Monday, August 31, 2015

I said I would and I did (think I've used that before as a post title...)

Well, I'd said I hoped to finish the bloodroot tapestry by the end of August--and I DID!  In fact, I finished weaving it and cut it off the loom a couple of days ago.  Here's the finishing few clips as I cut it off the loom; my husband took the photo as I as snipping away:

And, here I am holding the tapestry once it was free from the loom:

There are many more hours to go in finishing work before the tapestry is ready to be shown... like this:

This is the piece ready to have weft ends clipped.

After that, I blocked the piece:

I've pinned the tapestry down to the dimensions that fit the smallest edges and I'm spritzing with water...

Then I cover the piece with a dampened press cloth and press with a wool setting, using more heat where there's irregular areas to shrink those more.  Thanks, Kathy Spoering, for posting about this method of blocking on your blog a few years ago... shrinking wool rather than trying to stretch it.  It's worked for me!

Here's the piece as it looked, pinned up on my wall yesterday.  There is still finishing work of hemming and getting a mounting board ready, then stitching to that and having the piece framed.  Many more hours before this tapestry is ready for its close up!  But at least I'm not weaving it anymore.  The colors are richer and more subtle than this photo shows and once I have a professional photographer (Tim Barnwell) shoot it, I'll post it again. 

To move ahead...  I'm at Lillian E. Smith Center now.  I got here today for a two week residency.  I have spent the day getting here (the Center is in driving distance for me so I load up my car with everything I though I might need over the next two weeks and threw in a few more things), unloading all that stuff at the cottage I'm in and in the studio I'll be using.  I am so happy to be here at the LES Center again.  A beautiful place.  With a red door.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Tapestry progress

The tapestry I've been working on since April is coming along pretty well right now.  It's taken awhile to get back into the flow of the piece after having a busy earlier part of the summer.  This is what I always find -- if I stop working on a tapestry every day I have to reacquaint myself with it.  What was I doing and why.  If I know I'm going to be away from the loom for awhile I try to leave it at a point that I can do some almost mindless weaving for a day to get readjusted into the image and ideas I'd been having about it.  But I'm not always able to do that and this was the case with this bloodroot tapestry.  So it and I have had some serious discussions in the past ten days as I'm trying to find the flow once more.

Here's where I left it yesterday:

The top of the cartoon (which is really to be the right edge of the tapestry) is within a couple of inches at the left.  I've gotten through the next hard part, the second blossom.  Today I'll work on the middle to build it to a point that I can begin to weave on the right.  The stem for the blossom will be critical as I build the underneath side for it as I move from middle toward the right. 

Here's the image turned 90˚ and the way the piece is intended to hang:

One of the nice things about digital photography is that I can take photos and rotate in the screen to see how the piece is actually looking whenever I'm weaving a design that is turned.  I can also shoot details and analyze if what I think is happening is actually occurring in effect.

Earlier in the spring I did a couple of samples of this image to see what warp sett would give me the amount of crisp detail I was hoping to achieve with the blossoms of this delicate plant.  Here's one in process that was sett at 10 epi; the image is turned in the direction the image would be seen when finished:

I'd earlier done a sample of one blossom at 8 epi and I realized when seeing both 8 and 10 epi that I needed a closer sett, hence my choice of 12 epi for the final version that's on the loom now.  Do I always sample with sett?  No.  This is the first time I've felt strongly enough about how I wanted the image to be controlled that I've taken time to do it.  And I'm glad I did.  The small piece at 10 epi turned into a nice little tapestry that holds its own just fine.  In fact, it's now mounted, framed and sold.  

Back to the loom now!  Maybe I can meet my goal of having the piece finished and off the loom by the end of August.  Maybe!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Catching up at long last!

Wow!  Such a year it's been.  Lots of things have gone on in "real life" and I just haven't had time to put into posting as I have in the past but I hope I'll be able to continue to keep up--even if weeks pass.  I've enjoyed doing this blog for several years now and posting about what's going on with my tapestry making as well as other things.  One of the other things I particularly like to post is about the classes I teach.  I always make a lots of photos but don't sometimes have time to resize them to update the blog.  Arrowmont's recent class is one of those that I'm behind on and now I'll catch up a bit.

