Cornelia Theimer Gardella

Relocation: the final word.

Here is the news a lot of you have been waiting to hear.
Others may be mildly interested.
Some of you won't care one bit.

The long question of where Emily and I are moving has finally been answered. In a stunning series of synchronicities, we have engineered a new life to begin frighteningly soon in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

We were supposed to go to Seattle. For those of you who were (or still are) certain we were moving there, I apologize profusely. My OT license in Washington state was hung up because of a minor paperwork glitch caused by their ridiculous forms my missing a small detail in the application which had us waiting another 6 weeks for the needed license before the move. In that time, three excellent job offers were made to us (only one to me actually, but Emily deserves the bulk of them as she has waited a long time for a good job) and we settled on two of them (one each).

The best news for me is, thanks to my excellent weaving colleague Cornelia Theimer Gardella, I found an amazing studio space in the Second Street area of Santa Fe. It is a place full of artist lofts and Conni and I will be opening our studio there in April.

We will have an official studio opening in September 2013. In the meantime, I look forward to many studio visits from all of you. I'll keep the teapot ready. It is time for me to weave some big tapestries. This transitional period has been long and my big looms being in storage has been difficult. They are soon to be warped again. I already have the ideas piling up. And thanks to a relocation bonus from my new part-time job in health care, I am, for the first time in my life, going to pay someone else to move those big looms into the studio. Whoo Hoo!

I grew up in New Mexico, and for me, this is a return home. Santa Fe was the shining city that we got to visit occasionally as kids when my parents went there for conferences. In fourth grade my class made a trip to visit the capital and we slept on the gym floor of the NM School for the Deaf. Besides having to learn my times tables (which were really hard for me), it is my one memory from that school year. So I'm going back to Santa Fe to make more memories (though hopefully not sleeping on gym floors).

I am grateful for a long list of events which have gone in our favor (which starts with my parents helping me get a masters degree in a popular field), moves through a great adventure as a tapestry weaver, and lands at a beautiful home and studio in Santa Fe, NM with my amazing little family. I am truly blessed.

Need a dye class?

I have had many students ask me lately when I am teaching in 2013. I have some classes in the works, not to mention the online class I'll be launching this year. It looks like I will be teaching in New Hampshire this summer for sure and probably somewhere in Colorado. I am still searching for a New Mexico venue if anyone has any requests...  Those dates will all get worked out in good time.

In the meantime, for those of you who have asked me about whether I teach dyeing, consider a class coming up very soon at Espanola Valley Fiber Arts Center. Cornelia Theimer Gardella weaves wonderful tapestries and is also a master dyer. She is teaching a dye class March 1-3 based on Itten's color star and incorporating a lot of color theory. I really recommend her if you want to start dyeing your own tapestry yarn. Sign up quickly! She doesn't take many students and March 1 is right around the corner. Look at this link on the EVFAC site with a description of the class and a great bio of Conni. And even if you don't want to take the class, click on the link because the tapestry pictured there is stunning.

Cornelia Theimer Gardella, Tomorrow II, 32 x 51 inches; hand-dyed wool tapestry
Espanola Valley Fiber Arts Center: Phone number is (505) 747-3577

2012 in the rearview...

2012 was not a bad year. It had some phenomenal highlights as well as some really deep struggles (okay, I haven't written about the really deep struggles, just the funnier ones). Here are some of both. The links are to earlier blog posts about these events.

I got married. This was the BIG one. Even when committed to a small ceremony, getting married consumes a great deal of a year. Couple that with the need to drive 9000 miles to have the ceremony in a state where our union is celebrated (and legal), and you have a wonderful summer of wedding. Okay, we didn't have to drive and we didn't have to go all the way to Prince Edward Island or the northern tip of Nova Scotia, but damn it was fun to do it. Iowa would have been closer, but how romantic is getting married in Iowa?
 The Wedding blog post.

My niece was born. This was another biggie. I've never had a niece before. In 2012 I got one niece from my sister and married into another one (see THIS post about Megan)! This kid is already following in her auntie's footsteps--she is lying in a tent holding onto a Macintosh computer.
The day I became an auntie post.
My little knitter post.

I did not weave... well not very much. I did finish a couple pieces including a great commission for a couple in Pheonix.
Emergence VI post.
Cherry Lake post.
Emergence VI
I did teach many workshops and greatly enjoyed my students.
Symbols of the Southwest at EVFAC post.
Michigan Leagues of Handweavers Conference post.
The City of Love post.
Teaching at the Michigan League of Handweaver's Conference in Holland, MI. These ladies were amazing.

I spent a lot of time in my dye shed dyeing yarn for myself and my students.
Dyeing red yarn post.
The Dye Shed post.

I took a workshop with Helena Hernmarck. She is an amazing woman who has woven hundreds of monumental tapestries. She was a huge inspiration.
Helena Hernmarck "In Our Nature" post.

