OK, I wasn’t planning to do anything special for my sixth weaving birthday, but I decided that it’s good to reflect on the past and the future at least once a year, and my weaving birthday seems an appropriate occasion. So here goes:
There was only one memorable event this year, but it was huge: the American Textile History Museum wanted my wedding dress! It’s extremely unusual for someone without considerable artistic stature to get their work into a museum, and I’m honored.
I also finished some largish projects: Autumn Splendor of course (which won “Most Original” at CNCH, and was juried into the Complex Weavers’ “Glamour, Glitter, Glitz” exhibit), and the Celtic Braid Coat, which is slated to be published in one of the weaving periodicals next year.
And I started two new and extremely ambitious projects – Creating Craft (the book on designing original craft pieces) and Phoenix Rising.
Hmm. I guess it’s been a busier year than I thought!
Anyway, on to the reflection part:
I think the biggest thing this year was choosing my creative direction: whether to get into the gallery/museum track or to stick with the craft side (weaving conferences, etc.). I think I’ve decided to stay on the craft side, at least for now – both because that’s where my book’s audience is and because I’m really not ready to enter the gallery market yet. I haven’t yet found my artistic “voice”, especially if I step out of handwoven couture and into more arty stuff. I need to play and experiment with different types of projects than the ones I’ve been doing, and that will likely take a year or two at least. Once I have a better idea of my own voice, I’ll be able to figure out where to sell my work, if I decide to go down that path.
The second biggest thing this year was something that didn’t happen: I didn’t focus on weaving, and thus didn’t expand my weaving horizons substantially. Instead, I dove into pattern drafting for fashion design, and produced my first original garment design, Autumn Splendor. I got some advice from Sharon, but I did pretty much all the design work myself, and learned a lot in the process. But – very little weaving study. About the only thing original about Autumn Splendor, weaving-wise, was the use of knitted blanks and precision dyeing.
What this means to me is that, weaving-wise, I’ve finally got the skills I need to do my work. This is huge. Most of my efforts in the preceding five years were devoted to learning the craft of weaving. I’m still not a master by any means, but I’ve reached the point where I don’t need much hand-holding anymore; I can figure out most things on my own. I can now turn my attention to other disciplines where my skills are much weaker, and spend time developing them as well.
I have no intentions of giving up weaving, of course – but now I find I can do other things, too. Huge!
The final thing is that I’ve realized that winning awards no longer matters that much to me. While it’s fun to get ribbons, I think judging is a little arbitrary in choosing among the many excellent pieces out there. I’ve also won enough of them to have a feeling of been-there-done-that about them. What that means to me is that I’m feeling much more secure about my artistic abilities than I was in the past five years. Also excellent news!
And here are my goals for the next year:
- Finish the book. This means experimenting extensively with design and construction processes, and creating lots of examples. This will probably have a profound impact on Phoenix Rising, which will likely be the guinea pig for most examples.
- Finish at least one project from the Phoenix Rising series. This will probably not be a garment – it’s too big an effort to manage on top of the book – but it might be a quilt from handwoven fabrics, or a wall hanging, or something similar. I do intend to begin the garment, but I don’t expect to finish this year.
- Continue exploring writing about craft with the intent of “getting serious” about my writing – I’m not sure what that means beyond the writing of the book, but I want to think about it in the year to come. I don’t think the book is the end of this – it’s just a beginning.
- Consider what makes me happy in craft, and how that ties into my other goals. It’s occurred to me (not for the first time) that I’m not really a master of anything, and never will be: instead, I’m an adventurer, a traveler. It’s just not in me to settle into a single craft – instead, I wander between them, “sewing together” the different crafts I’ve traveled through. I rarely want to achieve the same thing twice: having gotten one piece into a museum, I don’t feel the same drive to place a second piece. Instead I want to move on to other things, but what? Ah, that’s the rub.
And that concludes my reflections on the past year, and on the future. Here’s to another year of weaving, writing, and chocolate!