I’ve had a bag of unused wool in the back of my mind for a while. Actually, it lived in my art studio in a brown bag, and this week it needed some attention. The Spinners and Weaver’s Guild members held a secret fiber exchange at a meeting before summer break. Each recipient was tasked with making something out of their secret material. I received a bag of superwash wool in a beautiful blue color with hints of purple and green. The premise behind superwash wool is that it can be put through the washer and dryer because it doesn’t felt (and therefore won’t shrink). I didn’t know if I could needle felt with it but I wanted to try. I decided to try to make an object I’ve never done before, so I set off to make a bowl. I began with an old blanket and cut it in the shape of a doughnut, two layers thick. If you imagine the doughnut as a pie (I think of everything as pie) and cut out a generous slice, that’s what I did to the material. I stitched the edges back together to create the basic bowl shape and started to needle felt the wool. It worked out surprisingly well. I did the inner surface first, then I needle felted a swirly pattern on the surface using a soft lavender yarn. I’ll be working on coating the outer surface last so that I don’t have the pattern showing through. I’ll see if I can complete it before the first guild meeting of the fall on Monday.
The weather was just gorgeous this week in Bloomington, so I took the opportunity to do a little work outside. That meant puttying, sanding and painting the oak frames that my friend Tom Bertolacini builds for me. It’s nice to be outside when it isn’t too hot (most of the summer), or too cold (a few days the week before), or too wet. Now I have twelve black frames ready to be filled. I know it’s time to start weaving again, but I need a break after a long summer of creating, traveling and selling. My family and I went to the farmer’s market Saturday for our usual stock-up on fruit and veggies, which was also a nice break. It’s a great time for the market with all the late-season goodies. We found watermelon, corn, raspberries, cucumbers, apples and a big bag of peppers for a peppered salmon dish. I also got an inspiration for a new piece when I chatted with Sarah at the volunteer fair. She is involved with the Bloomington orchard project. I thought they had mainly apple trees, but I learned that they have a huge variety of fruits. I’m excited to tour the grove and see what’s going on. I did learn that they’ve been preventing the trees from bearing fruit until they become bigger and well established. The concept of a huge new harvest of all different kind of fruits got me thinking about and sketching a whimsical tree covered with all the fruits in the orchard. I need to think a little about the structure to get the scale right, but now I’m excited again to start a new piece.
I went on lots of little forays this week—I went back to Auto Heaven to forage for rusty car parts and came back with a big bucket of stuff. Tommie and I went to the train racks by the B-line trail and came home with a big bag of treasures, including some old spark plugs, which I think are cool. Everything is carefully washed and dried and waiting in a big plastic jar and so I’m ready to begin a commission similar to my ‘Tread Lightly’ composition that sold quickly at Fourth Street.
On Thursday the boys and I went to an exhibit at the John Waldron arts center to see an exhibit of Turkish textiles put on by George Malacinski. The exhibit, entitled "Woven Treasures: Near- and Middle-Eastern Textiles" was amazing, featuring a combination of interesting techniques, materials, colors and effects. Perhaps the most amazing was a horse bridle that had a felted structure stitched onto a woven fabric with an embroidered surface. I saw a wedding dress that was both beautiful and sad. It featured an extraordinary silk fabric embroidered with silk—you could see that it represented a phenomenal amount of work. The mixed feelings come from the knowledge that the marriage was arranged for a young girl whose body was not allowed to show. Her arms were bound underneath and covered with the beautiful dress, and she was married as a commodity and not a person.
Oh, a couple of quick final notes. My two big commission pieces were shown in Saturday’s Herald Times Homes section when Carol Krause wrote a piece and photographed them for an article about the homeowners renovations. That was nice to see. And even though we got raspberries, there won’t be enough for a pie this week. I’m still optimistic that something with a crust will turn up soon! It’s fall apple time, and there are still plenty of peaches around! Is anybody listening? Jim?
Until next week…