Colleen likes baskets. Practical. They hold things. Duh!
As art, they can cost a pretty penny. Decorative? Utilitarian? Yes.
We started with one, two, and…. it grew. It’s way better for the environment than plastic bins. Yeah, we got (plastic) them too. Here’s a new one we have not seen before. A lamp. It was clever. But it was fully purposed as the hanger was from metal rod made with a lamp in mind. No, we did not buy it. Yet. Nooooo! Too many baskets!
It’s a hobby fer cris sakes! It’s pretty simple. I shoot what is around me. Family, birds, flowers, cats…. Easy. Edit. Choose. Blog and then post. You have no doubt guessed that I have/had a lot of cameras. I do not much collect old ones. I have lost cameras in various ways. I managed to “fry” on underwater even. Note: salt water is bad for camera electronics. There are even some times when Colleen uses my camera.
Subject? The only caveat to note is that I have cameras in multiple rooms and drive with one in the pocket or on the dashboard. And, still we miss opportunities now and again.
Everyday there are choices to be made. Pick a picture(s). Cats? Flowers? Old photos?
Old photos? Colleen has a few photos in her archive. They are scattered, disorganized, and precious. Precious few, precious photos. Old black and whites depict images of family from long ago. The folks are known and remembered. Memory fades. I hope the legacy will endure.
Or, it would be – pick a flower. I got lots. It’s like diving. I do a photo survey about twice a day on two decks. I cull out the best in my editing. My digital archive is expansive. … so many pics, so many choices… Quintessential? I’m still looking…
Cats?! Ha ha. I got seven characters. Their numbers vary. Their behaviors are sometimes quite charming. Baskets, boxes, containers? All are fair game. They patiently wait and take their turns. Cuteness reigns. We (wistfully) remember the missing (cats). This would be Feather and Nutley. Ha ha, I can count too.
A sheep is a sheep – all the same to me, just different colors, with or without horn. A spinning wheel? A loom? Venerable. Costly. Slow (to make clothes by hand). I get my clothes for sale $10 a shirt. That is simply sinful thought. To not appreciate the process is to ignore history and how we got to this point in time; this is narrow minded thinking. Shearing, washing, carding, spinning, weaving… yarn to cloth to clothes.
The Golding wheel is the Bentley of spinning wheels. Art. It is not how you get there as much as how you look getting there. Any car goes when you add gas. Eh? Computerized looms? It has a niche, though, it’s oddly out of place with hand craft. You go to the sheep and wool festival to – meet Golding and son, see the sights, see sheeps, and to see people. I get photo ops. Sheepishly, I have newfound respect for the handicraft. No, Colleen, (I get it now) a sheep is not a sheep. There are differences beyond appearance. And, no, a Golding wheel is not in our future. Hey! You don’t have to spend $10k for a Golding! Maybe I should not have checked $ on the internet. Price increase! – $30k for a stained glass Golding wheel!! I still cannot differentiate sheep breeds. (A sheep 🙂 is still a sheep.)
I have recounted our courtship and marriage before. Claddagh ring and Celtic knot – Colleen’s ring was made in Ireland, mine is of titanium. Symbolic? Colleen’s symbolizes friendship, loyalty, and love. Mine is a knot without beginning nor end – unity and eternal life. Titanium (was) – the material of spinal fusion screws that dominated my later neurosurgery career.
Dog year – it varies but, is considered equivalent to 7 human years. Our relationship is barely a year old. Baskets, beer steins, antiques, and cats are sprinkled liberally about our lives. We make elaborate baskets but nothing so woven as these from the museum. We have a real toaster oven. We did discover civilization as we got older. We have a fun and loving marriage. No, I do not know how a squirrel got inside a squirrel-proof bird feeder. Once in a while, I look back. Did I shoot that picture?
Basket class. The running joke: who made which basket? Guess? The kids are always right. How do they know?? We had a good time. it has been a while since our last class because of Covid restrictions. Ok! This was largely unplanned. We made baskets of our own creations. Wow! Colleen added beads. It’s really a great looking basket! Me? Party! It made us both giggle to look at the party colors. The added frills were fun. Hey! We can make baskets ad lib. But, I still like the classes. It’s a social thing.
Colleen is tired of me for apologizing for our cozy home. We are definitely not minimalist. Our tendency toward exuberance is everywhere in the beer steins we collect to the refrigerator magnets. We have eight cats. I will add the Willow’s picture is a reminder of wide angle distortion, once more! I took old bobbins and made them into pens, not once but, as you see, many times over. Baskets? Ditto. One detail I will note: Colleen can weave! This cloth is being woven on a barn loom that dates back to the Revolutionary war. Wow! She can weave!! I like living large!