First, let me say that Arrowmont School of Crafts is an exceptional place to be.  I've enjoyed my times there over the past thirty + years--yes, over three decades in which I've had some connection at various time with Arrowmont!  I can hardly believe that.   I've attended retreats and conferences, taken classes and also taught there.  I highly recommend Arrowmont as a wonderful place to go to immerse yourself for a week or two.  Even if getting there through downtown Gatlinburg seems daunting, once you're on the Arrowmont campus you can let the rest of the town fall by the wayside (unless you enjoy spending time having pancakes, getting an airbrushed T-shirt, going through Ripley's, the aquarium,  or No Way Jose's Cantina or other attractions of the strip!)

Here's the main building of Arrowmont:

The class I taught there this year was a two week class with six students--a wonderful size.  I also had an assistant so there were eight of us in the class.  The room was spacious... the looms were pushed aside so we could have big tables out and we were each able to have a large table of our own to spread out on (well, I had four... my excuse was books, supplies, demo table, etc.).  Here's a view from the balcony of most of the room.

The class title was "For the Love of Color--and More" and the "more" was about ways to think about designing.  For many of the days, I'd start the class with a design exercise of some kind.  One of the most successful was one in which I projected a feather photo, one that I'd taken that morning as I walked through town before class.  We used vine charcoal and a small piece of paper for the drawing.  I started with the photo out of focus and timed their drawing to about 30 seconds.  Next, I asked them to wipe out the drawing with their hand and draw again, for another 30 seconds with the photo brought into a bit more focus.  Then they were asked to once more wipe out their drawing.  Again, the photo was projected , more focus added and they were asked to once more draw quickly.  One more time to erase and one more time to draw, this time with the image in focus.  I asked them to concentrate on removing the light areas with a magic rub eraser (with the vine charcoal as drawing tool, each of the "wiping" out times left a gray residue on the paper).  The eraser became a negative drawing tool.  The final step was to use the charcoal to add the darkest dark to the drawing.  Here are the resulting remarkable drawings--done within about 20 minutes, total time:

Will any of these ever turn into tapestry?  Probably not.  But the effort of removing the thought of finished image from initial designing and letting oneself explore stages of image transformation may be worth it.  But I think these are quite lovely drawings in their own right.

Now, here are selected photos from the class.  They're not in any particular order.

We had a great gift that arrived on the first day, mailed to us by my husband ... he sent an unexpected box from Paul Thomas Chocolates in Dahlonega with a bag of bridge mix to everyone, plus a couple of other sweet things for us to share.  Here's the group holding our treats!

The class spanned the 4th of July weekend and all of us stayed over.  The location for Gatlinburg's fireworks was such that the campus was a great place to see them.  Here are a few of us in the chairs we took from the weaving studio that's just behind us, to sit and wait for the action.

The fireworks didn't disappoint!

During our session, we had a very special treat when Andy Saftel brought in his tapestries, woven in Mexico from his designs.  Andy was teaching in the printmaking studio.  He's had quite a few of his images woven in tapestry and getting a chance to see them in real life was so nice.

Andy and his co-teacher also worked with Jessica to make an embossing of one of her weavings.  Jessica is an MFA student at UT Knoxville in printmaking but interested in textiles so she was in my class.  Here's Jessica and Andy as they discussed how she should prepare the embossing plate with her woven piece:

Here's her resulting embossing:

This class was a remarkable one.  Everyone was compatible, interested in and helpful to each other.  They pushed themselves in their tapestry making abilities and pushed me, as well.  I truly enjoyed the experience and thank the folks who were to join along on this adventure.  Thank you, Anna, Joann, Nancy, Laura Beth, Dorina, Jessica and Audrey. You made my weeks at Arrowmont very, very special.