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Welcome to Musings – The Loom Room Blog

28 April, 2015

Art and Architecture in Liverpool (a tiny snapshot of one of each!)

Filed under: Life — admin @ 12:37 pm

Bluecoat Display Centre is currently hosting a small exhibition of artwork based on sculptural textiles and textile-inspired ceramics.  Also incorporated are a couple of jewellers inspired by sculptural qualities of textiles.  Obviously, being a texture-driven weaver, this was a must-see for me.

Curated by Gina Grassi, this small but intriguing exhibition brought together glass and crochet (Catherine Carr), ceramics and knitting (Annette Bugansky), ceramics and stitch (Fenella Elms), ceramics and interwoven forms derived from natural inspiration (Nuala O’Donovan), jewellery and textiles (Nora Fok), sculptural shibori textiles (Nawal Gebreel) and a couple of jewellers.

I found myself drawn to the ceramics work, succumbing to purchasing a couple of Annette’s pieces, and drooling over Nuala and Fenella’s work.

Nuala O'Donovan                           Nawal Gebreel                         Annette Bugansky

 

Nuala O’Donovan                                                                Nawal Gebreel                                                                  Annette Bugansky

What I love about this exhibition is the juxtaposition of the hard and the soft – the inspiration, and practice, of textile crafts which are then combined with the plastic ‘hard’ crafts of ceramic and glass.  It may be just that I am a texture-driven weaver, (along the lines of the ‘new car’ owner who sees ‘their’ car everywhere they look) but it seems to me that there is a lot more focus on textural work, whether in finishes, or in the underlying forms, and I, for one, love it!  Everywhere I go, I am seeing work imbued with textural qualities that just begs to be touched, encouraging a more ‘hands-on’ approach to life.

Finding myself with an hour to spare before my return train, and trying to resist the wonderful array of shops in Liverpool (I am a country / small town girl, after all!), I walked up the hill to the Metropolitan Cathedral.  It’s a long time since I last visited Liverpool and one of my abiding memories was the interior of this church.  I wanted to find out if my memory had enlarged the experience in my mind.

If anything, my memory had played down the incredible feelings that this building evokes.  From the outside, it feels almost brutish in its heavy concrete geometries.  The eye is drawn upwards to the ‘crown’ which was trying to reach up to pierce the clouds.  Reflections in a nearby building with opaque and reflective glass arose weaving inspiration in me after weeks of calm, but I wasn’t able to photograph it sufficiently to show the drama of the actual appearance.  There are two metalwork panels, also in brutish mode, either side of the main entrance, and some of the texture is just gorgeous.  I have included one for your delectation!  And the third image is of a detail of the stonework above the main entrance.  Yin and yang.  Carved into the facade of the building are two sets of geometric pyramidal and triangular formations, one being carved out, and the other carved in in opposite modes.  They protrude beyond the facia of the concrete and create all sorts of shadows, even on a fairly overcast day.

FB Liverpool #2                                                                     FB Liverpool #1                                                                              IMG_3682

Then, as you walk into the interior, into the very heart of this concrete cave, your heart, soul, spirit, is calmed, lifted, transported beyond the everyday by a wonderful profusion of colour – daylight transformed through the medium of coloured glass.  Abstract forms free the mind from translating and transcribing and sudden shards of contrasting scarlet in a predominantly blue/blue-green awaken you to things happening. The central dome pulls your focus upwards with its morphing of colour round the tubular space.

What is it about stained glass in churches that is so uplifting?  Light takes on such deep forms when transformed in this way.  It seems to cut through the clutter of everyday noise and busy-ness, bringing time to breathe deeply, to stand and stare, to switch off the endlessly chattering brain and just be there in the moment, looking at the light transformed by glass, and glass transformed through light, turning round in circles on the spot to absorb the next combination of colour.

FB Liverpool #3  My photo doesn’t do justice to the colour inside that building.  A hand-held camera in a low-lit environment with no flash enabled does not lead to the clearest and truest picture in the world, but if it even just hints at the potential of the cathedral to impact on an individual, then that is all I can hope.

It did make me smile to note, on my way back down the hill to the seething of humanity that is a railway station, that right next door to the cathedral is another place dedicated to ethereal pursuits – the Astrophysics department of the university!!  I did wonder what the creationists would make of that!!

Till next time, Happy Weaving!

