When fiber becomes your obsession

When fiber becomes your obsession

I woke up this morning with art on my mind…I was obsessed with potholder looms

Yep…Potholder. Looms.

You know the kind you use to make those girl scout craft potholder, that uses loops of knit fabric. I imagine for many of us it was the first kind of weaving we ever did. For me it was not so much about the potholders as much as it was about the small loom and all the other possibilities I was imagining I could create on the little 7x7 loom. This has been an idea festering in my head for months now, and I was sick of not acting on it.

Okay maybe it was a little bit about the pot holders…

I love the asymmetrical designs that remind me of Gee’s Bend Quilts.

So after my day of pot holder obsession, I began to play with some possibilities working yarn on the little loom. Now I know it seems counter intuitive that I am moving away from say a table or floor loom. Here are some of the reasons I am actually looking to go with a smaller loom as opposed to moving to a bigger more complex loom.

I hate warping. The bigger and more complex the loom, the longer it takes to warp. In fact once you get to something like an 8 heddle floor loom, you could easily spend more time warping a loom than actually weaving. Now granted a Saori loom does have a feature that allows one to easily warp their loom by using a rewound warp and changing out the removable beam. And there are also tricks of tying a new warp onto the end of the old and advancing the ties through the heddles. But for the most part. I am just not a fan.

Looms are expensive. Maybe when my profit margins are bigger, I might consider a bigger loom. And in terms of teaching others to weave, it just makes more sense to help others find their art without such a hefty financial commitment.

Art weaving is best in small doses. This is totally my opinion. My short stubby body can not pull off too much lock spun without looking like Fred Flintstone. If I want art weaving to be a focal point, the best way to do that is by surrounding it with a contrast of smoother textures.

Instant gratification, diving deeper into study. My ceramics teacher recently said, “When you get an idea, exhaust it. Don’t just make it once, make it 10, 20, 30 times. Explore it deeply.” YES! This. When you do a technique just once, it remains just that. A technique. When you do it over and over and over again, each time you are adding you own style to what you are making. It becomes your art. Working on a smaller loom takes way less time to to finish a piece than a length of cloth. You can blow through a series in no time. I find myself flush with new ideas when I am working with smaller weavings.

A different approach to construction. Nothing makes me want to drink wine more than having to cut fiber art. And If I am making yardage of hand woven cloth for a garment, that is exactly what I would have to do. In my reference library, most of the garment books specific to hand woven cloth spend a lot of time constructing garments with the least amount of cuts possible. I have been toying with ways to piece a garment as you would in freeform crochet of working with granny squares.

 

So, this week I am working through the quirks of this loom, exploring different ways to warp, different ways to finish. I am really hating the gap of “teeth” in the corners. But once the square is off the loom, It seems to close up naturally. I can feel this frustration dampening that fiber obsession with my pot holder loom, just a little bit. So I am looking for a win to get me back in the drive. And that is what fiber obsession really is, a drive.

So what is rocking your creative juices right now? what are you working on? You know I love to hear about your work. It inspires me so much. Leave me a comment below, or head over the the FB page and/or FB group(Sign up below!) and share your work.

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Studio Awesome Challenge Day 27: Weaving and other fibery WIPs

Studio Awesome Challenge Day 27: Weaving and other fibery WIPs

Like my spinning WIPs, the weaving WIPs for the most part are just a freeform, on going kind of thing. I do however have a couple of projects.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post this is my current working bin.

By no means is this the only yarn I am using on my current weavings. I tend to collect bits and toss them here.I do have just a couple of weaving projects in the WIPs

The lap loom prototype

This is another project under deadline. Consider this a sneak peek at a live one-day workshop coming to my LYS as soon as I nail down this prototype.

Hand woven zippered pouches.

If only I can get the materials for thes 2 zippered pouches in the same place at once. In fact, the woven part of one of these is actually missing. I have bought zippers and lining material TWICE. GRRRR. It will come together eventually.


The other fibery art I am just starting to dive into is felt. I intend to use some of my vast collection of fleece in projects. Both wet and needle felting is slated for studio time in 2017. I am really exploring the idea of nuno felt scarves, as well as some hats and slippers.

