Thursday, December 29, 2016

Christmas books!

We are a bookish family, but even for us this was a Christmas heavy in books given and received.  I am thrilled with the reading I'll be doing over the next several days and weeks.

Most of these books I have yet to really look into, but I can tell you a little about the three I've begun so far.

I am most of the way through Weaving a Chronicle, by Judith Poxson Fawkes.  It's an absorbing account of one weaver's evolution in technique and style, her commissioned pieces and the pieces done for her own purposes.  I love the effects she achieves using inlay techniques with linen warp and weft.  It's not traditional weft-faced tapestry, but it is really beautiful.

Judith Poxson Fawkes, Homage to Flax, 67" x 73", linen inlay, 1998
For this piece Fawkes traced actual flax stems, from her own garden, with their seed pods directly onto her weaving cartoon. She remarks on the irony that she chose to depict the hemisphere of the earth in which flax is not currently produced and speculates that perhaps she was subconsciously wishing it would return to the Western hemisphere where it was once plentiful.

I am nearly finished with Conversations with David Foster Wallace, a series of interviews with the now-deceased writer.  He was a very smart, thoughtful guy best known as the author of the novel Infinite Jest.  His thoughts about the writing process, the creative life, and the limits of irony will resonate with artists in many media, I think.  I have bookmarked so many passages; here are just a couple;
Writing fiction takes me out of time. . .. I sit down and the clock will not exist for me for a few hours.  That's probably as close to immortal as we'll ever get. 
This is exactly how I feel while weaving tapestry, as if I'm out of time.

Elsewhere Wallace, like Grayson Perry, talks about how post-modern irony has reached a dead end.
. . . it seems like the big distinction between good art and so-so art lies somewhere in the heart's purpose, the agenda of the consciousness behind the text.  It's got something to do with love.  With having the discipline to talk out of the part of yourself that can love instead of the part that just wants to be loved.  I know this doesn't sound hip at all. . . .Really good work probably comes out of a willingness to disclose yourself, open yourself up in spiritual and emotional ways that risk making you look banal or melodramatic or naive or unhip or sappy, and to ask the reader really to feel something.
For this tapestry weaver, this remark seemed especially relevant:
If an art form is marginalized it's because it's not speaking to people.  

On the top of the stack of new books is one my son read and pressed on me.  Richard Rorty's Achieving Our Country.   Though it was published in 1999, it is startlingly on point for our current social-political climate and is actually a best-seller on Amazon at the moment.  Rorty, who died in 2007, was an academic philosopher whom I was fortunate enough to take a class with while I was studying English at the University of Virginia a million years ago.  This short book is a series of lectures, so while it's thoughtful reading, it's not impossibly dense or hard to follow.

Right after the election, you may have seen this quotation from the book make the rounds on social media:
members of labor unions, and un-organized unskilled workers, will sooner or later realize that their government is not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or to prevent jobs from being exported. Around the same time, they will realize that suburban white-collar workers - themselves desperately afraid of being downsized - are not going to let themselves be taxed to provide social benefits for anyone else. 
At that point, something will crack. The non-suburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking around for a strongman to vote for - someone willing to assure them that once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen and post modernist professors will no longer be calling the shots...
One thing that is very likely to happen is that the gains made in the past forty years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexuals, will be wiped out. Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion... All the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet.
 Amazing that this was written in 1998, huh?

I'm only partway into the book, but Rorty writes about how Walt Whitman and John Dewey's small-d democratic vision for the potential of America has much to offer us today.  Rorty decries the cynical despair of the post-Vietnam left and calls us to believe in the potential of our country to still achieve its high ideals of liberty, justice and equality for all, despite the sins of our past.  It's fascinating and timely reading.

I try to keep politics out of this blog, and I will strive to do that in the new year, but I just had to share this.

I hope that your holiday brought you what your heart desires, and that you enjoy the chance to curl up with some good reading in the new year, if not before!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

random thoughts from the studio at Christmas

Yes, the studio is a cluttered mess, and wrapping paper and ribbons have invaded. . . but there are twinkle lights!

On the wall on the far left you can see a rough collage of the design for my next Mary tapestry, on the theme of Mater Dolorosa (Sorrowing Mother).  I have started sampling yarns and colors for this piece with the Churro yarn I picked up at Tierra Wools in November (and some other yarns).  I'm weaving the face sideways and really enjoying that, putting in the lines for the eye and the mouth with soumak.  Excited about the possibilities.  Still hunting for the perfect rich light browns for the skin tones though.. . . and thinking I need to use a finer yarn for the soumak.  Stay tuned.

