Friday, May 27, 2016

Weaving, weaving, and more weaving

Tapestry weaving takes time.  Lots and lots of time!  Here's where I spend hours a day when I'm working on tapestry:

This tapestry is one I began back in November.  I wrote about it at this post and have mentioned it occasionally since then.   I have a self-imposed deadline of finishing it by early August so that I'll have time to do finishing work on it and prepare it for hanging in the next exhibit I'll be having.  That will be at Piedmont College in late September.

Finishing work takes hours--sometimes days, in fact.  Not as long as weaving the tapestry, especially when the tapestry is a large one like the oak leaf one is (at least, large for me).  When I'm working on finishing I spend lots of time doing this:

What I'm doing in the photo is using a curved needle to whip stitch the warp ends to the back of the tapestry.  I've already used a half-Damascus finish on them that causes them to lay at the back.  Before mounting the tapestry, I like to be sure the tails of the warp won't flip out and so do the whip stitch to group a few ends together about 3/4" away from the edge.  I use sewing thread and just nip into the back of the weft... don't want the thread to go through to the front.

Here's the small tapestry that I was working on there:

This photo was done before the warp ends were taken to the back.  The little tapestry is 3" wide by about 6.5" high.  It's at the framers now to be completed--I want to use it in the exhibit along with several other small ones that are also being framed.  By the way... all the dyes of the black walnut tapestry were dyed with black walnut hulls as I wrote about at this post--except for the darkest in the walnut.  Those dark browns were from a commercial dye.

I have a couple of other tapestries in process now, too.  I'm hoping to have these finished before the exhibit.  Here's one of those... it's going to be about 12" square.  It's another of the several that I'm doing based on paintings I made while at the Lillian Smith Center retreat last summer.

And my 2016 tapestry diary grows daily.  I've devoted the month of May to the black walnut tree's catkins--I have a few more days to finish it up!  For June I'm thinking I'll do the female flower from the tree.  I was able to take a few photos of several of those... quite small compared to the catkins but I've drawn one version and will do a couple more before committing to what I'll be weaving for next month.  I keep learning more about black walnut trees as the year progresses and I see more and more of the seasonal changes the tree at our house goes through.

Now... back to the loom!  Inches more to do today. 

OH!  The Penland Spring 2017 Concentration catalog is now published--just had the link to it in email.  Here's the link -- scroll down to textiles to see the description of the class that Bhakti Ziek and I will be collaborating to teach next spring.  

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Appalachian Arts Craft Center tapestry class

Over the weekend of May 14 and 15 I taught a beginning tapestry class at Appalachian Arts Craft Center in Norris, Tennessee.  There were eleven people in the class and all were eager to learn about tapestry.

I'd asked them to come with frame looms that we'd warp at the class and there was an assortment of types there from several Archie Brennan-style copper pipe looms to artist stretcher bars, with a few other configurations, as well.

We set up a warp with 12/12 cotton seine twine at 8 epi for 4" width on Saturday morning and everyone was weaving by early afternoon.

In beginning classes I introduce basics of meet and separate technique, working from the front.  Two colors are used as they become familiar with the differences of high and low at the turns of the passes, and I ask them to make vertical edges between the shapes with steps of several passes.

Next come diagonals with different angles that result from the number of passes for each turn.  And then a bit of hatching before the introduction of a third color between.

The students worked intently for the two days and everyone, I think, accomplished what she needed to so they can more forward with exploring tapestry on their own.  And I hope they will!

By the way, read more about the class from the viewpoint of one of the students at her post to Loomy Tunes--Tuesday Weavers blog!  Thanks, Carol!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Tapestry Weavers South 20th Anniversary exhibit

Tapestry Weavers South, a regional organization that I've been involved with since it began in 1996, is holding a 20th anniversary exhibit at Yadkin Arts Center, Yadkinville, NC.  The opening was on May 3.  It was a lovely event with several members present as well as others from the community and also from a weaving class that was being held nearby.  The exhibit will be up until July 8.

