Monday, September 29, 2014
I have so much to do this week. I have a student coming to stay a week in the studio for tapestry lessons-exciting one of my favourite things to do.
I am working on a new piece about my two radically different Grandmothers. I am also trying to get together a book called--- of course--
Soumack and friends.
When my student leaves. I leave the next day to teach in Prescott Arizona at Mountains spinners and Weavers guild. I understand there are still a few spots open. Then I’ll spend several days weaving with friends in Santa Fe and move on to the next weekend teaching at Village Wools in Albuquerque, N. M. I am teaching a class called Soumack and Tapestry Friends. Yes it does deal with using Soumack architecturally to control angles and curves and circles-well any geometric shape.It’s one of my favourite classes to teach-I think because it has so much to do with drawing in tapestry. I love making lines go any direction I want, the architectural nature of soumack and friends, and of course, rya and related techniques.
I have been asked several times if I will ever teach an on-line class on these techniques. My answer is no. I don’t enjoy teaching on line and there are others such as Rebecca Metzoff that enjoy it and do it well. I doubt she will offer this specific class, but I am sure she has many fine classes. I just prefer to do it in workshops, one on one, and face to face. So if you want to take this class from me you’ll need to travel to a workshop or my studio. I am offering this class on Valentines day in my studio in Albany, OR. Private students can even stay in my home while they study at the studio.
Okay- here’s my promise kept on writing about circles and stuff. . One caveat there is much more information in Tapestry 101. Much more about trouble shooting circles and more about technique.
First a couple of Caveats-There are two things I tell my students constantly.
One- there are no tapestry police.
If you do something oddly or differently no one is going to take your loom away and tell say you can’t weave tapestry. There are a hundred different ways to do most things and none is right or wrong if it gets the job done and you like the end results. BUT,
Secondly don’t dumb down and make design decisions because you think you can’t do something.
If you want to simplify a design or misshape something, do it because you choose too. Not because you have to! Figure it out and weave what you like. Look up techniques, ask questions, but don’t say-o, well, it’s just the nature of tapestry. It’s not! Tapestry is about fooling the eye. Tapestry is all about how to weave your design and make it look like what you want. If you want round circles without stair steps it can be done.
don’t make or justify decisions by saying it’s kelimesque or that your copying another cultures design sensibilities to make up for mistakes in the design and weaving-especially when it comes to circles that culture very seldom if ever uses. Very view kelims have circles-ever. Own up and fix it and then choose to it the way you want to make it look!
That said, I want to write about circles, curves and angles without teeth or stair steps.
1. Know the geometry of the shape or curve or angle you wish to weave. If you need to draw the shape out on graph paper. Do it! It’s not cheating! Because you are after all weaving on a grid. Once you reduce a geometric shape to a drawing on graph paper you become aware of how it works if you weave straight passes. You’ll see the stair steps and the sizes they need to be.
Lets use a circle as an example. Use a template to draw a circle on a piece of graph paper. You’ll see that the sides raise with a variety of different sized stair steps and pass widths.
Quarter the circle . You’ll have 4 pieces of a pie. What you’ll find is each of those pieces equals the other the other 3 pieces of the pie. AND, will be almost identical in the way they ascend or descend in stair steps. You also should note that because your working on a grid that there are 4 areas that will be basically flat-top, bottom and the two sides. if you look carefully they each equal about a third of the width AND/OR length of the circle.
Then, look again, the next step over will be about one/ sixth of the flat area. The steps become smaller as you move over and up. At about one half the the climb of the first quarter of the pie you start to duplicate in reverse the sizes of the stair steps of the climb until you are matching in the rise the size of the beginning stair steps. The last stair step before the side flat area on each side is 1/3 of the the bottom and side flat areas. The two bottom sides of the circle are identical.