I want to share with you a poem by Rachel M. Srubas that was included in an Advent devotional I read last year.  Even if you aren't Christian, or are but aren't particularly interested in Mary, I think the message of Mary's strength empowers all of us . . . .

So be it

She has a secret,
though she shares it with heaven and earth.
Heaven imparted it to her, the curving earth cradles it,
neither judges her, and neither calls her a liar.

Fear flew from her like a flock of startled birds
and left her capable of greatness.
All that remained for her to say was so be it.
She said it, and meant it, though she was young.

Why say no?
Why protect yourself from risky blessedness?
You may not be as young as she,
but so what?  So be it, for God's sake.
Try saying it, try meaning it.

Don't just watch her go.
Follow her.
Emulate her urgency, her clear sense of direction.
You have your own heaven-given secrets and capacities,
your own map of the territory that will lead you
to the magnificent life you could live.

My warmest wishes for the peace, joy, hope and strength of the season to your and yours!  Thank you for keeping me company on this journey.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

New classes in the new year!

I'm excited to announce that starting in January I am offering five new classes at Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance in Atlanta.  Last summer my series of classes on design elements was well-received, and students requested more classes along those lines.  The cool thing about these classes is that they apply to all the fiber art media.  These are not classes in a specific technique.  Last summer we had garment sewists, quilters, collage artists, weavers, and makers of all kinds in class and it made for a very rich discussion.  

Hint:  these classes could be the perfect gift, for you or for that creative person you know.  You can register for just one or two, or for the whole series at once.  See the links below to register.

On January 15, kick off the New Year with Discover Your Daily Practice.

2016 tapestry diary, (c) Molly Elkind
Just as musicians practice every day, many visual artists have discovered the power of a regular daily practice--of  journaling, sketching, collaging, photographing, painting, embroidering, weaving. . . the possibilities are endless. If you want to see dramatic progress in your art- or craft-making, commit to a daily practice this year.  Even if you are already a working artist, taking a few minutes each to day to do something outside your usual medium can bring surprising joy and insight.  This is time to play with no expectations and no pressure to produce, show or sell.  You will be amazing at how many ideas you generate and how what you learn along the way will improve your making in other areas. In this two-hour class, you will find out what has worked for other artists and take the first steps toward discovering what YOUR daily practice could look like.   Click HERE to register. 

On January 22 join us for Art Critique 101.  Critique can be a scary word, but there is a method widely used by art teachers and museum educators that takes the fear away.  Learn how to observe, describe, interpret, and finally evaluate a work of art--your own or someone else's--in a truly constructive way.  We will practice these skills on work by contemporary artists.  If you wish, bring one finished piece of your own work for gentle, constructive feedback.  Click HERE to register.  

gallery view at Intertwined, SEFAA-sponsored juried fiber show.
Jim Arendt's Totemic Figures in foreground. 

Starting in February, we will take a deeper dive into three Design topics.  On February 12, we'll investigate More Color!  We'll start by looking at a PowerPoint that lays out basic concepts and terminology, and see some examples of masterly use of color in fiber media.  We will do some exercises with color harmony using the color wheel, but we'll go beyond that to explore the relativity of color, color's relation to value, and the importance of proportion.  Finally we'll consider the emotional content of color and touch on the challenges of working with color in fiber.   All that in 3 hours!  Click HERE to register.

Monoculture:  Trees, (c) Molly Elkind 
Closely related to Color decisions are questions of Contrast.  On February 26, join us as we Bring Up the Contrast!  Our eyes automatically go first to areas of highest contrast.  As artists we need to know how to use contrast thoughtfully to direct viewers' attention and communicate our intentions. We'll do exercises to explore the effects of "upping the contrast" in terms of value, scale, pattern and texture.  We'll also look at when low contrast may be what's needed.

Cardinals, (c) Molly Elkind

Finally, on March 26, come explore the potential of Collage:  Design Tool & Art Form. Find out why for over 100 years collage has been the quintessential modern and post-modern art form.  We'll look at examples of collage by fine artists and discover how design elements are used to make a visually engaging piece.  It's more than just throwing random stuff at a page with glue on it and seeing what sticks!  We'll practice by responding to several prompts and experiment with different materials. Last we'll look at how collage can be a way to develop designs for work in many fiber media.  Click HERE to register.

