Monday, August 03, 2009

Afternoon of Avoidance

This was my afternoon of avoidance.

I really didn't feel like writing and I didn't feel like weaving so I made heddles for my Big Shannock. They took way longer than I expected to make and I found the process incredibly boring. I will keep that in mind next time I feel like avoiding something on my to-do list.

One of my projects...a bit far in the to explore the outer reaches of my six foot Shannock tapestry loom. I have never done a piece that uses the entire weaving width - that's the concept to explore. I have several tapestry designs that might work well at that size.

I needed more heddles to stretch across the width. I only have six sets of petals so that's all the heddles I can use. Theoretically I should be able to go six feet since each heddle bar is two feet; but I figure the heddles need a bit of overlap so I may end up at 5 to 5.5 feet.

We'll see. The next time I am in a period of avoidance I will start warping the loom...

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Slow Progress on Vacation

Some but not a lot of progress on my giraffe tapestry while on vacation. I have posted a progress shot with it sitting on the newly designed and built petanque court.

The tapestry is still won't 'see' the giraffe until I get more than half way through the piece. I need another 2-3 inches before I am there. As for the petanque court -a lot of progress there but it needs some more packing and drying. I figure over the next several days of 90 degree heat it should be good and hard and ready for play.

The issue slowing my tapestry progress is my back. I cannot seem to find the right chair/table combination to work well. I end up with spasms in my back after just a little bit of time. This is the issue I always have when I travel with my weaving. It's always so much better to weave at home.

I may try weaving in the kitchen standing up to see if that works. But first I think I will design a beetle.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Finishing, finishing . . . no not quite finished

Here's a photo of my latest tapestry just off the loom on the carpet; prior to any finishing. And the second one is after some finishing. See any difference?

There's a five pound chihuahua on the left to give you an idea of the size... The width started out 32 inches on the loom, quickly dropped to 31 inches at the beginning of the piece and 30 inches at the end of the weaving. After finishing it is about 29 inches wide.

The second photo shows how it looks after a nice rest, tweaking of the warps, tying of the weft tails, straightening the lines in the frame, attaching twill tape & velcro & a lining, machine sewining, hand hemming, cleaning, hanging, etc.

Is it finally done?

No not quite yet...I seem to have an odd drape on this piece. I guess it has to do with the different yarns I used. The outside 'frame' is lighter and more flexible while the inside is fairly dense. It's the inside that is bulging in and out in different places with a cardboard like texture. I am hoping by having it hang with some weight all the way across the bottom of the piece the drape will straighten out.

I'll let you know how it turns out.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Finishing up the warp

I have been happily weaving on this tapestry for the last several days. I am happy with the results so far although there are a few small slits where three turns on top of each other seem to be letting in light. Pretty much everything you see in the photo was completed in the last two days. Around the design is a three inch black woven frame which isn't readily apparent in the photo.

I am glad I didn't pull off the warp to weave one of the other two designs I had come up with. This one, albeit simple is pleasant to weave. And I get to use up my favorite warp.


Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Designing for a Specific Size

I had some leftover warp on my large Shannock tapestry loom that I wanted to use up. Typical of a weaver - not wanting to waste anything. Waste not- want not. It is indeed a beautiful warp...I had dyed it a midnight blue and had intentionally put on more than I needed for the first piece in anticipation of doing another piece.

I have had a terrible time trying to figure out what to weave on this leftover warp. I had an entire cartoon completed along with yarn selection on the theme of Pluto. It was a tongue in cheek rendition of the object being thrown out of the 'Club of Planets'. However, it didn't quite seem right on the leftover warp.

I then designed a more realistic piece using a great photo I took of a volleyball player at the beach. I even figured out a way to insert more warp in the middle of the piece for greater detail. For some reason I could not get the design to look right given the size of the warp I had left.

Next I decided to play with optical illusions and made a great piece consisting of three shapes - those impossible shapes. I am sure you have seen them. They are the ones that look right until you realize the perspective is all wrong. I came up with what I thought was an exciting design but again couldn't make it fit right into the warp I had left over. I was so excited about this design I even contemplated removing the leftover warp and putting on new warp which would fit the design.

Then I remembered how nice the midnight blue warp was and how I really enjoyed weaving with it. I took a deep breath and went back to the drawing board. I designed a simple piece. I designed it quickly. Nothing hard. Nothing complex. One shape. Golden proportions. Enclosed in a frame filling the leftover warp. Done.

