Friday, May 03, 2013

Weaving Something Realistic

The beginning of a small tapestry...

My fingers felt good enough recently to start tapestry again.  I had two warps set up on my baby Shannock tapestry loom to weave some Kaibab squirrels; one with the warp vertical and the other with the warp horizontal.  The pieces are but 5 by 7 inches but a fairly slow weave at 14 epi and single silk wefts.  When I planned this tapestry way back when I wanted to weave a fairly realistic squirrel and see if I liked the result better with the warp going vertical or horizontal.

I am considering writing a story about a Kaibab squirrel...they are the squirrels that only live on the Kaibab Plateau of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  When I visited the North Rim I saw one and it really peaked my curiosity.  There is another species the Albert squirrel which lives at the South Rim.....but that is a whole different story.

Anyway, I decided to weave a couple of these cuties and am fighting my natural tendency to have it look like a cartoon vs. a more realistic portrayal of what the Kaibab squirrel actually looks like.  I will probably end up with a quasi-realistic portrayal....somewhere in-between. I did successfully curb my desire to show the animal smiling and looking content with such a fine nut in its hand...instead going for a more alert look with those goofy tufted ears upright listening for anything which might steal its food.  I look forward to weaving its big fluffy white tail.

I find it easier to draw or paint something realistic vs weaving it...with tapestry it comes down to laying a single piece of colored yarn in each intersection of warp and weft.  Too many choices for singularly tiny spots of color.   And most of the spots are critical to having the image look 'right'.  I need to select the right color and the right value for each spot so the reflections of the sun and the shadows fall on the body in the right places.  Otherwise it will not look realistic. It's all about the its all about value.  Rarely is a dot next to a dot of the same color/value in this tapestry.  So, progress is slow...yet satisfying.

What I am going for here is different than going for a cartoon-like appearance which has larger blocks of single colors/values.  Dimension in the image is achieved through some well placed dark lines vs. any value changes or hue changes.  The cartoon approach is  always easier and faster to weave...not necessary better or worse...just different and executed more quickly.

To make my life a bit easier, the squirrel is comprised on five colors and the grass background has about five colors too.  I look forward to seeing how the first tapestry turns out and how the second varies from the first.

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