm…. what HAVE you been doing? I reviewed my previous posts and see that I have written about warping and a little about weaves and a lot about my experience.
What I have been doing is LEARNING. And weaving.
When I first came, I had a set of weave structures (think of them as colors) that worked well on the loom at home. (45 epi) But, I am now at a higher resolution (60 epi) and so I had to tweak them – sharpen their focus. This meant- redrafting something like 80 weaves- and I am still finding ones that I didn’t re draft as I work on the 2nd and 3rd piece.
I am also- (don’t hate me for being so lucky) – inventing new ones. (kinda)….because I have THE TIME to try new things now!!!!! This is so amazing. In the past, I could learn something new and try something new- but….not so much dig really deep into something I am doing and refine and refine and redefine without loosing track of where I was because that was 6 months ago that I had that brilliant idea.
My work right now, is based on weftbacked weaves and includes areas of brocade. I now use 8 shuttles and a variety of brocade shuttles.
I was using 6 shuttles +B areas until….like….June or something and then I went over to the dark side….or the bright side. I posted about having to dye the yarns myself a bit ago.
I also needed to learn the rate at which my digital image would build in threads. For you sports fans out there….. I currently multiply the number of pixels in height of my original image by 2.65 (and I think I will go to 2.75 for the next one). This was achieved somewhat gradually by me…which meant that I redid certain aspects of my file more than 2x over. I felt like an amateur- because I know how to do this efficiently….I just didn’t.
Why?? I am sure there is an excellent explanation. Suffice it to say, no student of mine in the future will lack from the benefit of this experience—if I can impress this well enough.
JacQCad does exactly the opposite…divide not multiply…and I got caught right between the eyes with something I knew the dangers of well.) For the last pieces, I was at about 2.25 It is significant- trust me.
One piece of the puzzle is the tension devices on the 2 looms. The TC1, excellent as it is- uses a tension belt. One time, I left it a bit loose….and wove pieces that measured one dimension. Then, I discovered my error and tightened the belt and wove pieces that measured another dimension. Guess who ALWAYS checks the belt now. The TC2 has a sophisticated warp tension system with an auto advance – so my pick rate for more than one reason is different. Currently, I am around 190 picks per inch. I was at pretty darn close to 180 before. Still on the list of things to verify, cause the math suggests more like 200.
The silver lining of this incremental resizing of an already complex image- is that I was able to create better work flows- as the lightbulb slowly went on about better ways to go about re composing and inserting weaves in photoshop. The brocading areas were the gnarliest.
For the work I have done so far in this series, I have used an excellent piece of software JacQCad. It is still available – FREE…but, it requires either a G3 mac or an emulator on a current system. I have the G3.
This same G3 was once doused in a sweet cappuccino (not me – not telling who). It was revived and has served me well…until lately when it seemed to be loosing track of itself and causing me some stress. (“some” HA! HA!). I want to be really clear that the software was okay and the support I received from Garth – the mastermind that wrote this piece of genius- has been beyond kind and generous as well as excellent.
But….I had to bail because I couldn’t risk losing the work. The number of weaves that I have saved in that format was awe inspiring as I began retrenching and seeing what I would need to collect. So, sooner than I anticipated, I had to move my method into photoshop. I have used photoshop a lot before….but, I stuck to fairly straight up stuff …only one time including brocade work.
It took a minute or two to do this.
The way I compose my images is totally dominated by the excellent color management in JacQCad. So, I also needed to relearn ways to do this- am still working through methods published by Schlein, Ziek, Vestby and Williams.
It is not so much the clicking with the magic wand and creating a layer…as the part that comes before…..what color exactly will be here….and no others…especially no hundreds of other colors. How does one reduce the colors and color areas? Who gets combined with whom- and I want to pick -not you Photoshop! Luckily, I am not a novice in Photoshop or Illustrator…but still…it’s the 80/20 thing all over again.
I wove some test strips to see color and ratio and they looked amazing.
Something so cool is happening with color blending – I can’t really take credit for it-even though all those hours glued to the chair with my pen tablet really makes me yearn to grab at it. I think you know what I mean.
And one more thing…..so …I am now weaving with 8+ shuttles and whatnot….the loom is operating so much faster…I am literally dancing around in tank tops (in Norway) and – get this- SWEATING while I weave. The Tc1- again- great, but I wouldn’t say I was working up a sweat- just invigorated. You know, 6 shuttles is 6 shuttles- you gotta move.
Do I have to weave like that?
Noooo…..but now I can.
Dear Auntie M,
I am sitting at this desk- which looks a bit grim and dark- but remember that I live in the woods. I am def NOT in Kansas anymore.
This morning I drove my husband to the airport. He was over here off and on for 3 weeks and is returning home. Back to eating standing up. (Ramen and cookies).
I am in one of those Sunday morning moods- which is great considering my history with time and orientation…and so this letter may or may not culminate in a point or a theme.
