Sunday 21 March 2010
Newspaper interview with El País – It´s Sunday but I am in my textile studio being interviewed by “El Pais” (Spanish national newspaper). It´s sometimes difficult to keep weekends clear (except when Lluis and I have open studios in August of course, when our day off is Monday) but today it´s a pleasure to meet and chat with Xurxo Lobato, photographer and journalist with the national Spanish newspaper. The interview will become a feature for a Saturday edition of the paper in the near future.
Monday 22 March 2010
am – Product Photography, Promotion and Admin work – I photograph linen flannels for my online catalogue then prepare price-lists and pack up some linen flannels and saquitos to send off to the Galician Craft Development body (FCGAD) for their own catalogue photography. I design a new label in Galician Spanish and hope it is correct (our region of Spain is bi-lingual – people speak Galician and Castillian Spanish).
pm –Teaching – I brief Tracey, my textile assistant from England, who is doing the 3-week textile assistatshsip with me, on her new project which is a linen curtaining design. We measure up for the curtaining and go over the details. I start her off with the necessary calculations for translating the design onto the loom. Tracey has been in my studio before and has 6 weeks experience in total. She is a meticulous and careful worker, so I know I can delegate some of my work to her with no worries.
Weaving – I spend the rest of the day weaving. Bliss! In fact I may spend less than 1/4 of my overall work in actually weaving a textile – there are lots of other processes involved in creating woven textiles by hand. I love the actual weaving, but then I actually enjoy all aspects of my work and I feel lucky to enjoy it all so much!
Tuesday 23 March 2010
am –Natural Dyeing. I have a fairly big order for dyeing silk-wool yarns for a London-based hand- weaving suppliers. I work out quantities and costings and supervise Tracey, my assistant, as she starts to wind skeins – the first part of the process. The whole dye session will involve dyeing a total of about 10 kilos and from beginning to end will probably take about 2 weeks to do.
pm – Teaching and loom preparation. I teach Tracey the “direct warping” or “sectional warping” method which I use to prepare my big loom for weaving. I photograph some of the steps and start writing up notes for a future weaving course on the subject. Then I start the business of winding on the 55m of linen yarn onto the loom: 720 individual linen threads, which require a total of 2475 revolutions of the back beam. This is going to take a while (probably about 6 hours) so I sit on a low stool at the back of the loom and ease myself into the work – there´s no point in trying to hurry this job – I will split the work over 3 mornings.
pm Textile Design work. I spend some time guiding Tracey through the planning of the linen curtaining project. Tracey says to me “most people don´t have any idea about just how much work is involved in hand-weaving”. I smile – she has already covered two sheets of paper with a whole lot of calculations – yarn calculations, the graphic representation of the design and the technical details of the loom preparation. Lucikly she is good at maths and she enjoys the technical as well as the creative challenge of hand-weaving. Some pupils quickly find that the technical side of weaving is too much for them but those pupils who end up continuing in the craft find that they enjoy this part of the work. Textile Analysis – I spend about an hour analyzing a new cloth sample. I really enjoy this work – looking at something new and original I´ve woven close-up to see how the yarns and the woven structure interact and which parts of the sample I can see working up into a final scarf design.
Wednesday 24 March 2010
More loom preparation. Natural Dyeing – Preparatory work. I scour about a kilo of linen yarn which has been wound from the cone onto skeins. This means a one hour boil with caustic soda or ash water plus soap – to remove all the wax and general dirt, prior to treating the linen with a fixer. This process can´t be omitted or else the dye or fixer may not penetrate the yarn evenly. This is the first of 6 stages involved in dyeing linen with natural dyes. It always amazes me how much dirt comes out of pure white or grey linen which initially looks so clean (see photo). I´ll continue the process later on in the week.
Evening – In the evening I work on new blog text and answer a last minute email query about a course. I finally stop at around 11.30pm.
Thursday 25 March 2010
am – Visit to Ourense city. It´s only a 40 minute drive to Ourense, our local city. I have an appointment with FisioAuria, my physiotherapist in Ourense city. It´s easy to forget that as craftspeople, our bodies are our tools, and, they have wear and tear just as my loom does. Weaving is hard on the back and I know lots of weavers with back problems so I have to take care of myself. pm – Cleaning, sweeping, mopping and making beds; What has this got to do with being a weaver? Well, Lluis and I also run Casa dos Artesans, a two-bed holiday cottage, close to the studios, for clients, pupils and tourists to the region, to stay in. So now and again we become cleaners, maintenance people, painters and gardeners, to prepare the cottage for our guests. At this time we are preparing the cottage for our Easter guests, from Madrid, who are coming to stay for a week, from Saturday.
Friday 26 March 2010
Casa y Campo, the Spanish equivalent of the English magazine Country Living, phone up to propose doing a lifestyle feature about my textiles, Lluis´s (my partner) baskets, as well as our residential craft holidays. This is great news as this will mean people in other parts of Spain will be able to find out about us and our work. I email some photos and some text across to Monica Corredera, the journalist.
pm – Weaving linen flannels. Good to be at the loom again. I find weaving these simple linen flannels very satisfying. They use a traditional weave which makes for a thicker, textured fabric which, with the slightly exfoliant properties of linen, is very practical for both flannels and towels. I publish this week´s blog post and translate it into Spanish!