One More Ireland Photo

As I was working to finish and label my most recent work for delivery to The Gallery Shop this morning, the colors and textures in the work and on my mind linked to photos I had taken just a few weeks ago at some of the ancient, sacred sites in Ireland.   This one in particular expresses the part of my psyche that is still roaming in Ireland, trying to comprehend the balance of spirit and nature and material world, trying to sense how pagan and more recent religious beliefs harmonize, seeking to express how I feel and what I know in art that will somehow move and nurture others.  Sometimes much that is “good” in the world seems increasingly unsustainable and our efforts seem so futile.  I hope that my slowly handmade one-of-a-kind art works each offer a sort of touchstone, a reminder to others, just as the process of artmaking brings me home and helps me find peace.  The world view, thanks to technology, is increasingly detailed and nuanced; it’s so hard to know what’s right as we become more aware of how our decisions affect others.  I return to who I’ve always been — an artist; to how I hope to live — nurturing others; and what I hope to express — gratitude and reverence for the freedom as well as the trade-offs of a relatively simple life.  What matters?  Every single thing matters, every hope and thought.

Published in: on July 29, 2011 at 5:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

Sheep in a Misty Meadow

I decided to keep this handbag simple rather than embellish it with beading, as it seemed to me once I chose the button for it — a handmade ceramic button with a sheep design (sorry that I cannot recall the artist) — that the bag was complete.  It’s a sturdy little bag, about nine by ten inches.  It expresses a bit of the beauty of Ireland: the color of stone, and shades of green, and misty soft swirling.  And of course, a sheep.

Published in: on July 29, 2011 at 3:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

She who dies with the most fiber wins?


I love that wry saying, “She who dies with the most yarn wins,” because it expresses the reality of how much we love our “stash” and the optimism of being a fiber artist — as well as the challenge of battling the limitations of time and space and available resources.  I have a room filled with wonderful fibers.  Increasingly, I buy from, and sometimes barter with, people I get to know rather than big companies, and it feels good to support a small sheep farm, or silk fabric dyer, or a family-owned fiber business, or ceramic button maker; and to know that in some way I’ve helped sustain these efforts.  I’ll organize my stash and conclude that NOW I have enough for a lifetime, perhaps; and then… Ashland Bay announces two new merino tops in natural colors; or New England Felting Supply is getting some Finnwool in a deep moss green; or my supply of Wensleydale locks is looking sparse and Sheryl Meacham of Gwenyth Glynn Longwools can provide whatever colors my heart desires; or Suzanne Morgan creates some new dyed silk fabrics that look like poetry and a client asks for a nuno scarf using THAT silk, please.  And in looking at the photos I took in June and July of Ireland I see these same textures and colors of fibers that I’ve been gathering like wildflowers, the images and the fibers are synthesized.    Artmaking is a PHYSICAL endeavor for which we need raw materials.  How much do we need, and at what point does available funding or space or a desire for simplicity determine our limit?  Recently in the wonderful blog/website “Felted Garden,” the artist/author, Liz, questioned whether her body could endure the physical demands of feltmaking since she was dealing with carpal tunnel issues.  How many scarves does one feltmaker “have in her,” is a practical question.  I think this question drives how gloriously we aim to stock our stash as well as how we consider our work and the business of our work.    Many artists labor in the studio intensely, as if we might die tomorrow, AND as if we might live forever, putting every bit of what we know into a piece and taking extraordinary amounts of time for the details.   But having written all this, I really do think that once the Finnwool from New England Felting Supply arrives this fall I really will just hunker down and reduce my current stash — although there is some locally produced Icelandic that’s been calling my name…




Published in: on July 29, 2011 at 2:50 pm  Comments (2)  

