Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My New Camera Lens

Macro Shot 
Wide Angle Shot
 I finally finished one of my portholes on my small format tapestry and was able to try out these cool camera lenses I got for Christmas.

It fits on my I-phone and has a macro setting with a focal distance of a half an inch.  What you are seeing is silk woven at 14 epi.  I am always looking for a way to take good close up shots of my work.   Hard to believe I can do it now with my phone!

The hardest part was opening up the warp on the back of Mirrix and getting the phone in there without my fingers showing up in the shot.   As I said in an earlier post, this isn't the best loom to do circles and faces.  And is problematic when taking photos of the piece in progress.  With the lens attachment on the phone it was difficult to keep the hands still while holding the camera in position inside the outer warp and finding the spot on the camera to push to take the shot.

From the box the lenses came in you can see there is also a fish eye lens. All three lenses are combined into one attachment. The lens is real easy to use - just slip it over the lens of the camera and shoot. Its magnetic so it doesn't fall off.   Of course, I have a cover on my I-phone so I have to take that off before using the lens attachment.

What fun.  Now back to weaving.

ps  here is a photo of sewing thread woven at 48 epi on my other blog...

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Weaving a Circle

Step One In Weaving a Circle
 - weave the base -
I finally made some progress on my small tapestry for the ATA unjuried show, Pacific Portals in Long Beach.

Not much image to see, but a good example of how to weave circles.

I have finished the base of the circles. That is step one.  Next, comes a more interesting part -  I get to fill the negative space with my circular designs. Each circle is a porthole with a person looking out.  Once the images are done I can fill around the circular portholes, add a blue line, switch to a basket weave at a wider sett and presto I'll be done - -  lickety split.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Tale of Two Tapestry Looms

The tapestry I am working on the Mirrix is for Pacific Portals exhibit; ATA's unjuried small format show in Long Beach.  Entry form is due by January 15th - done.  Now all I have to do is weave the tapestry before March 15th. I also just finished a tapestry on my other tapestry loom which is a Shannock.  So how about some thoughts on the pros and cons of each?

Warped Shannock behind naked Mirrix
So I now own both a Mirrix and a Shannock table loom.  My Shannock table loom was my first tapestry loom I ever bought; liked it so much I bought a six foot model.  It is and has been my workhorse since 2004.  I don't think Shannock table looms are being made anymore. Just recently most in my tapestry group bought new Mirrix looms so now I also have the Zach 22". Having woven with both; I like them both.  No returning either of them!  But there are differences.

From a warping standpoint I prefer the Shannock.  It is way faster to warp.  Just wrap the warp around the top and bottom beams.  No changing directions going back and forth around a bar.  Tapestry is such a slow medium why add additional time to the process?  With the Shannock I am up and weaving faster due to less winding time, less warp and fewer heddles.

Less warp:  If I am only going to do one small format tapestry; the Shannock will use less warp.   At 8 ends per inch - no big deal.  At 14 ends per inch - a bigger deal but not a deal breaker.   If I am going to weave more than one piece on the loom; I can pull the warp around the Mirrix and use the warp on the back of the loom for a second piece.  Of course, that first tapestry must stay on the loom until the second is complete.  I have never done that before; but the option is available.

The Mirrix says its maximum tapestry is 40 inches; which is quite attractive. The longest I have done on my Shannock is 24 inches and that was pretty tough.

Fewer Heddles: I have always used heddles; I find tapestry becomes excruciatingly slow without them.   I only have so much patience and my lifetime limited and filled with choices...
The Shannock uses large inexpensive paperclips as heddles easily available at Staples or similar store.  The loom is designed so that you attach one heddle to every other warp end.

The Mirrix uses these Texslov pieces, ordered from a weaving store in sets of 100.  Of course, I could also have made them myself...but no, no, no.   I bought 100 with my loom, turns out I needed more since when I ordered it I did not realize I needed a heddle for each and every warp end..  Cutting all 200 of them was a chore, but now all are cut so no more hassles there.

The heddles were easy to attach on both looms.  I just had to attach twice as many on the Mirrix.    The heddles on both looms work well. When weaving each provides an adequate shed.  Each has a different hand motion to switch the shed; but its easy and after a couple of times; I didn't have to stop and look.

