Saturday, June 27, 2009

weaving to new music

Sometime back I mentioned that I listen to music frequently as I weave. I have lots of old favorites but always enjoy finding something new. Last night my husband and I "discovered" Danny Schmidt who was performing in the round with Jonathan Byrd and Doug and Telisha Williams at The Crimson Moon here in town. So today I wove several inches while listening to new music--a couple of Danny Schmidt's CDs and an older one of Byrd's that I didn't have.

I've now rolled the tie-on ends around the bottom beam and out of the way. I've had the ties bundled up with rubber bands to keep them from being under foot when I'm using the treadles. Now, I'll leave the warp in place for quite a few inches before I advance it again. I can change the height of seat to keep my weaving level about the same. This is one of the things about this loom I like--that I can see a large area of the tapestry at one time.

Friday, June 26, 2009


Southeast Fiber Educators Association exhibit is ending at Gray Gallery, ECU, Greenville, NC on June 30. It will be in the St. Andrews-Sewanee School Gallery, Sewanee, TN during August. There is an online PDF catalog of the exhibit at

Thursday, June 25, 2009

tapestry progress

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Almost a month into this one now--got to step up the pace!

Started this piece...
and continued...
wove consistently for several days...
moving across and up a bit...
while other things began to distract...

THEN I took a break for a week for the wonderful bookbinding workshop at Shakerag.

Wove a bit Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and spent some time today getting my entry for the CHG exhibit together--found I had slides of the pieces I didn't remember I'd had done from digitals last year. So rather than spending half a day or more to get my digital files to CD and mailed I went with the old fashion approach of sending slides!

The Anderson Arts Center entry information, bio and statement are due before the 1st--will spend tomorrow on that. I hope to back into a rhythm of several hours of daily weaving for the upcoming few weeks before my next journeys out of town. Here's progress at this point--

My studio days usually begin around 11 once I've taken care of tasks at home. Then I work on assorted things here like these entry details followed by a trip to the post office, if necessary. Back to have lunch and then I begin to weave for most of the afternoon--usually stopping around 5:30 or so. Four hours of weaving daily is good for my hands at this point... can push for more but will feel the consequences a bit the next day.

Exhibit at Gray Gallery, East Carolina University

Southeast Fiber Educators Association (SEFEA) has an exhibit currently on display at Gray Gallery, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC. There is an online catalog--I'll post a link to that later.

The Gray Gallery link shows an overview of the exhibit... my tapestry, "To the Essence of Every Nature", is seen at the left far wall. I also have another tapestry in the exhibit and the small 9" piece from the jacquard woven strip done at Oriole Mills. The 9" pieces are hung as a group collaborative, each person contributing one from her strip. I haven't seen the overall grouping yet.

The exhibit will travel to St. Andrews-Sewanee Gallery in Tennessee next and possibly to one other site in the Southeast before it ends.

Other exhibits coming up--I'm still waiting for word if my entries have been accepted into the ACC Spotlight Southeast 09 show. Entries to the Chattahoochee Handweavers Guild juried exhibit are due July 1 and I'm sending slides for that today. I've mailed entry form and CD for the "Weaving Within" Stirling 2009 Small Tapestry exhibit sponsored by the British Tapestry Group to be held at Smith Art Gallery and Stirling Castle, Stirling Scotland, September-November of this year. And the Tapestry Weavers South exhibition at Anderson, South Carolina is fast approaching!

Now... got to get weaving--my tapestry coffers are getting quite empty!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A book was born last week!

The Late Coptic Bookbind workshop at Shakerag Workshop was just fantastic. I'll post more photos in a slide show later but just had to show off my week of hard work (under expert guidance of Shanna Leino, the instructor).

Thursday, June 11, 2009

this and that

The tapestry is moving along. I've been able to work on it at least an hour each day since I began. Other things have been diversions during the week, however.... these two small weavings that I'm mounting. These were done during the past year, both begun as demonstration pieces and both based on my Hambidge residency work from last October.

