I am speechless! I am reeling from the news that I just received. I was just notified that I have been accepted into the 2010 American Craft Council Show in St. Paul! This is such an honor!! I have often gone to the Am Craft shows and have been bedazzled by the beauty, the imagination & creativity, the sheer skill of the crafts-artists who are allowed into the show. The bar is set very high, and the jury that reviews thousands of applications from around the country are very particular! So after pulling myself together after reading the notification and jumping up and down and dancing around the room, screaming with delight, I realize that I have my work cut out for me! This is HUGE!! And I have to live up to the standards that have been set by artists before me! Whew! I have to go weave and settle down!
Even though I have launched a second career in textile design, my inner interior designer still gives me a good nudge now and then. I got the nudge recently when I came across this well known interior designer from Australia. Anna Spiro of Brisbane, Australia has a wonderful blog called Absolutely Beautiful Things which features ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL THINGS! She also has a website for her Interior Design Studio called Black and Spiro. Here is one of her projects that is my favorite! Black and Spiro: City House Take a look! Anna is amazing! I absolutely LOVE her style! It is fresh and pure and unaffected! It is ANNA!
Fast forward about 15 years and I had a college degree but not in Architecture. I decided halfway through college that I wanted to design the spaces that people occupied, not the buildings that housed the spaces. I wanted to get a little closer to the human side of designing buildings, so I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Interior Design. So far so good!
I rose quickly in the field and soon started my own interior design firm. During this time I married my architect husband (a Swedisn-American), and adopted 2 babies, a boy and a girl, from South Korea. Life was perfect! I still wanted to do more creative things in my leisure time, though. I have a tendency to take on more complicated and larger projects, so I knew that I wasn’t cut out for spending my ‘off time’ doing quick-crafts for seasonal boutiques. I started thinking about my life-long fascination with textiles. I had a short encounter with hand weaving in high school, which thoroughly fascinated me! I still have the ponchos to show for it! My experience with the beautiful and diverse spectrum of textiles which I have seen and handled for my interior design projects have always been a high point for me, so I decided to take a class in weaving! As I took one class, and another, and then another I fell in love!
Weaving spoke to my soul! I loved everything about it; it’s history, the different natural fibers, the textures one could create, the exploration of color, the meditative quality of throwing the shuttle back and forth creating cloth one thread at a time. I had found my passion!
From this, v ä v a! v e v e! was born. Well. . . actually, our name started out as Wooden Castle Textiles. This name came from our cabin in Wisconsin which my husband and I designed and built. The name of our cabin is a tribute to our Korean born children; "NamuSong"; Korean words for "wooden castle'. That was in 1992. But as time went by I realized that people were associating the name "Wooden Castle Textiles" with something to do with wood! That just wouldn't do! So I reached out for the help of family and friends! They sent me ideas and thoughts and it all came down to this: Because of my strong Norwegian heritage and my solid ties to my husbands family who are of Swedish heritage; because many of my textiles have strong Swedish and Norwegian influence; and since I am weaving and weaving!!! .. . well, it just happened! v ä v a! v e v e! meaning 'weave! weave!' The word 'väva' is Swedish. The word 'veve' is Norwegian. Pronounced together as vay-vuh vay-vuh.
We still spend warm summers at NamuSong (Wooden Castle), and every Christmas. Our almost grown children, having grown up on the lake, still love it there. Although their work schedules don't allow them the carefree summers to frolic on the lake, we still try to spend as much time as we can in this wonderful place. I have one of my looms right by a window looking out on the lake and I weave wonderful cloth while listening to the loons sing their beautiful songs. It truly is our little wooden castle where I v ä v a! v e v e!
Of course, in my youth, I had very little access to a camera. And my older sister is the keeper of the family photos. I shall have to make a point of getting to her house to go through some of the photos that would support my written thoughts. But for now, here are some old photos that I rescued from the basement.
Christmas was always an event in our family. And my parents supplied the town and neighboring communities with our usual ubiquitous photo Christmas cards. When I was old enough I got to use a sponge to wet the stamps and apply them to the envelopes! It made me feel very important! The address list was pages long, going to everyone in the congregation, friends, our extended family (a small suburb unto themselves!), neighbors, and co-workers. They would be stacked on our formal dining table for at least a couple of weeks, which was incredibly long since my mother was quite determined to get projects done once she started them!
