I’ve started a new temp job as an industrial seamstress and I can tell you it is HARD work. I must have made about 600 pocket seams today.
This adventure into the world of textile industry is a bit of a desperate measure from me, because I panicked about the employment rate of artists. Also I have always been a student and since graduating I have to change my whole life very quickly. Thankfully I can keep studying away independently on Skillshare and now on Lynda.
Anyway, as an antidote to freaking out, I have started to toy with some new career development ideas and thanks to Etsy, am now very fascinated by SEO and online marketing. There is so much to learn and I am surprised and pleased to find out that I am enjoying the process a lot. In an attempt to experiment with all of this a bit, I’ve made some downloadable prints that function also as coloring pages. I recommend using metallic markers on everything. It looks amazing.
The theme in all of these is ‘Tools of trade’, for those who want to express their artisan profession or hobby with pride. Check them out in Noctuary Art! More of these and a wall calendar of this theme is also in the pipeline and available on Etsy soon.
P.S. I’m also now on Twitter as @MirvaKuvaja
At the beginning of this summer’s artist residency program at Kuusisto Art Manor, I came up with the idea of creating ‘Secret places’ around the manor gardens and the nearby nature reserve area. These places would have to be found, because there is real joy in the surprise of discovering new things. I wanted visitors to spend some time in unique natural places and perhaps remember some memories associated with that place or similar places. Perhaps also to be fully present in that one moment. These spots also had an activity to try; weaving.
I built earth looms to suit each place using linen thread for warp and the natural forms of trees and bushes as the frame needed for weaving. They were very simple, so no previous experience in weaving was needed. Everyone would have the skills to build something out of the materials found in the nature around them. I also included little notebooks near each loom to record ideas and thoughts in. I made three ‘Secret places’ and two of them were successful. These were located in the nature reserve area, quite near the main path. They were easy to find and built in such way, that they would not permanently change their surroundings. The one located in the manor garden was perhaps too difficult to find, as people did not weave much on the loom there. The weavings that resulted in the other spots were very interesting. Although they were not perhaps aesthetic to every eye and certainly not usable, they were unique and had the marks made by many people who took a moment in the flow of time and spent it without hurry or stress. The thoughts written in the notebooks were wonderful reading and made me feel like this project has potential to be developed further to reflect different natural surroundings and express the thoughts, memories and stories associated with them.
Where are all the ravens?…Someone is cutting the grass. The sound of summer. Reminds me of childhood home and summer days. Taste of new potatoes in my mouth…This artwork looks like a harp…Surrounded by the trees, it is good to rest and listen to bird songs. A blackbird is telling stories…Here the air is fresh and wonderful…This place reminds me of sacrifices and beliefs…We saw white tailed deer…I heard the grasshoppers…
Last weekend I officially opened my studio during the local village festival, ‘Koroisten kyläjuhlat’. In my open studio the visitors could try weaving on a traditional floor loom. I didn’t have any preconceived ideas on how it would go, because the surroundings were quite different to those in Kuusisto, where I held my summer workshops.
It turned out that a lot of people, especially kids, were interested in weaving. When they had their parents with them, it was much easier to approach the big loom and have the courage to say hello to me. The thing about floor looms is that they have not been designed for very short people (ie. children) or people with certain disabilities (you have to be able to use your arms and legs). However this was not a problem, as the children discovered that by working together with their parents, they were able to enjoy weaving. In practice this was done with the mother using the pedals and helping to throw the shuttle, which gave the child (who was too short to reach the pedals – very cute) the opportunity to just have fun with building the actual rug structure by moving the beam and choosing materials. I had trouble getting them to leave at the end of the day.
Clearly weaving could be used as a way for parents to spend some quality time with their children. The one negative thing I noticed was that many parents feel that they have to control the weaving process by insisting on making a rug that is actually ‘correct’ and usable. In other words it would have to have specific matching colours and straight edges. What’s with the perfectionism? It’s the child’s vision and it doesn’t matter if the edges are wonky. The end result is still functional, beautiful and unique, not to mention the importance of the experience.
I will definitely develop this concept further. The weekend’s end result was happy kids and one small rug made by many hands.
And nothing shall get in the way. I have to work or I will go mad. Also I desperately need a space for my materials and there is a lot…Anyway, here are the before shots of my cheap and dingy studio:
It was really horrible. I have lived in places that were marginally better, but at this point in my life, this was really horrible. It was dirty, dark, cold, damp and dusty. The previous tenant had left a van load of his stuff to rot in there. None of it was worth salvaging. And yes, that is styrofoam covering the walls. I don’t even want to know what is growing under that stuff. And there had been rats.
However this was all I could afford, so I decided that I will make it work. How hard can it be?
Turns out not very difficult, but certainly laborious and the process did require some imagination. This is the end result:
I painted and covered every surface with something and now it at least looks ok and is fairly clean. The styrofoam is still there though…The things I do to work.
I have teamed up with my little brother who is a blacksmith/carpenter/to be ceramic and glass designer and set up an Etsy shop to sell our craft products and artwork in! Check it out and if you have an Etsy account, please like my things/add my shop to your favourites 🙂 In future we will also stock downloadable colouring pages, more textile pieces, ceramics and jewelry.
Also, my studio space is slowly becoming habitable. Feels really empowering to be able to do almost all the work myself, since until this week I had not used power tools before (unless a sewing machine counts) or had the opportunity to fix something up for myself. I even mixed cement and found out I can carry those 25kg bags without breaking my back (only just). I think cement/concrete art experiments will be happening soon…
It is my space and will be made to look and feel how I want it. On the downside it is located in an old barn, the walls are covered in styrofoam for insulation and I am pretty convinced there is mold underneath and the stress of this all has made me uniquely insomniac in the sense that I can only sleep every other night when I am usually exhausted enough to manage it. It will be worth it. I hope. In any case it is the only place I can afford, so it’s either this or not working, which is not an option.
More updates soon with the before and after photos. I can promise you it will be a shocking difference.
In other news, I am practicing for a handfasting based performance and ceremony for a friend’s wedding. I say performance because this is definitely my own take on a handfasting and I am not officially a priestess. Finally an opportunity to dig out my old Beltane stuff and the body paint!
After about a month of intensive art collaborations, workshops and general ‘routine’, I’ve had my first proper weekend at home and not spent at least partially at the art residency or doing things related to it. It feels a bit like getting out of a roller coaster, with hair a mess, slightly dizzy, nauseous and with that ear ringing silence after the carts and the rider’s screams have suddenly stopped. Today I woke up at 5 am and noticed that I have a really strong feeling that this summer has to come to a close soon. I want to get out of the woods (literally) in the middle of nowhere and come back to the city. Update this blog more often. Get started with figuring out if my newly acquired, cheap and very dodgy workspace has mold on the walls, or not, in which case I can still make it work. Spend some time at home getting adjusted to the scary reality of not being a student anymore.
All major projects start to feel a bit like work after a while and I cannot wait for this particular creative cycle to reach its conclusion. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for my slice of opportunity and creative heaven. Still, I have always loved autumn most, because it feels like a time for new beginnings. I am never the same person I was in the spring and again it feels like it has been three years, not three months.
Just look at that Simpson’s blue sky, space and the calm. The silence in Kuusisto is spectacular in its ability to both clear and numb the mind of a city dweller like myself. Time to come home soon.
I’ve been at the art residency in the Kuusisto Art Manor for about 3 weeks and so far made two rugs, a brooch, Saori scarf, a wall hanging and a Saori inspired woven necklace. I think my mind is slowly gearing towards making art jewellery, despite having been pretty exhausted by it in the spring. I find myself getting inspired by the forgotten things I find on the ground.
I’m also hosting weaving and knitting workshops in July and building light earth looms in the surrounding area. I hope many people feel inspired to do some crafts.