Category Archives: Inspiration

Sharing inspiring people and projects.

With Gratitude: My Inspiration

This week’s inspiration came from Kori at http://ecotonethreads.com .

Her work makes me giddy. It is so fresh and authentic. Most importantly, it served as a crucial reminder for me to find my own strong voice. My own work.

Part of the process I have been going through is trying to figure out a business model. What do I make? What is special/appealing/unique/of value about that? Is this an item I can find a market for? How much time/money will it take me to produce these items? How much will I sell these for? How much can I sell them for? Blah, blah, blah.

Some of these questions lead me to another: Am I making choices based on what I think I can sell/others will value? Well of course, in some ways I have too, but I don’t have to sell out. If I am truly meant to be a weaver than I was meant to be myself as a weaver. Do my own work. Make my own statement. Contribute in a different way, even if that leads me to a place of vulnerability.

I have to become better aquainted with vulnerability. Being true to who I am meant to be and to contribute what I am meant to is uncomfortable and scary. Putting ourselves out there honestly is risking failure, being misunderstood, not understood. What if other’s don’t find my contribution valuable?

Do I have a choice?

No! There is no substitute. I reject mediocrity. I reject fear as a decision making tool. I must be who I am meant to be. Even if in the end it means failing beautifully. I must trust.

-B

It has been a colorful week:

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The Introspection of Birthdays

Fall is my favorite season. The combination of the crisp blue skies with the turning leaves and the still green grass is spectacular. We add to that the return to the routines and rituals that get us through our new school years and long winters. The chill in the air is invigorating but not oppressive as the winter cold can sometimes be.

For me, October, also brings my birthday. At this point, I view getting older as a good thing. With each year comes the opportunity to learn more, become wiser, have more self control, self knowledge. I am entering my 4th decade. I look forward to 4 more, at least. It’s a good and hopeful place to be.

With my birthday comes my annual “state of the self” assessment. Some years, this is a more pleasant experience than others. My life has many blessings. This year my eldest daughter graduates from high school. We send her out to live her own dreams. Right now that means we spend a good deal of time with college applications and preparing to travel to auditions this winter. There is a lot to do, timelines to follow, and faith to put into practice.  My other children are growing and learning and pursuing their own unique paths as well. This time is well spent; this time of supporting, encouraging, dreaming and empowering. The time with, my husband, Patrick. A healthy marriage of soon to be 18 years. Time well spent; time supporting, encouraging, dreaming, empowering and strengthening. Time we look forward to continuing for another 4 decades,as least. This is all good work. The best if you can get it. I have a good job and co-workers I enjoy.

I find myself mourning the fact that I have trouble finding time to weave right now. The thing that is most myself, as an individual woman, apart from the family we have created; is just beyond my reach. I find myself passionate about people being able to create and build; to master craftsman skills. I will support and champion anyone who wants to make a living at their craft.  To me these things are a most beautiful privilege. I do not make the same sacrifices for myself. I do not champion to become a master of my own craft.

Patience. Patience… the time will come. The time spent in these other very important things is a beautiful privilege. Patience… patience… the time will come. Fight for it, I will have to do. I will have to become the champion, slaying the dragon of resistance. Patience… Patience… the time will come, and I have lots of time.

If I’m lucky though, next week will be productive. I will keep you posted.

Enjoy the colorful spectacle in the mean time,

B

I am a Grower — Restorer — Producer — Weaver — Artist — Encourager

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New Year Alignment

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Happy 2014

We have a lot to be excited about for this coming year. Our family’s dreams and ideas are starting to come together in a cohesive vision  that will, I think, give us the focus we have lacked in the past. All the wandering of the previous years have been essential to get us to this particular point today. Almost as if by trying on different things helps pull you back to your original self; a self hopefully mature enough to take action and live the life you are mean to live.

We have broken up these long term plans and goals into projects for this year. The projects range through all areas of our family life and the ways the different goals of individual members of our family interweave with the collective goals. On the top of our list is to go through and recreate our spaces in our home. One of the first of these is to create a weaving studio. There have been many amazing and exciting additions to my studio. I look forward to sharing them with you as things get put together. Another part will be to carve out time on a weekly basis to make some progress on weaving. It seems a long time that my attention has been pulled elsewhere. I am beginning to be okay with that; to take more solace in the seasonal nature of the year. There are months, even strings of them, that do not offer much time for sitting peacefully at the loom…at least for now. Who knows what the future holds.

