Finally I have a tapestry update for you. I had some moments with this piece where I wanted to start over, or start something totally different, mostly because I just wasn’t excited about it anymore. And, even though I was having a hard time finding time to do it, I knew that if I were really excited about it would find time. So finally, after taking a weaving break while packing in every spare moment and then moving to a new apartment, I started to weave again. Lo and behold, I was so thrilled to be creating again that it was another sleepless night, and I’m in love with this project again.
So, here it is! It’s coming along and I’m very happy so far. I’m using two hand-dyed yarns and one commercial. They are all fingering weight and I always use some combination of two at once. The indigo blue is a merino yarn that I dyed with indigo, and the chartreuse is the same yarn dyed with acid dyes. The sage is Cascade 220 Fingering, which I believe is new to Cascade, and I highly recommend as a tapestry weaving yarn.
I’m weaving the tapestry backwards, which is really challenging my spacial intelligence. I’m pretty sure there is at least one occasion where I wove over two warps in the front. I’m usually really laid back when it comes to ‘mistakes’, since I like to see them as evidence of the object’s handmade nature, but in weaving this I’ve learned that that does not apply when I can’t look at the mistake close up and decide whether or not to go back and fix it (it’s really hard to see the other side of the tapestry.) So I’m a little nervous about all the mistakes I may find when I take it off the loom.
So why weave it backwards? From what I remember, when weaving tapestry in the past, it was kind of a pain to remember to place my bobbin behind my work when I wasn’t using it, and sometimes I’d forget and then weave up to it with another bobbin and I would be stuck either cutting and threading it to the back or unweaving the stuff next to it (does that make sense?) Also I know a few tapestry weavers who weave backwards, and I thought that if that’s the correct way maybe I should just get into the habit right away. Do any of you prefer to weave backwards, or have convincing arguments for me to switch back to frontwards weaving? I’d love to hear some opinions around this.
Janna Maria Vallee
PS. Here are some more shots of my Mirrix: http://instagram.com/jannamariavallee
A little about the ATA and its mission statement:
The American Tapestry Alliance (ATA) is engaged in a wide range of educational, exhibition, outreach and promotional programs. Our programs serve the goals of our Mission Statement:
-to promote an awareness of and appreciation for woven tapestries designed and woven by individual artists
-to encourage and recognize superior quality tapestries
-to encourage educational opportunities in the field of tapestry
-to sponsor exhibitions of tapestries
-to establish a network for tapestry weavers throughout the world
-to educate the public about the history and techniques involved in tapestry making
The American Tapestry Alliance grew out of a friendship between two tapestry weavers, Hal Painter and Jim Brown, who had a common desire to promote and establish tapestry during a time when the art form was experiencing a revival. From their auspicious first meeting at Hal’s studio in 1968 where Jim was suddenly transformed from a potter to a weaver, to the 30,000 miles they travelled through the United States and Mexico to teach tapestry, to their eventual creation of an alliance in 1982 that would unite American tapestry weavers, Hal and Jim broke the ground that current ATA leaders and members gratefully still.
Is the ATA the right organization for a beginner tapestry weaver to join?
Yes! We encourage all interested in tapestry, beginners to professional weavers, educators, museums and art galleries.
What are the benefits of joining ATA?
ATA offers its members: exhibition opportunities, educational retreats and workshops, e-news, e-kudos, long distance learning and helping hands programs, an on-line quarterly newsletter called Tapestry Topics, an extensive awards program including scholarships and an international student award and an extensive website.
What campaigns or programs do you have going on right now?
ATA’s annual fundraiser, this year a Raffle consisting of a tapestry woven by Jane Kidd (shown above), as well as many other prizes. Enter here!
American Tapestry Biennial 10 opens at Visions Art Center, San Diego, CA May 2 – July 20, 2014. Learn more here.
UNTITLED/UNJURIED: Small format tapestry 2014 opens at University of Rhode Island Feinstein Providence Campus Gallery, July 8 – August 8, 2014.
Call for entry for Small Tapestry International 4: Honoring Tradition, Inspiring Innovation.
Learn more about the ATA (and join!) on their website:
While waiting to get some beads for my mega project, I haven’t been able to quite decide what I have wanted to do for quick items. Today I thought I would discuss the designing of a piece on a bead program. I found a design I had worked up and come to find out, it was 4 years ago, probably right at the end of my last ‘Social Market for a Mirrix’ in 2010. I opened it in the program I had used then and was looking at it thinking it was pretty cool, but needed more. As I was working on a slight redesign, I realized one of the rows had 4 and not 3 like all the rest. That is going to be some work to repair as I will have to erase all the work above to make it right. This is the original concept:
I used Bead Tool 4 to make this design. My alterations look like this as it stands right now:
I like this version much better. It is more airy and has more design going on. I think I am going to change the shape on the bottom, but not sure quite how yet, and I may decide to keep it that way. Also at the bottom it shows the fringe I plan to put, the feathers. That is a benefit of doing loom patterns, you can lay the fringe out underneath. This is just a 2 color piece. Black is the definitive color and not sure on the other one, I don’t want white white.
I just got a copy of Bead Creator and haven’t had time to play around in it yet. I am anxious to see some results from that design program!
In designing, you have to know what you are doing before you start, then pick out the dimensions for the project. Both programs have a Palette creator which you can put what you have on hand into a custom palette. That would probably be a Delica collection. I have yet to that, I don’t have tons of Delicas, but enough so I put this off 🙂
Because of the narrowness of this design, I will probably have to make it longer so the center gap isn’t spreading unattractively too far apart when worn. I think of a lady whose blouse it too tight and the buttons are straining with gaps between button holes. We don’t want that.
