Thursday, March 25, 2010

Necessity is the mother of ... adaptation

Not invention here, but adaptation.  Although I've been spending most of my studio time in the past two weeks getting ready for my upcoming class at John Campbell Folk School (starts on Sunday), I've also worked a bit on the kudzu tapestry.  Mostly what I've been doing with the kudzu is making some changes to the design.  As I was nearing the top I realized there wasn't a resolution to the image that I felt good about.  The original whole drawing from which this section was cropped and then enlarged made visual sense--but I wasn't clearly aware of losing that clarity as I did the selection earlier.  So rather than finish the weaving and feel badly about not resolving the design, I cut off the cartoon (after marking it with red Sharpie on the reverse side of the Mylar to show me where to align it again).  I took it,  along with several of the earlier drawings and a few photos to my cellar where I have a work table large enough to lay it out, overlapping on an extending piece of white drawing paper.  I have enough warp on the loom to increase the length by 20" or more so worked until I felt OK with the new ending.  Now, rather than 48" long the piece will be right about 60" long (which is really 60" wide since it's being woven side-to-side).  I'll describe what I did a bit more under the photos below.

I've also modified the loom with leashes to finish weaving the last of the piece.  I've been having hip and lower back problems for almost seven months now and yesterday the physical therapist told me I should not use the treadles of the loom for awhile until the muscles are happy again.  I like using leashes on frame looms so after calling the Shannocks and talking to John for a few minutes for his advice I was able to go ahead and adapt with a method I though would work to hang leashes on this loom.

Original cartoon on Mylar lays on the left side of the table and overlaps the new version of the ending that's drawn on paper at the right.  

I overlapped the Mylar onto a few inches of the white paper and using pencil, drew and erased until I felt I had a solution that joined with what was in the original design and what I was adding new.  One of the things that was very evident at the left (bottom) was a simplified leaf shape and shadow and there was really no image that was easily identifiable as leaf to repeat that motif in the design.  I choose to add several leaves from a cluster at the right (top).  These will be darker in value than those on the other side but the shape will echo what's there on the left (I know, it's confusing when I say "left" when it's really the bottom edge of the tapestry right now... or say "right" when it's the top part that will have to be woven.  But it will all be clear eventually, I hope).

Once I was satisfied with the new drawing I traced onto a new sheet of Mylar, giving a few inches at the left that will overlap the woven area and into which the new cartoon was stitched in place -- the red line is the top edge of what was woven when I cut it off.  I made a few notes to myself of what the heck it was that I was seeing in those new shapes that were drawn:  "leaf"--means just that, of course; "bkg"--means background.

The loom with leashes added and new cartoon stitched in place.  I used 12" threaded rods placed at the upper most hole of the loom frame, attached with two nuts and washers, one at each side of the frame.  Two more nuts were screwed onto the rod near the end and just a tiny bit apart so that the cord from which I hung the leash bar could be secured.  I'm using the eye bolts Kathy Spoering recommended for the cartoon hanging bar to tie the leash bar cord onto.  I'm back to the hooks to hang the cartoon bar but can get another set of eye bolts, if I need them, as the cartoon gets shorter.

Here's the threaded rod extending forward with the leashing bar attached.  I've place an open shed rod between the heddle bars by treadling one shed and slipping the rod into place.  Now I'm able to weave without having to use the treadles.  Of course, I could have picked the sheds... but....


  1. I've just found your blog and wanted to drop a fast comment to say WOW.

    I'm currently taking my first weft-faced weaving class at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, about to embark on my first project after a few months of samplers. Your work is simply gorgeous, and definitely something I'll enjoy coming back to look at again and again as I learn.


  2. Sometimes we have to be design engineers! Good luck with the new design. And I hope your aches get better as the new season settles in. I think seasonal changes bring some of these things on. (Sounds better to me than 'old age' at any rate.)

  3. Well, it look beautiful with the new cartoon and I think you've brought a perfect resolution to the piece. I have to say, it looks complicated as all get out getting there
    with the new mylar and leashes and eye hooks and such, but I can see how each one makes a lot of sense.
    Seems there is a good deal of invention there too!

  4. I am intrigued by your choice of switching to leashes, as I just bought a small Shannock (2 years ago)thinking that treadling might be a good way to prevent physical problems!

    I have been weaving with leashes for 25 years and like it just fine, but I thought it might be nice to let my legs do some of the work. I have neck problems. I guess there is no ONE solution. Hope this works for you.

  5. WOW = that is amazing! I'm sure it will be magnificient when it is complete. I'm also glad you "caught" the need to make the change before you got too far down the line!

  6. Jennifer, I'm hoping to add this piece to the ones that will be in the Focus Gallery at FAC in Asheville. Show starts April 25, I think, but I need to get all to Nikki by the 19th. Think I'll try to take it up when I go to the Guild's Annual Meeting the weekend before.