Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ahhhh, summer

After all my preparations, complaining, weaving, gardening, and brow beating, the Studio and Garden Tour is OVER! A big sigh of relief and on to summer.
We had about 280 visitors over three days of miserable heat. What troopers they were.I had a guest artist, Norene Mara, that paints and makes jewelry:
I also had a guest artist, Rose Poe, that makes beautifully colored baskets and also weaves.
The gardens could have used more work, but at 90+ degrees, not that many people were taking time to look at them ... out of their cars and into the air-conditioned studio!
The "weaver's garden" had a new umbrella for shade and some cute purse pots (an idea I stole from a friend) hanging on the shepherd's crooks. The purses got a LOT of comments.

The loom room was a demonstration and display area:The plate garden needed washing ... too bad. Pike was watching for cars ...Too hot to sell clothing ...

The positive comments make all the preparation work worthwhile. But I'm ready for pool time and to get back to weaving for the fall shows.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Studio Tour preparations

Every year, for the last 10, we have taken part in a county-wide tour of artists' studios. It's called the Brown County Studio and Garden Tour. Originally the tour included spectacular gardens in addition to the studios and then morphed into gardens AT the studios. Many of the artists (32 this year) already had gardens at their studios but we pretty much started from scratch. ... and kept going. The gardens now are a big part of the preparation for the tour and take about 4 months of my husband's and my time.
Meanwhile, we have been having odd weather ... high temperatures and lots of thunderstorms, tornado warnings, high winds. Just keep the good thoughts for those of us living here in the tornado belt of Indiana.
The studio is being cleaned and rearranged to make room for my two guest artists on the tour: Rose Poe, who does baskets and weaving, and Norene Mara who is a painter and jewelry artist.We usually have about 400 people through the studio during the 3-day tour. Lots of fun and meeting and greeting.
On another note, our primary phone line, which also includes our Internet service, has been down for one week. As I write this, it still isn't repaired and AT&T has missed three chances to fix it by their "estimated" deadline. I will be briefly borrowing a family member's dialup number to upload this, which I have written offline.
I guess the bright side, if there is one, is I've spent less time online in the last week than any other week since we went on vacation last year. I have been using this extra time to organize and make room in the studio for the guest artists.

As a final note, I received an email this morning from an overseas company who was wanting to sell me rugs. I was particularly intrigued with their salutation:
Hope you are leaving life with great pleaseure.

Well, I hope so, too.

Monday, May 31, 2010

More gardening and meditating

When we bought this house in 1999, the landscaping was pretty minimal, although there was a nice picket fence along the front.After me moved here, a local woman befriended me and gifted me with an enormous amount of perennial plants: hostas, Siberian iris, miniature Japanese iris, day lilies and other items she was thinning from her beds. Every June, when the day lilies bloom, I thank her for her generosity. She was also very helpful with getting beds started all along the inside of the picket fence ... about 150 feet of flower beds ... and that's just one of the 16 gardens or beds on the property. Another friend has given us many varieties of day lilies which she and her husband collect and grow.
Here's what it looks like now.
Getting back to the meditating ... as I've been thinning the beds, it's given me time to reflect on lots of things ... getting older, taking control, and how tangled parts of our life can become. It has been a very cathartic exercise because there really IS no plan ... for the gardens, for life, for the future. It is whatever we make it, good or bad. Do we control our own destiny, or was it decided for us before we were born? What do you think?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Gardening and meditating

I've been working in the dirt. Nightly. Daily. Whenever the heat was bearable.
We have had a lot of rain this spring and weeds are everywhere. But so are flowers ... so many that I'm thinning out the beds. If you want to stop by, there's iris, day lillies and hostas to the first comers.
The pictures are the newly reworked plate garden. I've doubled the plates so that it's pretty from both sides now (sounds like a Joni Mitchell song!) ... the gate is a wrought iron creation of cattails and iris from an Indiana blacksmith, Dean Howard.
More pictures later. Back to the weeding.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Apologies to my followers ... both of them!

I had the most wonderful surprise visit this week from Ingrid and Richard from Wisconsin. We had emailed a couple times and I knew they were coming to the area for a vacation and wanted to see the studio, but they really just "dropped in" Tuesday around lunch time. She was "technically" here to buy some rug warp, but we had a great time discussing looms and jobs and travels and anything else that came to mind.
Ingrid is a fairly new weaver and hasn't found other like-minded fiber folk in her area of western Wisconsin so relies on the Internet for support. Including my blog ... who would have thought that? I didn't think anyone was reading this! So, Ingrid, this post is for you!
And Ingrid's visit really made me realize why I have the open weaving studio. I want to be a place where people can come and ask questions and get advice about problems they are having with their looms and weaving. I don't know all the answers, but I definitely have opinions on a lot of topics and do my best to help.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Enough of the snow already!

This is my meditation circle. It's an area in the woods across from the house and studio that has paths through the trees and a few places to sit and think. There has been plenty of time for that this winter, but it's not been happening out in the snow.

