Wednesday, June 4, 2008

new tapestry has begun

I'm a few inches above the hem on the first of what may become several tapestries in which the fiddleheads that so intrigued me earlier this spring are featured. I've posted over and over since late April about my efforts to develop the next large tapestry design. I finally realized that I don't have to do ONE tapestry...if I wait until I've found the very best design for this concept that I can develop I'll never be weaving again! So many possibilities--so move on, already! Work and new ideas will come.

Anyway, after weeks of working large with the paintings and not feeling good about beginning with one or the other of them, nor the manipulations I'd done with Photoshop, I turned to the quick sketches I'd made early-on.

This design was developed from a 1 minute charcoal sketch I made from one of the photos I'd taken in April. I did about 20 of these minute long sketches on 8 1/2" x 11" paper, using a timer set for 60 seconds for each one. This exercise was adapted from one Betty Edwards suggests in her book, Drawing on the Artist Within. She mentions using magazine photos, quickly turning the page and responding in quick gestures to what is seen. I decided to use my own photographs to work from...for gosh sakes, I've got several hundred that I've taken at the creek property, starting on Earth Day!

So, I scanned the charcoal sketches so they wouldn't be so messy to work with, reduced the size and began to "fiddle" around with them with pencil by adding values. I carried around a clipboard for days, working on the ten different gesture sketches, filling in darks and mediums, leaving some areas light. I tried to consider the concept of notan as I worked.

In all, I did 10 value studies from 10 scans of charcoal sketches. Next, I again scanned...this time the value drawings. I used Photoshop to begin adding color to selected ones of those. I also played around with various filters. I'm not good about recording the steps I go through and the changes that were made so can't remember exactly what filters were used with all of them.

Anyway, I felt one was a potential piece and this I blew up, in sections, using Photoshop to enlarge. I printed the sections, making the cartoon for the tapestry 30" wide x 24" high. These sections were taped together, then I drew back into the image using oil pastel and quick scribbling lines to change the color even more.

The cartoon then was transferred to a mylar sheet that shows only the very basic lines. As I'll work on the tapestry, I'll make decisions about how to interpret with yarn what I've indicated in the cartoon.

I'm using a sett of 8 epi, cotton seine twine. The weft is four fold, one Vevgarn and three of Victorian Tapestry wool and/or 20/2 worsted

The cartoon is beside the loom so I can refer to it as I weave. I also have some of the fern and fiddlehead photos nearby as color reference. I'm abstracting the color but like to think about the intensity of the spring greens as I work.

I'm weaving the tapestry sideways, as you can see in the cartoon...easier to weave the graceful bends of the fiddleheads that way. I'm also using lots of hatching and some eccentric weft to blend the colors from side to side (top to bottom, in the finished piece).

I'm very, very happy to be underway with this challenge and eager to see where it leads!


  1. Tommye, I look forward to seeing this tapestry in progress. Don't you just love Beginnings? Good luck with it, and with the new gallery, too. A new gallery that is open to fiber is cause for celebration!

  2. Thanks, Kathy! Yes, I love beginnings...but then I also love endings.

    I am wishing the Kryder Gallery great success. Jeff Kryder is a nice guy, eager to get this off the ground. In fact, four other friends and I will be having a fiber exhibit there Aug. 1-Sept. 25! I'm sure I'll be posting about that when it happens...check us out.

  3. Hi Dianne,
    Thanks!! Your help was fantastic!

  4. hooray - I have loved watching the progression of your fiddleheads series. Congrats on the new start. I will be looking forward to seeing it progress.

    Sue Schwarz

  5. Tommye,

    When the cartoon is "upright" in its "correct" position, like the tapestry will be hung, I see a partial face. Down near the bottom, to the left of the fiddlehead furthest to the right I see a chin & part of a mouth... one of the curled fiddleheads above is in the exact position where the eye would be. I think you have a wood nymph smiling through the ferns at you, & she is very beautiful!

  6. Thanks for showing the whole design process! It's interesting to see how other weavers think, I learned a lot!