Monday, December 15, 2008

Tapestry in Black

I have made some progress on my tapestry in black called Uranus and its 23 Moons.

On the left is the beginning of the nautilus shell. And one of the orbits of Uranus is starting on the right. The piece will be 72 inches there is quite a ways to go.

I am quite amazed at how different the piece looks in different lights. In some it looks completely black. In others the light picks up the shimmer in some of the yarns and there appears to be a whole variety of shades of black.

The nautilus shell has been a bear to weave given the blackness of all the yarns and multiple bobbins I need to use. One yarn is silk noil and the other is a satiny type yarn. They are completely different as to feel, sett and character.

I was happy to be able to advance the warp today. That means tomorrow, I get to start working on the planet itself. The planet will be largely black with only a crescent of color. Judy plied some yarns together for me, a wool and a mohair. She did it a number of different ways so it will be interesting to see which works out the best.

Or perhaps I will use something entirely different. The texture and color must be just right as well as the weaving must be perfect. The light peeking around the planet will be the focal point to draw the viewer into the piece. The nuances in black should keep them there for quite awhile.

I am extremely pleased with what is happening so far. If this keeps up it will be an exceptional tapestry.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Starting to Pull - Layer One

I have started to pull my tapestry spiral. Here is how it looks at the first layer...fourteen more to go.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Golden Rectangles & Color Triads

Things have started to calm down. It always seems the time between September 15 and December 15th are the busiest for me.

This year the focus seemed to be on tapestries; largely finishing tapestries. My definition of 'finishing' starts when the tapestry is taken off the loom and is completed when I can hang it on a wall...assuming it hangs. Off the top of my head I think I have recently finished eight tapestries. All have been assigned to various exhibits I would like to be in over the next six months.

This is one of my tapestries I designed and wove in the James Koehler workshop I took in Colorado last summer. The focus was on golden rectangles and complementary triads. We could design and weave anything we wanted.

I use golden rectangles in my designs but I am not exactly a fan of golden rectangles. I find them too narrow on the short side to be pleasing. I prefer the size of the boxed frame in the photo to the size of the tapestry itself.

I am also not a fan of complementary triads. I find them harsh. Particularly when they are at such a saturated state as in the yarns I created for the workshop. It was difficult selecting the colors as well as weaving with the colors. To make it 'interesting' to weave I decided to avoid slits at all the edges so I did the entire piece in hachures and interlocks. It was interesting for about an inch. Then it was a 'death march' to weave.

So obviously with all these things against it, this tapestry is not one of my favorites. However, with the extended lines added upon finishing and the grey background, I surprisingly do like the end result and it currently has a prominent spot in my studio.

It is always good for me to push myself outside my comfort zone...pushing my color selections beyond what I would normally use...using designs which are not my favorites...and weaving in new ways. I try to do this on every tapestry I do. It makes my body of work grow in different ways than I expected and keeps me balanced.

Fortunately, I normally enjoy the time creating tapestries on my looms. It is a rare tapestry that is the 'death march' like this one. I think I will just blame it on the high altitude in Colorado. I weave best at sea level.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Spiral Tapestry Off the Loom

I started weaving this tapestry piece back in late August and I just finished weaving my last triangle section today.

Hard to believe that there is actually 13+ yards all rolled up! You can see the cardboard darts I put into each section...there are close to 200 of them. Quite a bit of weaving there.

I think this took more time to weave than anything I've done before. I timed how long it took to do one section - 12 minutes is my best time...196 sections...2,352 minutes...that means 39+ hours for the entire piece...of course I usually only wove 2 sections per day. But today I did 14.

My next stage of this project is to remove the cardboard triangles and pull the warp into what should be a wonderfully colorful spiral. I just have to figure out how to psych up to do all that pulling!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Second Brim

It's taken about a month with some steady weaving over the last week to finish my contribution to our collaborative tapestry hat. This is for the Celebrate Color! Fashion Show at the Color Connects fiber conference in Riverside March 2009.

This is my hat brim. There are actually two brims for the hat - an inside and outside brim. I did collaborator did the other. We haven't figured out whose will be inside and whose will be outside. Who knows perhaps the hat will be reversible. Both are woven in dyed silk and cotton since both of us are allergic to wool. My brim has three hummingbirds going for the nectar in the red and orange flowers. The other brim has an entire flock of colorful birds - weaver birds undoubtedly.

