Thursday, April 3, 2014

Happy Spring

Happy Spring and welcome to my studio. We have been doing some work on the outside and I now have a designated warm weather spot for my morning coffee in the form of a new rocking chair. Never mind that we are under Tornado watch tonight, just another less welcome sign of Spring.

Even though the benefits package is spare it is a very nice place to go to work everyday.

I have been adding to my front patio and it is beginning to shape up. It now goes all the way across the front of the building with places for some herbs, tomatoes and flowers.

Laddie is now presiding over his flock of sheep. I have only to weave the hem and it is ready to take off the loom.

I have been thinking about how to finish it so should be writing about that soon.

Here are a couple of close up views of the last section of the tapestry.

This has been a fun project and each of the sheep is a different breed of handspun wool. I plan to draw a key on the backing for future reference.

A new cartoon is waiting to take it's place on the 16 inch Mirrix. I'm calling it Hands On.

I have been considering another larger tapestry to take the place of the Mango Hunters on the Joni Loom and the other morning I woke up with a magnificent idea. It seemed so vivid and fully formed in my mind. It was quite a coincidence to read Rebecca Mezoff's new post that same day about this very thing. You may like to read it,

The reality about my idea is that it will be quite a challenge for me to design and weave so we'll see what the journey brings.

Here is an overall view of the 2014 tapestry diary effort as of yesterday, April 2nd.

The project this year is based on the idea of following a path or taking a journey through the year and on several days each month I have been using the Mette Lise Rossing book, the Threads Course in Tapestry to try out a few techniques from her excellent diagrams.

Recently I have written an educational article for the American Tapestry Alliance on weaving a daily practice like the tapestry diary titled The tapestry Diary, its About Time.  It can be read at the following link with many pictures and links,

The American Tapestry Alliance is a wonderful organization to promote educational and exhibit opportunities for tapestry weaving. Check it out!

Above are some close ups of the first two weeks in March and I went into some detail about the techniques I tried during this time in the previous post. March has gone from snow covered and cold to green popping out all over and much warmer weather.

I have really enjoyed trying out some color in plain weave and sumac ideas last month.  Soumac is something that I use frequently to smooth a line or for linear effects and there are so many interesting variations to try.

On this end of the month detail I have tried a few more that I did not include in the last post.

At the bottom the large red orange triangle shape is March 23 and I used variation number 77, page 33 which is two picks of closed sumac going in opposite directions to add a little texture to the grey line of the path with an orange line of plain open sumac beside. I often use this same technique  after or before weaving a hem or turn back on a tapestry.

The 24th follows with some twill and ground weave which I have mentioned before and has become a favorite.

On the 25th the heavily textured  red violet line of the path is a sumac variation 105, page 40. It creates a diagonal pattern by moving four warps for each step and turning twice around two warps.

On the 26th the bright orange is variation 99, page 39 which uses sumac as a contour of a diagonal line and turns once on each warp, four forward and three back in open sumac.

On the 27th I used variation 101, page 39 and did open sumac turned around with the long floats on the back for the land on either side of the path. This worked nicely and I would like to experiment more with it. If you click on the picture the different texture should be visible in the larger detail. The path is then plain weave with a little blue violet outline.

On the 28th through the 31st I continued by repeating some things already used and spoken about.

Here is  shot showing the end of February, March and most of January together.

I thought I would mention again the closed sumac technique that I am using to join the monthly columns. Because one side is completed before I begin adding the other I must put the thread on a needle but if I were working both sides at the same time I would not need to do that. It is variation 57 on page 28 if you have the book. It has an interesting texture and I'm very happy with it in this context.

Now, a short pause to toot my own horn. If your ears are sensitive you might want to skip this paragraph.

As I mentioned before the Mango Hunters and the 2013 tapestry diary triptych were juried into the Fiber Celebration 2014 show in Fort Collins , Colorado. It was presented by the Northern Colorado Weavers Guild and juried by Tien Chou and the Mango Hunters received third place in the two dimensional, non functional category. Quite a delightful surprise!

They should both be back in the studio around the first of May.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Following My Path Through March

Following the path through the 2014 diary this year has been great fun. I've been enjoying the palette which is so different from last year, the concept of the path has been interesting to work with and the technique study from the Threads Course in Tapestry by Mette Lise Rossing continues to be inspiring.

