Saturday, June 18, 2016

Time for Dyeing!

Yes indeed the Summer 2016 dyeing season is in full swing. Porkchop remains unsure whether this is a good or bad thing.

I'm using my favorite approach, gradations. I love seeing the little skeins hanging in a row on my metal rod.

 After that comes the exhaust baths. These light colors can be so subtle and surprising. I have some light grey Norsk yarn coming from Sidsel any day now and I love to save that for the dye exhaust. So much fun ahead.

The great magazine Fiberart Now published a variety of studios in their latest issue so I figure I need to share a full view of my dyeing studio, my little corner of the garage. It seems to suit me.

Next week I teach a day class at Shake Rag Alley in Mineral Point called Tapestry Sunsets, today I dyed our treasures.

Yes I know....I'm a lucky person.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Ladies in the Garden

I'm so glad I read an article somewhere a few years ago that talked about the trendiness of taking photos in unpolished settings. Instead of a precise studio setup these objects in the magazine were in all sorts of weird locations. I promptly took my loom out to the yard and the title of my blog was born.

So here is a very tiny lady (the warp is only about 1 1/4 inches wide). She appeared today, in fact she posed for the summer plein air painter.

Don't ask me why I do this. I want to make this guy a little VISA sign, see if he can up his sales.

It was hot today, so later I found her cooling off in the iris.

She's a super tiny t...

Another piece I took to a show in town, so before I left I put her in the yard too. I know it's not right for everything, but it feels so liberating.

Embossed, Stamped, and Burnished , 10 x 20 inches, painted background

Happy Summer!

Monday, May 30, 2016


What to do, what to do...

Summer has set in (ok, not really but I'm feeling that way) which means more time for thinking. This summer I'm thinking about the perennial question: What do you do with a Tiny T?

When I have taught the occasional one day or even half day workshop we naturally end up with a very small piece of cloth. The inevitable question is asked: What do I do with this?

I have my own pile of tiny t's...and my own ideas. Just when I think I have solved this problem I become dissatisfied. Suddenly metal sectional frames just don't seem to be the right answer. Don't these pieces need something more interesting?

These days I often paint canvas and labor over the just the right value and shade. Do these two materials really go together? A few weeks ago I was sorting through a box of rejects and used an old teacup for the cover of my sketchbook. Why not, it was officially in the reject box...

I EVEN zig-zag stitched it to my watercolor paper with the sewing machine! Imagine  my friend Kathe Todd Hooker would say, "the tapestry police are not going to show up". It felt liberating.

But I still struggle and probably always will.

What to do with her.....

And then that self portrait .... I've mounted the t and changed my mind 3 times . It's still unmounted.

Looks as though I have plenty to think about this summer. Any ideas?

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The H Project

I've written other posts that tell of my love of the woven word, so when I read a note from Christine Rivers last year announcing a challenge from Archie Brennan, I knew that was the way to start 2016. I even had my word picked out. Then I realized that was a problem.

Christine describes the challenge this way. "Archie set us a project to go on a tapestry journey.  To thread the loom at 8epi for 1 1/2”, 12 warp threads.  Weave an “H”, then a vowel and as you weave, decide what word you want to weave.  It can be a word or a phrase."

I scrapped my idea for the Spanish word 'hacer', used a loom already warped at 8epi and counted off 12 warps. I chose a dark purple yarn for the letters and added to the journey by restricting myself to yarn lengths from my sourdough starter  (warm colors only).

I've come to refer to my leftover ends as 'sourdough starter'...there's quite a collection.

After the 'ha' (guess I could have stopped there) I felt compelled to write 'have'. 

'Have' didn't feel as though it could stand alone, so another day the rest of the writing came to me. I always have more questions than answers these days.

entry for The H Project, a question that brings a lot to mind...

Archie Brennan opened my eyes to possibilities. I went back to my journals this morning and pulled out 1990, my first workshop with him and read through those old notes. At one point I wrote 'Weaving By Osmosis', his advice to plan and sketch beforehand if you must but then put the drawing on your chair and sit on it. 

First Face, Woven by Osmosis....thanks Archie!

I'm so glad I participated in the H Project. Many thanks to Christine Rivers for taking this project on and further working on an Educational Article planned for the ATA website later this year. 

Now we can  look at all the journeys taken by tapestry weavers.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Circular Warps

So how many T's can you fit on a circular warp?

Sounds a bit like a riddle, but really I am so hesitant to waste warp and so it's really one of my favorite ways to work. Of course it's intriguing to see how it all fits together on the loom, a bit like a jigsaw puzzle, but the cut off is SO much fun.

Perhaps it's just because I've spent so long on the piece for the church. Cutting off this new crop felt so good, especially as I had started this at Sievers last fall. A loom is vacant!

Particularly interesting were these two - I was trying out some aluminum coated wire I acquired, the result of another art teacher trying to clean out their room. I sympathize.

This spool is huge! And has a label saying it originally came from Milan, so it has to be cool. It's a warm silvery color and I'm going to try it with a couple landscape ideas I have.

Ideas are percolating,

Sunday, April 3, 2016

New Faces

Now that The Big Tapestry is ready to hang on April 25 and my living room begins to look like a living room once again, it's time to challenge myself with some new faces.

I believe I have mentioned I've worked hard to increase my skills in drawing people on location. One of the pluses of substituting (there are some) is the availability of models, this time I deferred to another favorite, myself. I had ten pages of a sketchbook left and decided to dedicate them to self portrait drawings.

These sketches were done over several weeks, most when I was in bed after a long day using a wall hung mirror leaning against the wall. I usually use ink pen but occasionally crayon, anything I'm not tempted to erase. Actually it's been so long my practice that I really don't think of erasing anymore, just finish as is and move on to another sketch.

I notice this persistence of drawing has improved my decision making in tapestry weaving. I don't like cartoons and prefer to use them as a guide that sits off to the side. I rely on intuitive choices so the more I understand the face the better they are.

Where is this leading? Hopefully to a self portrait that is part of three wedge woven (or partly wedge woven) portraits I'm working on. Can I get these done in time to show my friend Connie Lippert at Convergence in Milwaukee this summer? I'll let you know.

I like a challenging goal.

Monday, March 21, 2016

And Here it Is!

I promised you a photo and today I went to the photographer I use in town, Radlund Photo. They always make me feel so special, handling these treasures with care and of course saying - "So how long does this take anyway?" I'd be disappointed with anything less.

When I first applied for this competition I sat in the church and looked at the beautiful stained glass they have installed across the front of the worship area. The colors shift from blues to greens to yellows and I used that palette in my own piece and carried it through the weaving.

Here is the space it is planned for - the wall where there is a print of the church. The office does have glass separating it from what the congregation calls The Gathering Space so it is visible as you enter the church.

All Are Welcome, 22 x 50 inches, photo credit: Radlund Photo

I'm pleased, but it feels good to get back to my experiments.