Billy, my best friend and next door neighbor, relaxing with me while we have some cake on his front steps. He made the campfire. I made the structure at my feet. Perhaps even at 6 years old I was already demonstrating a perceptible architectural direction. . .or is it an innate interest in things natural?
My confirmation. Eighth grade! What an uncomfortable phase to go through! I remember being so self-conscious then! And there are my mom and dad, mom in her straight skirts and high heels, and dad in his older dress clothes probably feeling pretty dapper in that gold short sleeved shirt!
We had a very close extended family with whom we visited often. My cousins on both sides were my best friends. . . still are.
I was very influenced by one of my uncles. He was an architect and I always thought he was so incredibly cool. He always had such neat stuff and his houses were always so interesting. I wanted to be like him, but at that time, women were not really in the architectural field, not unless she was unusually bold, talented, and of ginormous intellect. At least that was the way things were in the world I came from. This was the early sixties and my parents were thinkers but they stayed inside the box. My father was a Lutheran pastor and my mother was a librarian for a junior high school, both of Norwegian heritage. We were a “Leave it to Beaver” sort of family. Our house was simple with touches of Norway tucked here and there. My mother always kept the house nice and clean, just in case someone from the congregation stopped by, since we lived in the parsonage right next to the church. We didn’t have much extra money so everything had a purpose or we didn’t need it. My mother was influenced by Jackie Kennedy (Onassis) and wore pencil skirt dresses belted at the waist with jackets that stopped at the belt, spike heels, pillbox hats with netting, and gloves. She sewed all her own clothes as well as mine to save money. She loved shoes, and would frequent the high end department store downtown when there were really good sales. She started "jogging" way before it became popular. She was always concerned about her trim figure. She also was the forerunner of the recyclers, having us wash all plastic bags and tin foil to reuse, never even buying paper towels, and using the ‘grey’ water from her clothes washer rinse cycles for the next wash load. My father wore wingtips, even mowing the lawn and didn’t own a single pair of jeans. His ‘play clothes’ were his worn out dress clothes, which he only wore when he was mowing the lawn, washing the car, or some other grimy endeavor. One break from the ordinary was his pith helmet that he wore when he would go fishing at our cabin in northern Minnesota. He would go out in the old white and mint-green rowboat wearing his old dress clothes and old wingtips, his pith helmet firmly on his head, smoking a big old cigar, which he said kept the mosquitoes away. So, in this simple, culturally rich, comfortable, secure environment full of purpose and reuse, I secretly dreamed of being an architect. But alas, it didn't come true.
As a child growing up, I was not what they would have called a 'girly-girl'. I had two brothers a few years older than me who taught me the basics in life, like football and go-cart racing and whistling really loudly without my fingers! All really cool stuff. They taught me survival skills that followed me into my adult career; things like knowing when a kid was going to punch me in the arm or that crying was weak and sucking it up was better, and they taught me that if I ran home and told on them, I would get it later. I had an older sister who was eleven years older than me that I really only got to know when I reached adulthood. She's the one that took this picture when I was 4 and she was 15. I didn't understand what she was laughing about then. Now, I don't know what I would do without her!
I remember when I was in second grade, I loved anything about horses! I read about horses, dreamed about having a horse in my suburban back yard (But mom! Our yard is big enough!), I watched every tv show that had horses! And I drew horses! I would pull out the big encyclopedia with the 'H' section in it and drool over the color plates identifying the different breeds. I would draw horses while referencing the encyclopedia. I remember bringing my drawings in to school and showing them to my friends and everyone thought I was so good at drawing! They all said I was the best draw'er in the class and even the whole second grade! It was great to bask in the glory and soak in the admiration! Today, I realize that my second grade class was a very small portion of the world, and that there are so many, many talented and creative people everywhere! Sometimes I crave that notoriety that I had in second grade, but mostly I soak in as much of the wonderful creative energy that surrounds me as I can! As I read the many blogs of weavers and textile artists, I am amazed by their unyielding quest to find the perfect answer to their challenge, and I am inspired to find the perfect answer to my own challenges. Is it out there? Sometimes I find it, sometimes I don't. But the quest is the artistic process by which we discover more than the perfect solution. . . we find beauty, peace, joy, relief, exhilaration. . .feel free to add to the list in a comment! And no, I never got my dream horse. But I have 4 dogs!
