Friday, July 31, 2015

Fiber Friday

At the fairs, I inform incoming guests that everything is handwoven with the exception of the books. That has changed ... slightly. For those who don't know, I also bind blank journals both for myself and to sell at fairs or through the Etsy site. I enjoy experimenting with bookbinding because I see it as an art not unlike weaving - simple with lots of potential.

Journal with Handwoven Cover
Case in point, this journal. I had some extra scrap fabric laying around which was too small for a bag, too big for a dishcloth, and to short for a scarf. In addition, I had a text block I hadn't decided how to cover yet. Covering the text blocks was an easier choice what with the fabric and scrapbook paper I have.

The two seemed to be a perfect fit - the cloth was just long enough to cover the book, with a little bit extra, and the text block needed to be covered. Voila!

Putting flaps on my journals is not one thing I enjoy doing mainly because it usually involves a gluey mess. This time, however, it involved less mess, thankfully. Also, the fabric handled better than I thought it was going too. One of my concerns with my handwoven fabric was its thickness. Compared to the store-bought fabric I normally use, my handwoven fabric is thicker in terms of how it feels. Turns out it wasn't as much of a problem as I thought it would be. Despite the thickness, it drapes smoothly, and was less hassle than using brocades.

A fun experiment which just might turn out to be utilized more often.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Marathons and Books

I am not a runner. I started out to try running last year, and I did well then I injured myself (twisted my knee and ankle) which had me off my feet for almost a month, but even at that point, I understood the purpose of pacing myself.

Connemara, Ireland, 2007
Pacing in a book is a good thing because it gives the reader a chance to catch a breath after a heady scene. It also can lull a reader into a sense of safety to make the action scenes even more dangerous.

As a writer, pacing on the writing process is also a good thing. It enables us to plot out how much we need to do, what research is required, and even how long we can push ourselves.

Currently, I'm working on two books - one is my designated chapter-a-day books which keep me solidly on pace. It's slow-going for a variety of reasons, but every morning, I wake up, prepare my coffee and write. The scheduled time forces me to focus on the book.

On the other hand, I'm writing another book which also has a minimum daily word count, but in this case, the book is easier to write. Not a breeze to write, but easier than the first. Whereas one is a training run, the other is a fun run.

One keeps me focused, the other keeps me entertained. Both are needed, and both are good novels. For me, it's been interesting to see how the two books develop. How they take various unexpected paths; how I can see the path before me, but still and unexpected adventure comes along to steal my interest, and lead me onto another, equally exciting path.

This is the joy of writing - finding the adventure before you.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Fiber Friday

One of the fun elements of travel, whether near or far, is translating what you see and learn back into your everyday life. Many people travel to gain new understanding of culture or see exotic places. What might be exotic for one person is mundane for another.

To this day, even after living over twenty years in Western New York, the bright autumn colors still impress me. Where I grew up, we had a short version of fall, and even then the colors were fairly muted. Trying to capture the feeling of a crisp autumn day under a canopy of red, gold and bright blue is fun, but hard to explain to all those who have grown up with nothing to compare it too.

The same is true with my recent trip to France - the colors, sights and sounds still dance around in my head, and I'm trying to translate everything I remember into items which express what I felt.

Woven Transparency
For the most part, weaving is the art form I gravitate to when trying to capture images. I use writing as a means to explore the depth of humanity and emotions, but to capture the image, I weave. Currently, I warped up my loom using a linen warp set at 7.5 epi (ends per inch). It's the same sett I used for the transparency above.

Part of the reason I wanted to use transparencies is because (a) I love the ethereal beauty of the transparency and (b) it lends itself to impressions, not details. It almost feels like an Impressionistic painting in woven fabric. Much of it is due to the fact I can put little detailing into the woven transparency. If I had a finer sett, I would be able to add more detail, but the sett I'm using doesn't lend itself to detail. Still, I'm able to capture the look, or the impression of where I visited in France.

My first transparency is that of a building I saw in Lyon. The colors were apricot and rose, and even in the late sun, still vibrant. I cannot capture the details of the butter and slate windows or the potted flowers with shades of lavender and sunshine. I can capture the color blocks, and size of the buildings.

Transparencies are still relatively new for me. I haven't woven many (the photo above was my first attempt and now currently resides at my cousin's house). Still, I enjoy the freedom of the structure - how I can put almost anything down and it comes out in an image to be enjoyed.

Fiber arts is one of the few art forms which can be used in a variety of fashions. Throughout its history, weaving specifically has been both covering and art - think of all the fabric we wear on  daily basis or of the woven tapestries from ages past.

Capturing the beauty around us in woven form takes time, but like all art, it is meant to be enjoyed.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Organized Chaos

Last week, I mentioned the fact my new book had many twists and turns. Coming up with a way to organize those twists and turns proved both easy enough and complicated. The easy part was the system - colored paper with short descriptions to indicate the action. For example, Tree enters school would go on one color, while another character had another color. With washi tape, I'm able to shift the items around and keep them in the journal.

Eiffel Tower, Paris, 2015
The journal currently looks about as good as this shot of the Eiffel Tower - a bit messy and confusing. The shorthand notes give me the general rhythm of the series, but not the exact path of the series - something I like because I typically allow the story to write itself, or at least, allowing for the possibility of a detour.

The best part of the process (which hasn't finished) is the fact I'm able to keep track of the many parts of the story. Where one character is in danger, another character's story line provides the answer. I hadn't realized when I started working on the series just how interconnected everything would be. I considered it to be like a doubleweave in which the two layers of fabric float against each other, but occasionally intersect. As I work on the series, it becomes more complicated, and almost a puzzle where things connect and lead down a different path.

It's a fun exercise, though it takes most of the day to figure out what the actions are. Sometimes it comes in a rush, and other times it's a trickle. Still, it forces me to consider the story line, how each character's actions affect the others, both around them and in the greater picture. It's provided a clear set of antagonists to the protagonists, and it has provided some of the missing pieces to the story.

Having multiple ways to attack a novel is a good tool to have in the writer's toolbox. While you might normally write one way, knowing how to construct a novel another way proves useful as I'm finding out.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Fiber Friday

Today is preparation day for the Saturday Artisan Market tomorrow at Canalside in Buffalo, NY.
Added to preparation, I'm working on developing out the ideas for one book which features a fashion designer who focuses on handwoven fashion. Fun times.