Weaving and Leaving… Shetlands to Rwanda

Leaving today at noon for overnight flights to Rwanda to work with Melissa Johnson of The Putney School.  This is a follow-up to the trip Johnson and Putney School students made to Rwanda in July. At that time, they brought four Harrisville Looms to teach students how to weave and create income-generating opportunities working with CHABHA (Children Affected by HIV/AIDS). 

Johnson and I are packing a loom and yarn and knitting needles, so I’m going camera simple–bringing only my lightweight digital Olympus E-PL1 and just two lenses…one new that thankfully arrived just in time this morning before my flight. Although we’ll see as I close the bag…still thinking about throwing in a pinhole and a few rolls of film.


Today’s trip is a second unexpected journey this summer connecting with weavers and textile artists.  In late July, I was in the Shetlands. There were so many highlights to share–like an outdoor circle of 80 knitters working on one project. This circle was made up of both Shetlanders, Nordics and myself… on my birthday no less!


Knitting Circle at the Böd of Gremista

I was forging my own craft trail– to the South for a lesson in Fair Isle technique with Shetlander Elizabeth Johnston; to the North to visit with fiber artist Iwona Charleson who in addition to spinning yarn from her own croft-raised sheep takes time to create and handcraft one-of-a-kind polymer clay knitting needles.

Then, off to Yell on the ferry where my craft trail got the attention of two young French visitors. They asked to join along while they were en route to Unst, the most northerly point in the UK. I was happy to have co-pilots to remind me to stay to the left while driving to the weaving studio of Andy Ross. Ross is creating artistic and educational opportunities in a remote spot (900+ residents) for all ages. I had been following his blog for a couple of years now, so I couldn’t wait to meet him, see the space and share ideas. He gladly opened the doors to the three of us and within ten minutes had the French visitors weaving on a loom. What a privilege and so much more to share with you all about this part of the adventure. In the meantime, here is a photo of Cami, Carole and Andy at the loom.

Saturday Art Show December 5th

Shelburne Farms

Late Leaf Fall, Shelburne Farms, Vermont

Stop by Studio 239 in Bayport this Saturday, December 5th,  between 2 and 6 in the afternoon, to view new black and white prints made along the hillsides of Vermont and shot with my Zero Image, pinhole camera.   (See additional images here in Portfolio.)

The show will also feature the most recent prints from my Shetland Islands series–overlapping, panoramic images of cliffs and bays printed on Japanese Unryu and hung as scrolls; wavy, blue and green grasses, blowing in the ever present wind at Shetland on Canson Rag Photographique; and grainy, black and white pinhole shots of my great-grandmother’s croft.

Email me for directions: studio239@gmail.com.

The shot below, of Burra Voe in Northmavine, is printed on Washi Unryu; the natural swirls in the paper add to the ripples on the water’s surface, to the sense of constant movement in the bay off Yell Sound.

Burra Voe, Shetland Islands

Eshaness Peninsula


Grind da Navir

When you walk out from Eshaness Lighthouse in the Shetland Islands onto a peninsula of once molten lava, the ground is spongy under your boot.  You step on low-growing wildflowers in the field; they bounce back.  You slip on moss spread over rock outcrops; some rocks lift.  This summer, on the day I walk out there with my son Alex, a rolling fog adds to this sense of the indefinite.

The fog or haar is common in early summer when warm air blows over the cool North Sea.  At the cliffs at Eshaness, 200 feet above sea level, it appears to come up from below, over the cliffs and into the walking fields.  We think to turn back but have an ordinance map to follow to the cut-in canyons and channels we’ve heard about.

The haar obscures the view as we walk.  We only get a sense of the first canyon when we see thousands of dive-bombing, grey and white Fumars scoot in and out of the fog, announcing the nearby 50-foot drop at Calder’s Geo.

We follow the contours of shallow lochs shaped like puzzle pieces, ellipses with sweeping arcs that curl back into the water.  Alex wanders off, inland, to the Loch of Houlland and a bronze-age broch; I stand alone on the open field.  The dampness in the air makes me cough; I’m lightheaded and wheeze but like the feeling of floating.

(These prints are made from digital scans of film negatives, first captured by overlapping frames within the camera and varying aperture.  They are each 11″ x 24.5″, made at Indian Hill Imageworks on Fabriano Artistico, 23″ x 31″.)