Those yellow strings on my brim will be snipped and hopefully will look like delicate stamens. I may put some beads on the ends too. It's bit tough to see since one must look through the warp. I haven't taken the piece off the loom yet. I need to consider how to finish off the edges before I allow all those warp ends to be loose and run away.

This was fairly tough to weave. You may think it was the doughnut shape that made it difficult to weave - but not really. The worst part was the tension. It had to be the worst tension I have ever woven on - extremely uneven. If I had had an empty loom of the appropriate size I would have started over with a new warp. But no empty loom so I persevered with this one. It will be interesting to see how it looks after finishing. that this hurdle is completed, I feel a productive week coming up...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Tapestry Hat

I am working on a joint project to create a tapestry hat for the Fashion Show at the Color Connects conference taking place in Riverside in March 2009. We need to have it completed by January 15th the point at which the entry forms are due along with a picture of the piece.

Here are the pieces we need to make...actually we need to make two for each side of the hat so the wearer can flip the brim towards the top. This is a big floppy hat - the brim measures 22 inches across so it is not inconsequential to weave. It is also...obviously...curved.

We want to have a bird theme and focus on the conference colors. My friend dyed the cotton weft and has woven her side of the brim with a flock of parrots. I am starting to weave my side of the brim with three hummingbirds getting nectar from some colorful flowers.

Here is how far I got on day one of weaving - -

I have just started the first hummingbird. I am hoping to have green be the primary hue in the hat along with a white background. The first hummingbird is green with some bright orange. I think it will have a stain glass flavor since I am avoiding shading, not worrying where the light is coming from and there are large blocks on a single color. The colors are saturated and selected to pop when next to each other.

We needed a loom that was somewhat portable and had at least 22 inches weaving width. We borrowed the one in the photo. It met our basic requirements but it's fairly difficult to weave on since if I make the tension as tight as I would like for optimal tapestry weaving - it is near impossible to move the bars that hold the mulitude of string heddles. Plus, I need to be careful not to let the heddles slide off the bar when I change sheds. There are lots of heddles...let's see 10 epi and warped 24 inches wide... 240 string heddles - all hand made. And its a pain to put them back on...I have already had to do it once.

It's also tough to see how things are going, in the photo as well as when weaving, since I am weaving from the back and the other woven brim is one the back side of the loom. That was another nice thing about the loom...we were able to put enough warp on to handle both brims that we are weaving. We only had to warp it once.

When I weave from the back, I normally check the front every 10 minutes or so to see how things look and then consider whether I should modify something. With this tapestry I will just have to go with the force - no peeking & no pondering. My goal is to complete my part of the weaving in November. Looks quite doable.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

12 Hue Color Wheel

I needed some dyed yarn - 'primaries & secondaries' for an upcoming workshop.

I had originally planned to match the colors in the Munsell 10 hue wheel but in the end decided to go with the more common 12 hue color wheel.

I attempted to match the colors in the hue wheel in the Art of Color by Itten with those in my 10% graduation exercise.

Matching the colors reminded me of an argument I had with my chemistry teacher in high school. We mixed some chemicals and were to write down what color the liquid turned. The teacher and I argued as to whether it was yellow or green. I found it odd we could not agree as to what we saw.

Color is perplexing in so many ways.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My First Color Wheel

I'm taking a workshop in October where I will need some tapestry yarn...' bring the primaries and some secondaries'. I thought a bit...which primaries...and which secondaries? The definitions vary all over the place. I thought a bit more and decided I would simply dye some yarn to match the ten colors on the Munsell Color Wheel. I've never dyed a color wheel before...sounded like fun. Plus, I rarely mix primaries to get the secondaries when dyeing so why not experiment.

One of my friends loaned me a pamphlet called Colour Samples for Fabric Dyeing by Susan Rex. It had most everything I needed to pull off this project.

There are a couple fabric dye triangles in the back. I used the 4% DOS dye triangle to match the best I could the color chips from my Munsell Color Wheel. The chips were generally more saturated than the dyed fabric so it was not obvious which fabric matched some of the chips. You can see the fabric samples and the chips in the photo.

