Tuesday, September 29, 2009

back to the big tapestry this week

Highest points are at 3/4 of whole piece.  I rolled it forward after taking the pictures so that the weaving height is not so extreme for me.  It's been about four months since I began working on this.  The first post I did about it, in which I showed the painting being used as inspiration for the cartoon, was on May 27.  I've had several days and even weeks when I haven't been able to weave consistently on this piece.  In fact, I missed most of the month of August! I still have a goal of completion by the end of October.  My husband says I always have deadlines--and I guess I do!  Oh well, why not?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Favorite Books list

I've added another item in the side bar: Favorite Books.  I have many and of all kinds.  I'm an eclectic reader, everything from Superman Comics to Umberto Eco, with Patricia Highsmith and Agatha Christie thrown in between.  I read daily, usually at breakfast and in bed at night.  If I have lunch alone at the studio I also read then.  I try to discipline myself to only read "studio" topics when at work--art or design books, magazines like Fiberarts and Surface Design Journal, books about creativity, weaving technique or catalogs of fiber exhibits.  I don't always succeed--sometimes another book demands attention while I'm at the studio... like the one I just finished yesterday.  That was Nancy Peacock's book of essays, A Broom of One’s Own: Words on Writing, Housecleaning, and Life.  But really, Nancy's book falls into the category that I allow in the studio:  inspiration.

I met Nancy in May at the Silvia Heyden visit at Silvia's Durham, NC home and studio.  As we chatted I learned she is an author and also we were both teaching in back-to-back weeks at John Campbell Folk School later in the summer.  Nancy was teaching a writing class; my class was tapestry.  We both mentioned we'd like to take each other's class but our schedules didn't work out that time around.  After finishing Nancy's book,  I'll surely try to make the timing work for the next time she's there to teach a class!

So--I'm starting my list of favorite books with Nancy's.  It's a wonderful description of persistence of creative drive.  Nancy writes with humor and ethos about her journey into her writing life.  I savored every essay in this book.  Now, on to Amazon to order her two novels!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

OK, so this isn't going well so far...

Beginning the side parts of the frame...

 The motif at the interior edge of the border is shifting upward.  I know some of that's because the central area doesn't have anything woven into it yet and the wefts there are not compressed.  But I'm not sure if this will improve when the interior tapestry section begins to be woven into place.  I'm going to rip this out in awhile--got to think about it a bit more before spending the time taking out a couple of hours of yesterday's work.  This is why I'm calling this "an experiment"... to find out about these things and try to solve them.

This is also happening on the right side: 

and later today:

It's all out and I'm ready to start again.  I'll think about it tomorrow; after all, tomorrow IS another day.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Kessenich loom re-warped and in use again

Since I'm still at the home studio for a couple more days, I'm taking care of several things.  First, I warped a frame loom for the Silvia Heyden workshop I'll be taking at the first of November.  Then I decided that since I finished the rag rugs and emptied the loom I would re-warp with linen rug warp in a three shaft point threading.  I'm at last going to experiment with combining the weft-faced loom controlled boundweave commonly called krokbragd along with areas of tapestry.

 Here's a small krokbragd sample I wove a few years ago.

The width on the loom is 15.5" and there's enough warp for 36" to be woven.  The sett is 6 epi.

I've wanted to try this for several years and have encouraged others who've I've taught (and who also do boundweaving) to see what they could do with it.  I haven't seen results from them nor have I done anything with the idea yet so thought the time was right to go for it.

I'm sure this isn't a unique idea but it seems to be not frequently done--or at least not widely published.  Because I can weave with both techniques I want to see how it might be combined in a meaningful way.  I'm drawing inspiration for color from the just-beginning-to-change dogwood leaves on the trees outside my house.  The dogwoods always have such interesting greens, reds, red-oranges, red-violets as fall begins.  I'm using both Spelsau and Vevgarn (50/50 wool & Spelsau) for weft, three fold in the krokbragd areas.  I'll probably use two fold for the tapestry section.

For this first piece I'll weave a frame of the krokbragd and then weave the tapestry into a central area.  I'll show progress as it moves along.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

rag rugs cut off today...

Here they are, just off the loom and cut apart from each other.  The one with interchanging blocks (at the top) is 24" wide x 62" long (not including fringe).  The second one (at the bottom) is same width and 40" long, also not including fringe.  You can see that the back and front are reverse in value: what's dark in one block on the top is light on the back.  These will shrink when washed by probably 10% at least.  They should work out just fine in the kitchen.  Still considering whether to ply or to braid the fringes.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

weaving of another kind

I'm working at my home studio for a few days; my nephew and his wife are staying at the studio this week.  They're in town so he can exhibit his photos at the Brooks Pennington Jr. Military Leadership Center at North Georgia College & State University.  He's a Combat Documentation and Production Specialist with the US Army Reserve and has served three tours in Iraq since 2003.   Several of his photos from Iraq are on display through October as part of several exhibits and other events being held during North Georgia Photography Experience.  Check out more about these events and also the Atlanta Celebrates Photography happenings in October.

