Leaving the Octopus’ Garden

After a 6 month hiatus, I am finally emerging from my hideaway beneath the ocean waves. Can’t say the past six months have not been uneventful. This is what I did:

I ate well.

Strawberry Margarita Cheesecake

Strawberry Margarita Cheesecake

I drank well.

Red wine sangria

Red wine sangria

And I relaxed well.

On the beach in Curacao

On the beach in Curacao

But I have also worked hard, already having four shows behind me in 2013. And usually that is the total number of shows I participate in in any given year. I have been working on a few new products. One being earrings made from yarn leftover from my weaving projects with fabric recycled from other projects.

Earrings made from recycled fabric and yarn

Earrings made from recycled fabric and yarn

I also introduced a new line of scarves which I have called “Watercolor” scarves because the colors in the novelty yarns  in the warp seem like they blend into each other. There are eight colorways in this line:  Blue Bayou, Purple Passion, First Blush, First Encounter, Rhymes with Orange, Hydrangeas, Spring Fling and Mellow Mushroom. You can see them all here.  And here is an example of one of the scarves.

Purple Passion Watercolor Scarf

Purple Passion Watercolor Scarf

This particular colorway was purchased by a very stylish woman whom I met at  Art2Wear  Nashville. She liked it so much, she even blogged about it! Thank you, Alicia!

So as I emerge from the octopus’ garden I am preparing for new challenges in weaving, and I will be more diligent in writing about them. I promise!

Octopus Garden Sidewalk chalk drawing

Octopus Garden Sidewalk chalk drawing

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Brace Yourself

Here it is the end of August, and not one post this month. My apologies. My previous posts  suggested a need to reinvent myself, or my work at any rate. And that is what has taken up most of my time – not the producing part, but everything else: reading, surfing, talking, thinking, imagining, visualizing, all just to grab a wisp of inspiration. In the end, there were two designs that inspired me to use as a jumping off point and attempt to transform a new concept into a woven form.

18K gold bracelet handwoven on a traditional loom with gold threads and black silk in a twill pattern. By Carolina Bucci.

As soon as I saw this, I fell in love with this bracelet. This is from www.portero.com and sold for $2,200.  That would be a nice income for a handweaver, a handweaver who could easily recognize the point twill pattern in the design. I set out to warp my Baby Wolf loom with a 6 Harness point twill in a black perle cotton yarn. I used colorful novelty yarns in the weft. (Didn’t want to use the 18k gold yarn for this first effort.) These are my results.

Handwoven twill cotton and novelty yarn cuff bracelet – blue/green/purple

Handwoven twill cotton and novelty yarn  cuff bracelet – pink/yellow/orange

Not a bad first try. I am quite happy with the finished bracelets and am looking forward to playing with it some more and tweaking the pattern, the fibers and the shape.

Now my other inspiration came from Memphis artist Dawn McKay. She and her partner Shannon Cable are shoveIt designs. This is how they describe their work on their website:  “shoveIt designs transform broken skateboards into wicked wearable art.” Now I am not at all familiar with the construction of skateboards, and don’t think I’ve ever been up close and personal with one. My generation after all still used skate keys for our roller skates – the one with 4 wheels on each boot. So I was pleasantly surprised when I saw this deconstructed skateboard that Dawn transformed into a bracelet.

Cuff bracelet made from a broken skateboard. By Dawn McKay of shoveIt designs.

This was another example of love at first sight for me. And as you all know, I have been playing with rep weave designs on my loom lately, and saw that the pattern in this broken skateboard represented rep weave. Here is my cuff design in a rep weave pattern inspired by shoveIt designs.

Handwoven rep weave cotton cuff bracelet

Creating these bracelets was like my “Aha moment”. This was what I had been searching for all along. But it doesn’t end here! I have had my eye on a certain lovely all metal  tapestry and beading loom for a long while now. The looms are made  by Mirrix Looms  based in New Hampshire. So I took the plunge and purchased the “Big Sister” model.

16″ wide Big Sister Mirrix loom for tapestry and bead weaving

You ask, what am I going to weave on this loom? More jewelry of course! Here are a couple of handwoven tapestry pendants that I wove on my new loom.

Handwoven tapestry pendant with coins

Handwoven tapestry pendant

So here it is, the end of the summer and I am finally having fun!

Pictures at an Exhibition

I had forgotten about Emerson,  Lake and Palmer’s Pictures at an Exhibition until I walked into the lobby of the Circuit Playhouse in Memphis, Tennessee.  Though the theater is located on Poplar, one of Memphis’ busiest main streets, walking through the front entrance takes you into another world.  The lobby is a small enclosed space with dark burgundy walls, and there seems to be an other-world presence once you enter the building.  The theater’s manager did confirm that there is a resident ghost.  We were there around the time of Halloween but not for ghost hunting.  Several artists with Memphis Association of Craft Artists (MACA) were hanging an exhibit of their work in the lobby area to be viewed by theater goers until the end of December 2009. But while we were busily at work, hanging and positioning items, all that I heard was Keith Emerson playing “Pictures at an Exhibition” on the Hammond organ.  The environment was perfect for it.

circuit playhouse exhibit 2

Clay, wood and fiber pieces

circuit playhouse exhibit 1

Woven tapestry, Metal and Clay Sculptures

circuit playhouse exhibit 3

Fiber, metal and clay pieces

circuit playhouse exhibit 4

Art quilt and handwoven tapestry

circuit playouse exhibit 5

Silver and dichroic glass jewelry, small clay sculptures

These artists are represented in this exhibit:

Barbara Olive, pottery     

Jennifer Hyatt, metal sculpture

June Kramer, tapestry weaving

Agnes Stark, pottery

Michele Price, woven clay

Rick Cannon, wooden bowls

Marilyn League, art quilts

Deirdre Daw, clay sculpture

Mildred Schiff, precious metal clay and dichroic glass jewelry

Katie Dann, clay sculpture

Felicitas Sloves, handwoven scarves and shawls

During the time of the exhibit, Circuit Playhouse will be performing “The Toymaker’s Apprentice” and “The Seafarer”.  The artists represented in the MACA exhibit will provide the perfect background music to these shows.  As will Keith Emerson on the Hammond organ!

