Monday, September 17, 2012

Middle of the month with all its bits and pieces…

It's the middle of the month.                    I have basically finished "And He..." several DSCN0443 (2)days ago. it's sitting on a table waiting to be finished.That's what i mean
by basically-the weaving is done. “It” at this point has no place to go. So it can wait!

 But, life and the reality of timing have me setting it it aside to work on 3 small tapestries designed around the
words line and mark. The series will probably end up being 5 pieces of 5 by
7 inches. What a relief!!!!Haven't DSCN0445decided on the size of the 4th one. It may be 2 inches by 7 inches. If it decides to be that small I will design a 5th piece so that
the small piece will be a center piece. I would like to eventually hang
them together. So there will need to be a visual balance of size ad shapes.DSCN0476
I have become fascinated with the idea of the what is the difference between
a line and a mark. Line to me is a expression of geometry and very little else. Line by
definition can be real or imagined, shortest distance between two points. By
DSCN0453dimension and definition it has a beginning and an end at point A and point
B. While a Mark is something that leaves an impression of something on some
thing somewhere and defines something in some way. okayDSCN0452 that said. The first
two pieces are about definitions. Each piece defines a word-mark or line.I am
about a third of the way done with line. The background is based on the sea,
fog and the delicate muted colours of a sunset. Another design that is
going to be difficult photograph. The grey and the complementary contrasting  colours
will make look grey when translated into a photo. A lot like "Home" with its soft muted orange and blue sunset. Mark is the second and will have an intense sunset or scene in the background. The third which DSCN0475doesn’t have a tittle  yet will be layered lines of a pale white/pink single layered rose from my garden and puzzle pieces  that moves from lines through a transparency to a solid flower partially overlaid by jig saw puzzle pieces that are transparent wit an intense sunset/seashore as background. Now it’s time to weave it all. The cartoons of the pieces are my vellum cartoons that the transparency of the vellum makes difficult to photograph.

ZEUS and springs that spread an elegant solution. 

Left over from 9-1-2012

Note-- the spreading difference of the warps created by a spring that stretched more or less in different areas-should have been 20 epi, but was between 18-23 wpi. DSCN0440

Donna Graham sent me this elegant solution to the problem of spread springs.all screw in place Yes I did ask permission to use the photo and her e-mail message that she sent me. I, too didn't like the changing epi which comes from using the spring on the mirrix. To fix this problem I switched to using 1/4 inch all thread. Since I work at 10 epi, the fine thread is what I use. It has a thread count of 20 per inch. Standard thread has 16 per inch.

custom cut the all thread to fit in the top channel where the spring went. Use a nut to de-burr the all thread by running the nut up and down the length of the all thread. Then take steel wool to finish smoothing out the all thread. Wipe down the all thread, feeling for burs. Repeat until the all thread is smooth. Screw a nut on each end to keep the all thread from falling into the channel and tape into place.

I also start with a bottom all thread without the nuts. I just line it up with the top and tape in place. When I move my tapestry around the lower bar I remove the bottom all thread.

I have not had a problem with the all thread cutting my warp thread. Just make sure the all thread is clean and smooth. I use this method on all of my mirrix.

One more note. If you can find the 3/8 inch all thread and nuts that would work better for the top spacer.Donna Graham

As promised-Combining 2 forms of optical blending with

other things-hatches, hachures, pick and pick(demi duite).

Yes! you can combine chene’s, colour fades, pick and pick and mélanges with hatches, hachures, pick and pick(demi duite).  By the questions I am being asked and various statements I hear I think the confusion stems from the fact that many of the multiple tapestry traditions in the US and other places are based on the use of singles or one yarn in the weft bundles(does one take a plural in this case?).

By using multiple strands of weft in your bundle you can effectively change colours by dropping one colour and adding a different coloured yarn.  The trick to having a flat surface when doing this is to know the sizes of your yarns and how to keep the weft bundles the same size.