Home is a catalog of your life. In this case we had separate lives and have a joint life. It’s quite a mish mash of stuff. In making up for lost decades we have collected a lot in a hurry – old typewriters, old sewing machines, old spinning wheels… old beer steins. Colleen weaves. That shuttle is sitting on a Revolutionary war era barn loom. Yes, we basket. And, I built/constructed the bobbin display rack to hold spun skeins. We got old art and new art. The old wheel is our TP holder in the half bath. The master bath has too many cosmetics. I hid them in a nearby backpack. Yes, it’s all jokes in self-defense – we are out of room for stuff. Ditto, my pantry sits partially on the counter. We did not start out this way. They have shows about hoarders.
Us? We? Nah!!
I’m a ‘datahead’ a nerd of sorts. It was but a moment ago, Noa was a baby; Colleen and I were in Scotland; my cats doubled in numbers. I have been keeping track of my slides and later digital images from nearly the beginning. First it was index cards and later on a computer. I now use an independent redundant array of external hard drives. It ain’t perfect. About once a year now, I update my yearly database summary. Do you care? … wanna hear?
Digital for me began in 2003. I number 701, 000 digital images in storage now. (Typing “701k” does not look nearly as impressive.) 2021 saw a high of 102k images shot– for the ‘freakin’ year! This spans (over the years) about 15 or more devices (cameras) including iPhone. As I asked, “Who cares?” Well, I do keep track. So, now you know. I shudder to think of how it might be without some “order” to the madness.
Life’s journey has taken me high and low – figuratively as well as literally – from love (lost to found) and to the depths of the Red Sea. Along the way I even took up basket making (#27) – See! Data! Gee!
A lot changes. A year ago during the height of Covid we went on a quest for a Christmas tree that took us to the perfect tree in a tree farm. We cut it down. Guilt! On many levels this was such a nice tree that lasted a month and was then taken to the curb. We went artificial tree this year. This has its own associated guilt. We’ll see. During Covid I made an estimated 26 Nantucket style baskets. They make/made me happy. I have had mixed reviews on their quality. In looking back, it has been a long and eventful year.
Where do you wanna go? I dunno. Typical. We had no plan. Do you need a plan? The local – throw away – paper proclaimed, farmer’s market. Ok! We met a basket maker who carries everything on her bicycle, including finished baskets, reed, and basket making tools. Driving along we found the ultimate junk store. Rusty nails! … by the pound. If you dye (fiber) then this is a mordant to set and contribute color. (I bet you wanted to know.) Alpaca farm? They spit?! … if you get in their face. Rude! We got fleece! Of course! Not fleeced. No! If you spin and weave, this was a good day!
3/11/21 – this year, designated the “one year anniversary”
57 million vaccinated – have had one shot or more
Vaccine – an actual one was developed in less than a year
Speech – a national address by our (real) leader on the 1st anniversary. trump???? who????
Covid relief American rescue package – it passed. Not a single republican voted for it. Traitors.
Eve of 2nd shot – I got mine the next day.
“If somebody said ‘N95’ to you one year ago, you’d think they were a bingo caller.” — JIMMY KIMMEL
They talk about a year ago. 3/11/20. Anniversary of corona. Where were you? Memorable? No, it just came and went as an ordinary day. I can note it/did note it, because I have a photo diary. The news and late night shows were full of the “anniversary.” The “event” (last year) was marked by the shutdown of Delaware by the governor. For us it was the evening/night of 3/16/20. All business was shut. A year later, the library opened for the first time. We did a little victory dance. Anniversary Day +1 is my second shot. I’m old. For most the first shot is months away. For others, they will be foolish, ignore the science, and decline the vaccine. What a world? What a time? The “former guy” is out of office. Sanity, truth, and science have returned. If you commit a crime, you do not get a free pass – see Gov Cuomo. Yeah, it’s been a hell of a f’n year!
What were/where were you? We learned to make Nantucket baskets and ate Thai as they announced all business was closed. The flowers were in bloom. (Not yet this year.) I was in my fake flowers/vases phase. Colleen made a “Giovanni” burger for me. The groceries were suddenly without TP! Toilet paper!?!? Patch was sleeping soundly through it all on our bed. It’s not an anniversary. That would impart more of a celebration. This was more like – “yeah, I was there. Ain’t it amazing when you look back?” Life, as we knew it, changed right afterward.
Our cats consider us “staff.” We made another basket. Yes, we take classes. I have my kids guess which of us made which basket. Hint: Colleen hates red. The shapes and sizes vary by the weaver. Ha ha! I think Colleen’s shape is better/nicer. For sure! After all that, Nutley hopped right in and went to sleep. Who’s basket is he in? Ha ha!
The cats like to be cozy. They climb into baskets and shipping boxes all the time. I was amazed that Willow squeezed himself into a basket the size of a bread box. No problem. Amusing? You bet. He didn’t stay long. I got my pictures. He left.
I have made 30 Nantucket baskets and counting. They are not yet entirely complete but are done enough to appreciate. Defects? Plenty! I’m not striving for perfection. I just want to gain efficiency and make as many msikates in order to learn the limits. It’s been interesting. Now, they are like my children. Can I gift them away? Certainly, there is plenty of potential. They really do look great! Who’s your favorite child? 30 favorite children??
