Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Latest Ideal Rugs

Two new rugs for the Museum Gift Shop. We've been getting behind in our rug inventory, may need to go to a double shift to keep up with demand. How great is that!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Weaving Sunshine

Most days my loom sits, waiting.
But not today,
it's busy weaving sunshine.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Ideal Warp2-Rug2

Moving right along - we've started working on the second rug on our new (2nd) warp on the Ideal Loom. I think it's going to be quite respectable.

And a news flash! (roll the drums....) We just g0t a request to create a custom table runner - our first "commissioned" piece at the Museum! Who'd a thought.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Great Egrets!

Another likely candidate for a wildlife portfolio.

Just the shear number of Egrets at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is impressive, but when they line up like this it's amazing. (from the archives 9/2008)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

5-Star Wren

I'm a little surprised at how good (I think) this picture came out. The new camera is exceeding expectations - quick and smart. This little guy "posed" for less than a minute, but I was able to make two (out of three) respectable photos - even one with flash fill. The wren will likely be the cover of my newly inspired (yet to be created) wildlife portfolio.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Old hobby, cool new tool.

I was able to sweet-talk Santa into coming early this year - I'm such a lucky guy, and very excited.

My new toy, the Nikon P7000, is Nikon's top of the line Coolpix compact digital camera. No more whining about not being able to "make" the picture that I think I'm seeing in my head. This little bad boy does it all and more (it will warn you if "it thinks" someone blinked). It's going to take a little while to digest the owner's manual and learn to think like this hand held optical computing device does....

An Ideal Warp

Yeah! We finally got the Ideal loom at the County Museum dressed up with a new warp. This is the first of many rag rugs we will be able to weave on this warp. As you look at the dates of previous posts, it becomes obvious that this (378 thread) warp took us a while. But, when you consider we are only working at it about 3 hours a week (almost every Thursday morning).... hey, we're having fun - fun shouldn't be rushed. And, we did wind on about 25 yards of warp, so we'll be able to weave rugs for about a year or so before we need to do this again. That's a lot of fun.

On another front, it's been pointed out to me that I've been a slacker-blogger and haven't been keeping (significant) others informed about the myriad of (potentially) interesting things that I've been doing in the interim. I am compelled and inspired to do better for all concerned.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hobby # n+1: Butterflies

On our latest get-a-way to Chincoteague Island and beyond, it was pretty hard not to get caught up in the excitement of the ongoing butterfly migration. Monarchs, Buckeyes and numerous others (yet to be identified) were, well, numerous. On the beach, you would notice a dozen or so Buckeye butterflies, moving as if on a cosmic conveyor belt Southward, replaced every minute or so by another dozen... for hours at time, for the several days we were there - the math is a mind bender.

This is a Buckeye fueling up at Cape May Point State Park before continuing South on the long “non-stop” flight over the Delaware Bay.

Time to get Warped!

This is an exciting time at the County Museum! We are all set up and ready to wind a new sectional warp on our newly donated Ideal Loom (circa 1930). Everyone was so taken by the multicolored warp that had been on the loom when donated that we decided to honor the donor and reproduce that warp as closely as possible with the materials at hand. The original warp had featured primary and secondary colors - we opted for a more Autumnal pallet by substituting a brown and salmon-orange for the red and blue.

There is something about the geometry, symmetry and repeating motifs of all my weaving toys that just wags my tail.

This sequence (section) will be repeated 14 times across the width of the warp.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Big Reveal

Yesterday was a big day at the Museum, we revealed nine completed pieces for all to see. There were two rugs and two placemats on the Ideal Loom and a set of placemats and a table runner on the old loom.

I thought it was pretty cleaver of us to squeeze two placemats out of the remnants of the multicolor warp.

Fred is inspecting the placemats to make sure they are all the same size - look closely - yep, two inches short of the mark. Hey it's a child size placemat - that kind of thoughtful design touch would cost more anywhere else.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Good Karma

Sometimes I feel like I'm giving too much of myself to others.... and then out of the blue, someone donates two perfectly wonderful table looms to the Center for the Arts - and they are entrusted to me for their rehab, care and feeding. What is given freely, comes back, doubled (I need to enhance my limited understanding of the Karma principles). I am humbled and giddy with excitement and looking forward to my next volunteer opportunity.

