Listen to the Art
“The whole culture is telling you to hurry, while the art tells you to take your time. Always listen to the art.” ~Junot Diaz
“I’m late / I’m late / For a very important date. / No time to say “Hello, Goodbye”. / I’m late, I’m late, I’m late.” White Rabbit: [singing]
Since I last posted I have been trying to listen to the art, but I feel like the white rabbit.
Weaving is such a strange endeavor to pursue in the modern world – every step takes so much time, and if you try to explain your morning/day of inserting 500 or 5000 threads through heddle eyes to almost anyone who is not a weaver, you will get incredulity. And yet it seems like such a great antidote for what ails us in the modern world: stress, anxiety, lack of tangible product, distractedness, the need for meaningful creative outlets and the lack of connection between what we consume and how it is produced.
That said, it is problematic as a solution because it is so time consuming, the items we produce are almost never “necessities”, it is rarely lucrative, and in fact expensive to pursue. As I often joke to my husband, “All I’m asking for is all the money, all the time and all the space – that’s all.”
When hand weaving is seen in the media (rarely) it is used to describe someone who is an unrealistic kook or some kind of hippy throwback. Have you ever seen a depiction of a modern-day hand weaver that isn’t comic and often kind of pathetic? So, in the face of obsolescence, marginalization, ridicule and expense – what are we hand weavers to do?
Weave more! I think that the obstacles might even be part of the reason we have to weave. It is hard, it is time consuming and it doesn’t give us any status (money) in the modern world. All these characteristics might be the proof of the value of weaving to those who find it. It is hard – so are most things that give us satisfaction. It is time consuming – virtually everything that results in something good takes time. It is anti-status – may be the best thing about it because if we continue to spend time and effort on something that is status negative in the modern world we are taking a stand against a strain of modern values that undervalue process, overvalue wealth, that divide product and origin to the point that very few modern Americans can tell you if a fabric is knit or woven.
Art (weaving) enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. Thomas Merton
I will now step off the soap box and do a quick photo montage of my world (weaving and otherwise) since I last blogged (? shame emoji about blog frequency).
Finished waffle throw woven with oldest son (in last blog post)
Youngest son in Arcadia by Tom Stoppard
Crazy post-blizzard sky as we headed to Red Stone Glen Fiber Arts Center https://www.facebook.com/redstoneglenfiberartscenter/ Tom Knisely’s & Sara Bixler’s new weaving retreat.
My Ugh Rug – great workshop company and instruction – sadly I was hemmed in (pun intended) by my rag colors. Thanks to Becky Jensen for the pin-up pal.
Great new weaving buddies braved the storm.
Another rug – learned a lot – main lesson – choose your rags carefully!
An amazing treat from Becky Jensen – a ply-split necklace to beautify (further) Fiona. I have yet to find the right hardware . . .
Speaking of Fiona . . . here she is in the midst of a lovely, soft snowfall just minutes before a horrific encounter with a porcupine that left her looking like a cactus and us with a hefty vet bill.
And speaking of Fiona . . . she claimed my long-on-the-loom cashmere mill-end throw the minute it came off the loom. I can’t resist those peepers!
The B & W Throws. Lots of weaving food for thought.
Larger scale versions of the “Linen-Grid” draft in softball cotton and 6/2 eco-cotton.
And in the midst of the hustle bustle we lost my amazing grandmother Hazel. She died in her sleep, at home, at 102 so her burial was more a joyful remembrance of her life than sad occasion. My “Mam-ma” was renown for her love of and skill with beads, decorative embroidery, sequins and anything girly and sparkly. Unbeknownst to us she had ordered and been paying for her casket for years. She had chosen a pink and gold casket that was just perfect. One of the family brought a big container of glitter and sequins that we all scattered on her casket (youngest family member seen carefully placing her handful of sequins in the picture above) in a cloud of glitz that Mam-ma would have loved. We miss you Mam-ma!