 

1 January, 2015

Janus

Filed under: Life — admin @ 7:44 pm

“Look back to move forwards” – wise words (?) which were said to me more than once before I could understand what it all meant!  But it’s that time of year again, and this morning I was thinking back to exactly one year ago and what I was doing/thinking then.  And no, I didn’t have a hangover last year, any more than this year!  :^)

This time last year I was in the final throes of my masters – getting the final bits and pieces together to hang my final submission and getting my thoughts in order to answer the grilling of my intentions, thought processes and the rationale behind my work.  The dissertation was submitted but the proof of the pudding was to come in how my physical woven work was received.  Happily it was a great result, but that was still in the future.

Also in the future was my upcoming trip to New Zealand with 8 sets of workshops to teach – something I’d not undertaken at such a scale before  - and to say I was nervous was an understatement!  Had I prepared everything well enough?  Was it going to be a topic that people enjoyed?  Had I pitched the teaching level right or was it going to be too easy/too hard?  Would the exhibitions be ok?  Would Agnes and I get along over an intensive 9 week period?

Challenge #1, issued originally in 2007 by Richard and Christine Jeryan (was that really 7 years ago?!!) was to have an exhibition of my work in the US, and was met thanks to a suggestion from Mimi Anderson, and the wonderful faith and trust of Deborah and Gary Boone at B2 Fine Art Gallery in Tacoma.  Challenge #2 was getting the Masters.  Challenge #3 was the New Zealand trip and the teaching and exhibiting there with my wonderful friend Agnes Hauptli.  The woman is an inspiration and a powerhouse – a megafish in her ocean!!  And all this before July!

Since July, life has been a bit less high flying.  Plenty of work, teaching and weaving.  Lots of ideas from the two amazing trips, and lots of reading.  Some of the best books have been non-fiction, and my favourites are probably ‘Cooked’ by Michael Pollan, and ‘Darwin’s Island’ by Steve Jones.  I managed to get hold of some wonderful photographic books which have fired off yet more ideas for weaving.  I have a 28 page document now full of weaving ideas generated over the course of 2014!  If only there was the time to develop them all!!  Mind you, some are brewing inside my brain and surface every now and then.

Life has also happened and, as we all know and experience, life has its downs as well as ups.  But even in the downs, other people’s strengths and personalities can lift and carry you and make you appreciate different things.

Looking foward to 2015, I find myself curious.  There is nothing much in the diary looking forward, apart from a wonderful month in May when I shall be in Switzerland, Holland and France.  But there is a frisson about the year which I feel and am excited about.  To start with, I have some ideas for my weaving, and for the exhibition in Switzerland, which will keep me busy over the next few months.  But, apart from that, there is a feeling of expectant quietude.  I am hoping that long held dreams will start to work into our lives this year.  For some reason, it feels the right time.  If it does, I promise to update you.

In the meantime, this week during Christmas and New Year, when I usually get so much done in a spirit of relaxed busyness, this year has been spent nose-blowing and coughing, sleeping and drinking fluids.  Nothing serious, thankfully, but an annoying and persistent virus or bug that got firstly my son (and he so fit and active!) and then me.  But what it did do was remind me forcibly how blasé I usually am about my normal state of health.  Usually a cold or cough doesn’t stop me doing anything.  Maybe I might go to bed early or have an afternoon nap if I’m not feeling too bright, but this time I couldn’t focus on anything.  I sat and vegitated, even to the point of just watching the TV (known to me as The Vacuum).  I couldn’t even bring my mind to read!  This has lasted a week, and has been salutary for me.  I have some apologies – to my body, for taking it for granted; to folk I know who are ill, for not empathising in the past; and to those who are ill but despite their afflictions, show us by their actions what it is to fight and overcome.

So, to New Year’s Resolutions!  My health – to be mindful of the value of what I put into my body as fuel in mind, body and soul!  And to keep walking the dog and working those mental and physical muscles!  My usual resolution to clear away UFOs (UnFinished Objects), starting with a jumper that I last put down in 2009 and which I have now started to work on again today!  I will get to wear it this winter!  (I only hope I haven’t changed shape too much in the meantime!!  LOL) To allow my weaving to develop in ways that engage and enthrall me.  To catch up with all the magazines that piled up whilst I was away earlier in the year, and to begin to get through the piles of books that I seem to acquire each year (it seems there is no hope for bibliophiles like me!!)  And to embrace what the year may bring with an openness that allows for the unexpected to occur and blossom.