The little darling on the left is named Dorothy. She's still in production and retails for over $600. Dorothy's hidden bonus is that she folds down for easy transport (with a project on the warp) and will make a great road show/demo/show & tell loom - set her up in a minute. Dorothy has already received a detailed cleaning and wax job and is ready for her first warp.

The loom on the right lost his ID tags but is clearly an old Dick Blick/Art Craft loom. Solid as a rock, if seriously rusty & crusty in spots and needs a new warp beam. He'll take a little longer in rehab, but will be good to go in a couple of months... and be a good weaving companion for decades to come.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Tall Soy Latte Loom

After nearly a month of Summer Art Camp, I was able to spend most of the last week recharging my creative batteries - an interesting blend of yoga practice, mindfulness readings (Thich Nhat Hanh) and long walks (in DC, visiting museums and galleries). I feel great!

Not having access to all my usual toys, I was forced to improvise a creative outlet: a tall soy Latte cup, some red thread and little fingernail polish did the trick, at least for now.

Though there were many DC gallery highlights, the one that really kicked me up a notch was the Chuck Close show at the Corcoran Gallery.
Here is a link to just one of a number of reviews of his work. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Summer Art Camp

Seems that I've been a little distracted lately.... 4 weeks of summer art camp can do that I guess. But, it's been a blast! I was able to help well over 100 kids (1st to 4th graders) learn the fundamentals of weaving on a 4 harness table loom. We made simple mug rugs the first 2 weeks and then got more creative exploring desert landscapes and oceans (of woven plastic bags).

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bagel Break

I love riding on the Cape May Ferry.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Pleasing Placemats

It's fascinating to see the colors of a large print fabric meld together.

Touch of Color

It's amazing what little color does for your warp.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Harris Neck NWR, GA

There is an amazing rookery at Harris Neck NWR, about 50 miles south of Savannah, GA. Wood Storks, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Tricolor Herons and Anhingas were nesting on several islands while Wood Ducks and Moorhens kept the gators away from their babies in the duck-weed.

Ideal Teal

We found the ideal teal fabric for our first rug on the new/old Ideal Loom. The color works wonderfully with the multicolor warp. It's a very high thread count and rips to strips cleanly. And, our 'remnant' is about 12 yards long - we can rip one long strip and weave over 6 inches of rug without a knot or join.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ideal Personality

Our old Ideal Rug Loom arrived with the remnants of it's last warp still intact. I think it gives the loom a distinct personality, a joyful attitude. Makes me smile and want to do the happy dance.

The waste yarn is woven in and already you can tell this is going to be a fun warp to play with. Lot's of possibilities.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Loom With A View

This is going to be an absolutely glorious place to weave!

Our new/old Ideal rug loom is almost completely assembled, should be ready to warp tomorrow.

Monday, March 29, 2010

And some days are way better than others...

Last Thursday had all the earmarks of just another wonderful day of weaving.... until I walked into the Museum and was handed a note from Elliott the Director. The note contained a name & phone number and the words "Loom" and "Go Over".

Wonderfully long story made short, ends with me meeting a new weaving buddy and helping her relocate the old rug loom she was donating to the museum along with enough warp thread and fabric to keep our growing number of museum weavers gainfully 'volunteered' well into the next decade. Our rag box runneth over. My usual Thursday routine was transformed into an exhilarating adventure.

A new "Ideal Loom" was selling for $55 in 1930. This old Ideal Loom will prove to be invaluable as a tool for attracting and training the next generation of museum quality weavers. I expect to start assembling the loom on April 8th - helpers welcomed.

The loom is in remarkably good condition for it's age.

It's equipped with a fine sectional warp for production weaving.

And OMG, a half a truck load of fabric.... we could carpet the entire museum.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Some days are better than others....

Last Thursday was Fantastic!

We cut Museum Quality Rug # 11 off the loom, finishing off the same sectional warp we wound on nearly 11 months ago.

Fred & Louise work "closely" to tie off the fringe knots on our latest creation.

And, we were blessed with the presence of two new apprentice weavers, Tracy and Sandy. Both recently retired educators - both enthusiastic learners.

And, they couldn't have shown up at a more opportune time. The "lesson" of the day involved winding on the sectional warp for our next series of projects, threading the heddles and sleying the reed - pretty much the whole nine yards.

