Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Report from the Tapestry Workshop:

It's taken me a little while to get a post together, but the workshop was wonderful. Ann is an encouraging, and inspiring teacher. You can see some of her work HERE. There were 11 of us in the class, with a good mix of experience and abilities in fiber and art. But the one ability that everyone seemed to have was the ability to encourage and inspire others.

Those of us who were new to tapestry did samplers:

This piece measures 5" x 11". Ann had us mount and label our work so we'd have a reference piece for future work. The colors for this picture are pretty true on my monitor. Sorry I didn't take the time to be exact in cutting out and aligning the labels...I can see where they may make your eyes go kittywompus as you look at the photo.

Most of the yarn in the sampler was Paternayan Persian wool from cones supplied by Ann. There is a smattering of Ann's hand dyed yarn and some Harrisville 2 ply wool in the mix. The warp is 12/9 siene cotton.

There was also a pretty good representation of portable tapestry looms from Mirrix tapestry looms, to Archie Brennan pipe looms, to wooden frame looms purchased through Ann. Mine was the only 'hybrid' loom and I am very pleased with it.

Those who had more experience with tapestry techniques started out with projects of their own, most from photographs. I didn't notice that anyone was working from a cartoon.

After the sampler, there was still warp remaining on my loom. I had brought a good selection of my handspun yarns because they've been calling out to me from the stash closet. I decided to do a small piece using natural colors romney wool left over from a sweater project several years ago. My plan was to use it as a color blending and color value study:

The colors here are a little yellowed from the incandescent light....and no I didn't switch to black and white photography. Those are the natural colors of the wool.

The woven piece is 3"x5". You can see the yarns that went into the piece on the right. Here's a close up of the weaving:
These two pieces are 3 days of work.

The best part of the class was at the end where we assembled around a table with our work and talked about our work and what we learned through the workshop. Most of us agreed that there is a quiet meditative aspect to the actual process. There's a place where your mind and heart go as you select the next color and the next method of interlacement.

Some of the group were definitely "in to" creating pictoral images with their work. Others were interested in the interaction between line and color in the fiber medium. I'd have to place myself in the latter group.

I found myself to be stretched by weaving in this way. The entire first morning of weaving, I kept looking for something to count and had a terrible time manually lifting the correct threads for plain weave. Not what I'd expected after 27 years of weaving!

Once the picking of the warp and handling the butterflies became second nature, I did well with the linear, angular, and even curvilinear (oval) aspects of the weaving. When it came to the "eccentric weft" weaving, I was once again challenged. It became very clear that I'm a person who often works "on the grid" and it would do me well to step off the grid and be a little more free in creating shapes and unexpected lines.

So what's next? More tapestry weaving. More use of my handspun wools. More color blending. And more eccentric weft weaving! (oh my!)


  1. The piece from your handspun turned out very well I think. You could mount and hang it and I'll be you'd get some admiring comments.

  2. These are great! I took an online tapestry workshop once but never got past the awkwardness of it. Sounds like you got some interesting insights from the class too. I'll be interested in where this takes you.


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