I wish for you excitement for your future and clarity of vision.

B

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Slow Thoughts

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Recent articles have me thinking more about the Slow Clothes (Fashion) movement. Driven by many of the same principles as the Slow Food movement, the Slow Clothes movement focuses on clothing produced in a sustainable and thoughtful way. Enabling  conscientious buyers to know and control where their clothing comes from and the working conditions of the people producing it. Both models come from the feeling that we must take environmental, health and social issues into account when making purchases for even (and especially) our basic needs. Slow Clothes is therefore an answer to the current buy it cheap and throw it away mentality of our current system.

The August/September 2013 issue of American Craft Magazine, among other goodies, had a thought provoking article called Think Globally, Dress Locally, an interview with Rebecca Burgess by Danielle Maestretti. I hope you read it.

In the interview Rebecca Burgess, well known for her book Harvesting Color; talks about the Fibershed movement. You can find more about the movement at www.rebeccaburgess.com.  The essence of a Fibershed is that fiber producers, processors and crafts people work together to produce clothing for their region. Again it works in a similar way to only eating locally grown foods.

One of the issues discussed in the interview was the lack of qualified crafts people, even if you can get the materials in your region, can you find skilled people to make your clothing? If so, can you afford it? www.fibershed.com gives a list of producers, designers and makers (a shocking lack of weavers) for the Northern California Fibershed as well as resources for others to start Fibersheds in their regions.

All of this presents me with an epic list of questions to explore; I would greatly appreciate any feedback or opinions you have.

Is this a mission I can get behind? (well, obviously)

I would need to learn the ins and outs of weaving for clothing production. Could I completely revamp my processes and tools to meet the needs of weaving yardage for others? Could I weave cloth fine enough for a summer shirts?

Could I collaborate with a seamstress or tailor to make the clothing out of the yardage I provide?

Would I enjoy weaving yardage?

Could/would my services and products be affordable? Could I afford them myself; even with the “I know the weaver” discount?

Since my region is rather limited in fiber production; what would my criteria be? Would it be reasonable to define my region as grown in the US on small sustainable farms?

Most of the handwoven clothing available on the market now are high end art pieces. Is their a market for the artisan model with an everyday approach to clothing design?

Another passion is to help support the efforts of organic cotton farmers in India and Africa, keeping them away from the debt of the fertilizer and chemical sellers. While this is not regional, for me, the spirit of it is the same. Would I be walking away from the potential to be a purposeful consumer of their products? Can the amount I purchase actually make a difference to these farmers in the first place?

These are all questions I plan to explore over the next few months. Again, I value your feedback.

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Filed under Inspiration, Musings, Slow Clothes, Weaving : Lab Notes

Plant Dyed Silk at the Denver Art Museum

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Plant Dyed Silk at the Denver Art Museum

These are pictures of natural dyed silk, using the plants in the dyer’s garden in front of the Denver Art Museum. This is part of the Spun textiles exhibit.

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August 19, 2013 · 3:45 pm

My Hero: Theo Moorman

In the book, Steal Like an Artist, author Austin Kleon, writes about building your creative family tree. Exploring the people who have inspired you. The teachers you learn from. I have decided to start exploring some of my creative and weaving heroes.

My first weaving hero is Theo Moorman (1907-1990)

Theo Moorman

Miss Moorman was born in Northern England. She studied weaving at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London. After graduating she spent years working at the well-known furniture store Heal and Son, Ltd., in London, and later Warner and Son’s. During WWII she worked various jobs to help in the war effort including helping to build the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts. After the war, she tried her hand at free-lance weaving and eventually developed and taught her own technique which bears her name today. (More on the technique in my next post)

Three things really stick out through Miss Moorman’s writing in Weaving as an Art Form; A Personal Statement by Theo Moorman. First is her humility and understanding; which I feel go together. Second, is her thoughtfulness. She really thought through all aspects of what she was doing. Third, is her explorative nature. She loved experimenting with new fibers and weave structures.