Mary (a sword shall pierce) (c) Molly Elkind
Please contact me with any questions.  Hope to see you in class soon! 


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A day in the life

It's time for a WIP (work in progress) check-in.  This time I thought it might be fun to share with you "a day in the life" of this artist.  Yesterday, Tuesday 12/6, was somewhat atypical, in that I had no appointments, meetings or exercise classes on the calendar.  A blank slate!  And it was rainy--a perfect excuse to stay inside and work in the studio.

I kissed Sam goodbye at about 7 a.m. and headed downstairs.  I spent 45 minutes working on cleaning up the back of my tapestry diary.  I have tied off the warp ends in fringe on both ends, so it's stable at least.  Because I left so many open warps, it's not as simple as just trimming the weft tails on the back to about one inch.  I have to tack down those tails so they aren't visible from the front.  T-E-D-I-O-U-S!  Note to self:  no open warps on next year's diary!

The back.  The tails at the top are tacked down and clipped, and slits are sewn.

The same area, from the front

Then I wound the last of the skeins of dyed and natural Churro that I picked up at Tierra Wools in New Mexico last month.  I'm thinking of using these for the Mater Dolorosa tapestry that I have in the design stage.  Till now, I've chosen the yarn to fit the tapestry design.  This time. with this thick hairy singles, I'm going to have to adapt the design to the yarn.  That will be interesting.

possible palette for Mater Dolorosa

detail shot of collage in progress for Mater Dolorosa design.  Much work remains.

I fetched the PVC loom with the sample for my current, M3, tapestry in progress and decided there was enough warp on it to do some more sampling.  So I added a hem and wound butterflies from the yarns I want to try.

At 9:30 a.m. I headed to the office to work at the computer, fleshing out the classes I'm offering at SEFAA in the new year.  I'm really excited to share what I've learned about the value of a daily practice in  Discover Your Daily Practice, on January 15.  The following week, in response to requests from my design students last summer, we'll experience a non-threatening method of discussing and evaluating artwork, both others' and our own, in  Art Critique 101.  Three design workshops in Color, Contrast, and Collage will happen in February and March.  Click HERE for more information.  Registration will open in the next couple weeks--I'll let you know!

After lunch I wove for awhile on this piece, whose working title is M3 (for Mary/Mother/Me).  I like how it's going, but it is slow.

I wound the warp up to show the entire piece.  Soon it will begin to wind around the cloth beam! 
After the rain let up I walked Harry and then headed to the Y to swim laps.  For me nothing works so well to get out the kinks in my muscles . . . and my mind!

For me yesterday was pretty much a perfect day.  I am grateful.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Tapestry Diary finished!

Last year at the beginning of Advent I started a tapestry diary, a piece in which I planned to weave a little bit every day.  I wanted to follow the liturgical calendar, using the colors for each season of the church year.  I hoped it would be a small devotional project, and a way to ensure that, whatever else might be happening in my life, each day would include at least a short session of meditative weaving.

four days into the purple season of Advent
Last Saturday I wove the last day of the liturgical year, and on Sunday a new year began with the first day of Advent.

I set out a few rules for myself when I began:

Weave every day in the color for that season.
Use scrap yarn on hand.
If away from home, leave open warps (do not weave) for that day or days.
Do not unweave.

the week of Easter Sunday; including silver as well as white
It has been such a rewarding experience, in unexpected ways.  It has also been humbling, as I have found that eventually I broke every rule I set for myself, for what seemed like good reasons at the time. (Isn't that always the way?)  I strayed from the prescribed colors, for expressive reasons.  It seemed appropriate to convey Easter joy by using silver and yellow as well as white (and more visually appealing).  I had to use brand new yarn in order to have enough of the right colors.  I did leave open warps for days away from the loom, but I also included open warp spaces purely for design reasons toward the end of the year.  And I did unweave and re-weave in a few places where I just couldn't live with my mistakes.

a couple weeks into Ordinary Time, the green season of growth following the white Easter season.
 Each day I wove a new leaf motif.
I also found that much more than a meditative practice, the diary was a great chance to practice the craft of tapestry weaving.  I improved my skills in pick-and-pick, double half-hitching, slits and dovetails.  I became much more comfortable weaving spontaneously, making up each day's shape without a plan or a cartoon, though sometimes I did ink the warp a bit.

detail of leaf shapes 

The diary was great practice in weaving with fluency, in paying attention, being present, and responding to what's happening in front of me.  I was forced to be creative every single day, to sustain interest in a project in which I was using the same color, green, for six straight months of Ordinary Time.  (I was so disappointed to be away on Pentecost Sunday, the one red day of the liturgical year.  I really wanted to weave that red bit!  That time I did not break the rule.)

