Getting Back to Normal

After a couple of months of doing nothing much except laying in bed with my foot elevated, it felt good to get back to normal activity like cooking  and setting the table.

Mind you the effort was minimal, but it doesn’t take much to make a happy table especially when there’s already something there from which to work.  The handblown vases that have been  on the table for weeks gave me a starting place.

I started with pink placemats, but the turquoise ones insisted on being chosen.  Since I like color I had no problem letting them have their way.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChoosing the napkins was a piece of cake as these multicolored ones from Anthropologie play off  both the vases and the placemats.  No fancy folds required because the fun napkin rings continue the colorway.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was tempting to add more color with the dinner plates, but I opted for white ones

and added salad plates with playful patterns and complementary colors.  They were pleased to be included as they have been hiding in the cabinet for far too long!

Finished with the ever faithful Fostoria thumbprint stems, a gift from my now hubby several years before we were married, the table is done.  It is a first step that makes me feel that all is right with the world!  The hubby is even happier as he has had enough of kitchen duty and is glad to welcome me back to the business of preparing meals.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Joining

Tablescape Thursday

Things Change

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShortly after we married, the hubby and I bought a house in a small town that is smack dab in the middle of Houston.  At the time, the neighborhood had grown old.  Houses were mostly bungalows with a smattering of two story homes, most of which needed updating.  The majority of lots were 50×100.  

Along the way something happened.  Houston grew and grew making close in property more and more valuable.  That meant that in our little town old houses gave way to bulldozers

West Uand were replaced with big new ones.

Surprisingly, the house we lived in for 20 years stayed standing, but last week that changed.  Like all the others around it, it came down.

P3021528In a matter of minutes it was rubble, and the hubby and I had moments of nostalgia as we looked at the home that held so many memories.  The two of us had totally remodeled the house over a five year period.  We did all the work except for the sheetrock and floor tile in the space we added.  Looking back, we marvel at the energy we had and remember how proud we were of each step forward.

P3021524The house may be gone, but what didn’t come down is the sweetgum tree we planted the first year we had the house, and we laughed as we remembered its story.  It was to be a birthday surprise, but it was spoiled by the assistant who answered the phone when I called the hubby.  “Oh,” she said, “he’s not here.  He went to get your tree.”  When he came home with it, I tried to act surprised, but laughter overcame me and I had to tell him he had been foiled.

By the time we had kids, the tree had grown enough for it to become the climbing tree for every kid on the block. I can see them now and hear their young voices as they nestled in the limbs.  You know, things change, but the memories we hold dear stay with us.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

A Piece of the World

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I’ve just ordered this long awaited book and can’t wait to read it not just because it’s by an author whose works I enjoy but because it’s about people and place quite familiar to me.

Olson HouseThe piece of the world the title refers to is the Olson House in Cushing, Maine.  It is a place I’ve visited many times and am intrigued by its stories.

christinas_world-e1380208783741The main character of Kline’s novel is Christina Olson who shared the house with her brother Alvaro.  She was a simple woman crippled by a then undiagnosed disease.  She was made famous by her friend Andrew Wyeth’s iconic painting Christina’s World which hangs in New York’s Museum of Modern Art.  It was her many viewings of this painting and her visits to the Olson House that inspired Kline to write A Piece of the World.

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Christina Olson painted by Andrew Wyeth

Last summer I had the privilege of hearing the author talk about the inspiration for her novel which is not just about place but about a woman’s perseverance, independence and strength.  At the same time Christina Olson possessed these qualities, there was a vulnerability about her.  Inspired by the painting, Kline spent several years researching the Olsons and their 30 year relationship with Wyeth.  As history unfolded, she began to appreciate that it was likely Wyeth found something of himself in Christina.  

As I listened to Kline discuss the underlying mystery  and the influence of the rural landscape found in Wyeth’s painting, I began thinking about the power of visual art and how many ways it gives birth to another art form.  Certainly, this is true for the author whose name she shares with her subject.  I suspect that if one knew Christina Baker Kline, one would find, like with Wyeth, something shared with Christina.

What I would really like to know is how Christina felt when she saw herself as portrayed by Wyeth and how she would respond to being subject of Kline’s book.  That is the part of her story we may never know.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

A Happy Accident

My drawing skills are nil, but I’ve always enjoyed blending colors and thinking in terms of design possibilities.  It took me many years, however, to find my creative niche and that was thanks to an industrial psychologist for whom I was doing temporary work.  It was he who said my underlying need to be creative was going to be the source of much frustration if I didn’t yield to it.  “But,” I said, “I’m not creative!”  By walking me through a series of questions, he proved me wrong and from that day forward I feel that life has been one great exercise in creativity.  

WeavingHow weaving came into the picture is a happy accident.  At my girls’ elementary school auction someone donated 6 weeks of weaving lessons which no one bought.  Somehow I ended up with those lessons, and they opened the door to a whole new world.  I never dreamed anyone would want to buy anything I made, but from the beginning that proved not to be true.  

Early on, I concentrated on wall pieces and created large installations for several Houston office buildings and banks.  I won’t go into all the reasons why, but it didn’t take long for me to figure out that wasn’t going to be my direction.