So one single could equal 4-6 strands of another size of yarn. In the Tapestry 101. There’s a chart in the back of the book  that makes this  size relationships clearer.But in a nut shell it has more to do with knowing the sizes of the yarns you are using and keep all of the weft bundles the same size


Colour fades done on the bobbin from one to another-10 epi,  4 strands of paternayan

 Mélange-colours that are a like



Chene-colours that can be termed opposites


Colour changes and blending of colours- can be produced by combining colours on a  bobbin by changing out threads in the weft bundle-

If you have 2 colour groups and our using 4 strands. The colour changes could be 4-0, 3-1, 2-2,1-3, 0-4.

The colour changes when doing weft shading move up the warp and have a tendency too look linearDSCN0459 DSCN0458when woven fro one side of a tapestry to other side.


In the last couple of weeks I have had several conversations with
tapestry weavers who didn't realize that hatches and hachures can be
combined with chene’s and mélanges to move colour around and shade.

 By definition.
hatches and hachures move colours across the fell lines to create optical
blending with the use of stacked vertical lines and triangular shapes. . Stand back, think Seurat and pointillism. Chene’s, mélanges, and colour fades move
colour up the warps.

Tapestry by it nature is a series of ever diminishing dots of colour that optically blend into solid colours at a distance.

Hatches hachures and pick and pick, lines of colour run vertically produce bars of colour that run a cross the fail line.Pick and pick it does run the colour upDSCN0468

Pick and pick with a colour fade mélange on one set of bars


the warp, but it’s kind of a hybrid that does bars of colour rather then the dots of colours of chene’s and mélanges. And, Always there is the exception that, they can also be woven eccentrically, but the lines or bars of colour follow the fell line follow the DSCN0468fell line. 

Hatches-informal and formal. All one colour in weft bars or hatches. Note that the bars of create a bridge colour or a third colour. From a distance the colours will optically blend together and create the bridge colour and optically blend  as one unit of colour.


DSCN0471Hachures create triangular shapes of colour that move across the fell line. In the first example the hachures are combined with  mélanges. Which adds a greater variety of shading and and colour changes then would be visually available if one or the other technique had been used separately. DSCN0456


The deep red purples of this flower are done with mixtures of red and purple and then hatched to create a bridge colour between the two different purples and reds mixed on the bobbin


The background and sky are hachures and mélanges that move back and forth to create a mix of colours that when cut off the looms will have the hachures and mélanges  pointing vertically after the piece is turned. 


Diagrams for these techniques are in the 101 Tapestry   and  Line and Tapestry .

Time I went back to weaving and preparing for my 4 classes that are coming up in the next month. Who knows maybe we’ll get a chance to visit in  person.  I will be in the tri city areas in Washington, Boulder, Co, Atlanta, GA, and Mendocino within the next 4-5 weeks.DSCN0474


Cheers and all,


Monday, September 10, 2012

911 Memorial Tapestry-Over and Over

Saturday, September 1, 2012

When? And, as if….! And getting there!

Somehow this has become  the piece that doesn’t want to end.  It’s not that I am not putting time into it, because for the last 3 weeks I have averaged 6 hours a day 4-5 days a week.
Granted, I added another inch to it when I realized I hadDSC_0054 mis-measured and I was going to be short in my geometric lace pattern. My pattern was 3/4th of an inch short, but still…I have been working on this piece longer then any other piece I have ever woven. The finished piece will be approx. 28 inches by 19 inches-give or take .5 to 1 inch taller. A total of 812 square inches-give or take a bit when  finished. Yes, that does count the 19 extra square inches added because of the lace. 
So how did this happen.
I’ve been weaving on “AND He…”since July of 2011. I guess it only seems longer. I did DSC_0061weave 2 small tapestries while working on it –one with rya. And, I wove for 4 or 5 months more or less 3 days a week on Shelley’s piece. This time last year was  I working on the two a chromatic roses.DSC_0061
Up side down, because the piece wraps around my Mirrix Zeus.
The weights hanging down are being used to keep two replaced warps at the proper tension while I weave.


