Saturday, September 22, 2007

Hiatus again

Hi Everyone,

As you can tell, I've been a deadbeat blogger. So, I'm going on hiatus again. Images of my new work are on my website:

Best, B.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Reading Textiles 2 and Period Costumes

Hi Everyone,

This is a catch-up post, as I've become an infrequent blogger.

I spent the past weekend at the 2007 Conference of Northern California Handweavers (CNCH) at
Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, CA. Asilomar is this wonderful retreat facility by the Pacific Ocean. It was great catching up with old friends and making new ones. Doug came along with me and said that he was amazed at how supportive the CNCH community members are of each other. I've gotten tons of mentorship from my CNCH friends, to whom I'm grateful. Chair Susie Hodges & her crew did a great job with the conference.

I had the fortune to take
Nancy Moore Bess' workshops entitled "Traditional Japanese Packaging" and "4 Quick Baskets -- Japanese Style." Nancy is an acclaimed fiber artist and bamboo scholar who wrote Bamboo in Japan. Nancy is a fabuzoid teacher who gave us the tools to be successful, and then she left us on our own to explore. Here are my unrefined samples.

During the conference Flo Hoppe gave a talk about her work and travels. I was intrigued by one of her baskets that was a takeoff on a rug pattern she had seen in a magazine. This reminded me of the the February 2007 Loom & Shuttle Guild meeting in San Francisco, at which Gudrun Polak presented this interesting talk about cross-pollination in textile arts. She talked about how she takes patterns typically associated with one textile medium and re-interprets them in other textile media, e.g., she re-creates a plaited twill pattern (which is commonly associated with loom and basket weaving) in knitting, card weaving, kumihimo, etc. I was fascinated by Gudrun's ingenuity and ability to fake the eye. One thing I've been wrestling with is this idea of my own inconsistency with this trompe l'oeil matter -- just before the Loom & Shuttle meeting, I was talking to Pat Stewart and telling her that I had seen some jacquard-woven curtains in an ikat pattern. I remember that I didn't like the curtains because I thought that they were just a mass-produced item that obscured the ikat technique and didn't pay homage to the time-intensive ikat technique; however, I am fascinated by Gudrun's and Flo's hand-made examples. (One could say that the jacquard-woven piece actually does pay homage to the ikat process because it honors the process enough to try to replicate it.) Have I become a hand-crafted snob and a time-intensive process martyr, placing a higher value on the hand-crafted? What are your thoughts?

Also at CNCH was a wonderful slide show put together by Marlene Golden. Marlene collected images of CNCH members' studios, work, etc. and artfully put them together in a presentation for all to enjoy. The group was shocked and awed by the show, as evidenced by the "oohs" and "aahs." Thanks to Marlene for doing this program. During the slide show, there were a few slides of a person in costume from a bygone era, and I believe this person was giving a weaving demonstration in a non-historical, non-museum context. I have issue with people wearing historical clothing while demonstrating the fiber arts because I feel that the costume gives the message that the fiber arts are irrelevant to today, i.e., they're just a quaint thing from the past. (I doubt how "quaint" the fiber arts in the past really were when people had to shear the sheep, clean and card the wool, spin the yarn, weave the cloth and sew the garments.) Of course, I don't have issue if the presenter is part of a historical museum, but perhaps those demonstrators could explain the relevance to today. What are your thoughts about period clothing?

On other matters, I've been accepted into the MFA in textiles program at San Francisco State University, so I'll be returning there in the fall. I'm excited about returning to school. All details about the move will be revealed to me when I'm supposed to learn them.

Also, I finally finished the triple weave strip weaving (or, more precisely -- I gave up, as I wanted to start some other things.). Here's a poor low res image:

Until next time,

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Action Pants

Hi Everyone,

I'm back. I've been taking some time off to continue on the triple weave strip weaving which I referenced in earlier posts. I currently have 6 strips done and have tied on a new warp. I'm simultaneously "over" working on the project and intrigued to continue to see what emerges. This piece appeals to the sampler that I am.

Doug and I cleaned out the closets during the winter break, and I finally decided to give my action pants to charity. I bought the original action pants in Chiang Mai, Thailand in 1992. The pants were kind of baggy and had some woven bands depicting elephants, etc. sewn down the outside hems, around the pockets, and around the cuffs. I imagine these pants are meant for the tourist trade -- a Thai friend has said that no Thai person wears those pants. They got the name "action pants" because the year after I bought them, I returned to the US (I was living in Tokyo), moved to San Francisco, and got "action" every time I wore them. Can clothes make one more sexually appealing or do the clothes make one feel more sexually appealing and thus give off messages to others that one is available? So, I guess the question is is the message encoded in the clothes or the way the person wears the clothes or both?

When I lived again in Japan from 1995-1996, I returned to Thailand and bought several more pairs of action pants. I didn't have as much success with these pants. These came to be known as the "sometimes action" or "inaction" pants.

Tied in with this whole issue for me is age and fashion. Towards the end of my action pants wearing days, I felt a little old to be wearing these pants. When does one get too old to wear certain fashions? I've heard that with regular fashions that if a person wears something the first time it comes around, then that person should NOT wear that fashion the second time it comes around. However, these pants never were in the fashion mainstream.