I then realized this wasn't going to work too well anyway since when I dye silk with fiber reactive dyes the colors tend to shift during the dyeing process. So, I decided to do some graduated dyeing in 10% increments on small samples. I am going to create the outside of the dye triangle with my own silk yarn. In this way, I can pick the best match of my own dyed yarn samples with the Munsell color chips and dye those colors in larger amounts.

For tapestries I use one of two yarns, a silk cotton blend or 100% silk. The latter I like to use on my small Shannock and that's the loom I am bring to my workshop. Since it is 100% silk, I have some options on how to dye.

As you can see in the photo, this silk yarn is a grayish blue. I know from past experience its tough to get a good yellow with this yarn since it will push green. But I do enjoy the cast I get on the dyed colors from this yarn. I decided to do two dye with the grayish blue yarn as is and one with the grey color stripped out. It's a bone colored yarn once the color is removed. It's not white, so the end results may be skewed. But by doing this I will have a good idea what colors I can realistically achieve.

I also had to decide which DOS -depth of shade I should go for. The Munsell Color Wheel uses the maximum chroma so the darker the better. I did a test on the turquoise primary to see what a variety of DOS's would look like. I've never tested how saturated I could make a yarn. I tested .1% to 8%. Once they are dry I can see how saturated it can get...while wet I don't see much difference after about 4%. It's good to see the turquoise took...we had some problems in the past with the dye...another reason to test.

It is real hot and dry today...not like the last two days where the fog stayed around all day and I had to wear a vest to keep warm.

It is a great day to dye so I spent half the day dyeing little samples of yarn. How many...let's see...a tad less than 40. Here they are drying- quite bright and cheerful.

And yes...there does seem to be a bit of yellow there.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Shortest Route

I have been working on a series I call Deja Vu which exemplifies the many approaches and paths one can follow through life. Here is a photo of one of the pieces. It is called The Shortest Route. I have completed two other in the series and I think I have another two in mind to complete the set. I had originally thought three would be the number. But the ideas keep popping up in my brain.

They are all done in hand dyed silk with dyed warp. I have been exploring negative space and exposed warp through out this series. In the next several weeks I intend to have these three 'framed' and ready for show. I have completed the one with the slanted warp. It actually was not hard to weave and once framed perhaps a photo will appear.

I won't be able to start any new ones until perhaps November. I am going to take a Color and Design workshop with James Koehler which should keep my brain focused in other least for awhile.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


I spent the day working on a collaborative tapestry that my tapestry group is working on. The piece is for the Harmonies Exhibit for the Color Connects Conference in Riverside March 6-9th 2009. The Harmonies Exhibit is an unjuried exhibit that focuses on collaboration. Our tapestry group is currently working on two pieces.

In the past our group has done a number of collaborative pieces. In the past our collaborative pieces have been individual pieces based on a common theme. Once we did a snake and cut the cartoon into into individual pieces. Other times we have a theme and certain constraints and we each weave our own tapestry. Once we did a 4 by 6 inch piece with the theme of Vintage TVs.

This time we are all working on the same tapestry; one person at a time. I am the 5th of potentially nine people to work on this piece. The inspiration for the piece was a photo of a poppy field. There is no cartoon. The colors are the conference colors for Color Connects. Basically, you weave whatever you want with whatever yarn you'd like until you feel you have woven enough. Then you pass it on to the next person.

I got this tapestry at our last meeting. Today I worked on the mountains and sky. I wanted to get the piece up to the bottom of the frame. Done.

Much of the yarn in the piece is wool and I can feel my palms burning. Fortunately I found some non wool yarn to weave the mountains with. Unfortunately, I couldn'' find any non-wool yarn which matches the colors in the frame. But it's will be interesting to see how folks finish off this piece.

I wasn't sure using the conference color would provide enough value contrast but it seems based on the second photo there is enough. The black and white photo however does quickly point out there is no focal point in this piece. It might be possible to fix that with a flock of birds or a sun or moon in the unwoven part. Time will tell how it all weaves up by the remaining four tapsters.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Out of the Box

I finally got my small 7 by 7 inch tapestry off my Baby Shannock this week after what seemed like a very long time.

