Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Arrowmont Day Two

I cannot say enough good things about this place.  Although it was a scramble to arrange for our alternate class, everything is going beautifully.  The staff is amazingly responsive and the weaving studio is spacious and well equipped.  Today we tackled ikat.  This is a resist dyeing technique where the yarns used for weaving are wrapped in areas to resist the dye such as pictured below.

See these wrapped little bundles almost ready for the dye pot.

Sasha going over acid dye basics.

Below Sasha demonstrates untying the yarn bundles to begin weaving.

This is Katsuri, an even more labor intensive method of dyeing.  Sasha is wrapping yarn precisely over a comma.  Then you mark the fabric so the image of the comma is covered with the resist tape.

Below is my sample weaving as I practice weaving with my ikat dyed yarns.

Day two at Arrowmont  is done.  Tomorrow we will begin weaving larger peices, putting into practice the tecniques learned today.  Sometimes life brings you surprises that are just what you need.  Learning these ikat techniques from Sasha is actually more applicable to my tapestry practice than the Navajo class would have been.  Go figure!


It is surprising that I haven't posted in a month, but I have not been idle.  My tapestry weaving of late has been more about process and play than product.
I had such fun with the dye experiments chronicled a few posts ago.

 I am not in love with the tapestry that resulted.  But I achieved the goal of using texture in wedge weave with mixed fibers all dyed in the same fustic pot.

I love rusty stuff so added this rusted tin sun.  This is aptly titled "Good Day Sunshine."  My tapestry "A Joyful Noise " is in Reno at Convergence.  What I am most pleased with is the vibrant color from my natural dyeing efforts.

I also did a small Navajo sampler last week to get ready for my class at Arrowmont .  Unfortunately the instructor had a medical emergency and could not teach the Navajo class as scheduled.  Arrowmont scrambled to replace the class with one on Ikat in weft faced weaving with Sasha Baskin.

Sasha is an artist in residence and a talented textile artist.  My favorite type of instructor as well, knowledgeable , organized and encouraging .  We have a small class of six women.  Many of them were new to tapestry but Sasha had them weaving with a completed sampler tonight.

Tomorrow, ikat dyeing!  Least you think it is all good food and giggles...we work hard here at Arrowmont.   See below!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Just playing around...

Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.
-Diane Ackerman

                                                                                 —Diane Ackerman


Playing with fiber is definitely my happy spot, add good friends and sheep and I am truly content.   Maryland Sheep and Wool 2018 is a bright memory.  My purchases focused on yarn to dye for tapestry weaving based on some recent "play."

Above is a bundle of various white and undyed yarns in my stash.  I pulled strands of linen, wool, silk, mohair, cotton and synthetics.  I wanted to dye the bundle and see how the different fibers and textures would take the dye.

I weighed the bundle, washed it in synthrapol and mordanted it in a solution of 20% wog (weight of goods) of alum and 6% wog cream of tartar.

This is fustic.  Old fustic is available ground or as wood chips and also as an extract. It yields a range of colors from strong dark yellows to a peach color on silk, cotton and wool and it has good light-fastness.  Fustic is an easy dye to use.  I put 50 grams of fustic wood chips in some pantyhose in a crockpot of water and simmered it on low overnight. 

I was pleased with the variety of colors.

I decided to do another bundle using a similar process with cochineal.  Cochineal is a potent natural dyestuff that is derived from the crushed, dried bodies of the female cochineal bug, a scale insect native to South America. It dyes beautiful reds and pinks. The Cochineal bugs live and feed on the Prickly Pear cactus. These little critters have been crushed and used as natural dye for hundreds of years.  A little bit goes a long way!  Note in the picture above the cottons and synthetics did not take the dye.

I needed to exhaust my cochineal dye bath and had what I thought was a great idea.  I had ordered a bunch of Vevgarn in neutrals and grays several months ago.

My goal was to get various depths of shade by putting all these shades in the same dyepot.

No joy with this one.  No variation in my reds but alot of learning.

Trying to exhaust the cochineal.

Still trying to exhaust the cochineal.

Playing with my fustic dyed yarns with textured wedge weave.

Whoever wants to understand much must play much. -Gottfried Benn

Play on!

Monday, March 19, 2018


Mary Redmustache Kealy's wel loved tools.

Thanks to all for the wonderful input regarding the line between admiration and appropriation.  My dear daughter sent me a link to this article which was most helpful.  The Navajo language is beautiful and mysterious but it is not my language and I won't name any work using it.

Hubs and I went back to visit the The Gregg Museum of Art and Design so I could show him a Navajo loom in real life.

Mary schooling Preston on her loom.
Mary's rug in progress

Preston's plan is to build me a traditional Navajo loom.  Mary showed her batten to him so he can make one.