I’ve rented a “wreck” for the duration of my stay. What a brilliant decision. It also means that I am not riding the bicycle at all now. I will have to find another way to get some exercise.
One can just show a drivers license – pay to rent a car and get in and drive merrily down the road. First- there are round-a-bouts, then there are mystery signs, then – and probably first there is this Kilometers thing. And also lest I forget to mention-the narrow and curving roads through very diverting landscapes. And also too, I shouldn’t neglect to include the fact that I haven’t driven a stick shift in 20 years.
All of these things together = AWESOMENESS!!! What a fun adventure just moving through space at will….at whatever speed that is. I am starting to like round-a-bouts.
I have moved beyond thinking about being strange here. I just am here. And still strange (I hope) but…that is not the first thing. Which means I forget to take pictures because I am engaged. And I know my way around (in my special way). I have whizzed through the grocery store- and snagged my supplies and decided which one to go to on purpose. You may laugh- I am not too proud to reveal the many times I have ended up somewhere and thought- huh! okay well…I ‘m here now so…..(that includes not a few times at home as well).
I hosted a dear friend- Susan Gregory and her Nephew Jim ( gosh!…I don’t know his last name).
This was kind of cool- taking care of a friend in a foreign country. (The visit was far more than kind of cool….fantastic.) It was hard not to walk around looking like I was wearing big girl pants- but also kind of droll to “remember” my first impressions of this strange place oh sooooo long ago.
We took a weekend trip into Oslo and rambled around a bit. There were TALL buildings and loads and loads of great shoes and really nice shoulder bags walking around the city. (on very good looking people..) I am in the country. Well, the gentile country so the urban environment was like….POW!
How exciting to drive up a street the wrong way, (only for a second before I swerved swiftly- only slightly dislocating my pasengers) getting nearly squashed by the biggest bus in the world, and finding parking and feeling as though I deserve a medal for my courageousness and wiley ways.
Here are a couple of shots from those couple of days.
Norway is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Edvard Munch. He was prolific enough that his body of work has been split in 2 parts- we saw the first part at the National Museum…which included The Scream. Because I am so involved with colors and backgrounds right now- that was almost ALL I could see.
It was like a rich, rich mind pudding. YUM. I would have bought a postcard or something but UGH! They just ruined the colors- I couldn’t bear it!
We stopped in on a street celebration for the Norsk Theatre and ate Elk burgers and bought some heather honey as well as a big pancake that we smothered in jams. We also went to the Olso autumn art exhibition. This exhibition had about 94 artists.. An excellent weaver Arna (again!!!! no last name???) was in the show. Arna met us at the gallery. I met her at Convergence Handweavers Guild in Long Beach California. She came with Vibeke and the tech team to work the vendors stand. (me too!) Her work was already sold. Her loom is being prepared now in the factory.
The breadth of work at the show was challenging for me- a lot of the work struck me as lacking in depth….but this can also be a result of only seeing one piece of a persons body….one word from a sentence….it’s hard to “get it”.
Arna’s work however did not suffer from this. It was woven on the TC2 (btw). I could’ve taken a picture of Arna right next to her piece…but, I only thought of it just now. I felt so connected. Especially since I communicated with her on Facebook to make the date.
We also visited the Vigeland Sculpture park.
I didn’t take any pictures there because I had been to this park before- on an amazing crystal blue sky day the first time I came to Norway and, have many stunning images- and so I thought I would cheat and just use those- because although it may seem as though I don’t think about writing to you, you are ever present in my mind….I just don’t sit still enough to compose….any way…..where ARE those images? ? You should google it. It is crazy cool.
The weather here so far has been- beautiful. I would compare it to San Francisco….cool mornings with fogs and frosts, warming up in the afternoon with blue skies- cooling down in the evening and basically clear- I can see so many more stars in the sky here- it’s kind of confusing. (thank goodness for the big dipper.)
Before My husband left we took a walk out on the Ski Track behind the barracks. This is a groomed path with little hills and smooth terrain as well as lighting…’cause I guess it gets dark early and stays that way. When there is no snow, you would think it is just an “ordinary” (see pix from previous post) trail. The lighting is changing- the sun is rising later and sinking earlier. It is very striking.
We wandered around a bit and I wanted to show him the Oatfield I had found..It was completely sheltered and surrounded by trees. I felt like it was a secret field. When we got there it had been completely harvested and the earth turned. The angle of the sun revealed that the ground was covered with shimmering spider filaments. It was really amazing. But, I didn’t take a picture cause I didn’t think I could capture it.
So, I am doing great- grateful for everyday- even though my back was a bit sore from the weaving of last week- the chocolate is good here and I really like fish, it turns out. I also bought some new socks too, so don’t worry if I am warm enough- so far so good..
Hope you all are doing well.
Hugs and kisses
The next few posts may seem erratic and a bit jumbled. And details……arghh….they are rapidly slipping away…just like the dream you want to tell someone…and the moment you start…it seems to dissolve . In this case, the longer I write, the more I realize, I am not including.
