Monday, December 19, 2011
this year is coming to a close. it was a very turbulent one. it started with a miscarriage and now ends in a death, and a birth. my grandmother passed away on december 18th. i am expecting our son January 19th. this is some profound closure. i wish to ring in the new year and look to brighter horizons!
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
this is not just my story its an american story, the blight of the 20th century american farm. with the passing of my aunt, i come to look at the fabric of my family cloth deteriorate. the quilt which at one time finely crafted and cared for seems to be loosing the stitching pulling away at the seams. what once held american families together on the farm, hard work, crops, livestock, profits has begun to see the fall. it started long before now.
once a profitable living, our family dariy farm started to see it's decline in the eighties. its hard not to have hard feelings for the government that most likely pressured my grandfather into using fertilizers and pesticides. its hard not to dislike the seed companies that promised a great harvest and boosting milk production. its hard to put a finger on what exactly i am sad about. but one thing remains a fact. the farm will be sold, my memories will become even more distorted with time.
our family once so closely knit and proud in our heritage deteriorated like i never would have forseen. my own absence, mostly out of need, happens to a lot of rural kids. i moved to the city to get an education, and ended up remaining there to start my family. now displaced i no longer am near my childhood farm, nor do i have the family to help raise my children as farm families once did.
the best i can paint the picture is of a bustling farm in the summertime complete with flower beds abundant with flowers, one of my grandmother's pass times.( maybe this is why my cousin now owns a flower shop with her husband.) the farm alive with activity in the dusty clouds kicked up by the unstoppable tractors, hauling endless wagons loaded with sweet smelling hay, or baked golden straw. the cool of the barn during the heat of midday, the oven like tempatures if you wandered up to the hay loft. the rolling hills of the pastures i used to run. in winter things were almost as wonderful, dare i say magical. the frigid tempatures remained outside once you were in the barn with all the cows that gave off their heat. we played in the vacant pens in forts my uncles created with bales of hay. we would return home to our mothers full of burrs in our hair. outside the snowdrifts became our castles, and our sleds our quick getaway.
all in the shadow of the hard work of my uncles and grandfather and the support or their wives. my aunt was probably the biggest, hardest, female contributor to the farm. she loved my uncle and his family, and she believed in what he did. in her death it is time to accept this legacy's close. the cows were sold a little less than ten years ago, and sent to puerto rico. they tried their hand in beef, renting out the land, renting the farmhouse. my husband even entertained the thought of trying to take the farm on, but the task is to daunting the land too tanted for the likes of our organic mindset.
gone are the days of huge family gatherings under the roof of my grandparents farmhouse or under the canopy of trees in their front yard (which took me three hours to mow on a riding mower). i worry that i am not passing wonderful cherished heritage on to my children. what i can pass on is community, the arts, my love and ability for the craft of weaving, visiting the farm as much as i can with them, teaching them as much as i can about nature life in general. i just wish my backdrop was like the rolling hills of green, and not the concrete that lies outside my doorstep, maybe that is why i plant the unruly gardens i do.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
it is nice to visit old accomplishments. this rug was my third attempt at the weaving pattern i enjoy most, rep weave. in this piece there are two rugs, you can just barely see the hem at the bottom of the photograph. this rug also taught me a lot about warp. the black in the rug (warp) broke in chunks while i was threading. when i wound the warp, measuring it it seemed strong. i learned how to add warp to over half threaded loom. what a mess. but i was persistant. i probably added about four hours of work to a normally twenty hour or more rug. the results were stunning. after this was woven i tied onto the threading with white and cream, and the cream and white became one.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Monday, June 20, 2011
Friday, May 27, 2011
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
so upon working in our attic, we found a bin of girls clothes, what i had whittled thousands down to.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
In the spring of 2011 I was given the opportunity to work with K4 and K5 students at Clara Barton Elementary School through Artists Working in Education, a non-profit organization with whom I have worked for seven years. During my residency from January to April, students were taught weaving and explored other fiber art elements like sewing, beading, and fabric construction. In eight weekly classes, we explored five different projects and wove on looms. We read the story “Charlie needs a Cloak” by Tomie dePaola. In this story a shepherd has a flock of sheep and takes readers through the process of preparing the wool, spinning, dyeing, weaving, and sewing a cloak. This book covered a lot of the things we were going to approach in this weaving and fiber art residency. At the end of the project, a panel was constructed using student-generated elements, making a “woven tapestry” which illustrated the adage, “it takes a village to raise a child.”