I just checked and saw that I had dyed the warp back in May. This piece is one of a series of three small tapestries which should encourage the viewer to ponder the type of choices they make through life. Given the many visitors and progress I have made on my other projects the time frame seems quite good.

The piece is not yet 'photo ready'. But I do have a photo of the second tapestry of the series which I have warped with the navy blue warp.

As you can see...a bit of that 'out of the box' thinking...actually 'out of the box' warping...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Reflection

Remember the old saying -

there is a novel in everyone
waiting to be written.

I believe there is a corollary - whether a painting, tapestry, sculpture or some other creation,

there is a composition in black, in every artist
waiting to be created.

I have started both...may I finish both in my lifetime.


Two different yarns...two different blacks...two different epis...two different values...more to come...

What fun!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Section 1 - Observations

I just finished what I have labelled section 1 on my Study in Black tapestry. Here is a photo of the back. The light is better in the back when it comes to viewing photos of this piece.

Observation 1: It sure seems to have taken a long time to finish such a seemingly small area with such a seemingly easy technique with seemingly few yarn changes.

This part represents the 'empty' part of space in my piece. It is about 150 square inches - a bit larger than a square foot. I feel like I have been weaving for months. I find this a bit frustrating...I understand why complex situations take a long time to weave...but this does not quite fit under the umbrella of 'complex'. Ok...there is some complexity, there is interlocking along the frame, multiple strands in the weft and the chenille issue. But still, there are only two different wefts and a multiple expanse of one color...

Observation 2: The 6 epi sett seems to suck in the warp.

The frame is doubled yarn while the space is triple chenille. I have already used a couple of balls of yarn on the frame and about 2/3rds of a cone of chenille. I figure if I can finish the empty space on the bottom with one cone of chenille, I will reserve the other cone for the top and all will work out well. I've got lots of the yarn for the frame...

Observation 3: Chenille does indeed have a 'side' or a nap.

Earlier this year, Deborah Jarchow gave a lecture on chenille to one of the Guilds I belong to. She mentioned that this type of yarn has a definite side and one must be extremely careful when weaving with it to ensure you don't end up with two very different looks in the resulting yardage. I noted this in the back of my mind and thought that if were also true on tapestry weaving it might be useful in this piece I am now working on.

I am now convinced. It does matter which way the yarn is woven and/or which way it is rolled of the cone. And it is not apparent you have done it wrong unless you have woven an inch or so. At one point, I had to re-wind my entire bobbin in order for the look to remain the same. I had initially thought since I was taking three strands of chenille and weaving with them together this issue would not occur. Not true. It happens. It makes a big difference.

Thank goodness I was using the chenille in an area where I did not have to use lots of bobbins of would have been a nightmare to ensure everything was going the right way in order to have a uniform look.

Now that I know it happens I can consider using it in section 3 to provide a distinction between the two empty spaces.

Observation 4: Black weft and dark warp? Not a problem.

People always say it is hard to weave on dark warp. But so far I have not found it difficult to weave black yarn on my dark blue warp. I must admit, I only weave on this piece in the morning when the sun is out. It might be an issue if I wove when it was darker since the light is bad in the north studio. But is would be an issue on white warp too.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Many Values of Black

I have started to weave my Study in Black. I am hoping to convey the emptiness of space through the use of the color black as well as its beauty and wonder through the recurrence of universal shapes and forms.

This photo illustrates the different values of black. Value is perhaps not exactly the right word...perhaps notes of black or scales of black would be more appropriate. I am still creating my palette of blacks for this piece. I have all the yarns purchased, balled and organized. Now I am working them into a scale of blacks by their appearance under a bright light.

The yarns were chosen for their absence of color - for their 'darkness'. I have avoided black yarns which pushed to purple, red or green. So no dyeing by me for this project. The resulting yarns vary most by content, texture and sheen. In the end the yarns will be lined up from the lightest to the darkest - in 'value' order. Thus, I will be weaving as normal picking up the right amount of contrast from the yarns to yield the right look.

I have chosen the lighter black for the frame to provide a feeling of stability as well as comfort to those viewers, and potential purchasers who feel art should be framed if on the wall. My husband also is happy since he will not need to create a frame for this piece... although he did just buy this really cool Mitre saw along with a ten inch 80 point blade.