Ultimately, designing for loomed beadwork is not difficult. You don’t even need a program, colored pencils and graph paper work great and I have certainly done that. You will probably just have to do some simple math to figure out width and dimension on graph paper, and you can get graph paper in smaller boxes or larger ones.
Tomorrow I plan on warping the loom for this project. I have also determined, that because I am unsure of how I am going to do my center piece, I will start at strap level until I decide. I shall have some project pics mid-week.
In the book French Tapestry (1946) Pierre Veret recalls, in reference to the revival of tapestry in the 20th century, “the determination of a few painters, led by Jean Lurcat and Gromaire, hard at work during some of the darkest years our century has ever known, has done more than give us hope for the future, it has given us a lesson to remember” (Elek,1946)
There are many things about tapestry that Jean Lurcat is sure of, like the emphasis of content and the importance for tapestry to continue to thrive as a partner to architecture, ie tapestries should be designed for one specific wall with pre-arranged dimensions. But, the most recurring themes in his book, Designing Tapestry, is that of the strict design guidelines of which should be followed in order for the weaver, who is presumably not the designer, to have no artistic freedom so as for the designer, as a result, to be able to design a tapestry cartoon and achieve exactly what they had envisioned. In essence Lurcat recommends a non-interpretive code in which the weaver would have no question as to what the designer requires of them. Additionally, Lurcat designates that the idea of fashioning a tapestry after a painting, especially one that had originally been painted with no intention of becoming a tapestry, was unrepresentative and disrespectful to the art form. An important point of note is that fashioning tapestry after paintings does not allow for a scale of pre-arranged colors, in fact tapestries woven from paintings during the Renaissance had no limit to color range, allowing for an innumerable amount of colors – which didn’t pay respect to the ‘means of economy’ ie. slowed the process of weaving. Furthermore, Lurcat believed that this characteristic was responsible for distracting from the emotional content of the piece.
By the 1940’s Lurcat had concocted a design method that he believed to be fool-proof. To start with, an artist designing for tapestry should decide on their scale of pre-arranged colors, between 20-40, dyeing their yarn accordingly and then numbering them, each shade of red chronologically numbered followed by each shade of the next color, and so on. Lurcat believed this method is sure to keep the designer from falling into the tendencies of painting. This approach is also more cost effective in terms of dyeing while allowing for a multitude of combination possibilities. Only then can the artist proceed to design the tapestry cartoon in black and white adding numbers to indicate color, placing contrasting values in juxtaposition, an element characteristic of tapestry. After a long winded technical explanation (3/4 of his book), Lurcat asserts that, “Technique and poetry are completely tied up and are essential to each other”, and continues to explain that emotional content is essential to a successful design. He later proclaims, “What counts, and it is the only thing that does, is the actual wall hanging and its impact on the spectator”.
Thank you for reading this series. If you haven’t read them yet here are part one and part two. Stay tuned for when I offer the series as one downloadable essay with citations and footnotes (they are really fun). I hope you enjoyed it. Please leave a comment below if you like. I’d love to chat 🙂
To echo the repetitiveness in his writings, I’ll leave you with a final comment by Lurcat where he asserts that tapestries which are made after paintings are neither, “fine, rich or great”.
I don’t personally follow Lurcat’s guildelines when designing my tapestries, do you? I’d love to hear about your design process. Until next week, weave on!
I’ve been playing with my new pattern (First Step) and my Mirrix Loom. In this picture you can see the fruits of my labor…some more appealing than others. The finished bracelet that I posted last week took me just as long to sew up to the leather, as it did to do the actual weaving. I love wearing it, and I love the leather backing. But I wanted to experiment with quicker finishing. For the top bracelet I folded over leather tabs and glued them together with the warp threads sandwiched in between. When I place the eyelets it will secure the tabs further. The bottom bracelet uses ribbon crimps. I wove the weft threads without beads to create tabs that could be grabbed with the crimps. Nevertheless, I could hear the delica beads being crushed beneath the crimps. I’ve clearly got more to practice.
You can see that the beads bunched up on the crimped version. As I learn about tension, I have learned that the beads will sometimes bunch up if the piece is not allowed to “rest” after being cut from the loom. I had used S-Lon bead cord for my other work, and this was my first go with One G for the warp threads. It is clearly more “sensitive”. Here’s a closer view.
With the middle bracelet, you can see the woven portion without the beads. I am discovering how little I know when it comes to predicting how a loom-woven piece will look. I’ve been working with seed beads for over 10 years…but I am stunned to see that with weaving in only one plane, the outcome does not match my expectations. Some very pretty beads that I would use together for a more structural piece of beadwork, just don’t work together with the loom. I am learning to think about the beads differently and paying close attention to not only color but also finish. I guess I’ll just have to keep playing!
– Julia L. Hecht – Poppyfield Bead Company – poppybeads.com
The American Tapestry Alliance is an organization near and dear to our hearts and this month, they’re our featured Social Market for a Mirrix 2014 share-sponsor. Please take a moment to learn a little more about the ATA and check out some of their amazing programs and resources. Check back next week for a full post with more details all about the ATA!
What’s going on?
Check out their 2014 raffle here, where you have a chance to win a Mirrix Loom or other great prizes. Enter here!
The American Tapestry Biennial 10 exhibit begins tomorrow at Visions Art Museum in San Diego, CA. Exhibits will also be at Kent State University Museum in Kent, Ohio and Kaneko in Omaha, Nebraska. Learn more here.
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