What’s everyone up to?

I’ve had some great updates in the last week! And it’s always cool to see what other people are working on, so if you’ve been inspired to try something by one of my kits or zines, do let me know so that I can share ūüôā

wall hangingFirst up today is Sharon Schmeidel ‚Äď back in January, she bought one of my ATC weaving kits and has been weaving away ever since. In her own words, tapestry weaving has become ‚Äúanother passion I should probably have done without‚ÄĚ! The scale has increased somewhat since her ATC-sized beginnings ‚Äď I’m sure you’ll agree with me that this wall-hanging is pretty awesome! Sharon is a member of the Iowa Art Quilters Group, and this piece has been on display in Grenell, Iowa, over the summer, at a show in conjunction with an area weaving conference. Cool!

doodle stitchI was also really happy to see Robin O. Mayberry’s post on her Alchemy Studio blog, about the bookmark she doodle-stitched, after I sent her a copy of my new ‘Contours’ zine, less than a month ago! The zine is all about doodles, and at the very last minute, I decide to include a bookmark as an extra. I didn’t have time to trial the concept first, so I just hoped that it would work ‚Äď and it looks like it did ‚Äď hurrah! Huge thanks to Robin for being my guinea pig & actually trying it out :-). If you would like to try it yourself, every bookmark that comes with the Contours zine is hand-doodled, and will be similar but different to Robin’s, so your doodle-stitching is guaranteed to be unique.

faux stampedAnd last but not least, I received a great piece of post from Kristina Howells in France. I’ve been taking part in some faux postage projects, lately (although Kristina was very quick off the mark with this one, & I haven’t created, let alone sent my response, yet!). The envelope I received from Kristina had 2 ‘real’ stamps at the top, which had been duly postmarked, but also a faux postage stamp just beneath ‚Äď and what tickled me was that the faux stamp had also been postmarked! I hadn’t got too far yet with my ideas for the faux postage project, but receiving this really prompted me to give it some thought & I’m itching to get started, now…

Weaving ATCs

ATCs (Artist Trading Cards, to the uninitiated!) are something that have intrigued me for a while. ¬†The concept is simple: an artist decorates a card (specifically sized 2.5″ x 3.5″), adds their contact details and any other information they want to, to the reverse, and then trades (never sells) this card with other artists. ¬†It’s a highly personalised business card, in a way, building a community feeling among artists. ¬†But also a huge online community has sprung up,¬†creating and trading ATCs¬†– and just in case I’ve given¬†the¬†wrong impression, this is a world¬†open to any¬†crafter/artist,¬†not just ‘professionals’.

I think ATCs¬†are a wonderful¬†creative¬†outlet.¬†¬†They allow¬†you to try¬†out different techniques on a small scale, and¬†the¬†mixed-media cards I’ve¬†seen can be quite¬†stunning.¬†¬†It’s one of those all-encompassing ideas that means whatever background you have, or medium you work with, you can play, too! ¬†But I guess it’s the fact of communication, and the fact that it’s a personal, not mass-produced/commercial thing¬†that makes it feel like a¬†little oasis.

Although¬†not commercial¬†in¬†the¬†sense of¬†trading rather¬†than selling¬†the cards, an industry has sprung up selling related materials to decorate and store your ATCs, and cool stuff like labels and rubber stamps to add your details to the reverse. ¬†Being me, of course, I just look at the labels and then make my own. ¬†I had¬†the idea for a woven ATC, and while working on a design for the reverse, came up with a way to make a loom directly out of your ATC blank.¬†¬†As I¬†speak, I’m having rubber¬†stamps custom made.¬†¬†At¬†the craft fair,¬†I will have funky little (alterable) tins containing an ATC kit, with ATC blanks,¬† 2 different ATC backs, needle, ‘shed¬†stick’, instructions, etc.¬†¬†You may have¬†noticed, I’m really pleased with this idea.¬†¬†I just¬†want to get people¬†weaving (another¬†post will be coming shortly with¬†more DIY ideas), and ATCs¬†are a brilliant, sample-sized¬†way to get people hooked!

This was my prottype ATC. I also have a slicker image as an option for the reverse, eradicating the tape measures.
This was my prototype ATC. I also have a slicker image as an option for the reverse, eradicating the tape measures; and a far simpler, more meditative weaving, currently half-complete.