You might recall that it was a summer in which news of one mass shooting or terrorist attack followed another.  I began to weave brown leaves each day there was news of an attack, whether here at home or abroad.   Orlando.  Istanbul.  Baton Rouge.  Minneapolis.  Dallas.  Nice.  Tokyo.  And so on.

An acquaintance of mine hiked the entire Appalachian Trail this year, from Georgia to Maine, from March to September, and he wrote about his adventures in the local paper.  "The Trail provides," he wrote once.  Weaving a tapestry diary is also a long journey.  Each day's time at the loom provided practice for me in moving forward in faith, despite distractions, heartache, tiredness, and uncertainty.

the brown outline of a leave was woven to commemorate 9/11
Best of all, the diary practice also generated a wealth of new ideas for new work, and this was most exciting of all.  I have two pages of ideas for next year's diary, which I will start on January 1, 2017.

It's amazing what can happen when you commit to moving forward a little bit, every single day.

tapestry diary ready for cutting off 
If you're interested in discovering your own daily practice (it doesn't have to be weaving), I'll be offering a short workshop at SEFAA in Atlanta, on January 15.  Registration will open mid-December.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Adventures in drawing

Here's my dirty little artistic secret:   I can't draw.  Or maybe I should rephrase that, since I always give my students a hard time when they say they can't do something.  I don't draw.  I've never had a drawing class and I don't practice drawing nearly enough to be as good at it as I'd like.  (I'm speaking here of realistic drawing, the attempt to render an accurate likeness.)  

One way I've found to conquer my drawing anxiety and even sometimes made some interesting drawings, is to do blind contour drawing.  Basically the idea is you slowly run your eyes along the contours of an object and use your pencil to trace those contours, without looking at the paper or raising your pencil from the paper at all.  Obviously it will not be an accurate likeness, but the lines that result can be sensitive and engaging. You can find a good 3-minute video tutorial HERE.  I've also used the instructions in the classic book by Betty Edwards, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.

I did a blind contour drawing of a hanging plant several years ago that I really like.  I love how it conveys the feeling of an organic descending form without the fussy detail.


More recently, on a trip to New Mexico, I stayed in a home where bleached animal skulls of various types and sizes decorated the outdoor patio space.  I really enjoyed photographing and then doing blind contour drawings of this cow's skull:

I love how the contour drawing (done from a side angle) captures the weird shapes and energetic lines of the skull and teeth.

I also did a blind contour drawing of a large wooden bowl.  Simple, but I find it amusing that the shape isn't closed and the edges not connected.

I also drew a candle holder with interesting Aztec-type figures.

I've learned that the most interesting blind contour drawings are of complex objects.  If the object's outlines are too simple there is not much room for eccentric lines and shapes to develop.

For the past week or so I've been working on the design for the next tapestry in my Mary series, a piece on the Mater Dolorosa (sorrowing mother) theme that is one traditional type of Mary icon.  The icon I've been using as my source for previous tapestries depicts a placid Madonna.

I needed a face that expressed grief and sorrow.  Lacking any handy sources, I made a face and snapped a quick selfie.  I deliberately posed looking downward.  Possibly the most unattractive selfie ever!  Go ahead and laugh!

Then I made a quick and loose sketch of the selfie face, adding the iconic veil.  I was eager to plug this image into an overall composition I had in mind so I worked fast and didn't belabor the sketch.

I don't want to overstate this, but this is possibly the loosest, most expressive drawing I've ever done. Maybe all that low-stakes blind contour practice recently loosened me up. Maybe I did the sketch quickly enough that I didn't give myself a chance to get all tight and nervous about drawing.

Today I tried another version, also based on a selfie, with open eyes this time, and the head tilted slightly the other way.

This one I labored over a bit more, and it shows.  Not sure yet which one I'll use in the piece.  Back to the studio. . . .

