Sunday, July 30, 2017

Dyeing to Dye

Today was a beautiful North Carolina day, cool breezes, cloudless sky and sunshine.  Too beautiful to be inside weaving or doing chores.  A perfect day to fire up the indigo pot.  I purchased a huge lot of rug yarn on Ravelry with the intent to play with some natural dyes.
Nice natural wool
I also had some tapestry yarns in white, gray, yellow and a funky green.
The first two skeins are wrapped with plastic for an experiment in space dyeing.

I am pleased with the variety of greens and blues I achieved.
Fresh from the vat.

Not a total success, there was some bleeding under the plastic.

Ready to sample.  The intervals of wrapping were varied, more blue on the right.
Interesting striping in this sample wedge.
I am currently working on a design for my second wedge weave.  Deciding on the dimension is giving me pause right now.  I am more comfortable with the small format but want to go big.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Loving Wedge Weave

What I love about tapestry is the ability to put a thought, a feeling, an idea or the essence of something into a tangible and tactile (and yes, even textile) form.  I wanted to capture my week at Peters Valley in my first wedge weave.
The lushness of the vegetation, the rustic rambling nature of the buildings and the green, verdant nature of the place.
 How Green is My Valley
This tapestry was woven at 10 ends per inch on my Cactus Flower loom.  The warp is wool and the weft is also a two ply wool I hand dyed last year.
These are my wedge weave class samples from the week at Peters Valley with Connie Lippert.  I am loving wedge weave.  In the above samples I tried some different appproaches, mixing the wedges with plain weave and eccentric weave to see what would happen.
In How Green is My Valley I followed the diagonal path of traditional wedge weave.  You can see I am weaving diagonal stripes distorting the vertical orientation of the warp threads. 
As you can see this results in a scalloped selvedge.  This was probably why its use in Navajo rugs was short lived.  Straight selvedges were the hallmark of a proficient weaver.  I love the undulating edges.
Two excellent wedge weave resources are:

Peter Collingwood has a very good overview of the technique in his Techniques of Rug Weaving book, available via PDF here. Scroll to page 164: https://www.cs.arizona.edu/patterns/weaving/books/cp_rug1_2.pdf
Connie Lippert's article "Contemporary Interpretation of an Unusual Navajo Weaving Technique " is here  http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1034&context=tsaconf.
I thoroughly enjoyed weaving this piece and hope the verdant greens will take me back to my time at Peters Valley. 

Friday, June 30, 2017

Peters Valley or Michiele's Big Adventure

Almost immediately after becoming interested in tapestry  I became fascinated with Wedge Weave and the work of Connie Lippert.  Despite Connie being from South Carolina I travelled to New Jersey to study with her.

Peters Valley  School of Craft is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation, founded in 1970 in partnership with the National Park Service to promote and encourage education and excellence in craft. 

I left North Carolina bright and early Thursday morning to travel to Sussex County NJ.  It was a pleasant drive through rural Virginia, Maryland and Pennslyvania.  The craft school is located in the Delaware River Water Gap and is beautiful.  The buildings are owned by the National Park Service and are quite rustic.

Greek House
Congleton House built in 1850 was my residence for the week along with five potters, a jewelry maker and two other weavers.

A beautifully decrepit barn.  I wanted to venture inside and explore but didn't have time.  Okay, kind of afraid of collapse as well.
The weaving studio was a short walk up a killer hill from the dorm.
The Macomber floor loom assigned to me for the week.  This lovely old lady almost stole my will to live  weave.

I wove some wedges, uttered some bad words and switched to my small Cactus Flower loom with Connie's  blessing.
My happy place!

Although, I didn't enjoy weaving tapestry on the floor loom I am glad to have tried it.  So many talented weavers such as Connie and Rebecca Mezoff weave tapestry on floor looms.  It was good to be "forced" to give tapestry on the floor a go and know for sure it does not suit me.  Here is a great blog post from Rebecca Mezoff on high warp (my favorite) and low warp tapestry loom weaving.

Connie offers some hands on instruction to Jessica, our studio assistant.

Donna's wedge weave in progress.

Benita's colorful wedges.

I love Joan's colors.
Our class projects.  Mine are the three little ones center left.

Classes at Peters Valley this week included pottery, metals, painting, blacksmithing and woodworking.  We had the opportunity on Saturday night to do a studio hop to check out the other students' work.  


The photography studio.

Shibori dyeing with indigo in the other fiber studio.
There were some amazingly talented artists.  There was also an auction on Monday.
The auction in progress.

Connie wove this in stolen moments during class and finished it minutes before the auction.  I was outbid but glad that it was highly valued.  One of the metals students was thrilled to have gotten it.

This is the view from the weaving studio.  I actually enjoyed winding yarn looking out the window at this scene.  There was an adorable beaver frolicking in the pond on Saturday night.

The rural setting of Peters Valley made the week so relaxed and enjoyable.  Communal meals and housing, being able to ditch the car and walk to meals and the studio added to my enjoyment.  I had made the decision to avoid news, social media and the internet before arriving.  Ahh!


Probably, the most amazing thing about my week at Peters Valley was meeting so many kindred spirits.  I arrived knowing no one and left five days later with several new friends.  My housemates, the wild potters, fellow weavers in my class and all the students and instructors I shared meals with all spoke different craft languages but had a shared passion.  Connections were effortless and pretty immediate.
If you are thinking about a craft school experience all I can say is Go!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Island Time

Tapestry Weavers South  celebrated a milestone tonight, twenty years!  Twenty eight weavers gathered on St. Simons Island Thursday for a three day retreat.


A beautiful setting to relax and connect with new friends and old.  


Lots of looms, lots of weavers and lots of inspiration.  As the retreat was a celebration there was plenty of time to visit with one another and weave.  The coolest thing about the weekend was getting to meet in "real life" weavers whose work you admired and facebook and blog friends.

Connie Lippert gave a talk on wedge weave.


Jon Eric Riis critiqued submitted work and gave us constructive feedback.


This portrait of a cocker spaniel by MJ Lord exuded joy.


Jon examines a finely woven piece by Molly Elkind.


Norsk Fjord Fiber's Sidsel  Moreb discusses her tapestry with Jon.


Sarah shared her approach to establishing and maintaining a daily tapestry practice.



This wonderful piece is by Pat Williams and one of my favorites.


This is Urban Decay by Betty Hilton-Nash.  Jon pointed out this tapestry looked great from every angle.


The three founding members of Tapestry Weavers South.  Pat Williams,  Tommye Scanlin and Holly Wilkes.


Tomorrow we will wrap up this retreat, say fond farewells and resume our mostly electronic communications.   There has been such a great deal of information and inspiration shared this weekend and we all need to get back to the studio and weave!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Filament - New Work from TWS

A small group of tapestry weavers created Tapestry Weavers South in the late
 1990s.  Tapestry Weavers from all over the southeast United States joined together to promote the artistry of tapestry.  On Saturday, May 6th at the Yadkin Cultural Arts Center Filaments, the new tapestry show opened.


Here are a few of the pieces from the show.
Betty Hilton-Nash  and Leslie Fesperson did a wonderful job of hanging the show.










Below are some pictures of the artists with their work at our most recent TWS meeting.









It was a pleasure to be part of this show and even better is being a member of this group.  Tommye Scanlon gave an inspiring talk about the process of weaving tapestry.  You can enjoy it here. TWS Filament.