May your New Year bring unexpected pleasures and delights to your life.

Happy Weaving!

9 November, 2014

What weaving means to me

I don’t know about you, but I get sent a number of requests from students asking for me to complete questionnaires for their dissertation research.  Some of them are not thought through and in that case I reply tactfully that they need to do a bit of basic research themselves before sending out questionnaires willynilly.  But this week I have had one that gave me pause for thought.

In my own masters research, I read a lot about the importance of tactility in everyday life and art, as that is something I feel passionately about – textiles are for touching for me, although I respect that many ‘art’ pieces are not designed to be handled.  My work is about erosion in all sorts of guises and about tactility and I want people to interact physically with my work.  It’s also a medium that, for the handweaver, insists on physical interaction at different times during the making process.  In every step of creating a warp, I interact with the materials physically, although the planning is all brainwork and 3-dimensional spatial planning inside my head.

The questionnaire I received this week asked me if I find weaving challenging.  This I interpreted two different ways – challenging as in ‘difficult to overcome’, and challenging as in ‘mentally and maybe practically demanding’.  The first meaning isn’t so relevant to me, but the second most definitely so.  If it is not challenging, I am not pushing myself.  Occasionally I do something that doesn’t take too much mental effort but just requires the physical input of weaving – my Xmas cards, for example – but mostly I am challenging myself to develop new ways of doing or learning.  Using the natural world as my inspiration I strive to envisage ways of using weave structures and materials to allow me to interpret geology, growth and erosion patterns from flora, fauna and minerals into textural expressions.  I use all the things I have learnt previously, and play with them, investigating how I can merge ideas or structures to create a different take on something and make something unexpected happen.  Serendipity plays a crucial role but first I have to think things through and move things in a certain direction so that serendipity can have the room to intervene.

Charlotte also asked if weaving is a stressful occupation, and whether it has helped me improve other skills such as problem solving/mathematics/social skills?  Well, yes, occasionally I do get stressed when something goes wrong, but it’s usually if I am in the wrong mind-set anyway, or I feel under pressure from outside forces.  Where I am the person totally in control of things, then I don’t usually get stressed, even when things go wrong.  It takes as long as it takes.  But I know for sure that it has certainly helped me improve problem solving – thinking laterally, seeing what is around me that I can press into service when something physically goes wrong with the loom (happily a fairly rare occurance), being spatially aware of how a flat fabric will shape up into a 3-D piece once it is removed from the loom, thinking in terms of numbers of shafts and patterns when working out what designs to create, and socially, well I get the chance to travel and meet lots of people, sharing with them my technical knowledge, love of weave and my particular way of looking at the world….  All wonderful things to be able to do and share.

I also talked about how weaving can be meditation – getting in the zone allows you to drift away from the pressures of everyday life and focus entirely on the moment, what your body and mind are doing right now, right here.  It has also helped me work out how to approach difficult situations in my emotional life, moral issues raised by a teenage son, and gives me a sense of perspective when things get overblown in my mind.

The questionnaire went on to ask about other aspects of weaving which also required further thought but I stopped for a while to think about just how important these particular questions are to what we do.  We are engaged with our hands, minds, emotions and body, using sight, touch, smell and spatial awareness in the physicality and preparation of weaving.  Yet the act of physically throwing a shuttle allows us to engage analytic thought (if we wish!), but also to focus on the moment, awareness of our bodies, throwing the shuttle and moving the shafts, and also, at the same time, the mental distance from everyday things to allow our subconscious minds to sort out knotty and complex emotional and mental issues whilst we are physically engaged in a rhythmic exercise.

No wonder weave is all-engrossing, and that it continues to be a craft form that gains adherents, devotees, and fanatics (I count myself in the latter group!! ), even more as our daily lives are more and more engaged with digital technology.  The fact that it is found world-wide, and is such an old craft form, is testament to its endurance as an essential craft for our physical but also our mental well-being.

Thank you, Charlotte, for reminding me what weave means to me.

Happy weaving!

