THE BACK STORY: In January 2016 I launched "Well Used, Well Loved" (WUWL)a long term community art project that explores age, beauty, impermanence and attachment through a hand woven dish towel and reflective writing/drawing. Eight households from England to Oregon "adopted" a hand woven linen towel to use however they wish. Every other week I sent a prompt for reflection to be recorded in a small journal that I provided. The response to my initial call to participate in WUWL was overwhelming. Over 50 households expressed interest in taking part in the project and I only had 8 towels.

So I created a secondary project that dovetailed with the first one. This second group of ultimately 38 households (Maine to Arizona) wrote and drew on kozo paper (a special Japanese paper) to record their response to my prompts. Thru a hands-on workshop at my studio I taught local folks from this group how to spin their kozo paper into thread using a Japanese technique called Shifu. I created a video tutorial for those who wanted to learn to spin their paper from afar.

Prompts to both groups were the same. For example Prompt #6 was: "The materials for this project are hand woven linen and Kozo paper. Both are created from plant fibers, known for their absorption qualities. Absorption can also been seen as dissolving boundaries. In that light what parallels or connection do you observe between your own ability to absorb, to soak up, to empathize? What connections do you perceive between your linen/paper and the action of union, of dissolving boundaries, connection? What value do these actions have today.

In September I began to collect the 8 towels, the kozo papers and the journals for a future installation. The journals, the used/loved towels and the completed art piece woven from the community threads will combine to create an installation that I am currently designing.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Shifu threads are all spun

Shifu in the shrubbery
 Yesterday I spun the last sheet of Kozo paper into thread. As some of you know I have the good fortune to be south in a warm place for the month of March. While here in the Bahamas I am not idle - I have been spinning, drawing, writing and continually contemplating how best to honor these threads.

  It was often a challenge to spin here -- as the wind can sweep away my bundle of cut paper - making it dance like a ghost.

  Today I took them all to the beach for a photo shoot. A few days ago I photographed a skein in the garden shrubbery.

  I rather like the threads wound in these small skeins. But I can't seem to let go of the idea of weaving them onto a black linen cloth - just a simple way to mount them.

  Obviously I am still figuring this last piece of the project out! But for now -- all the Shifu has been spun. Thanks to everyone for your patience and encouragement.
Shifu in the sand

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Trials and tests - all in a day's work.

Last month I had the good fortune to be in residency at the Vermont Studio Center. I had a bright
Out my studio window at VSC
spacious studio, 3 meals a day, a bedroom in a warm house and  an inspiring community of 50 other artists. My time was my own - to sew, weave, draw, spin, or read, to go out for a walk or X-ski -- and ultimately to dig deeply into my creative work.

As I have noted on my website blog I had the privilege of meeting a few visiting artists who came to my studio to discuss my work. It's been decades since I have had the opportunity to have my work reviewed by another artist.

I took to heart many of the comments and feedback - and got a bit swayed this way and that by different sentiments and opinions. The result is that I came to know my own voice, my own vision in a much stronger capacity. At one point I was ready to let the Shifu threads from participants just be thread wound on a spool of some sort.

Last week I had the idea to weave a small square using Shifu thread for both warp and weft. I wove it on this cute little loom just perfect for this trial.

And now I am even thinking of setting up a loom to sample a simple structure where the threads just float on the surface of a background weave -- essentially accomplishing the same thing that the spools would offer -- but with more structure and I believe a stronger presentation.

This all goes under the roof or trial and tests - to take risks is a vital step in creating art. To have the courage to try something out of one's familiar territory -- and then to assess if it is successful or not -- all of this is essential to making good art.

So stay tuned my friends -- I'm working.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

"I'm my cat's dishtowel"

I am digging in to each of the 8 Journals - reading each one - selecting favorite passages to copy on to Kozo paper for spinning as well as transcribing these passages to my lap top for future reference.

Here are some beautiful words from journal #III.

"I feel no moment slows down enough to become well-loved. My things grow well-used without my noticing them. Is that a form of love? Trusting a thing to be there for you without acknowledging or thanks? That trust, that faith, is a way to love?”“Maybe it’s a way we allow children or pets to love us. I’m sure that’s how my cat feel about me. She loves me by allowing me to work thanklessly for her. I’m my cat’s dishtowel.”

Honestly - if I had the time and energy -- I'd copy every word and illustration in each journal. I feel so honored to be able to step inside your head and hearts as I sit with your responses to the prompts. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Happy birthday "Well Used, Well Loved"

Happy birthday "Well Used, Well Loved"
     One year ago I launched "Well Used, Well Loved". From an open invitation to participate, I received about 50 requests from a wide variety of households.
     I selected 8 households to adopt a hand-woven dish towel and journal. This group became the Linen Team. Since I wanted as many people to participate as possible -- I created an additional leg of the project. This second group became the Paper Team. The exact details of the project can be discovered in previous blog posts.
     In September I began to gather the used towels, the journals and the papers from the project participants. I also collected feedback via a project exit survey.
     This Sunday I will be heading to The Vermont Studio Center in Johnson VT for a month. I received a partial fellowship to continue my work on "Well Used, Well Loved".
    In preparation for this retreat I have been organizing and packing for a few days. One of the things I am bringing is the 8 journals from the Linen Team. My plan is to read the journals and select passages that inspire me. These passages will then be hand transcribed on to Kozo paper (similar the Paper Team) and then spun into thread. This Shifu spun text will supplement the Paper Team threads.
Journals and threads going to VT
     I have a rough idea of what I will be creating with these Shifu threads -- and over my retreat I will design and begin work on this final project of "Well Used, Well Loved." I will continue to post my progress from VT.
    I feel much gratitude for the gift of support from my community to continue this important and collaborative work. Thank you -- we have much to celebrate.