As March matures I find myself adding more greens to the color mix as they are finally popping out in the landscape here.

This is an overall shot through March 24. It has been fun to watch how the addition of the monthly columns changes the look of the overall design.

This month I have worked some new to me techniques of color effect in plain weave and some sumac variations that I have not tried before.

Here is a close up of the beginning of Feb/ March with March to the right.

I have continued doing my red squares for the month designations so this month there are three for March.

Continuing with some of the techniques I have already tried like various hachure treatments and twill with ground weave has been helpful, as by now those things are coming pretty naturally to me.

March 1st employs variation 68 page 31, alternating color effects in plain weave and the contrast color here is used to create the path effect.

On the 2nd of March I wove a blue violet path using Variation 62 on page 30 which is a plain weave with brocaded inlay. I used a thinner yarn for the color effect and the final look is much more subtle than weaving a separate path in the BV would have been. In this technique the yarn is held to the back and picked up when needed which offers a lot of freedom as to how it is used. It was a very snowy day in Oklahoma!

On March 3 I used variation 63 with the color effect woven in gold. The main difference here is that two pattern wefts ( a complete pass) are laid between one or more plain weave wefts. Again a thinner weft is used for the pattern effect and the yarn is held to the back when not in use.

March 5th I began with some of the sumac variations. I use sumac quite a bit for outlining and adding detail but I wanted to try some of the more unusual variations in the book. On this day I used variation 79 page 34, a closed sumac which wraps around three warps and back one. Wrapping over three warps at a time gives a much more textural look.

Back to some color effect in plain weave on March 8 from variation 65 page 30. This is the one that has a light value orange path third from the bottom right of this photo, which is also a subtle pattern effect. Here the pattern weft is laid partially in with the plain weave to form the pattern.

On march 10 variation 88 page 36, the main difference here from the book is that I was working up a diagonal line rather than straight across as in the book diagram.

March 11 employs a little closed sumac and on the 12 another version of some plain weave with color effect, variation 66 page 31. On the 13th I used some closed sumac to outline the red violet path and on the 14th variation 77 page 33 shows a double line of closed sumac in blue violet wrapping up the hill instead straight across as in the book. I thought that was a nice textural effect.

March 18 has more closed sumac in yellow orange outlining the path and on the 19th variation 91 page 37 is used in the red path line. It is a double row of sumac with an extra textural effect and I have used an outline of a single row of plain sumac right above it in a contrasting color.

On the 23rd of March I used a little plain sumac outlining again in the orange color.

There are still a few days left in March to experiment with  more sumac variations that look interesting.

I took a couple more photos showing the three months together as I am enjoying the evolving color and pattern of the months joining together.

Here is the top with March to the right. I will catch up with the end of the month in the next week or so here on the blog.

How about a photo from across the room. The new studio building is maturing nicely and this last weekend we did get some trim work done. I use the term " we" pretty loosely as it was Mack and Josh who actually did most of it.

They insisted that I come with them to pick out the trim but the only input I had was to take this photo!

It really looks nice now that the trim is done, especially around the windows and door.

Such a little thing but it definitely looks like a real room now!

I was planning to paint the cedar trim white but I like the contrast so I think it will just get a coating of Danish oil instead.

With my next post I will update the show listing but I am getting ready to do the Yellow Rose Fiber Producers show in Sequin, Texas the first weekend in June.

The plan is to finish the Sheep Breed Sampler and have it on display at the show. It is getting there and I have been working on a drawing for a new cartoon to take its place on the 16 inch Mirrix. I hope to see some of you there!

Friday, February 28, 2014

February News and Views

I have to admit February is usually one of my least favorite months but this year has been so busy that I haven't had time to notice. Yes, I am ready for Spring, I just haven't had time to wait for it this year.

After finishing February on the tapestry diary today I am packing up the Mango Hunters and the 2013 Diary Triptych. I will be taking them to the Tulsa Handweavers meeting tomorrow and then straight to UPS to be sent to the Fiber Celebration 2014 show in Fort Collins, Colorado. Fiber Celebration 2014   The studio will seem empty after they are gone, I guess that is a signal to start something new soon.

