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Sunday, June 17, 2012

The pointy things always cause the problems

and the point is at the end of this blog

DSCN0350It’s amazing how much one can stuff into 2 weeks. I am little further along with my tapestry. No excuses  for the amount of weaving done. I am having a great time. I am delighted with the fact that I was able to weave 2-6 hours a day for most of the last two weeks. I am still on schedule for finishing by the middle to end of July.                                                        I still had time to work a little on finishing all-not all-some-there are many more to go- the small jobs in the remodel, get my new herb beds up and running, plus fill the other 3. We used 6 yards of compost gardening soil to fill them.The beds are taller then average by 4-6 inches.The path between the two beds I redid to make it safer and wider for  things like scooters and friends and students that have trouble walking and seeing. My metal gate with rays is finally hanging and being used. It will soon be turquoise.   I wanted Spencer to be able to garden in them easily without having to bend over too much.

       One of my goals is to plant  herb gardens with the dye plants that were used in medieval tapestries both for dyeing and symbolism. Not to actually dye with, but to be able to photograph and incorporate some of the pictures intoDSCN0364 tapestries-just for fun as a footnote to the long history of tapestry. Can hardly wait until I find an acanthus like woven in the Verdures.

 My other goal is to grow the fresh herbs I love to cook with. I set up my first not so perfect herb garden at my grandmother’s when I was about 8 and now I am 64. I love cooking with fresh herbs. Actually, I love to go out and smell the herbs. Spencer comes from a slightly different view he likes to grow vegetables as his father and Grandfather did. He has hills of potatoes scattered all over the yard, because it took us so long to get the new beds filled. His favourite things right now seem to be purple potatoes, limited amounts of tomatoes, onions, peppers, pumpkin for thanksgiving, and melons. Yes, we didn’t get our potatoes in by Good Friday-a Montana tradition or a Hooker family tradition... My other Gramma lived in Oregon and planted her garden as soon as she didn’t sink into the mud.

But best of all I have real flowers to work with in my tapestries.

DSCN0355About fiber for tapestry weaving. If I were going to manufacture the fiber for tapestry weaving I think I should try using Chene’s hair. It’s a beautiful black with parts of the undercoat being grey.  Poor Chene was up to 8.25 lbs-Now he weighs without the excess fur a tad under 6 lbs. He looked so miserable that I decided he needed his summer shearing. Figuring, if it didn’t warm up he could wear his sweater like he did last year.  So I removed the hair from his back and tummy, tailDSCN0356 leaving only his mane  throat and leg banners. Some of the fur was 7-8 inches long. It took hours to do it because my electric clippers kept over  heating in the density of his under coat.

My Dad came for a week.

We are trying to get the days closer together and the stay lengths longer. In some ways I felt bad. He wanted to see what I was doing in the studio. But, I weave on a second floor with steep steps. Not sometDSC_0039hing he could easily negotiate. So everyday. I would show him the snap that I take everyday that I weave. Not quite the same thing, but it was better then nothing. He was fascinated with some of the early animations that I did of earlier tapestries- a picture each day, set into a slide show. It takes around a minute from start to finish. I have been trying to figure out how to put them on this blog, but haven’t yet. I am still trying to figure out how to attach the U-Tube videos of the care and feeding of bobbins to this blog.

The pointy things in tapestry.

What you do with the pointy thing.

I can’t quite write about this without thinking  about Arya(Game of Thrones) and her problems of what to do with the pointy end. I had to do a lot of thinking about the pointed tree tops in my tapestry.



In tapestry points can go in two directions across the weft or up the weft.  There are eccentric variations that can turn points to angle up hills and down valleys. Example the tops of the trees and the grey beginnings of the bird wing in my this tapestry.

At 10 to the inch it’s fairly easy to make points look right because people often stand back away from the tapestry to get it full effect and maximum optical blending of colour and technique-optimum distances is usually 10 feet for 10 epi. %feet for small format. And, the points almost always look pointy from a distance. Small format is a little more difficult-not technically, but visually more challenging because people stand so close to the image-usuall within a foot or two.  People stand very close to small format/small2012-06-17 165249fatspider scale tapestries instead of a theoretical 5 foot optimum.