So here is a synopsis of some of my adventures.
I went to Western Norway. I helped to assemble and install a loom. I came back worked some more then returned to the West- tweaked and trained-came back again….worked again until I was silly.
What does this mean? it means…I woke up one morning and it seemed as though ALL of my devices were screwed up. They all “said” it was saturday. But that was just absurd. I was even kind of mad about it. DARN APPLE PRODUCTS!!!!
But then…..I learned….slowly… through my powerful powers of observation (gate to the factory closed…NO PEOPLE.) That indeed…it was Saturday!
This was a sign. Time to stop. Take a walk. Do laundry…sit at the kitchen table and drink some tea and do nothing….just hang. Overworking isn’t really working. Then I got the brilliant idea to take in some fresh air.
I even got rained on a little, got lost, found an oatfield, (yup) and found home again. From a pretty rough start, confused and pitiful…I found myself again…and felt revived. Just one of those stories we get to make and keep.
Now back to the other story…jumbled as advertised.
Here are some more details about the loom installation.
This was a 5 1/2 hour drive. On the map it seems so close! But….Norway has what many places lack: topography….lots of it. Also the roads are narrow. To get there we had to drive through some beautiful terrain, go over a mountain above the tree line, through mountains, and ride a ferry across a fjord. I think one of the tunnels went under a glacier as well.
I travelled with the excellent and talented Egil Kristiansan. He is the tech guy at Tronrud. He is known far and wide.
The first trip in we took an assembled loom – dissambled it and reassembled it in the workshop. When someone buys a loom, it comes partially assembled and is shipped with major, major documentation- videos etc. So you don’t need a team to assemble the loom if you get one- just a friend of two for a couple of lifting moments. Some places and people prefer the tech support…and so when it is possible,(and can be afforded) it can be provided.
Here is the loom in the truck upon arrival.
I was siting in the loom dis-assembling the heddles…and was listening to waves lapping at the shore of the lake..and the metallic reply of the heddles as the wind gently blew in. It was so ridiculous cool- the beauty, the sounds, the location and the total (OMG! am I really doing this!!!) I had to stop and take a picture.
Behind the lovely and energetic Irena – is a garment they specialize in. Irena is the weaver. She is sleying a reed in preparation for the arrival of the TC-2. She taught me the word in Norwegian for the reed.
They had 2 TC-1s. One at 29″ inch weaving and another at 52″. They employ one full time weaver, and also have a designer to develop the pieces. They have really worked hard to create both functional and beautiful pieces that utilize the power of the looms. It was inspiring to see so much handwoven work hanging everywhere.
The TC-2 is a lot faster than the TC-1. It also has a number of really nice features that will make weaving easier and more accurate. (cloth advance, warp tension setting). I spent some time introducing Irena to the new driver, the loom and winding on a warp. It was really fun. It is easy to forget how good it feels to do the thing I was meant to do.
The studio is beyond inspiring in location and in conception, and it also seems as though they are willing to put the effort into making the space functional, beautiful and productive. I really appreciated the way they organized the working space. I also really enjoyed my time there…and would go back ANYTIME.
Here is their webpage and they also have a facebook page as well. I don’t feel that I did their work justice here. So, I invite you to visit their page and check out what they have done.
A word about this post…..it was written ready for proofing and then…..
I use my ipad in my room, but have been leaving my laptop at the factory near the loom…the ipad app doesn’t work as well as an editor….and then…well…..suddenly time had passed. I am going to update and update to get this all caught up.
I am learning a little about moving a production…..my artwork to a new environment. I prepared somewhat before I came, actually the longer I am here, the less I feel I prepared.
I have the opportunity right now to weave on the most sophisticated handloom I know. So, I want to make the most of this. This means, that I can push myself and expand what I know and know how to do…rather than just “simply” making art. So after some back and forthing, I decided to move up from 45 ends per inch to 60. It doesn’t sound like much of a jump (think resolution in a digital image). But to me, the more nuanced detail and articulation is beautiful to see in my weaves. I could have gone higher, but…no….not for this work, I think. I wound a warp, and of course found that I did not have enough yarn to make the extra long warp…so we “bent it” and in doing so doubled the number of ends that I had and it worked out magically.
This is how I got the threads- the warp onto the TC-2. Vibeke was extremely generous with her time, helping me get this on….the loom makes a huge difference……we just pushed the foot pedal to make the beam roll the warp on. At home we use a frame called a trapeze ( we got it from Katie Meek) that attaches to the TC-1 frame. This is a way of working in a tight space where you cannot extend the warp. The truth is, one could do this by oneself…and most of us do have to. (do this by ourselves…I mean.) Being transplanted here without a garage/studio worth of stuff to grab makes friends and colleagues more than priceless. If I had a choice, I would hang a beam and stretch the warp like we did here…..it went amazingly well.
