Saturday, January 30, 2010

Inspiration from Serizawa

It’s not fair to talk about an exhibit after it’s closed, so I will apologize right up front!  I got so much inspiration from this exhibit that I have to mention it, and I will at least share images of the pieces that moved me! The exhibit was “Serizawa: Master of Japanese Textile Design” at the Japan Society in New York. (The book, which I bought, is available at the link above.)


These are all dyed works on silk, hemp and cotton cloth (I believe handwoven cloth). This is a traditional technique known as katazome, which involves stenciling with natural dyes and natural resists. Serizawa was a master of this technique and is a National Treasure in his country.



I am particularly interested in his use of lines and brush strokes.  Many of these images are so similar to ideas I’ve imagined weaving in tapestry.  It was a thrill for me to see what he did with dyes!  I have a small folder of Arabic and Hebrew script which I’d like to weave, and this image of Japanese characters is going in the same folder! 

Awesome, Awesome!


Friday, January 29, 2010

More Exquisite Corpse

exquisite corpse Tanguy, Miro



Some intriguing examples of exquisite corpse.  This first image has a strong sense of collaboration, but the next two have a cohesiveness that gives a sense of ‘whole’ to the works.



exquisite corpse - 32a

There are many images hereexquisite corpse - 30

JD Salinger books JD Salinger died a couple of days ago.  I realize that is quite a non-sequitur to exquisite corpse (well, in a very morbid sense, perhaps not), but he’s been on my mind. Catcher in the Rye made quite an impression on me in my teens.  It was my first exposure to story telling through what is not said, not written.  My younger son loves the story “For Esme with Love and Squalor” so it’s time to read it! I’ve just learned that “JD” stood for Jerome David.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Group Tapestry and a Game of “Exquisite Corpse”

I had not heard of ‘exquisite corpse’ when one of the Wednesday Group members suggested we do a collaborative tapestry in this technique.  But I have played games of “Consequence” at many parties from childhood through adulthood. It continues to be a very popular game at bridal showers.

Here is a somewhat edited excerpt from the online art dictionary

exquisite corpse or cadavre exquis – use of various artistic techniques for producing either visual or literary art devised by surrealists in which several people collaborate in creating a text or an image. This activity is often called a game, and the product of this activity is called an exquisite corpse or, in the original French, cadavre exquis. This game is based upon an old parlor game in which players take turns writing on a sheet of paper folded it to conceal part of the writing, and then pass it to the next player for another contribution.

The surrealists' version of the game acquired its name from the earliest known version which began with this entence in French: "Le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau," meaning "the exquisite corpse will drink the young wine." The first works were sentences, and were first produced in the mid-1920s. Later literary works were typically poetry. These bizarre compositions were explained by Nicolas Calas as revealing the "unconscious reality in the personality of the group."

Surrealism was embraced by practitioners of many arts, and so it was inevitable that visual artists would take it up, first to produce drawings and collages. The first such efforts involved assigning a section of a body to each player, sometimes with the previous work concealed. Most resulted in images that only vaguely resembled the human form. Some of the participants in early exquisite corpses were Yves Tanguy (French, 1900-1955), Joan Miró (Spanish, 1893-1983), and Man Ray (American, 1890-1977). Later adaptations have involved using other means of passing the work around, such as sending it through the mail; or using other media, resulting in sculpture, film, digital, etc.

(pr. cadavre exquis as kə-DAH-vrə əks-KEE)

The Wednesday Group members are weaving two small tapestries of a human figure, one viewed mostly from the front and one viewed from the back.  We are passing around the copper frame loom in no particular order.  We have 14 members so we have divided both body views in seven sections:

1. feet and legs up to the knees.

2. upper legs and lower body to the waist

3. upper torso from waist to underarms

4. arms

5. shoulders and neck

6. face/head

7. hair

I received the Exquisite Corpse ready for number 4, the arms. In tapestry once the background has been woven there is extreme limitation with how you can proceed!  The background had already been woven to about half way on the upper torso.  That left no place for me to put the arms except extended upward. 

The most obvious point of an exercise like this is how each person will interpret the work done previously in order to add their bit.  The person who wove the feet and legs may have had in mind something elegant, while the next person may perceive the piece to be depicting a person in bedroom slippers and old pajamas.  It can get quite absurd!

Here is what I received (minus the inked on bit of arms which I added before taking the photo.  Ignore what I drew as I did not end up weaving that bit of shoulder on the left.)

