Disclaimer: This post has nothing to do with weaving.
One of the charms of running a small business is that customers feel like family. With that in mind, sometimes we like to share some personal tidbits with all of you here on the blog.
For the past three years I have been working at Mirrix full time and going to school part-time to get my Masters degree in Communication at the University of Washington. Looking back, it wasn’t always easy. Going to a four-hour class after working all day can be incredibly taxing, and weekends and nights were always full of homework and reading. It was fun, too; I’m one of those people who could be in school all my life and be pretty happy about it, but it was exhausting trying to keep all the of the balls in the air without one hitting my face. Fortunately the program I was in was very supportive of students who were working. I am so happy to have taken this journey and to have met so many incredible people along the way.
Anyway, yesterday I finally graduated! My husband asked, “Do I have to call you Master, now?” And the answer is yes, he does. But you don’t have to unless you want to.
Here are a few pictures from the big day:
Earlier this week Claudia and I took a little trip to London. While there, we stopped by
our only UK dealer, The Handweavers Studio & Gallery. We initially met Wendy, the owner of Handweavers, at the Salem, OR Northwest Weavers’ Guild Conference a few years ago and they have been selling our looms ever since.
The shop is located near the Finsbury Park tube station. When we exited the station and began to walk, it started to rain and then tapered off to a drizzle. I felt like I was back home in Seattle.
The first thing I noticed when I walked into Handweavers was that wonderful yarn-store smell. You know the one. Handweavers is the kind of place where you want to spend a whole day looking through endless skeins of yarn and their impressive selection of looms.
We admit it; our looms could be made a little faster. We could even make them a little cheaper.
If we wanted to, we could outsource our manufacturing overseas. We could use inferior materials. We could hire a call center for customer service.
But we don’t. Because we know that two things matter to our customers.
First, a quality product. A Mirrix Loom really will last a lifetime.
And second, a quality company. Mirrix Looms are not only made in America, they are made at an incredible facility called Sunshine House that employs people with mental and physical disabilities in a supported work environment.
Sunshine House is located in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. From providing group activities to training and supported employment, Sunshine House’s goal is to help people become more integrated into their community and to give them a place where they can be successful. The managers at Sunshine House take the time to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each employee and provide them with an environment where everyone can take pride in their work.
Sandy (the gal in the middle of the picture) is Mirrix’s work floor supervisor. From coordinating shipping to supervising loom-making to helping to develop new products, Sandy does it all. Without Sandy, Mirrix would be lost!
Thank you to all of our customers for supporting us and thank you to everyone at Sunshine House for making our products what they are and our company what it is. Without the amazing customers and employees that we are so fortunate to have, Mirrix would not be the company it is today.
Pictures, from left to right
First row: Don making clips, Karl drilling legs, Jason making bottoms
Second row: Karen stuffing loom bags, Sandy taking a selfie, Jason deburring wrench holes
Third row: Erik making wrenches
Nostalgia brought on by our recent attendance at Convergence (the Hand Weaver Guild of America’s every two year event) lead me to do some research to rediscover my tapestry past. Searching for “Tapestry Tool Box” I found a letter from Marti Fleischer who was the editor for The American Tapestry Alliance newsletter from 1994 to 2002. I met Marti through mail and maybe even phone conversations, and soon I was writing a column for the ATA newsletter (back in the days when it was mailed to all its members). In her good-bye letter as editor she mentions that column: “In 1994 we began running The Tapestry Toolbox written by Claudia Anne Chase. The article, which continued several years, lent insight into questions about looms and all related tapestry paraphernalia.” I apparently also became a member of the ATA Board. Thank goodness for the internet to kick start my past! The ATA began in 1993.
I first met Marti in an elevator the day I arrived at my hotel to attend that first Convergence (it was the first Convergence for ATA as well!). I was wearing a long silk dress and my long dark hair hung way past my waist. Because there was no room in the elevator, I stood on my suitcase. Marti walked into the elevator and I recognized her right away (don’t ask me how; maybe I had seen a photograph of her). I said hello and told her who I was. She looked up at this six foot tall woman (remember all 5 feet 2 inches of me was standing on a suitcase) and she said: “Oh my gosh, I thought you were Cher!”
Those three years of articles are buried somewhere in my attic. I have no idea what they were about!
I will never forget that first Convergence. I traveled there by car with three other weavers (I was the only tapestry weaver). I was living in Wisconsin and Convergence was in Minneapolis. The year was 1994.
My greatest memory of the event was attending the the tapestry exhibit and the Small expressions exhibit. The only huge tapestries I had ever seen before included images of unicorns and castles. This exhibit was mind blowing. Most of them were huge. And every single grabbed my full attention. I had to tear myself away. For examples of tapestry please check out the ATA artist page: http://americantapestryalliance.org/artist-pages/ Plan on going back again and again. But there is nothing like seeing these pieces in person so if there is ever an American Tapestry exhibit near you GO. Once you get there, they will have to force you to leave.