And I have been happily weaving ever since.

What have I learned?

My designs dictate their size - not visa versa.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Neat and Tidy Soon

I have not had much time to do any tapestry weaving recently; perhaps an hour or so to work on one spot on my giraffe piece. However, I am excited about what my DH is working on in the garage. It should spur me on to focus a bit more on tapestry.

When I was at CNCH a tapestry weaver had set up all her tapestry yarns on spools on a rack. She had a bobbin winder on top to easily combine yarns as she needed them. See photo.

So neat and tidy...I just love neat and tidy when it comes to my tapestry yarns. DH is sanding, priming, staining and finishing an old spool rack for me. He is staining it with a white wash so there is no yellow cast from the color of the wood. I did the same thing with my bobbins...I hate that yellow cast - it makes the yarns look a different color.

I will show off my new tapestry yarn rack when its all spruced up and all the yarn is organized. It should inspire me to work on my tapestries vs. my novel or my beetle collection or my optical illusion experiments or my ...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Two Tapestries on View

I had the opportunity to see my creations hanging in two different shows over the past week.

I had a tapestry accepted into the ATA's International Small Format tapestry exhibit called Connections. I went to the opening last week at the San Jose Quilt and Textile Museum with my sister. We drove down from Sonoma with the top down. There were lots of people there, many of them artists in the show as well as other interested folks. I talked briefly about how I designed my piece based on a Fibonacci grid. It's called Over Easy. If I recall correctly four or five other artists spoke about their pieces. All in all - quite a fun day.

Yesterday, the Fiber Open II opened at CSU Channel Islands. DH and I went up to check it out. I was real interested in seeing how they exhibited my tapestry spiral. Did they lay it out over the tube I provided, or a box or from the ceiling with the 'S' hooks I provided? I gave the curators a variety of options and said it was up to them since each time the spiral is displayed it will be different.

The piece actually was hung against the wall using one of my hooks and a picture hook in the wall. They had not unwrapped the eight foot long tails when I got there since the floors had just been cleaned. The photo I took was before we unwrapped the tails so I cropped the piece for a less distracting view.

I am going up again for the opening so hopefully I can get a better shot. It looks good with the long tails piled up on the floor. For future shows, I think I may also paint the 'S' hooks white [they are now black] so they don't stand out so much on white walls.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Eccentric Weft

Finally got a photo I could post of my small tapestry that I started in Jean Pierre Larochette and Yael Lurie's workshop that I took in Sonoma at the CNCH conference. We could work on anything we wanted so I decided to focus on eccentric weft or passe oblique, as he calls it.

Here is the beginning of my piece.

I am hoping for a piece that will be around 9 by 13 inches and there should not be a straight line in view. My goal is to use the technique as much as possible while retaining straight edges and minimizing the puckering. I also want to enjoy weaving the piece so I chose colors and a design which would amuse me.

I had read the many tapestry books in my collection on how the technique works. I learned a few more things to try from the workshop which were not in these books.

Jean Pierre suggested using less bulky weft when going eccentric. Since I normally use two singles when I weave at this sett, when I inserted the eccentric weft I used only one single. He also suggested never using more than 4 passes of eccentric weft before providing more structural integrity with the standard weaving techniques. He also suggested checking every once in awhile by loosening the warp and see how much puckering I am getting. If too much - take some out and try again.

I think this piece will take awhile to complete since I am focusing my most productive time in the morning to my novel and I have 10+ yards of material on my sixteen harness loom queued up with pieces to complete my beetle collection and design my piece for the yardage exhibit at Convergence next year. But you never know, I may become inspired and finish it in a week or two.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Where have my curves gone?

The last three pieces I have done on my small loom have been quite angular. Here is the's an angle sampler which James Koehler recommended we do. It has a variety of different angles from a meet and separate standpoint as well as the unidirectional type. It pays to know how to create a specific angle with respect to a given sett and weft type.

The difficult part of weaving this piece was ensuring I could fit all the different angles I wanted into the space I had available. I designed as I wove along.

I feel like I have been focsuing on angles and straight lines way too much. All my designs lately in my sketch book have been angular. Where did all my curves go?

