Thursday, August 8, 2019

Why? Why? Why tapestry?

I have been puzzled about my desire to weave tapestry and trying to sort out why it is something I am drawn to do.  I came up with a list of reasons I weave tapestry.  Here you go; expression, play, color, accomplishment and exhibition;recognition.   Sorting this out may seem to be an extreme of navel gazing.  But there is value here for me.

  If I weave to satisfy my need for expression, play, color and a sense of accomplishment then I weave for MYSELF.  Do you know what that means?  There are no rules, no shoulds and no requirements to go big to be a "real tapestry weaver."

 I can stick to the smaller pieces I love.  I can weave with plastic and handspun newspaper.   If my interest in weaving and spinning are self directed then I can weave what I want when I want.  What an amazing concept! 

As a kid, I loved going down a slide or pumping my legs to swing higher.  I didn't worry about what my purpose was or what was being accomplished.   As adults we need play as much as children.  Maybe more.

The great advantage to weaving tapestry versus playing with knitting myself something is.....You do NOT have to wear it!  Especially good if you are playing with hand spinning and weaving newspaper.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Collage to Tapestry Cartoon

My first MAFA exceeded my expectations tremendously.   The conference was extremely well organized and attendees were all so friendly.   Within minutes of arriving, a nice group from Ontario invited me to join them for dinner.   The highlight for me was my class with Molly Elkind

Molly is a very deliberate and thoughtful weaver and her work reflects all the effort.   Molly generously shared her design process with us.  This class was focused on design, no yarn or looms involved.  Molly explained how to determine whether an image lends itself to woven tapestry.

I do not want to give away the "secret sauce" of Molly's design process but it is methodical and gives you the opportunity to work out the weaving obstacles prior to sitting down at the loom.  If you have the opportunity, take a class with Molly.  It will change your tapestry process.

This is "Red Letter Night" which is part of Molly's illuminated manuscript series.  It is pictured with it's woven sample and collage.

Cartoon for "Red Letter Night"
Yarn key for "Red Letter Night"

My collage "Dancing with the Black Dog"
I loved the process of creating this collage, it allows me to design without having to draw.  I joked that Molly had turned even this impatient woman into a thoughtful tapestry weaver.  I was so pleased to get my cartoon for the weaving of "Dancing with the Black Dog " done.  Check out Molly's Instagram post for a picture of my awesome work!

Connie Lippert signing her book, "A Wedge Weaver's Storied Cloth"
I also got to spend some time with Connie Lippert, wedge weave guru!  That was the icing on the cake.  Both Molly as well as Connie are teaching at Convergence 2020.  See you there!

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Ladies Who Lunch

Saturday a few of us from Tapestry Weavers South met at Yadkin Valley Fiber Room.

It was great to see Holly, Betty, Leslie and Linda and talk tapestry for a few hours.

Betty shared this tapestry inspired by a photo she took years ago.
Betty shared how she weaves from the back and used a weft interlock technique.

Linda shares her piece. Holly's pieces and the design for her next tapestry is in the foreground.

I love Leslie's branch weaving.
After a delicious lunch on the porch, I headed to Sparta to the Blue Ridge Fiber Fest.  It was a muddy, damp trek but still worth it.  

I am trying to decide on colors for the next tapestry.  What do you think?

Golds and orange

Monday, June 3, 2019

But Why?

For the past month or so, I have not been able to shake a recurring thought... weave a small tapestry of Donald Trump.  But why you ask?  I am no Trump fan, in fact I have an almost visceral reaction to hearing his name spoken.  Tapestry weaving is slow and meditative, the perfect medium for working through strong feelings.
Hubris in progress

I usually avoid the blatantly political rantings of facebook and do not want the blog to devolve into that dark water.  This is about using this weaving exercise to examine my thoughts about our president.  I finally puzzled it is not about him.

It is about me and you, this is our ugly underbelly.   That is great word, underbelly.  I am not likely to expose my deathly white belly, stretchmarks and all to the world.  We like to think of ourselves a certain way and represent ourselves accordingly.  Our current president, exposes the angels of our lesser nature.  For sure, not angels but simply the human capacity for self involvement, divisiveness and cruelty.

Trump provides us the opportunity to confront our own blindspots and eliminate them, individually and as Americans.   As Abraham Lincoln said in his first inaugural address in 1861

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

As divided as we are now we will come back together.  Perhaps more aware of our weaknesses. 

When my boss asked what I was weaving and I told her a caricature of Trump, she said "who would want it?"  A good question, certainly not me.

To protect yourself, immediately make a meaningful contribution to Planned Parenthood.  It is the only way to ensure I do not send Hubris to you for prominent and and painful display in your home!  


Sunday, May 26, 2019

Dyeing for Tapestry

The three day weekend presented the perfect opportunity to do some natural dyeing.  I started with four skeins of natural white and four skeins of natural grey.

Unmordanted yarn dyed with indigo.

Madder root

Weaving Southwest single ply fine Churro tapestry yarn

Those little cochineal bugs do terrific work.

I mordanted all the yarns in a 20% alum solution and added a teaspoon of cream of tartar to the dye bath.  I achieved the deep reds desired with the first dip. The lighter colors were the results of the second and third uses of the dyepot in an effort to exhaust the dye.  With the cochineal and madder, I used distilled water in an effort to avoid dulling the colors with soft water.