I am reserving a variety of the darker blacks to convey the darkness and mystery of space. And somehow the feeling of potential and possibilities of space needs to come across through the selection of blacks.

From a weaving standpoint, I must admit this is the boring part. Just straight across with no yarn changes. The only issue is whether the tapestry is level. Things will get much more interesting once I hit the curves. You can see some of them where I dotted the dark warp with white paint.

More later...

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Designing Weavers Side Show

The Designing Weavers SideShow Exhibit at ArtCenter Manatee in Bradenton Florida was quite nice. It's always a surprise to see how a collection of pieces of different artists in different mediums will be put together and hung. I think the Center did a fabulous job. The overall theme was the circus since John Ringling had his home nearby which had been converted into an art and circus museum.

I submitted two pieces, one was my Behind the Scenes tapestry of a lonely zebra grazing at the circus. The other submission was my fiber slap bracelets.

Here are some photos of the exhibit.

Monday, June 30, 2008

A Day with James Koehler

I had the opportunity to take a one day workshop with James Koehler on hachures, hatching and other color gradation techniques. It was insightful.

Here is my tiny workshop piece. I had to take it off my loom since I had a different tapestry class the next day.

You will notice that it is done in wool. Yes, I popped lots of allergy pills and washed my hands everytime I wound new bobbins. And I survived weaving with wool for a day. I thought it is not often one gets the opportunity to weave with James Koehler and the hand dyed wool that he brought was beautiful.

In the photo, starting from the bottom are progressive hachures some with the turn on the upper warp and some on the lower warp, then hatching using uniform shapes with three colors and ending up with vertical hatching. Doesn't seem like a lot but quite useful.

He suggests starting a weaving with 1) waste, then 2) twining with the warp, 3) six pics of warp followed by 4) six pics of weft then 5) finishing with soumak with the bumps on the front of the weaving. He finishes his weaving in the same way - but in reverse. This allows him to machine sew the Velcro and twill tape to the weaving and just whip stitch the hem. It sounds like it will yield a much smoother and thinner hem than what I do. I will try something like that on my next weaving.

His mantra is that art is all about the image. If the technique is not perfect then the image will suffer. And a potential viewer will not become a buyer if he/she notices the technique since buyers are buying the image. I tend to believe this due to the appeal of my Behind the Scenes tapestry of a zebra butt.

He believes most weavers do not spend enough time perfecting technique nor designing the 'best' composition for their pieces. More on composition later since I also took a 90 minute seminar on composition which made the entire trip to Tampa worthwhile. I am still assimilating what he said in that short time.

It was a bit scary sitting in his workshop and realizing the amount of work I will need to do to get my technique to the level which he was describing. But doesn't everyone need a challenge. He discussed what I should do...and so...I guess it's just up to me to sit out and get to it.

Time to make a plan...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tapestry Sampler

Here is the tapestry sampler I just took off my baby Shannock. I would have done more but I need to take the loom to Tampa for two workshops.

This piece is real cool. Lots of negative space...lots of double half hitches. I think the final tapestry will come out quite intellectually and visually interesting.

Off to smell the tulips...

Monday, June 16, 2008


I think I am almost done with the basic cartoon for my Study in Black.

After several more hours of tinkering and a lot of erasing, here is my cartoon as it stands today. I worked out the cartoon in actual size, 32 inches by 72 inches.

Then when I was finally satisfied, I took a photo and played around with it on the computer. In the end, I flipped it both horizontally and vertically for the final view and saved it in a gray scale.

To get a better idea what it might look like in black, I inverted the photo in Photoshop Elements which interestingly yielded green lines and a red Uranus. I am satisfied.

Now I just need to go back and make a few small tweaks on the actual cartoon erasing a small line here and there and that's that.

Next on my to-do list:

- figure out the shadows and values for the nautilus shell
- find the 'right' yarn in the vendor hall at Convergence for the Uranus and perhaps for the orbits of its moons
- figure out whether I want to weave front to back or back to front. I've started the frame at the bottom but I still could go either way.

And, of course, I can finish up weaving the bottom of the frame and move up into space.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Composition Review

My tapestry, A Study in Black, is obviously made of black yarn. I am taking the position, a correct one I hope, that what makes a good composition good is the same regardless of whether the tapestry is all black or a multitude of colors. I have been struggling with my cartoon, since I want to be as happy with the cartoon as I would be if I was weaving it in a color.