A little about my background: I am an Interior Designer by education, with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Minnesota, designing corporate and commercial facilities for the past 30 years. Even though I am still Certified, I have retired after owning my own design firm for about half of those 30 years. And even though it has been years since I last practiced as an Interior Designer, I still think like one. My career path changed rather abruptly when we found that our adopted son had Aspergers Syndrome. He took a great deal of my attention when he was a little guy, because he was such a smarty! Even when he was barely walking he had figured out the kid locks one puts on cabinets to keep little ones out. So good-bye presentation boards, boardrooms, and clients; hello play-dates and the ongoing search for answers about Aspergers.
Running parallel with the numerous needs of my son were my own needs as a creative person. I needed an outlet through which those juices could flow. My ongoing fascination with textiles, solidly reinforced by all the extraordinary textiles I had had the privilege of working with as a designer, set my focus on weaving and fiber.
I am 4th of 4 children and humor was the way I got attention as a child. My brother, one slot up, was very sharp witted and wry, so I had to compete with his humor. Good training ground I guess. Now I'm brave enough, old enough, and confident enough to not be offended if people can't appreciate my humor.
Just so you know. . . I have a not-so-latent wish to live on a 'gentleman's farm', where all the hard work is done by others and I just get to ride my favorite horse (yes, I still love horses, just never had one to myself) before coming in for a big breakfast of pancakes, bacon and fresh scrambled eggs gathered just that morning, done up by Cook (the person that does all the cooking)! After breakfast, I go to my rebuilt barn that is now my lofty studio, which has several distinct areas set up for each of my interests of pottery, woodcarving and turning, sculpture and welding, and most of all, weaving. If I had that I know I would have died and gone to heaven!
I have always been enamored with textiles. Even in high school I had the opportunity to weave a couple of ponchos in bright red-orange and big chunky yellow wool, with a touch of spruce green, and of course long fringe. . . ponchos being all the rage in the early 70's! Looks like I really gave Leonardo Fibonacci a real run for his money! Anyway, I gave one to my brother for Christmas and the other I kept for myself. I still have mine. . . an heirloom poncho. . . can you imagine??!!
So, I'm a hippie at heart, but then aren't we all when you think about it? I've been domesticated, cleaned up, and have eliminated the phrase, "Far out!" from my vocabulary (unless I'm trying to bug my teenagers)! Now I'm a middle-aged, issue-sensitive, concerned citizen. I'm okay with that!
I think my position in the Interior Design world gave me many opportunities to rub elbows with some important people to the design world. I had the good fortune to speak with KaffeFassetthttp://www.kaffefassett.com.
He is an incredible fiber artist!
He does breathtaking work!
"Jewel Squares Patchwork"
My interest in him is his masterful work with color!
"Liberty Mariner's Compass"
My focus in my studies while at the University of MN was color and how it influences us in our daily living. It is amazing how, as designers, we can psychologically influence people and even manipulate their behavior through color! Color is able to stimulate people or help in calming people down; color can be used to create a feeling of happiness or gloom; or be used to create feelings of chaos and tension. I teach classes on color theory at the Textile Center http://www.textilecentermn.org, and I could, and often do, go on and on about color!!
Jack Lenor Larsen: Chevalier, 1978
While designing interiors I had copious opportunities to explore textiles at length. The fabrics that are out there are so incredibly beautiful, using all kinds of materials, from plastics and paper to metal and mirrors, to achieve a certain look and function. Very inspiring stuff!! I also had the opportunity to meet Jack Lenor Larsen a couple of years ago.
Jack Lenor Larsen: Cumulus, 1991
He is a world renowned textile designer. He is a brilliant designer and someone who inspired me to pursue my passion of textiles
Jack Lenor Larsen: Onward!, 1997
I was very fortunate to have been able to have conversations with Mr. Larsen! Not often is it that one gets to have a sit-down with an icon! It was awe-inspiring!
Jack Lenor Larsen: Laotian Ikat, 1972
His knowledge is so broad and detailed! I can only dream of coming close to a fraction of of the knowledge that he has about textiles!
