Friday, January 16, 2009


Ok, as promised, I have a list of books on creativity that have had a lot of influence on my creative life. None of them are about weaving per say, many are by writers. I have always found it pretty easy to just substitute “weaver” for “writer”, or just think “artist”. The first book on my creativity reading list has to be The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. This was a very important book in my life and is a big part of why I became a weaver at age 35. I had graduated from college with a BA in apparel design at age 30. As I tend to live in jeans and a t-shirt and really don’t enjoy sewing all that much, getting a degree in apparel design is a bit ironic ...and another story. After graduating, I was working as a para-educator and not too happy about it when I picked up this book. This would be somewhere in the mid 1990’s.
This is a book you both read and do. Actually, many of the creativity books have this aspect. I actually did everything in The Artist’s Way from the Morning Pages to the Artist Dates. I read and wrote for the total prescribed length of the program outlined in the book. I still do morning pages when I need to refocus or work something out.
So, what happened? I realized several things, one of which was that I wanted to be a weaver. I jumped into weaving and playing the cello at the same time and haven’t looked back since. Playing the cello was another dream I had even though I had never so much as touched a cello before. Come to think of it, I never had woven anything before either!
This was a very powerful book for me and I highly recommend it. I actually have three or four books written by Julia Cameron.
Another powerful book is The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp. This book is a guide to the sometimes difficult, everyday work of creativity. The first sentence on the back of the book jacket sums it up pretty well;
“Being creative is not a once-in-a-while sort of thing. Being creative is an everyday thing, a job with its own routines.”
The next book is another favorite of mine that was brought to my attention by Mary Zicafoose. Anyone who has attended a workshop or program given by her will recognize the title. It is The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. This is an easy book to read as you can read for five minutes a day and put it down until the next day due to the way it is written. I read and re-read this book constantly.
That reminds me, I own copies of all of these books. I usually start at the library, check a book out, and then if it is worthy, I buy it. I could never afford to buy all the books I read. I read, and re-read, a lot!
More books to take a look at: Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland, Creating a Life Worth Living by Carol Lloyd, Art as a Way of Life by Anne O’Shaughnessy and Roderick MacIver.
I also like to read about the science of the mind behind creativity. One such book is Cracking Creativity: the Secrets of Creative Genius by Michael Michalko.
I have just finished a book by Daniel H. Pink called A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age. Pink discusses in an easy to read and amusing format how right-brained thinking (creativity) will be playing a huge part in the way we live and work in the near future and how to cultivate the right side of the brain.
I also highly recommend any book by SARK. Her latest book, Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper is particularly good. One of the things I love about a SARK book is the colorful and creative way they are written.
These books are just the tip of the iceberg. I could go on listing books for quite a while! These books all have meaning for me but may not always have meaning for others. Take a look at them. If you are just starting out reading about creativity, start with The Artist’s Way or The War of Art.
I will compile the books into a book list on a side-bar on the blog. If you have read a good book on creativity that I haven’t mentioned yet, please leave the title and author in the comments section. One can never ready too many books.
My next post will be about a warped Jane, er that is, the first warp on my new Jane loom.
Almost there (hit a few snags, details later) so it will be soon!
Hmm, I think I will take an artist date next week. -Renee

