Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I said I would

... and I did.

Sixth year of Tapestry Diary is completed.  Here it is, just off the loom:

Next task--get the warp ready for 2015.  Whee!

Happy New Year to one and all!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Value of Daily

Seth Godin's blog post here says it all.

But of course I've got to say some more.  More about the value of daily practice.  We all know the value of brushing our teeth every day.  And we practice that from a very early age until it becomes habit, not just something our parents nag us to do.  I have found value in a couple of other daily practices, mundane enough on their own, but added up, day by day, year by year, these have become intrinsic to my well being, as important to me as brushing my teeth.

One of those daily practices started as Morning Pages, as described by Julia Cameron in The Artist's Way.   She recommends that one write three pages each and every day, first thing in the morning, writing by hand and without editing one's thoughts.  I've done three pages of rambling words for around five or six years now.  Let's see, three pages each day for 365 days X 5 = 5,475 pages that I've written, at least. 

All about this and that and other things.  And once written, not read again.  Sometimes these pages are more diary-like, recording happenings of the previous day.  Other times, they're dream journals, pages I fill with the strange and mysterious happenings of the night-time brain.  I also find solutions to weaving problems in these morning rambles.  Or find problems rather than solutions, artistic and other, to mull over for days on end.  I've written haiku, short stories, cussed, cried... anything that happens to fall out of the end of my pen goes down on those three pages each morning.  And I keep on doing them.  Daily.

Another daily practice is woven and is what I call Tapestry Diary.  I've written lots and lots about my journey in this daily weaving habit in this blog and other places so I won't do more of that here, other than to say that this year's TD is approaching its end.  I have assorted thoughts about what next year's warp might bring but I'll make the decision about my plans for 2015 once 2014 comes to a close.  Here's where the year's TD is today:

Now, back to my first sentence--Seth Godin's thoughts about the value of daily are short and sweet, click on the link above to read them all.  I'll just quote these:
There's a fundamental difference between the things you do every day, every single day, and the things you do only when the spirit moves you.

One difference is that once you've committed to doing something daily, you find that the spirit moves you, daily.
Amen, Mr. Godin!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Rebecca Mezoff's online tapestry course--new one begins soon!

I am a great fan of Rebecca Mezoff's tapestries.  I first saw her work in person in New Mexico when Lyn Hart and Jane Hoffman let me tag along with them to see the Bauhaus Tapestry Project exhibit that Rebecca was in, along with James Koehler and Cornelia Theimer Gardella.  I was just amazed at the beauty of the Rebecca's tapestries and also quite taken with her writing in the statements for each piece.

I've followed her progress through her blog and her website through several years and had a fun time with her whenever we've been able to meet up in person (like about every two years somewhere in the country at an American Tapestry Alliance event).  I've been always impressed with how seriously she takes the field of tapestry and how passionate she is about promoting and encouraging others through her blog and other writings.  So I was excited to find out that she was developing an online course for tapestry teaching.

She's offered her course several times now and she's about to begin a new one as the New Year rolls around.  She just emailed about that yesterday.  When I scrolled through her info link at her website, I found it was so thorough and entertaining in itself that I wanted to post a link to it here at my blog.  So here it is:

Rebecca weaves her tapestries a bit differently than I do but nevertheless what she does and how she teaches about tapestry is marvelous.  As one of my best teachers ever (Edwina Bringle) once told me, "Have every experience you can, take what you need and throw the rest away!"  And I've taken that bit of wisdom to heart over the past three decades.  Although knowing, all the while, that the rest isn't really thrown away... maybe just on the back burner until needed.  So I know she meant, "Learn everything you can and when the time is right to use it, it's there for you!"

So... here's to you, Rebecca Mezoff!  And to the many students of tapestry I hope will find you!!

And... disclaimer here!  No financial rewards for me with this promotion!  Just, I hope, more people finding the wonderful world of tapestry weaving!!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Growing a landscape

That's what I'm doing this week. 

Here's the drawing I'm working from.  I've made a modification to the drawing at the upper right to add a mountain and cloud and I like this better now.

Here's the tapestry progress:

I replaced the line cartoon on Mylar with the color printed copy of the drawing.  The color areas were beginning to be too confusing for me to make sense of and so having the color behind the warp, along with the Sharpie lines for the major edges helps.  I need to replace the upper right corner of the cartoon to show the revision. 

A detail of the tapestry shows the blend of wefts; I'm using five or six strands of wool, a combination of either five 20/2 worsted wool or six with a couple of strands of Australian tapestry wool combined with three of the 20/2.  What I choose to combine depends on what colors I want to make.

