Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Moving along on small tapestry for Land...

But first, last steps on the just completed piece...

I spent most of today with finishing details of the large tapestry just completed--stitching on velcro, attaching hook velcro side to wood bar, inserting eye screws, final pressing (oh, yeah...the big red stitches are basting thread holding on the velcro covered twill tape while I stitch it down). By late afternoon I'd completed that so I was able to weave a short while on the small piece for the Land exhibit in Australia.

Meredith should be by tomorrow or early Thursday to begin weaving a bit on the Land tapestry. I'll labeled it as a collaborative weaving when I send it off. I've never had anyone work on a tapestry of mine before and I'm excited to have it happen. Meredith is proving to be a very good weaver so I hope she enjoys the experience as much as I think I will. She'll be working on it while I deliver my pieces to the Piedmont Craftsmen new members exhibit to be on display March 7-31 at the gallery in Winston-Salem.

I'm using a portion of an earlier design, manipulated by enlarging and cropping, rearranging the parts. The design concept was about herbicide use; the image was from photographs I'd taken of living and of dead leaves that I cut into strips and wove, then drew on with prismacolor pencils. The paper weaving was photocopied, enlarged, cut apart and rewoven. This design uses further enlargements of selected portions from the earlier version.

The piece is about 4" h x 33" w. There's a small hem area at bottom and top (the solid light green woven above the white cotton header). Three sections are at the 4" level now and I'll probably finish this side before I leave on Thursday. That way Meredith can work on areas to the right on Friday. We should be able to finish the piece and cut it off by Monday night. Since I understand the tapestries will be pinned in place at the exhibit I won't worry about attaching velcro to the back--will turn back the hems and whip stitch in place.

I'd mentioned I'm using a strand of some orange with all the bobbins...and the orange isn't always the same. I have an 8 epi cotton seine twine sett for warp and am using four fold of wool as the weft.

I'm working mostly with slits, sewing as I go. A tiny bit of eccentric weft is being used, as well as small amounts of hatching...for the horizontal lines it gives, and some single interlock. All colors are blends.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Ok, I'm over it!

Moving on, I'm working on a new tapestry. This one is for the Land exhibit in Australia. Deadlines are my friend and this one should be finished by the first of March so I can get it mailed off.

I'm revisiting an earlier design as I weave this piece. I try to challenge myself in some way with every tapestry I do. Sometimes the challenges are large and sometimes they're small. This time I'm weaving without a cartoon stitched behind and referencing my cartoon "by eye." The image is abstracted so may be improvised as I weave.

The concept continues my varied thoughts about nature and human interaction. The design is based on enlargements and croppings from earlier explorations of images concerning Agent Orange. One of the design elements used in most of the earlier weavings dealing with that topic have an orange line of thread used throughout. This one is continuing that.

As I use it in these works the color orange symbolizes an "unhealthy" something. It may be emotional, intellectual or physical. The interaction of the color with other colors is sometimes jarring and sometimes harmonious. To compare the woven effect of the orange line blended with other colors it's similar to putting an light transparent orange wash over all colors in watercolor, or using orange prismacolor throughout other colors in a drawing.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

three for three!

Received in this morning's mail:

"Dear Tommye:

We regret that the exhibit entry listed below was not accepted...."

So, back to the loom and let's see what next I can enter!

P.S. The entry was the waterlily tapestry, the exhibit was Small Expressions

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Complete (almost!)

The end came...and went...doesn't that just seem to happen over and over?!

I frantically called Pat on Thursday to see if we could postpone the photo session since I was still weaving hem at 11:30 a.m. and I needed to leave for her house with the piece by 1. Without aliens who are helpful weavers suddenly landing and pitching in, I knew I wouldn't finish, cut off and do the rest of the needed hiding of loose ends before then! Luckily, the photographer was able to reschedule for Friday morning and so I began to breath a bit easier. It took the next few hours to do what needed to be done--in fact, I didn't cut the piece from the loom until around 3:30 (of course, since we'd rescheduled I took time to have lunch!).

I've added some shots to the earlier slide show album, showing some stages of the design steps. I left out the shots of the tapestry in progress that I've been posting, but put in photos of the (yikes!) almost broken warp thread, cutting off, finishing beginnings, and the piece hanging as it was being photographed yesterday.

This has been successful process in several ways...and tells me much of what I wanted to know about this new/old loom I bought in September. I wanted to test the full width capabilities of the loom but didn't want to take a lot of time with a piece, in case the loom wasn't up to it in some way I couldn't anticipate from just a visual assessment. I also wanted to work at 6 epi again since the last piece was a 8. I also wanted to see if I could complete the weaving of a fairly large (for me) piece in a couple of months.

