Sunday, February 21, 2010

Tapestry Diary – 7 Weeks

I’ve been working on my tapestry diary for 7 weeks now. One day a few weeks ago, I was having a really lousy day, and when I realized I still had my diary entry to look forward to, it was such a relief.Tapestry Diary 7 weeks

Sometimes I find myself wondering if I’ll get bored weaving the same shape every single day, but I always find some new variation.

Of course, there are the special days when I get to weave a symbol or text, like this Valentines Day heart. Tapestry Diary Valentine (Which is lavender, by the way, but for some reason, it turned out blue in this photo)

Then I decided to try Peter Collingwood’s horizontal lines, made by using 2 colors of weft in the same shed. It’s on page 98 of his classic book The Techniques of Rug Weaving. The chapter is “One-Shuttle Techniques,” and the section is “Twisted Wefts.”

When weaving with 2 colors of weft in the same shed, they can either form specks, or they can form very straight horizontal lines, unlike the wavy lines you get by weaving 1 pass each of two different colors (as you can see just below). Tapestry Diary stripesIt shows up much better with contrasting colors, but I used lavender and white. And in fact, I used 1 strand of white, with 2 strands of lavender.

I’m planning to do some more of this. It’s a technique I learned 30 years ago, but have not really used, other than to make a perfectly straight line. It would be fun to use it, as Collingwood describes, to form a design by twisting the weft to produce spots in one area and stripes in another.

Some days, I really enjoy the serenity of just weaving a solid color.Marian Gray Scrap Rug

I am weaving this diary using only scraps from previous tapestries.

My mother was a rug hooker, and I have one of her scrap rugs in the studio. It’s not her original design, but it is her color scheme.

Marian Gray RugShe reversed it from dark background with light squiggles, to a light background with colored squiggles.

Mom was well known for her excellent color sense, and her very fine, very even hooking. This rug is one of my favorites.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My Tapestry Guinea Pigs

Just after returning from our sabbatical, I found out that, due to state budget cuts (passed down to the cities and towns), my part time librarian job had evaporated. I’ve been working there for 12 years, and they will keep me on the payroll, and call me to fill in now and then, but I have NO regular hours.

I go to the library once a week to work as a volunteer doing book repair. It’s a good learning experience, and I enjoy being there.

Tapestry Class TAMy immediate reaction was “Now I’d better do something else!”

While we were on sabbatical, I made a list of resolutions for changing my life when I got home. One item on the list was to teach tapestry classes.

A few days after I lost my job, I got an email from a member of the local weavers guild, asking if I knew anyone who was teaching tapestry classes in the area. I replied “Yes, actually, I am.”

I remember the first time I taught a weaving class. It was in about 1976, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, at a cooperative called Womancraft. Because I had no floor looms, we made frame looms, and I taught mainly tapestry techniques, because that’s what is fun on a frame loom. Tapestry Classroom

The last time I taught tapestry classes, a few years ago, it was at an arts center, and it was such a pain dragging all the stuff down there, I decided that next time I would teach in my studio.

That way I have all my tools, books, tapestries and looms to share as needed, and also, my trusty assistant, Xerox, who can’t resist a shed stick.

 Tapestry Classroom 2

It took some work to make space in the studio, and round up tables and chairs, frame looms, and yarns.

I told this first group that they would be my guinea pigs! It’s a good thing I limited the class size to 6, because that’s exactly how many can fit at the tables.

I made up a new sampler, and made copies of it, but realized pretty quickly that I had not included enough details. Tapestry Class Yarns

I had imagined us going over it in class, but I had forgotten that they would take it home and try things on their own. So for the second group who started last week, I redid the whole thing, this time with more details, and illustrations.

All the students in the first group are members of the Weavers Guild, so they all have floor loom experience. IMG_5123

The second group includes Weavers Guild members, and Spinners Guild members, and again, all have woven on floor looms. So they are picking it up very quickly.

I decided to make the classes just 4 weeks, because most people have a hard time making a longer commitment.

I hope that we can schedule another 4 week class afterwards for those who would like to continue. IMG_5125

Unfortunately we had to cancel the 4th class last week, because of snow. And this week only 2 could come, so I only got a few photos. I’ll take some more next week.

So far it’s been a LOT of fun, and as I’ve said many times before, I am learning just as much as my students!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Weaving a Castle

Milles Fleurs detailWhile we were in Switzerland, Kim made me a lovely frame loom, so I could weave a tapestry for Enchanted Pathways, ATA’s upcoming small tapestry unjuried exhibit.  It will be at the William and Joseph Gallery, Santa Fe, NM, July 10 - 31, 2010, during Convergence.

After I finished weaving my entry, “Mille Fleurs Minus 978,” I had the whole back side of the loom left, and really did not want to waste all that warp, so started weaving a tapestry from a photo I had taken.

This is the photo. It’s taken at the top of Castelgrande in Bellinzona, in the Swiss canton of Ticino, near the Italian border. Bellinzona Castelgrande Tower

We were walking along the street and saw a huge rock down an narrow alley. Inside the rock was an elevator, which took us to the top of the rock, which has an ancient castle on it. What an amazing surprise!

Now I have to finish it so I can cut off Mille Fleurs Minus 978 in time to mail it to New Mexico in a few weeks. Castelgrande Tapestry

I remember the musical “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown,” in which my daughter played the role of Schroeder, and her pal Cait played Charlie Brown, who sings a song about a book report:


“I work best under pressure,
And there'll be lots of pressure
If I wait till tomorrow…”

That’s me……here I am in a hurry again!