Here are a few photos I took at the opening:

The demo loom is one I'd sent for the exhibit opening.
The TWS banner in the center of the information panels is one our group created on a demo loom that we had set up at an earlier exhibit a few years ago.  Members would weave a small section when visiting the exhibit and also encouraged visitors to either weave bit or to suggest the next color to be used.
I didn't get photos of individual pieces but Laurie O'Neil, one of our members, did.  She's uploaded a Flikr album from the exhibit that I'll link below.
That's Laurie at the center of the photo, talking to Linda Weghorst and to Betty Hilton-Nash.  I'm not sure who the other viewers are--sorry!
Another view... unfortunately, I didn't get good photos of the rest of the exhibit.  But... here's a link to Laurie's photo album. Thanks, Laurie, permission to post it here!
Tapestry Weavers South is having its twentieth year celebration throughout 2016 since we became an "official" organization in 1996.  But the seeds for it were planted a few years earlier in the minds of a number of tapestry weavers in the Southeast who began to meet each other at workshops.  Word of mouth among weaving guilds were leading people to other folks who were interested in weaving tapestries.

A few of us involved with tapestry weaving in the early 1990s, and who'd gotten to know each other through American Tapestry Alliance or from workshops, thought the time was right to see if we could get something off the ground that would provide mutual support for our obsession passion, and build a way to learn, share and also show the tapestries we were creating. Our push to organize gained momentum in preparation for the Handweavers Guild of America Convergence to be held next in Atlanta. We had two specific goals in mind as we began to organize, as ways to promote tapestry during that 1998 Convergence:
1.  To continue the small format, non-juried tapestry exhibit concept that had been held in Portland, Oregon in 1996 during Convergence.
2.  To assist in the ATA Biennial II that was to be held at Fernbank during Convergence. The next one was to be held in Atlanta in 1998!  
In early 1996 we started contacting anyone we could find in the Southeast who was involved with tapestry in some way.  We assembled a list of names and addresses and sent out a flyer with the following heading:   

Please join us for an organizational 
 of a 

Here were our tentative agenda items:
  • form an organization for southern or southeastern tapestry
  • slide presentation of the 1996 American Tapestry Alliance Biennial I
  • discussion of the ATA Biennial II scheduled in 1998 in conjunction with Convergence in Atlanta, GA
  • discussion of ways a southeastern tapestry group may assist with the educational aspects of the '98 exhibit at Fernbank Natural History Museum
  • discussion of breed-specific yarns and how this factor influences characteristics of tapestry yarns
  • a show and tell of tapestries from those present (bring one or more with you!)
  • visit Denise Kraft Roberson's tapestry studio adjacent to Forrest Hills
  • meet new and old friends in tapestry in an informal, casual, beautiful mountain setting "far from the madding crowd!"
We didn't try to created the organization all on our own, however.  In the months leading up to the meeting, other tapestry weavers in the country who belonged to regional tapestry groups were contacted.  Micala Sidore (Tapestry Weavers in New England--TWiNE), Christine Laffer (Tapestry Weavers West--TWW), and Kathe Todd-Hooker (Tapestry Forum) all gave great advice for us to consider.  I also had information from the Canadian Tapestry Network about their organization.

Our first meeting was held near Dahlonega, Georgia at Forrest Hills Mountain Resort, on November 15 and 16, 1996.  Eighteen people showed up for that meeting--seven from Georgia, five from North Carolina, three from Tennessee, and three from Virginia.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of files dealing with organizational stuff as I worked on assorted details back in the day.  We'd even considered calling the organization TWITS (Tapestry Weavers in the South)... luckily that idea was scrapped!!

Photo collage that I copied and sent with our first newsletter--old school cut and paste method!
Of those people in attendance at that initial TWS meeting, many were able to attend our 10th year anniversary in 2006, also held at Forrest Hills.  And there were three of us who were able to attend the 20th anniversary opening the other evening!  Several others had other plans and weren't able to be in Yadkinville for the exhibit.  As a way to continue our 20th anniversary celebration, TWS will have a retreat at St. Simon's Island in October of this year and I know that there will be many of us "oldies" there along with newer members.  The group now has over seventy members, I believe.

I wrote this in the first TWS newsletter, dated July 10, 1998:

"... dreams were abounding, we thought we could do it with the help of each other (work with the Atlanta Convergence tapestry events), and now those dreams have become reality."

Several on the initial list of those attending that first meeting no longer are weaving and a couple have, sadly, passed on.  But the seed was planted and now, two decades later,  we can look back and see how Tapestry Weavers South is flourishing. Here's for many more decades to come! 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

A bit of catch-up after a busy month!

