Friday, July 30, 2010


Ever heard of Colcha? Is it a food? A location? A disease? An animal? Nope, non of the above. Colcha is a New Mexico embroidery technique that emerged in colonial New Mexico when women began to embroider using handspun and handyed wool from churro sheep and used their handwoven wool fabric, called sabanilla. According to a publication by Mary Carolina Montano ("Tradiciones Nuevomexicanas: Hispano arts and culture of New Mexico") this type of embroidery was reported in the state as early as 1743. The word colcha means blanket in Spanish and uses a filler stitch. The designs are original to the stitcher. Many of the colcha pieces were often blankets, altar covers or wall hangings but when the Santa Fe Trail opened in 1821 access to cotton overtook wool. Now it is more of a decorative form of art. In the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art in Santa Fe there is a display of large colcha piece from 1850-1865. The embroidery encompasses flowers and animals taken from Native American designs.
In a recent article from Mature Life in New Mexico (publication of Albuquerque Journal) there was a nice article on this special and regional technique.
Several years ago, there was the opportunity to study this unique art form at Taos Wool Festival. We stitched on handspun, handwoven sabanilla that the leader provided. She also had wonderful handspun handyed yarns--all singles. Sorry to say that project has not been completed but the chance to learn this stitch and style was experienced and studied.

Here are websites that will give an overview of colcha:
Needlework Tips
New Mexico History of Colcha
Spanish Colonial Art

Thursday, July 29, 2010

And then--Convergence!

Yes, finally we reach Convergence--the granddaddy of all fiber conferences--even though the mother organization name says 'handweavers guild of America', this conference is for all fiber enthusiasts. We are there to assist with vendor set-up, hanging of exhibits, leader assistants, tour agenda and other sundry events that take place during the nine day long conference. And along the way other organizations 'piggy back' their conferences-- Complex Weavers meet before and American Tapestry Association meets on the last day. So much going on during the conference--so many great leaders filling our heads with their expertise, on site exhibits that put us into overload. Sorry, but there will be only photos of the yardage exhibit, which was hanging in the outer area. This wonderful exhibit hangs from the second level to the overlook above the entrance to the vendor hall. You can't help but notice all these fabrics decorating the nake walls. At the top of the exhibit are sample pieces of the fabric for that 'weavers handshake' touch.

Outside the convention center, students, ages 16-24, were busily working away on the mosiac for their summer project. These students are selected by their interest and grades from area high schools and colleges to work. During the summer, they plan the design, make the tiles and install the mosiacs. What a treat to see their vision come to life on the plain walls of the ACC.
A view of their working area and the section that was completed last summer.
A portion of their design area.
Tarps and ground cover went up each morning at 9 AM as they worked till 3 PM when they took everything down for the day.
There are about four more sections to be mosiaced and then the ACC will definitely be showing off the work and hertiage art of their culture.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Last Gallery Visit Before Convergence

We spent our last free day before the start of Convergence visiting Sumner Dene Gallery with artworks from Connie Enzmann-Forneris and Jennifer Moore . Connie creaates tapestry weavings for the wall, table and floor while Jennifer is known for her lovely doubleweave wall pieces and wearable art.

After a hot day we stopped in the coffee shop next door to the gallery where we feasted our eyes on the photography of Bill Tondreau who is an Oscar winning artist. Bill was there when we walked through the back room display and he elaborated on his process of capturing these fabulous shots of the surrounding area.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Galleries! Galleries! and More Galleries!

Oh My Gosh! Has it been a week since the last post?! It was a long busy week with Convergence--busy all day long and into the evening with dinners along with other meetings, then we collapsed in bed only to rise @ 5:30 AM the next morning to continue on the same path again. But, it was a fabulous week! Before we began the conference, we visited other galleries in Albuquerque and two in Corrales, which is just a short drive north of the city. A Fiber Arts Show at the Old San Ysidro Church was sponsored by local artists of Las Aranas Spinners and Weavers Guild who wanted to exhibit their work and the old church was the perfect setting. Members included the work of Deborah Jarchow , Connie Lippert , Liesel Orend , Sheila O'Hara , Linda Lugenbill, Nicki Bair , Phoebe McAfee, Yoriko Oki, Beverly Weaver, Cozy Swickard, Susan Bowman and Rosalie Nelson.

We stopped in Galeria de Corrales to view a few work from the hands of Pat Spark . We also ran into this little guy as he made his way across the landscape coolness. Next door to the galleria was a quilt shop Quilts Ole and it was necessary to pop in and see what was going on. Several of the gals were in the back room working on their double wedding ring fabric. The shop has a cutting machine--how great is that?!!

Monday, July 19, 2010


Continuing on our gallery tours of the Southwest, we took in Albuquerque's Open Space Visitor Center--a wonderful site for exhibits. In the courtyard, a yoga class was mediating under the cool shade trees. Inside, we viewed several permanent exhibits from area artists--great woven baskets and other nature occurring materials. Looking through gallery window out into the shade alcove.
This was called Robyn's nest.
Wonderful twisted and woven basket materials.
Grouds and cholla cactus intertwined. In the back gallery space, we visited the tapestries of James Koehler, Rebecca Mezoff and Cornelia Theimer Gardella : "The Bauhaus Tradition". The Bauhaus style came from Germany. Quoting from Klaus Labuttis: "The aim of Bauhaus was to produce work that unified intellectual, practical and aesthetic concerns through artistic endeavor and the exploitation of new technologies." These tapestry pieces continues that tradition.
James Koehler's work is impressive--looking simple but color blending is an art in his hands.
These panels definitely highlight his intriguing way to weave.
Other works by his 'students', who are in their own element with this technique.
Okay, feast your eyes on these works of art!