Have you ever experimented with blind contour drawing?  What was it like for you?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


I am so humbled and grateful for the wonderful turnout for our annual Alpharetta Art + Fine Craft Sale last weekend.  We saw an uptick in the number of guests and sales throughout the weekend.  I think our fabulous roster of ten artists and makers had a lot to do with that, especially our two newest additions (you know who you are!).  And folks enjoyed learning more about the nuts and bolts of photography, tapestry, and jewelry techniques from the five artists' talks as well.  I for one have a whole new appreciation of chain mail weaving--so much math!

So if you came, THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts--and if you missed it this year, well, there's always next year!  Let me know if you need to be added to our mailing list.

Here are a few of my pieces that found new homes.
Illuminated Manuscript, collage, (c) 2016 Molly Elkind 

Infinity wrap, (c) 2016 Molly Elkind
Red (T)his, collage, (c) 2016 Molly Elkind

Hand bead-embroidered cuff bracelet, (c) Molly Elkind

Ways of Looking at Dodd Creek #10, (c) Molly Elkind
This is a motley assortment that includes both recent work and pieces from previous bodies of work.  Going forward, I am focusing on handwoven tapestry and collage.  (I do have a few handwoven scarves and wraps if you are interested!)  Please check my website to see what's available both in handwovens and work for the wall.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

It's that time again!

This weekend Sam and I and eight of our artisanal friends are throwing our FIFTH annual Alpharetta Art + Fine Craft show, at our home in Alpharetta.  You're invited!

I can hardly believe we've been doing this for five years already.  This year we've added several new features to make it even more fun for everyone.

We've added two new artists:  Bridget Kelman, who does jewelry and home decor pieces in colorful fused glass, and John Kleinhans, who makes luscious handmade soap.  I've used this soap and it's a real treat.

Bridget and John are joining our core of talented returning artists:

Nancy Bruns, jeweler specializing in intricate chain mail;
Sam Elkind, photographer exploring abstraction in both traditional and digital methods;
Lynn Edwards, jeweler, painter, and collage-ist in vibrant color;
Natalie Hudson, fine artist who makes delicious home-canned local produce (people were fighting for her vanilla-bourbon peach jam last year);
Marilyn Kleinhans, award-winning contemporary painter,
John Long, photographer of poetic images using traditional darkroom processes; and
Dinah Rose, weaver of boho improvisational garments and accessories.
And there's me, Molly Elkind, showing handwoven scarves and infinity wraps (get 'em while they last!) and some of my newest collages and tapestries.

There's truly something for everyone on your gift list (and maybe yourself too) and every budget, starting at about $5.

And how about FREE?  Admission to the show is, as always, free.  And for the first time, if you share your contact information you are automatically entered into a drawing for a gift bag stuffed with handcrafted items from each artist in the show (one-of-a-kind jewelry, original art and gift items). We'll do the drawing Sunday afternoon but you don't need to be present to win.  I know what's going into this bag and I can tell you, you want in on this!

You might want to plan your visit around one of the following special times.

We're opening early on Friday this year, at 1:00 for those early birds who don't want to get into Friday evening traffic.

If you do venture out Friday night, you'll enjoy wine, appetizers, and artists' talks!  These talks are short and informal, and you're welcome to browse and nibble as you listen.

On Friday at 6:00 pm  John Long will speak about his traditional photographic processes and equipment, and Sam Elkind will share tips for making your own photographs even better.

At 7:00 pm Friday Lynn Edwards will discuss what to keep in mind when purchasing artwork.

The artists' talks and demos continue through the weekend.

On Saturday at 11:00 am, Bridget Kelman will demonstrate the wire-wrapping technique she uses to make some of her fused glass jewelry.

At 2:00 Saturday afternoon I'll talk about what tapestry weaving is and why I do it.

On Sunday at  1:00 pm Nancy Bruns will demonstrate the art of chain mail weaving with the precious metals she uses in her jewelry.

Here are the details:
Let me know if you need directions or more information.  Hope to see you this weekend!  Come out, enjoy refreshments and the congenial company of artists and friends!  

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Joy of Finishing

Awhile back I griped in this space about having too many projects underway at once.  I'm happy to report that finally, finally I have got some projects finished, others well underway, and a couple empty looms sitting around, at least for a little while.