Resolved: my next tapestry will have no straight lines. Absolutely none. I will be starting it in the tapestry workshop I am taking this weekend. No blogging but I will tweet.

You can read my twapestry tweets on my other blog.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Writing like a Tapestry or an Oil Painting

I think distractions are the enemy of creative people. I think creative people can create despite some distractions. Too many distractions are the death knoll to creativity. Distractions are everywhere. Some are easier to remove than others.

I am not easily distracted from my weaving. I am currently working on a couple of tapestries and several weaving projects. I am so passionate and focused about my weaving I can work around or ignore many distractions.

I am however easily distracted from writing. I have always wanted to write a novel. Isn't there a novel in everyone trying to get out? There certainly is one in me. I started 4-5 years ago doing research, developing my characters and sketching out my plot. I wrote the prologue and the first chapter and stopped. Completely stopped.

I got very busy in the last few of years from volunteering...I have been doing the monthly newsletter for the Southern California Handweavers Guild for the last three years as well as been in charge of publicity for the Association of Southern California Handweavers. Both were time consuming but fun. They did however suck a lot of the creativity out of me, consume a lot of time and were an easy distraction from writing. I also participate greatly in the guilds I belong to... I figure that if you should participate. If not, why bother being a member.

I had started the novel before all this volunteering and stopped as the volunteering consumed my creativity. I made a conscious choice this year to be more selective in my volunteering, significantly reduce the distractions and re-start my work on my novel. That was my New Years resolution to myself.

It has taken me awhile to restructure my volunteering activities. But the distractions are lessening. In the last couple of days I have started to write again and it is quite exciting. I simply love getting up in the morning and spending an hour or so on the novel before I go weave. Currently, I am re-acquainting myself with my well developed characters and re-creating the plot which is in disarray.

Today I realized I had to decide what method I want to use to get this novel written. It will 12 chapters.

Do I want to write like I weave a tapestry? With tapestry I have an overall plan - the cartoon [for me a fairly detailed cartoon] and then I weave and perfect each section before moving onto the next.

Or do I want write like I create an oil painting? In painting I have a sketch, then I paint a layer, perhaps re-paint some sections, re-paint a different section, touch up something else, move around from section to section, re-paint something again etc. until I am happy with the result.

In the tapestry method I would spend much more time on each chapter making sure all the facts are in order, characters are acting correctly and timing correct. This is like tapestry where you have to do all the planning and execution for a section at one time before moving on. After all 12 chapters are done then the final edits occurs. For a tapestry this final edit is like the tiny tweaks one might do at the end...covering an exposed warp or adding a dot of color here or there. These are little tweaks since the big issues are already resolved. Essentially each chapter get the BIG edit prior to the final edit at the end which is more like finishing the tapestry - ensuring it is ready for public viewing.

In the oil painting method, I write quickly as possible with little regard to ensuring everything is quite right. I don't have to write sequentially. I can jump from chapter to chapter and fill in spots where I have a good idea. And leave until later sections where I have an issue or question. Once all the sections chapters are written the novel gets a VERY BIG edit.

I need to decide on an approach...I am still musing while my plot is straightening out.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Workshop Design

I am taking a tapestry workshop next week and as I mentioned earlier I need to arrive with a work in progress. Since my travelling loom was empty I have been trying to capture an interesting idea to keep me busy for a couple of days.

I set my mind on the eccentric weaving technique since the class I took with James Koehler focused a great deal on angles, straight lines and shapes made with angles and straight lines.

My challenge for this upcoming workshop is to create a piece with no straight lines - not one...except of course the edges.

The eccentric weaving technique results in lovely curvy lines like the waves or the wind. I have never done an entire piece using this technique. I have only used it for the occassional outlining.

My Mother used it alot and has done some lovely pieces with it. I will hunt up a photo and let you see.

What I want to do here is use the technique in all the places that it will work and end up with an interesting sense of motion in the finished piece. Having read through the literature it will only work where the angle is less than 45 degrees. Through the process I should learn how it works and when/where it will not work. And most importantly - how to maintain straight edges.

These are some of the different designs I created going free hand in Photoshop. I didn't realize Photoshop had that facility. I normally use it simply to fix my photos. It was fun playing around with the features in a different way.

The last one is the one I liked the best. But I really don't think any of these will do. They seem too much like another 'art theory' or 'workshop' piece and I'd rather not spend the time doing another one of those.

I think I will go back and find a concept which will slip into one of my current series... perhaps similar to the zebra. I did get some great photos from the zoo.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Inspired Again

I have a concept for a tapestry about the planet Pluto. However I am not inspired enough about the concept to actually weave it. At least not right now. So for inspiration, I went to the LA Zoo today to take photographs for another series I have in mind. Of all the photos I took - this one is my favorite shot.

The photo has also provided me with an idea for a new tapestry that I would really like to weave. And the new idea is quite different than this prairie dog image. It will include a woman in a bikini playing volleyball on the Santa Monica beach.

It's interesting how often seeing one thing makes another just pop into my mind.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

A Brick Wednesday

It being a Wednesday, I tried weaving a bit on my tapestry brick wall but was uninspired. The idea of my brick wall was to only weave on Wednesdays, weave whatever comes to mind - no grand plan or design and weave as little or as much as that day's inspiration will take me. Today, I did not go far. After a brick and a half I cleaned up and covered up the tapestry for a future Wednesday.

I got an email from the instructor of a tapestry workshop I am taking in April. It's a working workshop in which you are supposed to bring a piece you are working on and work on it for several days. Hmmm, my loom is empty and there is no design in sight.

I have been thinking sometime about the eccentric tapestry technique. My mother used it all the time and was highly effective in depicting wind, waves and any type of motion. Since I learned how to do dots of color in a class with Tricia Goldberg I use the eccentric weave only occasionally - perhaps to outline an object.

I have also been thinking of doing some tessellation designs perhaps incorporating optical illusions for the yardage exhibit in Convergence 2010.

I have three inspirational books - one which is like an encyclopedia of textiles all in pictures, another shows how to create Islamic designs and another with Japanese stencils.

And I still have to explore simultaneous contrast within my color theory studies.

I think I will try to dive into all three of these things in the next several weeks and come up with a design for this small tapestry.

I see it is time to straighten the studio and get to work.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Pulled Tapestry Helicoid

My Spiral Tapestry was woven as a tapestry, thirteen yards long and four inches wide with 182 darts of negative space. Once completed the negative space was removed by pulling the warp and closing the spaces. On one end, the original warp was braided and retained.

Using this method a wonderful spiral was formed similar to tricolor fusilli pasta or a colorful spiral staircase. Technically, the shape is a helicoid; a remarkable form which packs great densities into small spaces.

For shipping, My Spiral Tapestry flattens to a cylinder shape less than nine inches wide and only three inches high. Once opened however, the many yards of tapestry take on an organic and lively appearance as they fall from a helicoidal spiral into a droopy yet energetic shape uniquely its own.

A few more

Friday, March 13, 2009

Back into the Swing

The pressure of the conference is over and I can get back into weaving. My method of getting back into the swing of things is to finish up small items that have been WIP for awhile as I plan my new pieces.

I just finished up this small tapestry which I designed to play with triangles and color. It's a pleasant piece with nice color choices and enough design elements to maintain interest. I need to figure out how to maintain the points of the triangle when they are pointing straight up - there is the tendency to mush down and not look crisp. I may be able to fix that a bit in finishing.

The piece looks quite interesting in black and white... a bit blurry but you get the idea.

I have enough warp left to do a small exercise on angles as suggested by James Koehler in the workshop I took last year. So that's next on this loom. More on that exercise later.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Uranus at the Riverside Art Museum

The tapestry here, Uranus, conveys the wonder of space through the recurrence of universal forms and the use of black yarns. The design was inspired by a NASA photograph of the planet Uranus taken by Voyager 2 as well as the watercolor of the Black Widow Iris completed by Maria Sybylla Merian in 1700.

The potential and unlimited possibilities of space are felt as orbits of golden spirals radiate outward from the planet. Space continues to expand as it pushed against the woven frame. Uranus’ many moons orbit the planet in Fibonacci patterns. The black hole in the shape of a nautilus shell subtly illustrates the difference between the golden and exponential spiral.

The space around Uranus is woven with a variety of different textured and iridescent black yarns. The yarns were chosen for their absence of color - for their 'darkness' or ‘blackness’. Black yarns which pushed to purple, red or green were avoided. The resulting yarns vary by content, texture and sheen. The piece drapes and undulates through the use of these yarns echoing the darkness and the mysteries of space.
The tapestry was woven by a textile artist who is inspired by mathematics; intrigued by tapestry and taquete techniques with a penchant for the patterns and geometric structures in nature.