The first project completed was a Danish woven heart basket out of paper. The paper was cut into the shapes, handles were cut, and slots were cut beforehand. Children learned the basics of the over/under concept and AB, AB, AB pattern. We worked through the project by using the descriptive words and easy labels like “the red leg goes over the white leg” or “the red leg goes inside of the white leg”. The end result was a checkerboard pattern which demonstrated the AB, AB pattern. Once completed and woven a handle was attached to the basket with a stapler. Students took the baskets home.
The second project we undertook was woven fabric people. The preparation for this project included ironing interfacing on to the back of the fabric and cutting figures from the cloth. Strips of fabric with interfacing were cut longer than the width of the figure and slots were cut into the figure. Again, students were encouraged to learn the concept of over/ under, and opposites, the weaving created a checkerboard pattern and again created an AB, AB pattern. The woven people were saved for use in the final project.
The third project created was a woven paper sculpture, attached to a cardboard base, which was thn painted. In preparation, strips of paper and cardboard squares and rectangles were cut. We used construction paper and to strengthen and make it more pliable, the paper needed to crumpled. First, two strips were stapled to the base. Secondly, three more strips were added by weaving them over and under the strips stapled to the cardboard. The children were encouraged to “decorate” their sculpture by painting with washable paints. The sculpture was allowed to dry and student took them home.
One of my favorite projects in this residency was making a fabric picture. We had an apeirilla for an example a South American way of creating a picture story. Molas also were used in an example-- cut fabric pictures from Guatemala. The students were first asked to think about what they might like to make a picture about, we wrote this on a strip of paper near them so both teachers knew how to help them and keep them on track. We encouraged them to draw, cut, or construct figures, objects from fabric scraps and yarn. Using the size of a felt rectangle approximately 8”x11” this was their “canvas”. We affixed the picture pieces with fabric glue and school glue. I allowed the pictures to dry and took them home to attach them to construction paper matting. The fabric pictures will be used in the closing ceremony and then sent home with the students.
The last project we did was the result of ongoing work throughout the residency, where each child’s time in the last half of each class was spent weaving on five pre-warped looms. With a great deal of preparation time, I measured strings and threaded those strings onto the looms. I allowed student who were understanding this process to step up to another level of weaving, successfully implementing differentiated instruction: some looms had only two harnesses, which made an easy AB, AB pattern, while others had four and eight harnesses in which I labeled the treadles with A,B,A,B stickers and students were able to follow complex pattern of weaving with success. All the A’s had to be down to weave “A” and all the B’s had to be up; the opposite was required when weaving the B’s. At the start of each day, the children got to choose the yarn color for weaving from a selection of pre-wrapped shuttles. It did not take the students long to understand the weaving concepts, and by the third time we saw the same group, most of the children could weave independently, with a few minor tangles and missed pattern changes. The weavings totaled fifteen warped yards and became the pieces we used to create houses in our woven tapestry’s village, along with the fabric people described previously. Remaining pieces were used for the final take home project.
Finally, the leftovers of the weaving were sewn by machine with a zigzag to make each child a fabric bookmark. This secured the small pieces of the weaving in order for the students to work on them. The same process was used to create the shapes for the tapestry panel. Considering the fabric picture project, students were encouraged to think about shapes or images they would use to embellish their bookmark with. After we glued the pictures or shapes to the bookmark, children were taught basic sewing with plastic needles and thick yarn. Once the children did a few whip stiches, we moved onto more embellishment with beads. We taught them a very simple way to attach the beads. Some students learned how to sew a button on their bookmark, and others used glitter glue to make more pictures or write their names. The creative process being completely handed over to the students, they truly enjoyed and grew tremendously through this culminating activity.
The final panel consists of quilt and woven pieces appliqued to fabric. At the request of the school, it was to illustrate a village, as in the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” A four by six foot fabric rectangle was quilted, the woven and sewn shapes appliqued creating houses, windows, and doors from student created rectangle, square and triangle pieces, and student-generated people figures were applied to breathe life into the village. I am happy to have shared my love for weaving, the importance of learning the basics of sewing, manipulating cloth, and making something wonderful to be appreciated by others.