Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Hawaii Underwater

With each trip to Hawaii, I get a bit more comfortable in the water. I have nursed a pretty steady fear of water for most of my life, mostly it's of the being "swept out to sea" variety. Still, I tried snorkeling when we were on Maui in 2011 because David is so passionate about it. While it still takes me a while to get used to the mask, I do love seeing life below the surface and it's always worth my initial anxiety.

The Kona Coast is known to have some of the best snorkeling in all of Hawaii, and the trip out to Kealakekua Bay was incredible and I was excited about the quality from our new underwater camera.

The Kona Coast is also known for the opportunity to swim at night with manta rays. The thought of this terrified me, but I have never heard anyone do anything but rave about the experience. I became slightly less terrified when I learned that we wouldn't actually be swimming around in the open ocean in the pitch black, but holding onto a raft that was attached to a boat. Stepping off the boat was terrifying, but after seeing the first manta ray, all my fears evaporated and I just looked down in awe and watched their magnificent show.

It was hard to use the camera for any still shots, as the seas were rough and we had to hold onto the raft with both hands, but in movie mode we were able to catch some great shots of the action. In an effort to improve my video skills a bit, I played around with iMovie this weekend and put together some highlights of the experience.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Weaving Workshop

I'll admit, sometimes it's really hard for me to just sit down and be creative when I finally have a chunk of time. For months I'd been feeling creatively blocked, especially in my weaving. After a few months of weaving scarves, I was feeling uninspired and didn't know where to start. It had been a while since I wove anything with no end purpose or price point in mind, and I felt like I didn't remember how to put those considerations aside and be creative just for the sake of it.

Around this time, my friend Brittany McLaughlin launched her online course, The Weaving Workshop. Brittany and I were both textile design students in the 90's at Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science (now Philadelphia University). We both had had jobs in the textile industry after college, but like many designers in the industry, those jobs shipped overseas and we found ourselves switching gears.

When she asked if I would be interested in participating in her first ever online class, Ground, Path, Fruition, I jumped at the chance!

The online course begins with putting a warp on, and experimenting with basic 4 harness structures. I can't remember the last time I'd done anything besides plain weave, it was fun to be setting my loom up to weave a crowfoot and a twill again. In addition to playing with structure, we were also encouraged to play with a variety of materials.

The second part of the course was taking images of texture that we'd compiled on a Pinterest board earlier, and using those images as a starting point to interpret them into woven cloth. I decided to use only my own images, that I'd taken during my travels. Here are some examples of my swatch side by side with the inspiration.

This photograph was from a rocky beach in Maine. 

This image was a landscape in Monument Valley from our October 2012 trip.

You can see all my samples over on Pinterest.

The final part of the class was making a book from all the materials in the class. Personally, as someone who makes books, I loved that this project connected those skills also. Also appropriate for me since the first bookbinding workshop I ever did was part of my first handweaving class in college.

It was liberating to weave, and not be thinking about price point or who would buy this. No one even had to see it except for me. This class was the perfect antidote for feeling creatively blocked and the added surprise was how it perfectly combined many different parts of my life: my love for weaving, bookbinding and traveling.

Throughout the course, Brittany didn't focus on technical details, but more on the meditative quality of weaving, which was so refreshing.

If you're a weaver looking for some creative direction, I highly recommend checking out Brittany's class at The Weaving Workshop. I was so inspired by it, I promptly put on a new warp, this time threaded for 8 harnesses.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Nana Sydney

The lovely ladies over at The Lady Project blog invited me to write a post about an inspiring woman in my life for Women's History Month. I wrote about my amazing Nana Sydney, who passed away in February. 

Please head over there and read the full post. 

Here were are in 2006, on our way into New York to see the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, something we did every December for about 15 years. It was always a highlight of the year for both of us. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Travel 2016: Prepping for Hawaii

2015 was an incredible year for travel, and I'm hoping that 2016 will be just as exciting. We're kicking off the year with a trip to the Big Island of Hawaii. I first visited Hawaii in February of 2004 and loved it (obviously). The power of the volcano, the beauty of the beaches, and one of my top 3 spa treatments I've ever had.

Me on the Big Island in 2004.

This year David and I are heading there, the first time we've visited this island together. David lived there until he was around 9 years old, and it's a special island to him.

As we dive into our guide books, and booking our tours (snorkeling with manta rays!), part of my prep is to make our travel journal.

For this journal, I decided to keep it similar in feel the ones I made for our previous Hawaiian trips to Kauai, Maui and then Oahu. First I made book cloth out of cute tiki drink fabric (confession: these had once been pajama shorts, until I ripped them and couldn't wear them any more.)

Next, for the title page I kept in the spirit of the Maui and Oahu journals and cut out a map of Hawaii from a vintage atlas, and embroidered the contour of the island by hand.

This journal has a pocket in the back where I've stored envelopes that I can glue in as needed while I'm using it, if I have some ephemera I want to save. Travel tip: always have a glue stick on hand.

As I pulled out previous journals, I was flipping through them, and love how each has a list in it near the end of things I don't need to pack, or wish I had packed. Handy info for prepping for this trip. It's mostly stuff like "you don't need nice shoes" and "you don't need make up" and "you only need one sundress."

Bottom line is, bring fewer clothes so we have more room to bring home Hawaiian snacks in our suitcases.

Want to make your own book cloth, check out this tutorial I put together a few years ago.