I finished the scarf for my sister-in-law, plus three extra for our upcoming show.  Please check my Facebook page for details about that event if you're in the Atlanta area, Nov. 11-13.

tencel and silk-alpaca infinity scarves (c) Molly Elkind

tencel infinity scarves (c) Molly Elkind

I selected several of the collages I've done this year and, thanks to the patient instruction of my dear husband Sam, learned how to cut mats for them.  What an incredible difference it makes to put a mat around something!  These affordable pieces will also be in our show.

collage of painted words and torn paper in sketchbook

dictionary page for "annunciation" and pasted paper collage

L to R:  "Huh?", Red (T)his, Annunciation,  matted and cropped collages (c) Molly Elkind 2016
L to R: Column and Spiral, Weeping for Istanbul, Manuscript/Portal, collages (c) Molly Elkind 2016

I was very happy to finish a set of four 4" x 6.5" small tapestries that I've been thinking of as small contemporary illuminated manuscripts, because they contain or allude to text.  Three of them were inspired by the collages in the top group photo above.  I'm happy overall with how they turned out, but boy, were they fiddly, in both the weaving (12 epi) and the finishing!  I did and re-did the edge finishes, first thinking I would hide the warp fringe (with a half-damascus that would turn the warps to the back) and then deciding to expose it.  I never could get the corners to be as neat as I wanted.  I like that the fringe is visible.  These will also be in our holiday show/sale Nov. 11-13.

Clockwise from upper left:  Huh?, Red (T)his, WTF, and Annunciation, handwoven tapestries  (c) Molly Elkind 2016

I'm still working on the large Mary tapestry, and I expect it to take several more months at the rate I'm going.  I'm discovering just how hard it is to weave a self-portrait.  Just call me Penelope. 

M3 (working title) in progress
Meanwhile I'm designing the next Mary piece, a smaller tapestry on the theme of Mater Dolorosa, the sorrowing or weeping mother.  Goodness knows, if Mary is paying attention at all, she must be weeping over our world.  I'm thinking of incorporating somehow tiny shards of obsidian I've collected in New Mexico, known as Apache tears.  Wonder if I can drill through them so I can thread the yarn through?  Let me know if you have any intel on this.  Would a bead-reaming tool work?

study for Mater Dolorosa, with Apache tears 
So, that's the way things stand here.  Don't ask about the quilt.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

curating the newsfeed

Some of you know that I recently re-activated my Facebook account (Molly Elkind Handwovens).  I've been posting occasionally on Instagram as well, @mpelkind.  I am enjoying these new ways of joining the conversation about art and tapestry making, and I'm learning (as people had been telling me for years I would) of shows, artists, and other opportunities I would not have discovered otherwise. I'm making new connections and strengthening old ones.  So that's all good.

Here's my problem, and it's hardly unique to me.  I am drowning in information.  I know, Welcome to your world, right?  I am something of a news and information junkie anyway.  I subscribe to two newspapers and eighteen blogs, belong to six art organizations that each produce newsletters, get four fiber art journals, and listen to public radio.  Also I'm a sucker for books.  (I call it "research.")  And then of course there's email.  Sigh.  I know none of this makes me unique, and clearly some of it is self-inflicted.

(I know, I know, my own blog contributes to the flood of information.  Thank you for choosing to read it when you have so many other stories demanding your attention!

But it's Facebook that has pushed me over the edge.  So many stories, links, images!  So much to learn!  Too much!  My head is full and my mental energy is heading off in a thousand directions, away from the creative work I'm supposed to be all about.

Being the overly analytical type, I spent a good hour this morning trying to figure out how to weed out curate my information flow, both inbound and outbound.  What should I keep, what should I limit, what should I exploit, what should I unsubscribe from?  Which sources of information are most valuable for which purposes?

This is as boring to look at as it was to do:

So far I've decided that for information about art, fiber art, and tapestry, Instagram, Facebook, blogs, and newsletters from membership org's are my most timely and valuable sources of news and information. I will try to free myself from reading cover to cover every fiber magazine or book that crosses my path.  For administering my business, timely reading and response to email is key--but I can try to check it and respond only a few times a day.  Blogs, newsletters and discussion lists also improve my business, so I have to keep up with them.  I will give up on reading the actual newspaper (except for weekend art and books coverage) and get my news from the radio.  I will limit to two or three the number of times each day I check Facebook and Instagram.  And I am ruthlessly unsubscribing from the email ads, newsletters and Facebook feeds that don't improve my practice, my understanding, my social circle or my mood!

I'm curious to hear how you cope with this dilemma.  I'm sure you have some great ideas I haven't thought of.  Please share your own strategy below.