Monday, July 5, 2021

An interview, a book, an exhibit


 Last week I had a conversation with Tegan and Eric Frisino at The Professional Weaver podcast. It was an interesting experience to talk with them and share some of my thoughts about my career in teaching and tapestry weaving.


In the podcast I also talked about my new book, Tapestry Design Basics and Beyond. It's now available through Schiffer and other booksellers online, and it's in stock at the Craft Shop at John C. Campbell Folk School. My other book, The Nature of Things: Essays of a Tapestry Weaver, is also at the Craft Shop.

I've been busy over the past month getting a magazine article ready to submit. And I've also worked daily on a tapestry that I'm trying to complete for an upcoming exhibit at the Southern Highland Craft Guild's Folk Art Center. The theme is black and white and will feature all craft mediums. This is the fourth version of this theme, one that's held every several years. It's always fascinating to see the many ways this idea of no-color can be interpreted! Black and White 4 will be on display at the Main Gallery, Folk Art Center, from August 28, 2021-January 16, 2022.

Here's a preview of the tapestry I'm working on:

I'm weaving it turned 90˚ to the hanging direction. The left side will be the bottom of the piece. It will be 24" tall by about 20" wide. The design is based on a block print I made earlier this spring while at the Lillian Smith Center. I posted about my retreat there earlier. 

Thursday, June 17, 2021

A Box of Books = A Great Deal of Happiness!


I received two boxes containing several author's copies from Schiffer Publishing yesterday! The book is a reality at last and soon to be in the hands of those who want to give some of these ideas a try.

 It's been a long process and one that I wasn't sure I was up to. But, with encouragement and help from many people it's here!


Friday, May 14, 2021

A brief retreat


I've been at the Lillian E. Smith Center for the past several days for a brief retreat. A R&R for my art spirit, I guess you could say. Rest and Recharge is the way I use retreats. Maybe not so much rest, though. More recharging of visual ideas without much else to do.


This spot on the ridge has so much to see and wonder about at every time of the year. This springtime is no exception.

Always a wonderful view from the cottage porch and also looking back at the cottages.

This time I worked with small watercolors at the cottage and used a couple of those to design block prints. I'm planning to use one of these (maybe) as a tapestry cartoon for an upcoming exhibit.

 Printing away at the end of the day and the end of this retreat. Many thanks to Piedmont University and the Lillian E. Smith Center for this wonderful time away!

Friday, April 16, 2021

A book is born!


Well, almost.

The book I mentioned a few posts ago arrived in advance author's copy yesterday. The public release date has changed a bit due to potential shipping slow-downs. I'm hoping it will be out sooner but if not, look for it to be released around June 29 by Schiffer Publications.

This has been a long time in the making. Over the years in teaching I've made handouts about various topics. When I began to do week or two-week long workshops I started putting together relevant information about the topic of the session into booklet handouts. I've revised those many times over as I added or dropped out information.

In 2018 I contacted Schiffer Publishing with a proposal about a book that focused on designing for tapestry. In it I wanted to discuss basic elements and principles of design that are applicable to making artwork of any kind and I hoped to make those ideas relevant to the techniques and processes of tapestry weaving.

I was quite excited when the editor at Schiffer replied she was interested to read more about the proposal. Little did I know what I was getting into! I'd thought I'd assemble my various handouts, add a few more things, collect images of my samples and do a few new examples, then send it all off to one day magically turn into a book.


The more deeply I got into handout revision I realized that I couldn't simply re-do those. I had to rethink and rewrite the majority of what had gone into the casual handouts I'd used when teaching and seeing the participants in person. I needed to approach this in a way to be useful to one who was reading the book at home and working through my suggestions without other guidance. Someone who was not in a workshop where one could ask questions of the teacher (me) and also interact with fellow students for feedback. That was a tough task and I won't know if I've been somewhat successful at that until the book is out and people begin to use it.

I also realized early on that I'd need to show examples of tapestry work by other artists. I am fortunate to know many other tapestry artists through interactions with American Tapestry Alliance members, in workshops, and conferences. Through social media, fiber magazines, and books I'm familiar with many more. As I wrote about design concepts I made lists of tapestries I felt would beautifully illustrate the points. I began to contact tapestry artists to ask for permission to use images of their work in the book. I was thrilled that everyone who I asked was happy to be part of this publication. You'll find beautiful tapestries by over forty artists included in the book. There are so many more I would have loved to include but space didn't allow. 

A few months into the process I felt I needed to see if some of the design concepts as I was describing  could be explored by others without workshop guidance. I reached out to an Atlanta area tapestry study group to ask if they'd try out ideas on their looms at home and many of their explorations are included in the book.

In the years I've been teaching workshops a few people have attended multiple times; I've seen their tapestry ideas develop in depth both in design and tapestry technique and some of their design thoughts and processes are included in the book. Their pages give great examples of variety of ways to approach design inspiration.

A few months ago I received the pdf for final proofing and had a good idea about how the layout would look. But, I have to say that didn't prepare me for actually holding the book in my hands and being able to flip through the pages! What a thrill that was. The editor and I had chosen a spiral binding with hard cover as the format. Since this is intended to be useful as someone is exploring design ideas this will lay flat beside you as you work. Here are a few of the pages in no particular order. Some have lots of images and others are just full of words. It's a good balance, I think. I hope readers think so, too.


In my own work designing for a new tapestry always holds a challenge of some kind. I've learned that trying different approaches is the best thing I can do to move vague ideas into more concrete thoughts. From those I can begin to find the images I might be able to weave. After that, the designing skills I've learned over the years take over as I work and rework images to get them to the point of weaving.

I know not everyone needs to work this way but one of my goals for the book is to encourage one to try something, then something else, and even more. Don't be afraid you won't find the best design for a particular tapestry. It's there. It's waiting for you, even if you have to go down many paths before finding it.

Maybe my book will be a guide along the way. I hope it will join the other tapestry books available, whether older or new ones. I particularly hope that it will become a great companion to Rebecca Mezoff's book published in 2020, The Art of Tapestry Weaving. Rebecca wrote the foreword to my book and I continue to encourage people who want to learn about tapestry to seek out her online classes as well as her book. I was thrilled yesterday to put my book on the shelf alongside Rebecca's for a photo op! Thanks again, Rebecca, for the kind words you contributed for my book.