I also just sent the little Riverside tapestry for the Untitled Unjuried show in Rhode Island  that will open during Convergence 2014 and the ATA members retreat. I am so excited about being able to go both for the opening of this show and the members retreat this year. It will be awesome to see the tapestries from all over the US and many other countries as well. If you are interested in tapestry and are not familiar with The American Tapestry Alliance you will want to check it out here

Next is a photo of the 2014 daily practice tapestry taken today with 2/28 woven at the top.  I am really enjoying this daily tapestry this year and the addition of trying out some new techniques from Mette Rossing's book, The Threads Course in Tapestry has added to the excitement.

The last week or so I have been writing an article on tapestry diaries that features the work of ten tapestry weavers including myself and it should be available online after April 1 on the ATA website. I will provide a link when it is ready to read.

This month I have been carrying on with trying out some hachure variations that I talked about in the last post and more of the twill with ground weave samples.

Here is a closer view of the last part of February. I like the way the zigzag effect of the woven paths done with the displaced hachures contrasts with the smoother lines of the others.

My favorite technique so far though has been the twill with ground weave. I just keep thinking of variations to try and ways that it can be used both pictorially and as an effective use of directional line that moves the eye from one area to another in the design.

Here is a further detail showing a new variation I tried this morning in the last section at the top. By splitting the twill weft into two I was able to switch directions of the twill line moving right on one side and left on the other. I have got to experiment some more with that. I think it will be a way to also create the effect of a woven path without actually weaving one.

A little further down On the reddish triangle shape I split the path into both a light and dark blue green using the hachures which was a nice effect too.

For March I am going to move on and try to include some of the color effect in plain weave samples from pages 30-31 and some of the soumak variations on the following pages. Another great source for soumak is Kathe Todd Hooker's book, Line in tapestry and I have it available I'm my shop.

For now I am going to concentrate on finishing the Sheep Sampler which means I will get to sit down in front of the wheel and do some spinning.  It has been a while and I'm looking forward to that!

I guess Spring is delayed once again as we are expecting a snow/ice event later this weekend. On the first warm and sunny day I am planning to go out and sit in the sun and pretend I am a reptile.

I hope everyone is staying warm and dry,it is a good time to get some weaving done.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Mid February and a Red Dirt Valentine

It is mid February and time to catch up with the 2014 Tapestry Diary project.

Here is an overview as of today. Most of February so far I have been repeating some of the techniques already tried. I have found once I use them three times or so I am able to use them pretty freely.

A detail of the beginning of the month shows that I have used the twill with ground weave, displaced hachures and triangles with continuous wefts a few more times.

In this detail of the middle of the month the joining method I am using is visible.

I chose sample 57, page 28 of the Rossing book , The Threads Course in Tapestry. It is a closed sumac which climbs between the monthly columns every two passes. It is making a nice firm join and in a contrasting color adds a slightly textured design element of its own.

On the 14th the heart shape in the color of the red dirt hills in parts of Oklahoma is my valentine for the year.

On the 15th I tried something new from TCT ( The Threads Course In Tapestry), numbers 53 and 54 from page 27. Still working with displaced hachures, this sample has quite a stepped appearance as it climbs up the warp. I started out with the dark weft covering three warps as in #54 and then changed to two warps for the dark weft as in #53. In this way I can make a diminishing shape which fits my purpose nicely. I like the way this path zigzags up the hill and want to continue to experiment with this technique as the month progresses.

One more detail showing how January and February are coming together.

Most of the month so far was dedicated to finishing The Mango Hunters and I have appreciated having the TD to keep me weaving everyday.

I have one more small tapestry to finish before I move on to new cartoons and new tapestries. This one is on my 16 inch Mirrix and most of the tapestry is on the back side right now.

It has been awhile since I caught up with this one here. This is the end of the Sheep Breed Sampler. It has been a great demonstration project to take to shows for the past year or so but I am ready to finish it and start a fresh demo project.

The other day I drew a new ending for the sampler with an appearance of my Border Collie, Laddie. I attached it to the existing cartoon with double stick tape. I may need to trim him down a bit as he seems  very large in proportion to his sheep but I am sure Laddie would approve.

