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...


Peg in South Carolina said...

I think that what Koehler has to say about technique and design is applicable to all weavers, not just tapestry weavers.

Jane said...

I can only echo Peg. A painting mentor of mine told me when I was very young, "There is no good painter worth his salt who does not have self discipline when it comes to technique."

Those words were inscribed on my artist's heart forever. Once an artisan learns technique and works hard at it, then to modify, play with, bend the rules, etc. is great -- because we know why we are doing it and what we'd like to accomplish.

If people only knew how many times when they bought one of my paintings that they actually bought two (because the one that was not up to snuff was on the other side and hidden by the mat and frame).

Great post!