At the end of week 2

May 31, 2009


trees in week 2Each week I will take a photo of the trees outside the studio to record the progression of the seasons.

I have had very helpful advice on what to do and where to go from people involved in the weaving classes. In fact it is going to take considerable time to get to all of them. So, on a very overcast Sunday, I took a scenic drive to the tourist town of Berrima. It was typical of that type with crafty shops, galleries, knick knack shops, cafes. I had a bit of a wander around before enjoying a huge Devonshire tea. The drive between here and there and back again was the best bit. It is a very scenic area.

From the studio window, I watched a family with young children kicking the leaves and throwing them up in the air and having fun.  I am really enjoying watching the world from the studio. It is just so pretty. The first jonquils are also just about to open. I found this huge and very beautiful toadstool under a tree in front of the studio.

Huge toadstool found under a tree

 From the point of view of “work”, this week hasn’t really got much to show for it but I have worked on fine tuning the countermarche and getting the Jack loom working. The jack loom is ready to get a warp on and start weaving. I have been doing more sampling on the other. I have just cut the first series of samples from the loom. Next week will see some dyeing on these. I have started to play with the bookmark blanks that I’d woven in the first week. I’ve attacked one with a lit candle and have tied up a bunch ready to dye. The result of the candle experiment is interesting as I have achieved a burnt pattern with exposed stainless steel where the silk has been burnt out and scorched pattern. This has potential.


I have also done some natural dyeing on commercial cotton fabric. I’ve visited the wood pile with shavings from the wood school and boiled up some dark red shavings, but unfortunately the end result wasn’t very exciting…just brown! In the process, I did try layering the savings in the folds of the fabric and leaving it to soak before boiling up but there also wasn’t any discernable variation. Later on in the week I also collected a pot full of eucalypt leaves and boiled those up and overdyed the wood pile fabric…..still brown but now I have some shading. It’s still not terribly exciting. Now the fabric is tied up again and ready to redye at a future date. I am having fun!

First bookmark

On Friday we celebrated the birthday of the Winifred West Schools. We got to go to a service to mark the event. All the “schools” were there: the tiny preschoolers and primary school kids from another campus, the girls from Frensham and we did our bit too representing Sturt. It was an occasion! The celebrations continued all weekend. The coffee shop, gallery and roads in the area were all very busy.

The week was completed with a visit to my long time friends, Bev and Tom just down the road at Bundanoon. We attended a choral performance by a very good amateur group who used the theme of journeys to perform a range of works in a wide variety of styles, most being unaccompanied. We will long remember the visit, marked by 2 sets of keys being locked in the house and the associated drama of how to get back inside.

So it’s been an interesting week but at this stage I don’t really have anything to show for it

At the end of week 1

May 23, 2009

What an eventful week it’s been. Walking into the studio was like stepping back in time. .. Unfinished wooden floor, lots of old looms, stuff everywhere, fireplace, an impression of dusty  clutter collected over decades. The loom I’m working on is one of the two original countermarche 8 shaft ones. My predecessor has had it working. I have put a long sample warp in wool on it. I have rediscovered the joys of tieing up a countermarche system…and being a contortionist under it. I’m working on a variation in doing the tieing up which hopefully will make it just a tad easier. As a reaction to spending a good proportion doing the tying up, I also put on a warp on a table loom. Now they do have very nice new 8 shaft table looms (BUT they are still table looms and slow to weave on). I put on a bookmark warp. My intention was to use up one small cone of stainless steel/silk. Why bookmarks? Well I have just 230 odd yards and want to use it for both the warp and weft and have none left over. Very careful calculations resulted in a 3.5 m warp just 1” wide… only appropriate for bookmarks. I want to play using this… this space for the results…..mmmmm. They might all result in useless bits, but this is playtime and anything goes!

View of studio

But what are the facilities like? Well Sturt is set in beautiful surroundings, lots of trees. And I have managed to get the tail end of the autumn colours. Apparently, they were at their best 2 weeks ago. I am enjoying looking out from the cottage and studio windows to the odd orange leafed tree, in spite of the fact that only half the tree might have leaves on it.

view from studio

The cottage I’m staying in is basic but comfortable. It comprises of 3 rooms all accessed from a covered awning: 2 bedrooms with ensuite and a communal kitchen/living area. I have one of the bedrooms. They are comfortable enough but storage space is limited. The interesting thing about the set up though is that I am sharing the kitchen with another couple. It’s back to college days and sharing. I have the top 2 shelves in a small fridge and 2 shelves in a storage unit. It’s going to be challenging….. all the business of sharing space and tidying up. The other two are young. Maybe you can imagine what that could be potentially like.

Ainsworth Cottage

All in all, I’ve had a very successful first week. I marked the end of it with a celebration in the weaving studio to which I invited the other couple (she’s doing a jewellry residency and is part way through) and Megan who’s in charge of the operation of Sturt. We also did the grand celebration of cutting off the first warp…what a tiny narrow warp it was, but it was the first one. I’d completed the bookmark blanks. It was marked by red wine, cheese and chocolate of course. I think that we might have started a Friday afternoon institution.

Celebrating the cutting off of the first warp.

And has it been cold? Well just a bit. It’s been damp also. The Tuesday group did light the fire, but I think that’s just what they do. I don’t really think it’s that cold but I do put the heater on in the studio that takes the edge off it.

Tomorrow I’m going exploring.