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 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.