Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Writing with Words and Weft

It took awhile but I finally finished both my ocean poem tapestry banners.  I think weaving poems is just wonderful. A poem is a subtle piece where each word is carefully and artfully selected; a poem told in both words and weft enhance the viewer's appreciation by giving those few words greater depth and visual beauty.

The first tapestry on the left was created during the time of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf and it speaks to the beauty and fragility of the ocean.  The second was inspired by scenes of recent tsunamis where the ocean is clearly getting its revenge.

Left: Ode to the Ocean
Right: Ocean's Revenge

Friday, August 12, 2011

Not Weaving

I am not weaving any tapestry at the moment...finishing several, designing one and racking my brains out on another.  It's an odd place to be.  I spent some time working on a plan as to what I should be working on when in order to accomplish the things I want to accomplish by when.  And I am where I should be.

Our tapestry group is working on a group project consisting of a dozen and a half small tapestries which tell a story.  I finished page 1 and am now designing page 7.  I am scheduled to weave/finish it in September.  Our group projects have lots of rules and regs to follow and this group project is no exception.  There are specified yarns which must be used in at least half of the piece, a red and a blue which must be used in all pieces and sizes to the overall piece as well as the frame.    Such limitations are said to provide greater unity to the combined pieces as well as spur one's creativity.  All true.

The page of the story I am illustrating is an underwater scene at the sandy bottom of the Santa Monica Bay with a menacing surf perch...  I'd like to achieve that impressionistic look with the colors blurry up close but clearing as one steps back.  The size is 9 by 12 inches with a sett of around 6-8.

My first drawing, done on tracing paper and in crayon is on the left along with some of the stipulated palette.    On my next revision, I hope to have a more menacing fish plus show more realistically the variances in light reflections under water.  I think I'll try watercolors instead of wax crayons to achieve a better idea as to what the finished tapestry might look like.

View from my loom 
It's not a rush...I have it laying out on a table in my studio so the yarns and the design can speak to me.  On another table I have my waxed crayons as well as my soluble crayons waiting for their daily spin. And in the corner, my buddy watches.

Monday, August 01, 2011

My Tapestry Spiral in Eureka

Here is a photo of My Tapestry Spiral which is being exhibited at the Morris Graves Museum in Eureka California.  It is always fun to see how the curator will exhibit this piece.   Each time is different.  This time it was the best.  A great deal of care and thought went into this presentation. 

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.  

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Third Tapestry Banner off the Loom

I finished the weaving portion of my third tapestry banner and have it hanging temporarily on the wall to straighten out a bit before I go further.  It is a bit shy of 100 inches and exactly 20 inches wide.    It's so tall, I need a taller ladder than my two step to raise the nail about 4-6 inches so I can have the tapestry hang without touching the floor.

This banner will have more surface design details than my others.    There was a lot of tension issues in this piece most likely caused by the areas of negative space I have where the warp is exposed.  I plan to add small paintings or drawings behind some of the exposed warp once the kinks are worded out of the tapestry.   I will also be adding some designs in yarn or roving in some other places along with some black beads I have been dying to add to a piece.

I am also considering making the back have an interesting design on the back lining  so the tapestry can hang and be viewed in two directions.   I ran out of time and energy on my first banner so its viewable only in one direction.  The back is simply a red backing and a label.  I am still searching for the right beads for my second banner so I could add an interesting back to it too.

Looks like I will have a fun and long road to the finish on these...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Flamingo at Rest

Here is my tapestry flamingo checking out the backyard.

This is an experimental piece  woven in tiny squares of color so the image up close is pixelated.   It gets clearer as you step back from the tapestry. It's a couple feet high and about 10 to 11 inches wide woven with yarns entirely from my stash.

I was hoping for an impressionist look...like the Monet painting.  That  turned out to be much more difficult that I thought it would. With tapestry there is a high level of commitment to the color woven into the tapestry since changing the colors later is not as easy to do as with oils. With paint its easy to simply paint over the color which was not quite right with a new one. With this tapestry I discovered it would not be until perhaps 2-3 inches later that I would discover a certain color was not quite the right one...

Since its woven in tiny squares of color; four round trips around three warp ends...I can carefully remove a color that is not quite right and replace with another.   So now I am in the tweaking stage; improving on the color selection in both the background and the image.

A bit more tweaking is in order...   but no more for today...my flamingo needs a rest.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Dyeing Opposites

I have had a cold lately and haven't been up for doing many things.   I felt inspired to dye today so I quickly lept into action.