Jack Lenor Larsen/Cowtan and Tout, Inc.: Hologram Leaves, 1990
So that is what I'm doing now. Just pursuing my passion! It's pretty great! The future has some wonderful things waiting for me to just catch up. That's where I'm heading.
Has anyone ever written a business plan? I had not, until recently being challenged by a business consultant who told me that writing a business plan was a great idea to get my business focused and productive. Well! I thought that certainly sounded like a great idea! Who could deny that they wanted to get their business focused and productive! So I entered into this with unbounded enthusiasm! I researched different business plans. The first one came from a friend of a friend who was in the midst of helping his daughter write a business plan. He emailed me a link to a business plan, and I dove in. The only problem with this business plan form was that it was written for someone interested in farming. Of course, I thought. This guy was a professor of business in agriculture! I thought I would be able to coast through, avoiding the specific farming questions or at the very least translating them into weaving terms. But as I got into it, the translation became more and more of a struggle until finally, it became clear that 'harvesting' my looms was not going to translate at all! Then I struggled with going online and going to the Small Business Administration site. I worked with their forms and structures for about 2 weeks and then threw my hands up in dismay. How in the world could I come up with such specific predictions for the future?? How could I know how many weaving "units" I was going to be able to produce in any given month? How was I supposed to be able to predict how many weaving "units" would sell in the same amount of time?? I had always done this so casually, without any plan or organization, and it had worked just fine! I couldn't predict the future of what shipping costs would be in year 5, or what my phone bill costs would be in the second quarter of year 4!! Then another friend told me about the "One Page Business Plan". Now here was something I thought I could tackle! I ordered it online, waited another week and a half until it came in the mail, and dove in again. Meanwhile, all these 'false' starts had generated some great thoughts as to my direction! I was actually accomplishing something, even though I didn't think I was! Well, I brought my 'finished' one page business plan to my consultant and he just made a face and said that I should look at his samples and outline that he had given to me way back at the beginning. Wait, I thought, he hadn't given me any. . . oh, oops! I guess he had given me an outline to follow. Shoot! If I had followed this from the very beginning I could have been done by now! Back at the studio, I started filling in the blanks. Hey! This was going to be easy! That was until I hit page 16 and I ran into those pesky questions about the future again. Dang! Was I going to have to lease space as I expanded? What equipment did I have and how was I going to amortize it? What's 'amortize'??? I am such a right brainer!! Okay, I figured I had exhausted all the possible 'easy' ways to write a business plan and they hadn't worked, so I had just better buckle down and do this. Two months later I am still in the death throes of writing this business plan, and through this whole thing I have been whining and complaining, dragging myself away from my passion of weaving and sitting down in front of my computer, trying to predict the future. That is indeed what a business plan is, you know. One has to predict the future based on what was done in the past. Well, in these economic times it is almost impossible. . . no! it IS impossible to predict the future, or for that matter to come even close to something realistic that one can base one's business decisions on. So, I am grabbing numbers out of the air and seeing how they impact on the whole picture. Some numbers work, and some numbers don't. It is all about crunching! (which I really dislike doing!!)
But things are starting to take shape! I am going between the Small Business Administration forms and the forms that my consultant gave me. I am having to make a whole lot of inquiries online and in person about advertising costs, vendor availability and wholesale discounts, insurance requirements and costs, and even whether my Prius qualifies as a company car! I am interviewing other weavers about their experience in their business. I am researching the costs of leasing space, and have even looked up the word 'amortization'! I must say that writing this thing has definitely helped me make some good decisions, and it has helped me develop a good direction for my business. Okay, okay. . . it's working. But I have to say that it is one of the most difficult things I have ever undertaken, besides having my mother pierce my ears with an ice cube and a potato! My advise to anyone writing a business plan. . . Just DO It!! Don't try to find an easier way, because there isn't an easier way. You just have to research the brains out of everything so you can make informed predictions. It was very much a 'DUH!' moment for me when I came to realize that crunching all these numbers and doing all this research was actually giving me a better idea of what I needed to do as I proceed with my business! I was becoming more informed, maybe even smarter! DUH!!! I might even have to say that I am now bordering on, dare I say, SAVVY! The bad news is. . . I have to keep updating the behemoth on an ongoing basis! Awww!