I am standing behind the loom at the warp beam shooting this shot. Weavers know how beautiful this looks. A warp is a beautiful thing. The genius move that Vibeke brought into this dance was to use an extra warp beam to weight the warp bouts. What was great about this was that we put equal weight on all bouts. You can also see some belts were used to extend the warp, but they also function to prevent us from snagging the warp as we reposition it as it shortens while we wind it on. The usual way- which is also fine, is to use hand weights.
Winding the beam on was achieved by stepping on a foot pedal. The beam rolls slowly and steadily. Not to complain, but after winding on a warp on the TC-1 my hands and lower back are usually red and sore.
The next step is to thread the heddles. The TC-2 allows one to remove the breast beam and the cloth beam so you can get in really close to the heddles, thus saving your back and move as quickly as works for you. I am threading 2640 threads…..in one inch I will have 60 ends/threads. I am very excited about this. Although I have had plenty more on industrial looms, I have not had the ability to weave at this density by hand at this width….44 inches.
Of course, every opportunity presents adjustments….nothing comes without a price……
The weaves that I use work nicely at 45 threads per inch….but are not as wonderful when there are 60. SO…….I had to sit back at the “drafting board” aka :my laptop and redraft my weaves so that they behave in their new space (so to speak).
Here I am after spending some hours reworking the structures and seeing the results……
Which…some may not really see….but take my work for it…..it is pretty cool.
Since I have been here, I have been pretty diligent…..sleep, work, eat, sleep. And ……although this may seem like the magic recipe….it can make one not so productive as the days and nights begin to blur. So…when the opportunity came up to assist in the delivery of a loom to western Norway….I accepted…which is why there isn’t more woven just yet.
Sometimes when I am driving I get this crazy, almost panicky feeling if I try to pay TOO much attention to everything happening around me. It’s like my brain suddenly realizes just how many intersecting paths, actions and possible interactions are occuring in front of me- and then before I just about freak out- my brain intercedes and tunes the extra stuff out so I can focus again on the key things happening around me.
How about this other experience? Occasionally while I am weaving, I will start out excessively clean in my regard for each and every special, special throw of the shuttle. I am, “oh so” aware of the way I am positioned, how the yarn is behaving, how the cloth is developing , my hand motions are spare, precise even artful, and I start kind of having fun, yeah….getting in the groove, you know…
I start thinking, “…I am so awesome, the music is perfect…ah! what a nice day! This rules! Checkitout! …whooo HOOO….yea! UMM HMMM!!…my back doesn’t hurt at a……”
“WHAT?!! what is THAT….have I been doing that all along?! ….ugh. jeez.” (when I come to my senses I realize I have been doing some cray, cray thing….and SHAME descends upon me.)
Luckily, I am not skiing downhill or skateboarding, so I don’t end up with broken bones…just annoyed that I made a bit of a mess.
Attention and focus is one of those miracles of the human mind. One has to constantly recalibrate and tune in to the environment that you are in. So then…what happens if you jiggle things up a bit, such as leave home and go somewhere else?
Usually when I travel, I am mostly passing through….my trips haven’t been more than a week or two and I am constantly shifting around. So, I don’t exactly have to use the environment- as much as perform in spite of it.
It helps to be able to find your way out, find your way in, and find the bathroom.
Exit- google translate says: “output”….how logical.
a. this is on a door inside the barracks where I am staying.
b. the little text there says: “exit”
3. um…..got to admit that, that letter…the one that looks like a “DON”T” sign…fools me…and what is the fun of asking someone? (the hidden theme of this post is speculation…and the fun of guessing what it happening before I become familiar enough to actually understand.)
Bathroom….this sign is in the basement of the barracks where I am. One difference in my stay here is that most of the time, I am in a work environment. The factory here has ISO 9000 certification ( i hope i heard this correctly). So there are many requirements for signage, safety and etc- for an example, that are not typical for the tourist. I am not sure how this effects the signage in the barracks. It is all very professional…and artistic.
So, the picture on the right..here is the bathroom and the signage on the door indicating that this is the ladies room at the factory. It’s lovely isn’t it? There must be some requirement that there is segregation of the sexes…because I peeked into the strange and scary room behind the “guy” bathroom……looks exactly the same. This was exactly the same case for the bathroom in the barracks, except for this:
I am pretty sure I know what this means. And in case anyone is wondering if I have an obsession with bathrooms or something….really? When you travel….what is one thing you end up thinking about more often than you are used to? The REAL purpose of this image is to focus in on the “underscored text”.
If it is underlined…..it must be important!! Which kind of makes it funnier(or stress inducing) when you can’t read it.
This is a note that I found on the kitchen table.
hmmmm…. emphatic underlining of the word, “BRUK BLOKKBOCKSTAVER”. Because there are posit notes nearby…my super powerful brain intuits that this word must be related to them…the postit notes. However, what is the emphatic underlining trying to say to me? I turn around and see this in the corner….
