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Friday, October 31, 2014

Studio Fair - Day One



Another weekend, another fair.  Over all look at my booth.  I have way too much inventory - hope people will fall in love with some of it and give it new homes.  

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Worthy Causes



These are some of a run of silk scarves I did a few years ago.  I was down to two last weekend, and then one of the two sold so I only had one left - the purple one more or less in the centre.

Now after being in business for as many years as I have, eventually you wind up with stale inventory or 'last one of a series'.  These items have been dragged to numerous shows (in case of the former) or else are difficult to display because they are just one.  They don't 'fit' into the display well.

As a starving artist I have rarely had much in the way of actual cash to donate to causes that I deem 'worthy'.  On the other hand, these end of the line or stale items are perfect for donations.  Most charities will give tax receipts that I can claim on my income tax return (should I ever be in the position of actually needing to pay income tax - I used to tell people my goal in life was to earn enough money that I was required to pay.)

But mostly it is because I want to help support an organization that I know is probably struggling to make ends meet and this is the only way I can do it.

So that purple and white silk scarf got dropped off the the Early Childhood Development facility this afternoon for their fund raising auction.  I have a tenuous connection to the facility - the lady who lived next door to us when I was growing up worked long and hard to establish this support agency for children with disabilities, mainly because her son with cerebral palsy needed something like this and it didn't exist at the time.  She wanted other parents to not have to struggle so hard to get their children the help they needed.  She doesn't live in this town any more, but her legacy lives on.  And I like to help keep it alive.

Currently reading Fool's Assassin by Robin Hobb (almost 700 pages!!!!  I might need to ramp up my reading, which has kind of slowed lately.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Missed Deadlines


three last painted warps for scarves


One thing about being self-employed is that you have to be self-motivated.  I find one way to do that is to have very clear goals and a time frame in which I want to achieve them.

So deadlines are my friend.  Even though they are self-imposed, they help to get me up in the morning, dressed and to the studio to work on the next step(s) in helping me arrive where I want to be.

Unfortunately Life sometimes has other plans.  And so the lovely red warps above are still just that - warps.

We are already into the show season and anything not woven by now has missed this particular boat.  That ship has sailed.

Not being able to weave for almost 6 weeks this summer means that I could not get everything woven that I had on my to-do list.  No blue place mats.  No red scarves.  Well, only one warp of red, anyway.

Bottom line?  I have depth of stock, if not breadth of stock.  The van is full of textiles and hopefully enough people will find something they like and buy.

As for the rest?  It will get done for next year's show season.

I hope.  Making plans.  Setting goals.  Making deadlines.  We'll see if Life co-operates.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Day One


View from the bleachers in the Winter Garden


Floor level shot - other end


For the first time the University allowed us to unload and bring everything in the night before the show.  It made things so much easier!  

We didn't set out any product but got the booth up, the lights installed and all that needed to be done this morning was set out the product.  Since we didn't have to get up at 5 am, the day is much shorter!

This is a smaller show - only two days - but a very nice venue.  Although the Winter Garden has sky lights and normally gets a good natural light, today was very overcast and dreary.  And then it started sleeting in the afternoon.

It didn't feel as busy to me and several other craftspeople  commented that they felt there were fewer attendees as well.  In the end my sales were 'ok'.  Since this is a low cost show and local, sales can be less and still be ok.  I was hoping to empty one box because there is one box more than will comfortably fit on the cart - but it doesn't look like that is going to happen.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Perfect vs Excellent


 A friend had a saying that I had to think about for a while before I understood it:  Perfect kills good.



We’ve all done it. We envision something in our minds that we think about, mull over, tweak and finally we can see the perfect – whatever – in our mind’s eye. With a great deal of excitement we swing into action and set about making it.

Unfortunately the materials aren’t quite what we thought they were going to be. The colors are not the shades we need. The process goes awry and we struggle to get it completed. When we do finally finish it disappointment sets in. The reality simply does not measure up to the vision of perfection we saw in our minds.

We brand ourselves a failure, or at least the item, and that disappointment in our lack of perfection can cause us to overlook the fact that we may have attained a high level of excellence.

Perfect kills good.



No one can dip into our minds to see that vision of loveliness that we dreamt of bringing into reality. They can only look at our actual results. Sometimes those results are very good indeed, but because we are so caught up in our perfect project we cannot see what someone else sees.

As creative people we must learn that perfect is not a destination that many will arrive at. While we always strive towards that vision we also have to learn how to appreciate what we have made. We need to learn to look beyond the original creative impulse in order to see – really see – what we have accomplished.

