Sunday, November 22, 2015

Beginning again... an oxymoron?

Well, maybe.  Yet a tapestry maker always has to begin again.  Tapestry is finished.  New warp goes on the loom, design is made (or sometimes that works in reverse--design first and then warp to fit the image), wefts chosen and one starts.  The empty warp gets filled up and hidden in the multi-part wefts that will create the resulting "picture in the rug."  The quote is from an elderly aunt who once when seeing a tapestry I'd woven of my grandmother ooh-ed and ah-ed over it, then said, "Now how did you get the picture in the rug?"  Needless to say, I was a bit stumped about how to explain it.  And I guess I've been trying ever since to help people who aren't familiar with tapestry weaving (or any weaving, for that matter) understand the process.

This time around, my new beginning is based on a painting I did while at the recent Lillian E. Smith Center residency.  I wrote about that image as it developed at this blog post.  I started weaving on the piece a few weeks ago and in the past couple of days have gotten to the point of major decisions about how to tackle the large expanse of background that's to be light--not quite white, not quite tan but something of both of those in light values.  I'm not trying to replicate the marks of the charcoal and paint that were in the original version on canvas but I want to activate the background in a way that is visually interesting and that also shows the marks and making process of weaving.

Here's how it looked on the loom yesterday afternoon when I left the studio:

The piece is 60" on the loom with a warp of 12/18 cotton seine twine, sett at 6 epi.  The cartoon is a simple line drawing of the shadow and leaf shapes from the original.

A closer view of what I'm going to do... I think.  I've woven in and taken out several inches so far but I think that this is the approach I'll be using throughout the background, different types of yarns used as wefts and woven in diagonal directions that sometimes reverse to form diamonds.  The small slits at the turns show up as tiny spots of shadow.  The slight differences in value and hue of the light neutral wefts give the background visual interest--at least that's what I'm hoping will happen and so far, seems to be working the way I want.

The weft is primarily wool but I'm also using hemp, linen, a silk-linen blend, and cotton bundled together.  Some of the yarns are quite small (the hemp, linen and a couple of the cottons) so I have 8-10 strands together in some bundles.  I'm using 4 strands of the wool.  When I combine the other materials with the wool, the number in the bundle varies.

It feels good to have a way forward.  A new beginning.  Again.

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