Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 is almost history!

My tapestry diary is complete although still on the loom.  I'll cut it off, with my husband's help, before midnight.  Photo was taken with my phone--I'll post a better one maybe tomorrow.

Just a few more hours remain of this year--so, here's an early Happy New Year!  May 2010 be full of health, happiness and productivity.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

warped... and ready to weave

Good friends were in town to spend several days with us at Christmas so I didn't begin the warp for this new/old loom until Sunday afternoon.  I'd hoped to warp it 36" wide but thought my warp stock of the 30/18 Finnish cotton seine twine wasn't enough to allow for that.  I used the warping reel to measure off 24 ends at a time and, working from the middle to each side, attached ends until I ran out of the warp.  That gave me a 24" width so I chose to only install one of the heddle bar sets rather than both that I'd have used for a wider width.  That's just as well since I juggled the heddle bars quite a bit before settling on a way to keep them suspended while I threaded (a few hissy fits were involved, too).  

I decided to roll the warp with corrugated cardboard (which I ran out of before completing the turns so ended with a couple of wraps of kraft paper).  I don't like surprises of warp tension loosening during the unwinding for new warp that I'd get when winding the warp turns on themselves.  I also didn't tie the warp directly onto the bar of the bottom beam... rather, I tied overhand knots of 8 ends each (1" bouts) and lashed those to the lower bar.  That way I was able to adjust the evenness of the warp a bit more easily before tightening.

I wound the knotted and lashed bouts onto the bottom beam with a layer of corrugated paper to keep the knots from poking into the tapestry once it starts to be wound onto the beam.  I next wove in four picks of wooden lath strips, then several passes of the seine twine above the lath, followed by a row of twining and then another pass of the seine twine.

Now the warp is ready for a hem and the tapestry will begin soon.  Cartoon designing comes next and may take a few days.  My ideas for the kudzu tapestry aren't in place yet...  lots more looking, thinking, sketching, Photoshopping, revising, thinking some more, and looking again--with critical eye--to complete the cartoon before I begin the weaving.  SOON, I hope!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

new loom... new tapestry thoughts

I've given myself a present--a 4' Shannock tapestry loom!

Here it is at the studio, instructions sheets for assembly all around...

 It became available a few days ago and after a day and a half of back and forth e-mailing so I could first commit to the loom, then have the kind seller measure to see if would fit into my station wagon, I made a 12 hour round trip drive to pick it up.  It's been owned by a couple of other tapestry makers since its "birth" in the early 1990s and I'm very glad to know a little of its history.  Needless to say I'm quite excited to have the opportunity to have it with me.  All of my looms, except for the Archie style ones I've built and the Hagen looms, previously lived elsewhere and did fine jobs while with their other studio companions.  Now, I very much appreciate having them occupy my studio and take part in my various tapestry adventures.

New loom--new year--new tapestry thoughts bubbling away.  First, though, I'll finish of the 2009 tapestry diary in a few days--just a week more to go before putting the end to it.  I've decided to use Braille as the dating method (thanks for the several suggestions pointing me in that direction).  I've woven a sample of what 2009 would be and it will fit the look of the other date markings of the tapestry, I feel.

For the new year's tapestry diary I'll put a warp on a frame loom, as I mentioned in an earlier post, so I can take it with me when traveling.  Instead of weaving "blanks" of white when I'm away from the weaving for a day or more, next year I'm thinking of leaving unwoven warp on those days, securing at top and bottom in some way.  Holes in the fabric of my time, I guess one could say.

And... here are a few photos I'll be working from as I develop the next tapestry... kudzu --leaves, vines, flowers, seed pods. Took these a few years ago for another tapestry I was designing but didn't use them then.  Why kudzu?? More about that later!


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Paper weaving days--lots of fun

ECHO Arts School
Tiger, GA

Peggy McBride, owner of Globe Gallery in Clayton, GA recently opened this wonderful venue for teaching small, affordable classes.  The school is in a newly renovated house located near Tiger, Georgia.  It's in the woods on a ridge and views from the porch were beautiful (not that I was on the porch very much because it was quite chilly last week).

Another view of the rambling house that has lots of open space for classes.

My class was on three consecutive days--Thursday, Friday and Saturday--but each day's session was a complete activity.  The sessions were from 11-2 each day (with a lunch break); and each day one or two folks continued to work past 2 p.m., just fine with me since I was staying at the school for the week.

Three students were there on the first day, two of whom returned for the second day to be joined by three new folks--five for Friday.  Then on Saturday two returned from the Friday group and were joined by one new person.  So... a total of eleven sets of hands doing paper weaving during the three days even through four sets of those hands were of  returnees... confusing?

