Weaving the L.A. River

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I was going to write Part 2 of my spinning adventures, but I really wanted to write about what I have been working on the last two weeks. Some very dear and long-time friends are designing a permanent installation of a Day of the Dead altar for the Natural History Museum and commissioned me to weave the LA. River as part of the piece. It was a great project, so of course, I said yes, then I found out the short deadline and the size. It needed to be 6-7 inches tall x 10 feet wide which ordinarily wouldn’t be a big deal, but in this case the waves need to go horizontally and I couldn’t use one of my regular looms. I decided to build a loom. I made it 12″ x 5 ft. figuring I could weave the piece in two sections and then splice them together. It was a little more work than I thought since first I had to measure 1/4″ marks on both sides and then hammer in 600 nails. Yes, 600 NAILS!!  Here’s a pic of me starting the piece on my homemade loom. Please ignore the mess in the background, there’s no time for housework when working on a project like this, lol!

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I jumped right in and didn’t even take the time to make a sketch. It was design on the fly! Not the way I normally work, but time was short. The loom was a bit cumbersome, but worked great!

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After many hours and late nights of weaving, the first panel was done. It was a great feeling and I was pretty pleased with how it came out, until I realized I needed to weave the other panel. I was pretty exhausted from running my graphic design business during the day and then weaving into the wee hours every night. But, I had to buck up and weave part two, which thankfully seemed to go a bit faster.

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I finished it in time (whew!) and here is a pic of the piece just installed on their altar.

Of course, I now keep wondering if it would have been easier to weave it on my Saori loom using the comb reed. Best not to drive myself crazy and think about that too much, I guess. It was a challenging project and I am happy with the result and so were they. I also like knowing that I contributed to this representation of a tradition in my culture that will be part of a permanent installation in a museum.

Yes, I needed and deserved a long sleep after this.

 

Spinning, Pt. 1: Art Yarn

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It’s been spinning madness here at Casa Marengo Studio. I’ve had my Louet S17 spinning wheel for over a year and I have been limping along trying to learn to spin. A couple of months ago, I bought the Art yarn Flyer accessory and took an online core spinning class @HowToSpinYarn. Things finally clicked. So, I then took the plunge and bought a drum carder, so that I could make my own batts to spin.

It’s been a game changer. As a painter, I find mixing fiber on my carder like mixing paint for a painting or assembling elements for a collage. Here are some of the batts.

And, here are a few more of the yarns I have spun. The great news is that people have actually wanted to buy them, so I have started curating and spinning small batch art yarns for my Etsy store. They are especially great for weavers and other textile artists that want to add a pop of color or texture to a project.

Needless to say, I am having a ball and I am quite addicted. I also have been spinning using various hand spindles and recently bought an e spinner. More about those in my next post.