As soon as I returned from my grandmother’s burial I had to get busy winding warps for upcoming classes – above are a few of the 54 warps that I have since wound and mailed out – whew!
Jodi Nager’s fab sample from a recent workshop . . .
and Nina Laurie’s
and Trish Colson’s sampler off he loom!
Diane Roeder getting her sampler started
Leslie Ann Bestor trying some color variations
And finally – 8 placemats in 10/2 hemp – learned a lot (again . . . sigh) about keeping track of border designs and even beat. So the moral of the story is Weave On! In the face of dismissive societal attitudes, uneven beats, and insanely time-consuming ugly rag prep.
I’m so interested in what you say here. I do think weavers are responsible for how our work is perceived. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of bad weaving, homely handwoven bad fitting garments that have represented handweaving (I’m remembering the 60’s, before I was a weaver, but was a hippy). But not now. Weavers like you, and many others, Adele Stafford, Voices of Industry, Erin M Riley’s provocative tapestry, Jessica Green, A Little Weather, Brent Wadden, artist, are a few that come to my mind when I think of new weaving. It’s a changing game, weaving is sexy, and more profitable. Its status is on the rise, and it’s a very exciting time to be a modern weaver.
Sooo glad to get your comment – a sparky antidote to my “glass-half-full” vision of modern weaving. Now I must go to check out your list . . . exciting!
Thank you for providing a very timely response to a question that I frequently ask myself. You have so eloquently listed the reasons I will continue to devote the time, money (I’m still building my arsenal of weaving tools, equipment and fibers), and energy on this most fascinating, frustrating, and ultimately wonderfully satisfying journey.
Thanks for the comment. It is good to remind ourselves that what we are doing has meaning beyond the immediate need for kitchen towels especially because we are replacing time with fabric to paraphrase Chiyoko Tanaka.
thank you Elisabeth you hit the nail on its head, today I met one of our previous neighbors who I know love textiles and told her about our weaving exhibition closing today, at the same venue there is a creative hands [modern quilts] exhibition on as well, that she saw but didn’t even go to see the weaving, as she thought it was not worth the time to go and see it. So it is educating people about hand weaving and the time it takes to produce a quality piece!
Thanks for the comment Marlene,
I have had similar experiences so many times. I think in part it is lack of education and pretty easy availability of (beautiful) commercial cloth, but it is also in part that weavers are often more caught up in the process and forget about the ultimate goal of making beautiful cloth that non-weavers can appreciate. I see beautifully crafted hand-weaving all the time that would never be noticed by non-weavers as unique or different than something commercially made. It is such a hard balance to strike to make cloth that is as well woven/usable as commercial cloth, but has the verve and spirit of a handmade item. I guess we should all be “weaving” toward that goal:))
Lisa: I’m in tears right now after reading your post.
I’m not being sappy. I, too, want to not be the white rabbit in this crazy mediocre world. My big AVL is warped,after a lot of frustration, with some Christening blanket yardage to donate to church. Why do I do this? Why do I spend hours threading silly Texsolv heddles and fighting shafts and wonky threads? Darn there are some crossed threads that need fixing. Why not be like everyone else and just knit an easy blanket out of super-duper loopy goopy bulky chunky acrylic? It’s a lot faster after all.
Why? Because I’m slowly (after a long hiatus) starting to let Art lead me again. Slowly, I’m starting to focus away from what the Inner Critic keeps telling me, and just letting the threads pull me in.
Thanks for putting words to what is going on in my mind!
Hello Again Allen,
Tears of joy and tears of frustration seem to be part of “wet finishing” for most of my projects . . . joy in the doing/frustration in the too frequent undoing! I am happy, happy that you are telling that haranguing inner critic to butt out and let the threads sing. Isn’t it a puzzle that we so often shy away from the deep (sometimes difficult) engagements that fulfill us in favor of the (in your fab words) super-duper loopy goopy bulky chunky cheap thrills that leave us anxiously unsatisfied?? Thanks so much for your thoughts . . . good luck with the Christening blankets – double blessed babies!