The pointy end is the hardest-dare I say sharpest point to make look neat at that close of a distance.

There are things you can do to make the points stay in place. One can do a wrap and carefully  share the warp next to the point

2012-06-17 165842 wrappointInstead of moving on up as in the diagram. I would do a pigtail on the wrapped warp to stabilize the tip after I doing the share warp

with the two passes it goes between covering the extra weft join as the two passes are squished together.  One could do a double weft interlock on either side of the one weft     2012-06-17 162054touch and smell point. If it is 2012-06-17 165633cavendoli knotespecially long- one could do a series of cavendoli knots. Then making doubly  sure they are untwisted and stitch through the ridge to keep it to the back. One could do a tall wrap and then pig tail it off below on the first shoulder of the point. The other trick is to end the point in such2012-06-17 165738vertical soumack away that the next pass has an open warp thread. that goes across it the first time one weaves over it.  The opposite of this also works if you want a lower point-begin it on an open warp if possible so that the beginning of the point sinks into a hollow thread.

2012-06-17 162054touch and smell

The two obvious details of fat spiders and the directional use of  hatches, hachures are from the Lady and the Unicorn—smell and touch-not something wove even in another life time. They are very good examples of the inherent problems and solutions to/in dealing with pointy things in tapestry. I have spent years studying them to come up with the fat spiders and skinny spiders that are described in the Line and tapestry book I wrote.  Also notice that there are examples of eccentrically woven pointy things and hatches in the sense of smell.

The diagrams of technique were obviously done by Pat Spark as she illustrated the Line in Tapestry book.

Anyway, that’s some of the things to do with the pointy ends in tapestry.

Cheers and all,


Friday, June 1, 2012

Inch by inch-row by row-fast or slow

Inch by inch,
row by row,
fast or slow,
it’s all the same to me.
I am going make this garden grow…Paraphrase of Pete Seeger's Garden Song from 1979

correction-actually written by David Mallet, but covered by Arlo Guthrie and  sung at a Pete Seegar concert. I originally heard it sung on Sesame Street by John Denver
DSCN0331Chapter 1-
Tapestry weaving 
is one of those things that creates a quiet place that has a tendency to leave one open to invasive thoughts.It’s been strange. For days I have been humming this strange little ditty-just the notes. Some would call this cycling or repetitive word cycling-a thing that won’t go away. It’s  just relentlessly over and over.
        A little like an off the wall mantra-word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation" I could not remember the lyrics-just the sounds and notes. Every time I’d take on some new task. I would think inch by inch. At first, I thought it was a song by Elvis Costello’s-“ Inch by Inch”. I’d had the lyrics in my journal for years. Heavy metal to the core-not my thing, but it described something terribly important at the time. Asa introduced the words to me in another life time.
rip it open wider
let no inch remain
rip me open harder
tear my soul and let it…
molded facts keep faith in tact
so close the text
search within deeper
examine every inch expectation nothing
something you can’t quite…
I burn so clean
why can’t you see.
Inch by inch-lyrics by Elvis Costello
DSCN0341It is so easy to wake up in the morning with dread. Usually, I begin my day with a list of things that I have to do. Note the words have to. Things for the last 6 months have been not so much difficult as fueled by daily rituals, injuries to knees death, Pat’s accident, remodeling, painting,  working with Shelley,deadlines, answering business e-mail, book keeping, house hold chores, that eventually would get in the way of everything I wanted to do-nothing for me.
I have a friend Andrea Furber- who I have known for 50 or 60 years. Andrea writes a blog called the Handy Andy-things I get to DSCN0336do today. reading her blog has become a treasured morning ritual. It’s all about one task she chooses to do each day.
I had an honest to god epiphany about the difference between what I have to do and what I get to do. I am changing my outlook and the way I word things. Words and the way one puts them together really do make a huge difference in the way one perceives things!.
My list when I wake up now is a positive-joyful list of the things I get to do. Sure, the not so enjoyable things are still on the a list, but not the one I wake up to. Makes a world of difference!
DSCN0344From a performance piece from the Franck Studio. By asking everyone who participates receives an incredible hand painted box of happiness. I understand that so far thousands have participated. I am in love with mine!
So I have managed to plan at least until Late September a tripless stay at home summer. I am excited I have until the end of September to do as much weaving and writing as I want daily. I’ll teach the students that come to the studio, but not trae any long distances to teach.  It does mean in October I'll be teaching back to two back classes in Colorado, a workshop in Georgia and a workshop in Mendocino, California.
I intend to finish “AND HE..” by the end of July and have time to do some very small pieces to finally get a little more a head.
I have accepted the fact that as long as I get my inch by inch and my row by row when I weave a day I am happy.