I did not expect to complete the entire set up in one day, and clearly couldn't have without the able and enthusiastic support of our growing group of weaving friends.

The new sectional warp will give us 25 yards (and many months) of easy weaving - that's a lot of placemats and table runners.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Rug # 11, Work in Progress

You start with a pile of rags. Cut or rip them into strips and randomly connect the individual strips together into long multicolor strips.....

Wind the strips onto shuttles....

And then unwind them in the loom to see what they look like when they are all lined up.

Pretty neat eh?

Faculty Show

It's hard to believe that I signed out a couple of weaving books from the county library two years ago to see what I could learn. Time really does fly when you're having fun.

If you're passing through Aiken, check out the Faculty Show in the Brooks Gallery upstairs at the Aiken Center for the Arts. I have a few weavings on display there. One of my personal favorites is Dori’s Place, the colorful rug on the left. When we finally said goodbye to Dori, her favorite doggie bed beach towels were too tattered for further use and too full of memories to be discarded casually. I cut the towels into strips and wove the memories into a cushy rug that will always remind us of Dori’s Place in our lives. "Go to your place, Dori. Good Girl!"

Great Horned Owl

We went birding at Tybee Island and the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge a couple of weeks ago with some of the local Audubon folks. We added a purple sandpiper to our life list at Tybee and Helen was able to get a pretty reasonable picture of Mrs. Owl sitting on her nest at SNWR.

Museum Quality Rug #10

I'm only a couple of weeks late with this. We did finish Rug #10 at the County Museum and it came out looking fine. We left the fringe long enough that we could experiment with making a twisted or plied fringe.

And we still have enough of our sectional warp left for another rug - stay tuned.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Museum Quality Rug #10

We've started working on the 10th Museum Quality Rug at the Museum. This one is a also a single fabric rug (which is very easy), but with a zig-zag twill pattern (which requires more mental presence than we usually have on any given Thursday morning). Please feel free to drop by and lend a hand (or a neuron).

Celebrate Aiken 1835

Last Saturday was such a huge buzz. Of course there was the official opening ceremony and all with hundreds of folks standing around in the cold, but by the time I got back to my loom, there were folks stacked three deep gawking at the overshot pattern on the loom (see previous post) - what a rush! For the next four hours, without a single minutes break, I was ON! It was amazing - I was so ready for a bathroom break and a beer (not necessarily in that order) by the time 5:00 came around.... It was great! And a huge shout out to Mary at the Museum for providing me with the perfect "period appropriate" shirt to wear for the day - thank you so much for all that you do.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Linsey Woolsey Coverlet (circa 1835)

There were a few moments when I was feeling a little out of my comfort zone, but there is a tight and shiny linen warp on the ACA loom and the first few inches of an overshot pattern that could have adorned someone's bed around the time of the founding of Aiken in 1835.

Not sure I'll be going into the coverlet weaving business anytime soon, at least not without some serious improvement in my overshot weaving efficiency. Early on in my learning curve it looks like I could make about 3" of cloth per hour.

At this time, I only need to be skilled enough to act out my part as an artisan weaver of the early 19th century. Good enough for now.

Drop by the Center for the Arts this Saturday afternoon and see an old time weaver at work.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Weaving in Aiken circa 1835

Some days you have to get out of your old threads (and maybe your comfort zone) before you get dressed up for the big party. The party is Aiken's 175th Birthday celebration on January 9th. I've been invited to attend and demonstrate what a weaver might have been wearing and working on in 1835. It's both an honor and a challenge.

I did a fair amount of research into period fabrics and likely weaving practices of the era and developed a general sense of what might have been going on in Aiken in 1835, but no specific references to weaving in Aiken.

Most hand weaving was probably done by cotton plantation slaves producing relatively coarse cotton fabric to clothe their masters field hands. It's easy to speculate thought that there may have been a few "artisan weavers" in the area, probably slaves working after hours, weaving more refined fabrics or commissioned pieces for cash or barter.

I decided to adopt the speculative artisan scenario and dress the loom at the Art Center with a linen warp that would have been appropriate for an old linsey-woolsey coverlet pattern. So, off with the old cotton warp, some 4 yards of perfectly usable fiber. I've taken care to preserve the cross and chain the remnants so we can use some or all of it in future ACA class projects. I'm still working on my personal wardrobe.