Lisa’s work stunned me, thrilled me, inspired me. The pieces represent pages from books with zipper teeth for the text and a little embroidery for the images. Ethereal “pages” she skillfully made by machine stitching then dissolving the medium that she stitched on. They are glorious. Some works were done on old linen cloth, but I liked the gauzy ones best. There was story attached, too, which added depth to the whole experience.The exhibit at the Seager/Gray Gallery, in Mill Valley, CA, closes on October 30 and is not to be missed. [click first photo to see slide show]
Nationally, people have known me for my teaching and instructional books about the art and techniques of weaving for 35 years. Few people knew that I was creating art pieces during this long period of time. Now I fee it is time to share my work with art lovers.
I have been interested lately in weaving sheer cloth. When I went to Japan in 2013, I wanted to make something that would show how sheer I could weave cloth. That is how I got the idea of weaving my bookmarks. I enclosed them in a package because I knew that the wrapping of gifts is very important to the Japanese. I received a lot of very good feedback.
In Japan, I fell in love with a book that had gorgeous holes in the pages where bookworms had eaten the paper. I treasure that book today. I brought home other books with interesting calligraphy that I thought I might use somehow with my weaving. It was a long time before I realized that my bookmarks would be perfect with their pages. Some of the pages are poetry and some are practice pages for brushwork for calligraphy.
I love old textiles for the home, too, and grew up with rag rugs in my mother’s home. When I saw these rag balls in an antique store on Bleeker Street in New York, I was completely smitten and had to have them. I can image the woman who carefully cut the strips and hand stitched the lengths together and them wound these tight balls. All this was in preparation for weaving a rag rug.
I hesitated to unwind the balls to weave a whole rug, but wove these small pieces. I loved handling the “rags” of old, vintage cloth. I added my personal touch by weaving in horse hair, a material I have been using in recent work.
[click first photo to enlarge]
There was a small but smashing exhibit of fragments that everyone was told to see and it was superb. “Fragmentary Tales: Selections from the Lloyd Cotsen Textile Traces Collection” . The pieces were mounted in what looked like foam core board with windows cut out for the textiles that gave each one a presence so it could be appreciated. This is how I mounted lots of my study pieces when I was teaching. I put a Mylar cover on them that could be lifted up and the textile lifted out. That was how the Met was mounting things in their collection at the time. Here are the ones that I really loved: A velvet from Uzbekistan, an African piece, an Italian Velvet and a scaffolded piece from Peru–the likes of which I’ve never seen. The contemporary piece with horse hair by Debra Warner, “Opens a Window”, especially inspired me. [click photos to enlarge]
On Sunday we took a post symposium tour to San Diego’s Mingei International Museum, to see the show that opened the night before. Kay was there to greet us and she and Signe Mayfield took us on a gallery tour. The show is gorgeous and has lots of work from both Kay and Bob. There were pieces that I remember seeing on exhibit when I was getting started in the mid-70’s. I’ve always admired her work–it is beautiful and it is woven. These two pieces are well known and it was a treat to get to see several of them in person again. In the afternoon Melissa Leventon gave a talk about Kay’s work. I was thrilled to tears that Melissa reconized me by showing my ruffles in the last slide. It was to show Kay’s influence on the artists coming up.
Saturday night was the opening reception and end of the TSA Symposium. For me it was glorious in every way. My pieces were in the most prime location: in the front window and the first thing to be seen in the show. When it got dark the lighting was great with reflections in the window.
I stood nearby and got lots and lots of nice comments. The nicest part was getting praise from other artists and people who knew me or knew my name.
> click photos to enlarge
I met two former students who are very accomplished.
Serena Lee, from San Francisco, was my Home Ec student when she was in the seventh grade. She is giving a lecture at the symposium about ethnic dress of the Lolo/ Yi groups across the Vietnam- China border. I heard her practice her riveting talk this morning. She leads textile trips to that area of the world and is an expert on the various ethnic costumes.
Laurel Wilson, PhD was my weaving student in New York where she became interested in textiles. Her dissertation is ” ‘De Novo Modo’: the birth of Fashion in the Middle Ages”. She is passionate about her research and has given lectures around the country. Her concentration is on 14th century and how the introduction of the horizontal pedal loom in the 11th century caused big changes in class structure , gender relations, and ultimately the birth of fashion in Western Europe. It was fascinating to listen to what all she had to say.