1 October, 2014

Technology v Longhand – Either/Or or Both? Reading, writing and weaving

Filed under: Art,Education,Life,Philosophy,Teaching,Travel,Weaving — admin @ 11:15 am

Today I chanced across a post on my Facebook feed.  I don’t usually spend much time on Facebook, but this one article caught my eye and I read further….  http://mic.com/articles/99408/science-has-great-news-for-people-who-read-actual-books

I have always had a reluctance to use e-readers, although I have one.  Wherever possible, I much prefer to pick up a physical book.  I could never put my finger on it, but especially when doing research reading for my masters, I found myself unable to concentrate if reading text on an e-reader.  At the end of the piece, I wouldn’t have understood it and would have to read it again and again.  It frustrated me that I couldn’t turn page corners down to emphasize where I had found an interesting point, although I could highlight text, but finding the text again wasn’t so easy, especially if I was carrying several trains of thought in my head at the same time.

Then, once I had ‘liked’ that article, several others popped up underneath the original one.  This time there were three other links to articles that drew me in. The first one was about writing  ….  http://mic.com/articles/98348/science-shows-writers-have-a-serious-advantage-over-the-rest-of-us

I am a diary girl.  It helps me to keep track of ideas, emotions, events in my currently rollercoaster life, and it also helps me to gain a sense of perspective on my own and others’ actions.  It started a few years ago, proved its value during my masters journey, helped me to keep a memory of places visited on my trips, and now is a way to help me keep track of what I’ve done, upcoming deadlines, and a memory jogger as my own memory is having serious issues!  I know memory is highly subjective anyway, and we only keep a memory of how we view something, and that that memory is subject to change, but I am very aware that my imagination interferes with my memory and I cannot always rely on remembering something accurately.  This is incredibly frustrating and I hate not being able to trust my memory.  So the journal is a vital tool in holding on to my emotions and reflections of events, places and people at the time.  Of course, journals can be manipulated as we write them and most people writing a journal on a computer undo sentences and rewrite.  It is easy to do, and can allow streams of consciousness writing which are then re-written.  In a physical journal, if you don’t want to end up with phrases crossed out, you are required to construct the sentence and therefore the slant in your head prior to committing it to the paper.  I know that my own emotional issues have been helped by writing them out both on paper and in an e-diary.  Curiously, I findthat I tend to get more emotionally involved in my writing if I am writing in a physical diary, and to stay with the emotions longer – not always a good thing.  Writing emotionally on the keyboard is not so immersive and reading back my writing on the laptop has a distancing effect, as if I am reading someone else’s writing.  This can have value, especially if the emotions you are expressing are not positive ones.

The next article seemed to bear out my own thinking  http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/reading-paper-screens/  and led on to another article that seemed to encapsulate my own experience when note-taking in tutorials/lectures at university during my masters….. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-learning-secret-don-t-take-notes-with-a-laptop/

I had done both methods and totally related to mindless typing of verbatim discussions, missing the wood for the trees in a discussion and wondering what had just happened when the session was finished.  After a few ‘typed’ sessions, I reverted to hand-written notes and understood far more from patchier notes.  It also struck me that court recorders might have to disengage with the content of what they are recording in order to distance the mind to focus on the taking down of accurate records.  Theirs has to be verbatim notes but if they actually thought about the content, would their emotions have an impact on their efficiency of record taking?  I’d love to hear from a court recorder about how they work.

This got me thinking about how we learn in weaving.  I am currently studying Marian Stubenitsky’s book ‘Echo & Iris’.  I struggle with learning something new.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, it usually takes me about 3 weeks to process a visiting tutor’s weaving workshop.  I just have to stay with the discomfort of not knowing what people are talking about or understanding the fundamentals of a new technique and suddenly it will ‘click’.  When working through a book, I read the information, weave the samples, and then analyse the physical weaving.  When teaching drafting, I do not allow my students to start off with the computer.  Even if they have the weaving software, I encourage them to do the drawdown with pencil and squared paper.  Why?  Because in the slow process of physically drafting by hand, their brains can assimilate the visual knowledge and turn it into comprehension of the relationship of warp and weft.

I’ve just been weaving 8S versions of some of Marian’s samples.  It took me a while to realize that I work better with Bonnie Inouye’s method of tie-up and to change Marian’s tie-ups into a Bonnie-method.  Then suddenly I could see what the two sides were supposed to be doing.  I could then work out how I wanted to adapt the liftplans to give me the results I was looking for.  During the writing of this blog, I have had a sudden ‘click’ moment about how to get the effects I am wanting to achieve but I am going to go back to the software to check if my thinking will actually work before I weave it.  I am able to do that because I know what I am looking for, but if I didn’t, I would go back to drafting longhand to understand the principles before going to the software to develop designs quickly (relatively speaking!).

What am I trying to say here, in my long-winded way?  I think that technology in reading, writing and weaving is very useful, can be time-saving, can also allow for weaving experimentation in a way that old-fashioned drafting precludes by its very ease of use, but that comprehension is required before that experimentation can occur and for me, longhand drafting can aid in that comprehension in a way that technology cannot provide.  It’s very interesting to read (electronically) the four articles looking at how digital reading and writing can impact on our memory and comprehension and to note that it would have been very probable that someone like me would not have had access to this kind of material prior to digital technology.  The dissemination of information is so wide-spread thanks to technology.

For me, digital technology is wonderful, but not the be-all-and-end-all.  It has its downsides, things I don’t like about it.  I am aware that I stare at the screen whereas I don’t force my eyes when reading a book.  I change my posture lots when reading a physical book, but find myself hunched in one position not having moved for ages when looking at the computer screen.  I now ensure that I switch the computer off for large chunks of my day, and I limit myself to a certain length of time on the computer at a sitting.  Writing this blog and reading the 4 articles have taken up the best part of a morning.  A useful exercise for me, and therefore not time wasted, but I could have been weaving……

Ultimately, the proof of the pudding is in the weaving, and nothing is more effective than sampling to check that not only the weave structure but also the yarns behave in the way that you intend.  Although I am using a table loom for this warp, the work I will develop from it will be woven on a computer-assisted floor loom – a perfect marriage of technology and hand!

Happy Weaving!

10 August, 2014

Weaving as Meditation

It’s been a while since I last sat down at my AVL to weave serious amounts.  In fact, I warped 12 metres on back in February, and threaded up for the Complex Weavers study group samples for Collapse, Pleat & Bump.  Those samples were finally woven in May after my return from New Zealand, and then the warp was left ready for another Growth Form on my return from Washington.

With one thing and another, it has taken me until this week actually to sit at the loom to start weaving.  Having created a new liftplan and decided to change the amount of plain weave in my overshot tie-up, I started work.

Everything started badly.  The paper weft had been left on the bobbin, wound since May.  It doesn’t like to do that!  The yarn had set itself into its tightly wound spirals and did not want to behave.  Rather belatedly, I remembered that I should always wind it off the bobbin once I have finished my weaving if it is to sit more than a night or so before being used again.

Shafts began to play up and not lift when they were supposed to – rather a problem when they cross layers and you are attempting to weave a tube!  I was getting quite frustrated.

Then I realised…..I was trying to weave too fast.

My thinking was all skewed.  I needed to allow myself to slow down, breathe deeply and focus just on the moment, not on how much I had to do and how little time I had to do it.  Get back to basics.  I had to do what I advise my beginning students to do – enjoy the moment and be aware of everything that is happening.  I started to pay attention to the shafts and not expecting the loom to do it correctly every time.  I allowed myself to smile when one of the shafts misbehaved, and to congratulate myself for having noticed the miscreant!  I decided I would weave a certain amount of picks, and not to worry if it took a long time.

Three hours flew by and 1008 picks (the pattern repeat) looked good.

The next day, I set myself the same 1008 pattern picks to weave.  This time, I thought I was already mentally in the right place, but I wasn’t.  My mind was zooming all over the place and I found myself having conversations aloud with myself!  Two hours dragged, and I wasn’t getting anywhere very fast.  So I stopped for a little while and thought about why this was happening.  OK, so we have a lot going on in our lives at the moment….  Who doesn’t??!  So what could I do to quieten my thoughts and focus on the moment?

Weave 12 picks at a time!  One short burst of concentration.  Followed by another.  And another.  Before I knew where I was, I had woven my complete 1008 picks in a fraction of the time it had taken to weave the first 400 or so!

I now have two intense weeks of teaching ahead of me, and when I tell my students to slow down and savour the moment, I shall smile to myself and remind myself that I still need to learn that lesson myself!

Make haste slowly!

Happy Weaving.

Stacey

20 July, 2014

Ruminations

I must admit to being a little shell-shocked with the past 7 months’ activities.  It has been a total whirlwind of travelling, teaching, experiencing new places and people and now I have landed back on planet reality!

But time to reflect before plunging into the next phase.

January – completing my masters degree and finding out I had been awarded a distinction!  What can I say? Three years of focused learning/investigations into weaving, art history, philosophy, materials, writing essays and fine-tuning things, but most of all, learning about how I think, how others think things through, what art can mean, abstracting ideas and honing in on specifics and details in order to create something that means many different things to different people.  I knew when I began the MA that I would learn so much and develop as a person and an artist, but I have truly discovered so much more through this process than I could possibly have imagined.  I would encourage you, if it is something you have considered doing, take the plunge.

February – immersed in finalising details for workshops in New Zealand, February swooshed by.  Packing my exhibition and teaching materials into two suitcases, as well as a few clothes for a two month visit, took a fair bit of trial and error, and eventual sitting on the suitcases to squeeze out enough air to close the zips!

March – arriving in New Zealand and hitting the ground running.  Agnes didn’t give me time to breathe, which was probably a good thing!  Straight into the Professional Weavers Network Conference at Coopers Beach, North Island.  Stunning area of natural beauty.  The first leg of our joint exhibition Nature in the Making at the Earth House, Peria. A huge thank you to Dhaj Sumner, amazing lady and so warm-hearted, who created the Earth House in the first place, and gave us such a welcome!  Great reception of our work – it looks like it was made to live here!  Continuing preparations for the start of the teaching tour, although a little time to visit a couple of places for geology and relaxation.  Then on tour.  A series of workshops travelling from North to South, from Oruru, through Whangerei, Auckland, Hamilton,  Wellington, meeting lots of new people, lovely weavers, stunning scenery and warm welcomes from generous hosts. including an unexpected holiday in Wellington thanks to Robyn and Dave Parker.

April – over the straits to South Island.  Workshops in Blenheim, Canterbury, Timaru and Dunedin meeting felters as well as weavers and making new friends all the way.  A short break and chill time in Nelson, thanks to Sue and Tom Broad.  Setting up for the second of our exhibitions in New Zealand at Arts in Oxford, near to Christchurch.  Delighted with the gallery – lovely space and warm people.  Special thanks to Rachel McRobb, the gallery manager, and the volunteers, especially Celia for her generosity in sharing her love of local pigments! The work looks amazing in this fine-art gallery space! And thanks to our hosts here, Wilson and George! And in Timaru, lovely Mary and Gary Anderson. Then after the Creative Fibres Forum Festival at Dunedin, a holiday incorporating lots of geology and the west coast.  Amazing!  Firsts include seeing albatross, Hector’s Dolphins and 3 Keas.

May – home again and trying hard to absorb all the sights and sounds of New Zealand whilst preparing for the Complex Weavers Seminars in Tacoma.  Learning how to cut and twist paper for weaving, and busily weaving some more samples to enhance my presentation on textural techniques for 4 – 8 shafts, the month zoomed by.

June – completing preparations for Tacoma, and wondering how I managed to fit all my samples and my exhibition into my suitcases as the samples now seem to be taking up most of my luggage allowance!  Then off to the Pacific NorthWest to hang our exhibition in B2 Fine Art Gallery, visit Seattle to see the Chihuly Museum, and travel some of the west coast of Washington State and pop down to Oregon before the whirlwind that is Complex Weavers Seminars.  A huge thank you to Gary and Deborah Boone, owners of B2 Fine Art Gallery, and wonderful people, for their support and generosity!  Not only did we have an opening ‘do’, but also an artists’ reception and then a very special ‘Nightcap’ dessert reception during Complex Weavers Seminars when the gallery opened especially for the weavers to visit!  Then Complex Weavers Seminars!  Exhausting, exhilarating, and exuberant!  With minds fully overloaded from inspiring teaching seminars, and friendships renewed, new ones made, and amazing sunsets appreciated, it was time to depart.

July – an awe-inspiring trip to Mt Rainier started an incredible two weeks of travelling in Washington and Oregon, visiting geological highlights of Oregon’s coast, mountains, high prairies and river gorges, with huge thanks to Barb and Steve Walker for their hospitality!  Big thanks, too, to Suzie Liles, as our exhibition will travel from Tacoma to Eugene Textile Centre for its next showing from 1st August to 11th October!