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Wild Weather Inspiration

Well, I have been eager to get my Jane loom up and running but have hit a few delays, in part due to the wild weather we have been having. At the moment, the only road into our neighborhood is under a few feet of water. I was hoping to get out to get a few things at the hardware store so I can get to warping. You see, as I have mentioned before, I am set up to warp sectionally. That equipment is all packed for moving (long story) and wouldn't work well for a table loom. This is the first non-sectional beam loom I have owned so I don't have the standard warping equipment. I do have a system but I need some clamps, which I think I must have packed!
I hope to get out tomorrow and get what I need. In the meantime, if you want to see a Jane loom in action go to Susan's blog here. I thought I had her blog on my list but I see I don't. She has a beautiful weaving blog called Thrums and it is one of many I like to keep up with when I have a chance. I will get her blog and Shannon's blog on my list.
While waiting for the floods to subside, I have been busy reading through my stack of library books. I like to read books on creativity now and again. In fact, I have read quite a few of them over the years and am thinking that others might be interested in reading them too. I will be creating a book list on the blog on creativity in the next week. I always learn something and am often inspired even if the books don't address weaving per say. I just finished reading several books by SARK. I love her books as they are wild and colorful. Her latest book is called, Juicy Pens Thirsty Paper. It is about writing but there is one piece of advice that I think I will make a sign using it as a motto for my studio. It simply states to do the following whether you are "stuck" or not:
Now SARK is talking about writing tools of course but I think it is pretty easy to substitute weaving for writing here. Sometimes when we are dealing with resistance just taking 5 minutes to work on a warp (or unweave a mistake!) is all it takes to get us over the hump. In other words, just moving the tools works their own magic.
Well, I hope to get out tomorrow so I can get back to warping the Jane loom. It seems like it has been quite a wait. I am sure one day I will be humming along on the Jane and have completely forgotten about all the waiting and scrambling around it took to get her here and up and running.
Oh, the picture above! That is my dog Twill playing in the snow we had recently. She has had to be patient too as our thrice weekly hikes in the woods have been cut short due to the severe weather. She teaches good lessons on patience and joy!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

"Jane" is in the House!

Well, she sailed the big blue ocean, spent a bit of time in U.S. customs (gotta watch those radical weavers you know), and slogged through snow and ice and six days bumping around in a Fedex delivery truck waiting to be delivered, and here she is! She had quite a journey. Customs released her just in time to hit the snow storm and holiday delivery rush. I had to all but ransom her from the Fedex delivery truck that never could seem to get here. I finally had Fedex pull her off the truck and went to pick her up at the warehouse. As you can imagine, I wasn't the only one trying to get my parcel from Fedex. The small office was filled with six rather portly men all waiting to collect undelivered packages. Some had been there for three hours and more while the employees searched the backlog of packages. I wedged my small 5' 2" frame in the only remaining seat between a couple of the men and imitated their stoic staring at the wall. The silence was all but deafening. A bit spooky really. It wasn't all together friendly as patience had been frayed on all sides by the storm and holiday stresses. I had been there for about 10 or 15 minutes when one of the warehouse workers came out with a box I immediately recognized. The man joked that he wasn't going to tell us whose it was quite yet until he double checked the info but by then I had seen the picture of the loom on the box and the "Louet" logo stamped all over it. I jumped out of my seat and was jumping up and down saying "It's mine! It's my loom! I gave the men some amusement as they broke their silence and were all grinning at my excitement and started asking questions about the package. I signed off on the parcel and was out the door and on the way back home in no time. It was New Year's Eve and I finally got Jane home.
The first picture is what I saw as soon as I opened the top of the box. Jane is only partially assembled. Here she is on her side. You know, my AVL loom never was named. Perhaps it needs one but this loom comes with its name already emblazoned on the front beater. She is so lovely and light one cannot help but anthropomorhize the loom. I have a feeling she will develop her own personality in no time.

Here she is all assembled with two of the 8 harnesses raised. I spent a lovely New Year's afternoon blissfully finishing the assembly. Much easier to assemble than a 60" AVL production loom which, by the way, is now completely disassembled and crated in one corner of the studio. I had a hard time finding a place to take a decent picture of the loom as the studio has boxes and bins stacked until we can clear the snow to get the truck out and haul it to our storage unit.
The final picture is is the loom from the side. When I get it warped I will take a picture of the loom fully upright like it is now and folded for storage. Speaking of warping, I am used to warping an altogether different kind of loom. Jane comes with a DVD with Jane Stafford demonstrating the warping process.
Well, I am ready for a cup of tea while I pop in that DVD. I want to wish everyone a safe, healthy, prosperous New Year. Hopefully this time next year the world will be more at peace.