Miss Moorman found the structural change in the in the world of weaving beginning in the mid 20th Century inspiring. She also took it very seriously. In her book, Weaving as an Art Form, she explains how all weaving taught in the 1920s were yardage, rug weaving and tapestry weaving. There were no wall hangings and all weaving was strictly 2 dimensional. Also, throughout history an artist designed the tapestries which were then woven in weaving studios by craftsman. The credit went to the artist. Beginning in the mid 20th Century we saw the appearance of the artist-designer-weaver as one person. The ensuing creativity was incredible. The dilemmas that we began to see were clear, and beautifully outlined and answered in the introduction to Weaving As An Art Form, published in 1975.

“In the textile arts the resultant outpouring of new works varies in quality from the fully convinced and controlled work of art as seen, perhaps, at its height in the products of some of the Polish weavers, to the muddled, tangled, undigested bid for novelty at all costs which, if we are honest, we must admit appears only too frequently in the innumerable exhibitions of textile arts of the present day. For let us be clear on one point: when we weavers join the ranks of artists we are plunging into the company of painters and sculptors of all time. However small, trivial, and insignificant our efforts, we are no longer in a backwater. We are out in the mainstream, whether we like it or not, and our aims, if they are to be in any sense valid, must be of the same essence as those of the great masters. We stand, minute and trembling, in the company of Michelangelo and Titian, of Turner and Henry Moore. Before you pronounce this claim exaggerated and farfetched, stop to consider. If our work is devoid of all practical use, if it is not even a space divider or a door curtain, if it ceases to stop a draft or mask a window, its sole purpose is to enhance the beauty or significance of its setting. A wall hang in a room fulfills the same essential function as a drawing or painting, even though it is far removed from either in appearance. It is intended to please and interest the eye and arouse thoughts and emotions in the mind. It has no other function, and if it fails in this, its value vanishes. The responsibility of the producer of a wall hanging or piece of textile sculpture is therefore very great, and, if we are striving to reach a high standard in our work, we must perforce face up bravely to this situation.” pg.7

In this she did not mean that our work should be pictorial or non-inventive. She appreciated abstract work and the use of varied materials, techniques and approaches. I believe her point was that we as artist must master our materials, whether they be rock and twigs or found objects (a popular and adventurous form of art weaving at the time) or the perfected tradition methods (which she refers to as walled gardens).

“Here then is our dilemma — Here is the problem with no answer or with many answers. What should be our own true goal? Should we aim at near perfection with in the walled garden or should we go outside the door and face the tremendous pressures and buffetings waiting for us in the permissive and dangerous modern world? This is a world full of synthetic materials, of plastic in all forms, of ugliness, rebellion, and violence, of anti-art and anti-craft. It seems to me that this dilemma must be faced by serious modern craftsmen, and that the right answer can only be individual and personal to each of us. Our first duty is to honest with ourselves.” pg. 8

“…Between these two extremes, the serenity of the walled garden and the turbulence of the rapids, it is, of course, possible to compromise and find a middle portion. The really important aim should be to embark on a project with the right motives. A woven object must relate to its environment, and in producing works specifically for an exhibition there is an element of artificiality which can be a danger. Although an exhibition can be a useful stimulus to creativity, it can also lead to the production of something dishonest. The thoughts of the best of us are capable of turning, shamefully, in the direction of going one better than our fellow exhibitors, and we can only too easily become involved in a concept which fails to spring from a true emotion.  It is apparent that today’s conditions present us, above all, with a need for honesty, particularly for honesty with ourselves. We must train ourselves to select, from many possible lines of approach, the one that is right and fruitful for us, where our ideas can have a chance to grow strongly and naturally and where we can ourselves develop to our full stature as both artists and craftsmen.” pg. 9

I find these writings and thoughts equally challenging and important today as they were when Theo Moorman wrote them. Especially with my draw towards art weaving and the impact art has on the world.

What do you think?

Blue Gradations by Theo Moorman

Blue Gradations by Theo Moorman

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Just for Fun: Creative Date Nights

The Inspiration: A Doodle

The Inspiration: A Doodle

My husband, Patrick, and I took on this creative project as our date nights in November. We had a great time.

Adding Texture

Adding Texture

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and some color...

and some color…

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and finally, the star of the show.

and finally, the star of the show.

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December 12, 2012 · 3:21 pm