Its not the spinner, its the spindle



My sweetie is the best really, and game for going to a fiber festival.  We wander up and down the tents, he stopping to talk about bison fiber, how do you use it, how do you spin it.  I am a novice I say, not so much apologetically as uncertain.  The woman who seems most knowledgeable, feet resting comfortably on her spinning wheel as she talks to us, says what I thought, the long hairs too coarse and no twist, the short hairs too short.  My assessment was correct, just never spoken.  Perhaps my pirate can use the long hairs to make a cord for his knife making enterprise.  My goal here is to get a new drive belt for my spinning wheel, and two starter kits, one for a student, and one for my friend’s daughter.  I find two inexpensive ones, one which is a phenomenal spin, solid, stable, balanced, not pretty but quite impressive.    I stop at a booth and try some unusual spindles.  The proprietor is not pretty, he makes me think of my daughter’s father in his gnarled hippy state.  He talks the talk, speaks of physics, of centripetal force, and spins per minute.  I try both a low spin and a high spin, they are strange bulbous spindles.  After several tries, I am perplexed.  Hm, it wants to spin in the wrong direction.  Too much twist in your roving, she says.  It wobbles, I say.  It is not the spindle, he tells me, it is the spinner.  You must let it fall perfectly straight or it will wobble.  Ok, I say.  Thank you.   Meanwhile I wander up and down the rows, I buy roving from a man whom I like, something in his eyes.  I buy roving from a woman I met at one of these years ago.  I touch bags of soft wool, and silk, and bamboo.  I think he was trying to bamboozle me.  I think.  I think.  I say as I spin the dark and blond spindle, first this one, then that one which drops a lot, then a third.  Which is the one.  The pirate now rejoins me.  He watches as the spindle falls, no wobble and spins like it will never stop.  He laughs, its not the spindle he says.  I nod as I wrap my yarn round.  It is a beautiful spin, isn’t it, and balanced beautifully.  The sales woman talks of their efforts to balance to perfection.  She tells me, I see you are not so much a novice, you started that spindle with no draft, and you are spinning a nice yarn.

I am nodding.  It is not the spinner then.


Creating Art for South Sudan

My friend and co worker is married to Gabriel Bol Deng, who is a grown Lost Boy from South Sudan.  He has a non-profit organization called Hope for Ariang, his home village in that country.  He has been raising money for and building a school, digging wells, and helping to educate and provide economic stability for the women of his home village with the funds he has raised.  A second organization called the Canvas Peace Project collects artwork based on the theme of raising up the economic and educational status of women in that region, and then donates the profits to Hope for Ariang.  My friend told me about the Canvas Peace Project and asked me to create a work of art for it.



The image is of a sunrise or sunset, which represents the transition from traditional role to a new paradigm.  The female figure is also off balance, a side effect of change is that it off sets the balance of things, but in this case she is spinning in circles filled with joy at the transition and its impact on her and her child.  She is pregnant, her fertility is not only not effected by her education but she is full of fertility.  She wears a belt which has the word Transforming in it.  I chose a yellow collage paper because of one of Gabriel’s friends, Valentino Deng, in his collaborative book What is the What, spoke of the yellow dress his mother wore, and I put this in as a nod to his efforts to raise money for a secondary school in his home village.  The baby has wings and the wings are made up of text from a book called The Education of a Woman, it is her education which gives the child wings.  The dress of the woman is made up of images from an article about  the Lost Boys in a June 1992 issue of Life Magazine.  The baby is also made up of images of the dirt floor school room in the article, and behind the child’s head is the sunlight streaming through the window of that school, a symbol of the light of grace that comes from an educated child.  She wears black and white beads, a tradition in South Sudan that shows the wealth of the female by the number of cows she has, but is a symbol here of the economic stability that also comes from her education.

I included for her head an image of a child from one of the refugee camps whose head was wrapped in a blanket and he was peering out from it, I felt that this was the basis of her education through the Hope for Ariang Foundation.  The suffering of those children and the people of South Sudan is the soul and the secret spirit of what has created this new hope.

Canvas Peace Project

Hope for Ariang

Delczeg Builders and Delczeg Discoveries

A couple weeks ago, when we were traveling through the Adirondacks, the pirate and I came upon this wonderful shop on Route 8 near Chestertown and Wevertown.  We had the plan to go towards Fort Ticonderoga from my friends place in the vicinity of Gore Mountain, but the plan was open and flexible and as soon as we saw the wooden motorcycle (which I somehow managed to not get a good picture of) and the free form shed structures outside we both looked at each other and decided to stop.

At first we went into the mineral, fossil and bead shop, where of course I found a lovely little grey agate elephant, and the pirate bought a several long African porcupine quills.  There were some lovely stone sinks, and hand carved stone art also in the shop, again really unique and beautiful stuff, but what really struck me was the amazing wordwork of Master Woodscrafter whose name I believe is Lynette.  After we had purchased our items from the gem shop, she invited us to take a look around at her woodshop.

African Porcupine Quills

Just the sheer beauty of the truly unique wood pieces that she had around the shop waiting to be worked, was breath taking.  I am afraid my photos on this grey day just do not do justice to the stunning natural quality of the unworked pieces.

Wooden Planks
Root ball of tree


unworked wood


Bat shaped piece of wood

It was however her intricately crafted cabinets which most impressed me.  I first noticed her amazing little dollhouse.  It was like the house of a wood nymph or fairy, an absolute masterpiece of work, with a gorgeous gemstone fireplace, and a hidden doorway.

Wood crafted fairy dollhouse


Gem stone fireplace


Then we saw this little cabinet, that used the different colored species of wood, and the naturally formed shapes of the wood itself to create not just a cabinet, but a painted canvas.  I love that unlike typical furniture which seeks to look exactly the same as every other piece, it sought to find the intrinsic qualities of each cut of wood, and to showcase it in its natural state.  In each of the cabinets she showed us there were hidden compartments which were like opening a treasure box, or stealing into an old castle and finding secret passageways, there was a magic to each piece.  The bar was so well thought out, with a wine rack, glass rack, bottle compartments and other places to store glasses, with an eye to keeping things out of reach of little hands.  The pirate and I were both astonished at the incredible mastery of this artisan.

Small Cabinet


Secret Compartment Revealed


Bar Cabinet