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,

1 comment:

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