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December 26, 2020 / weavingschool

Daily Weavings 2005 -2020

From 1921 to 1954, Simon Rodia built the Watts Towers using reclaimed materials. It was just what he did. Legend claims that one day he said, “I’m finished” and walked away and never returned. I think about him as each year draws to an end. I’ve been making daily weavings since 2005 for no particular reason. Originally, I decided to see if I could make a 3” square weaving every day for a year, but here we are all these years later. I have entered some in shows and am surprised whenever a viewer relates to my daily living scraps. Mostly though, it is just what I do a few minutes every day.

I imagine the day will come when I’m “finished” and lately, I do feel like it is coming to an end. One thing keeping me going though is that I’ve never been able to answer the question, “what will I do instead?” The scrap materials that come into my house over the years have changed; so much is virtual these days. The search for something I’ve encountered each day has had to change. The focus has been a bit different each year. For the last couple of years, I’ve been layering either directly onto last year’s day or just a group on top of the year before. Three hundred sixty-five of anything takes up a lot of space and my house is full. When the pandemic started I began making smaller daily weavings. I’ve felt diminished by staying home, losing all my teaching jobs and trips many never to return, too much free time to be the most productive. So, for now at least, out of curiosity to see what all these months will look like, I will finish out the year and continue during the pandemic isolation time. 

2020 Daily Weavings

December 17, 2020 / weavingschool

Thoughts on Zooming in the Time of Covid

The Advantage and Limitation of Zoom Meetings

Yesterday’s Arrowmont Instructor Roundtable: Lost and Found Zoom program spoke to me in so many ways. One of the things that stood out was the use of found items as opposed to going to art stores and buying supplies. I’d started machine stitching on paper long before I left Atlanta where I was teaching elementary school art and was a longtime member of the local fiber guilds. Tired of hearing that nobody weaves anymore (not true) along with the “it’s all about placemats” mentality I’ve seen all too often, I made a small weaving using materials from each of the 26 letters of the alphabet. (footnote: I love that people can weave perfect placemats in complicated weave structures. Weaving today has so many more pathways to follow that it did when it was a necessity.)
 
I’ve been working more and more with found items since I moved to rural TN and lost supply sources and people who “spoke my language.” What could I use that came from my only supplier: Walmart? I began to look at materials in a different way. I wove a set of placemats using repurposed things playing on the idea that if it was a placemat, it sold for $12, if the same piece was hung on the wall as art it sold for 10 or 20 times that much. I was gifted with dozens of boxes containing 500 each of shirt labels from a closed sewing factory. Multiples became a material, no longer a shirt label. All at once, I could make something that nobody else in the entire world was making. I cut up and rewove and stitched on found papers on international trips on long train rides or in parks. During political times a number of years ago when the US had a “deck of death”, I sat in civic meetings crocheting around found antique pictures of long lost people. People admired my beautiful decorations and traditional craft while my actual intent was a war protest, something not allowed in my new community. It was my form of performance art.

So many questions were left unasked and unanswered in the short time of the Zoom meeting. I once had a conversation with an admired art teacher about whether it was wrong to objectify the people in an old photograph. How did the artists in the meeting feel about this when altering an image or did it occur to them? I once had pushback because I “destroyed a book” by altering the pages. How did the three artists feel when altering something by hiding its original use. Did the historical value or original intention affect their approach to using the items? I had trouble cutting up that book and still have ones I want to alter but can’t bring myself to cut apart; books nobody wants but are too good to destroy.  I didn’t take the book’s intent lightly when changing it for my use. I had serious conversations about life with the person I was working with at the time.

During the pandemic, I finished a long thought about installation piece using the 6000 tiny bottles of insects my daughter collected and identified for her PhD research. There are so many things to say in this time of living life in Zoom meetings. Maybe it is time to get back to sourcing new materials. 

Clockwise from top left: Shirt label skirt, Bug Bottles, Map Journey, Placemat, Alphabet Weavings, Who Are These People, Bible Belt
November 8, 2020 / weavingschool

Forest Floor

detail

Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts annual Meet the Artist: https://airauctioneer.com/mta2020

Link to Forest Floor: https://airauctioneer.com/mta2020/forest-floor-woven-and-embellished-work-with-beaded-flowers-geri-forkner-value-300

22″ x 14″ 
Techniques: Natural and chemical dyes, woven section done during residency, various felting techniques, bead flowers, hand and machine embroidery
Materials: Wool, sari silk, vintage lace, repurposed garment, various silk cloths, glass beads, pearls; cotton, wool, and rayon yarns.

