Thursday, January 30, 2020

January is ending ...

... and my tapestry diary for 2020 is progressing. I'm weaving my way through the eleventh year of this perhaps obsessive daily practice. And I still find that weaving every darn day on a tapestry diary is something that I need to do. Even a few minutes spent putting a little weft into a warp that I know will be on the loom for twelve months is rewarding. It's also rewarding to not have a lot of planning in the weaving other than the image chosen to accomplish within the span of each month's time.

This year the month's images are to be of feathers. The Emily Dickinson quote: "'Hope' is the thing with feathers--/That perches in the soul--/And sings the tune without the words--/And never stops--at all--" is one that's often with me in troubling times. It's one that I'm using a lot right now.

Here's January's hope:

The feather is from my friends' turkeys, dropped in the yard--not plucked!

Each day I'm weaving a rectangle of color selected from the natural dyed yarns. I have several values of brown and tans from the black walnut and the henna dyes. Those are being alternated with other hues. I'm throwing a die again this year to select the color.

One of the things that always amazes me is how much compression there is in tapestry weft as the passes above an area are woven. This morning I took a photo of the very obvious difference. You can see on the left the woven area and on the right how the white weft is higher, so far. When I weave in tomorrow's area on top of that it will press down to be level with what's at the left.

I've used wool for the background and thin linen for the feather, giving a contrast of color and texture. I've also used thin lines of wool as linear details in some part of the feather, and slits that are pulled open a little so that the shadow becomes the line.

Other things going on are a couple of tapestries that are in progress. This one is on my Fireside Cantilever loom. The warp is sett at 8 epi and is wool. The weft is from Weavers Bazaar, the fine size and I'm using it seven strands per weft bundle. The width is about 22" and it's being woven turned 90˚ to the image when completed.

 I have another warp on the Ashford tapestry loom. I haven't worked too much on it lately but I hope to complete it before too many more months pass.

This loom is at home in the room I've claimed as my studio. The other loom is in the "real" studio nearby.

Other things happening include weaving a small heart to be used (perhaps) in something online very soon. I put the warp on a pipe loom and a piece of paper behind it so I could photograph the steps of the weaving process. It remains to be seen if this will be effective in the way it's going to be used but it was interesting to photograph it in stages.

Dianne Mize and I have paintings and tapestries being exhibited currently in "Streams and Strands" at the Sautee Nacoochee Cultural Center near Helen, Georgia. The show is up until March 1. For March through April tapestries will go to the Sarratt Gallery at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee. Later in the summer there will be other exhibits in which I'll have tapestries, as well. I'll post more about those later. Here are a couple of photos from my end of the hall; Dianne's paintings are at the opposite end. She and I were interviewed and filmed recently. I'll post a link to the video when it's available.

I was excited to recently learn that one of my tapestries has been accepted into the American Tapestry Alliance Biennial exhibit, ATB13. That exhibit, sponsored by the ATA, is one that features a variety of tapestries currently being done by tapestry artists from around the world. Each time the works are selected by a different curator; having different eyes and aesthetic sense for selections sometimes gives thought-provoking results. It will be interesting to see what this year's curator, Nick DeFord, has chosen.  I've entered almost every one of these shows and have gotten into some and not others. I don't think I'll be able to see the exhibit in person this year because of the distance of the venues for me. But there will be a catalog that I'll be eager to see.

Last year I decided to order a sketchbook from the Sketchbook Project of the Brooklyn Art Library. I kept the sketchbook on the kitchen table at the studio and often made simple line drawings when I sat down for an afternoon break and snack. Here's a page from the book. I mailed it back recently and it will be among the thousands of others at the library. I've ordered a new one and am eager to start drawing it it. My first one will be digitized and be available for online viewing. I don't have the link for that yet, however. This is quite an intriguing effort. I learned more about it at this episode of the Ephemeral podcast in the interview with the founder of the Sketchbook Project, Steven Peterman.

And finally, here's a selfie with my fragmented landscape. I needed a headshot for the ATB13 catalog and so this is what I sent.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

And so it begins again

A New Year.

Last year held highs and lows both personally and professionally. I won't go into any of those because I don't want to. Suffice it to say that I was more than glad to see the back side of 2019. Didn't stay up to see in 2020 but could hear fireworks in the neighborhood somewhere. I'm glad someone felt like celebrating. Their time is coming when the celebratory mood might be dampened. I don't wish it for anyone... but it comes for us all, those dark and trying times.

Even though the year was not the best ever I continued my tapestry diary practice and having that as a daily respite was a good thing. Some days I would only weave a single pass of weft but I was still practicing what gives me most pleasure in the world--weaving tapestry.

I even managed to finish a large tapestry during the year, one I'd started with the hopes of having it off the loom in just a few months. Instead it was on the loom for almost a year. I don't have a title for it yet. Based on a painting I made while in residence at Lillian Smith Center a few years ago it's the fourth tapestry I've completed from the several paintings done in about two weeks time at the Center. All are of leaves that are woven much larger than life. Maybe I'll post all of them together along with the paintings from which I worked at a later time. For now, here's the latest:

Back to the tapestry diary practice. It's something I've been doing for a decade now--weaving a small bit each day. In 2015 I decided to also incorporate a larger section of weaving among the daily parts. I began by doing four things throughout each month. I liked the finished piece but it really became a chore to accomplish four small tapestries each month, essentially what that turned out to be, in addition to the other studio work. In 2016 I changed the idea to have each month as a single design element within the multiple days of the year. Here's a link to several of my ten tapestry diary years at my website. I've continued that concept for the next years from then to now--and that's what I'll be doing once again this year. However, what I will weave each month for 2020 is still a bit of a puzzle for me. I have a couple of ideas... and I'll begin something soon. After all, it's already day 2 of the month of January! I must select my subject soon!

For last year I decided that I'd roll a die each day to determine the color I'd use for the daily part. I had quite a bit of the natural dyes remaining from an earlier tapestry so I put those into six color groups: red, yellow, blue, green, orange, and violet. I assigned each pip of the die to a color: 1=red, 2=yellow, etc. Each morning I threw the die and recorded the number that turned up, then selected from my several values of each of the colors what I'd use.

My subject for the year was flowers that were growing seasonally wherever I happened to be for a particular month. I started January with the Lenten Roses that were blooming outside the house then, followed by daffodils that were coming out in February here in north Georgia. It was quite interesting to see how much color there was in the natural world in the winter months. The only month that I didn't use a flower as the design was October. That was represented by a single black square. October was the month our beloved kitty died and I just couldn't bring myself to have any other image there.

Here's the whole thing when I cut it off on December 31, 2019. 

Next, comes the finishing of the back and the ends. I'm working on that for the next several days. There's an exhibit coming up soon and it needs to be completed to include in that.

Lots of ends to clip shorter and those near the edges to tack back with thread so they don't show when the tapestry hangs.

I have the warp for 2020's tapestry diary tied on now and have woven two days into the new year. For that process, I wound a three yard warp on the warping mill (I use 10/3 linen sett at 8 epi), then tied the ends of the new warp onto the remains of 2019. I've done that for several years; that serves two purposes--I don't have to totally re-thread the loom, thus saves time, and it also symbolically links the new year to the old. All of that was completed yesterday and I wove the first day of the new year as a green band across the bottom marked with one small line of a dark rust color to indicate month one of 2020.

Here's the new year's tapestry diary in the second day. Green band for January 1, brown rectangle for January 2. On and on it will go for the next 364 days. May this year be a good one for one and all.