The title of this post is the Navajo word for husband.  Dear hubs is my greatest enabler, maybe facilitator is a better word.  He created a dye spot for me in the garage.

It is awesome. I did some dyeing this weekend and how great to have a dedicated dye spot.

Horsetail, madder and the mystery fungus from Carolina Beach.  I placed this picture on facebook and ravelry last October seeking it's identity.

We never definitively settled on an answer but I think decomposed turkeytail is the most likely suspect based on these results.  1 refers to first skein and 2 refers to the second skein trying to exhaust the dye bath.

In the above picture are three skeins dyed in a small black walnut vat.  First, second and third dip.  I love natural dyeing and really need to do more research.  I would love to explore a variety of greens next.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Cultural Appreciation or Appropriation

The name of this blog is based upon a traditional Navajo weaving song.  I was drawn to Navajo weaving initally by the beauty and high degree of weaving skill embodied in the work.  Very quickly however I became fascinated by the culture and cosmology of the people and the central role weaving played.

I began to build my library of Navajo weaving books and reading everything I could get my hands on.  A trip to the southwest with my daughter in 2016 fed the passion.

I was visiting the places I had been reading about.  The landscapes and vistas were stunning.

The Hubbell Trading Post was just as I pictured it.

Fast forward to this week.  The The Gregg Museum of Art and Design had a demonstration of Navajo weaving and basket making.

The exhibit was small and informal which gave me the opportunity to watch and speak to the weaver,  Mary Redmustache Kealy.

Crystal Rug, a modified Two Grey Hills pattern 1955 - 1970. Handspun yarns

Wide Ruins Weaving  1920 -1950, vegetal dyes, primarily rabbitbrush.

Handmade weaving forks

My tapestry for the ATA show in Reno, The Biggest Little Tapestry Show.  Traditional wedge weave technique, with vegetal dyed wool using madder, osage orange, logwood and goldenrod.
Plus a bit of lurex for sparkle.  I would love to give this small piece a Navajo name but am conflicted.  The use of a Navajo name would be out of my love and passion for this culture and the art.  But I am not of the culture and do not want to appropriate what is not mine.
What would you do?

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Tolstoy and Tapestry

Tolstoy said "Spring is the time of plans and projects."  We have had tastes of Spring, warm days, daffodils and birdsong but now are back to winter's chill.  Be done already!  The gloomy February days are reflected in my tapestry diary.

I started the diary on my birthday, January 28th.  The bowling pin and token represent my 62nd birthday party with family and friends, which was so much fun!  My plan for the tapestry diary is an entry per week. This picture is a couple of weeks ago.  I have some catching up to do.

My dear husband made me the loom using copper pipe and purpleheart wood as well as some new tapestry forks.

I love beautiful tools, using them brings joy.  Meeting with other tapestry weavers also brings me joy.  I am thankful to have found Triangle Weavers Guild and am loving our tapestry study group. Here are some pictures from our most recent session.

Tapestry is a relatively solitary endeavor but what a treat to have opportunities to weave together.  In addition to my guild, I also belong to Tapestry Weavers South TWS.  We currently have a show at the Folk Art Center  Go see it!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A Strand, A Shape, A Story

Tapestry Weavers South new show will open January 20th at The Folk Art Center.  Dear hubs and I took a road trip Friday, January 5th and delivered these two pieces for exhibition.

Beauty and the Break and Rust and Ruin.

I blogged previously about Beauty and the Break here.  Rust and Ruin is my ode to 2017.

I attached this page to the back of each submitted tapestry.
As it explains, 2017 was a year of fits and starts and this tapestry reflects that.

C. Cactus Flower Loom warped at 10 ends per inch with 12/6 cotton seine twine.  Weft is linen,  wool, rayon and metallic yarns augmented with rusty bits from a friend's farm in Meadow, NC.
Last year's challenges included sudden hearing loss and some dizziness diagnosed as Meniere's Disease.  Many discussions with physicians about my fluctuating hearing loss and the efficacy of hearing aids.  

When I wanted to do a self portrait, it made sense to title it "Say What"

My self portrait.  "Say What".
 My drawing skills are crappy  rudimentary at best.  This is my first attempt at weaving a face and was great fun.  I used unsewn slits for the ears to  illustrate my hearing loss.  I do love a chunky necklace and had to add one.

Ruth Manning is a wonderful tapestry artist who does portraits with wedge weave backgrounds.  I am so inspired by her work and how she captures facial expressions and personalities. I so hope to take a workshop with her someday.

Dear hubs pointed out that my self portrait wasn't smiling.  I think that is appropriate.  It has been a time of reflection, pulling back, and seeking new ways to live a little more "quietly" and deeply.