Bored. Yes, dammit! Bored! Remember, this post was composed two – three – months ago. Arghhhh! Yes, pirates say argh. I’m confined. I take pictures of baskets – that I made (Nantucket). I arrange artificial flowers. I take picture of flowers I planted. I cook. I take pictures of my cats. There! Colleen actually reads my blog faithfully. She’s not listed as a follower. Ha! She’s laughing out loud right about now. Call it support from home. If she doesn’t then who will? Arghhh!!!
Someone once said to me that the sign of genius is a messy desk. Ha ha! I wish. Nantucket basket weaving takes space and material. It’s controlled chaos. I know where everything is. The tools of the trade are organized so I lay my hand on whatever is required quickly. Piles of material await use. Right!? Really! There is absolute organization. Rims take time and so I let them accumulate. Hence, there are a lot of baskets awaiting the finishing touch. Note: the background is Colleen’s big wheel (spinning, not tricycle) and one of the smaller looms. What else is in the background? …two more regular spinning wheels, finished baskets on the mantle and on the TV cabinet…. Sometimes the lines between worhshop and home blur. It’s ours, we’re fine.
The passion has cooled. One never knows. No no, I still love my (present) wife! (I was once married to someone who was never wrong.) Here, this is the single (to date) Nantucket basket she (Colleen) has woven. I just examined it again. It’s pretty near to perfect. In fact, it is really perfect to my eye. She is a bit (quite) compulsive and follows direction. How? Perfectly! It’s in her nature to always strive harder and to more perfect.
The body of my work by now is far greater in volume. Quality took a back seat to efficiency. I was seeking to hone my skill. Mistakes? Ok, you don’t make an omelet without breaking…. Experiment? Style? Pattern? Color? Yes! It’s a collection where nothing has been the same from the last. That would make it art not production. Imperfect, not too bad, not ready for prime time, but still the body of work is impressive if I don’t point too closely. I see cherry blossoms and don’t seek to find a single perfect bloom.
Looking overall, I see Colleen’s single work in a different light today. It recalls a vascular surgeon named D.r Goetz whom imparted to a raw intern (me), “You can do an operation a hundred times and never know it. Or, you can do it once and it is yours. You choose.”
I think each and every basket has a mistake. It goes with the territory. After you are done, there’s no back, of course. On this occasion I actually backtracked to the beginning. It was successful. Sometimes you gotta know when to give it up. Starting over is tedious and akin to a defeat. I hate losing. But who’s the loser? So, it was much better to start than to see this through to an unhappy end.
After my initial spate of baskets, no two have been alike. And the pattern I can create from color… it’s limited by the lack of color weaving cane. But pattern is precise and appealing. I’m much better with pattern than free form creation that drawing or painting requires. No one ever accused me of being subtle. Contrast, bold contrast, that appeals to me.
I’ve been doing (weaving) baskets for a bit more than a year. Yes, they call it “weaving.” And each and every teacher has said to me, “pack, your weaving needs to be tighter.” Ha! Working with a mold, my second try was tight. And my third was so tight I couldn’t get the mold off. It’s a struggle. Darn! I have to back off. Who knew I was tight? Better? I’m getting better. I suppose I should put in a word about keeping your sh*t together? Nah!?
Since I retired I have taken up spinning; yes, as in “Rapunzel.” I have begun basket making; yes, as in that “throw away/easy ‘A’ class in pre-med in college. I doubt my college ever offered basket making. And I apologize to all who make baskets. Indeed, there is a range of people of extraordinary skill down to amateurs (like me). But, on occasion, I can crank out something visually captivating. Mistakes? You bet! To the viewer’s eye, not so fast. It’s picky to look for mistakes. It’s equally hard for me not to see my own (mistakes). Colleen weaves (gifts). At this pace it’s gonna be hard to find display space, alas, (gifts too).
Nantucket basket. They appeal. There’s a certain geometric architectural preciseness about them. I’m not there yet. And, I’m experimenting. I never met a rule I didn’t try to break. So, my baskets will be uniquely me. I’m not ready for prime time. Real crafted Nantucket baskets are expensive. And the Chinese made ones are mere dollars. Mass produce for cheap labor, but don’t denigrate the quality. It’s good. But the whole industry suffers for cheap product no matter how well made. Meanwhile, my second basket has a pattern. I’m totally lost as far as making and designing a pattern. It’s my first solo without instruction. Hey! Raw material to product, it’s quite a career change for me.
We’ve been at this about a year. February 16, 2019, was the first basket class we ever took. A little more than a year later… we’ve come quite a long way. We’ve encountered three-four teachers. We learned a few tricks. And we can now make a Nantucket basket. It’s not so difficult as much as it is patience in learning the necessary technique. I have yet to make one of my own design. There are plans out there. I can be very happily occupied for a long while. Looking back we’ve come a long way. I would never have thought we’d weave something so intricate looking every bit as fine as I would admire in a craft store. Neat! … just a year. Oh my! PErfect? No. Happy? Priceless!
And… which one did I craft, which was Colleen’s?