Dear Saint Francis looks like he has his work cut out for him.
Everyone has probably seen their fill of snow pictures this winter. So that's it from me.
I've been weaving in the house for the last month because I have an art show in Indianapolis tomorrow and Sunday. Hoping for good weather and to see some friendly faces ...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hungry for color

I have a new toy. It's a walnut scarf loom. I don't usually warp without a sectional beam, but this one doesn't have one so I wound a "spool-cleaning" warp where I get rid of odds and ends of yarn left from other projects. This is a rather southwestern colorway, and it feels warm. It helps that the loom is right in front of the wall heater, too. Pike, the studio cat, loves the loom.

The snow was coming down in big puffy flakes when I spotted this gray squirrel hunting for missed acorns. He'd walk a bit, dig, walk some more ... all the while dragging his tail behind him. It just kept collecting snow on top of it. When he got some distance from the oak trees, he flicked the snow off his tail and scampered away.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Winter respite

We've been having a mid-winter thaw here in Indiana. Always welcome this time of year. Our driveway was snow-packed, then ice-packed, and is now just muddy.
I've been exploring more uses for these organic dyed T-shirt scraps ... quite small pieces and odd sizes, like maybe they were neck opening cutouts? Not sure. But very time consuming. I had been through the box once and what was left was up for grabs to anyone who wanted them. Until Hilary asked if I had ever made a rag rya rug. Which got me thinking ... with a little bit of effort (like just a few more hours) these remaining scraps would work for that. So, here is the end result, front and back:
There is a dark blue ground weft that is constant throughout the rug and the cotton scraps provide the alternate rows. If my blue weft had been thinner, I might have included the short pieces in each row. As it was, I only put them every other row, overlapping by a few threads and leaving the ends to stick out.
A fun project for a winter day. My husband says it looks like a flower garden ... I think he's thinking spring, too!
You could also use quilting scraps or pieces of clothing for the rya.
If you try it, send me a picture!

Monday, January 11, 2010

No time to weave?

January is not a productive weaving month for me ... all the chores I've put off in the fall finally get shoveled through like the snow on the sidewalk. Filing, put off for more than six months, must be dealt with before taxes can be started. Seemingly small projects of sewing seem to pile up in their corner of the office and are some of the biggest time-suckers I ever deal with. Do you have any idea how many seams there are in a 25 pound box of organic cotton t-shirt scrap when cut into one-inch strips for rugs? It would boggle your mind. Suffice it to say that these rugs are going to be EXPENSIVE.Long ago, I began pricing my rugs based on the amount of preparation time needed. Thus, rugs from jeans, corduroy pants, and small pieces of whatever that require sewing are at the top of my price chain. Does that seem fair?
Then, there are the "ideas" that get piled in the office. If they are still in the office and not relegated to the garage, they must be great ideas, right? Well ... eventually, even the good ideas have been moved out there, and now there isn't room to park a car. My poor husband!

Another issue I've been pondering is whether or not to continue weaving rugs from plastic bags. In an effort to make an environmental statement, I devised a method about 10 years ago that allowed grocery store bags to be chained together so that they could be woven on a floor loom ... taking used plastic bags out of the waste stream and creating long-wearing rugs in the process. I've shared my system with many other weavers and am glad to see others making the rugs.The reason I'm going to stop making them is simple ... in the last 10 years, there's been much debate on the plastic bag issue. Some states have banned them, some stores charge for them, but most importantly (to me) the bags aren't as long lasting as they used to be! On a bag that someone dropped off at my studio recently, from Canada by the way, I found the following info:
"Oxo-BiodegradableTM Bag - The plastic used in this bag will convert to water, carbon dioxide and biomass in the presence of soil, moisture and oxygen. Like a fallen leaf, it will disappear over time."

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Five days of sunshine

Today marked the fifth day in a row of sunny (but frigid) weather here in Indiana. I feel recharged. Something about January and February ... even if we have storms, I feel optimistic because we have crossed the threshold of December and are headed downhill into spring. I know that's not necessarily true, but that's HOW I FEEL.
I spent some time warping a little loom and weaving in my new sunroom. I love it. You can't see it in this picture, but the loom is in front of the chair on the right. The large windows face south west and the room warms up nicely on a sunny day. The cats love it, too. However, they have their own area on the screened portion of the porch when the weather is warmer. They spend most of their day there.
Smitty, the sweet Siamese, joined me in the sunroom today.
This porch project was born of necessity. We had water damage to the back of the house and had to replace the doors to the deck. We also needed to replace the decking so my husband and I settled on a plan. We turned our 9' x 32' deck into an 8' x 11' deck, a 16' x 11' screened porch, and an 8' x 11' sunroom. We repurposed the doors and sidelights from the house and turned them into the windows of the sunroom. We used composite decking instead of wood and installed a rubber roof because the slope is minimal. Once the sunroom was finished, we closed the floor gaps by putting down a large sheet of vinyl and filling part of the gaps underneath with insulation. Today, for instance, the temp outside was 23 degrees but the sunroom was about 65. Since I often work on the porch of the studio, even in the winter, 65 degrees in balmy to me.
Happy New Year to everyone. Stay safe.