…..Lead me from tortured dreams,  Childhood themes of nights alone, Wipe away endless years, childhood tears as dry as stone.

The Big Muddy

“Waist deep in the Big Muddy” – the lines from Pete Seeger’s Vietnam era protest sang has been playing in my mind for the last 24 hours. I was at the Pink Palace Craft Fair in Memphis, TN for the last 4 days. The weather was perfect the first 3 days.  On Sunday, the last day of the fair, the weather forecast had predicted some light rain and occasional thundershowers.  That turned out to be wrong. There were downpours all day long, and the visitors at the fair which was held in a city park had to dodge small rivers and floods around, and sometimes through, the tents. Several of us upon leaving became stuck in the mud and required the assistance of a front end loader or a couple of strong young men to become mobile again. It was an adventure! But needless to say, the faithful and die-hard shoppers were out in full force, and of course all the craftspeople and vendors were there to the bitter end!

My mud covered sneakers at the end of the day!

My mud covered sneakers at the end of the day!

I shared a double booth with several other craftspeople from MACA – Memphis Association of Craft Artists. There were  potters,  jewelers, and I was the lone fiber person.

MACA booths at the Pink Palace Craft Fair

MACA's booths at the Pink Palace Craft Fair

Pottery and Jewelry in the MACA booth

Pottery and Jewelry in the MACA booth


Fiber and Jewelry in the MACA booth

Fiber and Jewelry in the MACA booth

Our group received several positive comments on the appearance of our booth, and most of us did quite well in sales. Of course, it was also a pleasure to educate the public about our group and our craft work.  And my booth partners and I will have something to talk about for awhile as we shared a leaky tent, a little flooding, a lot of mud and a lot of muscle as we all helped push each others’ cars out of the mud!  It wasn’t bad at all.

Weaving Redux

Everything old becomes new again as a recent trip to the Intergalactic Bead Show in Memphis reminded me.   Some years ago, I wove a series of beaded pendants.  I used a needle weaving technique on graph paper mounted on foam board.  This technique was described in great detail first in 1993 by  Diane Fitzgerald and Helen Banes in Beads and Threads: A New Technique for Fiber Jewelry.

Beads and Threads:  A New Technique for Fiber Jewelry by Diane Fitzgerald and Helen Banes

Beads and Threads: A New Technique for Fiber Jewelry by Diane Fitzgerald and Helen Banes

Then in 1996, Donna Rhodes and Kathy Stachowicz published a monograph on the subject – The Fine Art of Pin-Weaving:  Creative Variations

The Fine Art of Pin-Weaving:  Creative Variations by Donna Rhodes and Kathy Stachowicz

The Fine Art of Pin-Weaving: Creative Variations by Donna Rhodes and Kathy Stachowicz

When I first started weaving these pieces in the late 1990’s I was a bit overzealous with beading!  The excessive nature of the beads seemed to overpower the tapestry like qualities I was trying to capture in the needle-woven pendants.

Needle woven pendant with jade beads

Needle woven pendant with jade beads

The beauty of weaving on a foam board and using “bank pins” to anchor the warp is that any shape can be created.  I really like the triangular shape of this piece.  Bank pins are a heavy gauge steel pin favored by taxidermists.  But if you’re not into stuffing dead animals, you can get them here.

Below are a few more of my handwoven pendants needle-woven on foam board.

Abstract design handwoven pendant with lapis lazuli beads

Abstract design handwoven pendant with lapis lazuli beads

Geometric desic handwoven pendant with jet beads

Geometric design handwoven pendant with jet beads

Handwoven pendant with metallic threads

Handwoven pendant with metallic threads

Abstract floral design handwoven pendant with dyed fossil beads

Abstract floral design handwoven pendant with dyed fossil beads

These two pendants were woven on a floor loom and the excess warp threads became the necklace strung with beads.

Loom woven pendant with bone beads

Loom woven pendant with bone beads

Loom woven pendant with dyed fossil beads

Loom woven pendant with dyed fossil beads

After using both the needle woven and the loom woven techniques, I decided that needle weaving on a foam board was more flexible as it offered more choices as to shapes and dimensions for the finished pendant.

Here is a needle woven pendant that is in search of a “hanger”.  It’s a rather large piece, so I think to do the pendant justice, the  necklace part will need to be quite long.

Handwoven pendant with feather charms and clapper beads

Handwoven pendant with feather charms and clapper beads

This last piece is actually my favorite and my most recent creation.  I like the simplicity of it and it has only a few beads woven into the design with some simple charms hanging on the ends.  The “hanger” is a simple rattail satin cord secured to the pendant with an elegant swan closure and clapper beads.

Handwoven pendant with jewelry findings

Handwoven pendant with jewelry findings

My friend Nysha has suggested that I weave more of these as the simple and elegant findings seem to accentuate the tapestry like qualities of the pendant.  And that in fact is the effect I am trying to capture!  Not to mention the fact that I consider myself a handweaver and  not a bead artist.