Friday, July 19, 2013

The car is loaded!

And I'm off to Penland tomorrow!

More later.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Spirit Feather

That seems an appropriate title for this piece.  It's hard to photograph because of the lightness of the last feather but this shows it a bit:

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

More feathers have flown

I just cut this tapestry from the loom a short while ago... this is the fifth feather piece in two years. Three were very small (3" x 8" for two of those, 8" x 10" for another), the large one that's 49" x 54" and finished a couple of weeks ago, and this one that's about 19" wide x 24" long. I've also woven other subjects in the last two years, for instance, more of the fiddleheads and ferns. But when I've woven more than one, it seems to be turning into a series. There's still more to explore about feathers and perhaps other tapestries will develop from those studies. We'll see.

By the way, you might like to take a look at these beautiful feather tapestries by Judy Ness-- I just came across an article recently in an American Tapestry Alliance newsletter about an exhibit featuring her work.  It was from the Spring 2005 issue and I don't remember seeing it at the time but I'm happy to find it online.

Kathe Todd-Hooker also uses feather imagery beautifully in her tapestries. You might check out her pieces at the ATA artist pages--

And then there's Lyn Hart's wonderful condor tapestry--

Although I have another small piece a loom, this will be the last piece I'm working on before I go to Penland on the 20th. Lots to prepare for the class that now has nine participants. I'm very much looking forward to it!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Making a good loom a great one (I hope)

Here's my Ruthie loom... I've talked about her before.  No, I didn't name her "Ruthie"--that was the name of this loom style when made by the Crisp Woodworking Company years ago.  I bought her from someone else a few years back, brought her home from Virginia in the back of my station wagon.  Yes, this 60" wide loom went into my wagon, as well as the loom bench in front of it.  Of course, as you'll have figured out, it was all in parts and pieces.  The currently made Fireside Traditional tapestry loom is very much of this design--in fact, from what I've heard, was based on the Crisp Ruthie, with some modifications.  

I was SO very glad to get this loom and it's been a good workhorse for me since I've had it.  I've woven only four large (for me) tapestries on it since it's lived here but each of those have been on the loom for some months.  So it hasn't been idle for long.  However, one of the issues with this loom has been the difficulty of advancing the warp.  With tension on the warp, it was very hard for me pull back enough on the lever attached to the cloth beam to release the pawl from the ratchet so that I could then release the pawl at the warp beam.   I have a smaller Fireside loom with a worm gear on the cloth beam that has been easy to use, and soon after getting the Ruthie I'd talked to Michelle at Fireside Looms about retrofitting it with a worm gear.  After cutting off the big feathers piece a few weeks ago, I called Michelle up to talk about the worm gear.  After some discussion back and forth via email, it was determined it was possible and I placed my order.

The worm gear assembly came on Monday and Jeff, my friend and guy-who-can-do-anything, came yesterday afternoon to begin the installation.  Several problems were encountered along the way -- like starting with Jeff not having the right size allen wrench in his collection of dozens to fit the bolt holding the bracket to which the beam was attached to the loom.  Easy solution--trip to the hardware store.

Next problem... when Jeff & I measured the axle of the beam to send diameter to Larry, at Fireside Looms, so he could machine the hole in the gear we mis-measured by a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of an inch.  So when the assembly arrived we had a gear with a 1" diameter hole to fit onto an axle that was about 1.06 in diameter. Solution?  Here's Jeff with an oscillating sander reaming out the hole to make it a tiny bit larger:

The new gear was a fraction of a fraction of a fraction wider than the old gear on the beam.  So the beam had to be cut.  First, Jeff did this by hand using a skil saw and a hand saw:

Jeff's work is amazingly accurate--but there was a fraction of a fraction of a fraction difference in the width of the cut from the beam (and the slice that came off was only about 1/8" wide).  Even so, that amount of difference caused the gear, when mounted onto the beam, to be slightly at a tilt.  And that slight bit of tilt made turning the worm in the gear very, very hard.  Solution?  Off came the beam again and Jeff took the whole thing to his house to use a different saw to get the cut level.

Here are the last few installation shots... Jeff works so quickly that getting anything with him in it that's not blurred is almost impossible!

And, finally... the beauty shot:

Whee!  Ready to Roll! New warp, here I come.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Tapestry Diary for 2013--six months completed, six month to go!

I've been moving ahead, day by day, with my tapestry diary for this year.  It's the fifth full year that I've worked on this concept, one that I began by doing one month in 2008 to see if I had the discipline to do a discrete bit of tapestry weaving each and every day.

Other artists do daily work, usually small and possibly theme-related.  Most that I've been able to discover through web searching have been artists who work either in drawing or painting.  But there's at least one other weaver who's been doing daily weaving for quite a number of years:  Geri Forkner.  I didn't know that when I began my journey in this process but would someday like to be able to exhibit some of my year long pieces with her yearly works.

Several of the tapestry weavers who I know also began the process of keeping an ongoing tapestry with each day (or sometimes each week or each month) being given a separate bit of concentration.  Jan Austin and Janette Meetze are two of those who've also written about their work on their blogs.   It's interesting when I come across mention of "tapestry diary" work on someone's blog or in other web places... as far as I know, I first began to use that term around about 2010, maybe even in 2009 when I did the first full year.  Has this become a mini-meme??

So, here's where I am now--the whole year, so far, unrolled from the cloth beam to take a look at what's happened in the past six months.  The weft colors are selected from dye samples made several years ago.  The areas of tan sprinkled throughout are of 10/3 linen, same as I'm using for the warp.  I weave the linen when I return from being out of town, covering the same amount of area that I would have when weaving each day.

For those who don'e weave, a bit of explanation here:  the white canvas that you see called an apron, and that's attached to the loom's cloth beam.  There is a metal bar lashed to the apron that the warp ends are tied onto to in preparation for weaving to start.  As the cloth grows, the apron is rolled up onto the beam, then the tapestry rolls up and onto itself as it becomes longer.  Weavers typically don't unroll cloth from the beam before finishing but if one is careful when re-rolling, it can be done successfully without causing tension changes in the warp.  I wanted to have an idea of the overall look of this year's tapestry diary as it ended the 1/2 way mark.

Here's a detail showing all of June and a few days of May:

I've written about my past tapestry diaries in several posts.  Here are a few of the links to those, if you're curious:

I don't have a good photo of the entire 2012 tapestry diary so there is only a detail in the post.  Each year I've tried something different with the approach, making each day distinct and separate from other days and yet having some coherence in design.  It's a wonderful challenge and one I continue to enjoy, even five years into it.  I'm sure I could continue to find variations of ways to approach this forever!  And I hope I'll have at least a few more years to explore the variations.