In addition to the ATC kit, I will be (literally) giving away an ATC loom as my business card – the front has all my contact details, the back has instructions to turn the card into a loom. ¬†The weaver, of course, is not obliged to mke an ATC, if they don’t want to; they also have the option of just slipping the weaving from the (re-usable) card¬†once complete, and framing/mounting¬†as¬†they choose.

I can’t¬†claim that weaving an ATC is an incredibly original idea, but it’s certainly not common. ¬†Putting the concept out there in the hands of a wider audience of creative types, though, opens up all sorts of possibilities for combining weaving with ther media. ¬†I think it’s just something that hasn’t really crossed people’s minds, but once the idea is there, it’s a very viable, adaptable option. ¬†I’ll leave it up to the ATC community to explore further…!

The only person¬†I currently know who is experimenting with woven ATCs is artist/tapestry weaver Laurie o’ Neill. ¬†You can see her processes and some completed cards here. ¬†I love this idea for using ‘thrums’ Jazzcat Thrums as an ATC background. ¬†I’ve been using thrums to stuff the little Oddballs I’ve woven for the fair. ¬†I think this is a far more decorative use for them, though, and you can still be just as creative with exploring colour combinations.

More ideas

5.¬†¬†Haiku Tins (photo to follow). ¬†I found a good source for tins with aperture lids recently, and have woven several freeform pieces to fit the different sizes. ¬†For the smallest tin (pencil box-sized),¬†¬†I tried something a¬†bit different.¬†¬†Using beautiful yarns in graduating variegated shades, I¬†wrapped¬†the yarn, rather¬†than wove.¬†¬†This is a ridiculously simple thing to do, but because of¬†the blending and shading in these particular yarns, really very effective in the end result. ¬†I think of them as meditations on colour, which led me circuitously round to haiku. ¬†After reading quite a lot of haiku, and being aware of them as a source of strong natural imagery, I decided that they suited these wrapped tins perfectly. ¬†So I have bought some recycled fibre paper, onto which I will print individual haiku, and a little collection of these printed slips of haiku will fill each tin. ¬†(Obviously if someone has an alternative use for the tin, they are welcome to remove the haiku, once they have bought it!) ¬†If you like haiku, can I strongly recommend ‘Clear Light’ by Alan Spence? ¬†¬†The Haiku Tins will contain a mix of traditional and contemporary haiku.

Night swallows dew-damp meadow / casting velvet shadows / that will pass
Spring evening

6.¬†¬†Meditations. ¬†¬†I’ve woven a few freeform pieces for the craft fair, and while they evolve quite naturally, I also find that after weaving one, I tend to want to go back to basics, back to the basic, essential flow of weaving. ¬†The wrapped Haiku Tins gave me the idea to just weave a very¬†plain block, allowing the colours of¬†the yarn to do all¬†the work for me.¬†¬†This allows me to really get lost in the rhythmic, soothing process of¬†weaving, and becomes a meditation on both¬†the process and¬†the random evolution of¬†the colours.¬†¬†The pieces¬†you¬†see to left and right¬†are examples, unframed thus far.

Muddy fields
Muddy fields

My idea is to frame them, individually, in very¬†plain, simple wooden frames.¬†¬†Within¬†the frame will also be a handwrtten haiku, composed¬†by me, relating to¬†the images evoked¬†by¬†the¬†weaving.¬†¬†I love¬†the clarity and economy of haiku, the condensed images retaining a simple appreciation of¬†the mysteries of the world around us. ¬†I think¬†they work perfectly with¬†the meditative process involved with the¬†weaving of¬†these pieces.¬†¬†I’m in¬†no¬†way claiming¬†that my own haiku compare with¬†the masters of¬†the genre;¬†but¬†the pieces¬†are personal to me, and using my own poetry makes¬†them even¬†more so.¬†¬†I¬†guess it gives¬†the viewer of¬†the work an insight into my own perceptions, whether¬†they agree or¬†not.

