Quince!


Over the past few weeks, new projects have been springing up in the Herron Studio. Quince & Co, a yarn company in Portland, ME contacted me asking to collaborate on a line of handwoven pillows.
Their exquisite yarns are labor friendly and sustainable and come in a variety of naturally dyed colors. As our ethics are quite in line with each other, and I love their beautiful yarns and products, I am so thrilled to work with the lovely folks at Quince this year. Dream come true!


 In preparation for all of our new and exciting projects, the time has come to invest in some upgraded equipment for the studio which is equal parts daunting and fun. Researching and shopping for an industrial sewing machine, though I have worked on them for many years as a professional seamstress, I want to make sure I choose the right brand and model for my businesses needs. It's fun to test them all out and as I do so, I realize that I know much more than I ever realized.

The goal of Herron Clothier, is not only to make and sell quality heirloom woven goods, but also to become a fully functional small scale textile mill, producing American sourced and made textiles and textile goods. My personal goal is to produce woven goods that are made in house at every step of the process from the weaving to the sewing. My vision is to become an American made textile company, and bring ethical and sustainable textile production back the to US through Herron's products and education.


Speaking of education, if you are in the New York City area, sign up for my tapestry weaving workshop at The Textile Arts Center in Brooklyn, NY. This intensive two-day workshop will be held from 11a-5p, Saturday June 21 and Sunday June 22, 2014. We will weave a sampler piece exploring techniques like eccentric line, various forms of soumak, warp wrapping, twining, inlay and more!

XO,

Dee

Weave, Weave, Weave.

June 21 + 22 Herron will be teaching a second weekend tapestry weaving intensive from 11a-5p at The Textile Arts Center in Brooklyn, NY. Registration is now open.

And don't forget to stop by the shop! New pillows and tapestries will be coming mid summer 2014! Soon I am excited to share that I will be doing a total website and blog merge and over hall. Big changes are a comin' for Herron this summer. It's gonna be fantastic and I can't hardly wait!

In other news, please allow me to introduce an artist whose work I am enjoying very much lately. Kayla Mattes sent me a hand woven Pizza this week. (I happen to list pizza as one of my top 5 favorite foods because it is perfect in every way.) Kayla is in residence at Little Paper Planes in San Francisco this month, weaving pizzas and exploring the social fascination with the food. Her colorful, vibrant work explores relationships with media, pop culture and technology through fibers. I think it is truly refreshing, fun and wonderful.

 A photo of my pizza above, and below some images of Kayla's recent woven work.


XO,
Dee

The Vitality of the Stuggle

The other night while looking for something in a box, I found several old sketchbooks/journals that I had written and drawn in throughout my twenties. I soon forgot what I was looking for as I sat down cross legged on the floor in the middle of my kitchen and poured through these relics of my past. At the time I had worked in these blank books, nothing profound or even really interesting seemed to be of note. But as, I thumbed through them so many years later, I looked back at myself from a more mature lens and realized, I was a much more interesting, and cool person than I had ever thought or felt I was at the time. Surprising to me! In one journal I had made several lists, drawings and wrote extensive passages about my plans, my thoughts on books I had read and designs with detailed notes. One entry from nearly 9 years ago stuck out, I wrote that I very much wanted to visit Peru and the Coast of Maine someday and focus on fiber arts in some capacity. I suppose I can check those off the list now.

(A photo of my new loom coming to the studio today. Each loom in my studio gets a name, an identity. This one will be called Nowy.)

This summer, Herron Clothier is experiencing it's first growth spurt. It's been nearly 3 years and things are starting to change. Today, another loom is being added to the studio for some big upcoming projects slated to begin in the coming summer months. All of which are still quite a secret and confidential, I am bursting at the seams to share. With this in mind, I take a bit of stock today. Those old journals full of lists, descriptive passages and detailed sketches, have me thinking over the the slow, steady development of my studio practice as Herron. I am reminded of something I heard earlier this week: There are two important days in a woman's life, one when she is born and the second when she figures out why.  Writer, poet and feminist Gertrude Stein wrote about the 'Vitality of the Struggle' between what is to be expressed (in written word) and what is both outside of you and inside of you.  I apply her words to the struggle of the artist, designer, craftsperson. From the time I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to devote my life to art making. The reason I was born, was to sign up for a life of unwavering devotion to truth, vision and creativity--a vital struggle indeed. The beauty of artistic pursuits is born out of ugliness, stages of under developed tries that lead to the stretching of comfort zones and an unrelenting desire to push forward despite failure.  Forming Herron and all of my artistic pursuits leading up to Herron, have been challenges that have allowed me to expand my own self definition. "A man's reach should exceed his grasp" to quote Robert Browning.  That willingness, I believe, is the foundation of the vitality of struggle. I am grateful for my failures, because if something is worth doing, it is worth doing badly first. I believe this is what Gertrude Stein meant. Cheers to failure and growth.