Chene’s idea of summer Bliss-DSCN0245
By the way turns out the ditty was the one I heard on Sesame street when Shane and Asa were little. We used to sing and pantomime it together. A very happy memory and it makes a nice mantra.
That said.
Chapter 2
       In the last issue of Tapestry Topics I wrote an article about Surface in the last issue.  After I wrote the article I realized in  one of those quiet moments filled with invasive thoughts while weaving that I had really not touched on something in my weaving that has become very important to me in the last couple of years.
     This story all started many years ago when a very good friend and mentor-Karen Zimmerman- committed suicide. One of the things I inherited was her sewing threads. She had perfect runs from light to dark in every colour imaginable.DSCN0339
  I still have partial spools left from her hoarded collection.
       Then a few years ago Jan Austin asked me if I wanted her Mother’s sewing thread. I said, yes and a box of threads showed up. I didn’t realize how much these two events were going to colour and invade my thoughts about tapestry. Many of threads that belonged to Jan’s mother were from the 40’s 50’s and 60’s. There were a mercerized boiled cotton and some were Cortecelli’s silk dress maker’s thread. There was this DSCN0338wonderful orange that I had never seen before as I wove it into one of my Kona’ sunsets I became aware of all of its beautiful colours, the feel of the spin, the lack of knobblies in the spinning, the richness of the colours. None of my modern threads-Gutterman, sulkies, DMC’s dual duty or embroidery flosses that I was buying at so kona pinkmany sewing stores had the same feeling of quality or often the same richness of colour. I have gotten hooked on these threads. My husband-Spencer- has an eBay konaOrangebusiness. He does a lot of garage selling to come up with
“Ephemera are transitory written and printed matter not intended to be retained or preserved. The word derives from the Greek, meaning things lasting no more than a day. Some collectible ephemera are advertising trade cards, airsickness bags, bookmarks, catalogues, greeting cards, letters, pamphlets, postcards, posters, prospectuses, stock certificates, tickets and zines. Decks of personality identification playing cards from the war in Iraq are a recent example.” borrowed from Wikipedia
and things to sell. I navigate. We can hit on a good day in the summer 10-20 sales.  We do this one day a week sometimes two mornings a week.  I navigate and plan the route. I started finding the old spools of thread in mint condition at estates sales.  I started buying the old mercerized cotton threads to weave with in my tapestries. These old threads feel luxurious compared to the modern threads I have had to use.
 The next thing I knew I began to think about the unknown women whose things were being sold. Often times the sellers are relatives, friends or estate managers or clearers that didn’t remember what the spools were originally  used for or that there was a time when women made their own clothing and their DSCN0340children’s clothing.
       Often times the things made  were as transitory and as ephemeral as those things described as empherma. Used up and discarded leaving only the partial spool of thread after the garment or whatever was worn out, reused and or discarded. The spools a  reminder of what might have been.  I have started thinking about my Grandmother sewing  my clothes for me, teaching me to weave, sew and crochet for me and her many spools of partially or unused spools of thread thread.  It just feels appropriate that the spools of thread  should be used up and used to create another product that might be treasured or valued as a remembrance of things past, present and future dreams.
That’s it for now!