Logwood purples

Osage orange was a disappointment.

The osage orange was an extract.  In the past I have used wood chips and got a brilliant orange.  Lesson learned.

Not really loving my Ode to Gunta.  Not sure her stripes work as a wedge weave.

Vicki and Louise manning our study group table.

Our guild held it's last meeting of this guild year last week.  Each study group had a table to share their work.  It is a pleasure tp be part of an active and dynamic guild.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Living the Dream

I have been interested in Navajo weaving  since dear daughter showed me the wonders of the American southwest in 2016.  Details here.

After our trip, I read lots of books on Navajo culture and weaving.  I finally got the chance to take a class last week.  Susan Meyers of Living the Dream arranged for a class by Roy Kady   Roy is a  master weaver from Teec Nos Pos Arizona and came to Frisco, NC to teach.

Hand dyed Churro

Roy brought looms, tools and beautifully dyed yarns to share as well as his gentle spirit and expertise.  We spent the first day warping our looms.

Judith tackles the scary part

 When Spider Boy brought the first loom to the Navajo , he fashioned it's frame from the power of the sun, the lashing cords of lightning and the warp strings of rain. Roy explained the importance of weaving and the signifigance of each step in the process.
We learned the hands on basics of Navajo weaving and history and culture as well.  There were only five of us so we got lots of personal attention. 

Susan, our host weaving on her rug.

Roy shows me how to ply the yarns for twining.

There is traditionally a twined or braided edge at the top and bottom edge of the rug.

Look at that beautiful twined edge.

Day one was warping and choosing four yarns for our weavings. 
 Day two we began weaving and settled into the weaving.  I love being in the company of other weavers, there is a sense of coming together in a common task that is extraordinary. 

Roy helps Sharon with her weaving.

Unfortunately,  the three days went much too quickly.  Our weavings weren't complete but Roy ensured we had the knowledge, yarn and tools to finish.

Susan was a gracious host, the other weavers were interesting, engaging women and Roy a generous and knowledgeable teacher.  It was a wonderful opportunity to spend a week in lovely Frisco and indulge my passion for Navajo weaving.

This is my weaving after day three along with the yarns and tools from Roy.  The back deck of our house was a great weaving spot with a stellar view.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Cool Curves

I am home from Arrowmont and reflecting on the highlights.  Of course, it was a good time spent with good people but it was also so much more.  It always amazes me that as soon as you pull into the craft school parking lot, the craziness that is Gatlinburg disappears.
Jennifer Sargeant speaking to us about this tapestry and
the choices she made regarding color and texture.

Jennifer did a great job of allowing each student to work at their own pace.  We had various levels of tapestry experience. It was such an encouraging and supportive group.  We shared not only resources and skills but tools and yarn.

Mary Jane and Lynn 
We all approached color differently
Mary Jane used a watercolor sketch as a starting point.

Jean was weaving using hand dyed raffia.  She and I shared a mutual love of Silvia Heyden.
Really excited about those curves in the upper right. Regular hatching on the diagonal.

I am glad to be home and inspired to continue experiments with color in wedge weve and push myself.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Disruption and Interruption

What a wonderful time I am having at Arrowmont this weekend.  It is SEFFA 2019 and I came to Gatlinburg Thursday evening.  Jennifer Sargeant is the instructor for "Woven Tapestry and the Language of Color."  I would normally not do a post about a class until it ends.  However, I need to get some lessons learned down before I lose them.

Yarns I dyed for Arrowmont class

For the record, I love color.  I just find color theory incomprehensible and choosing colors for tapestry daunting.  I have a handle on value but that is the extent of my knowledge.

Hand dyed golds

Cell phone edit to black and white to check value.

We started class with a little bit of color theory.  Jennifer kept it short and simple and we looked at Jennifer's samples.

The yarn packs Jennifer made for us of Vevgarn are on
 the table in front of us.

 We were able to start weaving right away and of course my mission
was to play with color techniques in wedge weave.  

Predictable wedge weave start.

At first I was taken aback by Jennifer's advice to break up the predictability of my wedges by distorting and interrupting the color or structure.  There is purple in there for goodness sake,  how more wild could this be?

End of day one, see  that disruptive little purple box?

Evening of day two
Jennifer encouraged me to use some traditional tapestry techniques to manipulate the color and see what would happen.  I was surprised by the results.  Warning, some wedge weave/tapestry geekiness is ahead. Lot's of details of the good, the bad and the ugly for future reference. 

First the bad, I was rocking and rolling with my giant purple wedge when Jennifer cautioned that is was dark and overwhelming.  She suggested breaking up that large block of color.  I did some unweaving to avoid a giant purple triangle (what I had planned).

I did some dashes by doing a full pass of purple and a half pass of gold.  
The effect was nice but here comes the ugly.. alternating the purple and gold creates a messy spot unless done properly at the beginning or ending of the weaving pass.

I did some alternating stripes by doing a full pass of dark gold and a full pass of light.  The colors are so similar the stripes are fairly indistinct and it looks like subtle shading. 

Notice the disruptive quality of those little purple boxes and how that is lost with the yellow on dark gold box.  The wedge weave is interrupted but there is virtually no impact on the visual interest of the tapestry.

Shy little yellow box 
I have enjoyed getting to know my classmates and will post tomorrow with examples of the work and more pictures.

Hard working and happy tapestry weavers.