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 knows...it 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...