Thursday, July 31, 2008

Honey, I'm Home!

And have been for a week. Between exhaustion from travel, getting started in my new job (yay, I got the sewing teacher job!!), and catching up on 2 weeks of weeding, mowing and laundry, there has been little time for other things.

I spent a week in Munising, Michigan, my home town, seeing family and friends. I haven't been back in almost 13 years. That was for my Dad's funeral, in January, in a blizzard, so I didn't see many people then. Before that, it was 1989, my brother's wedding. The most striking thing for me, was how small things are compared to my memory of them. My brother lives in the house we grew up in, so I got to stay in my childhood bedroom. It was MUCH smaller than I remember! It was fun to see old classmates and aunts and uncles and cousins. I even had a "date" with my high school boyfriend!

Munising is the gateway to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and the scenery is magnificent. My brother took me out in his new boat for a tour around Grand Island. The landscape is pressed deeply into my memory, but this time I was looking at it as a textile artist. Inspiration was everywhere. Here are a few of the many pictures I took:

This is a view of the west side of Grand Island. The sandstone cliffs are eroding and providing sand for new beaches, recycling on a grand scale of millions of years. The red sand is lighter than the tan, so when it washes up on the beaches it gets thrown high, in bands on top of the tan. Beautiful!
Here's a closeup of the banding in the rock:

I can see dyeing these colors, or shibori.....

This is a formation on the east side of Grand Island. It reminded me of a petroglyph, but is natural coloration, and is huge. Those are full size trees and shrubs around it.

Here's a closeup:

I can see some kind of sea monster, fish, turtle, or even just a bold design, either for carving in a vinyl block, or as a silk screen.....

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Wisconsin Bound

I leave on Wednesday to visit my favorite aunt, who lives in Milwaukee. We will then travel together to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to visit our home town and myriad family and friends.
I will try to post while travelling.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Carol Soderlund coming to Montana

Sophia Center of Montana is hosting Carol Soderlund's "Color Mixing for Dyers I" in September, so I have Google alert me whenever someone mentions Carol in their blog. Today, Carol Morrisey wrote about her experience in Carol's class at QSDS. Everyone gives Carol's classes rave reviews. Here are a few more:
Russ Little
Tommy the Material Girl
Going to Pieces

I am getting so excited to take this class! As I wrote in another post , this is a dream come true. I am sort of stuck in my dyeing career. I tend to repeat the same color combinations, and have trouble creating the colors I see in my head. I mix colors using the "by the seat of my pants" method, so when I stumble on a color I really like, I rarely can recreate it. I think Carol's class will jump my dyeing skills up by many levels.

We have rented a wonderful log lodge at Glacier Camp on Flathead Lake. The view from the front deck has to be one of the most beautiful in Montana. I know this class will be intense with a lot of material covered in a short amount of time, but when we are ready for a break, we'll be able to just step out the door. Carol's classes usually sell out. She is only teaching "Color Mixing for Dyers I" a few more times this year, and there are only a few places left in them. We still have a couple of openings for students, I hope you will join us!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Connie Rose’s blog post, No Frills, mirrored several things I have been thinking about lately. I, too, am a “no frills” gal.
On the weaving front, I do have a fancy-shmancy loom- it’s a 1993, 60 inch, 16-shaft production dobby AVL loom. I have the manual, pegged dobby, not a computerized dobby. I dream of switching to a computer dobby, and then stop myself, because I find myself weaving simple twills and plain weave. When I first bought the loom, I played with all sorts of weave structures, trying everything I could think of, and it was fun and interesting. However, I keep coming back to simple weave structures, and find my real enjoyment playing with texture and color. I especially enjoy creating color by dyeing and then seeing how it weaves up.
I am mostly self-taught with books and experimentation, and I like a new challenge. The trouble is, I set up a new color or weave structure warp that is a challenge, weave 6 or 8 inches and see that I have met the challenge, the new color combination or structure works well, and I am done. I want to go on to the next project. I wish I had a mindless, dutiful clone that would sit and weave off the rest of the warp, while I go play with something new. This tendency has resulted in a closet full of UFO's (UnFinished Objects).

I am “no frills” when it comes to my clothing. I imagine myself in all sorts of arty, handwoven, complex cloth garments and jewelry, but the reality is, I spend my life in jeans, a T-shirt and hiking boots. There isn’t anywhere to wear those fancy clothes in the back woods of Montana anyway. I made myself a lovely, hand dyed chenille shawl, and it sat in my closet for several years, waiting for an “occasion”. Not many of those in my life, so now I wear it in the evening, over my nightgown, and it pleases me.

I have had conversations with several people lately about how unprepared for “real life” young people just out of college seem to be. I hate the fact that I sound like my parents, and all the preceding generations, when I say that the younger generation seems to be going to hell in a handbasket. It’s a broad generalization, but it seems to me, many young people don’t have the basic skills of managing their money or have any work skills. I, too, am coming to the realization I am a sort of “folk hero”. (Thanks, for the label, Connie, I didn’t know what to call myself.) My husband, Steve, is included in the “folk hero” designation. We moved out West shortly after I graduated from college and we married. We traveled for months, all over the western states looking for a place we would like to live. We found ourselves in love with western Montana and northern Idaho, found a job and settled in. In a year, we saved enough to put a down payment on 20 acres, built a shell of a house, and had a son. We moved into our house with plastic sheeting for windows, a Pendleton blanket for a door, a wood stove for heat, kerosene for lights, and a bucket for water. But it was ours and paid for with cash. It took us 4 years to get running water, (gravity flow from a spring on the mountainside) and 18 years to get hooked up to the electrical grid.
I milked cows, raised chickens and a huge garden and made as much of our food as I could. Steve worked in a sawmill, built our house, and hunted for food. It was a good life for us- we lived within our means and loved the place we live in. It was very good for our kids. They were (and still are) voracious readers- no tv to warp their little minds. There were some funny consequences. When my son was two, we visited his grandparents, and he spent the visit flushing the toilet and flipping light switches. The high point of his first trip to kindergarten was that he got “store-bought” bread for lunch.
Looking back on it now, it seems a little crazy. Some of it was awful; scraping poopy diapers in the outhouse comes to mind as an example. It didn’t seem exceptional when we were doing it, and only lately, when comparing young adults to where we were at the same age, does it seem special and amazing.
I just had an interview for a job teaching high school age kids sewing, with the possibility of expanding into more textile arts. It seems so right and exciting to have the opportunity to pass on some of my knowledge. I hope I get the job!