Friday, July 14, 2006

Here I am....

We spent the week after Convergence at the North Carolina shore. It was fun, not too hot, we watched July 4th fireworks on the beach, and ate lots and lots of seafood.

This week I've been trying to get my house back in order: literally and mentally.

During the long car ride I read an article about Jeanne Williamson's Weekly Journal Quilts in the summer issue of Quilting Arts magazine. (You may click to go read her artist's statement now, but don't forget to come back!!) I've done some quilting, but don't count myself as a quilter. However the concept of journaling by doing one managebly sized fiberart piece per week has caught my imagination.

Anne Lamott talks a lot about "sh*tty first drafts" in her book Bird by Bird. I'm sure I've blogged about this book before. Although it's directed at writers, it has wonderful suggestions for anyone trying to live a creative life.

I like to swatch, but I don't think they count as the "first draft" concept. And having seen the value of warm-up exercises in music, drawing, and writing classes, I've failed to find the equivalent of warm-up exercises in approaching my fiber stuff. Let's face it, mending is not a warm up exercise for creating great fiber art.

Enter this cute little lap loom, made by Tom Hockett, which I purchased at Convergence (click on the picture to see it larger and clearer.)

I happened to have it and some fancy colored crochet threads along in the car. So I warped it up and started to weave, picking up each alternating shed with a pick-up stick. That was about a thrilling a warm-up exercise as restitching the crotch seam on my ripped out shorts. There had to be a better way. Some sort of shedding device would make things go much better.

As I sat on the beach, staring at the sun, then the moon, drenched waves, I was mentally working over this problem. In the back of my mind I could vaguely see some kind of trinket or gadget that was back home and would help make a shedding device. At 3 AM on Wed. night I woke up knowing that the gadget I was thinking of were my son's old Kinex building set. (Apparently my 7th grade gym teacher was right, fish is brain food. That's the night I had mahi instead of shrimp or scallops.)

So here's the first thing I did when I got home:

Clever little shedding device, no? When it comes to weaving, I think I like the tinkering with the loom as much as creating woven fabric.

I think this little loom would be the perfect device to imitate Jeanne Williamson by doing a series of small pieces to explore fibers, colors, and techniques. There a couple ideas niggling the back of my mind: Tapestry techiniqes, finger manipulated weaves, and needle weaving techniques.

I'm curious to know what you think after you've read and looked over Jeanne's website. Also, if you want more details on the making of the shedding device, let me know.


  1. The whole concept of a sample journal really strikes a chord with me. In a vague way, I think I had something similar in mind when I started my blog. However I haven't set myself any specific rules like Jeanne Williamson did. But when I look at her productivity I see the real value of having specific goals.

    I have been working on a lot of weaving samples in an attempt to explore various structures and color effects. One thing that motivates me to sample is wanting to grow as an artist and not wanting to get stuck in a creative (or rather non-creative) rut. Then I’ll reach a point where I feel unproductive and want to show something "real" for my efforts (as if samples and swatches are figments of our imagination - lol). So I waffle back and forth between those 2 ideas and sometimes I feel like I’m just spinning my wheels.

    Valerie, your comments are thought stimulating. Now I’m curious though about the concept of “first drafts” as I haven’t read that book. Could you explain this a little better? I’m intrigued.

  2. Hi Valerie - I've missed you! I think your eureka idea in the night for the loom was a terrific one. I recently gave what seems likes a roomful of kinnex to goodwill, as Young Man is now 18. The weekly quilt sample project is an interesting idea. I thought I could see a maturing in the work (each piece had its own stand alone quality) as each year progressed. I don't feel I have time to take on one more creative endeavour, and perhaps (for me)the sense of not being creative "enough" carries it's own "creative juice sucking" burden.

  3. Lovely little loom. And very clever use of old toys.
    I once made a lazy kate out of knex in a moment of desperation.

    Your journal reminds me of the daily exercise that my 3rd year drawing teacher gave us those many years ago. It was basically, spend 15 minutes a day in your journal. It didn't matter what we did, drawing, painting, collage, anything, just so long as we spent 15 minutes doing something. I explored a variety of ways to make marks and pictures and "little artworks" (my journal being 5"x7" ) and usually spent much more than the required time. I still have them, and enjoy going through them and realizing that my mind used to work in a creative way a lot of the time. As the kids get older, I am trying to reclaim my 15 minutes, but I have to say that it is hard. As they get older, I am hoping that it will get easier.


tie in the loose ends...