Friday, April 26, 2013

Weaving a Circle Re-visited

My mother was a tapestry weaver and I remember her telling me know Nicki, weaving a circle is the hardest shape to weave ... But I also remember my mother loved to have curves and circles in her tapestries...there were so many moons and suns in her creations.

I started weaving after my mother had passed away and I was never scared of weaving circles... I must admit to being much more flummoxed by weaving straight lines at specific angles than weaving a circle.    I figure I am not nervous about circles since I saw so many circles appear on my mother's looms over the years that I knew they were doable. For me it was never a strange shape for a tapestry.  Never something to be nervous about.

I found some really old photos of one of my first circles that I wove in tapestry. It was the planet Jupiter and was woven on my counter balance floor loom.  This was the same loom that sat in our kitchen when I was a kid.  The same loom that my mother used to weave her tapestries until she bought an upright so her back wouldn't hurt so much.

I have heard a few tapestry instructors say one must use a specific formula to make a circle in tapestry.   I never found a formula that would work for me.  I just use a cartoon.  I attached the cartoon under the warp and I weave the shape by turning on the warp end that is closest to the line on the cartoon.  If line is half way between two warps, I might use the one closer in and take a  slightly wider turn of the weft to create a smoother curve.  I avoid pulling on a warp when I turn the weft since I want the warp to remain straight without distortion.

Here is the cartoon I used when I wove my first big circle - the planet Jupiter and a number of progress shots along the way.

I started with my cartoon which was attached below my warp. 

Weave the base

Weave one side of the base supporting the circle.  Follow the lines on the cartoon.
There is no specific formula since yarns and setts vary.
PS  I removed the cartoon for the photos.

Weave the other side of the base

Start to fill in the circle, making sure to pack in the yarn
as tightly as you packed the base and sides. 

Once you finish the bottom half of the circle weave the top half of the circle.
Sorry I have no picture...remember to follow the lines on the cartoon.
Don't let your brain convince you your cartoon is wrong!
Once the top half of the circle is woven fill in the edges on the right and left sides.
Then finish the tapestry.

I use the same process to weave a circle now as I did way back when in 2004 ... but I can do a much smoother circle now.  I must admit that I still like this one since it was one of my first.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Rita's Excellent Adventure in Eureka

I just got back from a trip up to Eureka to check out Rita's Excellent Adventure which is on exhibit at the Morris Graves Museum of Art.

As you may recall, Rita's Excellent Adventure is a story which I wrote about a sand crab named Rita who lives in the Santa Monica Bay.   It is written in verse and tells of the great adventures Rita has as she searches for the best purple plankton in the Bay.  The story is illustrated by six tapestry weavers, including me, from the Seaside Tapestry Group.

We were limited in our palette of yarns to use and of course the size.  At least 50% of the yarn had to be from our common stash which was a cotton silk blend.  We also had to include a bit of red and a bit of blue to each tapestry.  The frames were restricted in size to at least .5 but no more that 1.5 inches and limited to two specific yarns.  Even with all these limitations the pieces are distinguishable by artist due to the differing styles of each artist.  If you go to see the exhibit, try to match up the tapestries with the artists and also make sure to look how each frame is different!

Here I am posing next to Margie's tapestry (on top)  illustrating Rita's harrowing ride on a bicycle along the bike path towards her home in the swash by Will Roger's State Beach in Pacific Palisades.   Her home is illustrated by Merna Strauch in the tapestry below.

These tapestries to the left are both by Carollee Howes.  The top one depicts two menacing dogs along the canals of Venice.  The  one on the bottom is what Rita sees from inside the dark smelly trash bag from which she must find a way to escape.

I wove the tapestry on top.  This depicts the race between Rita and a kid on the beach. I am sure you know that Rita won the race....running backwards of course.    My great nephew Jake was the model for the foot and the shoe.

Since this exhibit is comprised of  twenty panels and really must be viewed sequentially Margie Fine wove the last tapestry titled The End.   This way, you know if you have started in the wrong place.  The fun thing about Margie's tapestries is that each has Rita hidden somewhere in the tapestry...look for those yellow antennae and black eyes peering about!

Here is Page One with Rita in her full splendor.  The fun thing about sand crabs is that they do everything backwards with their tails going first and their heads going last.    The top tapestry is by me and the lower one by Merna Strauch depicting a warm and sunny day in Santa Monica Bay.

 Look for Rita's Excellent Adventure  in the Youth Gallery of the Morris Graves Museum of Art.  Which of course is a perfect place for Rita!

The two tapestries in the photo to the left depict the beginning of Rita's trip home.  In the top one, woven by me, there is a menacing perch, a predator of the sand crab. In the lower tapestry, by Judi Freed,is the kelp forest in which Rita hides until she can steal a ride home on a yacht sailing by; illustrated by Karen Leckart on the right.

The museum did a beautiful job of hanging the exhibit.  I love how the panels vary in number and alternate with the windows in the room.

Many many thanks to the Morris Graves Museum of Art in Eureka for allowing Rita  to visit in April and May.

My Beetles Travel to Studio 74

Four Long Horned Beetles from my collection. 
Four of my Long Horned Beetles are being exhibited at Studio 74 as part of a California Fiber Artists exhibit in Fresno California.  

I was fortunate enough to attend the opening reception with a few other artists in California Fiber Artists.   I had a really great time on the trip and took lots of photos and here are a few of my favorites.

 California Fiber Artists is a group of professional artists who promote fiber art through exhibiting throughout the country.  If you want to see more of their work you can look through our 2013 Portfolio which I just created and published on Blurb for the group.

Studio 74 is a house with many rooms creating wonderful intimate exhibit spaces. 
Here are my four long horned beetles along side a beautiful piece called In the Window by Joanell Connolly.

I simply love this piece called Tortured Soul by Desieree Habicht.   It is quite large - 3 feet by 4 feet. 

This is one of my favorite pieces done by Carol Brown; looks like a watercolor but all done in thread and fabric.

These two stunning quilted and painted pieces are done by Sherry Kleinmann who works from live models.

Journal Pages by Mary Beth Schwartzenberger.