Wednesday, April 30, 2014


As I am working around class schedules, progress on my loom and getting started on the weaving has been slow.  However, the warp yarn is on its way from Taos, NM and should be here by Friday.  I love having a present coming in the mail.  If someone had told me I'd be this excited about a spool of plain white wool yarn coming in the mail a year ago, I'd have thought they were nuts.

The loom at Hubbell Trading Post was tightened by turnbuckles on the top and I figured that looked simpler than tightening by having to adjust knots in a cord along the top of the weaving.  So, yesterday I finally went to Ace Hardware and bought some for $9.00. Three dowel rods set me back another $5.00, bringing the price for the loom to $14.00.  I can live with this!  A cool new tool and all the little bits and pieces to use with it for fourteen dollars is right in my price range.

The loom at the Hubbell Trading Post.  As you can see, it is adjusted with turnbuckles.

Although I already have the design drawn up and ready to go, I'm going back and forth between brown and white or black and white for the first piece.  I'm keeping the design under my hat for now, but it'll show as the work progresses.  I hope!

The great yarn dilemma 

Today I got the combs finished up.  I used Danish oil on them and it's drying now. They were surprisingly satisfying to make.  I'm not usually patient enough for woodworking, but this has been enjoyable.    By Friday or Saturday I should be ready to start warping.

Three sizes of combs.  The one on the left is made of fir, while the smaller two are mesquite wood. 

Me, after an afternoon in the shop sanding and filing and having a great time. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Color Study 2, Off of the Loom

This week I pulled my weaving project off of the loom.  The point of it was to further explore color and the way mixing it in fibers works.  Although I understand color theory in paint, fibers is a whole different concept.  Using a grey, black, red, yellow and brown warp, I wove it with the same primary colors with a raspberry thrown in for fun and a bit more black for design in an undulating twill.  The color mixtures were fascinating to watch as they grew.

The center of interest on this piece turned out eye popping in the color mixtures.  My favorite area is the red/raspberry combination.

Using a variegated yarn in the yellow hue gives the yellow section movement.  I will use variegated yarn again! 

Here is the rough piece, ready to hang or whatever I decide to do with it.  You can see an error in my warping.  I didn't catch it till I was in the red section of weaving, so I guess I'll just have to say it's  design element!  

Lessons learned from this project:
  • Use a better yarn for the warping.  I used a sport weight wool for both warp and weft and wish I hadn't
  • Red and purple are GREAT woven together while blue and yellow don't always make green
  • Check the warp in the sample strip better for errors
  • I LOVE weaving
I'm so excited to start warping my Navajo style loom and learning about using it.  

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Riches of the Navajo

It's finally finished.  I needed it for a talk I have to give at the student symposium May 6 and have been afraid that other homework would keep me from finishing this.  Now I can concentrate on 4 other things!

The studio I use at the school gives me a great look at the way colored walls and light can affect how things look.  The studio has buttery yellow walls and fluorescent light and I can see a very yellow tint to this photo. Although the paper was already primed with a yellow shade, it's even more yellow here.  

Here it is in natural light.  I kind of like it better with all the yellow in it!  Oh well, now it's done and I can move on to finishing up the rest of this semester.  Hip Hip Hooray!  

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Another Loom

I've got a chance to buy a small folding floor loom.  It's not going to do huge projects, but it might be fun to have for small ones.  I'm going through the agony of deciding whether it's something I NEEEED or WAAANT.  It has been in storage, but a little clean up and some oil on the wood would make it as good as new.

It was made by "Tools of the Trade," and from what I can find in my research, is about 30 years old.  The guy who made these only made about 700, but everyone who owns one says they are still working great.  It's a neat design and as you can see, folds up for storage.  The price is very fair, and I would love to own/use this.

BUT, would I use it?  Is it just a need for a cool new toy?  I haven't even finished up my Navajo style loom or the tools for it yet, so why am I hankering after this one, you might ask?!  So might my long-suffering and patient husband…  I don't know, I just know that I had better let it ride for a day or so before I make a decision so that I make sure it's something I will use and not just feel guilty about.  

Monday, April 21, 2014

Outdoor Sketching Can Be Hazardous

Saturday we finally had time for a bit of R&R and drove up into the mountains for a picnic.  I had a great time sitting and enjoying the view and playing around with my markers alongside the creek.  

When it was time to go, as I stood up, something stung my leg.  By the time I was through beating my self to death and jumping around, whatever else the dang thing was, it was no longer visible.  By the burn of it and the way my skin has reacted, I'm guessing it was a scorpion.  This is where I would have been very happy to have an allergy med. or hydrocortisone 1% cream  in my sketch bag.  I will have some there from now on and would also recommend the same to you!  Happy creating!

Along Turkey Creek, Pitt pens in my Moleskine sketchbook

Friday, April 18, 2014

Navajo Country, Next Installment

Enjoying this piece very much.  Phase two:

Same colors as the rock areas, just washed out for a softer look.  Looking forward to the tree section.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


It's what I've been waiting for all semester!  We finally had some time to make the frame for the prototype of a Navajo style loom.  My husband, along with being an all around great guy, is a carpenter as well.  This gives me access to terrific advice and help on my projects and a whole shop full of tools to borrow when I am in need.