Each of the 4 pieces of the pie will be woven in the same way with the same number of stair steps and overs. The possible exception that one passes does not always equal another pass in a turn. IF you turn on a hollow thread it will take more passes to equal those then turns on a full thread.(Hollow or Valley thread and full and hill are often used interchangeably when describing this Phenomena)
The top half of the circle is usually woven about 5 percent higher so that as the circle is beaten on and over it doesn’t squish the circle into an oval. In a perfect world a circle would always have an uneven number of warps. But the world isn’t perfect so just remember it might take an extra pass occasional on a hollow or valley thread.
Now that you have a fairly good idea of what makes a circle works. It’s time to weave the circle.
So, to begin. It’s always a good idea to ink the circle on the warp. Ink at the last minute. With the types of warping processes that most of us are using if you ink to soon the ink circle can become distorted as the warps shift and turn in the weaving process. So, keep the cartoon close or make a template that you can check the circle against. Also, there are right ways and not so good ways to ink. You always want the finest line possible and the ink to go all away around the warp. Use a very sharp pen-hold only the very tip against the warp and turn the warp in your other fingers to get the ink around the warp. Do not use a juicy pen as the ink and wick up or down the warp. Use only tested water proof markers.
To begin to weave- Weave the base half way up each side of the circle and stop. Make sure that you use the same pattern of turns and stair steps on both sides. If you change the number of passes using fewer or more the circle will no longer be round.
Now you have a couple of decisions to make especially if you don’t like stair steps or teeth in your circles. You can choose to split the weft or use soumack to smooth everything out. I generally use soumack. My soumack weft is usually one half of the weaving weft bundle because I don’t like ridges on my tapestry. You can choose the weft to be in the colour of the base colour or the colour of the circle. If need be to continue the coloured soumack weft one can lace up the sides of the slits. But, One can only soumack so far up the sides and across the bottom before the distance the soumack weft travels across the warps and up begins to look loopy. At this point I stop the soumack and then pay attention to full threads and hollow threads as I weave. I often jump up with the weft turns to pull off the tooth. I weave the first half of the circle.
To end the circle or do the last half one weaves the inner circle in the same way or reverse the stair steps-BUT it is the same pattern of climbs that
I began with the first half of the circle.
I will also weave the circle slightly taller. About 5 percent above the cartoon to take into account the squish factor. I then outline the circle in soumack and fill in the out side bases of the circle paying attention to the hollow and full threads as I ascend up the sides and over the circle. Once the soumack happens at the top it will round the circle and get rid of any teeth or stair steps.
A couple of things to be aware of as you weave and beat the bottom part of the circle it will have a tendency to widen out while the top of the circle will have a tendency to pull the warps in. Once you reach the top half of the circle you no longer have the base or out side to follow. You will be dependent on the cartoon and inking to keep the circle round.
Don’t stop checking the circle. Trust your eye rather then your markings which can shift and stretch as the warp relaxes from being worked. Generally weave slightly over the the inking. The other thing-- this is not a good time to tighten or mess with the tension of the loom. Begin with the tension being tight.
The other thing to remember is that circles have a tendency to loose height when the tension is taken off of the weaving so compensate accordingly. Remember that circles do have a tendency to pull in as the top half is woven. Watch for consistency in the bubble of the weft while you are weaving. Use more weft if it starts to pull in. Less weft in the bubble in the areas next to the area that is pulling in. A major error that I see all the time is as it begins to pull in the weaver suddenly begins to use way to much weft in the pulled in area and they get vertical ridging, If this happens use less weft in the weft bundle and more in the areas next to the pulled in area to it will correct easily. Those vertical ridges will not go away with ironing etc. And if you can get them out they leave a blister or bubble in the tapestry.
Weaving circles is much more detailed in my book tapestry 101. In my Tapestry 101 book I actually describe several other methods for weaving circles without stair steps and teeth. There are also some weaving corrections for making circles rounder by using the inside or circle weft passes in different ways to force the circle to be more round. The illustrations in this book were done by Pat Spark. Please do not abuse the copy right of these pictures.
Guess that’s all for now!