Happy Monday.
XO,
Dee




Peru

I have returned home from my mini trip to Peru. Although it was a mere week long I packed in 9 villages, 6 flights, 2 train rides, 3 collectivos, 6 taxi rides, 2 bus trips, a 2 and a half hour boat trip, a trek on a horse, a mountain climb, 4 hostels, lots of conversations, much mangled Spanish and a colorful array of interesting cuisine explorations. Here are some photos highlighting the most memorable aspects of my journey. It was hard to pare down all the photos I took to just a few.

I began at O'Hare airport on the first of many flights to South American where I would be adding and de-layering clothes through out different times of the day and night. El Salvador was sticky hot, while part of Peru were chilly and cold. My first day and a half, I arrived in the the dilapidated town of Juliaca and took a collectivo cambi to Puno, where I was stricken with pretty severe altitude sickness. Lots of vomiting, chills and a headache that rendered me incapacitated in a hostel room bed alone and quite scared. Somehow I managed to get bottled water and get myself on a bus to Cusco at 7am the next day despite being doubled over with the ills and chills. Here however, is where the best part of my journey begins.

When my ailments subsided after some Muno tea and herbs from Jose and some other friendly travellers on the bus to Cusco, I met Graciella. She was sitting at her hand made loom on the side of the road weaving a new poncho to sell. I sat down next to her for a while and asked her questions about her weaving in my broken Spanish. She was very sweet and girlish, she smiled a lot and seemed happy to chat with me. She sat under a tarp to shade her from the sun. Draped over sticks affixed to the tarp were several shawls, ponchos and scarves she had woven that were for sale. I wondered how many people stopped along this dirt road to buy her gorgeous crafts. She pulled out a drop spindle with raw wool and said "Alpaca" and motioned for me to spin some raw wool into yarn. Everything about Graciella's craft is made by hand, from the loom she weaves on to the wool that she dyes and spins herself that become her beautiful shawls. When she saw my eyes wandering over her gorgeous work, she pointed out the symbolism in her shawls, el pajaro, the bird, la rana, the frog, los ojos, the eyes, la ola, the wave. I bought one of her shawls made from her hand spun alpaca. She charged me 80 soles which amounts to about $28.50 USD. She gave me a big hug and kiss on the cheek. When I brought it home, my cat wiggled around and snuggled up on the shawl. She seems to like alpaca too. To see a short video of Graciella weaving, visit the Herron Clothier Instagram.

Peru is an impoverished country with an economy that relies a great deal on tourism. Every where I went I was bombarded with menus, signs, people asking me to by things from them. Even a single snapshot was met with "un sole". While the Peruvian PEN is not as strong as the US dollar, it made me wonder a lot about value. I paid just under $29.00 for Graciella's incredibly detailed shawl and I know her weaving and skill is worth several times that much. It is interesting why and how we put the value we do on "things" and "goods" in certain areas of the world and not in others. Even the value of money changes, and differs from one part of the world to another.

I enjoyed visiting Cusco which had the most interesting architecture of all the towns and villages I passed through. There were many buildings made from stucco and cement with terra cotta roofs. However, most of Peru's homes and buildings are box like structures made from dirt. Adobe bricks are constructed from the soil and sediment which become the walls and facades of most villages.

When I finally met up with my friend and travelling companion Agatha, I had overcome the altitude and we decided to go horseback riding through the Andes Mountains. 
These buildings below were a mixture of adobe and stucco with some interlacing stone archways and doorways. While I enjoyed the architecture, which was so vastly different from anything I had ever seen in real life, for me, the people, crafts and folklore were what piqued my interest the most.

First time on a horse! And who could ask for a better experience! Riding through the Andes Mountains among fields and sheep, farmers and ancient Inca ruins. My horse was called "Prince". I thought, it can't get any better than this and then it did. Every day.