I sat under an umbrella this afternoon with Zvezdana Dode from Stravropol, Russia who I met on the Italy trip. She is working on a book : ” ‘Silk Horde’: Costume and Textiles of the Mongolian Empire”. She is also giving a paper here at the symposium and was so interesting to talk to.
So, there are a lot of experts here and everyone is passionate about textiles.
Tonight was a reception with the menu planned by Alice Waters. I was thrilled to have the rest of the world experience her local grown sustainable foods. There was an almost full moon and lots of interesting people. It was really nice when someone I didn’t know knew my name.
I discovered the catalog for the show by accident last night when a friend emailed me to say it was a nice catalog. And it is very nice. But the best part is that there is a catalog at all–that makes the show have more meaning and importance. Also very nice are the nice words at the beginning and each artist has a whole page. My page is Page 16.
“The Craft & Folk Art Museum is proud to host New Directions: A Juried Exhibition of Contemporary Textiles, featuring current technical, aesthetic and structural innovations in textile art.”
“The illustrious jury panel selected 19 established and emerging artists whose work reflects the shifts and future movements in textile art.”
Suzanne Isken, Executive Director, Craft & Folk Art Museum
[click cover image to view or download catalog]
The TSA show in Los Angeles is getting pretty close. Today we sent off the files for 4 postcards that I can hand out to people at the show and at the conference. We will drive down on September 9 to hand deliver my piece: Four Veils. I’m thrilled with the cards and am getting excited. New business cards are in the works as well.
Photos advance automatically.
Milton Sonday, who ran the Textile Department at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum (as it was called then), took a photo of one of my ruffles and a brochure for my Weaving for Beginners book and made them into his own art statements. We worked together when I was in New York from 1983 to 1989. It was heaven for me. We both relished looking at weave structures and it was a stretch for me to keep up with him every day I was there. Lately he has been making art pieces out of strips of paper and interweaving them in interesting ways (structures). I am honored to be the recipient.
Before I left for Greece I wanted to weave off the warp that was on the loom. I decided to make more bookmarks. [see original bookmark post here] I thought they could be given as special gifts in case someone might be interested in a show. You can see the white wefts I made for the cutting lines. Midway through I thought about trying a black weft and brown horse hair then decided I liked the white better.
When I took the warp off, there wasn’t time to cut so I just pinned it up on my wall–then I thought I liked it the way it was–with none of them cut apart.
So much for planning. that’s the way I like to do it–try something I think will work and see what happens. Then I said “Oh, that’s the way it is.”
I’m back from Greece now and recovering from jet lag. I received this comment below about one of my tips which is one of my most favorite techniques: using the 2-stick heading. I use it so often that I don’t think I could weave without using it. Most of my recent art pieces are small and I do a lot of experimenting so I cut off pieces as they are woven all the time.
“Thank you so much. I have some 42/2 linen and it is going slow. Long story short, I signed up for a towel exchange due on Saturday. I have a couple woven and needed to cut them off so I can get them hemmed. This worked SOOO slick!! Thank you, thank you thank you!”
This is taken from my book, Weaving for Beginners, beginning on page 136.
The two-stick heading
This is a very useful heading. I have used it countless times. One reason is to
eliminate the knots on the apron rod so that the cloth rolls up without lumps
on the cloth beam. Another reason is so that you can cut off some of the cloth
before the whole warp has been completedly woven.
You need a pair of sticks that fit on your cloth beam and won’t interfere with
They can be lease sticks, dowels, or metal rods. I prefer thin and lightweight
sticks rather than thick ones because they take up less warp and aren’t so bulky.
After you’ve woven the initial heading to spread out the warps (page 105)
(or at least 1″), insert a stick in one plain weave shed; insert another stick
in the next plain weave shed, and continue weaving for 1″, or so. See
Figure 307. The lease sticks will stay in place because they are woven in the cloth.
Release the tension on the warp, and carefully cut between the knots and the first inch of the heading that you wove. Leave both plain weave sections and the sticks attached to the loom!