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
that I decided to have a tune up. This is also the last of the reconstruction on the house. Gale is busily painting the house and the studio and hanging the last 3 doors. I have been spending a lot of time reorganizing the studio,painting floors and reorganizing yarn, storage and gifting my unused larger yarns to friends and students. I will be done with that in the next day or so.
Every so often one needs to have one or at least a time of reassessment. This has been both for me-Cataract surgery on both eyes, wrist hand surgery and a few other tweaks that should produce some lasting great results. The cast are off. I have 20/20 close up vision, but will need glasses for distance. I even get to start driving again on the 20th. My colours back to what they should be-no more grey staining the colours that I see... I am now off insulin. I am back to my Better Bones and balance. I have added tai chi-maybe- depending on the nerve in my leg and the PPS. Perhaps, I have done enough reconstruction to make it work. We’ll see. So all that said….It’s time to weave and write. Not that I ever quit-Just fewer walls to go up, over and/or aroundd.
I finished weaving my Grandfathers piece yesterday-except for the finishing. I am not in a great hurry to finish them up as I am trying to come up with a new body of work for an exhibit I am have next June at ETC in Eugene, OR. My next piece is started even as speak. I am in the process of laying it out. The drawings take time. I can only use drawing utensils only so many hours at a time. Just like I haven’t been able to use bobbins because of having worn the cast for so long.
These are my new best friends as I try to reclaim the muscles in my hand and forearm that were forced to hibernate and atrophy from lack of use. The nerves become less numb day by day and the hand stronger and less prone to shakes and charley horses.
3 Promises to keep-
An announcement that I hope everyone will consider and write for. I think that it is really important that small format/small scale tapestry weavers step up and make themselves known. So I am looking for writers about small format/small scale tapestry that can help to document the process of our being accepted as tapestry weavers in the tapestry world.
I am seeking articles for the American Tapestry Alliance Tapestry Topics
These two pieces together on my blog. There’s got to be a morning After part A and B.
Which in away lead to this post card and exhibit and catalogue-This was the tenth exhibit small format exhibit that sprang from The It’s About Time exhibit in 1996 in Portland, Oregon. this is a great catalogue and I think can be purchased from ATA.There is another coming up. Hope you all will start planning for the next one!
LESSONS LEARNED ABOUT WEAVING WITH A CAST! No bobbins and placing the weft
I have learned and reinforced a lot of information about weaving with and without bobbins. I am not fond of the chaos created by not using bobbins even played with using butterflies to keep down some of the chaos-never again. Butterflies are two fragile. So, the solution was to use fairly long weft bundles-18-24 inches and tie an overhand knot every6-8 inches. Biggest lesson was to make sure that there were no loops in the end of the tail below the last knot. Leaving them in always created a knotted chaos of caught threads every time I pulled the knot through the open shed. I have gone back to using my smallest brassy bob’s that are about 3.5-4 inches long. At this point they are easy to hold in my hand,leaving the point out just enough to use as another finger- but, I am still using long wefts at this point. My hand tires too easily form putting the nob through the shed.
Since I was unable to use the side tip of my bobbin to scrape the yarns in I used the tips of my fingernails to beat in the yarns. My nails started looking like some one had taken pinking shears to the tips.(OOPS, I am dating myself-does any one use pinking shears anymore?) My manicurist made a bundle applying gel nails as I wore down into the nails with the tight warps. I was able to get about 2 weeks from each application and replacement of a gel nail. After talking to my PT specialists I was able to come up with a solution they would damage my nail beds. The Japanese weavers have used this solution for hundreds of years. Most all of my instructors had told me never to use my finger nails to scrape or beat wefts into place because because the pressure of the beating could lift the nails from the nail bed or quick. This is true if it’s done wrong.
