Sunday, November 22, 2015

Beginning again... an oxymoron?

Well, maybe.  Yet a tapestry maker always has to begin again.  Tapestry is finished.  New warp goes on the loom, design is made (or sometimes that works in reverse--design first and then warp to fit the image), wefts chosen and one starts.  The empty warp gets filled up and hidden in the multi-part wefts that will create the resulting "picture in the rug."  The quote is from an elderly aunt who once when seeing a tapestry I'd woven of my grandmother ooh-ed and ah-ed over it, then said, "Now how did you get the picture in the rug?"  Needless to say, I was a bit stumped about how to explain it.  And I guess I've been trying ever since to help people who aren't familiar with tapestry weaving (or any weaving, for that matter) understand the process.

This time around, my new beginning is based on a painting I did while at the recent Lillian E. Smith Center residency.  I wrote about that image as it developed at this blog post.  I started weaving on the piece a few weeks ago and in the past couple of days have gotten to the point of major decisions about how to tackle the large expanse of background that's to be light--not quite white, not quite tan but something of both of those in light values.  I'm not trying to replicate the marks of the charcoal and paint that were in the original version on canvas but I want to activate the background in a way that is visually interesting and that also shows the marks and making process of weaving.

Here's how it looked on the loom yesterday afternoon when I left the studio:

The piece is 60" on the loom with a warp of 12/18 cotton seine twine, sett at 6 epi.  The cartoon is a simple line drawing of the shadow and leaf shapes from the original.

A closer view of what I'm going to do... I think.  I've woven in and taken out several inches so far but I think that this is the approach I'll be using throughout the background, different types of yarns used as wefts and woven in diagonal directions that sometimes reverse to form diamonds.  The small slits at the turns show up as tiny spots of shadow.  The slight differences in value and hue of the light neutral wefts give the background visual interest--at least that's what I'm hoping will happen and so far, seems to be working the way I want.

The weft is primarily wool but I'm also using hemp, linen, a silk-linen blend, and cotton bundled together.  Some of the yarns are quite small (the hemp, linen and a couple of the cottons) so I have 8-10 strands together in some bundles.  I'm using 4 strands of the wool.  When I combine the other materials with the wool, the number in the bundle varies.

It feels good to have a way forward.  A new beginning.  Again.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Reception for exhibit tonight--and article just published

There will be a reception at 5:30 this afternoon for my small exhibit.  All the ducks are in a row for it... well, almost.  At least the rains have passed and it's a beautiful day. 

Coincidentally, an article I'd written for the British Tapestry Group's publication, Tapestry Weaver, was in the mailbox a couple of days ago.  In the article I'd discussed the designing process for the pieces that are in the exhibit and how important artist retreat experiences have been to my work.  Here's a scan of the article:

I've written before about how I value the times I've been able to spend in a residency.  I've had many stays at Hambidge Center and also at Lillian E. Smith Center.  Both are located in the beautiful north Georgia mountains that I dearly love.  I've applied to other residencies in quite different geographical locations, unsuccessfully so far--but I'll keep looking.  One of the things I'd like very much to do is find a residency situation in a large city.  NYC would be my dream place to go for an extended time to work in a totally different environment.  Chicago wouldn't be too bad, either!  An urban environment is so alien to my day-to-day life.  Sounds, smells, shapes--all would be totally different.  So would access to museums and galleries; days spent looking at art works without having to rush.  Keep looking and dreaming, I guess.  And applying when something comes up.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Leaf Fall--exhibit at University of North Georgia

Reception is 5:30--not later, as I'd mentioned in the previous post.

I have most of the exhibit up, just have details to attend to and then I'm back to the loom for the next tapestry to get moving along.  I glad to have the opportunity to show these paintings and the first tapestry based on the work I did while at Lillian Smith Center in early September.  Even thought the University schedule is such that the exhibit won't be open daily (Thanksgiving week is out) I'm still happy to see the paintings hanging.  Maybe a few people will get to see the work and give me some feedback!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Finished and ready to show

I completed the tapestry today with a warp finishing technique that Peter Collingwood calls "woven edge" and that's found in his book, The Techniques of Rug Weaving.  The book is my go-to for finishing methods for weft-faced weaving--as well as many other things, including soumak.  Here's a link to the section of the book in which the edge treatment is found in the online digital archives of weaving publications.  The woven edge description begins on page 497.

The tapestry is 29" high x 19.25" wide, with a linen warp sett at 8 epi.  The weft is wool and linen.  It will be shown with the painting on which it was based, and several other paintings made while I was at Lillian Smith Center in early September, in a small exhibit at the gallery in Hansford Hall at the University of North Georgia.  A reception will be on November 19 at 6:30 p.m. 

Tomorrow I hope to start on the next piece.  Maybe!