So much has happened since I last posted... where to begin?  I guess the best way would be to work forward from the opening of my exhibit that was at Berry College, subject of the April 15 post.  The exhibit is now down and my tapestries back home.  I so much enjoyed the opportunity to have the work up for awhile and to spend some time with the Berry College faculty and students while it was there.  I was able to visit for a couple of days soon after the exhibit opened work with students in the weaving studio of Viking Enterprises... see the Berry Weaving Facebook page at this link for a little more about that in several of the posts there.

When my discussions began with Brad Adams, Berry College Fine Art Department faculty member and gallery director, about my exhibit at Moon Gallery he asked if I'd be the juror for the annual student honors exhibit this year.  With some reluctance, I agreed to do that.  I say with reluctance because I'd vowed a few years back never to be a juror for an art show again!  But I've learned that the adage, "Never say never!" is quite true.  While I'm still not eager to leap at offers to be a juror for art exhibits, this experience has shown me that I might be able to do it with some thoughtfulness--and not agonize to terribly much over those works I couldn't select.  As I've learned through the years in my own experiences of submitting work to exhibits, selection often is very much a subjective decision.  Different eyes, at other times may see the work more or less favorably.  All I can do (and all that any other artist can do) is keep on making the work the best one can.

For the jurying process, Brad emailed a Powerpoint of works submitted by students.  I reviewed those several times and made initial selections.  The next day, I went back through all of the works and again made selections, deciding to definitely include those pieces that were in both rounds of review. Other pieces were taken out or added into the grouping until I felt there was a good representation of students' works.  I emailed the edited Powerpoint showing only my selections to Brad, who then informed the students to bring in the works chosen.  I made the final selection of award winning artworks on Tuesday after seeing them displayed, by walking through the gallery several times with notepad in hand and looking carefully at the works as I made choices. There were many more excellent artworks than there were awards to be presented so the final decisions I made were tough ones.  One of the impressive aspects of the whole experience was that several of the award winning works were made by students who are majoring in subjects other than art!  That speaks quite well for the quality of the art instruction at Berry College, I think.

There was a good turnout of students, some friends and family members, as well as faculty and staff for the awards presentations.  Below, I'm including my juror's statement and a few photos from the reception.

Juror’s Statement

I feel that making artwork is a language, a way of speaking.  And language gives us a way to have a conversation with others.  Showing your artwork gives you another way to speak to us; thank you for having this conversation with me and with other viewers by exhibiting your artworks.

It is a very hard task to make choices for art works to be included in an exhibit.  It’s very difficult to consider which works to select for special recognition of awards.  I believe that anyone who has the courage to put her or his artwork out for viewing deserves an award!  With the challenge entrusted to me as a juror in mind, I want talk about several things that I think about when I look for the exceptional in artworks.

First, for me, what draws me to any artwork is presence.  Is there something about what’s created that takes my attention, or that makes me pay attention.

Next, is the “voice” of the maker evident in the artwork?  Is the artwork saying something or sharing something to me—as the viewer.  Does the artwork show that the artist is using the medium as a way to convey an idea?  Has the artist made me care, wonder, or consider the idea she or he is presenting?  Am I “seeing” a visual “voice?”

And then is there evidence of a level of comfort with the artistic medium. Does the artist show an understanding of the compositional space and the medium, whether it’s a flat or three-dimensional work.  Has he or she used the medium in a seemingly effortless way with fluidity and control?

When viewing the slideshow of works submitted earlier, several artworks caught my eye immediately.  I was eager to visit the gallery to see the works in person and see if their presence was as strong as they seemed to be. 

When I arrived, I found that there were also other works that presented themselves more strongly than in the digital images.  Always remember that when a juror is to see works in photographic form, provide the very best image possible.  Much about the strength of the artwork may be otherwise lost in the translation.  I want to also remind anyone exhibiting artworks to be conscious of the presentation method chosen—everything matters to the visual impact of the image. 

In the end, please realize that the choices I made or that any juror makes are ones based upon personal experience and knowledge.  As an artist, I have had my own artwork accepted into exhibits and occasionally received awards.  I’ve also had my artwork rejected for exhibits… many times.  But if you feel strongly about making and using your artwork as part of your language, the visual voice with which you speak—keep on putting it out there! Celebrate when your work is accepted—but don’t be discouraged with rejection.  After all, no one else can speak in the same voice as you can.  No one else can show us what you can.

Tommye McClure Scanlin
Professor Emerita
University of North Georgia
Dahlonega, Georgia
April 12, 2016