Wed. Group project elegant corps 003

The striped stockings said to me ‘jester’ or athletic team such as women’s field hockey.  The skirt said ‘dancer,’ something like salsa because of the fun colors, or possibly a tutu.  The torso is either leaning extremely, or more interestingly, has changed to a profile view.  I decided to go with the idea of a dancer and with the torso turned to a profile view.  As a ‘torso in profile’ this meant that the arms would be coming out of the middle of the torso shape, and the arm further away would be partially concealed behind the torso.  Wed. Group project elegant corps 004

The skirt made me want to continue the dancer costume.  I had a lot of fun playing with yarns for sparkle.  I wanted to put both a ruffle at the end of the sleeves as well as a bracelet hanging from one of her wrists (she doesn’t have to be female, but that crazy skirt with bow makes me think of female, not male!).

For the ruffle I used a sheer ribbon with a gold edge.  I simply pulled up weft between the warp threads to create loops, and I used very fine wool to weave a row or soumak between each row of ruffles (only two rows of ruffles).  I ‘pigtailed’ the ends of the ribbon and then used a needle to run them down into rows of weft along one warp thread hoping for more stability. I don’t want the ruffles to shift while the next person is weaving!  The ruffles will be stabilized once the piece is mounted, but there are three more weavers between now and then! Though it made me a little sad not to do it, I nixed the bracelet, which was gold thread twisted with a dangling charm. I think it may have said too much about my propensity for garishness!

Wed. Group project elegant corps 006

I tried to leave as much room as possible for the two people who will tackle the head and hair.  Still, she will not have have long tresses falling down her back!…because I had to weave that background to support the arm.

This is a long post, but I wanted to record what I learned about this game and what I perceived on the figure when it came to me!  I will not see it again until it is finished, as that is the rule of the game. We cannot communicate with each other about this until it is finished.  I  will get a photo of the finished piece, but who knows when! There are 14 of us who live quite scattered over the Mid-Atlantic area!  It will be given as a gift when completed.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Knitting, Weaving…as the years tick by

Jan. 10 042

Friday was my birthday, and as a little treat I ordered a kit for the cute lace beret from Sunday Knits. It arrived just in time for a weekend of knitting!

I used one skein of Carol Sunday’s yarn called ‘Angelic,’  a blend of merino and angora (80/20).  It has turned out somewhat large, as you might guess from the tam on the right.  The Fair Isle tam on the right is somewhat small, but at least wearable!  The lace beret really is not wearable.  I’m considering shrinking it…which probably means I’ll be giving it to some little girl for her dollie.  Sigh….

Jan. 10 034

The beginnings of the medieval spinner.  You can see at the bottom that I practiced making eyes and lips.  I figured I’d do this small sample of her face before tackling the entire piece. It seemed to me that her face and hands require the most detail, so if I worked out the sett needed for those I’d be ready to decide on the size for the whole work. At this sett of 10 epi the entire piece will be 24” x 24”.

I also thought I’d submit this small exercise to the ATA small format exhibit, but I think I missed the deadline for the paper work! I guess I was distracted by my birthday, which was lovely!


The Toika is (mostly) tied up!  I need a second spool of Texsolv for the rest of the treadles, and I need a boatload more stoppers for the cords to the treadles.  The hardest part is done, and I feel like I’ve conquered a huge feat!  I’ve been looking at weave structures for a table cloth.

Alas, no taka dai, but with the loss of my husband’s job, he is way too busy concentrating on what he’ll do next to tackle a woodworking project. 

Thursday, January 14, 2010

New Beginnings

“A day late and a dollar short”…. okay, maybe two weeks late… an old phrase that always pops into mind when I fall behind on things.

I’ve had computer problems for several weeks now and have finally gotten a temporary solution.  I know I need a new computer, but that is not at the top of my list right now!

Like many I know, I wrote a post about my new year’s resolutions (two of them), and it went out into the ether somewhere.  I picture it as a small piece of cyber trash floating in black space.  Shame on me for polluting the ether!

Do I want to name all the things that have prevented me from being my usual self these past few months?  Maybe.  While I think of this blog as a place where I can write openly about my creative life, lately every time I began a post the worries of my personal life felt like a gag in my mouth and bindings around my wrists.

After six months of uncertainty, worry and stress, my husband lost his job on Jan. 4th.  I can say that the stress of worrying was considerably greater than the reality of being jobless!  He’s been home for two weeks now, and we are doing well!

We have two new babies in our family, and both were high risk pregnancies.  I’m thrilled that all has ended well with healthy baby girls in both cases.  Now I can knit without praying so hard for their safe arrival.  Now begins the typical worry that all parents, relatives and friends feel for their precious young ones, and that is a happy relief from worrying about their arrival!

Back in the studio, I am working on my medieval woman, drawing for exercise and for design possibilities, knitting some fun, frivolous things.  Now that we’ve used my video camera successfully once (the embarrassing sabering moment), I hope to make some knitting videos! 

I will post photos shortly!