Obviously, someone is quite the cut up. I have still only very briefly seen anyone else in this house…they are all guys..some younger..some less so. And, I will share this. I have snooped (!) in the fridge to see what they are eating….it’s sausages. Lots of sausages. Okay..slight exaggeration for dramatic effect. There is also swedish milk. Okay…okay…there are also containers of home made food..but, I haven’t stooped to snooping in those. Anyway, I don’t see any postit notes anywhere. Full disclosure: Vibeke did tell me that the note said, “you can use these postit notes to label your food”…or something like that. But then, I had another dilemma, if I am the ONLY one doing that, do I become that annoying roommate that labels everything..or should I be in the cool kids club and just copy everyone else’s behavior? I didn’t take a picture of the overflowing trash bags in the kitchen. Roommates are basically the same EVERYWHERE...truedat!
These look like rules of behavior to me…..
That is a bag of money. He looks as though he is just chillin’ and dreaming….’bout his do-ray-me.(?)
I took a few other pictures of kitchen signs with !!!!!exclamation !!!!! points that I couldn’t figure out…and etc, but I am feeling now as though I have kind of made my point. I wouldn’t want to beat and eat a dead horse..so I will move on.
Check this out…
I left it nice and big so you can read the numbers.
The exchange rate was something like: 5.65/1 dollars…round there…doesn’t matter….585.54 in any currency seems alarming…AND….AND….it looks as though I paid $4.35 for a chocolate bar ( a good one- cause basically you have to look hard for bad ones). and I’m like, “well…..I ain’t giving up my chocolate so…..”
So, food is more expensive here. There is a breakdown of the taxes or whatever at the bottom of the receipt….I will probably ask about that..(speculation: not so fun if chocolate is at stake)..some of the items have + signs next to them some don’t…IDK. Also, you can buy beer at the grocery store until, I think 7 0r 8….that is 21:00 or 22:00 (yeah….i did wake up at :34 at night…what a kind of time is that?). I don’t drink beer really, so, I have been medicating with tea and chocolate. Wine and alcohol is sold in special stores and they haven’t been on my agenda so far.
I have a kind of an addiction to 1/2 &1/2 in my tea and/or coffee. They don’t do that over here. Nope…it’s black coffee ALLLLLLL day. So at the barracks, I think I am set up okay, and here, I have been using the healthful milk provided in the lunchroom. Today, I spotted a dusty box WAY up on top of a cabinet in the coffee area “at work”.
I totally climbed up there to check it out. (hope I don’t get in trouble).
It’s creamora or close enough.
So, after a week, I am kind of set up, I’d say. I did laundry last night. I used to have a Bosch washing machine, which finally broke, and was probably too small, but after washing my clothes last night I realized, how much I miss it. Our washing machines aren’t as good in my opinion. I wound most of my warp this week and have been preparing files to weave. I have also been studying the new looms. I have to confess, I didn’t bring enough yarn. I haven’t been able to be this ambitious before..I think that is my excuse…so I am waiting for another delivery to finish winding.
So basically, the days have been fairly predictable. Work starts around 7 here,
I have been riding a bike to work. I ride right across an airfield and runway.
Everyone lunches in the lunchroom. (pics another day)
The day ends earlyish by our standards. Then – I ride my bike back to the barracks.
All is good.
I am in Norway. I got on a plane and departed- and then arrived.
An expression I often use usually as an excuse for the crazy things I think up is:
“If you don’t USE your imagination you LOSE your imagination.”
And so it was. I tried to imagine what it would be like to be here, what I would need, what I would want, what I might miss and what I would not miss.
One of the things that I have been blessed with (I think) is that I am able to be present when I travel. I may not catch everything that is going on- but, I am not always half home half here (or wherever). I have learned that not everyone is like this. This means that most of the time, I can travel pretty light. I am not constantly trying to protect myself from the environment that I am in.
The preparations for this trip clued me in that something was a bit different- and I found myself packing and packing and packing and packing and
good heavens…still packing.
At any rate, the last few hours before I left for the airport were a bit exhausting as I eliminated one crazy item after another in order to make the weight restriction.
All of these parts arrived safely with me and I was met at the airport by my dear friend, colleague and host Vibeke Vestby of Digital Weaving Norway.
She told me apologetically that a guy would be coming to talk with her about a small aircraft for a short while and then we would…..etc.
When we got to the industrial campus Vibeke’s husband Ola and “the guy” were already there. We sat and had the first coffee and I listened to them speak…in Norwegian. I realized that the roots of this language were not obviously romance (like French or Spanish) and basically except for the occasional borrowed word…I got nothing. Hmmmm…..even if I relaxed my mind (a secret trick that usually gets me somewhere.) I better get on those “Learn to speak Norwegian” youtube videos. The truth is – I find it amusing that most of everything else here is fairly familiar- easy to figure out- and the language…..nada…nada word. Unlike China- which I enjoyed but, found it utterly foreign- so much so that I even didn’t recognize familiar things occasionally. I existed in a little bubble which seemed often impenetrable. Here at least, I can read a few things (food labels and a few signs) again- unlike China- for example.
