Archive for the ‘Basketry’ Category

Spring Forward

Spring is three days away. The smell of flowers blooming is in the air. We have already set the clocks ahead, and went around all last week feeling like we lost an hour somewhere. Today is St. Patrick’s Day, the LA Marathon was run this morning,  and it’s another one of those perfect days in LA. Of course, true to our wonderful weather: yesterday it was foggy in the Valley in the morning; then it was sunny and almost hot Downtown at noon, and by the time I left the Yarnbombing Granny Squares sewing party at the Craft and Folk Art Museum at 5, it was completely overcast and cool. As I wound my way up Laurel Canyon, over Mulholland, and dropped back down into the Valley, I drove into a hazy sunshine. The morning fog had never really lifted. I think it created an inversion layer, keeping it slightly hazy all day. As I headed west on the 101, I could see over the top of the hills, the heavy cloud cover sitting in the Basin.

DTLA, Saturday afternoon

DTLA, Saturday afternoon

But that was yesterday. Today it’s windy, clear and warm. Our orange tree, which wasn’t blooming three days ago, is in full bloom today.

Since returning from Stitches, progress on the window shade fabric has been slow. I had one week where I had four medical appointments over at UCLA and in Santa Monica – this was all follow-up on my thyroid surgery three years ago; and all the tests came out fine. But each trip over there takes a huge chunk out of the day.

I lead a twill weaving workshop for my guild, Southern California Handweavers. it was a great group, and we all had a wonderful time.

Weavers from L to R: Melissa, Elbert, Pat, 7 Myrna.

Weavers from L to R: Melissa, Elbert, Pat, & Myrna.

Carolyn Sell weaving on Elbert's loom in the Twill workshop.

Carolyn Sell weaving on Elbert’s loom in the twill workshop.

During these past few weeks I have been beginning to dye the 5/2 Perle cotton for the warp of the window shades and some to the fabric strips for the weft.


But now, I’ve got to start cranking on this project if I ever want to get it done in this lifetime. The picture shows a small portion of the yarn and fabric strips I’ll need to dye.

Coming up: I’m going to Vogue Knitting Live in Bellevue, Washington April 5-7. I’ll be in the Art Gallery portion of the Marketplace with my smaller coiled baskets and jewelry for sale.


I’m working on a new group of jewelry designs involving wire granny squares.

grannies1 The time has come for me to take over Michael’s bedroom – all of it, not just the half that serves as my photography studio. It is also time to pack up Samantha’s things and turn her bedroom into a guest room – so Michael has some place to sleep when he comes home from school.

Stay tuned.


Out in the Valley

A couple weeks ago I mentioned three things I had underway: my Designing Weavers piece addressing opposites, preparations for my Exploring Twills workshop, and the samples for the window shades.
November 17 & 18 was the twill workshop out in the Central Valley of California, and it was a great time. First, I had good weather for the drive out to Exeter, CA. Second, the Handweavers of the Valley are a lively and fun group of weavers.

I stayed with Judy Trimble at her beautiful home in Porterville. Her children are grown and she lives alone. Judy’s house has a room with two looms in it, just as every house should have, don’t you think?

There were 15 in the workshop, all at different levels of experience, and I had a great time spending two days with them.

I haven’t been able to work on the window shade samples. The week after the workshop was Thanksgiving week, which included Irv’s and my 25th wedding anniversary.

I have made a little progress on my DW piece, but not much.  The truth is I have more than three projects going at any one time. The Wells Fargo Green Team Trophy is an ongoing project that I needed to get a coiled piece completed for. This project came about during my long hiatus from blogging. Here is my Green Team Trophy,

Stash of Trash

and here is the second token, which I’ll be shipping soon.












It seems there are always side projects. This is one of the eight harness twills from my workshop. It will be a scarf, and it will be a gift for our Chanukah party on December 8th. 

This loom is sitting on a folding table in my dining room, and there’s another one on the dining table. So I not only need to finish the scarf as a gift for the party, but I’ll also need to get the looms out of the dining room so people can sit down to eat. And there’s a Baby Wolf in the living room I’ll be wheeling into my daughter’s bedroom. One of these years I should just leave all of the looms out and have everyone take turns weaving on them during the party. Wouldn’t that be fun?


The results from the Small Expressions jury came today. I’ve had one piece accepted.

Two down and two to go.


