Legend has it that Elvis wrote “All Shook Up” after shaking up a bottle of Coke. Actually, it was Pepsi. And it was the songwriter Otis Blackwell who wrote it on a dare by one of the owners of Shalimar Music. Although Elvis did share the songwriting credit with Blackwell.
This shaken up bottle of Coke is how I feel right now. A little aimless with bubbles bursting before anything can be enjoyed. After 30 years of weaving and my attempts to eke out some semblance of a living as a weaver and weaving instructor, I’m facing a dilemma. I’m getting increasingly frustrated in selling my handwovens for their true value and at the same time attracting students interested in learning to weave. It may be that I’m in the wrong place. After all, Memphis is music, not fiber.
Case in point, I regularly donate my handwoven scarves, purses and wall hangings to local non-profit organizations with art auctions as fund raising venues. My pieces always sell and the organizations are able to benefit from my donations. It’s a win-win situation. This past year, I donated two rep weave wall hangings to one of these non-profits. Total value was for $300. No one assumed that that would be the highest bid, but it would have been nice to receive a little something with 3 digits for both pieces. Each piece takes between 30 and 50 hours to design, prepare, weave, and finish. Sadly, that was not the case, with one piece receiving only $25 and another only $30. And so my bubble was burst. I just can’t compete with paintings which seem to be the most popular medium wherever I look. There are many hobby weavers here in Memphis, but I’m one of just a couple of studio weavers, so there aren’t enough of us to educate the public and compete for their attention about our medium. Certainly not in the way that the great number of painters are able to. Sad.
But I have another love, and that is in creating handbound books. In my upcoming shows, I plan to test the local market and offer some of my book creations for sale. These are blank books that can be used for sketching, journalling or photo albums. Eventually I would like to explore sculptural books and create artists’ books. I am currently taking an online class called “Creative Bookmaking” with Sue Bleiweiss of Two Creative Studios. I have been working on some fabric covered books, using either hand printed Indonesian batik fabric or dupioni silk fabric.
The books I made have 8 signatures of a 32 lb. weight fine writing paper. I followed instructions for the longstitch/linkstitch binding in Keith Smith’s book, Volume I: Non-Adhesive Binding, Books Without Paste or Glue. It was a little tricky as I had to drill the stitching holes in the spine between each of the signatures that made a pair rather than aligning the holes with each of the signatures. Stitching for each pair of signatures was done in the same holes for the long stitch part of the binding. The link stitch looks like a chain stitch and it appears at the top and bottom of the spine. Some more examples:
And so this looks like the future of book arts and me in Memphis! I will continue to create whether at the loom or the book bench, and we shall see what the market will bring.
Filed under: Memphis | Tagged: All Shook Up, book arts, cotton fabric, dupioni silk, Elvis, handmade book cover, Indonesian batik, Keith Smith, long stitch binding, Memphis, Sue Bleiweiss, thai mango paper |