My weaving here at home is two rag rugs for our kitchen.  I'm using a three-end block weave that's sometimes called double binding.   I have Maysville cotton carpet warp sett at 8 epi and cotton rag strips that are 1" wide.  The rug in the photo has the blocks change position to alternate the large and small squares near the edges; this is the second one of the two.  The first, rolled onto the cloth beam so it isn't visible, has no change of block giving a narrow stripe near each side.  The warp color is dark blue and deep red-violet for two 2" wide stripes.  I'll braid or ply the ends of both--not sure which yet until they're off the loom.  I've had them underway for a couple of months, just weaving on them occasionally.  Since I've turned my "real" studio over to the two young-uns for the week I'm hoping to finish these rugs.  If only Jacob & Connie would finish my big tapestry for me while they're there!

Back to the rag rugs... for the first rug I used a clip and link method of joining the strips.  That's sort of like linking the loop ends of sock loops for looper rugs or linking rubber bands.  With the fabric I snip a slot at each end of strips, put one end of the next strip through and pull the tail-end through.  This gives a bump of fabric which I don't at all mind in rag rugs.  Feels kind of nice to stand on with bare feet.  However, I'm sewing strips, end to end, for the second rug.  I'm doing this mainly because of my recent impulse purchase of a sewing maching!  Of all things I WASN'T expecting to do--buy another sewing machine.  But, at $39.99 how could I pass it up?!

I came across the machine on sale at Hancock Fabrics--was regularly listed around $50 +.  It's a Janome Sew Mini, has absolutely no bells and whistles, not even a light.  But it does straight stitch of four lengths and three width of zig-zag.  It will also go in reverse.  And as I use it to sew the strips it's working just great!  So now I've got a little 5 lb. sewing machine that I can easily carry around if I want to.  Nice when an impulse buy seems to be working out well!

My tapestry diary continues to move through the days with me.  The trips last month gave me quite a bit of white blank spaces.  It's about 30" high now at the tallest part.  Three + months to go until it's completed.

Right now, my plan is to start one for 2010 on January 1, a warp on a frame loom that I can take with me when I'm out of town.  I have plans for next year brewing that will take me away for days or weeks at a time: a week of teaching in March at John Campbell Folk School, a trip to the Southwest for Convergence and the ATA events in July,  two weeks of teaching at Penland in August, and a several week residency at the Lillian E. Smith Retreat Center in the first part of the summer.  Having the new tapestry diary on a portable loom will keep me engaged with it daily.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

more weaving happening today...

I'm above the half-way point now.  More diamonds and pick and pick to come but wanted to be calm for a bit.

I just got a copy of Steven Aimone's new book today: Expressive Drawing: a Practical Guide to Freeing the Artist Within .  It's another wonderful book by a fantastic teacher .  One of the things I very much appreciate about Steve's books is that he includes artists both widely and not so widely known as he seeks out the best visual examples to illustrate what he discusses.  For instance, you'll find Rembrandt, Van Gogh, da Vinci examples in his book (as you'd probably expect)--but also works by Bill Traylor, Milton Avery, Renie Breskin Adams, among many others.  Steve's used works by many of his students, as well.  Pat Williams is represented with her drawing in preparation for her tapestry Kairos that you can see at her website.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


I finally took a look at the LibraryThing website this morning, signed up and began adding a catalog of my books. It's so easy--don't know why I haven't done so before. This looks like it may be a good way to share books with which I'm familiar with students. Not share the book itself but the list of things I've found to be helpful and inspirational.

I soon got beyond the number of books included in the free catalog and paid the $25 that's supposed to be the life-time charge for continuing to catalog as many to my library as I want. My studio books are what I've starting with--novels, exhibition catalogs and other things will follow, I'm sure!

Even though I've spent quite a bit of time entering books to my catalog today I've also had time to weave more on the big tapestry and to listen to the last CD of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle (it's an amazing book). This afternoon I rolled the warp forward since the tapestry had gotten to the point it was too high to comfortably weave. I've said it before but I'll say it again... I really like this loom! I can see about 26" up on the woven area before needing to roll the tapestry around to the cloth beam.

More inches to be done tomorrow after acupuncture appointment! Oh... and when finding the link to The Story of Edgar Sawtelle to put here I followed one of the author's tangents to find Wordle. And generated the word cloud of the text at the top of this post... too much fun!

Wordle: Untitled

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Back to the big tapestry after over a month away

I started weaving on the current large tapestry again on Monday. It's taken me these several days to get immersed in it again. I worked in spots that didn't require much thinking for the first day, then in the past two + days I've started tackling areas that need more concentration. The last time I posted the progress was July 27--my goal is to complete this by the first of November. Here's a shot of where it is today as I'm leaving the studio:

Monday, September 7, 2009

still here but not posting much because...

I've been traveling! Returned from John Campbell Folk School only to leave the next day for Western NC for Guild board meeting, then to Anderson, SC to drop off work for TWS exhibit.

Next my husband and I were off to Desoto State Park in Alabama for week's vacation at a 1930s CCC built cabin. Got back, did a quick laundry and repacking experience (and went to a concert by Amy Ray and friends at The Crimson Moon here in Dahlonega), then I was off again to Anderson, SC for the Tapestry Weavers South retreat and exhibit opening. Yay! Received an honorable mention for a piece in the show there.

Returned from SC and then husband & I left for Baltimore where we spent last week. We had many adventures while there, including a couple of days spent at the American Visionary Art Museum. Of course, the Walters and Baltimore Museum of Art were included in the visit... plus many other things. Baltimore is an amazing city--our first visit but not the last, I know!

My tapestry calendar has lots of "blanks" now but is moving along and I'll post a new photo of it soon.

But now...

back to the real work of life... weaving tapestry!