Yardage not accepted


I’ve been rejected. My yardage wasn’t accepted in HGA’S Enchanted for Convergence, and I’m sad about it. I’ve been accepted a lot. I have a long list of recent exhibitions. I’ve won awards, a few. But make no mistake, rejection still hurts.   

HGA is cold about it, too. They don’t soften the news even a little. They don’t open with a ” Thank you for entering,” and there are no lines about how beautiful all the work entered was.  They just jump right into it: “Dear Julie, We regret that the exhibit entry listed below was not accepted. . .”  Then they quote the juror’s explanation for how she made her selections, “. . . if the piece did not have something that, in my opinion, was enchanting or captivating about it, it was not selected.” Wow, thanks for that.    

She goes on to say that the quality of the images, the printouts, and the touching sample are very important also. But how am I supposed to know if my photos were ok, and it’s my work that wasn’t enchanting or captivating? If someone really needs to improve the quality of her photography, how will she know? This letter gives too much explanation; but not any more real information than the (much more pleasant) letters that say, “Your work is wonderful but it wasn’t chosen for this show.”   

Anyway, the contents of the letter are distraction from the real question at hand, which is: What on Earth was I thinking? Now I have this piece of weaving that’s 18″ wide and three yards long, and no use for it.  There’s a reason I’ve never entered a yardage exhibit – not just at Convergence, SDA has had yardage exhibitions that I’ve also never entered. And that reason is: I Don’t Do Yardage. I know weavers who do yardage and maybe they enter it in a yardage exhibition; then a year later they make something from the yardage, and enter that in a fashion show or other exhibition. I don’t work that way.   

This rejection brings me back to the reality that you have to know what you want your work to be. Sylvia White says artists need to decide what kind of artist they want to be. Some artists don’t care about selling work, they want to be historically significant, be collected by museums. Some artists don’t care about that, they want to sell work. A few years ago I decided I don’t want to do weekend art and craft fairs. That decision gave me some clarity. I’ve focused on doing a certain kind of work and entering the type of shows that the work is suited to. I’ve enjoyed some success as a result of having that clarity and focus.   

This time last year I decided my Designing Weavers annual projects need to fit with my overall body of work. In ’08 & ’09 I did projects – each wonderful in its own way – that are different enough from my overall body of work that I can’t include them in either a portfolio or a juried show submission ( although I’ve shown Behind the Cotton Candy much more than I thought I would).  Any piece of work takes too much time and effort – I have to be able to submit it along with my other work.   

Deciding to do a piece of yardage for a single entry was a lark, it was a cute idea; and I would be singing a way different tune if it had been accepted. I did some grant writing as a parent volunteer at an elementary school about 10 years ago. The right (i.e. best use of your time and least crazy making) way to approach grant writing is to establish your programs and then find grants that fund those things. Too often someone would show up with an RFP saying, “We could do this!” and then try to come up with a program to fit the grant – with the deadline a month away.    

In deciding to make a piece of yardage for the Enchantment juried show at Convergence, I ignored all of the above. I forgot basic principles: know yourself, define what you want your work to be, produce a consistent body of work, and find exhibition opportunities to fit your work, don’t try to make work to fit exhibition opportunities. Could I blame the surgery? I had Surgery in October, by late December I was still recovering, my medication was new. . . yeah, yeah. In the early days of my grant writing phase, I was the one who showed up with the RFP, saying “We can do this!”   

But I did good things with that initial RFP. The circus piece has shown more than I expected, and who knows what will happen with the Crown of Colors. So, now I have a very interesting (however not enchanting or captivating) piece of yardage in overshot with fused plastic in the pattern weft. The thing is – and here’s the real problem with these self-indulged distractions – I now have to refocus, get my goals back in my sights,  and  find my way back to my real work.

