I know you know I’m a weaver, but did you know I am also a creative entrepreneur? (It is not as easy to say or to spell, so I don’t think I’ll be changing my logo any time soon.)
Last spring I was part of the Creative Entrepreneurship class at RGU, but we weren’t able to have a class show due to the rules in place at the time. Now we can, and our exhibition in Aberdeen is open weekends until the end of May.
The preview night was a lot of fun and quite strange at the same time. It was the largest indoor crowd I have kept company with since early 2020, and a lot of my classmates turned out to be either taller or shorter than I had expected. I also had the same experience with their work. Is it rude to say to someone that their paintings are larger than you had thought? I hope not 😬
If you are a Scottish craft maker who is setting up a new craft business or re-thinking the direction of your existing business, then this course has been designed for you. It’s free, it takes place online over 10 weeks starting from the end of January, and the deadline for applying is Monday 10 January.
Full disclosure: I’m part of the teaching team, and will be leading a module on project management. It would be great to see you there!
For a stay-at-home year 2021 has been a busy one. I thought I’d share a few of the things I’ve been up to.
In February I launched my first online workshop on the theme of 8-shaft double weave. It was scary to plan and prepare, but once we got started I had so much fun working and weaving with a pioneer group of enthusiastic weavers. A second group joined me in April and a third in October, and it has been a treat every time. The creative energy that people bring to the course is a delight, and I love seeing the way the same basic tools are turned into an endless variety of designs. The next two workshops are already fully booked and I know that my winter will be brighter for this splash of colour!
With so much of my attention on double weave, it’s perhaps not surprising that it’s been on the loom a great deal. Having woven yards of new samples for the course, I found I couldn’t stop…
My favourite pieces are those where I was experimenting with a ‘What if…’ mindset. Thanks to a VACMA Award, I have been able to spend more time investigating ways of combining weaving with sound and video, as in this sample animation to the sound of the shafts rising and sinking on the Toika:
Another ‘what if…’ double weave sampler was this one. What happens if I combine layer exchange and weft interchange on a point threading? One answer is on the right.
I’m still experimenting on this threading, having tied a new warp onto the old one. That was an experiment too, as I hadn’t tried tying on a warp at the Toika, so the process was a negotiation between the loom, my knees and my elbows to see what would be comfortable for all concerned. On the Megado I have found it impossible to tie on behind the shafts, but it was pretty successful on the Toika once I had cottoned to a rearrangement of the back beams.
I have two beams, and the warp was set up to go around the outside beam, but it was much easier to tie on with the warp between the beams. Then it was a simple matter to remove the outer back beam (which I had been leaning on) and shift the inner beam plus warp to the outside position.
Much of my experimentation has been in the design process and hasn’t even reached the loom yet, so I don’t want to say too much about it for now. You may think that’s a bit rich from someone who hasn’t posted in six months (!) but I do share updates more frequently than that – it’s just that I tend to focus on my email newsletter first (so you know what to do).
Speaking of my mother, one of the non-weaving highlights of the year was our family holiday in August, when we all got together to celebrate mum’s 80th and 81st birthdays. It’s amazing who and what you can find on Instagram. I found Sadie of @deriliciouscakes, who made us these:
Yes, we do love a bit of colour with our colour in this family!
I’ve also been sharing via talks to Guilds and groups, and in some really interesting online conversations like this one on collaboration:
The Meet Make Collaborate Exhibition is currently at its third venue, the Lochty Gallery in Carnoustie, where it will stay through the winter. A couple of weeks ago I was able to visit with my mother, which was a lovely treat – even if she did like Carol Sinclair’s pots best!
Although it is an ongoing challenge to navigate the COVID pandemic, I have found this year a bit easier than last because the difficulties weren’t as unexpected. I’m extremely grateful to be double-jabbed and now boosted, but not taking 2022 for granted. More on that in another post…
OK, so actually I am back in Dundee now, but it was very exciting to be somewhere else for a day! The Meet Make Collaborate exhibition, which had to be postponed several times due to COVID-19, is on display at the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery until 19 June, so – now that Dundee is in Level 2 and we are allowed to travel outside the area – we decided we would pay a visit.
This exhibit has been organised by Applied Arts Scotland to showcase some of the international collaborations which they have developed and supported over the last few years, and this includes the Shift Canada project which I have blogged about before. It was wonderful to see Andrea’s work side by side with mine after months of long distance collaboration, and I was excited to see the fruits of the other Scottish-Canadian projects too. Plus, of course, there was work from completely different partnerships, giving me a window into a whole new set of collaborations.
You can see some reflections on different themes of the exhibition on the Applied Arts Scotland blog, as well as some excellent photos.
One of the things I particularly enjoyed about the exhibition, was seeing the compilation of film clips of makers’ inspiration and their processes. I hope that eventually some of that documentary footage will be available to share online. But one of the main outcomes of my collaboration with Andrea was our own animated sequences, and those I can share here.
I’ve shared the ongoing work of the Aural Textiles project here before, and also posted links to the project blog where we’ve documented some of our collaborative process. I am sad that – after nearly two years! – this collaboration with jewellery designer Jen Stewart has now come to an end, but I am beyond delighted with the work we have created together.
This week it is on display at the Inspace Gallery in Edinburgh alongside the fruits of all the other collaborations, and since very few of us will likely have the chance to visit it there, I thought I’d share a few alternative ways to see what we’ve been up to.
The work that Jen and I created is called Ceremonies of Safety. It is a wardrobe of garments for imagined rituals of protection. We took inspiration from the protection we attribute to physical rituals of movement, the garments we dress in and sense of confidence and intention in how we present ourselves outwardly.
Jen and I are both very much drawn to water as inspiration for our work, but being in lockdown we were very limited in what sounds we could gather. So we turned to the sounds close at hand and, following through on the theme of protection, invited members of the project team to send us recordings of themselves washing their hands.
We worked with layers of sound and graphics, and with material layers as well. Although brass and yarn could hardly be more different, we found many points of contact between our interests and practices: graphically-led structure, rhythm, experimentation, positive and negative contrast.
Our final wardrobe is in three parts: a dress, expressing weave-inspired-by-brass; a set of jewellery including a neckpiece, earrings and bracelet, expressing brass-inspired-by-weave; and a breastplate, which brings the brass and weave together in a single piece.
Here’s the shopfront display, with all the work and some documentary footage. If you are quick, you may spot some video of a video of yours truly. It makes me feel very Inception.
And finally, you can see more video and lots of information about all the collaborations over on the project website exhibition page.
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