Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Today I read an article from a recent Publishers Weekly. Despite the overall book publishing business being in the toilet, there is one segment of the industry that is doing great. Sales of craft books are booming and the customer base is rapidly expanding. Great news for craft book publishers and crafters alike. What I don't buy is PW's explanation. Clearly the article was written by a non-crafter - someone with that age-old misconception that crafters hand make things to save money. Yeah, right. The two comments in the article that I do concur with are: 1.)In times of trouble there is an increased attention to home and family, and 2.)As the working world increasingly means spending all day in front of a computer, young professionals are turning to crafting for non-virtual balance.

The satisfaction of creating something by hand is hard to describe, but very real. It is more than pride in the execution. At its best, it involves an intimate relationship between artisan, tools and materials. When I took a class on Japanese style woodblock printing we learned that top quality barrens (disk-shaped tools used to rub the paper onto the inked block) are hand made from natural materials by skilled artisans. Could you get the same print using a low-end plastic substitute? Possibly, but the experience of the artist is integral to the product. Among my fiber craft pursuits, the most indescribably satisfying activity is to spin beautifully-prepared natural fibers on a perfectly-balanced, hand-crafted, exotic hardwood handspindle. Fiber magic.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Still winter

As I write this wet sloppy snow is falling. A good day to stay holed up at home. And a reminder that there is still plenty of winter left up here in the high country.

Yesterday was a spinning guild meeting - much visiting, but no pictures. Today I have been making serious progress on an art project I started long ago. I hope to have the woodburning phase done by the end of the evening. One thing this project has taught me: don't burn the date onto a project until it is actually finished (maybe I can fudge the 7 in "2007" into a 9...). Here's a sneak preview:

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Full moon rising over Reno

I grabbed this shot from the end of my driveway when I took out the trash tonight. No tripod, so I did my best to hold the camera steady. A cold, but pretty night.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Tablet Weaving

Inkle weaving leads to tablet weaving. They have different origins and very different structures, yet inkle weavers sooner or later tend to give tablet weaving a try. Both techniques result in warp-faced fabric, and both are great for making belts (or other long, skinny bands), but I'm guessing the common attraction is for trying new skills that give big design payoff with low start-up investment. All you need to try your hand at tablet weaving is the fiber and some cardboard. That's it. Really. You cut the cardboard into a series of square cards and punch holes in the 4 corners to run the warp through. (I bought mine, rather than cut them myself, but they still represent the cheapest loom ever.) Turning the "deck" of cards opens and closes the sheds. You can read all about it lots of places on the web - just type "tablet weaving" into Google.

For my tablet weaving project I used 15 cards strung with 4 colors of crochet cotton. Due to the lack of an appropriately placed doorknob (traditional end tensioning device), I chose to anchor the warp on an inkle loom and to string it as a continuous warp. I wove about the simplest pattern possible: 16 turns forward and 16 turns back. This created a pattern of Xs and diamonds separated by chevrons.

The result is a new custom lanyard for my geek tag (aka key card/ID).

Monday, February 02, 2009


Despite the best of intentions to show you all the fine things I have been working on, I have been sidetracked by a new toy. I promise more project reports to come. Meanwhile, here's a picture I made using "SpinArt" on my new iPhone. :-)