Friday, October 30, 2015

Cutting off a tapestry--always a happy occasion!

Yesterday I was happy indeed to finish the last of the border at the top of the tapestry that's been on the loom for over a month.  It's based on one of the paintings I made while I was at Lillian Smith Center in early September--

I described the stages of this painting in the post of September 8th.  It was the last large one I made while I was there and the first one I've used as a basis for tapestry.

I had a 20" wide linen warp on the loom, one I'd put on awhile back long enough to do a couple of tapestries.  I decided that the leaf cluster at the left side would be what I'd weave.  The painting was much larger than the warp width, so to make the image smaller I photographed it then resized and cropped the image.   I decided to use an approximate 3" border on all sides and I was going to weave that without a particular plan so I didn't need to include that in the cartoon.  That allowed me to make the leaf image 19" long x 12 3/4" wide.

I cropped the 19" x 12 3/4" image into four parts, printed those and then taped them together to make the size needed for weaving.

I printed a smaller version of the image that I put on the side of the loom to refer to sometimes while weaving--and the larger painting was behind the loom so I could also glance it when I needed to think about color choices when combining wefts.

I used warm and cool grays for the patterning of the border, starting out with remains of wefts from a tapestry called Because of Memory that I wove last year--also inspired by the Lillian Smith Center surroundings.  The background of the leaf cluster is made with random patterning of squares and rectangles of whites and light gray wool, with which I combined a single strand of thin linen from Silvia Heyden's yarns (I'd bought a lot of her yarns from her daughter earlier this year).  By including the yarn from Silvia I like to think that she was with me as I wove this tapestry--just as I feel Lillian Smith has been there with me in many ways as I find inspiration when spending days at the Center that bears her name.
Here's a closer view of the back side of the tapestry... see the thin white linen among the wools?

I finished the half-hitch to hold in the last of the weft late yesterday afternoon.  I unrolled it to be able to cut it from the top--in the photo you can see the difference in the size of the original painting behind the loom at the left and the tapestry.

I'll be putting in more hours before the tapestry is really finished... but taking a tapestry off the loom is always a happy occasion.  I'm always excited to see how the whole piece actually appears.  Yes, I see it as it grows but because I roll it up as the inches build I don't have an overall view until the cutting off.  

Today I spent time trimming weft ends and giving the tapestry a steam pressing.  Tomorrow I'll unpin it and begin the next stage or finishing off the warp ends.  After that will come mounting for framing.

And in the meantime, the next warp is ready to go!  I'm eager to start it and see where it takes me over the months ahead--leading me on to the next happy occasion of cutting off a tapestry.

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