My assessment of the things I have Learned while weaving  this piece and should have thought out-better.
1. I don’t especially enjoy weaving this large of a format. I am happiest weaving pieces under 15 x10 inches or smaller. I should have thought more about the difference between scale and format and that I was headed for dragon robe territory and a life time commitment of finishing one piece...
2. It’s difficult for me to weave a piece if I can’t see the beginning as I weave. It fragments the narrative and energy in my mind.  It sucks the joy out of the process of weaving.  It becomes a chore that all I can think about is finishing the piece not the journey which is the wonderful part of tapestry weaving for me. Thanks for pointing this out to me Andrea*. I don’t have this problem working on a large loom and piece  when it rolls around the beam for some reason and I have a lot of experience working on very large wool  pieces.
( Andrea Furber, a good friend who happens to be a pranic healer. Thanks Andrea-the energy is so much better now!)
3. I am a story teller at heart. I may not care if others understand my imagery or symbols, but the pieces I design are a narrative usually of something in my life and need to be a complete thought-even when I weave in a series. Series  function as chapters of DSC_0047the my personal  narrative. My sunsets  are colour studies even when included in a narrative piece.  I am happiest when images float on the background. A sensibility I inherited from both of my grandmothers that honours the needlework traditions of one and the ethnic sensibilities of the other. Think fancy embroidered tea towels and Lakota painting and bead work-no real backgrounds images float on a usually plain background.
4 . I should have set down and calculated the square inches of the piece before I started and made an informed decision. Perhaps broken the narrative into 4-5 pieces-a series of chapters. My average piece is around 100 square inches DSC_0046or less. I was so focused on doing the design, because it was one I started in wool at 10 epi when I had my 6.5 foot Shannock that I failed to consider the consequences. AND, I felt I needed to prove to myself that size and complexity doesn't make difference in the format and scale of one of my designs-note I said in my designs.  I wanted it to be exactly half the size of the one I would woven as 10 epi and twice the size. Mentally, I never focused onDSC_0069 the size of the piece. I checked my journals to see if I had written or thought out what the size entailed-an unthought  consequence. Bad mistake!   Until Pat, John and Spencer,  and I were eating lunch at the Calapoia  Brewery a week ago. (One of our favourite hang outs even though we don’t drink what they brew,  and have the best soups in the world-they don’t care how long we sit and talk and the food is great and it’s only 5 blocks from the studio...) Anyway, onward, I was in the process of whining about how I couldn’t seem to finish the piece. I needed to move on to the next piece, etc., etc., etc.  NotDSC_0051 my usual whiney stuff-of which I am not proud of, but whining happens to the best of us at one time or another. John asked me how many square inches was in the piece and what was my usual  square inches were that I usually wove a piece. It was then I knew how I left out an important part of the design process. OUCH!!!  I KNOW BETTER OR  I SHOULD!! Size or format really at some point is important to think about in the design  process. Not just if the size will fit on the loom.
5. Unless I want to give the piece away I’ll probably  never make my time or money back on the piece.  It’s roughly a 45,000 dollar piece at the rate I calculate what a piece should cost when I sell it. So I probably-most likely created an unsalable white elephant.
A white elephant is an idiom for a valuable but burdensome possession of which its owner cannot dispose and whose cost (particularly cost of upkeep) is out of proportion to its usefulness or worth. In modern usage, it is an object, scheme, business venture, facility, etc.,
Liberated from Wikipedia