So here is my list of things I need to consider - -

BALANCE: Is the piece dynamically balanced? Once I think it is, I need to take a photo and view it on the computer. Invert it. Rotate it. Does it still seem balanced? Still like it?

MOVEMENT: Does the design move my eyes where I want them to go? Vary shape, value, size, color, direction, line and/or texture accordingly. Is the focal point in the right place? Is the focal area large enough? Ensure there is more detail/intensity in the focal area than in others.

VISUAL INTEREST: Don't be boring & don't be lazy - elements, yarns, values, shapes and textures can be repeated but with variety. When in doubt use the golden ratio.

PERSPECTIVE: Is there a vanishing point? Is the perspective correct? Can it be a better design with a different perspective? Where is the light coming from and are the shadows in the correct spots?

VALUE IS ALWAYS KEY: What value requirements are there in this piece and how will I achieve them with my palette of black yarns with different shimmers and textures. Even with black yarn there will be values...

INTEGRITY OF PLANE: Is there integrity of plane? Are the planes each speaking in its own dialect yet still understandable by the others?

SOMETHING FOR VIEWER: Are I going for an emotional impact? Has it been achieved? Is there a little surprise somewhere for the viewer?

SANITY WHILE WEAVING: Are there any spots too difficult to weave - can I modify the design to improve the weaving process?

Now that I have my list...I can go back to tweaking my cartoon.

A Black Cartoon

I have been going back and forth on my cartoon for my Study in Black tapestry. I was perfectly happy with the small drawing I had. But when I enlarged it to size, it looked too busy. I then expanded the piece, making it less busy but it doesn't make me as happy as my small drawing. So I have been playing around with the cartoon.

To make some real progress, I re-warped the loom to improve the tension and have started to weave the basket weave frame which will encircle the piece. It is quite pleasant to weave even with black yarn and midnight blue warp. The bright white wall behind the loom helps a lot. The basket weave looks like it will make a nice frame.

The piece is 32 inches across. Initially, I had planned the piece to be about six feet long...32 by 72 had a nice ring to it. It may be bigger depending upon the final cartoon.

Now I have been wondering whether I have enough yarn.

I have been collecting black yarn for quite awhile. All sorts - cotton, silk, boucle, tensel, alpaca, chenille, rayon, mohair, ribbon, plastic, string... even a bit of wool. It looks like a lot but since I am weaving a 6 epi I will have to double and triple some of the yarns when I weave with them.

I guess I will need to weave a couple of feet to know whether there is enough.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Variations on a Maze

Done! I have my two maze tapestries framed and ready to mail.

It took awhile to figure out how best to hang them. I opted for a simple black board with a plain edges painted in chalkboard black. It's a nice black in that it doesn't shine and doesn't reflect back the lights from a flash. I attached the tapestries with wire through the hem of the tapestry and into holes made in the back board.

The first one is in Search of a Kiss completed last June and the second Anegada Memories which I finished in February of this year.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Brick 2 & 3

I got out my other camera with the macro feature and took these shots of my bricks.

The first one in emerald green and Havana brown is your basic tapestry weave...the tabby. The painted yarn yields a nice mottled look. It reminds me of something but I just can't put my finger on it at the moment. Perhaps lizard skin.

I painted the yarn with Procion since the yarn is a blend of cotton and silk. I am weaving with two pieces of yarn and the 5 epi warp seems to suck up the weft. I should try out three pieces and see how it works. The cotton warp is a bit sticky so I have to make sure I push the weft in otherwise I have warp showing where it should not be showing. Not much more I can say about this one.

The second one is basket weave...under two warps then over two warps. Basically it is the same as above just wider. And it seems to have a much more unique texture and feel.

I have woven with double yarns - a cotton silk blend dyed with Rit brown. I like the wider columns in that it provides an interesting texture. But it does cause an issue at the top where the exposed warp will start. Due to the under two/over two pattern the warps are not spaced out evenly and will make the exposed warp look odd. Perhaps odd is good. What I did here to alleviate the issue was to simply switch to regular tapestry tabby at the top for one round trip pass. I would like to experiment with alternating colors with this pattern as well as moving from basket weave to regular tabby to create a varying texture. It may result in something interesting.

