Wednesday, August 4, 2010


last friday and saturday were, to say the least, quite the experience for me. i was inviting to participate in an artist demo and sale event in partnership with the chelsea sights & sounds festival in chelsea, mi. this was the first year that they invited artists, so i figured it would be a great opportunity to try it out.

i wove en plein air. yes indeed, eric and i loaded up the ford excursion (borrowed from my dad for the week) with all of the things you see here, including the loom itself. there was approximately 1/2 inch of room around the loom. it was a nervewrackingly tight fit! i don't think i've ever had to use my arm muscles so intensely before. and with such high stakes! this was my new baby we were moving around. one wrong move... one collapsing of the arms... i couldn't even bear the thought. well, i did bear that thought once or twice and i immediately felt sick.

we arrived at my little patch of sidewalk at 7am on friday. eric had to work and i couldn't unload the loom without him, so it was quite the early morning. trying not to hurry too much, we unloaded the precious maple cargo and rolled it over to my spot. we then practically ran back and forth between the truck and my sidewalk patch, trying not to make eric too late. once all of it was unloaded, eric took off for work. i stood there, surveying the spot and the things that i chose to bring with me.

since it was still quite early in the morning, it was very quiet in downtown chelsea. this suited me quite well after the hectic two hours that we just had. i sorted through my display things, moving them around the table until i felt like everything had a home. some things were left out, which was ok.

as i was doing this, i realized... how could i have? i completely forgot to bring my past weavings to have there as examples! oh, the horror... yes, i felt stupid. but, one has to move on right?

i had never woven a "real" rug before. i was pretty sure that i had the theory down. it was time to put it on the loom. so i did.

i heard so many awesome stories while i sat there and wove. women and men who used to weave and were inspired to get their looms out again. two separate people who had been to central and south america. they both told me all about the amazing textiles and people they found there. i think those were my favorites.

one older gentleman told me about his grandmother, who had lived in greece. she wove and he even still kept a few things that she had made. so cool.

another guy told me about two trips to russia that he had taken. on the first trip, he met a woman who was a weaver. she only wove horse hair. i'm not sure what type of object she was making, he didn't say. the first time that he went and saw her, she told him that she was waiting for some horse hair to be shipped or brought to her. three years later, on his second trip, she had received the horse hair. however, the horses are so inbred now that there is not enough color variation in the hair. as she felt that dying the horse hair would "ruin the art" (i love that), she decided to retire from weaving altogether.

during all of this interesting talk and conversation, a little girl rearranged all of my embroidery floss for me. i didn't see her do it, but i'm pretty sure i remember a little dark-haired girl standing there while her mother looked at my earrings.

while it was such a great, amazing day, i was utterly tuckered out by the end of it. my entire body hurt from sitting there all day, weaving and talking and attempting stretches. i didn't get a lunch, because i was there by myself. the wonderful women of the chelsea river gallery were gracious enough to babysit my sidewalk patch so that i could take a couple trips to the bathroom. 

thank goodness eric came to my rescue and helped me to fold up/load the loom along with everything else.

it felt very silly wheeling my loom around the intersection. we got some very curious glances, as i'm sure you can imagine.

p.s. please bear with me, friends, as blogger recently changed their posting format. i'm still trying to figure it out!


Matt Chung said...

Brittany what a wonderful post! I love reading about your experiences and interactions related to your art. I am enjoy the new layout very much, I know it is in progress my only feedback is the header image might be a little too tall maybe?

Brittany Noel said...

Hi Matt! I wasn't sure about the header image. I made it that big so that it was similar to a landing page on a website. Maybe that doesn't quite work here... Eric and I will be designing a completely new, independent blog within the next month, so I just did this to freshen up this space for a while... I'll think about the header, thanks for the feedback :)

carrie said...

YOU GO! I bet you two have biceps of steel now, hah. I love that you were able to make a connection with so many people. I love when people share stories that way.

Brittany Noel said...

Eric's biceps have always been in decent shape, haha. I thought mine were going to collapse a couple of times! That was definitely the coolest part: seeing how the weaving affected people differently. For some, it was just stopping to feel the textures of all the woven pieces I brought with me. For others, it reminded them of ways in which textiles were important in their lives. It was so great!

I'd love to weave in public again. I would love to take my loom to the local square, two blocks from my house. Wouldn't it be so cool?!

Jesse said...

What a cool thing to do! I would have loved to see it. I was coincidentally at a weaving studio today - it's so tempting, I'm intrigued by weaving....

Brittany Noel said...

Who's studio were you visiting, Jesse? I loved every minute of it. Well, not the heavy lifting parts... If you're ever in Michigan (all the time, right? haha) I'll give you a personal weaving demo!