As I'd mentioned in an earlier post, I've used paper weaving for many years.  While I don't do it often it is always a great way to get some visual things happening--and I have, in fact, used the method to design tapestries.  And... Suzanne Pretty's designing with paper weaving as an art form and as inspiration for tapestry is amazing; her work is seen her website here:

Our class was the only one being held during the week so we spread out throughout several rooms.  Above is the long table we all gathered around to do the weaving.

I always bring examples and supplies, and Peggy has lots of supplies at ECHO, too.  She's teaching book arts classes on an ongoing basis so many tools and materials were on hand from those classes.

Almost finished on day one, with Helen on the left, Charles at the end of the table, and Midge on the right putting finishing touches on their weavings.

Charles made use of warm/cool contrasts combined with punching holes in assorted strips to create a vibrant color play.  He added some of the dots from punched holes to the top of selected areas, also.

Second day brought Robin (at the table's end) and Mary Grace to the group, as well as Joy... who was cutting paper in the other room when I took the photo of our weaving table... here's Joy at the paper cutter...

Helen, back for the second day, worked diligently to cut around the wolf photo that I'd scanned and printed from one she brought.  After completion, I rescanned and printed onto photo paper... looked really good.

Mary Grace had several photographs from her ancestors that I scanned and enlarged so she could cut and weave with twill pattern... you can see those to her left.  Her family photos showed ancestors who were spinning and weaving!  On the back of the photographs were descriptions written by her mother; she combined the handwritten information as the weft strips, interwoven into the carefully cut photograph scan... really was a stunning piece when she finished.

Roseann brought several photos to work from, but decided the colorful Barbie pattern cover from the 1970s would be a cheerful warp for bright weft colors.  So the pattern envelope was scanned, then she cut into the printed results rather than the actual object.  Looked great in the bright childlike colors.  Roseann is one of the founders of Bead Amigas ; she's wearing several of the paper beads made by the Nicaguaran women with whom the group works.

Robin was carefully constructing this last paper weaving she did in the class with a reverse twill repeat.  She and a friend have an business designing and selling greeting cards of all kinds.  Their website is at this link:

One of the things I learned as the class started was to use bamboo skewers to help with the lifting of the paper warp strips--that "learning" took place out of necessity since the tips of my thumb of my right hand and several finger tips had split open from the cold weather.  This happens to my hands every year, along about the time the temperature drops and heating begins to be used inside.  Pretty dang painful to try to manipulate paper strips, lifting them up, over and over again.

These skewers also work as a shed stick, once they're woven across:

and then the tip of the skewer can help slip the weft into place closely to the last strip.

After the classes were over I was spent several more days in residence at ECHO doing more paper weavings, getting some reading done, and also driving the few miles to Hambidge Center to complete the runners for the Center that I'd begun as a demo during their summer festival.  Got them with me to do end finishes through the holidays--maybe!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

off to the ball

I really feel like Cinderella sometimes... I don't dress up often but there are some occasions that need it.  Last night was one of those times with the Challenged Child and Friends Festival of Trees gala.  So here we are, ready to go.  And, by the way, a friend bought the small tapestry for close to $300!  I'm happy it sold and was an addition to the money raised during the evening from both the silent and live auction of art works and other things.

Oh... the dress I'm wearing is a vintage gown.  I'm not one to go out shopping for any formal wear, much less something like this!  My comfort level in clothes is blue jeans.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Last month of the 2009 tapestry diary

It's hard to believe almost a year has passed since I began this adventure of weaving every day on a piece I've called my "tapestry diary" or "tapestry calendar" or "woven calendar."  It's certainly recorded my days of this year, even the days I've been out of town have been noted with the white bits I call "blanks."  As I'm approaching the end of December I'm wondering how to finish off with some indication of the year 2009.  I don't think I want to simply weave 2009.  I've thought about Roman numerals for the year--but don't like that particularly.  I've looked at other number notation systems on the web and haven't yet found anything that would make weaverly sense.  Any suggestions?

Now... for 2010.  I want to begin anew for the next year, this time on a frame loom that I can take with me when I go out of town.  I'll probably have more changes to make in my approach but will continue to use bits and pieces of weft bundles left over from other tapestries.  Maybe next year I won't mark each day with a notation of date, just weave a bit every day but keep each day's part distinct from the previous one in some way.

Other weaving is going on right now, just not much tapestry.  I always like to weave gifts for the holidays and I've spent the past two days getting the 4-shaft loom dressed and threaded for that.  I've learned a new method of warping (after being perfectly happy with the way I've done it for decades).  I read about a trapeze system on WeaveTech and did a make-shift version using my Brennan plumbing pipe loom.  I'll post photos of that later--pretty nifty way to warp!  I got a 4-yard warp on in less than an hour and without having to strain my iffy hands with popping and pinging and pulling to ensure the warp wound onto the beam evenly and with correct tension.  Lots to learn about all kinds of things in weaving--that's what continues to keep me interested (among other things).