More later...

PS. I have put things in blue to remind me what I might like to explore on this coming or a future Wednesday.

Friends are Ready to Fly

I like the new frames I made for My Menagerie of Indigo Friends. They are small, light and not imposing. It has been difficult to find the 'right' frames for these pieces.

They are made of palm fronds that I found which walking in the morning plus some waxed linen from Royalwood. I had a board the size of each tapestry to construct the frame around using wet palm fronds. Making the frame did not take long....the rest of the finishing took much longer.

I sewed on some blue material on the back so no weft or warp ends will hang out the sides. I then sewed the tapestry onto the frame with invisible thread. The last thing I did was tie some waxed linen across the back to act as a wire for hanging purposes.

After finishing these four fingers are all sewed out. But these four are ready to be mailed to Florida for their exhibit.

You can see the others on my website... although I am having a problem loading the bear. Perhaps by the time you get there I will have loaded the framed bear. If not, you can see the difference in resolution between my old and new camera.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Framing with Fronds

Over Memorial Day weekend I finally started to make some frames for my four Indigo Friends. I finished these four small tapestries last year I believe and have never figured out how to frame them. They are going to be in the Manatee Gallery in Bradenton Florida, starting June 12 to July 5th so a deadline quickly came upon me.

When I took Don Weeke's gourd decorating class I came up with the idea of making frames out of palm fronds. On a couple of walks, I picked up some palm fronds which had fallen from the trees and they have been sitting in the garage for several months waiting to be made into frames. Well, this weekend was the time.

I wanted a light airy frame which wouldn't stand out too much but would be different than the typical framing for small tapestries.

Here is what they look like.

I think these frames may work. The robin egg waxed linen which I used to tie the palm fronds in place works nicely with the blues in the pieces. My other option was to use an off white which I thought would have too much of a contrast.

I have not yet connected the tapestries to the frames since I have to finish the backs so the strings aren't hanging out all over. Plus I need to put my label and a write-up about the piece. Sure takes me a long time for finishing...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Value Considerations

The weft and warp that I dyed and dried has a nice value contrast which should make the final tapestry pop nicely.

I am hoping for a piece that will draw you in from afar and keep you interested when up close. I know it would work on a big piece. This may, however, be difficult to achieve due to the small format involved but it should be fun to try.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Connections - The Beginning

I had just about given up on the idea of submitting a piece to the ATA's new tapestry exhibition Connections 2009, an international juried small tapestry exhibition. I was not inspired...

Here's what the ATA says about the exhibit - -

ATA invites all tapestry artists to expand their horizons by shrinking dimensions, to connect technique and concept in a body of new and intimate work. As wall sized tapestries command a wall, these pieces, individually and collectively, will catch the eye, invite us in, and connect us as we share the unexpected. Because the goal is not merely to rescale large work, but to explore the boundaries of size, the exhibition will challenge preconceived ideas of tapestry, unfolding the potential of small scale work as it explores the personal and the universal.

It sounded a bit interesting but I thought I would rather work on my planet series on the Big Shannock. And I had a piece already warped and hem woven on my baby Shannock. But I drove a lot this weekend...I probably put on more miles on the car this weekend than over the past six months.

And Friday while driving I had a brillant idea for a small tapestry

By Saturday morning I was on the computer working out the concept. It's technical...

By Sunday, it had morphed into a series of three pieces...and gotten smaller.

On Monday, I removed all the hem from my Baby Shannock and re-spaced the warp to 14 epi. and have started a little sample piece. My, my, I am actually doing a bit of a sample and have learned several things already. I rarely do a sample...if I do it is an entire tapestry. I haven't decided yet how much I will sample...I need to take the Baby Shannock to Convergence in June. So the question is, could I finish one of the pieces by then...if so sampling will stop quite soon.

And just today...I have actually dyed the warp and weft for the pieces. Here are my results. I just noticed the colors are a bit similar to the Behind the Scenes piece that will show at the Manatee Art Center June & July. I haven't posted a final picture of my zebra since I thought I should wait until it was showing in the Gallery first.