Remember, you are cutting between the knots and the cloth which means only the knots are being cut off—the heading remains attached to the loom because it is part of the warp that is on the loom. Be careful not to cut the loom’s apron cords! See Figure 308. (If you want fringe, see Figure 311).
The heading will be re-attached to the apron rod. See Figure 310. If the warp is sparse or slippery, put some white glue or tape on the cut edge to prevent the heading from unraveling or the warp threads from pulling the heading out when the warp is back on tension.
Fold the first stick, with the first inch of the heading, under the second stick and the
second inch of the heading. See Figure 309.
Tie the two folded sticks across the front apron rod at 3″ intervals. Make the ties
strong by doubling a sturdy but not fat string. Use a tapestry needle to go through
the cloth and around the rod. Make the first tie in the center of the warp to hold the
sticks stable. You might find it easier if you wind up the cloth apron until the apron rod is resting on the breast beam. Then pull the heading sticks (and the warp) forward to the apron rod and tie them to it, while steadying them on the breast beam. Put the knots on the front edge of the apron rod so you won’t make lumps with the ties. See Figure 310.
Begin weaving again. The warp tension remains unchanged; since the heading
sticks were woven in with the warp on tension before the knots were cut off, all
the threads remain evenly tensioned as you resume.
If you want fringe, untie the knots instead of cutting them off and fold the
sticks as above. Then smoothly fold back the unknotted warp threads as well as
Another situation: Cutting off the cloth as you go
You can cut off pieces as you weave them; it’s not necessary to wait until the
entire warp is used up before cutting off the fabric. The headings and two sticks
save precious warp because you don’t need to tie the warps back on to the
When you’re ready to cut off a length of cloth, make the complete 2-stick
heading just as above. (Weave 1″ of plain weave, insert 2 sticks into the next
two plain weave sheds, and weave one inch more. That’s the complete heading.
You do not leave any space between the cloth and the heading—you’ll just cut
the cloth and heading apart.
Cut between the cloth and the first inch of the heading you wove, leaving the
complete heading attached to the loom. See Figure 311. Remove the cloth from
the front apron rod. Fold the two sticks, and tie them to the apron rod, as above.
The background cloth is from a coat that came from the San Francisco Opera costume sale last week (the first in five years). Rumor has it that one of the divas wore it in the opera, Mary Magdelin, performed last season. It’s monumental–probably a foot too long and weighs a ton but I think it’s beautiful–the cut and the fabrics. Notice the gathers on the sleeves–a great idea to shorten them without cutting anything. I have a gorgeous Afghan coat with very long sleeves. I’m going to try this on it. I see there is a gros grain ribbon (1″ wide”) inside the sleeve that is hand stitched to the cloth to gather it up. The ribbon adds the support needed.
I just found out that my Four Veils were accepted in the big, big Textile Society of America juried exhibition which is in conjunction with TSA’s first ever New Directions Symposium in LA in September! Hooray! Only 19 works were selected from 400 entries! This is a very big thing–the jurors were the top of the line (Gerhardt Knodel, Matilda McQuaid, Carol Shaw Sutton, and Tali Weinberg) and the entries were from textile artists who have exhibited regularly. I hope this will be the beginning of a new phase where my work is shown in more galleries. Please see a video on how I make the ruffles.
Last weekend I bought this gorgeous blue scarf made by the artist, Jean Cacicedo of Berkeley, Ca. Then I couldn’t decide what to wear with it. I painted these samples to see what I liked and what I had in my closet. I love the yellow-green, but don’t own anything that color. The reds I have and found this red jacket. It’s much bolder than anything I usually wear so the color class is making an impression. I never really liked the red in the jacket until now that it has its blue scarf around the neck.
I’m taking a color class for ordinary people in an Osher Lifetime Learning class at Sonoma State. It’s mainly for people to be able to put colors together in their own lives–clothes, furnishings, etc. I’ve taken dozens of color classes and hoped this would help mesh all the rules I’ve learned. It has. The teacher is a quilter but she knows how to teach people who have no innate talent for color. Last week we talked about Intensity–and its two aspects. Saturation is how much dye there is (weak or strong) and also how “clean or dirty” the color is.
