Sunday, January 4, 2015

2015 - New Year, New Tapestry Diary

This year will be my 5th tapestry diary. I started in 2010, then took 2011 off, and started up again in 2012. You can read more about my philosophy in earlier blog posts, all the links are on this entry.

It certainly makes New Years into an exciting holiday!

(Below: Dec 2014) 
The basic idea is to set up a plan, with rules, so that every day I can sit down and weave for 20-30 minutes, without having to make any major decisions. It is a small thing, but when you do it every day, then all the days add up to a year, which is not a small thing.

(Confession: in 2013 I decided to weave 5 days a week and take weekends off. That makes it much easier to catch up if I have to miss a week day because of travel)

This is the 2014 tapestry diary, just cut off 4 different looms, and still looking very messy. Since we were traveling for 4 months, I designed it to fit on a small wooden frame loom. Each of these is one month, and they are 3 inches wide. Sorry it's not a very good photo.

Since we knew we would be overseas for 3 months, I planned last year's diary to fit on a small wooden frame loom when necessary.

One big problem, since I hate the finishing so much, is that I now have TWELVE separate pieces to finish!!!! Luckily, I remembered to put in a row of knots at the beginning and end of each, so that saves one step. I might even leave the warps showing. I will probably frame them in groups.

The 2015 Tapestry Diary will be woven on this Archie Brennan style copper pipe loom. (Plans are available here for personal use only, not to sell. Or buy one already made). Mine sits on an aluminum artists easel.

For the weaving readers, I am using 8 epi of cotton seine twine. The 2014 diary used 16 epi of fine seine twine, but I mostly wove it at 8 epi using the warps doubled. It was very useful to make steeper diagonals and tighter verticals, but it is so much easier and more comfortable using the heavier warp. My fingers are not as nimble as they used to be.

(Above: the first 2 days of 2015)

The idea for this year's tapestry diary came to me in a flash, on November 11. That's the day our new grandson was born. We were in Switzerland for 3 months, and planning to fly home on November 20, his due date, but he arrived 9 days early, taking us by surprise.

I was in the gift shop at the Basel Historical Museum, selecting tapestry postcards, when my cell phone rang. It was my husband calling from the house (2 hours train ride away).

He had just arrived home from his mountain hike to find an email with the announcement. I stood there with tears of joy streaming down my cheeks, then shared the good news with the cashier, who congratulated me and shook my hand.

I had planned to visit the Basel Kunstmuseum (Art Museum) next, but for a moment I thought "What the hell am I doing here, so far from home and my grandbaby?" It was tempting to hop the next train back to Interlaken so I could at least see a picture of him.

Instead, I went ahead and visited the modern galleries at the museum. I was admiring some abstract expressionist paintings when the idea came to me: each month I will weave my tapestry diary using one painting for inspiration. I will only use paintings I have seen in person.

The following week I visited the Kunstmuseum in Bern to get more ideas.  I jotted down the names of some favorites and then last week I printed a bunch of them from photos online.

I am weaving a rectangle 2 1/2 inches wide and about 3/4 inch tall every day (5 days a week). For January I am using a painting by Sean Scully, called Grey Wolf. There is a short video about it here. (You can't tell, but it is really big). I created a template with transparent mylar, and I use it to find a section that is interesting. Then I use tracing paper and a pencil to make a very quick cartoon. I have a stack of these and will choose one each day, perhaps at random. I don't know if I will use the same approach in subsequent months.

I am undecided as to how many pieces will make up the year. I am thinking perhaps 4 pieces, but I will decide later when I have a better idea how the months will fit together.

So, here I go!

PS A great story about the Basel Kunstmuseum: it belongs to the city, and the people of Basel voted, in the 1960s, to spend tax money to buy a Picasso painting for their museum. Picasso was so moved by this that he donated some more paintings, and then at least one collector donated some, so now they own lots of Picassos!


Angie Willis said...

Can you tell me who the painter is of the painting in your photo of the postcards you bought that's in the centre top row? The black yellow and red one. Sorry this is a bit garbled but hope you know what I mean :-)

Unknown said...

What a fascinating process for this year Jan! I look forward to watching it grow and learning about the way you will reference the chosen paintings for the month.

Also love the photo of all the 2014 TD tapestries. The long format, shapes and colors are very appealing..

Are you stil doing 5 days a week this year?

Jan said...

Angie, that painting is "Abstrakter Kopf: Erloschene Glut" by Alexej Von Jawlensky. 1927 If I recall correctly he was a friend of Paul Klee, who was Swiss, so you see a lot of Klee works in Swiss museums. In fact there is a large new modern Paul Klee Museum in Bern. There were a few similar heads by Jawlensky in the museum. I was not able to get postcards of most of these, I found the images online.

Carol said...

Jan, I love your concept. So interesting! I will enjoy watching your progress.

Tommye McClure Scanlin said...

Nice year, Jan! And a grand start for 2015. I'll look forward to seeing it progress!