I’ve just received word that “Goodbye, Ma II” (the phoenix) and “The Tao of Cats” (the cat placemats) have been juried into HGA Convergence’s Mixed Bag exhibit. So if you’re going to Convergence, stop by the exhibit and see them!
Lieven came over last week to do the “official” photo shoot for my show entries, and I got the final shots a few days later. They’re beautiful!
Here are the finished cat placemats (I completed them late so I shot them myself):
And here are the two phoenixes, both full photos and detail shots. I can tell them apart easily, but then, mothers always know their offspring, right? I think it would be hard for most people to distinguish the two, so I’ve titled them “Goodbye, Ma (v.1)” and “Goodbye, Ma (v.2)” It occurred to me after I sent in my show entries that using software terminology for numbering pieces is about the least sexy possibility out there, but oh well. Henceforth I shall name them something sexier, like “Tweedledee” and “Tweedledum”.
I also decided to enter the musk ox scarf and the sea-turtle scarf, and the photos are so lovely I have to share:
And here is a shot of the photographer at work, in my oh-so-glamorous “photography studio”:
And that’s it for now!
The last few days have been an exercise in frustration.
I started weaving the second phoenix yesterday. A few inches into it, I realized that some threads were not lifting as they should…which meant something was wrong. I tried gently loosening the pistons on the errant threads, but then others started sticking. After some diagnostic work, I realized that the problem wasn’t with the loom, but the environment. The TC-2 is designed to work within a temperature range of 62-82 F and a relative humidity of 30-65%. I was trying to weave at too low a temperature and too high a humidity. So the bores were contracting and the pistons (I think) expanding, resulting in stuck pistons.
I solved this problem by cranking up the dehumidifier, turning on the space heater, and giving things a couple of hours to settle. Magic! No more sticking.
Almost immediately, however, I ran into some ergonomic issues. Apparently my body does not like having to press the TC-2 foot pedal repeatedly, either standing or sitting. As a result, I’ve been battling hip bursitis for the last few months. After about a hundred picks, the bursitis flared up and I had to stop. Clearly, this had to be fixed.
So, at Mike’s urging, I attached the foot pedal to the castle of the TC-2, where I could trigger the next pick/lift by hand before beating the next pick. This solved the problem, and I wove almost eight inches successfully. Hooray!
But then I noticed something ominous. The bottom of the piece looked vertically stretched. I pulled out the finished phoenix to compare, and confirmed that the vase was far longer than it should be, even taking shrinkage into account. I started cursing, because I knew exactly what had happened. Moving the pedal to the castle had changed my weaving rhythm. Because I was triggering the new position by hand, I was bringing the beater forward (to place each thread in place) at a different point in the open/close rhythm of the lifting threads. That was enough to change my pick density (number of threads per inch), which elongated the weaving.
This would not be a major problem – the phoenix might be a little stretched, but not too badly – except that I had rashly included a moon in the piece. The moon, as everyone knows, is a sphere, so an ovoid moon would look distinctly out of place. So there is nothing for it except to weave another sample, correct the aspect ratio, and start over. Hopefully I will have enough yarn to finish the reworked version!
Fortunately, all is not frustration. I had some fun as well, doodling up a set of cat napkins to match the cat placemats. In addition to conveniently offering each diner a cat demanding to be fed, the napkins are designed so that, when folded into quarters, each quarter contains a cat or a cat yin-yang. The plan is for a set of 22×22″ napkins, a generous size for any spills. (The colors will change when I actually weave the napkins – probably burgundy or cranberry against black.)
I’m itching to get this 25-yard warp off the loom, so I’ve been plotting projects to use up some of it. We don’t really have enough place mats, and we certainly don’t have handwoven napkins, so I doodled up this place mat design using clip art licensed for noncommercial use:
While they’re not going to win design awards, the design is quite striking, and I think will make a fun set of place mats. I’ll likely weave the place mats as stitched double weave, and also do a matching set of napkins in single-layer cloth. To avoid wasting warp, I’ll weave two placemats at once, side by side, and weave two napkins at once, one on top of the other. That will use up about 24″ of warp for each pair of place mats and 24″ of warp for each pair of napkins, so each set of six place mats and napkins will use up 4 yards of warp. Hmm, perhaps I should weave a few more as gifts…I’m sure my friends and relatives would love them!
The place mats should also be a fun technical challenge. Since they need to be woven side by side, I need to construct a weave structure that will lift first one side, then the other. I don’t think that’s hard but it will take some figuring, which should be fun! I also need to make that structure a stitched double weave to hold the layers of the place mat together – again, not too hard, but complicated enough to add some interesting challenge to the design process.
Similarly, for the napkins, I’ll need to design them to be woven as top and bottom layers. I think that will be easier, though.
I’ve decided that my goal for the New Year will be to start keeping a sketchbook, and make entries in the sketchbook at least once a day. Curiously, there doesn’t appear to be sketchbook software that does everything I want it to – draw images, flip rapidly through pages, search text in images, etc. So I’m going to create the sketchbook pages in Photoshop (or on my iPad if I’m not at home), save each page as a .jpg file, and then dump the .jpgs into Evernote to make them searchable. Kinda kluge-y, but it works.
I’ve created seven or eight pages in my sketchbook already, and am looking forward to creating more. They are mostly design doodles, not developed enough to share here, but it’s good to capture those thoughts as they fly by. I may revisit some of them in my quest for new designs.
Speaking of cute cats, here’s an adorable one, playing “King of the Luggage”. (He is not looking at the camera because he is alertly watching for the Other Cat, lest she try to unseat him.)