Should you join the ATA? Of course you should. From their humble beginnings they have grown into a strong and important organization tying together this rare species, tapestry weavers. Please visit their website: http://americantapestryalliance.org And while you are at it, check out their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/American-Tapestry-Alliance/121689989043
Mom has always been the color goddess. She just has a sense about those things. That’s why I was a little apprehensive trying my hand at silk painting, but with a little help I’m addicted. It wasn’t easy, but it was so much fun to see color combinations come to life on the silk, and worth the time it took for the amazing results. Here’s a little photo diary of the process:
An Interview with Tina Kane and her work on the Burgos Tapestry Project at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Recently a customer (thank you!) pointed us to an amazing YouTube video. It is called “The Burgos Tapestry: A Study in Conservation” and chronicles the restoration of Christ Is Born as Man’s Redeemer by the Textile Restoration Team at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. According to the video, the tapestry was fourth in a series of tapestries called The Story of The Redemption of Man. The project was started by A. Alice Blohm, Jane Hutchinson, and Nobuko Kajitani who was the Head of the Department of Textile Conservation at the Met in 1973.
It turns out that Mirrix Looms were used in the restoration process (see 4:35 and 9:33 in the video). We contacted Tina Kane, who joined the restoration in 1978, and she agreed to do an email interview.
Name/Website/Any contact information you’d like to share:
When we completed the Burgos tapestry restoration the Metropolitan Museum of Art held a three day tapestry conservation symposium which is on the Metropolitan YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uoxyJBV3M30
For anyone interested in tapestry conservation this is a discussion that considers the relative values of conservation, or stabilizing, and restoration. Also discussed are various methods of support, installation, display, dye analysis, and cleaning, among other topics.
Anything you’d like to tell us about yourself?
I retired from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2010 after completing the Burgos Tapestry project and now manage an independent conservation business in upstate New York, which I have run since 1973. I became extremely interested in all aspects of tapestry as a result of working at the Met. I team-taught a course on Medieval tapestry and narrative at Vassar College for a number of years, and also published a book: The Troyes Mémoire: The Making of a Medieval Tapestry (Boydell Press, 2010) which discusses how tapestries were made in the middle ages, and how they were designed. For more on that, see: http://www.americantapestryalliance.org/Members/Feature/FeatureKaneT/KaneT_Memoire.html
Tell us a little about The Burgos Tapestry project:
The Burgos tapestry project was one of the first major conservation projects undertaken by the newly formed (1974) Textile Conservation Department at the Metropolitan. In a way, this project was seminal in that it required funding, space, equipment, materials, and a methodology of conservation. The Head of Textile Conservation, Nobuko Kajitani, used this project, among others, to elevate textile conservation to the level of a profession. My generation of conservators learned through experience. Now, conservators have excellent graduate programs where they receive formal training.
How did you get into tapestry restoration?
I was working towards a PhD in Comparative Literature at Berkeley in the 1960’s. After I finished my MA I visited the Southwest and met a young Navajo (or Diné) student at St. Johns University in Santa Fe. I had become curious about some Navajo rugs in a collection I had seen and the young man’s mother was one of the weavers of the Diné people. He showed me how to set up a warp in the manner of his people. It was a transformative day for me. I had never encountered anything like that and it changed the course of my life. I learned to weave tapestry, and also to restore, and was fortunate to join the Textile Conservation Department at the Metropolitan Museum in 1978. The restoration of the Burgos tapestry was my main project. As I mentioned before, I also managed a private textile conservation service while working at the Metropolitan part-time for thirty years.
How did you attach the new pieces of tapestry?
My colleague A. Alice Blohm and I each wove 26′ of upper and lower borders for the Burgos tapestry. We attached the new borders by hand sewing them to the tapestry through a cotton support on the reverse.
Why did you choose a Mirrix Loom to repair the borders?
We needed a small portable loom so we could work next to the tapestry at times, and also in our private studios. The Mirrix looms were ideal for this project. They had a shed changing mechanism, and, because of the steel frame, we could maintain an even tension as we worked our way up the long warp. To see how we worked, and how we stored the newly woven border, please see the Burgos video on Metropolitan Museum YouTube (above).
Have Mirrix Looms been used to restore any other tapestries at The Metropolitan Museum of Art ?
Not to my knowledge; however, they are used as sample looms by restorers.
So welcome Franc, our Maine Coon Rescue who someday will surpass a pound and probably weigh more like twenty-five. Enjoy that basket while you still can!
We got two days off (well, really one and a half). We spent two nights in Stowe Vermont. Nice camp ground, sweet little shelter, no bugs. This is all good. And I had my beadwork with me. So I said to Rick (husband, on right) let’s not hike Mansfield because something a little smaller would be better. Okay, he says. So, we hiked Spruce Mountain instead. Five and a half hours later we were done. I mean done. Mansfield would have taken five hours. It’s steeper but a lot shorter. But I should know my husband by now. I should know that there is no such thing as a short hike. Oh, and then he wanted to take a little paddle in the canoe (that would have been an hour long paddle full speed). Gotta leave some wake behind. But the sky had the good sense to fall in rain drops, so we nixed the canoe moment and headed home. I did make an off-loom piece which I will post if I get the inspiration. I left my Mirrix home. Sometimes you just have to leave even your Mirrix behind.