After the first coffee, we stepped out to the airstrip
and after some more talk and gassing up, Vibeke stepped into the little plane and flew up into the sky. (Of course, I am eliminating details for dramatic effect…but, that is what happened.
After a moment Ola turned to me and said, “Would you like to ride in the helicopter?”
“ummmm….okay?” I replied.
I was a little bit stupid and am still a bit slow from jet lag.
I really didn’t have time to get nervous. I watched incredulously as he pulled the helicopter out of the hangar,
opened the door, signaled for me to step in, handed a stunned me a pair of headphones (JUST LIKE ON TV!!…jk) and then powered it up and lifted us up into the air.
I sat mostly silent (mouth agape) my hand held aloft for the most part- holding my iphone- a bit like a child showing her little dolly the landscape- only I was trying to video what was happening. It was, as they would say, “ridonkuluous cool”
So, it turns out, I am in a beautiful river valley that seems to be formed by glacial moraines.
Really…I couldn’t have imagined that I would be walking around with a blown mind as I prepared for this experience. It’s trippy.
I will get better pictures of these. The colorful graphics along the back wall are weavings- designed and executed by Grethe Sorenson-a Danish woman. All of the upholstery in the main building- all of the office chairs, conference chairs…all of them- have custom made fabric- each one is unique- it is amazing.
I am sitting at that desk right now as I type this out.
(I brought speakers with me….they smoked when I plugged them in. One of those funny things you feel certain is a brilliant idea- only to realize….nope. It was dumb. Now I have to decide how much to be bothered by it. I’ll get to that later.)
This is the smaller loom. It has a warp on it from an event in Saudi Arabia. Another really skilled and talented weaver from Finland, Katja Huhmarkangas wove off several yards there and the rest needs to be woven off so a more versatile warp can be put on. So this is my first job.
after one day- I have only a little bit more to do. I wove 1400 pics. Not bad for a jet lagged chick from the midwest.
It felt solid to do something I know how to do well as I make the adjustments to settle in. The new looms are quiet, accurate and extremely smart.
The new looms do not use a compressor. Compressors are amazing- they can also jangle your nerves. At home, after about 8 hours- sometimes far less -I find I have to recite a mantra, “the compressor is my friend, it enables me to weave this piece”. Sometimes my teeth are gritted as I speak this, sometimes they are chattering as I also have to run an air conditioner to keep the room at an optimal temperature. It turns out that nearly every “present” contains at least one form of discomfort- it just depends on how much attention you are willing to spare on it.
At any rate, the weaving was great. It is great. It will be great.
This is a shot of my room so far.
This is the hallway in the barracks.
Not bad. I am sharing this building with a number of guys who are working for an electric company on the industrial campus. They rise very, very early…so far I have only glimpsed one or two- and very briefly.
I have no wrap up here….there is no theme—this is more like a journal entry….and so much is missing…and so much is in front of me.
Unlike most trips I take, this one offers me the luxury of imagining what will come next. Usually I am so intent on squeezing everything in….here…I can relax and expand my mind into really just about anything. I mean when you start off by floating up into the sky and squinting down at a shimmery meandering river what is
When I was young, I remember laying in bed on my birthday before I got up in the morning and wondering if I could actually feel older. (nope.) I also wondered at what point the clock actually changed me from one age to another. Even back then I knew that midnight was an arbitrary point to start counting. I can’t remember if I knew about time zones- but I think I was aware that the days and nights were different depending on where you were on the planet….and…I do remember watching the ball drop with my grandma…so at least some part of the picture was in my mind that I am not fixed in time and time is not fixed in me.
And so it is with this current project. At what point did it start? Does it begin when I board the plane – leaving my family to fend for themselves? Will it start when I check in on that first day?
Did it start the day I received notification that I had the award? Did it start back when I started the conversation with Vibeke about spending an extended period of time there working with her? That was nearly 2 years ago. Since then, I have put one little screw, one little panel, one little cog into place, bit by bit. The truth is really, that I dreamed about the idea as much as worked on it. Does the dreaming count as work toward a goal?
(Lately, I have been reading a few extremely clever blogs featuring drawings and awesome wit. I thought- maybe I should go that way- as if I could. Then this morning I woke up and decided- nah. What is so awesome about cleverness? It is nice to admire, but a little exhausting- when you are trying to get work done. So…. onward.)
What does it look like to get ready for something that is already in motion?
I tried for almost 2 months to get into a “real photographers” studio in the hopes of saving myself some time dealing with poorly lit or excessive details I would have to deal with for the imagery. Finally, I just hung a grey photo paper roll in front of the garage.
This worked out really well. It was fun and felt right.The young ladies here participated in the outcomes. That was also really nice- the give and take and not to be too weird….we were all actively learning as we went. This locked in the good, I think.
