THE BACK STORY


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.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Well done!

Well almost....!
I have completed the four panels that highlight the handspun shifu papers from the over 30 WUWL households. The entire piece is so big that when I had it photographed last week -- we had to shoot it in two sections!
Panels in my studio
Here is a preview of the work in my staid. Note that the red thread is just pinned in place.

I will post the professional shot images of the completed work soon!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Off the loom!

The end of the warp!
The two center panels for the "Well Used, Well Loved" piece are off the loom. I have tentatively titled this piece "With these hands."

The next few steps include sewing the edges, fringing the bottom and finally adding the embroidered and couched hands. I've sketched out a new design.

I wil be an artist in residence at Hewnoaks in Lovell, ME from September 16 - 22. While there I hope to get a great deal accomplished on these panels. The big effort of getting these panels dyed and woven has been done.

I am super excited to see the images finally take shape! I'll be sure to post with progress reports.
Sketched layout for "With these Hands"

Friday, July 14, 2017

Soak, breathe, dip and nosh

Quan Yin, my studio Goddess
Summer. Ah-h-h. A time to slow down and breathe deeply. To soak up the heat, the water and the times with friends and family. Summer here in Maine is so darn brief that it is important to take advantage of every minute as best you can.

I am in and out of the studio.  I am weaving the final two panels for Well Used, Well Loved. The fabric is a plain weave 40" wide by 6 yards long. I will embroider and couch the Shifu thread on this surface went it is all woven.

Here's to a happy summer - eat, read, nap, swim and enjoy!

Yardage on the loom

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Panel #2 Off Loom


Panel #2 is off the loom!
It is just as amazingly vibrant with line, color and simple repetitive pattern as Panel #1.

Now it is onward to set up the loom for the two large center panels. These panels will have embroidered hands - which harkens back to the series I did "Now:Letters by hand."

It all seems to turn back on itself doesn't it?

My progress has been challenged by a new puppy -- Frieda! She is a joy -- and a challenge! I TOTALLY forgot how much work (and love) a puppy can be!
Frieda prefers paper collage.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Text into textile


Panel #1 detail
Panel #1 is off the loom. The subtle changes from thread to thread is mesmerizing. This panel is 6' tall by 2' wide. Be sure to zoom in to get a closer look at the shift threads and hand-dyed warp.

Panel #2 is in process - photos below.

If you look very closely you can see the lines of text/writing on the threads. Each writer added color and drawings to the paper prior to spinning.
Panel #2 detail

Second panel in progress


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Progress Report

Shifu thread is so easy to weave 

The Shifu paper thread is brocaded on to the surface
 I have begun weaving with the Shifu spun paper thread from the participants in Well Used, Well Loved. Now that the loom is all threaded and ready to weave -- it is a breeze. This thread is so gorgeous that all I have to do is stitch it down with the supplementary warp -- and it looks amazing.
Slight color changes from each paper thread

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A long, slow gestation

   Spring is taking her sweet time here in Maine. It's May 10th, the heat is on in my studio, the
Dyed warp threads beamed and ready to thread
daffodils are slowly opening, the lilacs are just small beads of deep purple and the oaks leaves are a lacy light green.
   If you have been following my rumination over how to present the beautiful Shifu threads - you know that I've played with different ways to honor and share these threads spun from your heartfelt text.  I've listened to what others think, considered my own visions and done a number of samples.
  A few weeks ago I made the decision to weave a simple dark blue-black ground cloth on which to "float" these threads.
My sketch 
  I have designed a 4 panel piece. The two outside panels will be 72" by 24" and have Shifu threads stitched down by a supplementary warp, placed in horizontal lines—as though in a letter. The two center panels will be 72" by 40" with Shifu threads couched on to the surface. The design will be a hand gesture or mudra. The warps are dyed, one loom is ready to thread.  Of course all of this is still open to change -- that's how art seems to evolve.

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.