Project Highlight | Walking Libraries (2016-2019)

Project Highlight | Walking Libraries

Meandering Trails

Posted on: Monday, July 29, 2013

Fallen plums with rooftop moss in my neighborhood

I have this small problem when I am working on long terms projects. I spot little events and happenings on a daily basis, and this is almost a distraction from the work that I am trying so diligently to complete. I have learned to simply view these moments as signs that all is on track or flowing, but I will not deny that random beauty is also a major distraction for me.

Silver-toned lichen on Mount Vitosha in Bulgaria

Lichen covered rocks on the ascent to Cherni Vruh

Yesterday morning during a hike on Mount Vitosha, I tried to simply focus on the trail and the breezes that cooled me off during a hot July excursion. But as usual, complex textures and subtle hues would make me stop dead in my tracks.

Mountain wildflowers and lichen on Mount Vitosha

I even carried these wildflowers and lichen fragments halfway down the mountain before documenting their exquisite fusion and nesting them in a shady pocket along a stone wall.

I like the idea that 'drifting fiber' and 'drawing with fiber' are acts that keep pulling me through space. I also like the scale shifts that occur when something typically overlooked or cast-off becomes the focus of an experience. All trails inevitably seem to connect for me, and this creative course still demonstrates momentum and direction despite the 'getting there'.

Sofia Design Week 2013: The Balkan Date

Posted on: Thursday, July 04, 2013

Handknit wearable sculpture by Dalibor Sakic
on view in 'In A Nutshell' at Project SAMCA (photo by Abigail Doan)

I was fortunate to be in Sofia during the latter half of Sofia Design Week in late June. This year's theme was 'The Balkan Date' and the celebration of handcraft as well as concepts related to 'the new folklore' was very exciting.

Please enjoy my review of a selection of designs for as well as a few extra photos that I have added to this blog posting. The raw spaces at Project SAMCA were also so inspiring.

Another view of  Dalibor Sakic's work at Project SAMCA (photo by Abigail Doan)

 'In a Nutshell' exhibition with typography by Croatian designers (photo by Abigail Doan)

'Ariadne's Thread' by Koomigraphics as part of  'Crisis is a Greek Word' 
at Project SAMCA (photo by Abigail Doan)

Evgeniya Tsancova's 'Tied' fiber accessories on view at Ecru Shop (photo by Abigail Doan)

Tzuri Gueta organic forms at Testa Gallery in Sofia

Midsummer Dream in Sweden

Posted on: Monday, June 24, 2013

The Warp and Weft of the Rhodope Mountains

Posted on: Friday, May 10, 2013

Detail of a handloom weaving from the Smolyan region (photo by Abigail Doan)

Detail from the bottom of a wheat threshing board
on view at Villa Gella in Gela, Bulgaria  (photo by Abigail Doan)

Textile tools on view at Villa Gella in Gela, Bulgaria  (photo by Abigail Doan)

I just returned from several days in Bulgaria's Rhodope Mountains, and I am convinced more than ever, that this unique pocket of the world holds the cure for much of what ails us.

Gela hillsides at dawn (photo by Abigail Doan)

Describing the deep layers of space and perspective – all enveloped in the beauty of the Rhodope landscape, is a very difficult task. The micro and the macro play off each other like the local birdsongs that weave through stillness, leaving nubs of raw texture and soft accents on the undulating hillsides.

Ad hoc slate and tile work on a Gela rooftop (photo by Abigail Doan)

Handcrafted shed in Gela, Bulgaria (photo by Abigail Doan)

I wanted to share several images and details from my exploratory walks, prior to a more detailed story about the historic gems and cultural offerings of the region – Gela, specifically.

4th/5th century church face in Gela (photo by Abigail Doan)

I will be spending more time in the Rhodopes, as this region definitely strikes a chord in terms of ancient/future wisdom. One cannot over romanticize modern realities, though, as  local folks work hard to make a sustainable living and preserve their ways. We can observe what works, though, in the crafting of place and the slowing down and expansion of our own contemporary views.

A serene moment through Villa Gella's window (photo by Abigail Doan)

Gela and the Rhodope at dusk (photo by Abigail Doan)

Traveling Hues + Impressions

Posted on: Monday, May 06, 2013

Late day research in Greece wearing Loup Charmant's Scallop Dress

I am currently on a ten day journey exploring landscapes and regional crafts along the Aegean Sea in Greece as well as in the Rhodope Mountains of Bulgaria. My writing and commenting with be minimal during this time, but I will be doing lots of photographing and documenting for future projects.

Morning run along the Aegean Sea (photo by Abigail Doan)

Historic photo and dress from Greece, circa 1939

Botanicals along the Aegean Sea (photo by Abigail Doan)

While on the road you can always follow my visual trail at Lost in Fiber, here and here.

Safe travels, wherever you may roam this week.

Suspended Beliefs

Posted on: Monday, April 15, 2013

Experimentation with vintage plaited rope on my terrace studio in Sofia 
(photo by Abigail Doan)

Sometimes I go into otherworldly states here in Bulgaria. The environs allow me to drift and experiment in ways that I do not always do in the U.S. or elsewhere. I guess that I approach installation projects back at home with strategies that are directly linked to my environmental concerns. Here in Sofia, I am sort of suspended in time and space gazing into my own personal belief system. Perhaps this is why I am so drawn to living here – it allows me to reflect on how and why we live with set limitations as well as ghostly addictions.

This week I am finally getting around to reading the book noted above. I was so struck by these images of Eva Hesse and her work while doing my Sunday morning reading. There is both a weight and a weightless – all at once. How to do this with fiber? Something I am thinking a lot about.