From those shots, I was able to select a first set of proposals to clean, color or recolor and print out actual size- and sit amongst them to see which one gave me a rash or made me sad or something. It has been kind of thrilling to walk into the studio with these amazing energetic images all over. (if I do say so myself)
To convert the images to a weaving, I need to make the weaves. I actually have boatloads of them….but isn’t it always the case? You (okay….I) want or need more…each time you (okay…I again) go into the cave of creation. I made 81 more weaves by adding 2 shuttles to the 6 that I already throw.
It took a while. But not as long as it has in the past- as I am now preeety fancy and… you know.
This is the blanket I wove with the new colors. I realize that this image probably doesn’t give anyone a rapid heartbeat but me. I married this new idea of 8 shuttles that day.
This was a bit of a problem. Here is why. The yarns I use are a specific weight (20/2 mercerized cotton). The last remaining company in the U.S. that manufactures these yarns has decided to discontinue all colors except Black, White and Unbleached white. They did this last year, but I was not really HEARING this- even though I heard this. I had a little stockpile of the 4 colors I use in addition to Black and White so ….I am okay for now with those. BUT….BUT and another BUT…..the new colors I added…are gone. They are gone. I have 1 week to nail this situation up. Even though I am going to Norway- not Mars or some uninhabited disconnected part of the world….the idea of just “thinking of something” when I get there…that would be ….a no. I am willing to change courses… and I am actually fairly cool with hanging loose. However, the brain needs to know that I can move forward into this new color space without too much tomfoolery.
This is what I stared at for about 1/2 hour while I tried to deal with the concept. 2 Summers ago, I did a 137 color dye run of natural dyes- using extracts. I only did wool. I hadn’t found the resources that spoke my language to work in cotton, linen, hemp…etc. Recently however, something clicked. I mean really clicked…..But I had to really stop with the dyeing already and start weaving. I needed to focus.
As you may recall- I did ask the question, when does this project launch? Once you start this…it is time to put away childish things. Or so they say.
These are the 2 colors I added.
This is a page of the pretty nice and labor intensive book that I manufactured to document the natural dye work I did. I thought I went overboard. I made 10 copies. I used beautiful hand pulled paper that I found at the PTO thrift shop for the book liners- the covers were in fabric. Once I checked out these swatches, I realized that I had made some beautiful salmons or peaches or whatever that color is- AND most importantly, I had everything I needed to proceed. I have been buying a lot of stuff lately- which has me feeling a wee bit creeped out. (I am not really a shopper…but I am a stockist and preparer.)
I decided- rightly or wrongly, to try to match the synthetic color with a natural one- realizing of course, that this means I will be moving in that direction entirely – in the not too distant future. That red…I want that red.
I have actually come to tears in the presence of these: (embarrassing )
This is what I mean when I wrote, “something clicked”.
This color (the wine red) is ridiculous. In a good way. Even though I am more of a scarlet person. I really struggled with the wools, trying to get a deep enough value in madder- a color I really, really want to master).
I mean….!!!!!!! shazamm!!
and I thought it was going to be hard.
So then I mixed a color to match the …peachy, cantaloupe, orange
Just for me or others who are wondering. This is a mix of madder and weld. It is a theoretical match from the book in wool. I didn’t really do the math to get this…meaning…the formula was a bit different. Here…I used my intuition. (I still used a repeatable method- meaning stock solution and percent and etc)
I got this:
are you feeling me?
I feel a little bit crazy, and a little bit like a badass. The color does not have to be exact as long as it is all the same in one piece- it will work- and actually…this lighter shade is more like what I wanted, but didn’t have. It looks right on here because it is still damp.
So…to answer the question of when a when begins,
I think I can’t really say.
Since now I realize that work that I thought was splitting me into too many directions, turns out to be related and ….AND FRANTASTICALLY useful and satisfying. Really satisfying. So, I think a project begins when the dreams begin. (my apologies for the hippy speak…I mean it literally…I am not sure if that helps.)
And so here is the wrap up…..
I really, really loved doing it, the dye work, and the reading about tapestries, and was obsessed with it and couldn’t stop just because it wasn’t on the agenda….which means….it was the right thing to do after all and always will be.
The sabbatical thing seems like such a crazy, lucky, smart and maybe even vaguely corrupt concept. It is also intimidating, scary, and like a gift that is too good to be able to appreciate. Some might see the amazing time and freedom this way:
There is some truth to this…but it is mostly conceptual. Partly because actually, in about 3 minutes this cute little girl is going to have to go potty, want juice, be chased by bees, etc,
Another view of this
amazing opportunity might be like this:
This is a little more accurate from my viewpoint….especially the part that is barely visible at the top there….do you see it?
Squint. Still nothing?
Hmmmm…..I don’t think there is anything there.
I think it may be a cliff.
It doesn’t look as though they are serving cocktails up there.