THE MIRRIX SPENCER-Another new best Friend!One of the things that made weaving so much easier during this time was that I switched from my regular titter totter treadles to a a new Spencer treadle. It has a sort of neutral that holds the shed open until I step down and change the shed. Notice the difference in size between my old treadles and the new Spencer which is under my foot. Not only does it take less effort the neutral that holds the shed open is really great. So I purchased a second Spencer. It will be so much easier to travel with and pack. I am not getting rid of my old treadles either. the only draw back is that the Spencer needs to be plugged in to electricity, which sometimes isn’t possible in some of the places I teach. Perhaps, some one could design a battery pack or a a solar system for it-pretty please!
THE DIRE AND DEADLY SPRING SPREAD CONQUERED!
I think that I have finally come up with an easy solution to what I call Spring Spread on my mirrix. This is a problem that drives me nuts…Spring Spread is what happens when the springs become older and start to fatigue. One can go from weaving 22 epi to 18 as the spring spreads. The problem with this is it can cause the tapestry ridges to spread and in some cases shrink. It also makes it very difficult to control the edges of the tapestry. Note the bulges on the two side edges that I was constantly correcting.
So the correction for Spring thread is easy. I always twine when I begin a tapestry and tie a knot at the end at the exact width I want the tapestry to be and then space the warps accordingly.So now I am just doing it at the top of the mirrix directly under the spring. I larks head on to the first thread, twine all the way across and tie the ending knot at the exact width of that spring should be or end.Please note that the loom is balanced up side down to do this. Makes it much easier.If you look closely you can see my two twiners. If I want to turn the warp around the loom then I just pull everything down and around. I can theen beat the twining at the top back into place along the bottom of the spring channel. Solves the whole problem was Spring Spread!
Guess this is enuff for now. Chene is trying to tell me something important and grabbing papers!
Cheers and all,
Thursday, May 8, 2014
This has been an interesting spring. I have been on several major trips.Sedona, Cincinnati, Tec Nos Pec ,Santa Fee, seen a great many private students, the coast and Bend and numerous points in between. BUT, the hardest trip I have been on has been a mental trip of working on a piece about one of my Gramma’s. It was hindering me so badly with unresolved issues-hers and mine- that I decided to shelf it for the time being. I am now working on a piece about my Grandfather and the charmed life I led when I was with them while I was growing up. Someday I’ll reconcile or at least come to terms with my other Gramma, but not now.
I have another small loom to the side that I am going to be doing some small studies of things I have always wanted to weave, but couldn’t figure out where to put them in larger designs. On the same loom I decided to see what would happen if I tried having a piece(s) that world be more of a daily calendar type thing-sort of in the nature of what Tommye,Janette and Jan’s group does. It’s not going well so far. I admire the work they do with calendar type weavings, but in on the calendar pieces. What I am discovering for myself is it gets in the way of the focus and concentration I need to have on a given piece.It’s almost more of an irritation then any thing else. So, I am going to keep trying and see if I just need an attitude shift in someway or maybe there just not for me to do. I’ll see.
This is going to be sort of an odd blog in 3 chapters or perhaps 4. I found while I was away teaching my “More class” that I really didn’t have the backup materials that I needed for teaching my method of warping a mirrix loom-which is both faster and easier then using the wrap around bar system that many use or try to use and eccentric weaving. So, I wrote to rather long sections on doing both that I am going to publish as blog entries for my students.
A 3 stage trip-
Stop 1- Sedona, Arizona
I enjoyed teaching in Sedona. The weather was beautiful! It’s a beautiful place especially out away and into the red rocks where we are at. It was kinda wild and very natural.One could look out and watch the birds while weaving and teaching, which I really enjoyed. Unfortunately my camera battery refused to stay charged and so I have no pictures I wish I had taken more photo’s of the area and the class, but I discovered a new allergy complete with runny nose that sort of limited my picture taking. I really enjoyed the group. I am hoping to teach there again in the fairly near future. My “More” class is fun to teach because it’s based on those skills already learned and pushing those skill further.
