Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Refinishing Loom Update

The name of my loom
I have spent the last month refinishing my Mother's old loom.

This is the same loom that sat in our kitchen when I was a kid.  Others have breakfast tables in their kitchens...we had an old counterbalance loom.   My Mother painted it black when she got it and used it a lot to weave tapestries until she got an upright loom.  When she gave this loom to me way back when, I too had it touched up with black paint.

So far, I have finished stripping off what was there, sanding, staining, dyeing and finishing with three coats of clear coat.   I had discovered when removing all the old crud that the name of the loom was branded into the wood.  It is made by Hammett of Cambridge Mass.  It's model number is 401.  

Originally I had wanted to stain the wood a very dark black, but I decided to go a bit lighter to retain the name of the loom on the sides.  I went with an ebony stain which showed off the grain in many places and was light enough to make the writing remain faintly visible.  It took awhile to convince myself I did not want it all pure black...all my life I have seen this loom as pure black...so it never looked quite dark enough....never quite right.  But now, I am moving forward with a deep blackish brown.  I can't wait to see it put all together!

The new look...
Most interestingly, I also discovered why I think Mom painted it black.  A number of the pieces took the stain differently.  Some of the pieces were different woods which would explain the different colors.  Plus, I am sure there were some places that I did to get everything off I should have.  

I had pieces in a multitude of shades of brownish blacks after a couple of ebony stain coats.  These were obvious differences.  Every treadle was different!  Plus, the beaters and back beams had a tinge of yellow which would be obvious even in the poor light of my studio.   Fortunately, a friend's spouse turned me on to black leather dye which allowed me to darken some of the pieces to match the others.

I must admit that dyeing the wood was scary but quite fun; clearly the most artistic part of this project. I was never sure how much dye to use nor whether the liquid I used to dilute it would work.  But once I darkened one piece there always seemed to be another to darken.  Just yesterday, I added some dye to the clear finish in order to darken a few treadles just a tad more.   Finally, I like the shades of all 40 pieces.

Parts inventory
Now that the finished pieces are migrating back to my studio from the garage it's time to tackle the rusty hardware...and there is a lot of it!  

More later.  

Friday, November 01, 2013

Rita Returns to Long Beach

The Long Beach Library - Main Library is a wonderful spot to exhibit Rita's Excellent Adventure.   The opportunity to exhibit came up quickly.  We checked out the venue on one day and the very next we were installing it!

The exhibit is right at the entrance to the children's section so there will be lots of traffic. The blue panels brighten the entrance and make the children's section an even happier place.  The librarians will be selecting a variety of books to place on the benches below to entice viewers to explore the topics illustrated in the story illustrated with out tapestries. 

If you recall, Rita's Excellent Adventure is a whimsical tale of a sand crab named RIta that loves purple plankton.  Her adventures in search of the best plankton in Santa Monica Bay are told in verse and illustrated with 20 tapestries.  It was completed in June 2012 and its initial showing was at the Society Gallery on Pine Ave during Convergence 2012 - Long Beach.  It has just returned from Eureka, CA where it was exhibited at the Morris Graves Museum of Art and will now be exhibited at the Long Beach Museum through the end of 2013. 

·       Whether the story is read out loud or silently, one can only smile while learning of the habits, predators, habitats and adventures of this small sand crab named Rita.

·     For the art lover, there is the discovery of how six artists with different styles can come together and create 20 tapestries, which coalesce into one look for the story.   It is also fun for the viewer to guess which artists wove which pieces.   

·       And for the child within each of us, there is the occasional discovery of two eyes peeking back at us from a tapestry here and there.  

Once upon a time, I dreamed up RIta - a nickel sized sand crab who had great adventures in searching for the  best purple plankton in Santa Monica Bay.  With the help of Merna Strauch, Karen Leckart, Judi Freed, Margie Fine and Carollee Howes, we illustrated the story with tapestries.  Each of us incorporated our own unique style while using a common palette of yarns and some basic parameters.  One of my favorite things to study are all the different frames we created...it is amazing how 20 frames can be woven so differently. 

It's fun being part of the Seaside tapestry group.  We have a long rich history in tapestry starting in the early 80’s. Our members include both award winning artists who exhibit nationwide and some who only exhibit as part of a collaborative Seaside project. The group has a reputation for creating challenging, often whimsical collaborative projects. Rita’s Excellent Adventure is such a project.  

The Rita's Excellent Adventure, the book,  is available for borrowing from the Long Beach library and can be purchased through Amazon or at www.nickibair.com.