I've stretched a natural color handwoven twill cotton fabric over a stretcher strip mounting board, then stitched the tapestry to that at the edges using a curved needle to just nip in one warp over. This holds the tapestry in place against the mounting board and is nearly invisible. This is a mounting method I learned from Susan Maffei; a link to her article about mounting small tapestries is here. I've adapted her method a bit--for instance, I use artist stretcher strips as my frame, then put a foam core layer on the frame, stretch over that a thin layer of quilt batting (cutting out the excess at the corners). Then I stretch the mounting fabric. I've used a number of different fabrics for mounting fabric, often closely matching the tapestry color, especially if I have woven a border. This time I wanted the natural color of the fabric to show the tapestry shape. Also, I've left a very short fringe at the top and bottom of one of the pieces so I wanted a mounting fabric that would blend with those natural colored warps.

There's also a number of other finishing solutions at the ATA article link here. I wrote one of the articles and in it I describe a slightly different way than I'm using now.

I'm also getting ready to go to a workshop next week. At the last minute I decided to call to see if there was any space in a class at the Shakerag workshops in Sewanee, TN. I'm going to be taking the Late Coptic Bookbinding class taught by Shanna Leino. I've had a couple of workshops in book making and have thoroughly enjoyed each one. Although I don't need yet one more thing to do, I guess, I'll be able to spend time with a good friend who lives in Sewanee and have a challenging learning experience, as well.

So... off to weave some more and then start thinking about what to pack since I'll leave tomorrow for this next adventure.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Changes are Made

Yes, changes are happening in the tapestry... it's growing daily since I'm able to spend at least a couple of hours each day working with it.

And another important change that's occured is that I've passed along the coordination of the American Tapestry Alliance Distance Learning program to Barbara Heller. Here's what I wrote about that on the tapestry list today:

Distance Learning Programs through American Tapestry Alliance

I've enjoyed being the coordinator for the American Tapestry Alliance Distance Learning Program for the past two years. I'm moving on to other tasks now and Barbara Heller is the new coordinator for the program.

I know she'll be eager to hear from applicants to the program. For more information about the two distance learning programs that ATA sponsors (the one for intermediate level which Barbara will now coordinate, and Helping Hands, designed for weavers with less experience) please see the American Tapestry Alliance website link at:

The initial Distance Learning program began in 2003 and has been coordinated by Priscilla Lynch, Linda Weghorst, Tommye Scanlin, and now--Barbara Heller. Joyce Hayes and Jeannie Bates developed the Helping Hands program in 2007-8.

While we've done the organizational parts, the heart of both the programs are the volunteer mentors who give of their experience and expertise as they guide the students who are assigned to them. The hands of the programs are those of
the students who seek both inspiration and technical assistance from their mentors.

My heartfelt thanks goes to all who've been involved with ATA Distance Learning Programs in the past, and to Barbara Heller for taking over the coordination of one of the programs. And, here's to the success of future students and mentors!

Tommye Scanlin

The Distance Learning program has been a valuable learning experience for a number of students. The mentors for the program have shared with the students in so many ways--it's been an incredible experience for me to have been involved in seeking mentors for applicants. Everyone who's agreed to serve as a mentor has been just incredibly supportive to the assigned student. What a wonderful group of people to work with--it's been exceptionally rewarding to be part of it all.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

wedding anniversary diversion

Yesterday was our 26th wedding anniversary. I still can't believe that much time has passed! I was curious about exactly how much time (since I have time on my mind quite a lot as I weave)--and after finding a nifty calendar calculator online I discovered that we've been married 9497 days--make that 9498 now! Maybe the next anniversary we should mark is day 10,000! When will that be? Humm... need to get to that calculator page again!!

To celebrate we spent a lovely evening in Dahlonega. We're so fortunate to live in this small, vibrant community and be in easy walking distance to our town square where all kinds of thing happen. The university is almost a stone's throw away, as well, with its library, gallery and performance halls. So around 6, we took folding chairs to the little park for the First Friday concert--usually local bands perform, fundraising booths are set up (last night the Merchants Association was raising money for our 4th of July fireworks), kids run and tumble, dogs meet and greet each other, and a hundred or so people sit around having a picnic, drinks, or just soaking it all in.

Then, as it began to get dark we went to a local coffee house and music place, The Crimson Moon, to hear Shawn Mullins. Shawn's graduate of the university here and I've been following his music for years. He had a pretty big hit with "Lullaby" a few years back and, while that song was good, he has many, many more that are even better in my opinion. You can find lots of YouTube videos of Shawn--one that I've always particularly loved is called "Shimmer". Anyway... here are a few phone photos of Shawn and his accompanist, Patrick, from last night's performance. What a great way to spend an anniversary!