Farewell to Kansas City

Wednesday, June 3, 2009; Goodbye to Kansas City
Today my workshop ended, and I am off to Albuquerque now. I was so caught up in my work that I didn’t take any pictures during the last three days. I also realized on Sunday that as I was blogging about the conference, I had not given any comments on the speakers or the ideas they were addressing in their talks. I’ll have to deal with that later.
The Free Form Crochet workshop was great. Tracy Krumm is a wonderful artist and she gave a good workshop. I realized some things about how I like to work. I like to make things, I like structure. I don’t want to paint and I don’t want to dye. I’m not interested in mixing chemicals and liquids. With the crochet I have been most interested in learning how to use the stitches to make sculptural forms. I stuck with the surplus materials I brought; I didn’t sample Tracy’s materials. She had some wonderful and interesting things, but in my gut I knew I’m not interested in new materials. I’m not going to buy new materials for my work. I am interested in going to the electronics surplus yard in Sun Valley when I get home to stock up on wire.
I became enamored with the crochet stitches, and the building of a form and that’s all I wanted to do. Some people feel they must try a little of everything in a workshop, but I go with what attracts me most on the day. I also didn’t sample the stiffeners or Patinas. But I saw the process, I have the supply list, I can return to it in the future. I just wanted to keep crocheting, making the stitches. This workshop was a chance for me to take some time to try something that’s been on my mind. For a while now I haven’t wanted to deviate from my weaving and basketry work, I wanted to focus and not be all over the map. But its summer now, I’m not working on anything specific; it might be a good time for a little deviation.
And then something shifted. I picked a net produce bag out of my stash today and started a coil with it, thinking I would experiment with crocheting onto a coiled form. And I had no patience with it. All day I was working on a copper wire tube, gradually increasing to make of wider, and I was loving it. As I walked away from the design building, headed back to the hotel to catch my shuttle, I felt something had shifted. Crochet is faster than coiling. There are other things about it that make it a great method to work in. Will I still want to coil?
One of the best things I learned this week is to wear compression gloves to work. Tracy opened the workshop on Monday with a discussion on safety in which she talked about preventing hand & wrist problems. Her message was practice prevention and it was an a-ha! moment. My view of those gloves was always that you wear them after you already have problems, or when a doctor tells you to. I asked Smadar to stop at a drug store on the way to dinner and I got two gloves. The benefits of wearing them were immediate. My hands were not as sore as usual when I finished working that evening, and they weren’t as stiff as usual when I got up in the morning. But I may have overdone it on the plane to Albuquerque. I was working on the copper tube and my hands were hurting. I pushed through one last row, and now my hands are quite sore.
The shuttle from the hotel drove straight down Main Street, through the Crossroads Arts District and downtown Kansas City on the way to the airport. I was a little sad to be leaving knowing I won’t be back any time soon. The people of Kansas City are wonderful, and have been wonderful every time I’ve been there. But its time for a change. KCAI has hosted the conference something like five times, and we owe them a huge thanks. We owe Jason Pollen a huge thanks, as well as everyone in the SDA who makes it happen.
So, goodbye for now to Kansas City, I hope to be back again someday.

Submission Sent

Nicki commented on yesterday’s litany. She said take that photo into Elements and it will be beautiful in no time. So I did.

Actually, I have an older version of CS2 on my daughter’s old laptop. I cropped the photos a little, and adjusted the contrast and color balance. I improved them a little, and they looked better on the laptop monitor.

I put together the submission, sent it, and will hope for the best.

Next project: major clean out of my studio.

Plastic in the Oceans

Since my last post, I went to Convergence in Tampa, Florida. I had two pieces in the juried basketry exhibit. And I won 3rd place for Our Layer!
I found out last week that the two pieces I submitted to the National Fiber Arts Exhibition at Escondido Municipal Art Gallery were both accepted, and Forever Yours won 2nd place.

What’s new on the loom. . .
I call this Plastic in the Oceans. It’s an adaptation of Flourishing Wave Border, a draft from the Davison Book (A Handweaver’s Pattern Book by Marguerite Porter Davison).

When I did Plastic in the Trees, I put out a call for colored plastic bags, and lots of white ones came along with what I collected.
This is a blue, green, and Violet warp with white grocery store bags in the pattern weft. The tabby weft is the same yarns as the warp.

It’s companion piece is still on the loom; I’ll probably finish it and cut it off the loom today.

I still have lots of white plastic bags, and a small number of colored ones. I’m still getting them from people, though I’m not actively seeking them.

I’ve gotten to the point where I’m not happy when someone hands me a bag of bags; because it means they are still taking them from stores. I’ll actually be very glad when I can’t get any more plastic shopping bags to weave with. I hope someday we will be able to look at these pieces and think they belonged to a specific time. I hope someday these bags won’t be so ubiquitous, everywhere in our landscapes.

I also have a coiled piece in progress. This will be a wall piece. I started it as my demonstration piece for the Designing Weavers sale on May 17 & 18. Here it is on June 24, right before Convergence:

July 7th:

and today:

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