Friday, February 06, 2009


My 'black tapestry' is finally done and off to the Riverside Art Museum for the exhibit starting February 14th and continuing until April 4th.

My tapestry here, Uranus, conveys the wonder of space through the recurrence of universal forms. The piece drapes and undulates through the use of varied black yarns echoing the darkness and the mysteries of space.

The design was inspired by a NASA photograph of the planet Uranus taken by Voyager 2 as well as the watercolor of the Black Widow Iris completed by Meria Sybylla Merian in 1700.

It's about five feet long and 30 inches wide. It hangs away from the way about 3 inches so it can easily drape and fold as I imagine space folded in the novel Dune.

It was hard to send this piece off to the museum. I have worked on it for so long and I wanted to enjoy it some more before saying goodbye.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Closer Look

I have been working on finishing my black tapestry called Uranus. Here's a closer look of the piece. This part is the exponential spiral - the nautilus shell along with a couple of orbits with the moons of Uranus spiralling outward in a Fibonacci pattern.

I've started to experiment with how to best photograph this piece. Two issues; first it 99% black and secondly it does not lay flat against the wall - it drapes. Thus, it looks different from different angles and in different lighting.

I signed up for Daryl Lancaster's seminar on Photographing Your Work at the Color Connects Fiber Conference in March. She wanted some photos to use for discussion...some photos of this piece might make for an interesting talk.

This piece will be hanging in the Riverside Art Museum as part of the Designing Weavers Exhibit which will be up in mid February through the beginning of April.

I guess [actually hope] I will have better photos of this piece after the conference.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


The black tapestry came off the loom yesterday and rested horizontally overnight. I really like it...I just kept staring at it. It looks like nothing I have ever done before. And I wanted to immediately start the finishing process. Fortunately I had a meeting last night yesterday otherwise it would have been near impossible not to start tweaking it. And it would have never rested.

This morning I made a list of all the things I wanted to accomplish in finishing. I started by pulling some warps to flatten out some bulges. Then the tapestry went vertical with weights.

This will help remove some of the drape in the tapestry. I want to retain a bit of the rolling motion in the tapestry since this is a depiction of outer space. To me space is not uniform and exact it has a more organic quality to it. A few rolls in the tapestry will be nice. Not my normal style but it fits the design.

Once the warp, weft and I have stopped our negotiation and the warp and weft is where they want to be as well as where I want them to be... I can move on to sewing some holes where light peeks through. Using such different sizes and types of weft made some of the joins problematic. I will have a black backing so these joins should not be too visible. But I still want them fixed.

What I really want to work on is the crescent of Uranus in blue. But it needs to wait until everything is in its place. I am going to do something special there. Hope it works!

More later.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Progress on Uranus

The thing about big that they are big.

Here's a progress shot from the back of my tapestry. It should be 32 inches wide and about six feet long when complete. I have been focusing on this black tapestry for the last month or so. At this point, there is no more peeking at the front. You can see the cartoon in yellow behind the warp.

You can judge how far I am by looking at the entire cartoon - - in this earlier post. I figure I have finished about 60% of the entire piece with about 40% to go. From a difficulty standpoint, I think I have about 85% finished with only 15% to go. I figure I should be done weaving quite soon.

I have finished the planet, more than a dozen moons as well as some intricate portions on the nautilus shell.I find that there is always that one 'special' part of every tapestry that I weave. That's the part that seems to take forever to finish. I am always wishing it would hurry up and get over with. It's always complex. It's always messy. And there are never any short cuts. I just have to focus, not procrastinate and plow through it.

I had this 'brilliant' idea of using some of the shapes that I saw in a watercolor by Maria Sibylla Merian. She did a botanical watercolor of a black iris, also known as the black widow. The portrait had the most magnificent vein structure. I decided I just had to have some of those shapes in this black tapestry. Black tapestry - black iris - black space. - black veins ... you get the idea. What had started as a fairly simple idea became quite complex. It turned into that 'special' part of the tapestry I dread.

I celebrated today when I completed that 'special' part.

The thing about big tapestries is that they are big. The 'special' parts are big too.