So, there it is the fibery WIPs all catalogued and ready for storage. I am in the home stretch of the studio re organization and purge. I would love to say I am in the middle of a nice neat space, but honestly it appears to be a hot mess worse than before. But It is all over the place because I am mid organizing it all. Okay…we are gonna finish strong… WOOT!

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I am posting progress and info on setting up my studio over the next 31 days. I will not be blitzing my main email list daily…but if you DO want an email notice when daily posts go live, sign up here:

Art Weaving: Finishing with a Hemstitch and Twisted Fringe

Art Weaving: Finishing with a Hemstitch and Twisted Fringe

Today, I have a video demo for you! (woot!) It was a question that came up in the Fiber art collective…How do I finish my art weaving? let me first say, there are probably dozens of ways to finish your piece once it is ready to come off the loom. In this video I am going to show you how I finish most of my scarves and shawls…pieces that I will use as lengths of fabric to wear as is.

So, my question for you…What are your favorite finishing techniques for art weaving? leave me a comment below. And if you like this video, please subscribe to my YouTube channel and share this post on you favorite social media.

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A Fiber Artist’s Guide to DIY Equipment

A Fiber Artist’s Guide to DIY Equipment

Ask any serious knitter, and they will ALL agree…fiber arts can be a slippery slop into crafting ADHA. Knitting leads to spinning leads to dyeing leads to felting leads to weaving. It seems that there is always a new and more interesting technique just around the corner. And because the fiber art community is such a tight knit group online, it is easy to get caught up in the frenzy of wanting to try them all!! Heck, just this blog makes me a serious enabler.

This week in the Fiber Arts Collective, Helen mentioned her struggle to resist picking up weaving(I guilty of trying to enable her with my seductive art weaving videos). And I too, spent months anguishing over dropping a couple of Benjamins on a new loom for a craft I was not sure I would love. I also spent an entire weekend researching alternatives to a rigid heddle loom. And there are quite a few out there. So today I give you a few links to get your DIY on instead of buying a bunch of new equipment.

You can spend a week looking through all the fiber equipment DIYs on Pinterest. And yes as far as getting started carding/spinning/weaving this will save you in equipment that you might not end up using long term. But just know, I have yet to have a DIY solution work smoother and more efficiently than getting real equipment. So try the DIY and if you are feeling the love, then start saving up, and combing for used equipment like here and here. Or just buy the equipment new. Fiber art equipment, when kept in good working condition, does not depreciate. Seriously, most used equipment is not that much cheaper than new. Unless of course you find someone who has no clue what to charge for what they found in their attic. That alone is worth keeping an eye on craigslist. It is how I got my $50 4-harness vintage table loom. If you decide to resell, you will get your money back, and even in some cases be able to charge a hair more than what you paid for it.

Do you have a method you have been dying to try, but have held back because of the equipment cost? Leave me a comment below. And if you like this article, please share this on social media.

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Choosing Warp Yarn for Wild Art Weaving

Choosing Warp Yarn for Wild Art Weaving

So after a nice morning struggle with some serious writer’s block, I decided it was a video kind of day. I have had several questions about warping for art weaving on a rigid heddle loom. So in today’s blog, I am going to just walk you guys through selecting warp yarn for my next weaving project. Enjoy!
Easy Peasy, right? So what are you working on? are you planning any holiday knitting/crochet/sinning/weaving projects? Share in the comments below.

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How to find new art ideas

How to find new art ideas

I have a confession. I have been holding out on you guys big time. I have been brewing the final installment of the 4 part weaving series for a couple of months now. And for what ever reason the inertia has been heavy. What I owe you is a post on what to create using the art weaving you have created from lessons 1-3. What I really want to do is inspire you to intuitively create your own designs. And I know for so many fiberistas that is a pretty steep step.

Because I am all about pushing you to really dive into your right brain, I feel like I first need to talk about how to find new art ideas. Give you a little insight into how I come up with inspirations using methods I learned in art school, and working as a art director. Straight up one of my favorite ways to spark inspiration is to study historical references. And for me, historical study can be broken into 3 different areas. Artists, trends, and personal.