The thing about opportunities is….they can be a real nuisance if you try to absorb the idea of
This can lead to sometimes unfortunate consequences…like waking up sore all over from stressing that there are only 364 more days left to accomplish my every wish and desire.
I don’t usually suffer from lack of ambition, lack of things to do, lack of completely unrealistic ideas of what I could do or try to do…this morning, for example. (I’m just sayin’)
So….in consultation with a professional, (I am not foolish enough to try this on my own).
I set out to organize my time. You see, most of the time, my time is prescribed. I actually do use a calendar….and I have used it to know what is happening- before it does and even as it occurs….hopefully not so much as it should have done. This is a comparison and why perhaps I may have been feeling a little overwhelmed. The first image shows last year, the 2nd one shows what I have planned for the upcoming Fall.
Obviously, something is NQR.
I set about trying to get organized…
Here is what I did. ( click on this calendar…to get the full flavor of it.)
The bridge appears to be out folks.
A. I don’t always eat breakfast.
B. The very next day and for several after, I begin to sleep in till long after 7:30 (you can’t see it…but, that is the time I alotted for the big B everyday).
Let me step back – on this already over long tale. As you may recall, It seemed to me that I needed some help on this…professionals don’t do the work for you- they just mentor or inspire you, they can even tell you what to do…but you have to do it…unfortunately.
Obviously, the problem needed an APP.
I spent quite a while researching. I figured since I have taken to SLEEPING with my IPAD
I figured, as I was “saying”, that I should go for a really good, souped up digital one.
It turns out, that there are a lot of options out there in planner land.
Back in the day, I used to really enjoy purchasing a new planner/journal and also a fridge calendar. These were important decisions. They set the tone. They identified me. I felt competent about it. I thought I had a real knack for finding awesome ones that would just amaze my friends with my creative flair.
Then something happened.
Not sure what it was….
I think it was the internet and the advent of the digitization of my life.
Suddenly, it seemed incredibly wasteful to buy the magical calendar when I could magically print out a perfectly good one at home.
I could even include pictures of my happy, smiling family.
(I am going to make a comment here that may offend some..LOOK AWAY!!!!)
So, I printed out the calendars for the fridge and made another one for myself…without the pics.
And then I stopped doing that as well, relying only on the calendar on my computer buddy.
Lately, I have felt a vague dissatisfaction with this. It just didn’t seem controlled enough. It didn’t feel powered up enough. (Tamped down, laced up, twisted tight.) It turns out though that on the side, unbeknownst to my computer buddy, I have been keeping activity journals. I have a journal for this, a journal for that….they are in paper. They are actually nice, simple little books that track what I am doing, I can paste, pin, tape and doodle. I record what I did and write up what I need to do next.
I like them because it is like entering a new room when I open them up.
And actually this is not so bad…but, it doesn’t help me do more than one thing a day.
And that is the problem.
When I am working in my studio, or at home around it I tend to fall into my activities.
I lose track of time.
I just keep going and going.
Sometimes I can forget to get dressed.
So I made the noble effort to get the planner to work for me..I filled up a couple of days. Actually, I thought I had planned out a whole week. But then I saw it was actually only 2 days.
Can I insert a link here?
I can’t say exactly how this is supposed to relate to this tale. I just know it does in some very deep ways. I feel exposed and comforted at the same time.
So…at this point, I am back to a paper planner journal- (OCD trip to the store- after more OCD research about WHICH paper planner I had to have THAT VERY MORNING.)
I am also straddling the digital one too. There is a point where you can’t go completely back.
I have decided that the paper one can help me figure out what I am actually doing- and how long it is actually taking. Kindof, sort of, allegedly. The journal I got actually has stickers (no…not that kind). So far, I see that I haven’t been able to finish up even ONE thing in the time I have allotted it. Meaning…..I plan to spend 3 hours on something but, I end up being interuppted so many times…I decide I can’t count the time I have spent. So I am back to doing 1 acknowldeged thing a day- even though I now know I am really doing more than that. Because I have been writing this down. I’ve even drawn sad faces and exclamation marks, etc. You know, to spice it up or something. I tried or planned to try to do this digitally, but it just didn’t work out. Somehow it seems easier to write than to type my report to myself about how well I am managing myself.
Wow…when I started this post, I had the idea that this would or could be useful…to someone- even me for example…but, I actually have no idea what this is now.
Well…that’s not really true. The point is (possibly) that time is now an issue in a different kind of way. It is not so much that I have more of it than before. I have EXACTLY the same amount of time I have always had. In one way, I am observing it more- because I feel as though I OWN it now and I have to take care of it.
Whereas before, I felt a little bit like this.
I also think there is another point emerging here. Sometimes adjustments are adjustments for the sake of adjustments. It’s like turning the sound up really high on the stereo just to compare what it would be like if it were really loud. When you turn it back down, there is a sense of relief- a feeling you needed to produce for some reason so you can go on.