When everyone else in the world was watching the Super bowl I went to my studio and tried to paint light colors (unsaturated) as well as a little bit “muddy”–not kindergarten colors. It was fun. I found a page to copy in a book by Gunta Stolzl. It was a challenge to try to mix my paint to match her colors. You can see I didn’t get nearly light enough. Oh well, the next time. My next assignment to myself is to try different values of colors mixed with their complements. She didn’t use the word complements but said they were mixtures of the other 2 primaries. These should be neutrals or colors that are not easy to name.
My holiday gift shopping is done! My first weaving teacher told us to keep every scrap weever wove. I sort of have–at least saved the sheer scraps I’ve woven. I put them in CD cases and voila! I like to have the pieces seen from the front and the back so you can see through them, but you could put a paper behind them as a mat. I found an inexpensive easel. They can stand alone or be hung on a nail on the wall.
In a little over a week I’m going to Italy on a Textile Society of America tour: Velvet in Italy: Florence, Zoagli, Venice. We are going to see ateliers where they are handweaving velvet on huge, old looms.
Seems like there are always tons of things to do to get ready for a trip. I’m ticking off my lists every day. I’m working on getting photos of my work on my mini iPad to show people I encounter on the tour.
Today I mastered the use of this iPad app translator. I can speak English and hear the Italian translation. How neat is that?
Here is a picture of the velvet piece I wove after the class with our tour leader, Barbara Setsu Pickett in 2006. We made our loops with 2 brass bars and cut the loops using a blade passing between the two bars. I loved playing with cut and uncut areas and voided velvet areas where all the pile threads were incorporated into the foundation.
Here is one of my rose hips pieces in its frame. The frame is deep and I think the almost white mat and the narrow black frame really enhance the piece. Now it really looks like something where before it was just a piece of fabric that I held in my hands. I especially like the shadows the stems make.
This is my first piece using one of the books I got in Japan. It is falling apart, so I don’t worry about taking pages from it. I understand it is a book of Monks’ prayers—or it may be just one prayer, I don’t know. I used two adjacent pages for this piece.
I wanted to show how sheer my pieces are. There are two that overlap in the center. The top piece was partially wetted to collapse. The upper part shows how it was woven.
I haven’t created anything since before my trip to Japan in May. In June I had a knee replacement—so finally, I got into my studio yesterday to play around. I’ve been wanting to use scraps of my sheer fabric, but not sure what I would do. I played around, wanting to show how transparent the pieces are. I pinned them up on my wall where my blue table runner was hanging to see what my composition was like. It really looked good on the runner, so I sewed the pieces in place with a few tiny stitches. I had to use the thread I wove them with because sewing thread was too heavy.
I have loved this runner for a long time—finally it can be shown. (It did win a competition many years ago and was in an international show.)
It’s woven with two linen warps used together as one in a dense, warp faced twill. I ironed it very flat using a rolling pin on a breadboard when it was damp from the washing machine. I think you can see the flattened threads when you click to enlarge. I was inspired by Lia Cook’s flattened textiles she made years ago. I think I made this in 1982. (Yikes! That’s over 30 years ago!) It was to be for my mother-in-law but I knew she wouldn’t appreciate it so I never gave it to her!
I found two old books in a book store in an arcade in Kyoto, I think, and I loved the first one I saw because of the beautiul worm holes that were in the pages. Then I found some more at another book store in Tokyo. I had begun thinking of using the glorious pages for mounting my sheer weavings on. The thick book is a collection of accounting books bound together and came from the Kyoto flea marke. There are hundreds of beautiful pages. I don’t know if I dare take any pages out, but I might. They are wonderful to look at as is. (I don’t know if they are right-side-up or nort in the photo.)
I got 15 small collapse pieces back from the framer in New York who makes may special plexi shadow boxes and had to do some rearranging in the studio to get them on the wall. If you like how they look, let me know and I can give you his contact information.
We decided they would look better with a black background so up went the felt pieces I had and I think they look really nice. They are the small pieces on the black background.
While I was at it, I thought I’d share pictures of the studio as it is just before I leave it for 3 weeks while I am in Japan.
[click first photo for slideshow]
Packaging the gifts in Japan is important. This is what I invented. A Japanese friend wrote my name in Japanese with a ball point pen and Office Depot made the gorgeous stamp that I used on the front of the folder. A previous post showed just the bookmark.