Wednesday, May 17, 2017

May is always a busy month. This year is no exception. I am involved with a new, fabulous, art exhibit in Elk Rapids called "Experience Art Rapids". Taking place June 10 - 24, over 100 artists will be exhibiting in over 33 venues around Elk Rapids. Venues include the local bakery, some newly remodeled warehouse space, our Walk of Art park, many local businesses, large and small. Even the Village Market grocery store will be participating, with some great art work, and generous donations.  The support and response has been overwhelming. 

I am also involved with Art Rapids as the Education Chair. We are planning some art camps for kids at the Walk of Art park, including a one day Fish Printing class on June 20. This will be great fun for kids and adults. Please visit for more. 

Many studio projects are calling my attention as well. And along with all of this - I teach! 

Class schedule

Rigid Heddle Weaving at NMC
Are you curious about handweaving, but not ready to invest in a large loom? Rigid Heddle looms are portable, less expensive and easy to use. Learn the simplest method of warping your loom. Once set up, you'll learn how to make plain weave, the most basic and versatile weave structure. You'll also become familiar with weaving vocabulary, how to finish your project and how to make design decisions for your next project. A supply list will be mailed prior to first class. You need your own rigid heddle loom. A limited number of looms are available to rent from instructor on a first come first served basis.
May 23 and 30
5:30 - 8:30 pm
University Center Rm 214
Contact NMC for more information

Rigid Heddle Weaving II
Add a pick up stick or two to the Rigid Heddle loom and explode the possibilities! Practice adding weft floats, warp floats, and combining the two for wonderful lace and textured effects. Create a sampler in class but leave knowing several patterns that can be combined for some lovely fabrics. You must have taken Beginning Rigid Heddle Weaving or have instructor permission. A supply list will be sent prior tot the first class. You need your own rigid heddle loom. A limited number of looms will be available for rent from the instructor; ask for contact info when you register. 
June 6 and 13
5:30-8:30 p.m.
University Center Rm 214
Contact NMC for more information

Rigid Heddle Exploration - at Interlochen Center for the Arts

This extended, two day class,  is perfect for beginners as well as returning students. 
On the first day beginners will put on a long two color warp, and weave a table mat. 
On the second day beginning students will embellish their second mat with pick up patterns and textures. 

Returning, or intermediate students will be able to jump right in on the first day to explore their choice of textures and patterns, color and weave or two heddle weaving. The more advanced students are encouraged to contact the instructor ahead of time to discuss their own area of interest. 

Having students weaving together at a variety of skill levels will provide everyone with a rich learning opportunity. 

Rigid Heddle loom with one or more heddles
There are some looms available from Interlochen and from the instructor for rent at $15 for the two days. 
2 Brown paper grocery bags 
measuring tape
Beginners - two hundred yards each of 2 different colors of worsted weight wool
Returning students - please consult the instructor
June 22 and 23
Contact Interlochen Adult Creative College for more information

Overshot and Inlay 
Crooked Tree Center for the Arts
Petoskey MI
Learn the traditional rules of overshot and inlay through a combination of lecture, samples and lots of play time. After learning the rules of traditional overshot, students will proceed to break them to experiment with different weights, treadling combinations, supplemental weft pick up, and inlay. Together students will explore overshot principles as it relates to shibori, collapse weave and textural effects. Students should arrive with a pre-warped 4 or 8 shaft loom. The instructor will send a weaving draft ahead of time.

Level: Advanced Beginner. Students must be able to warp a loom on their own and read a basic weaving draft.

Nancy McRay

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

As we get farther into the season of less light, and more darkness, I hope to deepen my own art practice. Many people from my part of the world leave for extended visits to warm places. Life gets both  darker and quieter. I can embrace this - or go mad. Weirdly, as I type, the sun is shining, the grass is green. My dog is curled up on the front lawn hoping for the UPS driver to bring her a cookie.

I am looking for images of kindness and beauty to inspire my weavings. I know I only have to look to see.

I have updated my class lists. Please check under the Teaching tab above, and spread the word! Thank you!

Friday, July 22, 2016

An "assemblage" of thoughts

I am just now getting around to weaving up the Ikat yarn I dyed in Mary Zicafoose's workshop a few weeks ago.  The Ikat is the red part in the center. At the workshop we learned how to block off a sample piece, and I wanted to try inserting an Ikat block in the middle of a piece. 

I have learned quite a few things!

One thing I learned; I am weaving this on a rigid heddle loom. Students of mine may have heard me say that I do not recommend weaving tapestry on a rigid heddle loom. I mostly said that because that is what many of my teachers have said. And now I know. They were right.

It is a matter of tension, especially with an unforgiving linen warp. If the threads in the top of a shed are tight, the ones below are super loose. And vice versa. I actually popped the heddle out of its frame trying to tighten the tension. It bit me, and left a  blister.  Point in favor of the Flip rigid heddle loom - the  heddle popped right back in, and is none the worse for it. This weaving is a struggle. I am making it work - but I won't put myself through this particular exercise again. The loom is simply not designed to weave tapestry.

However, this doesn't mean you can't weave substantial, rug like fabric on a rigid heddle loom. Check this out:

I call this "Stuffed Shirt". I developed this as a sample for a workshop at Interlochen during the Fiber Arts Weekend, October 14-16. The weft is a combination of Men's dress shirts and ties from the local thrift store - and yes - that is a leather belt at the top. I used a cotton warp. specifically 5/2 perle cotton, because I wanted some shine to it. This warp is somewhat stretchy. Just enough to allow the loom to hold the right tension for this project. The key is to use a warp with some give, and to space it widely - I used 4 doubled ends per inch. The fabric is quite thick - it could function as a rug - but the buttons would not be fun to walk on. At the same time that I worked on this I took a class on Assemblage. It was a ton of fun glueing a variety of objects to a canvas. It also changed my perspective on "rag" weaving. I see how this could develop into an idea of woven assemblage. 
mark your calendar for the Interlochen weekend and come play with me, and several other instructors. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Time flies

It is hard to believe that my last post was Baby Watch in Chicago. A mere 9 weeks later I am on baby watch again as I enjoy a visit from my daughter, her daughter and infant son.
Teagan (grandaughter age 2 and change) and I start the day with an odd form of partner yoga. She likes to do downward dog, under my downward dog. She loves to sit in the lap created by butterfly pose.
We are lucky enough to have unseasonably warm weather, and so we are spending most of our time in the lake.  Just the toes please - the water is still icy.


