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Monday, September 28, 2009

This and that and always more!

One more week gone-or a little more. I am pretty sure I'll be done or very close to done by the end of the weekend. The most difficult thing to weave was the playing card. It has such a limited colour range-blue, red, yellow, tan for skin, and black. I am so used to having huge amounts of colour and technique to choose from. The second playing card is going much faster. It's only a jack, but having done the one this jack is going quicker. Bringing this in under 15 inches is going to be difficult. It feels like I am going to need another half inch. Hope not. Don't want it to be to big for Small Expressions entry in a year.
I am beginning to list all the ways I use soumack in my tapestries. I am also trying to collect all the various soumack techniques from every source I can fine. I have an Afghan rug and a Turkish rug to draw some techniques from. I am still trying to find a sample of a rug done wholly in soumack. I have seen this technique in museums but you can't touch and turn in a museum. Marla Mallett's book-Woven Structures is a great help, but not nearly enough. Her web site is also very good. Soumack needs to be thought of in two different ways-1. Structurally and the other as a design element. There are some soumacks that become the cloth body and others that are used as lines and dots to create the design. So the list would began week.

I am hoping to have a rough draft of my class handouts ready in another month so that i can weave the sampler for my class I am teaching in San Jose. The notes are becoming so thick I am thing about writing a monograph on soumack as an addendum to my Lines in Tapestry.
Kathy S. got me to thinking about parks this is a photo of waterlilies at MT. Hebo an old CCC lake in Oregon that is a park that I love to watch the eagles learn to fish in. The last time I was there this baby eagle kept plopping way to low. It sounded like an explosian everytime he belly flopped into the lake.

Wednesday class at the assisted care home has now moved to Friday afternoons. Marge is doing a tapestry of sand dunes and a sunset for the ATA small format show. Evelyn has finished hers. Edith piece will be too big, but her work is always large. Her sail boat is a little further along then the picture of the piece in my blog. I fully expect it to take first prize in the county fair like her last one did of the barn that had been her family for a hundred or so years.
Evelyn's piece for the small format show is from a picture that she took from her backyard of Mt Hood in a fog bank at sunset. It's only 7 inches by 4.5 inches in wool and 10 epi. She did a nice job with the soumack branches and using the tiny hatches as landscape elements. She's very excited that there is a catalogue with the show and that it is a non juried show.

Dee and her fancy glasses slumped and weaving. She's now switching to a low warp loom. Should be fun to teach I sa seldom use la warp looms for tapestry. It's actually been about 10 or 15 years since I wove a tapestry on a low warp loom. Guess it was a good thing Rebecca was in my class this summer.

Everyone in this class is 90 years old or more. They are an amazing group to teach. I am so glad to have them back. I learn so much from teaching them. Edith has been having problems with her forgetfulness and Evie is recuperating from a fractured hip, but now they are all back.

Tommye's attempting to use krogbard in a tapestry brought back a lot of ideas that I have shelved for years. Things I want to try. I really want to use brocading in a tapestry to create designs in the background of a tapestry. I experimented with overshot and double weave-turning 10 epi into 5 epi. While I was back east I bought an overshot pillow and a rose overshot from coverlets. Xenakis many years ago wrote an article in the Prairie Home Companion on using overshot as tapestry. One removes the shots between the floats. Of course on a two harness loom this would be a whole lot of picking, but suppose one only did small areas of the overshot patterns. One needs to build the pattern higher to square it up because of the loss of the passes between the floating threads. The other thing I have been studying is a very old Norwegian weaving that was given to Marge when She married which is 75 years old or there abouts. Then I have an Oaxaca weaving with a float pattern that is really pick and pick and doubled up wefts. Perhaps, when I finish the next two pieces I will begin to experiment with them again. Like I said I am really interested in doing smallish areas of brocading. I have always thought it would be interesting to weave frames for tapestries.
Several weeks ago I took a a class in peyote beading which lead me to revisit loom beading something my grandmother used to do. The idea that lead me to this was again frames for my tapestries. I am also thinking about doing peyote stitch around the felt and twill tape surrounds of my Small format tapestries. Will be interesting to see where this leads. I think I can bead weave and do tapestry at the same time on the same warp so that there will be no sewing.
Time to end the blog. I think I may have gotten a little cared away, but I had fun writing and trying to add the pictures. The last shot is another sunset that I took in Durango from the college IWC was held.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Finally, I am starting to get back on schedule. I am back to weaving everyday and writing my blog when I should. To me those are large accomplishments. Someone who was at the studio visiting today from Kamloops asked me how i do what I do. Usually I draw a rather large blank. I just do. I think it really breaks down to the discipline of staying on schedule and just leading a very boring routine life when I am not off teaching. The boring is so peaceful and non-interruptive. I can be very strange with my warped sense of humour, love of scheduling, and contentment with weaving 8 hours a day. Sometimes schedules don't work, but most of the time they seem to work for me. Of course, when the deadline is missed because the scheduling either failed or life interferes I try and leave my self a mental-guilt free out. So with that said, I really want to have this piece done by the end of this month. I need to start another tapestry. A large format tapestry in wool. So far I am on schedule. Even Dan Brown isn't allowed in the studio with his temptation of the "new book". So Kathy S. -looks like you'll just have to get the bobbins bobbing to beat me!
Reds are really a lot of work to weave with in a weft bundle. Optical blending is a often a nightmare with the light reds and the dark reds. When one tries to do a chene' or melange so many things come into play. Red reacts differently with the light-dark contrasts. Perhaps, I think, in part, red is so sensitive to warm-cool contrast when weaving. To get my deepest red I am making my weft bundle with navy blue and red. All dark reds and burgundies seem to become muddy when combined in a weft bundle. If you try and mix them with greens- any greens-greenish red browns etc. they become even muddier-not dark greys even to black visually like they should. The light pinks or reds always seem to float in front of anything one would call red. I think there should be a whole other contrast in colour theory-possibly called the red to pink conundrum. Lighter reds always seem to float in front of deeper reds and look like they are in a different layer-riding on top of a base colour-=no matter what the contrast. There doesn't seem to be a middle ground in blending the colours It has as far as I can see no other relationship to any other type of contrast, light dark, warm cool, etc, etc. yet red and darker reds are so easy to make go back and forth according to warm cool contrast. I could get rid of the problem by using my techniques architectronically rather then shading and blending the colours, but it's not what i want and pays to much heed to the weavers of the past 20th century and their limited colour ranges.
One of the interesting things I have found that works really well with reds-not so much with the lighter-dark contrast is that one can twist the threads coming from the bobbin to the fell line and increase the density of the colour mix as you weave it into the shed. It looks pretty cool and really aids in the colour mix and the optical blending. I tried doing it with out using bobbins or with butterflies and it doesn't work nearly as well. The bobbin helps keep the twist between the point of entry on the fell line to the bobbin much better then other methods of controlling the weft bundle.
One of the things we did while in Maryland was to attend what is billed as the largest renaissance faire in the united states. They have now added pirates. I have never seen so many women falling out of bustiers or with so many pulled up and slit skirts and not one chemise. It was rather impressive and definitely an act of defying gravity and natural law. I am not quite sure what pirates have to do with medieval tournaments, but it was interesting. I liked the jousting and the court of love. I saw so many painted, pieced and jacquard woven tapestries. Of course the jacquard wasn't around until the very late 18th and early 19th century. The jacquard won a scientific prize from Napoleon and the French government the same year that food canning techniques won a prize. O, well, as one of my Grandkids pointed out that attending a renaissance fire requires a certain willingness on the part of the observer to suspend reality as we know it. In other words I should quit kvetching and enjoy the display.

I was also amazed at what great rock climbers KeeKee and Troy are becoming. No hesitation clear to the top and back. Good Job! It was really fun to watch them. My two son Dad-Shane and Uncle Asa were great mountain and rock climbers and so was I in my teens. Spencer is really developing great balance even though the rope ladder was rigged. We discovered the trick is to balance cross pattern to avoid shifting weight and the center of balance.

Of course, there was the fun of the last Mohawk. My youngest son as a musician used to wear a very tall Mohawk with a turquoise stripe dyed in it. The two grandkids are now wearing fuzzy Mohawks. Not shaved to the skin on the sides. How times have changed. So Uncle Asa volunteered for the last Mohawk and of course his brother at Mohawk envy.

Shane's Mohawk is a facsimile. He always wears his hair like this sans Mohawk. Yes, the red hair is real for both of them. Breaks my heart because he has or had the most beautiful straight copper hair as a child. Asa has always had curly red hair.

Mohawk Envy and the Last Mohawk which was shaved off the next day for a soccer game, but it did that evening have a turquoise stripe for a bit.

So Time to go back to work. Disneyland is done for a while. It's so good to be home. No more traveling for a few months. 5 majors trips in the last 6 months. I think I need to get back to reality-meet my deadlines and finish the new book-So Warped that Pat and i are writing.
Cheers and all until next week!