Friday, June 22, 2012

Blog Catch Up: Apprentices In The Studio

[Jacob at the loom, photo by Max]

I suppose I should catch y'all up on the story of the collective in order to explain why there are new apprentices.

Well, in April we moved to a new house with a new set of expectations. Wispr, my primary assistant, decided to go on a vision quest with the money that he had earned in the studio last year. His travels are still taking him all over the country where he's exploring just what he wants to do and where he wants to be. This means that he's not here at the moment and not sure that if he comes back he will be interested in weaving.

Jaime and Audrey have decided that country living is not for them at the moment, and have moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. Blessings on their journey.

Harlan and Arcana are here, and the focus on their own work is stronger than ever, leaving little time or energy to work in the weaving studio.

Sooo, I've been holding down the fort alone since March, excluding half a quarter of productive time lost to "circumstances beyond my control". Well, my best shows are yet to come this year and my two worst nightmares are at opposite ends of the spectrum, but have the same solution. 1. Sales are terrible because I have little color selection and I return home with lots of inventory left over. 2. Sales are great despite my poor color selection and I return with no inventory and nothing to sell at subsequent shows, perpetuating the "poor color selection" theme.

The solution to each of these is to create two new colors of cloth in eight weeks. Enter apprentices!

Now, these particular apprentices are part of a larger scheme for production expansion. If we can find a loom for Jacob, he and Max will be weaving remotely from Portland or Eugene. Anyone know of a 60" AVL mechanical dobby loom for sale?

[Max at the loom, photo by Jacob]

These guys are amazing. Max was here for four days and Jacob was here for ten. Training was much easier than it might have been because they were able to confer with each other while I worked elsewhere.

Jacob spent three days mostly plying threads for the next batch of cloth while Max and I took turns winding bobbins and weaving. This multitasking meant that the weaving got done at least twice as fast, even while the next batch of cloth was being prepared.

The end result is that we finished weaving most of the black cloth that week. I can hardly believe it. Looking at the calendar, I can see several days where we put in 18-22 hours altogether. And, unlike a regular 18-hour day where I spend half of it winding bobbins, this is something like 18 hours of nonstop weaving. Whoa!

[Piles of cloth waiting to be stitched at the end of "Apprentice Week"]

We also got a great start on the next cloth: sunset red. And after they left I let the rest of the black beam rest on the loom while I got to work full-bore on winding the red beam.

I just checked the calendar and realized that I have only 25 work days before the "big three" shows in Washington. Well, enough chatting then. Back to the loom!

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