6.  Another consideration-I can show a years work for approximately 2 years according to most shows and exhibits that I enter.  Basically, because of the two year thingy and how little I produced in the last year 14126076-lucky-diceit will take me anther year of work to come up with a large enough body of new work that I can show to have enough piece to enter the shows I wish to enter.
7. I need to sell my Mirrix Zeus and buy a smaller mirrix or even two smaller Mirrix.  For 3 reasons---
1st reason- mistakes such as working too large  are soon forgotten a little like child birth once it’s over you forget the pain and sign up to do it again. And, surprise it’s still just as painful as the first time! Some mistakes one never learns fromDSC_0066 and I seem to be doomed to repeat mistakes over and over.  Better to loose the temptation then repeat the suffering.
2nd reason. At really tight tension and 20-22 ends per inch the shed gets narrower and narrower from one side to the other side. I have the feeling that over time the really tight tension will cause metal fatigue of the heddle bar. The metal fatigue being on the heddle bar not the frame of the loom. The frame really stands up to to the torture of the tight tension.  Especially,  If I am working narrower warps in the center of the loom. This one was  19 inches wide by 28 inches tall, which left roughly 7.5 inches on either side of the weaving. This heddle/shed problem is probably more likely if the piece has a smaller warp sett and the tension is adjusted tighter and left longer over time with a lot of beating along the fell line. Doesn’t happen on the smaller mirrix and I don’t think it would happen at larger warp setts  on the Zeus.
3rd reason the longer or further the spring is pulled the more error in the epi when stretched the full width of the warp. The spring allows a shift to a greater or  larger epi. Example 18 epi instead of 20-22.So the epi can change as much as 4 ends per inch on the far DSC_0049side of the Zeus-either greater or lesser.  There are things one can do such as keep checking the warp epi distance, Measure out the amount of spring curls and mark them. Then mark the beam and make sure the mark on the spring curl stays aligned with the mark on the beams by tying the spring several times along it’s length so it can’t ship. Or, buying a DSC_0050heavier spring that is less flexible and adapt it to the Zeus. I checked my Hagen looms and realized the spring was much heavier and less likely to shift.
Even with the 2nd and third reasons I still think the mirrix looms are the best looms readily available for small format tapestry weaving. I’ll just trade it for a smaller mirrix or 2.
8. I need to but a molding around the  edge of the console  table that I work on. The more desperate I have become to finish this piece the klutzier I have become. I am so tired of picking tools,  extra bobbins-not attached to the weaving,  spools of thread that I knock off the table while weaving that I am going to at least get rid of that problem. .  I am sure this simple solution of putting a molding around the table will benefit my sanity and do way with the incredible amount of lost weaving time  due to an over abundance of dysfunctional tool pickup time and stuff stuff due to searching for things that roll and try to escape.
The above pictures are from my new herb gardens that are raised 2.5 feet off the ground. And one is a picture of the first pumpkin that I have ever grown. Thought it would be fun to have my own pumpkin for Thanksgiving pumpkin pies and soufflé. The other 2 pictures are my new raised herb gardens that I have spent so much time on this summer.. The picture of Chene is all about his trying to get my attention while I am trying to ignore all distractions and keep on weaving.

FUN & MAGIC STUFF- I have actually get to do some fun thing's while weaving on the piece that doesn’t want to end.
Amazingly I took 4 days of silversmithing with DSC_0072Don Norris while he was here in Albany. Produced 2 rings and some great samples to work of techniques to work from.
I was also able to see and do samples of some pretty interesting  things. That I am sure will eventually show up in my silver work.DSC_0055
Mixed metals-copper,brass,and silver earrings. Not polished-still show soldering marks. Which will allow me to do this.DSC_0058
Wire soldering of larger more complex pieces. I am really wanting to learn to do filigree boxes for my tapestries, but needed more information on soldering more complex thin wire  pieces.So this was a good start towards those skills.

An aha magic trick of melting fine silver through copper to create holes and silver ridges.
Another trick of putting t-pins into  the pickle with soldered copper pieces and the pickle sort of electroplates the copper to the silver solder.
I know these aren’t much and the aha’s are basic chemistry and physics, but to me they are still magical when I see them happen. It’s still very like my first discovery in metal work. With enough heat all mistakes melt away and become a spherical ball that can be reused to create something of beauty and it doesn’t matter it began as a mistake. Pure magic! 
SO enough for now. I still need a couple more hours of weaving on the piece that never seems to end.If all goes well I should be done by Monday evening!