Becoming obsessed with historical inspirations

One of my favorite things to do to churn up inspirations is to dive into historical study. Diving into the work of an artist and looking at their life to see connections between their life and their work. Or studying fashions of a particular time period and thinking of how they reappear in fashions of a later time over and over. This is something that is best done on a regular basis, as opposed to as you are about to dive into a particular project. If you dive into study project by project, it is easy to let your left brain take over and over think the creative stuff. However if you regularly feed your right brain with information, absorbing and journalling these findings and giving your subconscious time to do it’s thing in the background, you will be surprised at the level of creativity and unique ideas that will come out of your work.

Studying an artist and their life

It is one thing to look at a work of art and be inspired. But it is a another level of inspiration when you are driven to learn more about the life of the artist behind a peice of artwork that you find riveting. Learning how that artist expressed what was going on in their life through their work. And even more so to be inspired by how they lived their life.

Frida Kahlo

I find Frida Kahlo particularly intreguing. Her vibrant colors and haunting self portrats is what drew me at first. And then their were her clothes. That woman had moxie. Once studied, I fell in love with her unique style that unapologetically embraced her heritage and provided comfort and ease while accomodating the corsets and braces she had to wear because of her disability. I realized the colors mimiced her bold uncensored way of living. Her style to this day is easily recognizable. One day I hope to see this exhibit. And I have all kinds of ideas for recreating the traditional huipils that she wore in freeform crochet and weaving. Frida Kahlo reminds me to live out loud, honor my unique style and how I got here, and unapologetically be myself.

Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel, though on the opposite end of the spectrum from Frida Kahlo, lived her life on her terms as well. Her creative expressions were through simplicity and subtle details. At a time when the fashions of the 1900s were pouffy and excessive, she found herself leaning toward simple details and silhouettes that conveyed an air of elegance. Chanel’s work reminds me to pull back sometimes and appreciate the small perfect details and to let that whisper of a detail stand out, unobstructed.

Studying a period

Another interesting way to dive into study is to look at a particular period in fashion or costumes of a culture. What were the unique detail of that time? What was going on news wise during a period? For example, being a teen in the 80s, meant Madonna, tunics over leggings, dolman sleeves, big hair + earrings. Seeing many of these style reemerge in the last 5 years has been amusing. I love how they have been re-imagined… new colors but familiar tunics, and dolman sleeves, over skinny jeans instead of leggings (or stir-up pants!)

Studying a re interpretation of a cultural costume can yield some terrific inspirations as well. A kimono re-imagined in freeform crochet, the huipuil (example I gave above) made with modern textiles, Americana prairie dresses re-worked and streamlined into a modern dress. Dive into a day of googling and see where you imagination leads.

Me in art school, 1987. Photo by Lee Dunnie.

Consider the evolution of your own style

I know my style has changed throughout the years based on what was going on in my life. For example, I had a preppy style my senior year in high school because I had a conservative preppy boyfriend. Turned thriftstore hippie while an art student in college. Turned business casual with my first job at a Southern homemaker lifestyle magazine. Each phase was affected by the life I was living at that time. What have been your evolutions? Is there a certain time when your look resonated with you more than other times? Despite an evolution of personal tastes, from my perspective, the core of what I wore had consistencies worth noting. These consistencies mark a certain set of details that collectively make up my personal style.

Art Journal Helpers

As you know I am a big fan of art journaling to help keep your right brain ideas organized and within reach. When journaling your inspirations from studying a period or artist work I like to think of journaling in two stages.

1. Just taking notes. Sketching printing out and pasting all info that catches you eye. Do not think now about how you will translate it. Just go for the gut “I like this” or ” I find this interesting” reactions and take note.

2. Taking time to flesh out Ideas. This is usually done at a separate time from your study time. Where you sit with your journal and your drawing/painting tools and just brainstorm. Flesh a single idea out no less than 4 times exploring the tiniest changes in details. You do not have to spend a ton of time. Maybe 20-30 minutes letting your brain play and transform your ideas.

Take it a step further and push your boundaries

Is there a particular period or cultural costume that you do not like? How would you change the look to be more pleasing? Is there a fusion of culture or style that would improve this look?

So my question for you this week…

What artist/period/culture will you study? Where will you begin?

Leave me a comment below.

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