Thursday, November 5, 2015

Nothing beats a fiber guild

Scarves, swatches, and education
Weaving sample and documentation

Since becoming aware of the group at last year's Vogue Knitting Live, I wanted to go to a New York Guild of Handwearvers (NYGH) meeting. Their programs looked impressive. I put their meetings on my must-do list. 

Setting time aside and carrying through is always the challenge. The Guild meets on Saturdays at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, which is very near where I once worked. No excuses on that front. I just needed to block out the day and go. The Pope's visit, with accompanying regional road and transit disruptions, foiled plans in September, but I was determined to go to the October meeting. And I did.

For one, NYGH gets high marks for their 75th anniversary celebration. They set a goal to weave 75 scarves for distribution to the homeless in New York City through Partnership for the Homeless. About a dozen--all different and all lovely--were on display at the their monthly meeting in October. I only regret that I didn't take a photo of a selection when I had the opportunity, which was before I knew what I was seeing.

Organize and learn

The NYGH Swatch Project is a group project that achieves two goals. Structured as a collaborative study group, members will organize the Guild's large collection of swatches. In October, they began to identify, catalog and organize them into notebooks that can be used as resources for guild members. Some of the swatches have been well documented, but many stand alone. No identification, no threading or treadling diagrams. Just a woven square. This is an excellent learning experience for weavers at all levels of expertise.

Daryl Lancaster wearing
her handwoven garment

Document and photograph

Well known among contemporary handweavers for her handwoven garments and custom art-to-wear, Daryl Lancasterweaver and fiber artist, brings her industry expertise to weavers and other fiber enthusiasts through her published articles and workshops.

Her presentation to the NYGH, Photographing Your Work, is self-explanatory and included photographing fiber work for documentation, for the web and for submission to publications. 

Her presentation aimed to help us help ourselves. Beginning with camera basics--aperture, settings, resolution, etc.--she moved quickly to the less-frequently discussed challenges of photographing fiber works. 

Documentation is a must. "To make something and have no record of it is a shame," she said. No model and just need a photo for documentation or blogs? Selfies can work, as can dress forms. (I've tried both with moderate-to-little success, but I'm going to try these options again with her suggestions.)

Discussing the importance of photos to accompany articles submitted to publications, she reports utter dismay at the quality that came across her desk when she was a magazine editor. "There is something about the fiber community that consistently provides terrible images," she said.

I particularly appreciated her tips for submitting photographs of work to publications and her discussion of image editing software. I confess a love/hate relationship with programs such as Adobe Photoshop. I love the potential, but often feel daunted at the array of powerful editing tools. But after this presentation, I'm ready to step up and master the few basic tools needed to improve my photos, both here and as documentation.

(Missed Daryl Lancaster's presentation? You can purchase her monograph here.)

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