Friday, June 5, 2009

moving along...

I'm trying out some things, inspired by the recent Silvia Heyden visit and also re-reading her book, The Making of Modern Tapestry. I'm attempting to take to heart this statement from her beginning paragraph:

...(I) have come to the conculsion that tapestry can indeed be an art form in its own right with its own specific mode of expression if the craft of weaving is allowed to influence the art of tapestry. In order to be meaningful, tapestry must find its own identity. It must not be a woven painting, but rather a composition that could only have been woven, not painted.

The painting I'm using as the inspiration for this tapestry has its unique characteristics of brush marks, pencil and charcoal marks. I never intended to copy those in the tapestry but was falling into the trap almost immediately of being intimidated by them. I knew that I wouldn't be able to weave them as I'd done them in a rapid way. But how to proceed was puzzling me... I thought I knew what I wanted to do but then that didn't feel right as I began.

So at one point yesterday I began to think that I should loosen up--let go of constant scrutiny of the painting to compare with what I was weaving--and begin to weave. I made a number of more color blends, still staying with the three colors and variations of those, and began to weave irregular triangular shapes. I'm much happier now with the process. I'm weaving quickly, the surface is becoming lively, the fabric I'm weaving doesn't look like the painting anymore--it looks like what it only can be.

I having so much fun now that I'm filling the color areas with myriad triangles of close value but with hue changes in each bobbin. And this painting I'm using for inspiration is a joyful one, one done after the intense thought and design work I did when at the retreat at Hambidge last fall. It was one that just exploded out within a few hours at the Aimone directed studies.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

And the weaving begins in earnest!

I began weaving the next tapestry a couple of days ago. Here's how I'm working. I have the painting from which I'm adapting as I weave hanging on top of the loom. I tried it in two other places (behind the loom and hanging at the side) and really couldn't easily see it for reference. I thought it might not interfere with the shed changing if I draped it over the top beam and it works just fine there, at least for the lower part of the image. Since it's painted on canvas I believe I can roll it up to expose more of the design as I need to see it.

I began by tying on to the lower rod, weaving in several thin wood molding strips, then a few passes of the cotton seine twine I'm using as warp, the 12/18 Finnish cotton from Shannock. Next there was a single twining row of the same seine twine followed by several passes of scrap 2 ply wool. This will be unraveled as I finish the ends. I've been attempting to resolve how I want the edges to be finished for years and have used many methods. This time I'll either thread alternate warp ends into the channel of the adjacent one, then cut off the one that remains hanging close at the edge (I learned this from Marti Fleischer a few years ago), or I'll use a half-Damascus edging as described in Peter Collingwood's classic book The Techniques of Rug Weaving, page 485 and 486. Here's a link to a pdf of the pages in Collingwood's book that describe the Damascus and half-Damascus edge--takes a bit of time to download if you're on dial-up. The pdf is from the Ralph Griswold online digital archive of textile publications--link here.

Because the edge of the warp shows a bit I wanted to make it less jarring to the bright colors of the tapestry by weaving a narrow and irregular border in light color weft around all four sides. I'm using single weft interlock rather than sewing slits for most of the vertical join areas. Since Archie Brennan showed me how to do this interlock in the smoothest way I've used it quite a lot on tapestries of a 6 epi sett although I still frequently sew slits as I go as Susan Maffei describes. Here's a link to her article about that on their website.

My adaptation of the image is just that... I haven't drawn many outlines to follow, just the primary ones of the the abstracted leaf forms and a few vertical color change areas of the background.

I'm using 3 strands Vevgarn from Norsk Fjord Fiber for my weft. The yarn comes in approximately 1/4 lb. skeins that I wind into balls or onto spools using an electric winder.

Almost all of my tapestries make use of color blending through melange and chine. Kathe Todd-Hooker describes these ways of blending as:
"Melange is the mixing of colours in a similar value and/or hue together on the same bobbin to create colur changes and colour interactions....Chine is the mixing of colours of dissimilar value and/or hues on a bobbin." (page 48, Tapestry 101)