The next few days will now be spent in really doing the finishing (I hid ends for the photo session with masking tape and turned back the hem edges at the sides with big basting stitches.) This is the point where my hands get crapped out from the motions of stitching with a needle and thread so I'm going to move slowly with this step. My goal is to complete all by the 27th so I can take it to Winston-Salem for the new members show at PCI.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

the pressure is on!

I have about one to two inches across the 60" width to complete in the tapestry before the hem area. Pat and I have a session with her photographer on Thursday. I have class tomorrow afternoon/night. SO, the plan is to get to the studio very early and knock this sucker out!

I'm facing a potential problem I've only encountered once before when weaving tapestry...a warp thread that is possibly going to separate before I finish. It's out of the area to be woven into the piece so can deal with it when and if it happens. But, I really don't look forward to spending the time fooling with it that it will take.

I think (I know) the problem has come from the metal bar at the middle of the shafts...there's rust on both support bars and those have rubbed back and forth against the threads as the shafts change in the shed. Although the warp is a thick and sturdy seine twine, this abrasion is more than usual and I didn't notice it happening until there was a pretty rubbed up spot developing.

I'll fix the problem with the metal bar before the next warp goes on but now I'm just crossing my fingers to get through this one without losing time.

DEADLINES...I love them!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

passing of a friend

On a somewhat somber note, I went to a funeral yesterday of an long-time friend. She was a staunch supporter of the arts/craft makers of the area--and she had a great time making art herself!

Virginia was a retired dentist and, as I learned from the obituary, she was the first woman to practice pediatric dentistry in Atlanta. She moved to Gainesville in the 1960s or so, and I met her soon afterwards as she became involved in the arts community of north Georgia. I learned quickly that she was definitely unique!

Virginia was always up to try new things and was so excited about them as she delved into those activities. Before she retired from her dentistry practice she'd begun to dabble in art making herself, in addition to being a patron. She really blossomed artistically in her retirement years as she made beautiful pots, dyed glorious silks, wove complicated weave structures, enjoyed spinning, became active in a woodcarvers group. She also loved traveling, scuba diving and photography, and just generally having a good time--often with cocktails in the afternoon/evening and cigarettes throughout the day!! And all the time she would be giving her running pithy commentaries about life to anyone who was nearby!

She truly enjoyed laughing at herself and others--never making fun of but always appreciating the humor in any situation. For instance, one of my favorite stories that she told on herself was about when she took a bobbin lace class from Robin Lewis-Wilde. Virginia said she took a cardboard center from a bolt of fabric to the class (you know the kind yards of fabric are rolled upon at the store?) so she could wind up the bobbin lace she made on it!

Telling me about it later, she said: "All I brought home from the class was a piece of lace sample about 1/2" wide and 1" long!! I thought I'd sit and do yards and yards of bobbin lace in the boat while Frank fished!!" Then she'd chuckle with her dusky smokers laugh...going on and on about her various escapades.

And was she ever happy to learn that she could take classes at the college for free when she was over 62! Not that she needed the money but she was quite frugal. She always liked a bargain. So, from the early 1990s until 2000 or so she audited classes at NGCSU. In fact, sometimes she'd take them for credit...if she felt like it! She must have amassed enough hours to have earned a degree if she'd been pursuing one.

She took weaving and pottery mostly. She was in my weaving class at least twice, maybe three times. When she'd audit classes, rather than taking them for credit, she didn't let class attendance get in the way of her trips for diving or other purposes!

Virginia was an active member of our local fiber arts guild through the 25 years it was in existence. She was involved in all of the guild's activities and she loved to attend the regional conferences. I particularly remember one in Aiken, SC that several of our members attended. The first night we were there we went to a Pizza Hut for dinner. Virginia ordered a pitcher of beer for the table and the young waitress asked to see her ID...well, did THAT request ever bring a guffaw from Virginia! She had the young woman blushing and giggling as Virginia ragged on her about how she should see the ages, for identification, from all the gray heads around the table!!

Virginia had been on oxygen for a couple of years. She also used one of those walker/seat contraptions to get herself around--yet she continued to travel whenever and wherever she could. She was 80 years old when she died last Monday...and I think, based on my view of Virginia, she probably enjoyed life as much as anyone I've even known. She was seemingly undaunted as she tried out new things, always eager to learn and also to share what she was experiencing. And, as much as anything, her sense of the ridiculous in situations that could seem to be embarrassing or uncomfortable for others is a lesson I've learned from her. She lived life to the fullest and had a grand time along the way! I am fortunate to have known her.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The end is near...

The top (really is the right border) of the tapestry is well in sight! I may be able to finish to the hem line tomorrow. The 2" hem, to be woven in a solid color for a turn-back, will probably take another 1/2 day to weave and then I'll secure the edge with half-hitches.

