Monday, January 25, 2016

Tapestry Commission

It's been years and years since I've done something like this, a large (for me) tapestry commission.

"All are Welcome", watercolor painting and yarn samples

It all started with an RFP (request for proposals) from a church down the street. The space is a wall of the church office. This wall is visible through windows from the central church "gathering space". The piece will be 22 x 50 inches when completed.

Wow. If you know me,  you know I've been working on a 10" wide pipe loom for the past few years.

Tapestry begins, adapted Hagen loom

There have been lots of challenges, but hey, challenges are a good thing. Working on this piece reminds me how much I prefer working "on the horizontal", weaving the piece from the bottom up rather than side to side. Photography helps, you can take a photo, then rotate it to viewing orientation.

the man's face is about 4" top to bottom

The most difficult thing so far was weaving the man with the baseball cap. Because his head is tilted up toward the light the expression of the face is woven at an angle.

Whew! I was relieved when I finished that.

My other challenge is maintaining enthusiasm. I'm pleased with the piece but I'm used to working through many ideas and a lot of those are sitting on the back burner.

about 1/3 done at this point

I'm 3 inches from being 1/2 done. Started at Thanksgiving and needs to be done by Easter.


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Convergence 2016, Milwaukee!

Ah so many good memories I have of summers spent knee deep in fiber at HGA's Convergence conferences. I think I've been to 8 of them starting with Pittssburgh in 1976. What an eye opener!
Weavers know how to have fun.

Silliness at Convergence 2000 in Cincinnati
And now here I am (I know, a bit older) honored to be one of the teachers at Convergence 2016, a stones throw away in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I feel as though I have come full circle.
I appear to be celebrating with sketchbooks and chocolate, so you know I'm excited.

Happiness with Moleskine and Dove dark chocolate

I'll be bringing my little faces on the road for a 3 day workshop entitled Weaving Expression in Faces. I've been working on a couple of new samples to focus on horizontal vs. vertical weave as it pertains to the face. These two new tapestries are happy to join the group.

new gal woven on the horizontal 

two friends at the bus stop woven on the vertical
When we do workshops with faces there are always a few beginners in the crowd, why not try it?
You might just weave a new friend.

This woman is thinking of going, how about you?

woman with pear

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Year End Cleanup

Christmas sketching with Santa

It's time to tidy up, a new year offers me a new start and I do like to fritter away a day poking through odds and ends. I tend to get distracted and it's probably time for Santa to move on.

Bus Stop Compliments, 3.5 x 5 inches

I did rediscover a piece I finished this month under the piles and I'm just pleased enough with it that I might even finish it. I wove it for a workshop I'm teaching at Convergence 2016 in Milwaukee. Exciting stuff, more to follow.

But now it's back to sorting, balling up yarn, and wondering what that post-it note really means. I even had a sudden impulse to see if I could create that inspiring studio photo. You know, the one that immediately causes envy?

high end tapestry studio

Didn't work, but I like my selfie. Surely a hand counts for a weaver?

Selfie with Bobbin, 2015

Happy New Year to all!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Donut Man, Part 2

Donut Man, Coptic Style, 3.5 x 5 inches

Finally I cut the warp off one of my pipe looms. My previous post revealed how I seemed to have accumulated 6 warped looms in various degrees of completion.

I'm most excited because the warp I finished has Donut Man, Coptic Style, my new version of the previous sample I did for the Donut Man portrait. I've done more studies for this piece than anything I've ever done, but the explorations might be paying off.

Although I plan a more realistic approach, I was interested in simplifying shapes and values via a group of weavers I admire, the Copts. My aim was to keep the intensity of the eye and see if I could translate the expression. I chose three blue values because the bag of blue yarn was sitting next to me when I started.

An interesting experiment but I think its time to go back to the larger design and work on the setting. I'll keep you posted but it won't be started until fall.

All Are Welcome, 22 x 50 inches

A new loom has been warped (ok, I"m back to 6 again) and I haven't worked on a commission of this size in years, no doubt the subject of a future blog.

Happy Holidays and may you have warps waiting in anticipation for the New Year too...

Sunday, November 8, 2015

How Long Does it Take?

If you work in the arts you certainly know that's everyone's favorite question. I've been working on a design for several years now and I'm quite glad I haven't kept track of the hours. As I heard clothing designer Anita Luvera Mayer say recently, "I just don't care how long it takes me."

This portrait idea began with a photo I took in New York City. I was interested in the expression of both the face and the hands of the man as the he held the donut.  Although I knew I wanted to work with this image I did not have a clear path and struggled with the skills I needed to understand the position of the figure. It was hard to draw and so I experimented.

I recently returned to the problem because I had a warp I needed to finish. The sample is a study of the right eye woven 'to size' for the final piece. I enjoyed the process so much (sorting values, maintaining the expression), I decided to do a Coptic inspired version of the same sample on the same warp before cutting.

Donut Man detail, 3 1/2 inches wide

Coptic design, lower left

This idea is a long way from winding a warp and selecting wefts, but the recent progress is exciting. It's validating to see my hard work in drawing pay off.

Just don't ask me how many hours it's taken.

p.s. How did I get such a clutter of frame looms with unfinished warps? I wanted to cut off my Wedge Weave Woman but feel compelled to finish that warp, this time with "Too Many Bananas". Wedge weave bananas seem possible, don't they?

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Wedge Weave Woman

Always  nice when you can use an alliterative title.

I had the pleasure last week to attend the Eastern Great Lakes Fiber Conference in western New York State. Connie Lippert was teaching and I finally realized I needed to get up to speed on wedge weave...what exactly is it?, why is everyone excited to learn? The workshop did not let me down.

The idea of wedge weave has no doubt emerged from a variety of cultures, Connie pulls from the Navajo tradition. Weaving in these diagonals causes a distortion on the selvages that is quite enticing. Add to that my natural inclination to turn everything into a face and suddenly I'm confronted with the idea of Wedge Weave Woman.

I'm pretty excited.

Connie is what I want in a teacher. Clear explanation of technique yet encouraging you to take this process and integrate it into what you do. Eleven people took this in eleven different directions, a few examples follow below. Most importantly we had fun. I left with a feeling of energy and a desire to weave beyond my usual hours.

Thanks Connie, I look forward to more interaction at Convergence....we'll both be there, who knows what silliness might ensue, distorted or otherwise.

For now, I'm happy weaving and will be sure to show all of you the result.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Exposed Threads

Exposed, 12 x 12 inches

I'm always interested when I see a common thread - we're talking metaphorically here - in my work over time.
I've kept a journal for 25 years. Sometimes I flip through a few volumes and am amazed at the amount of repetition. I'm never sure if it's a good thing, but it is there.
Last week I discovered a recurrence while rooting through my basket: exposed threads.

Feather Hat, 3 x 9 inches

Some of my favorite tiny faces lately have had their warps hanging out. I was brought up as a rule follower, edges straight, ends tucked in. Lately I want to see them.

In the basket was this tiny piece on the right, grouped together here with two that I just cut off the loom. My basket piece was completed 17 years ago. I was taking a big chance then. The narrow edge on all these pieces is 3 1/2 inches.

Taking new risks, but continuing common threads. At least it's caught Porkchop's attention....