Making Order

Today is the first day in a long while that I have felt settled and not in motion.  I realized that the traveling this summer, while so sweet, did not allow for much solitude.  And quietly today I’ve made order in the studio: consolidating lists and notes; gathering the work-in-progress and the work-to-be-labeled; putting away fibers and setting out fibers.  Gradually, the life I envision seems possible again and in proportion to the number of hours in a single day; and the hope of keeping promises already made feels possible, too.  I have been exploring the facets of creating an etsy “shop” — but until I catch up on restocking The Gallery Shop and completing commissioned work, the work on the etsy site will be a framework, like installing shelves in a shop or gallery that wait for work to be displayed on them.   Earlier this year I spoke with a friend and mentor who was visiting my studio to learn how to felt, and she said that her goal was to have “a small life.”  This resonated with me.  We can feel when our life is out of proportion with our spirit.  We say we feel “off.”  Or “out of sorts.”  Life can be wonderful, sweet, exciting, successful… and still feel “off.”  Whatever one does to re-discover and reclaim a life that feels just the right “size” — whether meditation, or cooking, running or writing, studio work or a quiet walk with a dog — this is time well spent.  I am grateful for the little oasis of time taken today.  I can’t wait to have my studio humming and blooming with all sorts of fibers and creations in the very near future, but for this moment the quiet order feels divine.

Published in: on July 26, 2011 at 5:57 pm  Comments (2)  

Back from Ireland Again

Still jet-lagged — and filled with the colors, textures and patterns of Ireland.  Arrived home to find two boxes of fibers waiting: some natural-colored yak (I love yak!  Short fibers but they practically felt themselves, it’s worth the extra time) and fine merino tops in shades of earthy browns from Ashland Bay; and many different colors of locks, including natural and dyed tones, from Sheryl Meacham’s rare Wensleydales at Gwenyth Glynn farm.  Sheryl’s dyed locks are so lustrous that they look like they are softly glowing; the lively texture and generous length and overall quality of the locks are superb, and the colors are beautiful and rich.  They are some sweet and sweetly-packaged fibers that really show the TLC with which Sheryl cares for her flock.  She dyed the colors I longed to have,  was so kind and patient and took such care with my modest order, it was a pleasure to work with her.  Really fine Wensleydale locks can be hard to find.   I’m delighted with those curly locks that are now calling me to the studio.  I have other promises to keep before I’ll be playing with the locks, but I am envisioning some collars and wraps with Celtic motifs and a nice sense of humor, fit for a Viking Princess — and “just a wee bit wild”  — kind of like Ireland herself.

Published in: on July 19, 2011 at 1:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

Economic and Moral Regeneration

The image shows the motif on a handbag in progress.  Greens and dark stone colors, and a swirling motif that echoes Celtic torcs and spirals.  It’ll be embellished with various gemstone beading and a bone button, and have a twisted yarn strap that I wove a while ago.   I’ve been thinking as I work in the studio about Ireland’s economic difficulties and about Ireland’s abundance of beauty and sheep, and it makes me think about Mahatma Gandhi’s vision and leadership, to encourage an “economic and moral regeneration” and independence in India, by his example of hand-spinning and hand-weaving cloth from India’s products.

The 2011 International Day of Felt will be on October 1.  On that day, feltmakers are encouraged to share their work, in public: exhibit, demonstrate, teach, post images, blog.  I think other fiber artists might join in this public sharing and take our wheels, drop spindles, looms, crochet hooks, knitting needles out to our front porches, to schools and malls and work places and parks.  Fiber artists — each with the same sorts of sorrows, joys, worries and frustrations as the general population — seem to me to be among the happiest people on the planet.  Why is this so?  We’ve found something to do that is peaceful, productive, good.   I know that when I’m felting, my concerns get smoothed out along with the fibers on my work table, and it seems that life’s priorities become a bit clearer.  When you can create beautiful, useful things, you are somewhat liberated from the addiction to consuming based on trends.  When your sense of worth and satisfaction is home-grown and benign, there’s a sweet feeling of empowerment and well-being.   For me, this is at the heart of feltmaking and the community of fiber artists who inspire others.  We’ve got something beautiful here: let’s share it.

Published in: on July 1, 2011 at 5:20 pm  Leave a Comment