Saturday, April 11, 2009

what do you think about when you're weaving?

That question isn't one that was asked to me... but to my friend, Pat Williams, when she recently visited a college art history class to make a presentation about tapestry weaving. She said one of the students wanted to know.

Maybe some of the curiosity about what happens inside the weaver's head comes from the nature of the tapestry making... nothing big and loud going on, like when weaving on a floor loom with the shuttle flying back and forth, beater thumping, shafts raising and falling in rhythm. With tapestry weaving little evidence (to others) of anything really taking place happens as one weaves... except after a long time when a shape is in place where there was only empty warp before.

So after Pat told me the story of the student asking that question I started thinking about just what it is that I think about when weaving tapestry... doing some metacognition, I guess. Thinking about my thinking.

And what does my thinking about my thinking tell me I think about as I'm weaving? I'm mulling over thoughts like this, for one thing. Other thoughts are about whether it's time for lunch yet--or the afternoon snack. I think about what to listen to: NPR, music CD, book on CD, silence of the room (oh yeah, there's the timer on the lamp doing its subtle pace through the seconds... not total silence after all). Old friends come to mind... old times. New friends pop up, too. Past tapestries float past. Past lives are in the mix, as well. Color decisions are interspersed with wonderings about my upcoming trip to Vermont to study with Bhakti Ziek. Deadlines approaching for exhibits intertwine themselves in the shifting strands of thoughts and feelings. Never the same things... yet not much difference, overall.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about the state of my creative flow. A flow that isn't happening right now. How outrageous to find myself in this point yet again! And, didn't I just recently write an article for the latest American Tapestry Alliance newsletter, Tapestry Topics, titled "Mining the Vein of Creativity"--how embarrassing.

I get to this point over and over and over and over. I continue to have to remind myself of that. Sometimes I really can't see the forest for the trees. I need to once more relearn the lesson I'm given each time I see the season change from the bleak cold of winter with the coming warmth of spring. And surely I can convince myself yet one more time that there's something for me to create in the future. The very near future, I hope.


  1. Interesting post, Tommye. Makes me think of what I think of when weaving, and how it seems that all those thoughts and concerns are woven into the tapestry. Because I KNOW which tapestry I was working on when my grandmother died, or when my grandchildren were on the way, or when my children were on the verge of going away to school...
    The photo is interesting, too. Kind of a mandala of tree branches. Also thought provoking...

  2. Tommye, Thanks for sharing this. One trend I am seeing in "creativity talk" in the marketplace is the difference in creativity and innovation. The definitions are that creativity is the idea, but innovation is bringing the idea to life. One really needs the other for the idea to exist in reality. It's amazing though to consider the difference in the amount of time each consumes!