As a seasoned coward, I am always grateful for someone else to use the power tools.  My hero..

Along with being a carpenter, he's a scrounger of no small talent.  When I'm in need of a bit of material for a project, chances are he has just the right thing stashed away and knows where it is. (A skill I can only envy)  So far, the loom has cost exactly zero dollars and no cents.  We'll have to buy some bolts to adjust the tension and three dowel rods when we get to town again, but whatever they cost will be the final price of the loom.  For a cool new toy, that is a price I can live with.


Planing the surfaces of the wood we used

Using the photos we took at The Hubbell Trading Post in Ganado, AZ, (see here: and the book we bought there, Weaving The Navajo Way, by Caroline M. Spurgeon, we designed it to be for rugs up to 3' by 5'.

The frame, pretty basic for something that can be used for something as versatile as weaving.  The pipes can be placed into different holes for different sized projects. 

After we got the frame put together, we started on the tools I'll need.  We used bits and pieces of wood from the shop scrap pile.  He cut them out and I shaped and finished them.  A Navajo fork for beating the weft and all of the different battens can be bought online, but I want the tools I use in my hands to be made by my hands.  I hope that someday when I'm gone someone else will use them and feel their weight as they weave.  

From top: Small finishing fork, shuttle/batten, weavers sword, shuttle and two unfinished forks.  

This is the only piece so far not of mesquite wood.  It is of a tightly grained fir that I took a fancy to.  The weight balanced nicely in my hand. It's in the process of being shaped still. 

The fork on the top had places that needed repairs, so an application of epoxy has been used and now I can finish the shaping/sanding process. 

So far, this project has been fun just in the making.  After I make a few more battens, buy the tensioners and find a cone of warping yarn it'll be ready to put the first project on and learn this new process.  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Navajo Country, Watercolor

I've begun a new landscape from photos I took while we were traveling through Navajo country by Gallup, NM.  I love red, craggy rocks and the shadows our harsh southwestern light casts.  This one has been in the making for a long time in my head and yesterday finally moved to the front of the line, ready to begin.  I've learned when that hits, do it.  Now.  If I wait till it's convenient, it won't happen.

Under-painted with Yellow Ochre, with a simple sky 

Laying in the rock color, Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Sienna and a bit of New Gamboge

Very excited at this point, had to step back so I could keep the pace smooth and my thinking ahead of the progress of the piece.  I used Pthalo Blue and Indigo for the shadow areas, with the top of the rock area a greened-down grey made from all the colors on the mixing tray.  I'm anxious to get on to the next part, but homework has to take the front seat.  

This semester ends in just two weeks, which means getting all of the end of semester jobs wrapped up, final exams studied for and ready for the end of the year art show. Hopefully, I won't have to wait that long to finish this piece!  

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Tangled Web- Untangled

I love weaving.  Except when it goes a bit wrong.  Then, it's just a device of torture.  Take the color study I've been working on the past few weeks.  I was a good 15 inches into it when I realized there was an error in the warping.  Add to that the stretchiness of the wool I ordered and you have a custom designed exercise in frustration.

I am loving the way the colors are working together with the pattern of the weave.  However, the edges are not making me happy, but I'll just stay at it till I've finished the piece.  Then I can start anew.

Funny how this happens in my creative life.  When a painting or fiber project is going well, I LOVE what I am doing.  When the inevitable dud comes along, it affects all of life.  Gloom, despair and agony on me!  Silly, but pretty much how I've been responding since I started school.

Today, though, I am finding joy just being in my studio at home, puttering.  This is due, in large part to a new friend I've made.  His name is George, and he changed my world view last week while we were visiting.  I've spent weeks worrying that since my art isn't what is considered "Avant Guard," or that it might not be good art, would somehow mean I am not an artist, or qualified to be called an artist.

Recently a friend referred to me as an artist in conversation and I replied with, "Not an artist YET, but working to get there." At that point, I should have picked up on what I've been telling myself.  Who gets to define me?  An art critic, or a gallery owner?  Am I a real artist when enough people want to buy my work?  George's view set me straight on this.  He said that the marks he makes on his paper aren't what make him an artist.  How he sees the world around him and how he responds to it are what make him an artist.  The marks he makes on paper are BECAUSE he's an artist.

Well, this is a whole new world view!  He's right.  I am an artist.  I always have been.  Everything I do, from making every pie I've ever baked as beautiful as I can to binding books to painting what I love, expresses that part of myself every day of my life.  So, my wonky weaving will have parts I love to look at and parts that are not straight and perfect.  It will be just fine.  The errors in a piece don't have the power to change what and who I am, and this is a wonderful realization.

Thanks, George!    

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Agave 2, Finished- Maybe..

This is probably finished, although I am toying with the idea of a whole troop of ants crawling all over it.   I am thinking that the cacti paintings are finally out of my system and it's time to work on a new idea.  Now just to wait till that new idea arrives.  

Agave 2
Watercolor, 22" x 30" on 300 lb. paper

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Agave 2, Next Installment

I left my SD card at school, so my camera was kaput yesterday.  I took this with the cell phone, so the image is poor, but hopefully I'll get done with this soon and can get real pics of it.  I'm excited to see how the red/yellow underpainting affects this piece.