And finally, a Happy Holiday wish to everyone from our house to yours (sent by way of our cat, Raymond Purr). 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Sample completed

I've finished the 6" x 9" sample of a portion of design.  Here's what it looks like before turning back the hems:

Here's the sample in context with the rest of the design, pinned on top of the painting I'm working from:

From the sampling I've learned these things:
  1. A sett of 10 epi would be best if I want to weave the tapestry the size of the painting
  2. The colors will need adjustment.  The lighter green of the back side of the leaf needs to be even lighter in vlaue and the interior part of the leaf needs more richness of hue.
  3. I need to carefully work to delineate the subtle values of the petals and to distinguish each from the other.  In the sample I've used white, very light gray and a light medium gray in various combinations.
  4. I need to more carefully indicate the central portion of the flower.
  5. The background blue should be changed a bit--don't want it to be as turquoise as in the painting but should have variations to combine turquoise with more "sky" blue.
  6. I'm wondering if I should enlarge the size of the whole thing.
This design will now simmer for awhile as I get reacquainted with the landscape that I'd started during the TWS exhibit as a demonstration tapestry.  I took a few minutes with it this afternoon and reintroduced myself to it.

"Hello tapestry!" I said.

The tapestry sat mute at first, then said, "Well, you're pretty fickle, aren't you. "

"That's over!" I cried!  "It's all about you ..."

"Now...(at least)" I whispered.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sampling continues

I may be able to complete this tomorrow.  It's going to be about 9" tall (wide--once the tapestry turns to the direction it will be seen as I'm showing it here):

Saturday, December 13, 2014


I weave tapestry a lot.  Yet there are times I need to sample a bit to see what might work best for what I want to weave.  Most of the time I use one of two setts for warps.  The sett, for those who might not know weaving terms, means the number of warp ends per inch (in the U.S.) and the number of warps per inch will have an effect on the design to be woven.  Just like pixels in a digital image... the larger the pixels, the coarser the image.  Same thing with tapestry... larger the sett (and the warp itself), the coarser the image.

My usual go-to setts are either 8 ends per inch of a cotton seine twine, either 12/12 or 12/15 in size, or 6 ends per inch of cotton seine twine, of 12/18 size.  Occasionally I use 10 epi of 12/9 or 12/6 (the 12/6 can be used at 12 epi, also).  I wrote a post at Tapestry Share about warp options a year or so ago.  Link to that is here.

In a previous post (the one about Hambidge) there was a photo of another sampling of bloodroot image in a sett of 8 epi.  For this sample, I'm using 12/6 cotton seine twine and 10 epi.

In the photo, the warp is turned 90˚ to the way it's being woven so that the design, a bloodroot blossom and leaf, can be read as it will be when completed.

I've also inked onto the warp.  I usually stitch the cartoon to the back of the warp when I'm weaving rather than taking time to ink on.  But the amount of detail in the blossoms is such that I'll need to be more in control, I think.  The inking is done with a laundry marker; I'll post about that process later on my Tapestry Share blog.

I want thin vein lines in some of the leaves and those are being done in the sample with soumak.  Weft size is 20/2 worsted wool, used at 3 strands (the soumak lines are done with only one strand).

I have a double row of soumak at the bottom (left side in the photo) and that's the line for the turn-back or hem.  The width of the sample is 6".

Sampling.  It's good to change it up a bit occasionally. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

News on the teaching front

It seems the John Campbell Folk School class I'll be teaching in February is now full!  And the Florida Tropical Weavers Conference class in March only has one space remaining.

Arrowmont registration has begun and I'm hoping for a full class there, also.  Here's the link to the Arrowmont class.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Hambidge days

I am a Hambidge Fellow and so am occasionally able to take part in a fill-in opportunity when there's a cancellation.  That has happened recently and I'm spending a few more days there this early winter. By the way, applications for next year are now open... go to this link to read more about how to apply.

I've spent wonderfully productive times at Hambidge Center in the past.  I was at the Center in mid-October and was able to get quite a bit done with the William Morris study in preparation for a John Campbell Class coming up in February.  This time, I'm working with designing thoughts for a new tapestry.  I'm working on paper and also sampling a bit on a small loom to clarify some of the ideas and to check the warp sett to see if I need to do a smaller sett than I usually use (usually I work with 8 epi but I think this will need to be 10 epi).

Weaving the sample turned 90˚

I'm also taking a bit of time to walk and gawk at the wonderful world of Hambidge.  North Georgia is a beautiful part of the world and Hambidge Center is right at the tip of it... almost in Western North Carolina.

The other night, Jamie Badoud, the Center's Director, invited the eight residents to his lodging, the Mary Hambidge house.   Interesting log structure with a deep history.  Mary Hambidge's loom is still there:

The history of Mary Hambidge and the Weavers of Rabun that she began is quite fascinating.  Here's a brief bit at the Hambidge site.  You can read more about it in Philis Alvic's book, Weavers of the Southern Highlands.