Facade of a house in my neighborhood, Lozenets, Sofia
(photo by Abigail Doan)

And it just so happened that when I was out for a walk yesterday, I came across this neighborhood house enveloped in fiber or vegetation – similar to the way that Eva is enshrouded in her resting pose. These sorts of synchronicities happen all of the time here. I love the way that the blooming bush is like a whippersnapper at the foot of the facade.

Imaginary Meetings by Riitta Päiväläinen (images courtesy of the artist)

And yet again, designer friend Titania Inglis introduced me to more interesting art/fashion visuals via a link to images by Riitta Päiväläinen. The Finnish photographer uses discarded clothing from second-hand shops and flea markets to craft these scenarios. See more here.

This one turns my beliefs and fears completely inside out. 

It is for both the living and the supernatural.

Hovering and blurring the edges. Proof of some sort.

Just what I needed to press on for the future.

Winter to Spring : Nomad Archive

Posted on: Monday, April 01, 2013

In preparation for my transition to Sofia, Bulgaria, for Spring/Summer 2013, I decided to photograph some of the fiber forms in my studio with new backdrops. I did this partly because I sometimes get very nostalgic for hand-crafted work that I have to leave behind – particularly during this four to five year period when my family and I are living overseas.


These images are ideas that I can essentially take with me as visual touchstones while on the road. Given that I have multiple new projects underway, it is always good to reminded of where I have been and what might unfold – naturally, and in a new context.

Stay tuned for more details on what is in the works during the months to come.

(all photos by Abigail Doan)

Sharing in the Thought Kitchen

Posted on: Saturday, March 16, 2013

Nested / Fiber Form created out of recycled materials and twigs (photo by Abigail Doan)

Excited to share news of this interview and feature on my work for Nau's Thought Kitchen.

Tethered to Ideas

Posted on: Saturday, March 02, 2013

Shimenawa (literally "enclosing rope") are lengths of braided rice straw rope 
used for ritual purification in the Shinto religion

Sometimes I feel as if I am tethered to ideas that I just cannot let go of. Whether as links to the past or creative concepts that I have yet to pursue, I am a bit stubborn about holding on to something once I deem it worthy of investigation and possible inclusion in a project.

There comes a point, though, when a long queue of ideas seems to almost hinder any process. This happens sometimes when I am working with fiber and recycled materials that really have a life (history) of their own and properties that want to dictate a certain outcome. 

Unraveling a Tumbleweed at CCA Oakland

Posted on: Saturday, February 16, 2013

On-site at CCA's 'Soil to Studio' plant dye garden (photo by Sasha Duerr)

I was so fortunate to have been invited recently to talk to students in the Textiles program at the California College of the Arts in Oakland. Artist friend and plant dye expert, Sasha Duerr, has helped to cultivate a wonderful campus garden for the study of permacouture and 'soil to studio' practices. 

In addition to my talk on ideas related to 'fashioning self and the environment', I decided to unravel a tumbleweed fiber form that I had created in 2006 while on an artist residency at The LAND/an art site in rural New Mexico. 

'Tumbleweed 01' created out of recycled textiles, fiber, and vegetation in New Mexico 

I viewed this event with the students as an opportunity to shift my creative practice a bit – unwinding quite literally into a more expansive mode while also looking back at a chapter in my life that was very much about preserving materials and the memories of a specific place.

The hand-dyed fibers from the tumbleweed were able to breathe again amidst the lush vegetation and expressive succulents of CCA's community dye garden and surroundings. The students also served as live branches of sorts during the collaborative process. 

The Living Room Studio

Posted on: Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Ruth Asawa's Living Room, San Francisco, 1969

I had so many interesting conversations this past week with artist and maker friends in San Francisco regarding their studio set ups and the curation of objects within their space.

One of the themes that seemed to emerge (in this era of Instagram documentation and perpetual sharing via social media), was the role that visual archiving plays in true creative development and the overall form-building process within the workspace or home studio.

Artists tend to be hoarders or at least collectors of items that have some resonance with their own creations, or not. I have a sculptor friend from Brazil who does not live with any of her pieces as she sees this to be a distraction from her process and the sanctity of her home life. 

Handmade | Trend Tablet

Posted on: Tuesday, January 29, 2013

'Fete for the Senses' in the 'Handmade' section of Trend Tablet

So thrilled that Fete for the Senses was recently celebrated and reviewed on Trend Tablet

Rhiannon SIlver Gilmore, a visual researcher, maker, and creator of the blog, Intelligent Clashing, wrote a very thoughtful piece on the December event that I created in my home with a hand-picked selection of artists, designers, and slow design advocates.

image: Abigail Doan (left); Balmaseda (right)

In my interview with Rhiannon, I shared the following regarding my vision for the event:

"The idea itself came from Dali’s Les Diners de Gala, a 1971 publication with extravagant fete recipes and surrealistic visuals that explore the pleasures of taste and unbridled artistic passion. Inspired, Doan wanted to apply this spirit to the organic realm, one ‘where fibre and slow craft methodologies might be at play and seem rich’ connecting people with their senses and so providing them with vital information for meaningful decision making and more balanced consumption choices. In this way Fete for the Senses was meant to be more than a party, an exhibit, or a showcase but ultimately a way to sensitize each person to experiences that better inform them about what their true passions might be and in turn what they are hungry for and attracted to. In Doan’s own words, ‘Desire is something that needs to be examined both as a way for creating deeper relations but also for gaging how sustainable strategies are ultimately implemented and shared."

More multi-sensory projects and news to come from my current stay in San Francisco.

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