Friday, July 25, 2014

Rags and Weeds.

My task of fixing and setting up the loom I told you about in the last post is almost complete. One loom (there are actually 2 to fix) is fully operational now and I just really need to focus on the easiest and best way to set it up so that I can teach those who will be using it. I have been learning a lot, especially about how to set up the loom from front to back. It is true that you stick with the way you learnt first, for me it was from back to front. So it is all a little upside down for me right now.

For a second project on this loom I decided to use more traditional materials to simulate possible future works that might be carried out. I hope I am not conditioning the loom in any way, a bit like growing tomatoes in used tomato cans. I always have lots of bits of fabrics lying around and some really not so pretty ones that are perfect for using in rag rugs. The trick is not to be too lazy like me and tear the strips of fabric as these tend to fray and make the whole process so much slower. I suggest you take the long road and cut with something sharp like scissors. I also used some wool I got from the blanket workshop I did last year as well as other bits and pieces of wool I had left from the scarves. I essentially made a sampler of leftovers. It was also a good opportunity to try out some different finishing techniques. I normally use the Peruvian twining stitch to finish the scarves, I find it is neater, but for rugs hemstitching works quite well.

It is always fun to get my very patient model André to believe that he starting a new trend. Last Summer he wore a thick woolen jacket. This summer he believes rag rugs are the latest in headdress, for the sun conscious. Ah, of course! Who would have thought.

And then there is the light, thanks to which we can see clearly that it is all so worthwhile.

To finish, a nice plate of weeds and assorted greens from the garden. When picking weeds for your next meal, make sure you know what you are really picking. Remember the importance of calling "…each thing by its right name."(Pasternak, Dr. Zhivago) Not doing so, in the weed picking context, could have unforeseen consequences. Eat your weeds. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I´m back.

It has been far too long between posts. But as they say "better late than never", whoever `they´may be.

Back home on the farm and things are moving at a snail´s pace, especially now that the heat has arrived in force and working after lunch with a full belly and tired body seems almost impossible. That said, the mornings have been very productive. Particularly productive for the ants that insist on stealing all the seeds that I sow, single file of no particular style, into some yet to be discovered super secret hideout.

To begin with, a close up of a hand woven bed spread, that was made as a souvenir from a town called Sarzedas. It says "gratidão", which means gratitude. The colours are bright electric and the whole piece  is woven always using the 2 colours meaning the bobbles can be raised on the same warp pass in either green or pink. I decided that because this bead spread was too small for my bed that it would look better hanging on the wall. It has helped reduced the echo in the room and given it a warm and cosy feel. Not sure this was such a good idea going into the warm weather, the room has become far too inviting for naps and possibly a lot warmer than would be desired for this time of the year.

As a goodbye gift, before I left Sydney, my good friend David Loong gave me the most wonderful gift. A pendant that is a small pot for flowers. It holds several very small flowers of your liking and even water so the flowers stay fresh. It is very beautiful. If you like this piece go and check out David´s page on Etsy, where you can see some more original and creative designs. All hand made. I have my eye on a pendant called "squirreling" that has the following, most wonderful, story attached:

"While squirrels enjoy the nutritional rewards that come from collecting acorns, their primary concern is to amass as large a reserve as possible of little acorn hats, which they wear almost every day if possible. Whilst in size this headwear is more suited to young squirrels, at some point in the distant past adult squirrels took to donning acorn caps as a fashion statement, and the trend has continued unabated for thousands of years. As the small size makes them hard to secure, it is very common for squirrels to go through four or five caps every day simply through accidental loss, so gathering as many as possible when they are in season is essential for any squirrel who wants to look good in public." (David Loong)

While in Sydney I came across a wrap around wool skirt by a Designer called Donald Davies. You can read about him at the Vintage Fashion Guild. Most likely my skirt is from the 1970´s. It was most certainly designed for a very tall lady who also very likely wore platform shoes. It actually fits me as a dress! The Davies duo, Mary his wife was the designer, came up with the best color combinations, something that I sometimes get stuck with. I instantly found them inspiring for my rigid heddle loom. The pieces I weave on this loom, as some of you may already know, are always plain weave and so what makes them interesting in my opinion are the color combinations. And so the first pice off the loom was a kind of replica of this Davies design. All the colors are just slightly enough different for it to look nothing like the original, and this is a good thing I guess. I made a small scarf that I gave to my friend who lives in Berlin for her birthday. I am sure it will come very handy in a few months time when she needs to brave the cold weather while riding her bike listening to minimal electro or techno music (take your pick, I picked electro).

I have been asked to help fix and set up a loom. I used this opportunity to try to weave with these grasses that are commonly found around here. The loom I am fixing has 2 shafts and a metal beater and so I can weave things that don´t really work on my loom. I am really happy with the result. I made a table runner that doubles as protector so I can put hot pots and pans on it. That is the plan anyway. The loom is still not fixed and working properly, it has the worst system for raising and lowering the shafts I have ever seen and I will have to be very creative if anyone is going to be able to use it, myself included.

In the background of the photo where you can see the grass runner on the table are two framed prints. These artworks are screen prints by an artist from Porto called Rodrigo Neto. If you like what you see, also in the close up, you should check out his page where you can purchase these prints, t-shirts, prints of his wonderful animal painting series as well as organize to have your work screen printed. Check the Ofi Atalaia shop. Do it. Buy one.