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While trying to determine my next step, I remembered that as a child I loved designing paper doll clothes, mixing patterns and colors in unique combinations.  That led to weaving cloth for garments, and I was thrilled by the results. My first piece was a vest which I sold right off my back.  That led to years of designing one-of-a-kind wearables for clients who valued my work as a means of expressing their uniqueness.

flowers/tablescapeThere were many wonderful moments during that period, but several years ago I burned out on cutting and sewing and began working with designers to create blankets, table linens, accent pillows and yardage for dining room chairs, piano benches, stools, etc. Such work gave me incredible design freedom.

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At the same time, I began focusing, too,  on fashion accessories such as scarves and shawls.  

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These have allowed me to satisfy clients who appreciate having a distinctive piece.

caleb-1-2I never would have dreamed that weaving would become a vocation.  It is certainly not one that ensures upward mobility or a hefty salary, but it feeds the soul and becomes a means of self expression.  For that I will ever be grateful.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Lulu’s Studio

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow that you’ve shared a bit of the history of weaving and been introduced to a variety  of looms, come on into my studio where there is quite a sophisticated setup.  The loom is a 16 harness, 60″ production loom designed by AVL in Chico, California.  With it, the design possibilities are limitless.

img_8625After years of struggling with graph paper and colored pencils, I now do all the preliminary design work on the computer which allows me to glimpse what the fabric will look like no matter what its color combinations and treadling order.  I can spend hours testing the variations and determining the integrity of the cloth.

img_4963When I am ready to weave, I choose colors from the vast array of fibers in the studio.

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I use primarily silk, rayon, perle cotton, bamboo and chenille threads because they are lightweight and drape beautifully.  There was a time when I dyed many of the fibers, but once I found a resource (Silk City Fibers) that had not only the ones I desired but a rainbow of colors, that step was eliminated.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOnce a design and colors are determined the hard part of preparing the loom begins.  First,  the warp threads are wound and placed on a warping board.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen  they are threaded on this device

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand wound onto the beam.  These are the easiest steps.

img_4956Now comes the hard part of threading the loom without making an error in the threading order that has been designed on the computer.  Not only does this take a lot of time, it requires intense concentration, no conversation or TV watching!  When I need a break, I’ve learned to be very careful to make note of the spot where I quit.

img_4421With the threading done, checked and rechecked, the warp is tied onto an apron and the weaving begins.  The computer is connected to the loom and a little black box reads the treadling order as I work the foot treadles and throw the fly shuttle.  In just minutes, I can see the results of all the preliminary work  which gives me such instant gratification.  And you can’t imagine the sigh of relief when I see that there are no threading errors.  Believe me, they show up quickly and after saying a few colorful words, there is no choice but to correct the mistake!

Many yards of fabric have come from this studio, and I haven’t even touched the surface of  creative possibility.  If you will come back one more time, I’d love to tell you the story of how I got into weaving and show you some of what has come off the loom.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Warped to Weave

No doubt early weavers had no tools other than their hands with which to work, but I bet it wasn’t long before they figured something out that would allow them to be more efficient.

img_1395Perhaps it was something as uncomplicated as a frame loom that allowed warp, vertical threads, to be attached. The skills may have been more advanced, but something very similar to this was used to weave those beautiful tapestries that were mentioned in the last post.

img_7604The same construction for what we call upright looms continues in use today. In this country, they are often associated with Native American weavers who create stunning blankets and rugs.  Incidentally, this concept influenced the construction of my first loom which the hubby made of 1″ pipe and notched 2×2’s.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASometimes the body serves as a loom.  Here the warp threads are held in place by the foot, and the weft (horizontal threads) is manipulated with the fingers to create intricate design.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn other cases, the warp is tied at one end to a dowel  or stick and secured at the waist to keep the threads taut. To create design, the warp threads are lifted and lowered with the fingers and small shuttles carry the weft threads across.  Who knows how far back such techniques go?  What is fascinating is that with all the changes that have made weaving simpler, some cultures continue ages old process.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABy the 12th century, much of what we know about weaving, including the introduction of a floor loom, had evolved.  Floor looms allowed the weaver to sit on a bench and operate pedals with the feet.  Keep in mind that weaving is the interlacing of warp and weft threads and at least two separate warp threads are required. In this photo you can see that one set of threads stays down while the other is lifted up.  Weft threads run between the two and, in its simplest form, that is how all threads are laced together to become fabric.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOver the years, floor looms became bigger, often with more harnesses allowing more complicated designs.

2During the Industrial Revolution came the most significant change.  The jacquard loom with flying shuttles was introduced thus starting the highly mechanized production of textiles in place today.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile many people think handweaving is women’s work, morocco-777in some countries it is man’s work, too.  I like seeing men have a sensitivity to threads and a sense of pride in making beautiful fabric.

img_1271Yes, over the centuries weaving has changed, and the people who weave by hand are becoming fewer and fewer.  Whenever I see the remains of an old loom I find myself wondering at its history and wish it could tell me the story of the person who once worked on it.

 Now that you have some insight into the history of weaving and the apparatus that make it possible, next up is a visit to my studio.  I hope you all join me there.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind