Thursday, December 30, 2010

Progress Shot - 13 hours and counting

Here is what my small tapestry looks like after one book on tape...a book of 11 Cd's; with approximately 70 minutes per CD.   I've never really tracked how long any of my tapestries actually take to weave but using books on tape seems like an easy way to do it.  

So far the values are fairly close to those in my given design.  The original is a tiny photograph - perhaps 2 by 3 inches without a lot of detail.  Even though I was one of the two who saw the original Georgia O'Keeffe poster before it was cut up into 12 pieces; the design in my piece is meaningless to me.  As I weave I have been adding colors, shading, bits of interest here and there without any context as to what my image actually is. How many times have I heard 'it's all about the image'...well here I am weaving an image totally out of context.  It is somewhat of a clinical exercise; no real passion.  I feel odd weaving a tapestry without that real passion inside.  I normally can visualize what I am weaving - not this time.  So, I just seem to be plodding away...interested in how it is coming out but without great enthusiasm.   The book on tape is far more interesting that the weaving itself.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


I read this today...100 Accomplishments in 2009...what a wonderful idea...I think I will make a list of my top 100 things I accomplished in should help me plan my journeys for 2011.

Hopefully one of the items on my list will be to finish an 11 CD 'book on tape' which I am listening to as I weave this small 7 by 12 inch tapestry.  This is where I am after four to go. It is rare I can actually listen to an audio book while working.  I have found the constant rain this weekend to be a wonderful time to weave so I suspect before long this book on tape will be done.  

Unfortunately, even though this is a small tapestry, I project it to to be a six+ audio book it won't be done this year.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Future Pull

My memory of Santa Fe was finally framed and hung in my front studio. It's a photograph by David Brookover called Future Pull.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Here I am at a very familiar place. I've got a loom warped, the warps spaced & twined with six pics of warp woven in. The final tapestry will be twelve inches wide and 7.5 inches tall when complete.

Now is the time to commit. This is the point I always pause... and ask myself -

Do I really want to spend the time and effort to weave this piece?

Would I rather spend my time on something else?

Is the design and technique interesting enough to keep my attention to the end?

Is there something unusual, new or fascinating about the upcoming journey?

Do I have the patience to weave at 14 epi in silk singles?

Having paused and written down these questions; I am going back to tweak my design and yarn selection. It just occurred to me I can add some layers of experimentation and complexity to keep this road one less travelled and more interesting.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Beginning

My studio is finally at a stage that I can finally make some progress weaving on the Big Shannock. This upright tapestry loom has been warped and the weft dyed and ready to go for awhile. In fact I dyed the yarn back in June!

In the last week, I have woven about 18 inches or so. It's been a relaxed and wonderful weaving experience; I have even been able to listen to books on tape. Most of my other weaving is too cerebral to listen to anything; even music causes me to rip and reweave.

This tapestry is for my annual project for Designing Weavers; the theme is Seeing Red. Once complete the tapestry should be about 70 inches long and 20 inches wide. It includes a poem I wrote about the fragility of the ocean in semi-abstract block letters. It is being woven upside down and from the back. The 'T' is the only letter woven so far.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Games People Play

Here is a small tapestry I just took off the loom, two inches square; woven at 14 epi with linen singles. I am going to wrap it around a small 2 inch canvas to frame it. It should be called something like Games People Play, Destiny, or Winning Isn't Everything or Damm I Can't Win get the idea.

I sometimes wonder why I weave what I weave...

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My First Beetle in Tapestry

This is the small tapestry I wove at the ATA retreat in Santa Fe. In our workshop we were to focus on a symbol; I chose the Egyptian hieroglyphic of a scarab which is the sacred symbol of sun, renewal and rejuvenation.

Surprise, surprise it turns out the scarab is a dung beetle - one of those beetles that rolls balls of manure across the ground and fills them with
fertilized eggs from which the next generation would hatch. In the process the manure disappears. The dung beetle is the modern day recycler; without them the earth would be piled high with manure. Apparently they successfully imported dung beetles into Australia to remove cow manure- cleaning the fields, reducing disease & disease bearing insects with the added benefit of a reduction in global warming.

In my tapestry, the black ball in the lower corner is the manure which is converted to healthy growing soil represented by the green sun at the top overlooking the Nile. The ever increasing curved triangles represent the continuous renewal and rejuvenation thanks to the dung beetle.

There were two workshops at the retreat, the other instructor gave us a short lecture on making a frame for a small tapestry in order to capture and reserve some precious wall space specifically for it. As any small tapestry is difficult to compete with all the other things on the wall and in the room.

I liked her idea so I tried it out. This is my stab at what she described. The tapestry is lashed on a board which floats slightly below the top of the frame. Learnings: 1. if you are going to stain the wood - don't use wood that has been sitting around the garage for a long time - who knows what has dropped and soaked into it 2. sanding does not remove all the stuff in number 1 so the stain will never look even and nice.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Invading the Stash

For our group tapestry challenge I thought I would try to use the yarns I already have...trying not to dye any new colors or buy any additional yarns. This morning I went through my stash and here is what I found.

This first grouping is all mohair or something similar....colorful, wispy, light and airy....but lacking in some value contrast. If there were some darker values; perhaps cranberry, mulberry and a zinfindel it would be a great combination. Plus, using light airy yarns would be fun; something new; fairly wide sett and little beating.

Here's the palette I have in my dyed silk. Good value contrasts...a bit more 'Van Gogh' in palette than O'Keeffe...but I could probably make it work. It could use more darker values in the reds and oranges...

Hmmm...time to stew a bit.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

An Inspired Challenge

I spent some time at the American Tapestry Retreat in Santa Fe this month. I and a dozen others spent three days with James Koehler while others spent their days with Lynn Curran. And along with all the wonderful galleries I visited and all the creative art work I saw, I came back inspired. One of my friends was equally inspired and we offered a challenge to our tapestry group back home based in part on each of the instructors at the retreat.

To create a quality small tapestry based on a black and white image of part of a Georgia O'Keeffe painting which we saw at the Georgia O'Keeffe museum. The exact painting was not specified so our imaginations are free to determine the palette. Once complete we will put them all together and see how they compare with the original. Since the focus is on quality and value it should work out well.

The size was specified - each to be 7.5 by 12 inches with straight edges. The starting/finishing is based on the James Koehler preferred method. [If you have been to one of his workshops you know the drill...waste weft yarn followed by twining with warp, six pics of warp, six pics of weft in the same colors as the first line of the tapestry followed with soumack in the same colors...] Pretty much everything else - color, yarn, texture, sett, warp etc. was free game.

I have my black and white image and have been staring at it for a couple of days. Take a look. It is quite an odd shape to say the least. Where other folks images seems like landscapes mine seems a bit erotic. I see nothing that makes much sense. There are plenty of value differences...I count at least nine. So we are looking at a full value spectrum piece...nothing too subtle here. Now what colors does this piece say to you?

I decided to play a bit in Photoshop, trying different colors and effect...I've got dozens of alternatives...

I am partial to the following rendition... it reminds me a bit of Bryce Canyon and the hoodoos....

Friday, August 13, 2010

An Idea...

Wouldn't this be a great tapestry?

Perhaps with all those red yarns I dyed...

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Ah what a dilemma...I have to chose a palette of yarns for an upcoming tapestry workshop and I have yet to create a design. I have gone back and forth for the last hour or so...and have finally decided to create a selection based on two is some indigo yarn one of my friends dyed for me...and the other is a collection of color samples that I dyed awhile ago to create an entire color circle in yarn.

Good selection...good colors...good values...good possibilities....

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

So Happy!

I spent some time, not very much time, winding my recently dyed skeins to spools for my spool rack by my Big Shannock. They are exactly the colors I was hoping for. I am excited about weaving this piece....will start after all my exhibit pieces are many places and so much detail work.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

In Search of the Right Red

I finally got around to dyeing my yarn for my upcoming tapestry...the weatherman forecasted no 'June Gloom' for Saturday so I figured it would be a great dye day...six hours later the sun finally came out and my family of reds was all dyed.

The tapestry I will be weaving next on my Big Shannock is a poem I wrote as a kid. Similar in concept to the small piece that I am working on now but different in size, yarn, sett... I am designing this piece to be a sampler which would use a variety of reds and its closer relatives to see how they look with each other.

I need a sampler because I still want to weave that large tapestry I designed and I am in search of the 'right' palette of reds to work perfectly with the lovely dark blue violet I bought recently. I can see it my mind...just have to find it in reality. My yarn is a cotton-silk blend where each component takes the color a bit differently for a lovely mottled look. It's always a surprise to see how the color takes to the yarns.

Although the yarns are not yet dry I can see some absolutely lovely reds here...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Poem in Tapestry

Here is a small tapestry I am working on; it's about half done. It is four inches wide and will be about 10 inches long when complete. It is woven in silk singles.

When I cleaned my studio earlier this year I found a folder my Mother had kept and later gave to me. It included all sorts of writings and art work I had done when I was a kid. This tapestry is a line from a poem I wrote for a creative writing class. It still gives me the same feeling when I read it today as I felt when I wrote it long ago.

There are a few other lines from poems I wrote that I really love. I am going to weave another on my Big Shannock.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Sometimes it takes awhile

Sometimes it takes a long time to figure out the right frame for a small tapestry. Or at least it does for me.

I finished a tapestry for the ATA small format show back in 2008 as part of a group submission. We all were tasked with weaving a small tapestry in one hue and some metallic with a theme of palm trees. I selected 'cassette tape brown' as my hue. The entire piece was woven in cassette tape some of which I spray painted for a higher value with a bit of shimmer. I like the piece but could never figure out the right way to hang it....until yesterday.

It is in a shadow box frame, raised a bit over glass. Beneath the glass is this aqua material with flecks of the same color as the moon in the tapestry. It is almost perfect. I am a bit leery of using glass since it breaks so easily. I may switch it out with a bit of plexi which would also make it lighter and have a bit less glare. I had to take the picture off from the center to avoid most of the glare.

It looks really nice next to my Folding Space tapestry in my studio.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


It is always interesting how the idea for a tapestry comes to fruition. While at the Tapestry Weavers West exhibit in Petaluma earlier this year, I saw the proportion of a tapestry that I wanted to weave. It was big; five feet high and seven feet long. It looked absolutely wonderful; perfectly proportioned on the big white wall. That proportion has been mulling around in the back of my mind along with a few other ideas and I now have this great concept for a tapestry; I can see it clearly.

However, five by seven is pretty big; I'd have to weave the tapestry sideways since my loom is only six feet wide. That raised some issues to mull over. Since I've never woven anything the entire width of my loom I decided I'd go slightly smaller, with a similar proportion, 6 by 4 1/4 feet.

I cut out paper to use as a cartoon and realized it may be smaller than my original idea but it is still massive - no table big enough at this house....will be on my knees drawing out the initial lines of the cartoon.

Speaking of massive, I wondered if the piece would be intriguing enough to keep my interest for the months it will take to weave. After more mulling, I've decided to weave a slice of my piece; a sample of sorts; about 18 inches wide and 4 1/4 high. This smaller slice of my design will allow me to get the colors right, the technique sorted out and give me more time to mull over the final design.

It is fortunate I wanted to start with a smaller slice. When I went to my warp stash - there was only enough warp of the size I needed for a slice. More mulling over whether I want 30/18 or something slightly smaller. But that mulling can wait for another day.

My loom is threaded and waiting for the final tie-up. Simply need to finish up the cartoon, dye some yarn and get weaving. I'd like to start weaving by the end of May.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Time Out

Its time for Spring Cleaning of the Studio.

The Before Photo - -

With the help of my painter, I removed most everything from my studio this morning including the contents of three closets and quite a few bookcases. It is remarkable how much I can pack in one room in an organized fashion. But it is the big Spring Cleaning. It does not happen often. The census happens only once per decade so it seems does the complete Spring Cleaning of my studio. Cleaning has happened before - but this one is the complete one.

Everything is removed from its spot, every tapestry and piece of art is taken off the walls, everything removed from the bulletin boards, nothing remains on the various bookcases, even the bookcases are removed from the room. Three table looms remain on the remaining furniture. The nails, pins, hooks, etc. have been removed and the holes in the walls have been patched and tomorrow the paint arrives.

Everything will be re-evaluated before re-entering the studio with a fresh eye for the future. I anticipate full trash cans for the next several weeks. A gallery hanging system will arrive in a week so I can easily hang and change my wall hangings without putting nails in the walls.

Here is the interim photo - -

In a week or so, there will be fresh paint, a new arrangement of my work area withing the constraints of the room and a renewed vigor to get things done.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

My Bridge in the Rain

Here is my entry for the ATA Small Format Exhibit which will be showing in Santa Fe this July. It is called Bridge in the Rain #3.

Hopefully it looks a bit familiar. The Japanese artist Ando Hiroshige did a scene like this, Sudden Shower in a wood block print in 1857. Van Gogh later (in 1887) used it as inspiration for this Japonaiserie: The Bridge in the Rain. I followed both of them in 2010 with my interpretation in fiber of a similar scene.

My piece is five inches in diameter. Woven at 14 epi with hand dyed silk singles. It was a complex and technical piece which I would like to weave again now that I know what I need to do to improve the end result.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tapestry in Petaluma

I was delighted I was able to finally view the Tapestry Weavers West tapestry exhibit in Petaluma, California before it closed. It was a spectacular exhibit in a great venue.

Here is my niece and her two year old viewing my tapestry called Folding Space.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

A Tapestry Year?

Will it be a tapestry year?

Not much tapestry weaving for quite awhile. However, I did sign up for the ATA Retreat in July with James Koehler and a couple workshops at Convergence so there is tapestry in my future. Plus, one of my recent tapestries will be in an exhibit in Petaluma.

I am in the design phase of two new is smaller than a dinner plate. Its for ATA's Small Format Exhibit. The other is big; the biggest piece I have ever done. Both are quite exciting. But before I get beyond the design phase for these two, I need to finish framing a piece for one of the Convergence exhibits as well as clean my studios. One studio is done; one to go- plus there is the yarn dungeon which needs to be organized....

So it should be a couple of weeks before anything interesting happens in tapestry land.