Pat W. has scheduled a photo session with the photographer she uses. We'll share the session and I'm hoping to take this piece, along with the black walnut tapestry, to have slides done. The delivery for new members exhibit to Piedmont Craftsmen is by February 29--still more finishing once the tapestry is off the loom but I should be able to do it without rush.

I'm interested to see what the weight of this tapestry will be. I'm using a heavy cotton seine twine, set at 6 epi, for the warp. The weft is five-fold, three strands of Vevgarn (wool & Spelsau) and two strands of a smaller worsted wool. Since the piece will turn 90˚ to hang and will be pretty heavy, I decided to make the weft connections as secure as I could without using double or single weft interlock throughout the piece. So, I've been either weaving slits and stitching every other pass (and I'm linking warp to warp as I stitch) or I've used single weft interlock to join many of the shapes throughout the border areas.

Because the border color values are close I felt the single weft interlock "toothiness" would be hidden. The contours of the shapes also meander around without needing to be smooth. The interior part with trunk and limbs has been mostly woven with slits since the delineation between many of the shapes needed to be more crisp and clean.

The distance from bottom beam to working area of this loom is greater than I have on most of the other looms that have cloth beams. Thus, I've been able to see more of the tapestry as it's underway. I'll probably wind forward one more time before finishing up but will most likely only hide the hem area...should still be able to view the whole thing before cutting it off. Of course, I have to turn my head sideways to get a view of how it will really look!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Meredith works on her tapestry for "Woven Gems"

Meredith learned about tapestry in beginning weaving at NGCSU last year. Since then she's had a copper pipe loom built for her and she's woven several small tapestries. She's hard at work right now to finish up her entry to the ATA sponsored small format tapestry exhibit to be held in Tampa this summer during Convergence 08.

She brought her loom into class last night to work on the piece...a "creative meandering" on the warp in which she's using ideas from color theory class she took last semester.

Lose some, lose some more!

OK, this is getting kinda irritating! Another rejection today!

All right. I'm over it now (well, not really--give me a few hours to think about a double whammy--two days in a row).

BUT, this is my goal for the year...to enter more juried exhibits again. For the past two years I've had a lot of work out and about but most has been in invitational or group shows. I think tapestry needs to be represented in all media exhibits and I'd like for my tapestries to be among those shown.

So, move on...finish this large piece...start the next! I hope to cut this one off by Sunday night!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

win some, lose some...

Back to the big tree tapestry today! I have just a few more inches to go at the top of the piece (which is really the right side border when the tapestry turns its 90˚ to hang.

Voted first thing this morning for my lady (guess we all know who that is!) and then back to the studio to weave some more. I was to meet a student about 11 a.m., I though, but she was actually getting there about noonish after one of her classes. In the meantime, while I was waiting, thought I'd walk home to see if the ATB7 announcement was in the mail. Well, it was and I'm REJECTED--or rather, not to take it too personally--my work was not accepted for the exhibit.
According to my letter, 40 tapestries were taken from about 171 submitted.

I feel good about the work I submitted, feel it's the best I've done to this point in my tapestry life. Less than 1/4 of the works entered were accepted. I know those that are chosen are exceptional in their own way--as mine are as well. I'm eager to see the exhibit this summer--just love to see tapestries!

My studio guest arrived back at her home safely, according to her e-mail yesterday. She sure looked happy at the studio in the photos I took at the last minute!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Tapestry Retreat

I spent a good weekend with my first guest at my studio tapestry retreat. She arrived on Friday afternoon and stayed overnight at the studio. On Saturday morning we talked about what she might want to tackle during her couple of days on retreat. We both worked at our looms during most of the day--just taking an extended break to have a walk around our small town, stopping to chat with a few of the local craftspeople and artists who have studios or galleries on the square.

On Saturday night there happened to be an art exhibit opening reception at the Buisson Art Center and we dropped in for that. The artist, Billy Roper, is a friend of ours and as the evening was winding down he invited us to his small studio at the Center to see some other works he has underway there.

We finished off the evening with dinner at Wylie's on the square...a great place to eat in Dahlonega (one of many!).

Yesterday (Sunday) my guest had a few more questions and we talked about assorted tapestry problems and possible solutions. She wove a bit more, I worked on the hanging finish of my small format piece, then she packed up and took to the road around 3:30.

I've asked her for a critique of the experience--since is the first for me, a stay-over tapestry guest--I want to be sure I can accommodate desires for a good learning and retreat experience. I already know one definite thing I need to improve--directions of how to get to Dahlonega! We're not really too obscure but there are so many road numbers that meander in and out through these mountains...when you grow up in a place you just take the road from here to there that you've always known...or at least I do. When trying to give directions I found myself falling far short of what I needed to know quickly!

SO, my task before the next guests come, maybe later this month...get on the road and have a map handy...make some notes and be ready for questions!