I do like that red. It is my current favorite color.

The weft is silk..I have two kinds; each took the colors a bit differently. One has a sheen the other doesn't. The 'better black' pushed blue and came out quite differently on all three pieces. I haven't yet decided whether this will be an issue or not.

The warp is 12/6 cotton. I am quite happy with 2 of the 3 warp colors. I may re-dye the reddish brown to make it a bit more red...but it may be OK. Obviously, if I am worrying about the warp color some of it must show somehow...

yes...but more later.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Not so Golden Seashell Spirals

I learned something this weekend...

I learned that if you are trying to draw that spiral in the nautical seashell you cannot do it by using the golden proportions. I am designing a tapestry with a nautical sea shell overlapping a golden spiral which spirals into a planet. I always thought the spiral in that shell was a golden spiral but turns out it is a logarithmic spiral. It does make a difference when trying to draw it.

I must have done four or five drawings of the spiral with my ruler and compass. I figured it was coming out poorly since I was not exact enough. When using a pencil with a ruler & compass the results are subject to error - sometimes significant. That was something I learned in my Coastal Navigation classes. If you want a good chance to get where you want to go don't be sloppy with the plotting pencil. This weekend, no matter how careful I was, my drawing always turned out poorly - the spiral would never spiral in enough.

Now I know I need to draw the seashell spiral logarithmically in order for it to spiral enough to look like a shell. If you can see the difference between the two spirals and learn more check out this article by John Sharp called Spirals and the Golden Section.

I will post a photo of my design when I finish the cartoon. It will be 32 wide - the loom is already warped. Not quite sure how long it will be - probably about 4 feet. But perhaps longer...

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

What's on my Baby Shannock?

On my small shannock I am weaving an image of a photo I took from the Syndey zoo.

It's upside down since that is the way I am weaving it - this allows my brain to stop analyzing every little thing and allows me to weave more smoothly. In addition, I am weaving from the back - another way to avoid tinkering too much.

The photo is black and white...the actual tapestry is not. I will post in color when it is completely done. It's a study in values and perceptions. Must an orange be orange?

The piece will be 14 by 18 inches and is done at 12 epi using double wefts of silk. The small sett implies a lot of work for a little coverage. But it is going well. I am about half done and should finish by the end of the month.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

A Tapestry in Alpine Blue Silk

Here is my second tapestry on a common theme...palms in the moonlight of Santa Monica Bay. Completed in one hue, alpine blue, along with its values and shades along with a bit of metallic. This piece was done without touching my beater...I needed to lose that beating habit before I start working again on my Circus piece.

This too was an experimental piece. I wanted to play around with sett. This piece has a sett of 6 epi except in four places where I used 12 epi. It was fun to slip in several squares of 12 epi to see how it would work.

The first square I wove did not stand out. It simply blended into the 6 epi on each side. The second square I tried to incorporate a bit of a sandy beach into the piece. The third square was a square of my selected hue - alpine blue. Since I dyed silk...the alpine blue is probably not the blue you would expect. It does remind me of the water in Anegada. The darker alpine blues mixed with silver metallic look more like the water in Santa Monica Bay in the evening.

This was a pleasant piece to weave. Nice colors. Nice feeling yarn. Silk beats cassette tape any day. And the beating habit melted away...

Cassette Tape Tapestry

Here is a tapestry I recently finished, Santa Monica Bay at Civil Twilight. I like how the moonlight simmers in the sky and reflects in the ocean.

This was an experimental piece. The tapestry was woven with cassette tape. The palette is somewhat subdued due to the inherent nature of the 'yarn'. I used about three cassette tapes to weave the piece using singles. The stuff goes a long way. I also pounded the cassette tape flat. To acheive the shimmering sky, I lightly spray painted the cassette tape brown with a chrome white paint.

The sett was about 12 epi and the final piece is about 7.5 inch square.

This is one of those pieces which grabs you from afar and draws you in. The metallic moon is stunning. It is done with some metallic thread. When you get close you start to notice the details; the twisting of the trunk, the painted cassette tape in the sky and the undulating warps.

It was quite difficult to weave...I have never pounded a piece as strongly as this with my beater. To break the habit of excessive beating I wove a second piece in which I never picked up the beater. Check out my next entry.