I did see an interesting show in Cottonwood. It was in the Clarksdale library.My notebook got wet somewhere along the way and the ink ran so I called Carol VanSandt to retrieve the information and she’ll give it to me when she gets moved up to Southern Oregon this month. It was a really great fiber show.The pear and the orange sunset with rocks are done in embroidery floss by Carol VanSandt. Linda Pierce wove the orange sunset. Mary Liggit wove the other small framed piece. The larger wool pieces which are actually much better shaped and squarer were woven by about 12 weavers who were in a group project in the Verdi Valley Guild
Teec Nos Pec, Navajo Nation, Arizona
Diane picked me up in Cottonwood and we headed out. The country is very different then what I am used to and know. Rock formations just pop up out vast flat areas. Rich colour is everywhere, but not the vivid greens-created with an entirely different palette. I am used to.The distances feel greater and vaster. In places the colour is like some one took a large brush and left brush strokes of reds and pinks. We stopped at the Navajo National Museum in Window Rock.The exhibits were fascinating. I especially enjoyed one called a Beautiful Life.We finally arrived in Tec Nos Pec after taking a very long short cut.
I loved visiting with my friend Roy Cady. It was fun talking as weaver to weaver. Our weaving styles and/or philosophy are more similar then dissimilar.I enjoyed talking with several of the older weavers with Arieta as a translator. Roy is a traditional weaver who enjoys pictorial tapestry, but with his own distinctive style. I love weaving just about anything that is pictorial. I first met Roy at a workshop in Santa Fe that was being taught by Jean Pierre Larochette, Yael Lurie and Phillipe Playier. The piece on the loom he has since finished and it is for sale on his web site. Roy, of course, is the better weaver because his ends don’t show, but I’ll get better-grin! I promised the “Older One.”
This is a detail of the twills Roy has used so effectively in the piece.I am very fascinated with the contrast between the pictorial and the use of the twills. Roy is a great weaver and makes it look so easy. If I did this right you should be able to see the finished piece and an announcement for an exhibit he has going on. (Diné(Navajo) Master Fiber Artist & Navajo-Churro Sheep Herder Shimá's Gifts-My Mother's Gifts)
The bag is one that was done by his Shima Mary Clah. The mountain of rocks is I think called Goat Rocks, but to my way of thinking will always remind me of Monkeys because of a story Roy told me about escaped Monkeys, which reminded me of my Grandmother and her tales of what would happen to children that disobeyed and the drumming of the birds wings.
Santa Fe, N.M.
This is probably one of my favourite places to travel and visit. It’s a blending of new and old, traditional and non traditional. The Plaza is one of the few places I enjoy being a tourist. I love picking up trinkets and needful things(?) such as wind ups and Milagros. I enjoyed talking to the native American artists that were selling along one walls of the Old Plaza. I bought a copper torque style and jasper bracelet that I love . Had a great time talking about copper and where he was from. I stopped in for a few minutes and visited with Rebecca Metzoff in her studio. It was fun comparing a few notes and seeing more of her work.
Two of the 20 pages of notes that I am still sorting through on everything that I saw, tried to absorb, and talked about with others. While trying to have a good time hanging out with friends Tony and Diane. The business cards are Rebecca Metzoff’s. They are beautiful little works of art that I liberated from her studio. The wool samples are all of the various wools used in the area by regional weavers in Arizona and New Mexico. It also notates to different weaving groups that I want to research as I saw some of their weavings in different shops and galleries.
From there-Santa Fe-I took a train home-2 days of reading writing and sleeping and watching the world change from one eco system to another-one life to another.
STOP 4, 3-weeks later
This was a very anticipated teaching trip that had been planned years in advance. Sometimes guilds schedule 2-3 years in advance and this was one of those. Again, I was teaching my “More” class, lecturing on designing tapestries and loving it. The lecture I gave for the guild is one of my favourite lectures to do because the skills involved can be used to plan any project-whether it be regular weaving, tapestry or even silver. Then emphasis is on the fact that there are no tapestry police and never dumb it down just because it might be difficult!
Best of all I would be spending any spare time I had with my Good Friend Cathie Beckman and her husband Ed.
