Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tapestry Diary: Fun with Geometry

May is blue, at least this year it is. Blue, with green and black and white. I am using this year’s diary to explore ways to add color to my black and white tapestries, although I forgot all about that this month! AustinMay2012

Just to mix things up a bit, I broke some of my parallelograms into 4 pieces. Then I had a revelation: you can break a parallelogram into 2 triangles! What fun. After one week of triangles, I was sad that I couldn’t see the parallelograms any more, so I thought I would try to keep the 2 triangles in each day similar in color, and then have a more noticeable difference between each day. The last week, because I was always weaving light, then dark, I ended up with a surprising chevron pattern. I love this kind of surprise.

I weave a parallelogram every day. That pattern started years ago as a variation on lazy lines, just using different colors. It avoids slits. Every month I change the color scheme, and also the direction. On the bottom line of the May photo you can see the last 2 days of April on the right side, then the number 5 for the first day of May on the left. There is always a triangle at the intersection.

Until I wove the last day of May, I had no idea what I would do in June, but now I have a plan. Check back in a month, and I’ll post a photo of the first 6 months.

For links to the 2010 Tapestry Diary click here.

Here are some links to the 2012 Tapestry Diary

January       February      March      April

Monday, May 7, 2012

What is Tapestry Anyway?

Up to now, I assumed that most of my readers were fellow tapestry weavers. Perhaps not, since I give out my cards to lots of random people. So in case you were wondering….

Tapestry is a weaving technique that creates an image or pattern by using discontinuous weft.

Discontinuous what?

The WARP is the yarn that is attached to the loom and kept under tension; in this case, it’s the white cotton that runs vertically. The WEFT is the yarn that weaves under and over the warp threads to create the fabric.frameweavingIn the photo above you can see that there are 3 different colors of weft, and each color weaves back and forth just in the area where it is needed to create the design; that is what “discontinuous weft” means.  (In most fabric weaving, one piece of weft travels continuously from selvedge to selvedge.)

RedscarfIn most tapestries, the weft is packed down tightly, covering the warp completely, so the design is made just by the weft.

That’s different from most clothing fabrics, where you can see both the warp and the weft. These are 2 different scarves that I wove a few years ago.

FabricI like to use different colors in the warp and the weft, to create beautiful color blends.

Pretty simple, right? Actually it takes a lot of practice to be able to weave even a simple tapestry like the one above.

What about tapestry designs that are a lot more complex?

UnicornInCaptivityWeb2The photo on the right is The Unicorn in Captivity, a recently woven recreation, at Stirling Castle in Scotland. 

The original was woven around 1500, and hangs in the Cloisters, in New York City. 

For more about the Hunt of the Unicorn tapestries, and the project at Stirling Castle, see my previous blogpost  here.

For more information about tapestry weaving check out the American Tapestry Alliance website.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

April Tapestry Diary

April was supposed to be yellow, but I couldn’t resist adding some light green too.

I was away for a week in early April, taking care of my 6 month old grandson, Silas. So when I came home, it was obvious what I had to do to fill up those days! I love designing and weaving text.

AprilMonthWhile I was away I visited the Textile Museum in Washington DC, and saw a wonderful tapestry by Archie Brennan (see the previous post), which inspired me to try different patterns in April. I am still thinking about ways to include small bits of color in my black and white tapestries, so this is good research.

I did tiny thin stripes, and one pick spots, and pick and pick spots for fatter dots, and color blends with dots, and dots created by alternating 3 colors of weft.

AprilDiaryThe dark shape on the top row, and the one just like it, one row down from the top, on the right, is dark gray wool mixed on the bobbin with a black and white cotton for the background.

Then there are small and bigger dots of light green, at irregular intervals, also mixed with the black and white cotton, and some dots that are pure green. I like the subtle, variegated effect. You can click on the photos to see them bigger.

What to do with May? I guess I’ll find out tomorrow…..I was too busy to weave it today, and now it’s almost midnight and I’m too tired.

AprilDiaryDetailDid I mention I have color-graphemic synesthesia? That means I associate certain colors with letters and numbers. It was much clearer to me when I was 5 or 6 years old, but there are still certain letters and numbers that are very clearly one color.

May could be green, because the letter M is green, but then I already did green for March; probably for the same reason. I was thinking about how I will weave the number 5 on the first day of May, then realized that May could be blue, because the number 5 is definitely blue (just like the letter S; must be something about that shape).

Anyway, blue and green will do nicely, and I can practice weaving the sea….I’ve been thinking about that lately.