The Virgin Tapestry on my Mirrix
I am still on my first tapestry, but so far, I find weaving on the Mirrix better in three respects;

1. The paperclips heddles on the Shannock often get caught at a narrow warp; particularly if they are bent out of shape in any way.  The Mirrix heddles don't do that.

2. The Mirrix feels more substantial.   The difference is like the difference between driving a brand new Porsche vs. driving an old Dodge Colt.  Both get you there; but the ride is way different.  The Mirrix's wide feet provide excellent stability vs. the ones on the Shannock.   [I should look into getting new feet for the Shannock.]

3. The most troubling aspect of the Shannock for me is the fact the side bars are not exactly perpendicular to the ground.  They angle in slightly; making it harder to see if the edges are straight on a longer tapestry.

Here is the big issue for me with the Mirrix...

Weaving a Portrait on the Shannock
I weave from the back and like to check out my tapestry to see how things are going.  Those back warps on the Mirrix; particularly at narrow warps provide quite a screen; making it difficult to see through.  I end up spacing out the warp and peeking through. 

As I have been become a more experienced weaver; I have been checking much less.  There are situations where checking is important. When I weave an image; like an expression on a small face, the placement of a particular dot of color is critical; it will make or break the tapestry.  When confronting one of those situations on the Shannock I would just flip the loom around and weave that dot exactly where I wanted it.   That's is not an option on the Mirrix.

 It will be interesting to see how I do with this new loom when I get to that point on my latest tapestry.  This small tapestry has three small faces; each with a unique expression.

More later.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Designing a Flock of Plovers

We have six tapestry weavers who are illustrating in tapestries a story I wrote about a sand crab.    Each weaver is free to use her own style and is free to interpret the page she has selected and illustrate it in any way given a uniform palette of yarns and a few parameters to provide some unity.   The results are so interesting - so varied in style and come together quite well.  I wanted to take a moment and show the various stages I went through in coming up with the design for my latest tapestry.

I looked over the list of remaining pages of the story to illustrate and selected the one about plover birds, a predator of our heroine Rita, who happens to be a sand crab.   In the back of my mind I had been thinking of weaving a tessellation and thought perhaps I could pull off a bird tessellation for this tapestry; I have seen them done in quilts so why not tapestry?  It took me awhile to get into the swing of creating a tessellations...particularly after I had taken a look at what plover birds look like.  They did not seem to tessellate well.

The best I could come up with was on the left below.  The pieces are only 9 by 12 inches including the woven frame so there isn't that much room to fit a flock of plovers.  I could have woven this if the sett was smaller and the yarn finer...it would have been a nice piece.  But they really didn't remind me of plover birds - more like sparrows.  So I decided to try a different design.

The next iteration was not a true tessellation but the birds were more weave-able at my given sett.    Since the birds reminded me of chickadees and not plovers,  I again went back to the drawing board.  The third one were passable plover birds but the design was a bit repetitive and dull from a viewing perspective.  At some point, one must cut to the chase and start to weave...  For my final design,  I went with the one on the right; not a true tessellation but some repetitiveness and shifiting.  Once I had a design, I selected colors and off I went to weaving it up.

As of today,  the tapestry looks like this - clean, crisp and simple.

But then Rita sighs deeply, her home's far away.
A hot mile through sand, a long swim in the bay.
But from here to go there, will be such a tough feat
Because lots of those plover birds now crave a treat.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

One Plover to Bring in the New Year

One plover bird for the New Year!

This is a small tapestry' 9 by 12 inches designed and woven as part of a collection of tapestries which will illustrate a story I wrote about a sand crab whose adventures take her all around the Santa Monica Bay.   Six weavers in our tapestry group are working on this project.  There are 20 tapestries to be woven.

This is my third tapestry in this collection; depicting a plethora of hungry plover birds on the beach north of the Santa Monica Pier using a tetrad as my primary color palette.

My color study group is studying tetrads; a color scheme I don't think I have ever intentionally used.   It seems an awkward scheme which requires one of the four colors to be used far more extensively than the others in order for harmony to be achieved.

Here is a fun website where I developed my color scheme - - called the Color Scheme Designer.