This sampler has a different handspun breed of wool for each sheep represented and I will talk about some of the different breeds when I finish. It is my firm intention not to draw any new cartoons until this too enters the collection of finished projects in 2014! This has been a very instructive project and a chance to experiment with many different types of wools used as tapestry yarns. I will be following up with it soon.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Finishing The Mango Hunters

I have been working on the finishing for The Mango Hunters and it has taken a little longer than expected. I was inspired by a couple of posts by Tommye Scanlin on her blog, and on her tapestry share blog
I did a few things differently but a very similar process.

First I ordered some heavy duty canvas stretcher bars, a cross beam and corner braces from Rex Art. I was very happy with the quality and they could special order to the size I needed. After the frame was built I layered some linen with a very thin cotton batting and stretched it over the frame. I used a staple gun to secure the fabric to the back of the stretcher bars with extra care to neatly fold the corners on the outside. The bars are about 1.5 inches thick.

I wanted to make sure those corners stayed in place so I stitched them together with a blind stitch and matching thread.

Preparing the tapestry involved the usual trimming of wefts on the back and slit sewing. The slit sewing seemed to go on and on and literally did take a few days to complete.

Then I turned under the hems and stitched them lightly in place after trimming the warp ends.

I laid the tapestry out on a blocking board and covered it with a press cloth and hovered over it with a steam iron. I didn't actually touch the iron onto the tapestry but the steam did help to relax the surface.

I stitched the tapestry close to the edge of the linen covered frame. I noticed that Tommye left a larger margin and I like that so will try it next time.

I used a curved needle and strong buttonhole thread for the stitching. The ends with the hems were quite a challenge to stitch! I tried to hide the stitches by using a matching thread and hiding them in the rows of weaving.

Here is another shot of the edge as I am stitching with a stitch  shown before pulling the thread through.

When I was finished stitching I propped it up against the wall on top of the pressing board for a quick photo.

The linen edge doesn't show much in front but will on the sides when it is hung.

Here is another photo taken today with a white background outside.

This process has taken a little more than a week.

One more.

A new box of goodies has arrived in the mail. I have several Slim bobs ( as pictured in the bowl with the yarns), Mini bobs ( pictured between the awls and keepers below) and three new awls with keepers. The awl on the far right is a new "Smawl" shown with a keeper. It is designed on the same scale as the mini bob. Let me know if you need any of these or some new Ymmyarns.

Happy weaving to you!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

January/February Tapestry Diary

When I started weaving this morning it wasn't snowing at all. By the time I finished my February 2nd spot on the Tapestry Diary it had just started and by the time I left the studio for the house it looked like this.

Two hours later it is still snowing!

Looking back at the studio here.

Here is a detail of the first two days of February. I managed to get a few snowflakes into the 2nd but I may have to put on my wellies to get out there for the 3rd if it doesn't stop soon.

This is the view of the TD after the January 31st weaving. January is 30.25 inches high so far.

I have been continuing to try out some new techniques from the The Threads Course in Tapestry by Mette Lise Rossing.

Here is a detail of the 1st through the 11th of January. We had several very snowy days that I tried to capture during that time.

This detail shows the 12th through the 22nd. I did the first experiment on the 13th which is Twill with ground weave, variation 14 from page 13.

On the 17th I used the same technique with some pick and pick directly after which I liked very much. Then on the 19th more Twill with ground weave.

On the 22nd I tried something different, triangles with continuous weft variation 24 page 16. I did vary the size and shape of the triangles a little but otherwise like the example in the book.

This shows the 18th through the 31st of January.

On the 27th I used var. 50 page 25, displaced hachures. I thought the effect of the thin zig zag line was very complementary to my format!

On the 29th I continued with displaced hachures with var 51 on page 26, here there are longer steps upward.

I really liked the way the twill with ground weave turned out on the 28th placed after some pick and pick!

Finally, I used twill with ground weave again on the 31st since it seemed to be the technique of the month.

I have really enjoyed experimenting with these new to me techniques on the TD this month and feel like I will learn a lot as I proceed through the year in this manner.

I realize not everyone has this book but I referenced the details just in case. If you are part of a weaving guild with a library why not inquire about getting it for the library? I know the Tulsa Handweavers has purchased a copy for members use.

I am excited about this years TD because it reminds me of Oklahoma in it's earthy quality and its ties to the land and I find that adapting these new techniques to the format and feel I have in mind is not difficult and very satisfying. It has a year to develop though so who knows what lies on the path