The trip for me, culminated in Machu Picchu. I do not have a 'Bucket List' but if I did I could cross off a visit to the Sacred Valley. For most of my adult life I have wanted to visit Machu Picchu and I will say, that as you may have guessed it is far more spectacular and breathtaking in real life than any photo could ever show. We arrived at daybreak. As I entered the ruins birds chirped and llamas ran freely around the mountains. It were as though I had stepped into a picturesque fantasy world full of abundance, beauty and all of natures most richest treasures. I have never felt such peace as I did walking around the ancient ruins in a sort of solitudinal daze. Around 10am Agatha and I joined a group of people to climb Waynapicchu, the mountain that towers over Macchu Picchu. According to lore, Waynapicchu with its carved terraces was the residence of the high Inca Priest. It was a long, steep climb straight up. Treacherous and slippery in some areas, I climbed up it in record time and with ease much to my surprise. And, I think I discovered a new interest, mountain climbing! I never ever dreamed I would be into it, but I loved it!



I still cannot believe I was here. It feels like I dreamed it.

The day before I flew back home to Chicago, Agatha and I had planned a home stay on the Floating Uros Island in Lago Titikaka. With an overnight bus back into Puno that arrived at 4:30am and very little sleep after a lot of physical exertion, we opted to treat ourselves to real beds in a real hotel instead. We did however visit the 30 villagers on Isla de Uros. The entire island is free floating and made of reeds that grow in the lake, as is all of the huts that the villagers live in and their boats as well. This boat below was called "The Mercedes Benz",  as the mayor (who was a woman) kept calling it.



 The Isle of Tequile was breathtaking. The people who live there dress in traditional clothing to preserve the traditions of their culture. The men of the town knit hats to signify certain status. A special design and color scheme are used to knit hats that signify the difference between single people, married people and the decision makers of the village. Some of the elders who decide what things must be done in the village also wear specially knit pouches that they wear on their waists with colorful tassels on the bottom.

This little one had been mischievously photo bombing peoples family photos with all the cuteness she could muster. It made the tourists laugh, but she knew what she was up to. After a photo was snapped she would hold her hand out and whisper "sol", meaning give me some money for showing up in your photo. She wasn't making too much income on this day and her stance expresses that completely.

Some of the elder decision makers of Tequile, you can see the hats and pouches they wear to signify their status.

I almost forgot! When we visited La Isla de Uros, the villagers made us put on traditional clothing. They were very proud to show us their huts, how they lived and the way they lived. We did feel kind of silly wearing their clothes, I will admit.

I made some time to visit Master weaver Maximo Laura's gallery in Cusco. He also keeps a studio in Lima. Here, one of his assistants was weaving a tapestry. Maestro Laura has been deemed a national treasure in Peru for preserving traditional technique and inventing his own. Laura's tapestries are rich with folkloric symbolism and each carry their own mythological narrative. His vibrant use of color seems controlled yet uninhibited. It all made me think a lot about my own approach to color and the lack of narrative in my own work. I come from a strictly design perspective, this visit inspired me to incorporate a bit more story into my own weaving work. I filled pages of my notebook with ideas while waiting for a flight to El Salvador in the airport on my trek home. To see a short video of Laura's assistant weaving in the studio visit Herron's Instagram

Peru's landscape is both tantalizing and breathtaking. I found Peruvians to be somewhat cold and standoffish for the most part. Within their own families and communities, from my observation, they seem cheerful, jovial and loving. As an outsider, it is hard to cull a sense of warmth. I did however find a strong sense of connection, warmth and kindness from fellow travellers. On this short yet enlightening journey I met people from all over the world and had interesting conversations over lunches, on buses and trains and just plain old standing in line. I found that the warmth and friendliness I was looking for in the villagers actually came naturally from other interlopers like myself.
I am back home now, feeling like I just spent a month in Peru. I have much yet still to process. A new perspective on craft, economy and social structure has my mind racing in a barrage of ideas, thoughts and contemplations. I know that when I left for this trip, I considered myself just an ordinary person with an ordinary life striving for the same things all Americans strive for. Happiness, satisfaction, a nice home, leisure time, things of this nature. Upon my visit to Peru, I realize that I have a really wonderful life full of richness, joy and freedom. I discovered new interests and worlds I had never experienced before. For this I am truly grateful. And that above all, makes me happy.

Hello/Goodmorning, fly away!

The day has come!
Heading off to Peru and the Sacred Valley of Machu Picchu with a stop in El Salvador.
Taking some time for a little morning quiet and stillness to calm some pre travel nerves. I have a long day of travel ahead and am propelled by the spirit of adventure (and warm weather!)