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.