I needed some yarn for a tapestry I am creating which focuses on opposites and the ability of opposites to attract, polarize and also neutralize if and when they come together.   So I selected two fun opposites on the color wheel; a bright yellow green and a wonderful plum red violet and dyed three graduated mixtures of the two.

Here are the results drying in the back yard.  The fog just rolled in so it may be some time before they dry. The very light color at the far left is the yarn color I dyed.   It may look grey but its a bit more tan than the photo would imply.

The colors seem perfect for what I have in mind.  Hopefully, they will look as good when dry.

Friday, April 15, 2011

My Studio is Bright

 My studio is quite colorful with two tapestries brightening the room.  I just took off Ocean's Revenge and it is resting on my loom awaiting finishing.  It's companion piece Ode to the Ocean is finished and on the wall.

I must apologize for the photos and my recent silence, I just got a new computer which was fried in a recent series of power surges and it seems everything takes  ten times longer and is ten times more difficult to do with this new one.  I haven't had the time nor the patience to handle the process of getting an exhibit quality photo.   So these will do for now.

These two tapestries each convey a poem in stylized letters; one in reaction to the Gulf oil spill last year and a second about the inevitability of the ocean's impact on our coastal shores.  The first is 20 inches wide and 80 inches long.  The second is shorter but will be close to the other in length once the long coiled fringe is complete.  The yarns are mostly a self dyed cotton/silk blend.  

Both were quite enjoyable to weave.  The first my focus was on flawless execution and ensuring the blue oil oozed down through the middle of the piece.  With the second I became freer using more clashing colors,  a broader palette and will finish with a really fun fringe.

I have two opportunities later this year to exhibit these pieces. I think they will exhibit well together.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Friend Came to Visit

A bit of black came to visit my neutrals....everyone seemed to perk up for the occasion.

Thursday, March 03, 2011


I am in a color and fiber study group which  researches a given topic, shares what we find, explores the concept in fiber and other mediums and then creates an exhibit quality piece.   Our current topic: neutrals.

I decided I would avoid increasing my stash with new yarns and would attempt to create a tapestry with the neutral yarns I already have.   My normal approach would be to create the design then select the yarns.  This time I have the yarns and I am waiting for my yarn to speak to me about the design it would like to be.

I have put all my neutral and near neutral yarns in a basket in my studio. So far, the yarn has not had much to say.  

I will keep listening....

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Good Feeling

 No better feeling than taking a tapestry off the loom... and letting it rest. 

The piece has turned out great.  The colors are wonderful.  The letters right side up and heading the right direction.  This banner tapestry is eighty inches long and twenty inches long.   It will actually be longer since I will have some of the fringe hang from the bottom.

And best of all, I have lots of leftover warp to weave a companion piece.    I have already wrote the poem for the new piece.  It's called Ocean's Revenge.  The cartoon is complete so all I have to do is set up the loom and get going.  Perhaps next week.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


I feel good. 

Two days back at my Big Shannock and some real progress in the New Year on my Seeing Red project for Designing Weavers.  I'm half way done with weaving another poem; this one about six feet longer than the first one I wove.   And I am on schedule to finish with time to spare. 

Life is good. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

First Tapestry of the Year

Just finished sewing the back of this small tapestry I wove as part of a group project for our tapestry group.  It's 1/12th of a Georgia O'Keeffe painting.  I am actually not sure if its positioned correctly; it may need to be shifted 90 degrees in one direction or flipped over.    Whoopee!  My first tapestry of the year.

Only 18 days and it has been quite a year. Finished a tapestry.  Celebrated my birthday.  And have three pieces hanging in my second exhibit of the year!   All this with a week of nasty flu.    Looks to be a fast moving year.

Monday, January 03, 2011

More Progress

Here's my progress photo after the unabridged version of P.D. James' The Private Patient.  The reds are fairly true in the photo but the greens are a bit off.   Please don't ask me what it is; since I have no idea.  There is nothing recognizable in the black and white scan I received to weave. All I know is that it's one twelfth of a Georgia O'Keeffe painting.

I must say, it was a wonderful feeling to make it to the top; at least in one spot.  I figure one or two more books on tape and I will be done weaving and onto finishing. This is the point where I need to pay attention to my edges; I have a tendency to pull in at the very end in my excitement to get done.

PS.  This is woven on a Shannock table loom which has gotten a bit skewed.  I am thinking the leg bolts on the bottom should be below the bottom beam and not above.  Once I finish this weaving I am going to swap the position and see if the piece is more stable.  I took the loom apart to fit it in my suitcase when I went to Convergence...so perhaps I put it back together wrong!