Another set of warps, and a mind filled with doubt. Something I learned fairly quickly in an oh-so-brief month at Lijiang Studio was that I was running blind thinking that I'd just look at weaving in Yunnan. What weaving traditions are there? What and how many documented textile traditions are there? What has been preserved in terms of traditional minority craft? Who has the time to weave and why? Is almost everything industrialized? What do the tourists buy and hence gets sold? What about batik? What about all that factory-made Bai indigo shibori? Why so much deceit with pricing the factory-made stuff as if it's 'homemade'? Who cares where it all comes from anyway!? What about traditional minority clothing? Who makes it now and is it more for everyday or for costume? What about embroidery and embroidery kits and embroidery schools? What about the works of art that survived cultural purging? Where are those? Who has them and why?
Weaving quietly at the studio was just a way to impose privacy on myself and integrate the sheer diversity of opportunities available. I was playing with a French tapestry technique, something I learned from K. Pannepacker. I was also using the Saori mindset as an out for whenever I felt emotionally stuck. So, of what direct use or relevance was my weaving? Probably none. Did it enhance my sense of feeling productive? Yes. Did it change anyone's life? Eh. Maybe just mine so far. We will eventually see if there is a deeper more impassioned drive hiding somewhere...
Early on in the month, my body and soul were pretty busted after 5 days in Tacheng + extra days soaking up different cities. Soon after, I accepted and then declined a trip to Wumu with the legendary Fine Fine Small Mountain and Crystal Pascucci. The morning of, I lacked the strength to stand up without delirium and had to reconcile myself to much needed sleep. HOWEVER! These marvelous ladies experienced a Naxi cosmos within that trip, and related some fascinating details including something on the weaving of a funerary shirt. There were descriptions of balls of hand spun thread musically jumping in bowls. I was at least pleased in hearing about it. Always inspired when looking at their blog. Check out Wumu and other adventures.
These next two pieces were my way of truly settling into confusion, and being fine with that. The only rule was to weave, and the energy followed the path of least resistance. Can I fully express the joy of discovery commingling with the anxiety of 'What The Hell Am I Doing?' The one on the left was a nod from across the world to dear and amazing Leslie Sudock from Ready To Hand. The one on the right, a nod to the indomitable Kathryn Pannepacker in Naxi colors. Again, these became gifts, placeholders, dysfunctional, but well-meaning love letters to the ether. I don't have decent pictures of their full evolution (phone camera is not such hot stuff). Wu Zhimi created something wonderful with one of them. See below:
A collection of Wu Zhimi's including two of my weavings: