Monday, December 31, 2012

One More Year is History (almost)

My tapestry diary for 2012 was cut off around 1:15 p.m. today.  I've hung it up temporarily in my studio so I can see how the whole thing looks at last!  It's nearly 88" long and 12" wide.  I've got lots of finishing to do before calling the tapestry really complete.  BUT--the weaving of a bit for every day of 2012 has been done.

I'll post a better photo of it sometime in the future.

Right now, the next warp for 2013 is waiting... be tied onto the remains of this year's warp:

Happy New Year to One and All!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Threads of Time--One Day at a Time...

...that was the title of an article I submitted to Tapestry Weaver, the British Tapestry Group publication.  It appeared in Issue 8, November 2012.  Here's the article; maybe the jpgs from my scans will be readable.  If not... sorry about that!  The British Tapestry Group is now open to anyone, anywhere in the world.  It's quite a wonderful organization, with an inspiring website, exhibition opportunities for members, and the print publication that has quite interesting articles.

Monday, December 10, 2012

2012 Tapestry Diary is nearing the end

It's hard to believe that there are only 21 days remaining in the year of 2012!  That means only twenty-one more days of daily entries into my tapestry diary are left to do, as well.

This year's diary contains date numbering (most done with soumak) and for the most part echoes the weather conditions and/or time of day when I've done the weaving.  Often there's another bit of something reminiscent of what I've seen on a morning walk or other small symbolic shape that will remind me of something about the day when I look at it later.  Other than width (about 12") it's going to be quite different than the other full year tapestry diaries, those for 2009 and 2010.

So... where I am today, a rainy and foggy day here in Georgia:

I'm weaving this on the Tissart loom that's here at my home studio.  

I'm using yarns from my stash here at home but much of the weft is from past tapestries... see the scraps here:

And when I'm working at home I have a good helper--although he often relaxes a bit if the job gets hard... as he's doing here:

OK!  Day's done here at the house, now to put on a coat, pick up an umbrella and walk over to my real work at the studio.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Feathers are flying--yes, bad pun!

My weaving time has been curtailed a bit over the past couple of weeks because of this and that, but I'm still attempting to put in at least an hour or so on one or the other of the two tapestries that are underway when I'm in town.  Both have feathers as image/subjects.

Here's the big one today.  I've just started the second feather and did some sampling to find a suitable color... I think these blends are working out OK... although it's sort of hard to tell in the photos.  The details are a bit too bright and the overall is a bit too dark.

I'm liking the soumak lines throughout the background--thanks again for the suggestion, Kathe!

Here's where the smaller one is today.  I haven't worked on it since last week:

For afternoon break I had a lovely assortment of brand new publications to flip through... three of them came yesterday, in fact!  The other one arrived a couple of weeks ago:

On top is Tapestry Weavers, newsletter of the British Tapestry Group.  Below is VAV Scandinavian Weaving Magazine (English edition).  Next is Shuttle Spindle & Dyepot, publication of Handweavers Guild of America, and last but not least is The Journal for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers that's produced quarterly by the Journal Committee of the Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, UK.

I have an article in this issue of Tapestry Weavers, in fact.  It's about my tapestry diary process and is titled "Threads of Time--One Day at a Time" (although there's a typo in the printed title in the magazine... says "Threads if Time..."-- guess that works, too?!)  I was very happy to have been asked to submit an article and I've been wanting to have something in publication about my tapestry diary practice for quite awhile.  Of course, I write about the tapestry diary in my blog and occasionally post about progress on Facebook.  But having a statement about it in a print medium makes it seem more real, in some way.  In the article I mentioned several others who are also doing tapestry diary work, with links to their blogs.

About the tapestry diary.  As 2012 draws to a close so will my fourth year with this daily tapestry weaving practice.  I still find it challenging and so I'll be making the warp soon to begin the fifth year on January 1, 2013.  In that way I'll be preparing once more for commitment, discipline, persistence, patience, tedium, anxiety... all those qualities and more are wrapped up in this daily tapestry weaving habit that will be done, bit by bit, one day at a time.

NOW... about hints for weekend plans for anybody near Athens, Georgia, USA!  The Indie South Fair is taking place on December 8, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., 670 W. Broad Street, Athens.  My niece, Megan Smith, will be in booth 10 with her work... stop by and check out her creations.  Here are a couple of the one-of-a-kind stuffed critters she does using mostly repurposed/recycled fabrics.  Recently, I gave her some of my handwoven bits and pieces, and some of the critters at the fair will be from those.  The ones in the photos here are other odds and ends she's found in her stash or at thrift stores:

This one's torso is from a partially stitched embroidery she found at a thrift store.

Sweater adapted here, complete with eyelashes and bows.

I think she may also have some of her drawings and gouache paintings at her booth.  Her two dimensional work is quite different than the whimsical stuffed creations.  Her drawings and paintings are realistic, figurative works, almost all asymmetrical in composition and unusual in viewpoint. One drawing, for instance, is adapted from a photo of a friend of hers, taken of the friend lying on an airstrip in India, with mountains in the background.  The figure is in extreme foreshortened view, angled diagonally across the page, and dominating the composition.  Megan is working hard to be successful as an artist in the fickle world of making things and finding a market for them.  I admire both her creativity and her spunk!  And I buy from her when I can... for instance, these two critters are mine!!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Lots of loose ends...

I've been away from my blog for awhile.  Several things were going on including a couple of teaching responsibilities in late October and early November.  Now that I'm home I've immersed myself into studio routine but I'll see how much I can catch up with this post.  Here goes.

I was happy to see Kathe Todd-Hooker in late October at the end of the class she taught for Chattahoochee Handweavers Guild in Atlanta.  Kathe and I had emailed back and forth earlier in the year to see if we could coordinate a visit for her here in north Georgia either before or after her workshop.  Turns out that a couple of days after her workshop were good so I picked her up on the last day.  I got there early so that I could see what was up with the students (and see some old friends among the group).  I was able to sit in on a last discussion as Kathe moved around the room to see what ideas were being generated by the participants for future tapestry cartoons and give them feedback.

Kathe stayed overnight with us in Dahlonega, and she and I spent some time in my studio.  She gave me very valuable comments about the large feather tapestry cartoon that I've been working on.  One of the suggestions she had was to consider using soumak for the linear work in the background; that hadn't occurred to me, in fact I was trying to decide whether any of the marks would even be included in the tapestry.  I've taken her suggestion to heart... the tapestry is well underway with soumak being used for marks throughout the background.  I'll show a couple of photos of that at the end of the post.  Thanks, Kathe!

The next day was full of adventures.  First, we stopped to visit with John and Joy Moss, the wonderful folks who make bobbins.  John turned a small bobbin while we were there.  What a treat that was to see.  Kathe took lots of photos and will be sharing more about John's process in the future, I'm sure.

Next, we drove on a few more miles to stop and chat with Pat Williams.  Pat and Kathe were talking about one of Pat's cartoons in the photo above.  Then we drove to the Episcopal church in Clarkesville to see the wonderful tapestry kneelers that Pat did a couple of years ago.  Kathe was quite taken with the imagery that Pat used in the pieces.  Read more about Kathe's Georgia visit at her last blog post.

Then we headed on up the road about twenty five more miles to Hambidge Center; I wanted Kathe to have a look at the place so that she will have an idea about the inspirational setting the Center provides to artists.  After Hambidge, we zipped back over the mountains and into North Carolina to stop by John C. Campbell Folk School.  We got there just around 5 p.m. and were able to get into the weaving studio--but we missed getting to say hello to Linda Weghorst who was teaching there that week.

On the way back to Dahlonega we drove by Track Rock Gap and stopped so Kathe could see the petroglyphs there.  Here's Kathe photographing one of the plaques that give information about the carvings in the stones.  

Very full day!  Kathe stayed overnight with us again, then we got up quite early to drive to the Northsprings MARTA station for the hour ride into the Atlanta airport.  I rode along to help Kathe corral her three suitcases and we had more tapestry-talk time.  What a treat to have her visit!

About the teaching experiences... both were amazing.  The first class was one that I co-taught with Pat Williams at Sutherland Handweaving Studio in Asheville.  It was called "Weave It Your Way" and our focus was on designing for tapestry.  There were five students (although one had to leave after the first day, trying her best to get back to MA before Sandy) and everyone worked hard, shared ideas and information, and (I hope) went away with new tools to use when designing tapestry.  Here's a slide show from the Asheville class:

The second class was one I taught in Norris, TN at the Appalachian Arts Crafts Center.  There were also five in that class and it was beginning level tapestry.  We worked on 6" wide, 6 epi warp with 3" used for sampling and the other 3" for a small tapestry they designed.  Everyone got both sampling and small piece done in the three days of the class.  PHEW!  Quite a task, made somewhat easier by the apples and chocolates my husband sent along for the class.  The slide show below is from the Norris class.

Then, finally... what's happening in the studio now.  I'm continuing to work on the smaller feather tapestry I included in the last post but most of my work for the past week has been getting the large piece underway.  Kathe's suggestions of using soumak for the marks in the background resonated with me as soon as she said it.

OK, that's pretty much it for now!  Back to weaving feathers.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Report from the Norris, Tennessee class

... from Maggie's blog:

Maggie was one of the participants in the recent class I taught at the Appalachian Arts Crafts Center in Norris, Tennessee.  She posted about our adventures on the three days.

I'm hoping to get my own post about both the Asheville class Pat Williams & I taught recently as well as the Norris class, done soon.  Then there are photos from Kathe Todd-Hooker's visit to Georgia... and our trip to see John & Joy Moss (bobbin maker)... and Pat's studio... and ... more about all of that soon!


Later today... although this newest tapestry is growing s-l-o-w-l-y because of all the other things going on, I did finish the first of the four feathers on this 24" wide piece.  Only three of the feathers are showing in the cartoon, by the way.  The fourth is hanging over the cartoon holder bar and is at the back.

The warp is 10/3 linen and sett at 7.5 epi.  Weft is 5 strands of 20/2 worsted wool from Norway (Kathe Todd-Hooker sells this through her business, Fine Fiber Press).  The linen warp is from Noel Thurner at Norsk Fjord Fiber.

The tiny circles on the piece are the magnets holding the cartoon in place behind the tapestry.  I'm also stitching in place.

I'm using soumak in places for details.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Hagen loom for sale

A friend is selling her small Hagen tapestry loom; $250 plus shipping.  Let me know if you're interested and I'll pass along her contact information.

The Hagen loom is made in Norway and Noel Thurner at Norsk Fjord Fiber imported them to the U.S. for several years.  I have several Hagen looms myself and they're wonderful tools.  They come with a shedding device but I've also modified the ones I have so that I can use leashes with them.  Very versatile looms!

Here is a link to an earlier post in which one of my Hagen looms is shown.  The basic loom is the same as what's for sale but note that the photos are of my loom modified to have leashes rather than the shedding device that comes with the loom.  My loom is also on a floor stand which I don't believe is with the loom that's for sale.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Voted early...

... with gratitude for a job well done so far and fervent wishes for four more years to complete the task!
Thank you, President Obama.

Monday, October 8, 2012

More with the large feathers...

... it's still not there yet but developing.  This is another Photoshop manipulation after today's painting session:

Friday, October 5, 2012

And so it begins again...

... designing for tapestry, that is.

I've been setting up looms to have them prepared for the next tapestry work.  I have three warps on three looms now, two of them 24" wide and one 48" wide.  Oh--I also have a 8" wide warp on a frame loom--can't forget that one!

My interest in feathers is developing into cartoons... I have one piece started on a linen warp, cartoon based on one of the drawings made while at the Lillian Smith Center earlier this year.  So far I've only gotten a couple of inches into it and it's waiting while I work on the development of a cartoon for the larger warp.

Here's a bit from the studio and the design process that's underway:

This loom has the linen warp, sett at 7.5 epi (every other dent in a 15 dent reed).  It's an 8/4 rug linen that I'm using.  Weft will be an assortment of Vevgarn and 20/2 wool.  The painting from which I'll be working is hanging to the right of the loom.  I haven't yet stitched the cartoon that's on Mylar in place behind the warp.

The larger design is developing on a large sheet of layout paper stapled to my wall...

The design began with sort of automatic drawing, scribbling with a large graphite stick held with my arm extended and large sweeping marks being made.  I didn't realize at first that the crossing over of some of the marks would lend themselves to being turned into falling feathers... but that's what's happening.

Once the feathers "appeared" I began to enhance the feather shapes:

Then today I added blue paint to the background... want the feathers to seem to fall from the sky.  My thoughts this morning about the piece arrived at the phrase:  "What if all the birds fell from the sky?"
And so I've continued thinking about that as I've worked today on it.  

I photographed the piece and did a bit of Photoshop manipulation to see it differently.  Here are a few of those versions; did twelve or so but will only show a few:

I decided to flip the image because it seemed to be falling more emphatically in this direction"

Solarization was pretty interesting... anything that causes me to look at the image in a different way is useful for me.

I'll return to the piece with brush and paint tomorrow to see how some of this Photoshop work might lead me along different paths than just my eye alone can find.

Hope to finish the designing for this larger piece by early next week and begin weaving soon!  October is a busy month for me outside the studio so don't know how much I'll be able to accomplish on the piece.  Will I be able to finish a large one by the end of the year?!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Opening at The Bascom last night

The American Craft Today exhibit opening was last night at The Bascom in Highlands.... here we are going in:

There were really more people there than the three of us!  That's my friend, Fran and my husband leading the way; friend, Beth, was taking the photo.

And, here I am standing proudly beside my tapestry that was selected for the show:

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Life after Retreat...

... gets hectic again.  I returned from the Lillian Smith Center retreat last Friday and normal life at home began again.  And the first stage of "normal" was getting the car unloaded, suitcase unpacked, laundry done.  The second stage of "normal" was spending the weekend doing the first steps in preparing a tapestry for an upcoming delivery for exhibit.  My husband had a project going on during the weekend, as well, and I helped out with that  a tiny bit.

This week has been spent with getting the tapestry through the next finishing steps, including getting a frame together to mount the piece on--two frames, actually, since the first one I thought would work didn't... it was too short.  As much as I tried to convince myself that the presentation looked fine, it just didn't.

Monday had been spent getting that particular mounting board ready and beginning to stitch on the tapestry.  On Tuesday, I had an acupuncture appointment twenty miles away, and after that I drove another thirty-something miles to an art supply store to buy stretcher strips of the RIGHT size.

I made the second mounting board yesterday afternoon when I got back and spent the early part of last evening stitching the tapestry onto the NEW mounting board.  I felt I just had to get back to where I'd been on Monday... and I did before I left the studio last night.  Once upon a time in the blog I talked about "time spent, not time wasted..." and I've had to call that to mind several times as I've moved through the process of undoing a day's effort.

The tapestry is now 30" x 22" and is stitched onto a mounting board, 32" x 24", that's been covered with a natural color canvas.  I'd considered weaving the mounting fabric but just didn't think I'd have time to do that.  And I'm glad I didn't now because I would have stretched that handwoven over the too short frame, I'm sure!  Then I really would have been in a snit.

Here I am, hard at work on the stitching:

 My fingers really take a beating (or would that be a pricking) when I'm stitching on.  I use leather thimbles on two fingers and that helps quite a bit.  Doesn't help when I accidentally stab a finger of my other hand, though.  I've got several pricks that have only bled a bit and I was able to keep the blood off  both the mounting fabric and the tapestry.  One jab was so violent, though, that I screamed out a few choice words--scared my cat so badly that he spent the next half-hour under the chair he'd been snoozing in.

Here's the almost finished tapestry.

I still have to put D-rings and hanging wire on the back and then it will be complete, ready to take to The Bascom next week for the American Craft Today exhibit.  Opening for that is on the 22nd, by the way.  Maybe I'll see you there!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

More about the Lillian E. Smith Center for Creative Arts

"To find... the place where fantasy and earthly things are metamorphosed into a work of art... this is what the journey is about...."  Lillian E. Smith

I was happy to be driving up the gravel road to the Center on the 14th of this month; and now my time here is almost over--at least for this year.  I'm hoping to return in the future--this is such a wonderful place to spend time.  As Lillian Smith said, "Dreaming, talking, acting: this is the way to bring change about."

Here's a short quote from a brochure about the Center:
"The Lillian E. Smith Foundation was established August 1, 2000, to honor the memory of Lillian E. Smith, one of this country's eminent writers, civil rights activists, and humanitarians.  Smith held at the center of her being her function as a creative artist.  She also deeply valued the power of the arts to transform the lives of all human beings.... It was with this vision in mind that the concept of a retreat for artists, writers and scholars was developed on her homesite."
What a wonderful concept... to value the power of the arts to transform lives.  I feel especially blessed to have been here during this particular time when a political party's convention has been taking place, one at which the value of the power of the arts was possibly not a plank of the platform.

I've been involved in the arts for most of my life.  I majored in art in college, then was a full-time art teacher for 31 years.  I continue to be involved in art teaching, although now in short classes and workshops specifically for tapestry weaving.  I can truly say that my immersion in art making and teaching about what I've learned in art has transformed my life.  And I've seen it at work in the lives of others.  I hope that a belief in the value of the power of the arts to transform lives is revived on a national scale.  One can always hope.

OK... off the soapbox now.  Here are some photos from the Center as I prepare to leave.  They're in no particular order, by the way:

So, for now... I'll say good-by to the Lillian E. Smith Center... until next year.  Maybe I'll see you there!