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Welcome to Musings – The Loom Room Blog

30 December, 2011

Are you a seasonal person or a routines person?

Filed under: Life,Philosophy,Psychology,Weaving — Tags: , , — admin @ 2:05 pm

I don’t know about you, but around this time of year, I get lots of inspirational emails from online marketers and various business ‘gurus’, some of whom are suggesting ways for me to live my life to be more productive and balanced.  I’m all in favour of balance as I’m a bit of a workaholic.  Well, if weaving is your life, then what a good reason to be a workaholic!!  :^))

I sometimes look at some of these emails and one that struck my eye was from Early to Rise.  The editor, Craig Ballantyne, has a regime of getting up at 5 am, doing things to a routine and going to bed at 9pm.  I know that getting up early is thought to be the most productive thing to do if you want to get quality work done, and I sometimes do, but the more I thought about these regimes, the more I wondered about how many people try to adopt something that really isn’t in synch with their own body clocks.

Craig gets up at 5am every day, whatever the season.  That’s something I can’t do.  I’m a seasons person.  My body clock works with daylight, so in the summer I’m up bright and early and get loads done with lots of energy.  In the winter, my body doesn’t want to get up until it’s light, (just as well we don’t live in the far north!!) and I spend a lot more time thinking than weaving.

I’m also a person who thrives on variety and gets bored with too much routine.  I know, we all have a certain amount of routine in our lives, and it takes me around 2 hours in the morning to do my visualisation exercise, get myself washed and dressed, dog walked and breakfasted before I can get down to some quality work.  I do try not to look at my emails until later in the day because they can be a great swallower of time, and I do try to do the task that is most important to me first of all.  Of course, this can’t always be followed – sometimes you just have to check for an email that you are waiting for, or other stuff arises that just has to be dealt with there and then, but on the whole I do try to focus on the most important thing first.  And it is important to put your head down and get on with things rather than procrastinate.

I have tried various ways of organising my day – weaving in the morning, paperwork in the morning, bits and pieces in the morning – and find that some days I am at my weaving best first thing.  But sometimes, it’s more important to get the paperwork out of the way so that my mind is freed to concentrate on weaving later.  And sometimes you just have to spend a whole section of the day on sending images and filling in application forms.

So for me, it’s horses for courses.  I will continue to listen to my body rather than try to discipline myself into a regime that doesn’t give me the versatility that my brain needs to function at my most creative.  If I am scheduled to get up at 5am and I wake at 2 with an idea that I just have to try, am I more or less likely to get up and try it if I allow myself to sleep a little later on?

So whilst that kind of regime will work wonders for some people, I think I will give it a miss, and continue to allow the seasons to influence my work patterns, just like farmers, working hardest and longest in the summer and relaxing and thinking more in the winter.

18 December, 2011

Lost in Lace exhibition

This week my fellow masters students and I visited the Lost in Lace exhibition, curated by Lesley Millar, which is being held in the Gas Hall of the Birmingham Museum & Art Galleries.  The Gas Hall, along with its sister building across the street – the Water Hall, is a beautifully elegant, tall, spacious room with two side ‘aisles’ of practically equal size, one either side of the main section.  The lighting was low, but not too low, and photography is permitted (although no flash of course).  The pieces are beautifully laid out with plenty of space surrounding each one to allow you to walk around them and experience them from different angles, which really helps to appreciate them.

The connecting theme, as you might have guessed, is lace.  The museum holds a lovely collection of laces from many countries and centuries and some of them were shown in an associated exhibition, Concealed and Revealed, elsewhere in the museum.  The artists all responded to the lace in different ways, some producing items of lace-work but not made in the traditional ways of needle or bobbin.

Where to start?  Each of the works was evocative, compelling and rewarded close inspection.  My particular favourites included Piper Shepard’s Lacing Space; Atelier Manferdini’s Inverted Crystal Cathedral, incorporating lots of Swarovski crystals hanging in ginormous spider’s-web loops; Michael Brennand-Wood’s Lace the final frontier, in which he had worked his lace in motifs of war and weaponry and based the formal patterning on a fusion of Islamic and Western geometry; Annie Bascoul with her Moucharabieh and Jardin de lit, lit de jardin; Katharina Hinsberg’s Perceids; Ai Matsumoto’sNo Reverse, which used impressions of lace in silicon embellished with embroidery; Tamar Frank’s wonderful spirograph A thin line between space and matter which used phosphorescent thread, and different lighting conditions; and Alessia Giardino’s Polluted Lace which involved printing onto light-sensitive photo-catalytic white cement which uses UV light to oxidize pollutants and odours in the air.  This last piece gradually became more and more visible over a period of time during which it had been exposed to the environments of Italy and Birmingham.

This is an exhibition that one can return to again and again – happily it doesn’t close until 19th February 2012 – but the fact that the stewards I talked to find it the most interesting and engaging exhibition they’ve been in for a long time, and that since it opened, the visitor numbers have well exceeded the estimate of visitors for the entire duration, I think you might begin to get an idea about the sheer quality of this exhibition.  Stewards have to sit in an exhibition for a long time and shows quickly begin to pall when you are in them for long periods.  If the stewards love a show because of the different perspectives they get and the visitor interraction they get, then you know it’s a well-curated show!

