Thursday, August 6, 2015

Catching up at long last!

Wow!  Such a year it's been.  Lots of things have gone on in "real life" and I just haven't had time to put into posting as I have in the past but I hope I'll be able to continue to keep up--even if weeks pass.  I've enjoyed doing this blog for several years now and posting about what's going on with my tapestry making as well as other things.  One of the other things I particularly like to post is about the classes I teach.  I always make a lots of photos but don't sometimes have time to resize them to update the blog.  Arrowmont's recent class is one of those that I'm behind on and now I'll catch up a bit.

First, let me say that Arrowmont School of Crafts is an exceptional place to be.  I've enjoyed my times there over the past thirty + years--yes, over three decades in which I've had some connection at various time with Arrowmont!  I can hardly believe that.   I've attended retreats and conferences, taken classes and also taught there.  I highly recommend Arrowmont as a wonderful place to go to immerse yourself for a week or two.  Even if getting there through downtown Gatlinburg seems daunting, once you're on the Arrowmont campus you can let the rest of the town fall by the wayside (unless you enjoy spending time having pancakes, getting an airbrushed T-shirt, going through Ripley's, the aquarium,  or No Way Jose's Cantina or other attractions of the strip!)

Here's the main building of Arrowmont:

The class I taught there this year was a two week class with six students--a wonderful size.  I also had an assistant so there were eight of us in the class.  The room was spacious... the looms were pushed aside so we could have big tables out and we were each able to have a large table of our own to spread out on (well, I had four... my excuse was books, supplies, demo table, etc.).  Here's a view from the balcony of most of the room.

The class title was "For the Love of Color--and More" and the "more" was about ways to think about designing.  For many of the days, I'd start the class with a design exercise of some kind.  One of the most successful was one in which I projected a feather photo, one that I'd taken that morning as I walked through town before class.  We used vine charcoal and a small piece of paper for the drawing.  I started with the photo out of focus and timed their drawing to about 30 seconds.  Next, I asked them to wipe out the drawing with their hand and draw again, for another 30 seconds with the photo brought into a bit more focus.  Then they were asked to once more wipe out their drawing.  Again, the photo was projected , more focus added and they were asked to once more draw quickly.  One more time to erase and one more time to draw, this time with the image in focus.  I asked them to concentrate on removing the light areas with a magic rub eraser (with the vine charcoal as drawing tool, each of the "wiping" out times left a gray residue on the paper).  The eraser became a negative drawing tool.  The final step was to use the charcoal to add the darkest dark to the drawing.  Here are the resulting remarkable drawings--done within about 20 minutes, total time:

Will any of these ever turn into tapestry?  Probably not.  But the effort of removing the thought of finished image from initial designing and letting oneself explore stages of image transformation may be worth it.  But I think these are quite lovely drawings in their own right.

Now, here are selected photos from the class.  They're not in any particular order.

We had a great gift that arrived on the first day, mailed to us by my husband ... he sent an unexpected box from Paul Thomas Chocolates in Dahlonega with a bag of bridge mix to everyone, plus a couple of other sweet things for us to share.  Here's the group holding our treats!

The class spanned the 4th of July weekend and all of us stayed over.  The location for Gatlinburg's fireworks was such that the campus was a great place to see them.  Here are a few of us in the chairs we took from the weaving studio that's just behind us, to sit and wait for the action.

The fireworks didn't disappoint!

During our session, we had a very special treat when Andy Saftel brought in his tapestries, woven in Mexico from his designs.  Andy was teaching in the printmaking studio.  He's had quite a few of his images woven in tapestry and getting a chance to see them in real life was so nice.

Andy and his co-teacher also worked with Jessica to make an embossing of one of her weavings.  Jessica is an MFA student at UT Knoxville in printmaking but interested in textiles so she was in my class.  Here's Jessica and Andy as they discussed how she should prepare the embossing plate with her woven piece:

Here's her resulting embossing:

This class was a remarkable one.  Everyone was compatible, interested in and helpful to each other.  They pushed themselves in their tapestry making abilities and pushed me, as well.  I truly enjoyed the experience and thank the folks who were to join along on this adventure.  Thank you, Anna, Joann, Nancy, Laura Beth, Dorina, Jessica and Audrey. You made my weeks at Arrowmont very, very special.


  1. It sounds fabulous Toomye and it looks like everyone really pushed and had a great time. Arrowmont is a wonderful place to go and I hope I get there again some day. Thanks for the photos!

  2. Hi Tommye.

    The work that you and your students accomplished looks amazing. What a great time. As always, thank you for sharing?

  3. Thank you Tommye! This looks like a wonderful class. What amazing things they wove.

  4. It was a terrific experience. Lots of fun, inspiration and wonderful people. The glow is still with me. Thanks, Tommye.