In a way that lack of achieving perfection is what keeps many people creating. Accepting that nothing – or at least very little – that they make is going to measure up, they acknowledge that and carry on. They learn as much about their equipment, materials and what works in terms of design and keep trying. Every project then becomes a lesson learned. Another brick in their foundation of knowledge.

I had a mentor who always said that if we aren’t making mistakes we aren’t learning. If we continually keep doing the same things over and over so that we wind up with a ‘perfect’ project, we are not pushing our boundaries. We are not learning anything new.

Most of the traditional crafts have developed over millennia. Human beings have been making things, primarily from necessity, but also from a sense of beauty and wonder. When I see archaeological artifacts in museums I marvel at the time and effort that went into making everyday objects – baskets, pottery, metal tools – as beautiful as possible. Some of these things are not perfect.  They have their maker’s marks on them in one way or another. But from our perspective, they don’t have to be ‘perfect’. We have the time and distance to accept them for what they are.

When disappointment threatens to make something you’ve made in danger of hitting the garbage can, it’s a really good idea to stop. Put the item away, out of sight. Let it rest in sanctuary for a few weeks or even months. Then after some time has passed and the memory of that perfect vision has faded, bring it out again and take a long look at it. See it for what it really is, not what you had hoped to make. Look for what is right about it, instead of what is wrong.

Learn how to recognize when something is excellent or even just good. Don’t let perfect kill good. Or your creativity.

Leonard Cohen put it this way:

Ring the bell that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.


I wrote this for Craftsy but it was turned down because they already had a similar post previously published.  I think this sort of message needs to be seen - sometimes repeatedly - before it sinks in.  And not everyone reads every blog post, surely?  So, here it is, even though I've written about it here previously.

Currently reading How We Got to Now by Steven Johnson


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Simplicity Itself



I think I posted this photo once already but it pretty much shows everything that needs to be seen.

The live weight tension system is simplicity itself.

One long cord, long enough to wrap around the beam three times which will support the weight of whatever you use to provide the tension (via the weight used) plus a small counter weight on the other end of the cord.

My loom is just 36" weaving width and I rarely dress this loom full width so providing tension on just one end is fine.  A wider loom might require the weight at either end to make sure it stays put.

Kati Meek has published a monograph on this tool and the warping trapeze (as she calls it - same idea as my warping valet) so do buy her book to get the details.

The original brake has not been removed from the loom because when I'm beaming a warp, I need that brake to keep the warp rolling on with good tension.  Once the warp is dressed, the cord gets wrapped around the beam, the weight applied (in this instance 25 pounds at the heavy end, 2 pounds - I think - it might only be 1 pound as I was tweaking the system over the weekend), lock the loom's brake system in the 'off' position and away you go.

At the moment I'm weaving scarves which don't require a whole lot of weight.  If my warp was wider or required higher tension such as place mats, I would add more weight to the cord.  Up to 40 pounds, according to Kati.  The counter weight needs to be sufficient only to prevent the heavy end from sliding down - gravity, you know?

The AVL has a type of live weight system so I'm used to the warp beam 'rocking' as I open the shed, but if you've never experienced that, you might find it a bit off putting at first.  This is normal!  It's not unlike the Louet beam that rocks - a little disconcerting the first time I wove on one, but you do get used to it when you realize it's not a bad thing.  Quite the opposite in fact.  There is less stress on the warp yarns when the system has a little 'give' in it.

The big thing is that I no longer have to reach out to the right with my foot and depress the brake release.  With the beginnings of arthritis in my right hip, I needed to reduce the stress on that joint.  And once the tension is set, all you have to do is just crank the fell line forward - the tension will stay the same from one end to the other - unless the cord gives way or something.    But as soon as you put the weights back onto the cord, you're back to where you were.  Automagically, as it were.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Messing About




Messed about a bit more with the camera today.  I think the top picture, which shows a bit more of the cloth in the background, is better than the bottom one, which is too out of focus.  Neither one really captures the cloth as cloth, though.  Going to have to play around with this more.

I think one of the best books I've seen which really seems to capture the nature of the fabric in it's photos is Jack Lenor Larson's Material Wealth.

Friends gave me the book when I got the master level of the Guild of Canadian Weavers certificate and while that is a very long time ago I still have yet to actually read the book.  I open it and start turning the pages, sucked in by the exquisite photos.

I think I need to pull that off the shelves again and take another look.

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For those of you who have purchased the dvd's I did with Interweave Press, and you think they are worthwhile, I would really appreciate your passing along the word to your guild mates, on the internet (including posting a review to the Interweave site), etc.

I realize that the dvd's are not comprehensive - how can they be in a 70 or 90 minute time frame?  But hopefully they will be useful.

Please and thank you.