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

A Little Bit of History

For some time readers have asked about my weaving, so as I am pretty much housebound these days, this seems a good time to write about it and weaving in general.  Let’s begin with some background that I hope you find interesting .

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADid you know that that the only surviving being that has been weaving longer than man is a spider?  History suggests that man discovered early on that lacing reeds, grasses and twigs together provided items such as clothing, shelter, vessels  and sleep mats that made life more comfortable. So it is that weaving is said to have preceded other skills such as pottery making, metalsmithing or glass blowing he/she eventually developed.  Knowing something of the history of weaving makes me very proud to continue this ages old tradition.

st-petersburg-191As time passed, weaving became not just practical but an art form.  Skilled weavers were held in high regard among royalty who frequently appointed them to court positions.  Here, weavers created beautiful tapestries that were used for decorative purposes as well as taken to battle where they made encampments more like home.  Often tapestries were prized spoils of war.  Thankfully, many survived various ransacks and have been preserved so that we might enjoy and marvel at the work done by hand in another time.

Now, here’s a little tidbit that may be fact or fiction.  Christopher Columbus’s father was one of those court appointed weavers.  As a youngster, Columbus was an apprentice, and it is thought that his dislike of weaving resulted in his going to sea.  The rest is history!

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While weaving is a respected tradition in other cultures and patterns are passed from one generation to another, in America it is less so.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEarly on in this country, hand loomed fabrics were for clothing and bed linens made of wool and cotton spun and dyed by the weaver.

FranklinSlaveholders often had an outlying shed where women and children spent their days weaving fabric for necessities.  

Today, much of what was once handwoven is produced by machinery which contributes to the scarcity of weaving in developed countries. However, language is peppered with references to weaving.   We speak of the tapestry/fabric of life, the threads that bind and tales/lives woven together.  A woman who spun yarn and remained unmarried became known as a spinster.  On an on it goes, but I’ll leave it at that today and come back later with a fascinating look at looms.  

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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Old Familiar Things

With the holidays over and Christmas decorations back in storage for another year, it is comfortable getting back to all those old familiar things that are part of everyday life.

img_8456The breakfast room table is void of trees and snow globes that are replaced with what is left of the flowers the hubby gave me for our anniversary.  They are arranged in an assortment of bottles which make for a simple  and colorful centerpiece.

img_8457The table runner is one I made from a scrap of my handwoven fabric bordered with another remnant.  Sometimes it pays not to throw anything away, but when I go into my studio I wonder how it will be possible to use all that is on the shelves!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith the runner and flowers in place, it was easy to pick everything else.  The dishes are one of my favorites, Tuscany Rose from 222 Fifth.  They’ve been around for a long time, and a few pieces now have chips in them.  I’ll keep using them though until they are no longer presentable.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAdd glasses and flatware,

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand in just a few minutes the table is done.  I wish that preparing dinner were that quick and easy!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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Tablescape Thursday

Cinco de Mayo Texas Style

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn Texas we know how to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.  It is a day made for TexMex favorites, margaritas and fun.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAround here, that’s no problem.   A handwoven rug that serves as a table topper is the backdrop for colorful dishes which create the feeling but but happen not to be from Mexico. (Is that cheating?)  Rather they are Fiesta wannabes picked up at a thrift shop and fun pieces from Italy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe glasses, well, they are a purchase from a parks fundraiser oh so many years ago, but they fit right in and add their own touch of whimsey.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat is authentic is the centerpiece featuring pieces collected from various trips to Mexico.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe family of figures wear handwoven clothing

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwhich just might have been made by the village weaver working on a very primitive backstrap loom.  When I see how some fabrics are made, I stand in awe because my studio setup is so sophisticated.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPutting this table together was so much fun because it says a lot about my interests in weaving and color and texture and whimsey.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor dinner it’s King Ranch Casserole, a real Texas favorite chock full of chicken, tortilla strips and jalapeño peppers.  It’s so good I think I’ll tempt you to come back tomorrow for the recipe.

i so appreciate your visit and especially the comments you leave behind

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Tablescape Thursday

The Morning After

Feet up in front of the fire. Sipping cappuccino.  Catching up reading blogs.  Remembering the people who wandered in over the last three days.  Thinking of how carefully each person searched for and found just the just right piece.  This is the aftermath of participating in the Artisans Tour in the Camden/Rockport, Maine area, a tiring but rewarding three days.

For weeks my work spaces have been chaotic as new pieces were created and  finishing touches were put on handwoven pieces.  There was a side benefit to sitting, working with my hands for hours on end. I watched all 46 episodes of Breaking Bad on Netflix.  That program is topic for a whole other discussion!

Most of the artists participating in the tour actually host in their studio.  Mine is upstairs in my home and with stairs being a little worrisome, the  entry and dining room  are converted into a mini shop.  Actually, using these areas provides a warm and inviting background for the displays.

Every surface is covered with my work and that of my friend Sasha, a most talented potter.  Our work is complementary, and a special bonus is spending time with her over the three days.  I couldn’t do this without her.

Everything in the house is potentially a prop.  My very high heeled purple, fuschia and orange shoes came in handy

as did the antique spice tins.  They were perfect display units for scarves and necklaces.  Amazing what a little ingenuity can do!

While the primary focus of our show is handwovens and handmade pottery, there are a few little whimsies like these cuddly little blankies and onesies, also handmade.

On the woven front, these hand towels were new this year and sold first thing.  As many years as I’ve been weaving, I’ve never done anything like these, and it was such fun sitting at my loom creating the different borders.  Since this was an experiment, there was only a short warp on the loom, but next time there will be more as there are more borders and colors floating in my head!

For both Sasha and me, this show represents hours and hours of work and a bit of fear over putting it out there.  It is not uncommon for artists to experience some shyness and vulnerability, and it is an incredible reward to receive positive feedback.    It provides the incentive to keep you going.  Any of you who create understand that I’m betting.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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Show and Tell Friday

In the Pink

Here you will find a blog post by a gal who really likes pink.  I know this to be true because she is my daughter, and she is making up for being pink deprived as a child.  She ends her post by asking if pink can be found in your house.

I would have thought my answer to be no, at least for the most part, but take a look around and you will see pink, not the soft, pretty pink but PINK!

Pink is the sofa in the breakfast room,

the handwoven pillow

and throw in the living room

the ceiling that runs the length of the gallery

and the cabinet over my desk.

Pink is in this painting that has such a story to tell,  in the funky pottery piece that sits close by

and in my favorite needlepoint rugs.

It is on and below the piano.

Yes, there is quite a lot of pink in my house and you know what?  I like it!

What are your feelings about pink?

i love your comments, so jump right in and share your thoughts

This post is liked to Seasonal Sundays,  Pink Saturday and Open House Party.