Link to the Meet The Artists web page: https://www.arrowmont.org/visit/events/meet-the-artists/

January 31, 2020 / weavingschool

From Gaudy Gatlinburg to Bustling Bangkok

I’ve just arrived in Bangkok and am struck (with the help of a little alliteration) by similarities between Gatlinburg’s tourist crowds and traffic jams and the over the top sounds, constant movement, and traffic of Bangkok. There is an excitement to both places of course. When I’ve had enough, I can step just beyond the gates of Arrowmont or retreat to my hotel room in Bangkok. Finding food, shopping, and hanging out with family and friends are universal entertainment.

 

January 22, 2020 / weavingschool

Out of the Frying Pan (So to Speak)

The temperature this morning in TN is 18 degrees so to make myself feel warmer, I looked up the weather in Bangkok where I’m headed next week. It is 84 degrees there at 9pm, a twelve-hour difference from Eastern Standard Time, with a high of 93. Not sure this strategy worked.
My project for the Rangsit University’s Pattana Art Gallery this year is an installation piece that asks fashion design students who attend the two days of workshops to reflect on how they will make their work stand apart from the vast amount of clothing being designed these days. Texture? Color? Shape? Design? So many things to consider. The students and viewers will be asked to write a response and attach it to the exhibit. The instillation piece includes streamers constructed of shirt labels, spun dress pattern paper, and crochet wire figures hanging on for dear life.  Many of the shirt labels have mirrors attached to them. I often put mirrors in the bottom of my vessels so that the viewer looks back at him/herself when peering down to see what’s inside.
Here is a picture of the spun dress paper packed and ready for instillation. I’ll post pictures of the exhibit in about two weeks when it goes live.

SpunPaper.JPG

January 12, 2020 / weavingschool

Up Close at TN Aquarium

I’ve been volunteering at the Tennessee Aquarium almost since we moved to TN. I’m continuously inspired by the colors and textures every time I go. Today was no exception. Here are a few of the pictures I took. Hard to limit to these few.

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December 26, 2019 / weavingschool

Finding Home

I wrenched myself out of Arrowmont about two weeks ago after spending three months there as the first of what will become six Appalachian Craft and Culture Fellows. This morning I was reminded of one of the things I missed while I was there.

Before heading to Arrowmont in September, I dyed the yarn I intended to weave with natural dyes influenced by a class from the very knowledgeable Donna Brown. So much cochineal pink. I’d come across some exhibits about Annie Albers recently. That, combined with my thinking we are living in the 1930’s lately, led me to pictures by Gunta Stolzl were pink dominated the images.

So this morning’s glorious pink sunrise made me jump up and grab my camera before the fleeting color disappeared. The dots connected automatically.

The view from my living room windows is a privilege I’ll never take for granted.

December 20, 2019 / weavingschool

When is Enough Enough

IMG_5100I wonder if it’s enough every year at this time since I’ve been doing daily weavings. Will I say one day, “I’m finished” like Simon Rodia who spent most of his lifetime building the Watts Towers? Or will I just keep chugging along the next year as usual? One thing keeping me going is that I’ve never been able to answer the question what will I do instead? Not that I spend so much time on each daily weaving that it would leave a big hole to fill in my time each day. Over the years, the daily trash has changed. So much used to come in the mail but with internet that has changed things. I actively look for something to use now instead of waiting for it to walk into the house. At times, I work through my accumulated stash of things.

September 26, 2019 / weavingschool

Weaving and Felting in Atlanta

This past weekend, I was invited by my long term Atlanta guild, Chattahoochee Handweavers Guild, to do a slide presentation and workshop. I had a blast visiting with friends and being inspired by all a big city has to offer. The “weaving for felting” workshop requires folks to rethink every weaving rule and learn how to shingle wool. This group had never even heard the term “shingle” but they jumped right in and never looked back. The results were spectacular.

August 15, 2019 / weavingschool

Thoughts on Natural Dyes

I’ll have to admit, I never really “got” the use of using extracts for natural dyes. After all, wasn’t part of the lure of natural dyeing going out in the woods and finding the dye materials. Well, all that went by the wayside when I took a class from Donna Brown (link to her garden project) at Shakerag Workshops this summer. First of all, somebody did go out and pick and process the actual dye materials, it just wasn’t me swatting misquotes and trudging through tall grasses. I even sent my granddaughter out to pick Queen Ann’s Lace for one of the many dye pots I did the rest of the summer because I guess I’m just a little older that I was when I started this adventure in the 1970 and 80s. But most importantly, natural dye extracts can be thickened and used to make beautiful art cloth by stamping, painting, or silk screening.  Combined with the ability to change the color of the cloth by changing the pH using discharging and darkening agents, the possibilities are ever expanding. Now I have stacks of yardage and yarns to keep me busy this winter when the plant materials have died back and the water in the three season workroom has been turned off before the first freeze.
Here is a small sampling of what I’ve done so far.