I revisited the studio of James Koehler and helped dismantle a loom that I almost bought shortly after he died. The Cranbrook has moved on to a new studio where it will be very loved. There were a LOT of parts in that loom. There were some posts about selling James' looms and the struggle with losing a teacher.
The Shannock loom post. This one you may still be able to get your hands on.
The Cranbrook loom post. (This one sold.)
James and the Cranes post.
 There was the never-ending skunk saga.
A Skunk in the Night post.
Why Skunks are not smarter than I am post.
The Cask of Amontillado post.
And the FINAL skunk post.
We came home from our trip to Mississippi on New Year's Eve to enter a house smelling of skunk. There were no breaches in the foundation, but we did turn off the skunk fan when we left, filling the opening with insulation against the minus 20 degree weather. Turns out the fan is needed to battle the stench even when everything is frozen solid. That is some serious stink.

I took some business courses and worked hard on advancing my tapestry studio business. I had a fantastic photographer do some new portraits of me for the business. Cornelia Theimer Gardella did both my wedding photos and these portraits. She has a great eye. She is also a great tapestry weaver. You know that head shot you're still using from 20 years ago? Consider a new one.
Artist Headshots post.

I started a mailing list and published my first YouTube videos.
Go to this link to subscribe to my newsletter.
Here are the two posts with the YouTube videos:
James Koehler Interlock Join video is in this post.
A little post about making tapestry butterflies is in this post.
There were, of course, many many visits to yarn stores. I can't resist them. I think you call someone like me a "fiber freak."
Taos Wool Festival post.
String Theory and yarn bombing post.
Salida Fiber Festival post.
Vermont Yarn stores post.
Double Yarn Stores day post.
The Why I Knit post.  (Answer: To keep from killing people.)

I turned 40. I'm not sure what else to say about that.
The birthday post.
I think you'll agree (if you are a knitter) that this was an awesome birthday present!
There was the disappointment of being rejected for ATB9.
The rejection post.
Emergence V: The Center Place; 44 x 44 inches, hand-dyed wool tapestry.
I found out about the closing of Weaving Southwest and the death of Rachel Brown in the same day. The closing of Weaving Southwest came with not only losing my gallery, but a struggle to get paid for my work.
The closing post.

 2012 was a good year. It was full of love, family, adventures, and yarn. But I do hope that 2013 is just a little better... at least in some ways. Best wishes to all of you.

Happy New Year from the snowy and cold southwestern United States!

Artist Headshots

I'm glad November is over. It wasn't a great month overall. But there were some good things that happened. For example, I had asked my good friend Cornelia Theimer Gardella to do some portraits of me for my website a few months ago before the angst-ridden fog descended. And even though now it was the soul-sucking depths of the eleventh month and I no longer felt like I wanted my picture taken, I packed some of my best clothes (the ones without stains or holes) and went to Abiquiu for a photo shoot. Conni is an amazing tapestry artist. Perhaps that is because she has such a good eye. Her photography is gorgeous and you should keep an eye on her website for the moment she rolls out her photography business. If you're an artist, consider having her do your next headshot (especially if you're still using that blurry photo your daughter took with her cell phone right after you got into that last juried show).

And though I don't like my picture taken all that much and I seem to have an eyelid that refuses to stay open when faced with a camera, the photos turned out marvelously. I give Conni all the credit for this. She is a great artist and I suspect a bit of a magician.

Photo: Cornelia Theimer Gardella

James and the cranes

I woke up this morning not to my alarm clock playing the first few bars of Beethoven's Choral Fantasy in C minor but to the morning flight of greater sandhill cranes flying over the house and feeding in the barley field across the street.  (Of course the insistent whines of my dog in the corner reminding me that it was far past 6 am and she was hungry might have contributed.) The cranes have been amassing for 4 weeks now, the first arrivals coming just after I moved here the beginning of February. The experience of watching 1000 or more cranes feeding, circling, taking off, calling to each other, and dancing from my front window day after day has been magical.

I have lived in the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado before. Four and five years ago I was here living first in the South San Juans in a mountain house 6 miles from my nearest winter neighbor and then on the flanks of the mighty Mt. Blanca on the other side of the valley--all off-grid, all an adventure. By the summer of 2008 I was trying to fit little bits of tapestry weaving in around the three jobs I was working as an occupational therapist. I had a sunny but much-in-need-of-repair apartment over a realty office as my studio and my Rio Grande loom was turning out some promising work, albeit slowly. But my therapy jobs were becoming difficult and my personal situation was also.