There were extra days planned around it for talking, sharing and site seeing. There were also very heavy rains, lightening storms, a wonderful bird feeder with crazy squirrels and not quite spring.
There were 16 or 17 people signed up for the class and many different levels of weaving skills. The workshop was held in a beautiful old house that belongs to the Cincinnati Guild. The questions and wants of the class were exceptional and unique-never a boring minute. We covered optical blending, hatches and a dozen other things-just touching on soumack. The content of the class is determined by a questionnaire prior to the class and subject matter for the class is created from the questionnaires.
I am excited and will be even more excited to see what comes out of the class in the next year. It’s already in the plans for me to teach in 2015 or 2016. I have been asked back, but the date is still up in the air. The class will probably be Soumack and friends+more of More! One of the things that came out of all of the classes was the need for me have better or more support materials for eccentric weaving and more detailed notes for warping Mirrix looms my way.
One last thing About the Cincinnati workshop- To the person in the corner with the short blond hair whose name escapes me that I was talking to in the class about Zentangles. I apologize that I am so bad with names. I can totally envision you what you were and our conversation, but not your name. This is the book that to be me always reminds me of Zentangles, but are drawn more from nature then Zentangles. It was edited by Christian Stoll and is a Dover book, which means it comes from a book that was published in 1906 so you should be able to use any of these designs with out worrying about copy right or needing special permission to use them.
In the process of roaming around the city of Cincinnati with Cathie B. and sometimes Ed, there was way more then one can see in a day or two. Two of the many places we went to really stood out to me. We went to the Taft Museum of Art. We/I made some incredibly discoveries. One was Called the Threads of Heaven- Silken legacy of China’s last Dynasty. The exhibit was probably a third tapestry-Dragon Robes, lesser robes and pockets, shoes and purses. I am still sorting out my notes that I eventually wrote in my journals. BUT, here is what I consider to be a remarkable, happy, serendipitous, curious find. It has both eccentric weaving, pick and pick and probably eccentric pick and pick. AND, best of all the pieces had not been cut apart from the way they had been woven initially and not cut apart. It allows one to see how they were actually woven and the fillers that were were used. It’s a whole ensemble of accessories-fan cases, pockets, eye class case colour and various purses.
I feel a little like a fair huckster by saying—AND, if that is not enough there was a small devotional tapestry called the Adoration of the Magi woven in Brussels in the first qtr. of the 16th century. It is less then a square yard35 3/4 inches by 33 1/4 inches with wool silk and silver wefts at 24 epi. I have pages of weaving notes to sort out. Unfortunately, it was in a space that was fairly dark and one wasn’t allowed to take pictures and it was mounted a little too high for some one as short as me. But, it did open up another line of research for/and of small devotional tapestries.
At the Cincinnati art Museum there was an exhibit called Genius and Grace-Francois Boucher and the generation of 1700.Many of the drawings in this exhibit-Genius and Grace- were done by artist who often designed for tapestries of this period-Boucher, Fragonard, Coypel, Oudry and 29 other possible tapestry designers. By looking at the drawings you can see how they relate to the cartoons and tapestries that were being designed and woven in the 1700. The drawings are incredible to see close up. And made me want to pull out any books I might own on tapestries woven in the 1700’s.
And then again-A Fabulous exhibit of Jewelry designed by Art Smith. Also part of this exhibit were pieces of jewelry by artist such as Calder. It was totally fascinating to me, but I am finally getting to the point that I can look a piece and have a small understanding of how it was done.
From the Village to Vogue: The Modernist Jewelry of Art Smith February 22, 2014 - May 18, 2014 Organized by the Brooklyn Museum of Art, this exhibition features 24 pieces of silver and gold jewelry created by African .... - See more at: http://www.cincinnatiartmuseum.org/explore/exhibitions/current-exhibitions#sthash.IsdAVDj8.dpuf
And, on that note,
it’s time for me to finish
up and post this before it
gets any longer.