Tomorrow I will be teaching my first class at Northwestern Michigan College. It is in their adult community ed program.The class is a two week introduction to Rigid Heddle Weaving.  I can't wait to meet my students, and hopefully hook them in. A coil basketry class comes a week later.

In the meantime I am working on the planning of the ArtRapids! Art Fair on June 25. A wonderful selection of carefully juried artists, in a beautiful park, next to a beach in a charming small town in Northern Michigan. So idyllic!

Even though I have a little less time the studio these days. I have a start on an idea for my next Tapestry. The challenge is for the show Rare Threads hosted by JRAC, to make a fiber piece inspired by an heirloom. My heirloom, pictured below, hung in my Grandmothers kitchen for as long as I knew her. This was from the era of the Great Depression through WWII, and beyond. I have been researching my Grandmother, Agnes, by asking others who knew her for their memories of her. I know she was kind, loving, made great chocolate chip cookies and had a crochet hook in her hand every time she sat down. I didn't see her sitting very often or for very long - but she managed to produce many pillow edges, chair back covers and baby outfits. Sadly - I have none of those.
She had a clover patch in which to hunt for the lucky four leaf ones. She would press them in her bible, and send in letters to her sons serving their country overseas. Later she also sent one to a son who had suffered a heart attack. I remember once opening her bible, and dried four leaf clovers fell out from between the pages.

I also remember her garden, both vegetables and flowers. We would shell peas together on her front porch, watching cars go by and scoring points for each car of our chosen color. At that time,  the traffic was pretty thin - averaging about 5 per hour.


And now I find ways to quietly entertain my own grand daughter. Today we will make chocolate chip cookies together.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Baby watch in Chicago

I am in Chicago for the next several days, knitting a baby surprise jacket for, surprise! My toddler grand daughter. We are also anxiously awaiting the arrival of her new brother. Could be seriously any minute now. 

This morning I took advantage of a rare quiet moment to update my class schedule on this blog. Look under teaching schedule for more information. I have added a rigid heddle weaving class in Elk Rapids in April. I have also added a Rigid heddle class at NMC in late May, and an introduction to coil basket class in June. 

I will still be in Chicago at the time of the opening of the Opening for the Michigan Handweavers Guild biannual at the Dennos Museum on March 19. I will be sorry to miss the opening, but very excited to see what my fellow fiber artists have been up to. I haven't heard yet if my two tapestries made it in, fingers crossed! 

In the meantime I have been doing yoga (yoGA) with Teagan. Strolling around the neighborhood (hi doggy! Bye bye doggie!) with Teagan. Reading to Teagan (BOOK! BOOK!) and "napping" with Teagan. We went to the children's museum at Navy Pier. Great place! we spent a bit of time in the stuffed animal room. There were at least 20 stuffed dogs, cats and rats scattered around the room. Interspersed were furry vests and Scaly tails for dressing up as your favorite beasty. Another room geared for toddlers and babies was filled with items to stimulate imagination, like a pine cone table, streamers, magnetic blocks and much more. Both rooms were filled with kids and parents. Chicago is a great place to live. But I am happy to be a visitor, and look forward to returning to watch Spring arrive at my lake up north. 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Wings and Water

I am very pleased to be included in this show at The River Arts Center in Prairie du Sac Wisconsin. The opening reception is St Patricks Day, but I won't be there. I will be snuggling with my new grandson in Chicago. He will be at least 3 days old by then.

Below  is my entry, titled "Waterfall" It is a space dyed cotton warp and Theo Moorman inlay in linen and cotton.

It seems appropriate to be in this show because here in my new environment I find I am completely fascinated by birds, and by my lake. The sun, moon and sky also shape my day. It has had a big impact on the work I do now. But this piece was made in another time, and this reminds me that wings and water have always figured strongly in my intentions.

I have added a new beginning rigid heddle class to my schedule. It will be April 2, at The Wild Hare Rug Studio in beautiful downtown Elk Rapids. I you would like to join us for the day, contact me at and I will give you all the details.
This beginning level class is just before the slightly more advanced Textures and Patterns class at Interlochen on April 9.

It is 28 degrees here today, and there are big mounds of snow piled up against my pole barn. Yet, the light has changed and it feels like Spring. I am ready!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

New Year - New Classes

I have just updated my teaching schedule for this year. I will be adding more classes as they come along. In addition to the classes I put up -(look under teaching schedule, please), I will be teaching coil basket making and rigid heddle weaving at NMC.

February is turing out to be Rigid Heddle month for n.anne.  I will be making a presentation to the Northland Weaver's Guild on February 18 about the versatilty and ease of use the RH offers.  Interlochen Adult College is hosting a class on February 20. The Dennis Museum (Where the show "Extreme Fibers" is showing)  is offering the same class on February 27. I am glad for this focus for the next 6 weeks. There are many experiments I would like to try on this fabulous little loom. This gives me a impetus to really dig in!

Meanwhile, I am enjoying watching the sun return over my lake, and on my loom.

And playing around with natural dyes and ikat techniques.

While Gary gets to know the locals.