In October 2008 I took another workshop with James Koehler at the Taos Wool Festival. I watched the aspens changing colors at the Taos Ski Valley one afternoon and decided I was moving back home. The next day I asked James if he would still take me on as an apprentice (he had offered two years prior) and he agreed. So I quit my jobs, packed my Rio Grande loom (and my piano--this is a story for another day, but it is another reason my brother-in-law is on my personal beer-for-life program) and moved into a lovely straw bale house in Velarde, NM, 55 miles north of James' studio in Santa Fe. By February I was spending three days a week in his studio and there was a large tapestry in process on the smaller of his Cranbrook looms.

I studied with James as his apprentice until his death March 4, 2011, a year ago today. In the year since he left us, many things have changed in my tapestry world.  I started my own business in earnest, I sold some large pieces, one to the permanent collection of a college, got some commissions, and started teaching workshops. James had a large influence both on my art and on the course of my life.

James finished his autobiography less than a year before he died. In Woven Color: The Tapestry Art of James Koehler he talks about how he came to be the tapestry artist he was. As far as I know, it is only sold by Blurb Publications at this time.

And then there was the Bauhaus project. This undertaking consumed much of three years. I have written about the Bauhaus project a lot on this blog, but I have to mention it again here because it influenced my time with James. Cornelia Theimer Gardella is a good friend of mine and the project was her baby. The idea was to look at the influences of the Bauhaus, the early 20th century German art school, on our contemporary tapestry creation in New Mexico in the early 21st century. James signed on and the three of us read a lot of Paul Klee's notebooks as well as other Bauhaus material and eventually put together two shows entitled Interwoven Traditions: New Mexico and Bauhaus. The first show was in Albuquerque, NM in the summer of 2010. The second was in Erfurt, Germany at Michaeliskirche in September and October of 2010. The trip and the project in general were monumental for me and pushed my thinking about who I was as an artist in the broader world.

I have sold the pieces I created for that show in 2010 and it is time to move on to new projects. There have been many times in the last year that I have wanted to ask James a question about a technique, a design, a teaching quandary, or even a legal issue. I have to rely on my knowledge of him and mix that with my own experiences, because the answer James might give me if he were here today might not be the path I would take. James taught me a lot of specifics, but he also taught me to look for what is important in myself and to follow that above anything else. His words from those years I was working in his studio still echo around in my head sometimes and they have definitely influenced the direction of my art and my life in one way or another.

Cornelia Theimer Gardella, James Koehler, Rebecca Mezoff
Michaeliskirche, September 2010
photo: Hamish John Appleby
photo: Hamish John Appleby

James Koehler, Michaeliskirche opening, September 2010
photo: Hamish John Appleby
Tomorrow I will post some information about his two remaining looms, a 100 inch Cranbrook and a 100 inch Shannock. They were the center of James' tapestry studio and they are in exquisite condition as they were loved by a master for many years. They are in need of new homes.

James Koehler, September 2010
photo: Hamish John Appleby
The sandhill cranes in my front yard are both a blessing and a call to awareness. Life can be much shorter than we expect it to be. We are always on a journey and I, for one, want to pay attention to where I am in this moment, eat all the barley I can while the sun is out, and prepare for the next flight north. 

Come take a tapestry class!!!

I am teaching a class in a couple weeks at Espanola Valley Fiber Arts Center in Espanola, NM.  The class is Color Gradation Techniques for Tapestry.  It is three days and there are still some openings!  This class is a benefit for the center and I am hoping to fill the class to maximize their profits.  So this is a great time to take a class in tapestry if you never have.  Here is a recent blog post I did with more photos of the center and some of its offerings.

photo: Laura Barger
The class focuses on technical ways to grade color in a tapestry including using hatching and hachure.  I have some great hand-dyed yarns we can play with and the class promises to be a lot of fun.  As a bonus I will also be showing a slide show about the Bauhaus Tapestry Project (Interwoven Traditions: New Mexico and Bauhaus) I did with Cornelia Theimer Gardella and James Koehler which was completed six months before James passed away.

photo: Laura Barger
photo: Laura Barger
photo: Laura Barger
photo: Laura Barger
photo: Laura Barger
From the class description:
 In this three-day class, students will weave a sampler exploring 
color gradation techniques in contemporary tapestry.  A small tapestry 
may be started if time allows.  We will learn different forms of hatching 
and hachure along with various methods of grading color.  Color mixing 
techniques along with some color theory will be investigated.  Hand-dyed 
wool yarn in a large range of hues suitable for gradation will be provided. 
  Rebecca Mezoff was a student and apprentice of James Koehler for 
6 years and as part of the class, will offer a presentation about their 
Bauhaus project which included his last shows, photos of some of his 
work as it relates to color gradation techniques, and discussion about 
how James used the gradation techniques we will be studying in his work. 
  James was an avid supporter of EVFAC and this class is offered as a 
benefit for the center with all proceeds going to help EVFAC keep its 
doors open.  Basic knowledge of tapestry weaving is recommended, a 
desire to learn and have a great time is a requirement!