Okay, this wisdom comes from many struggles at the loom!!
Many times, mistakes that are made are ones that are simple oversights, that sometimes cascade into huge problems. But when finding myself in this situation, I like to remind myself that, even in the midst of this huge problem, I should not regret the place that I am in. A great deal of knowledge is gained by any mistakes or oversight. If nothing else, the mistake leaves such an impression as to remind you at every turn not to do that again! So really, mistakes are opportunities to help one remember how to do things correctly.
That being said, even when I remind myself of my good fortune to learn during my numerous 'opportunities', I still get frustrated!
At v ä v a!v e v e!our intent is to inspire joy and delight through simple, elegant designs by using the earth’s fibers of linen, cotton, wool and silk in designing and weaving impeccable textiles, while attempting to tread lightly on our planet.
v ä v a!v e v e! will continue to evolve in a renewing atmosphere that encourages flexibility, flowing communication and a most awesome creativity. We hope to create an atmosphere where we understand that each of us, like our textiles, is valuable, irreplaceable and requires treatment with respect and honor. We want to take this attitude forward and outward to families and friends, and bring peace and well-being to those we encounter in our community and beyond.
Who we are
v ä v a!v e v e! is a premier weaving studio specializing in high-quality, hand-woven "earth-fiber" home accessories in linen, cotton, silk, and wool.
In addition to the flagship assortment of textiles made up of table linens, blankets, pillow covers, bath and spa towels, and rugs; and apparel such as scarves and shawls, v ä v a! v e v e!is considering selling Swedish and Norwegian weaving yarns of linen, cotton, wool and silk.
The studio is owned and operated by Marian Quanbeck Dahlberg, weaver and teacher of fiber arts.
The United Nations General Assembly declared 2009 as the International Year of Natural Fibres 22 January 2009
The United Nations General Assembly declared 2009 as the International Year of Natural Fibres. IYNF 2009 aims to highlight the importance, significance and continuing relevance of a sector that produces close to 30 million tonnes of natural fibres worth some $40 billion annually.
The International Year of Natural Fibres will be officially launched at 11 a.m. (CET) on 22 January 2009, at the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome.
The objectives are to:
Raise awareness and stimulate demand for natural fibres;
Promote the efficiency and sustainability of the natural fibres industries;
Encourage appropriate policy responses from governments to the problems faced by natural fibre industries;
Foster an effective and enduring international partnership among the various natural fibres industries.
This weaving is woven in a Krokbragd structure, which is a Norwegian weaving structure. It is done in wool with a cotton warp. This weaving entailed throwing the shuttle 3 times to acheive one row in the design. It is therefore a very dense weave.
My inspiration for this project was my Norwegian heritage. The piece is called "Norway" and is 6"w X 16.5"h and is a landscape. At the top of the weaving you can see the blue sky with a few clouds. Moving down you can see snow capped mountains, caribou, and some trees as one progresses down the mountain. Perched in the hills is a sod roofed kirke or church. And finally, in the foreground are men and women in traditional costume.
This is a detail of the women in traditional costume.
Here we are looking at a detail photo showing another weaving in wool with a linen warp done in the Krokbragd structure. This weaving is actually about 23" wide and almost 8' long. The photo only shows a small portion of the entire weaving. The weaving is a study in color.
***********NEW TOWEL LINE!!***********
This is my new towel introduction. This towel design is called "Lake". It is a twill weave in 100% linen. It is a wonderfully luxurious towel with an elegant hand. This is my spa sized towel measuring 22" w X 40"l.
This is a detail photo of the twill structure towel in linen
I was a Certified Interior Designer, designing corporate and commercial facilities for the past 30 years. I retired after owning my own design firm for about 15 of those 30 years. While designing interiors I had many opportunities to examine luscious textiles in detail. The fabrics today are so incredible, using all kinds of materials, from plastics to metal, to achieve a look and function; while color application has reached new heights. Very inspiring stuff! Being the right brainer that I am, I thought, “I could do that. . .” So I turned Hand Weaver and continue to pursue my passion in textiles. The future always holds something wonderful, and that's where I'm heading.