Fading autumn sunlight,
over muddy fields

Night swallows spring evening,
casting shadows
that will pass

Ideas, continued (expanded, modified, added to etc)

Since my last post about ideas for the craft fair, Gossamer Bookmarks have fallen by the wayside.  They did, however, lay the groundwork for idea number 3:

3.  Patch Pouch.  I have found a good supplier of plain cotton canvas

Just big enough for mobile phone, keys & loose change - perfect!
Just big enough for mobile phone, keys & loose change - perfect!

pouches, which I have bought up stock of, for packaging kits and artworks.  It occurred to me that some of the smaller pouches could be decorated with a simple patch of weaving.  The weaving area is smaller and therefore less time-consuming to produce than the bookmarks (I increased the weaving time marginally by weaving an additional square directly onto the first patch).  I used a lower gauge canvas (13ct) and a thicker yarn, resulting in a nice, sturdy little patch which was then ironed onto a canvas pouch.

Jazz weaving - a whole new concept in synaesthesia!
Jazz weaving - a whole new concept in synaesthesia!

4.¬†¬†Swirl Pouch. ¬†Although this funky little¬†pouch (just¬†big enough for a¬†mobile phone) will be¬†available to¬†buy¬†at¬†the fair, it is¬†NOT something¬†I will be going¬†into mass production of! ¬†My¬†husband is a jazz musician, and¬†I wove this during a¬†gig he¬†played with Arun Ghosh a couple of¬†weeks¬†ago.¬†¬†Despite the curvy edges, I’m really pleased with¬†how it¬†turned¬†out.¬†¬†I know¬†I am supposed to strive for even edges in tapestry,¬†but in this case I really think¬†the curves enhance¬†the design.¬†¬†Although¬†I can’t say¬†I¬†was¬†weaving¬†in response to¬†the music, it is an entirely freeform design (slightly different on¬†both sides)¬†that created itself. ¬†Although¬†I do think people would like¬†these pouches, I don’t think¬†I could¬†charge enough for one to justify¬†the time it took to¬†weave.¬†¬†Shame, though.

Seems¬†that¬†I can only manage a couple of ideas at a time. ¬†Watch this space – more to follow, shortly…

More looms. There are, quite simply, always more…

I was harping on about the copper loom, and the Archie loom a couple of posts ago. ¬†Well, I have just stumbled across another site, where you can buy a loom based on the same principles:Loom in a Tube. ¬†This one is not copper, but is still aesthetically pleasing. ¬†The text does not specify what it is constructed from; not being an expert, the best I could guess is that it looks ‘brassy’!

The additional novelty of this particular loom is that Рas the site name suggests! Рit comes in a tube, and (apparently) you can roll a partially complete weaving up into the tube, for easy transportation.  The only other loom I have seen that works on this premise is the Journey Loom from Weaving a Life.  The Journey Loom is wooden and comes with a whole spiritual ethic, so has its own charm, but the Loom in a Tube has a tensioning device, and the tube is far sturdier and thus more protective than the Journey Loom fabric case, so at $95 seems far better value to me than the Journey Loom ($88).   Each to their own, though!  I do like the philosophy behind the Weaving a Life site, even still.

But back to¬†the loom in a tube: it¬†feels¬†as though it¬†was designed for me!¬†¬†At¬†12″ x 20″, it is exactly¬†the same dimensons¬†I had¬†planned¬†out when I¬†was contemplating¬†buying all¬†the¬†copper piping and constructing my own pipe loom. ¬†I usually weave smaller pieces, it’s true; but it’s nice to have the option to work to a slightly larger scale…

I also like the books and kits provided on the same site. ¬†The projects are all available as either book OR kit, to suit individual requirements and a lot of them incorporate beads¬†as¬†well¬†as¬†threads/yarns – something I have yet to try¬†out,¬†but is suddenly calling to me…!¬†¬†One of¬†the kits also¬†introduces ‘eccentric¬†weft’, a¬†term I do remember once coming across in one of my vintage¬†weaving books, but is in¬†essence what¬†you will find me referring to in my own work¬†as ‘freeform’.¬†¬†I really like to¬†see that somebody¬†out there is encouraging creative exploration¬†in tapestry¬†weaving; because ¬†if you’re¬†not into¬†stripes,¬†the majority of other tapestry kits available are simply¬†not going to appeal to¬†you…!

Well, I’ll let¬†you know if and when¬†I try any of these fun things out.¬†¬†In¬†the meantime, please¬†post a comment if you have tried any of these looms out and/or have any advice!