I would urge you to visit the website http://www.lostinlace.org.uk/ and buy the catalogues.  There are two, a small one (£4) which has lovely in situ photographs and interesting nuggets of info (generally those provided on the interpretation boards in the exhibition), and the more expensive but more expansive £25 Lost in Lace: Transparent Boundaries which is a treat for anyone’s book collection!

Also, don’t forget to visit the Birmingham Museum & Art Galleries site http://www.bmag.org.uk/ and see their collections (which are extensive) and the other exhibitions on, including the famous Staffordshire Hoard of gold!!

We are so fortunate to have wonderful museums in the UK and Birmingham’s is a jewel in the city’s crown!

11 December, 2011

The Weave Shed

Filed under: Art,Education,Publications,Teaching,Travel,Weaving — Tags: — admin @ 6:46 pm

A little while ago, you may remember I posted that a new weavers’ website would be coming online to signpost everyone to all things weaving in the UK.

Drum roll, please….

THE WEAVE SHED is now open for business….

Visit www.theweaveshed.org to find:
- Weave information, resources and listings
- Weave-related stories and news
- Events
- Jobs
- Featured weavers and much more.
We’re a community website and welcome you to participate in its development – please send us posts for our blog. If you think we can improve in any way get in touch via our contact page at www.theweaveshed.org/contact.
We look forward to hearing from you!

Philippa Brock. MA (RCA)
Woven Textiles Pathway Leader,
University of The Arts London,
Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design
So – what are you waiting for???!!!

Miniature mountains

Filed under: Art,Life,Nature,Weaving — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 6:42 pm

A few weeks ago, I hurt my back.  It’s an old injury and one I can usually keep under control with regular yoga, but I had a period of two weeks where I was driving a lot, and moving heavy boxes, looms, and equipment then more driving for several hours, and at the end of the two weeks, I did a session clearing leaves and fallen apples in the garden for an hour.  That was the last straw for my back, and I was unable to move for a couple of days.  Happily, visits to the osteopath, and regular stretching and gentle movement is now having the desired effect and I should be fully mobile in a few days.

The upshot of that is that I couldn’t weave on my AVL – a bit of a problem as I have a research warp ready to go – but there’s more than one way to skin (or swing) a cat (which is a really odd saying, and not fair on the poor feline!!!  My two would have more than something to say if I tried that!!)  Anyway, feeling the need to weave, but not physically able to manage the large floor loom, I turned to a small table loom and decided to try my hand at Miniature mountains!  Using two different techniques – woven shibori and overshot – I am trying out all sorts of weird and wonderful weft yarns on a warp a mere 2″ wide.  I’ve got just one more sample to do on this warp, and will then be washing them, steaming them and tumble drying them.  It is always such fun to see what happens.

After that, I shall put on another mini-warp in a different yarn, and with a different threading order and have another play and see what comes out of that!  These are for my masters research.  I never thought I’d have so much fun with this, but it’s really exciting.  I can’t weave more than 3 hours (with a gap) on this little loom, and it’s really slow, but it’s proving to be as much fun as doing the larger stuff on the AVL.

Hopefully, over Christmas, I’ll be able to get back on the AVL and get on with the research weaving on that!  For me, research weaving is so much more fun than weaving something to use – but that’s just me. What about you?  Are you someone who loves to create functional cloth or objects?  You have my admiration!  I think I’m just an overgrown kid who just loves to play!!!

Whatever you prefer – have fun this winter!!

4 December, 2011

Thoughts behind my Christmas cards

Filed under: Life,Weaving — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 3:14 pm

It’s December, and that means no-one can escape from the commercial aspects of Christmas if you happen to live anywhere in the western world that requires going to shops, listening to commercial radio, watching tv (whether commercial or not!), reading magazines, etc., etc.  My hushand works in schools, so he has been hearing and teaching Christmas songs and carols for several weeks already and the school concerts are in full swing.

Now I’ve left mainstream school teaching, I try to ignore the encroaching presence of Christmas until December hits.  And the first weekend in December is when I sit down to write my Christmas cards. I’m not a religious person, so Christmas does not have any meaning for me in a religious sense.  But for me it is an opportunity to create cards to connect with people in my life who I haven’t seen for a while, as well as for those I see more frequently.

I love to sit down and make the cards.  The process of getting the pieces I’ve woven earlier in the year (if I have the time to weave them – which I haven’t this year, I’m afraid!!), or selecting the image that I want to use, framing it for each card, and writing the card and addressing the envelope is one that connects me to the recipients, whether or not they know it at the time.  That moment when you are thinking of each person as you write the card, and the moment (of which I shall probably not be aware) when they receive and open that card and think of you, is important in the greater scheme of things.

It is these kinds of moments, also when you are making presents, that is what Christmas is about for me.  Personal moments, private moments, but which makes me realise and reflect on the important people in my life.

Weaving is a small world, but also one spread wide.  My weaving friends are scattered all over the world, and I love the image that always comes to my mind of lots of spider threads stretching from me to them all individually wherever they happen to be, and then all the other spider threads stretching from each one of them to all the people they know….   It’s a wonderful image that warms my heart every time. Sometimes the threads are lit by fairy lights, sometimes they are frosted like the cold winter early morning scenes on the plants in my garden.

Ok, so now we have social networking sites like Facebook that do this all the time, but still the annual ritual of Christmas cards is important to me.  What’s important about Christmas to you?

PS..   Bon voyage to my dad who is on his way to experience a different kind of Christmas in Malaysia!!