What do you think?

Monday, July 31, 2006

Website is Back Up, and Enough About Me

Hi Everyone,

Sorry I haven't been blogging -- I've recently re-activated my website, and little by little I've been updating it. I've added images of my recent work at the weaving & surface design link. Take a peek if you're interested:

Thanks to Judy G. for her comments to my last post. It's great to see others interested in the area, and I can't wait to see images of Judy's ribbon/text project.

Speaking of ribbons -- Judy, you can get the ribbon magnet at this URL (it arrives in about a week or so):

Readers -- I'd like to hear from you about your text/textile experiences. (Enough about me -- let's have this be a dialogue.)

More next time.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Hiatus Interruptus & Ribbin'

Hi Everyone,

It's hard to stay away when there are so many interesting stimuli everwhere, so I guess I'm off hiatus for a while.

A few entries ago I had talked a bit about my fascination with American society's continued elevation of ribbons to precious status, even though the ribbons may now be massed-produced, plastic, and no longer labor-intensive and expensive items to produce.

Over the years ribbons have had a symbolic role in the US. In the 1970s Tony Orlando and Dawn sang "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Around the Old Oak Tree," in which they requested that the recipient of the song tie a ribbon if he/she wants the singer to come home. In some wars a yellow ribbon was used as a symbolic gesture to the veterans to come home. (I was young when Tony Orlando & Dawn's song came out -- was this a Vietnam war song?).

In the early 1990s red ribbons were worn to promote AIDS awareness, and in recent years ribbon stickers have appeared on cars in support of soldiers and/or the US invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq, & counting.

A few weeks ago Doug and I were in Pacific Grove, CA (near Monterey), and we came across a car with this sticker on it:

This sticker of course appeals to my love of the subversive. Text is being used with a representation of a precious ribbon to convey a message. The ribbon with its red, white & blue coloring initially appears to be in support of the invasions, but the written message clearly is an anti-war message about people's acceptance of the rhetoric of the government. Just this past weekend, we watched the documentary, "Murderball," which is about paraplegic rugby. At the end of the documentary, the players were showing their sport to wounded veterans from the recent invasions (veterans' legs were missing, etc.). I remember saying to Doug, "Oh my god. They're just kids." These veterans were perhaps 18, 19 or 20 years old. Why is there censorship of images of flag-draped coffins and wounded veterans? Is this censorship by the government or by the press? I think that this censorship gives the message that everything is all OK. But is it really?

Relating back to the text-textile connection -- it's interesting how the ribbon has migrated from a textile to a sticker with text for cars. (Also, I've bought a magnet of the above image for my refrigerator.) It's interesting how the ribbon shape is maintained. Is this ribbon shape that powerful? Is it that precious?

Maybe this blog should be called the text-sticker connection.


Sunday, July 09, 2006


Hi Everyone,

Recently I've been feeling like weaving instead of writing, so I'm going to take a break from blogging for a while. I'll post the photos of my work taken by Charr when I get them from her in a few weeks. Thanks for tuning in.


Sunday, June 25, 2006

A Man in a Uniform

Hi Everyone,

Here's the latest on the grad school front -- I've been in touch with Prof. Susan Kaiser of the UC Davis Division of Textiles and Dept. of Women and Gender Studies, and she has agreed to chat with me about my grad school interests and an appropriate path for me to take. Among the topics of interest for Prof. Kaiser is the social meaning of clothing. I've just begun reading her book, The Social Psychology of Clothing: Symbolic Appearances in Context, and my mind is going in all sorts of directions about the possibilities. It's exciting to have a passion & to finally be exploring it.

On a related matter, yesterday Doug and I went shopping for more summer shirts. As I mentioned last week, I had hardly any summer shirts since I had lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for several years. I tend to gravitate towards plaid/tartan cotton shirts for the summer, and Doug commented that I was getting a uniform for work. I've been thinking about this comment, and I think that my position as a secretary has influenced my selection of clothing. I think that it's important for me to project an image of being reliable and consistent in my work life, and I think that my selection of not-too-outlandish clothing reflects this image I'm trying to portray. Perhaps I'm totally off in my perception of my reliable and consistent image -- I've skipped ahead in Prof. Kaiser's book, and there's one section in which she writes about the Tseelson study[1] in which the wearer's perceptions of the message conveyed by the clothing were compared with the message received by the viewers. I'd be interested in seeing if my co-workers view my clothing as really projecting a reliable and consistent image.

On another level, I also like dressing conservatively (or what I think is conservatively) and then shocking viewers of my more racy artwork (e.g., the cock ring, the spaghetti jockstrap, and the cut-up bible piece) with the disconnect between my appearance and the outlandishness of these pieces.

Any thoughts, readers?

On a final note, my purchase of the additional summer shirts may be a moot point, as there appears to be a cooling trend -- on Friday it was 103F, and yesterday it was only 100F.
[1]Tseelon, E. 1989. Communicating via clothes. Ph.D. dissertation, Oxford University.