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 2017 I began to collect the 8 towels, the kozo papers and the journals to wrap up the project. The journals, the used/loved towels and the completed four panel piece woven from the community threads combine to create an installation that honors and reflect the spirit of this project.

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.

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