So now…..  getting my head around these amazing 7 months; writing up my notes from the US trip and writing down all those weaving ideas that the inspiring countryside and geology have given rise to, then prioritizing those ideas into things I can instigate immediately, and those that will have to wait a while; preparing for an intensive month of teaching; and also researching possible venues for our exhibition here in the UK.  On that last note, if anyone has any suggestions for galleries or museums that might be interested in our work in any country, please don’t hesitate to email me:  stacey@theloomroom.co.uk  and I will follow up!

Who knows – I might even start blogging regularly again!! :^))  Thanks for bearing with me over the last 3 years!

And Happy Weaving!!

 

 

10 July, 2014

The Gem of The Jewel

Filed under: Art,Education,Life,Nature,Travel — admin @ 1:20 am

It’s not often that I press my nose against the window of a jewellery store and really drool (aural alliteration intended!)  but today, in Sisters, Oregon, we discovered a treasure!  The window display lured us in and pure seduction awaited us!  For rock junkies, the lure was fossilised dendrite slate, stunning lab0radite, agates in rock form, jasper, amethyst, petrified wood, fossils, and the list goes on…..  And in addition to these beautiful rocks, set out on other rocks were stunning jewellery which were inspired by the rocks they rested on.

I have never seen such an attractive display of jewellery in my life!  The owner of The Jewel, a jewelry arts gallery, was brought up surrounded by rocks in a mining family (hope I got that right!) and obviously absorbed the inner structure and beauty of the rocks in her DNA because the work is so attuned to the natural forms.  Peggy, the general manager, was on hand to give some background information and to admit that she has THE best job in the world set in a stunning geologically marvellous place (Sisters is in the geologically active Cascade Mountain range on the edge of Central Oregon surrounded by volcanic mountains which are skiers paradise in winter and the exposed lava fields and flows attract many summer visitors).  I can quite see why!!  All the staff were really enthused with the work and we left with Agnes having succumbed to a stunning piece of laboradite.  Unfortunately (fortunately for DH!!) I already have my full luggage weight allowance and couldn’t indulge!!  :^((

But I give advance warning that if I ever am so fortunate as to come to this part of the US again, and Oregon in particular, wild horses would not stop me from paying another visit and buying a gem of a rock to accompany me home.  If you are in the area, I would suggest it as one of the top places to visit if you like beauty/natural beauty/jewelry.  Inthe meantime, I will just have to make do with the inspiration gleaned from the stunning examples of geology in rock form, and the memory of beautiful wearable rock art in the form of unusual jewellery in a memorable display.

PS  The frozen yoghurt shop just down the road is well worth a visit too!!  Especially on a day where the temperatures have hit in excess of 96F…  :^))

27 June, 2014

South Washington Coast

Filed under: Art,Education,Life,Nature,Travel — admin @ 6:09 pm

After the thrills of Columbia, back up to Tacoma for Complex Weavers Seminars, via the coastline of South Washington.  The collections of driftwood all along this northwest coastline are just amazing – twisted, stripped, elegant, sculpted, things of beauty even after its natural life has been torn away…..  Lots to inspire!

 

Borderlines – Columbia River Gorge

Filed under: Education,Life,Nature,Travel — admin @ 5:56 pm

Boundaries and borders are featuring a lot in my life at the moment – in weaving and in travel.  It’s an area that never ceases to amaze and inspire me, and Columbia River Gorge, the boundary between Washington and Oregon, is no exception!  A lovely day spent with views galore, moody skies, waterfalls, rocks (again!) and lovely bridges.  Historic Route 30, running adjacent to the busy Highway 84, is a haven of peace and quiet (except at Multnomah Falls!) and we took all day to travel the 6 – 7 miles taking in the sights and sounds of nature with a hum of manmade traffic in the background!

This time, the mountain in our sights was Mt Hood!

Mount Rainier – inspiration for writers, poets and weavers alike!

Filed under: Art,Education,Life,Nature,Travel — admin @ 5:39 pm

When in Tacoma, it would be remiss of us not to visit Mt Rainier, prominent as it is on sunny days in between the various buildings of the city!

It is a veritable feast for the eyes with snow fields and reflection pools which, at this time of year, still have snow and ice covering them but slowly melting.  Lots of trees, waterfalls, rock formations (lots of volcanic rock, basalt, lava, huge boulders) – right up our street.  It took us a full day and we didn’t cover all the ground!  But then, we do travel slowly, taking our time, absorbing the sights, sounds and atmosphere…..

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