Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Window to the Sierras

Here's a photo of my the tapestry I wrote about previously. It was hung in an exhibit called The Painters' Studio in Visalia at the ASCH Conference last week.
Those flowers in the foreground are part of the exhibit - a still life of woven and crocheted wildflowers. There is a single California poppy on the table that is replicated in the tapestry - hence my working title for the piece -A Tapestry within a Tapestry.
The piece is 3.5 by 5.5 feet woven on my Big Shannock in a cotton silk blend of yarn. Some of the yarn is hand dyed others are not. I started developing the cartoon in October, started weaving in November, vacationed from weaving most of December and finished in February.
I stayed close to the conference's colors with one palette for the inside of the studio and one for the outside. I used different base yarns for the dyeing. Inside the studio my base yarn was a cork color. Looking out the window, the base color was a grayish blue.
I simply love to stare out the's the feeling I wanted to create in the booth but didn't quite pull off.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Here a tweak...there a tweak...everywhere a ...

Here is the cartoon I was going to weave on my antique counter balance loom. It was my Mother's loom...I remember it in the kitchen when I was a kid. That must make it over 80 years old since it was old when she got it. Dente, one of our chihuahuas is included to give some perspective of size.

I felt compelled to tweak the cartoon a bit. First I decided the proportion was not quite right. And I thought the sun should be the focal point and not the dunes. Then, it struck me...this wasn't sunrise over Stoptop Wells...its was moonrise. I would love to do another moon piece. And with the moon size I have in mind I could then put in alot of detail. From my yarn selections...a harvest moon is in the works.

From a design standpoint, I felt some golden proportions would improve the spacing as well as make the dunes look more like dunes than mountains. I got these really cool forcep-like items made especially for me for Christmas. They measure out the golden ratio. No more calculator and ruler. Way cool!

This first tool splits a line into two pieces in the golden ratio. It's made out of metal rulers. The longest one is 24 inches long with the tip cut with a dremmel. I covered the tip with tape so I wouldn't spear myself.

Originally, I thought I would rarely use this, but it turns out to be quite useful. Once I decide on the overall size for the piece I draw a frame around that size on the cartoon. Then using my handy dandy tool, I divide each side of the frame by the ratio in both directions. Then connect them, making horizontal and vertical lines. This creates four overlapping golden rectangles. With these inserted on the cartoon it is usually quite easy to decide where various things in the design should go. You, of course, could use a ruler and a calculator but this is much quicker.

This second tool is made of plastic rulers. I didn't put tips on the end of these since I thought the plastic might break...or melt. I just use the edges to measure. The tool is useful when you need two different lines to be in the golden ratio. You line up the first line with the edges of the tool and the distance at the other end of the tool is the ratio for your other line. It is quick and easy.

Here's a site where you can see similar tools being used.

These two tools are great. I have other cool tools I use in design; a variety of compasses and rulers. My celestial navigation and coastal navigation classes introduced me to lots of fun stuff to use. More on those later.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

I did an odd thing....

I did an odd thing yesterday. I was mulling around what to do next. I always have this feeling of loss when I finish a big piece and it takes me awhile to get going on new pieces. I started to re-organize all my yarn and decided to finish on Friday. I worked up a new pattern in taquete for my sixteen harness and discovered I needed more harnesses so that's on hold pending the mailman. I thought about the two other pieces that need that finishing touch and -

Then, I realized although most of my looms were empty I had one which might be fun to work on. On my antique counterbalance loom, there was a tapestry which I had begun...hmmm..perhaps three no maybe four years ago. I decided, ah why not finish that one's started...the cartoon is done...the yarn selected and dyed and organized.

Well, things have changed over the last 3-4 years. This tapestry was warped in stripes with some type of orange and rust cotton rug warp. And the tension was a mess. I had a few broken warps from moving the loom around at Christmas time to make room for the tree. Did I really want to weave on this warp?

I noticed my technique has also changed over the years. This was woven in singles and I now much prefer using doubles for better blending and richness. The value selection was a bit off - the black a bit jarring for airy sand dunes.

But I did like the concept of the piece...sun rise over Stovetop Wells. And I did like the cartoon. So, with an empty Shannock right behind the antique counter balance loom...I made the sudden decision to forget about the tapestry I had begun on the antique loom and weave the same concept on the big Shannock. With that quick decision I cut off the tapestry which was on the old loom and cleaned up the area. So, no going back!

Here's a picture what was cut off. I hung it on the counterbalance loom with some orange material for background. I like it...eventually I will braid the warp around the piece and use it somehow....

Update: I just realized why the loom was warped with those orange and rust stripes. It was for some jacket material that I was going to weave. I wove about a yard and didn't like the result enough to weave another four yards. So, I stopped on the yardage and decided to use the remaining warp for tapestries. I did my first 'large' tapestry on this loom/warp - a tapestry of Jupiter. This Death Valley piece would have been my second large piece if I had continued. The orange material in the photo is the original yardage that I had woven. Not sure why I didn't like it at the time...I like it now. Oh well...