For the past month or so, I have not been able to shake a recurring thought... weave a small tapestry of Donald Trump. But why you ask? I am no Trump fan, in fact I have an almost visceral reaction to hearing his name spoken. Tapestry weaving is slow and meditative, the perfect medium for working through strong feelings.
Hubris in progress
I usually avoid the blatantly political rantings of facebook and do not want the blog to devolve into that dark water. This is about using this weaving exercise to examine my thoughts about our president. I finally puzzled it out...it is not about him.
It is about me and you, this is our ugly underbelly. That is great word, underbelly. I am not likely to expose my deathly white belly, stretchmarks and all to the world. We like to think of ourselves a certain way and represent ourselves accordingly. Our current president, exposes the angels of our lesser nature. For sure, not angels but simply the human capacity for self involvement, divisiveness and cruelty.
Trump provides us the opportunity to confront our own blindspots and eliminate them, individually and as Americans. As Abraham Lincoln said in his first inaugural address in 1861
“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
As divided as we are now we will come back together. Perhaps more aware of our weaknesses.
When my boss asked what I was weaving and I told her a caricature of Trump, she said "who would want it?" A good question, certainly not me.
To protect yourself, immediately make a meaningful contribution to Planned Parenthood. It is the only way to ensure I do not send Hubris to you for prominent and and painful display in your home!
The three day weekend presented the perfect opportunity to do some natural dyeing. I started with four skeins of natural white and four skeins of natural grey.
Unmordanted yarn dyed with indigo.
Weaving Southwest single ply fine Churro tapestry yarn
Those little cochineal bugs do terrific work.
I mordanted all the yarns in a 20% alum solution and added a teaspoon of cream of tartar to the dye bath. I achieved the deep reds desired with the first dip. The lighter colors were the results of the second and third uses of the dyepot in an effort to exhaust the dye. With the cochineal and madder, I used distilled water in an effort to avoid dulling the colors with soft water.
Osage orange was a disappointment.
The osage orange was an extract. In the past I have used wood chips and got a brilliant orange. Lesson learned.
Not really loving my Ode to Gunta. Not sure her stripes work as a wedge weave.
Vicki and Louise manning our study group table.
Our guild held it's last meeting of this guild year last week. Each study group had a table to share their work. It is a pleasure tp be part of an active and dynamic guild.
I have been interested in Navajo weaving since dear daughter showed me the wonders of the American southwest in 2016. Details here.
After our trip, I read lots of books on Navajo culture and weaving. I finally got the chance to take a class last week. Susan Meyers of Living the Dream arranged for a class by Roy Kady Roy is a master weaver from Teec Nos Pos Arizona and came to Frisco, NC to teach.
Hand dyed Churro
Roy brought looms, tools and beautifully dyed yarns to share as well as his gentle spirit and expertise. We spent the first day warping our looms.
Judith tackles the scary part
When Spider Boy brought the first loom to the Navajo , he fashioned it's frame from the power of the sun, the lashing cords of lightning and the warp strings of rain. Roy explained the importance of weaving and the signifigance of each step in the process.
We learned the hands on basics of Navajo weaving and history and culture as well. There were only five of us so we got lots of personal attention.
Susan, our host weaving on her rug.
Roy shows me how to ply the yarns for twining.
There is traditionally a twined or braided edge at the top and bottom edge of the rug.
Look at that beautiful twined edge.
Day one was warping and choosing four yarns for our weavings.
Day two we began weaving and settled into the weaving. I love being in the company of other weavers, there is a sense of coming together in a common task that is extraordinary.
Roy helps Sharon with her weaving.
Unfortunately, the three days went much too quickly. Our weavings weren't complete but Roy ensured we had the knowledge, yarn and tools to finish.
Susan was a gracious host, the other weavers were interesting, engaging women and Roy a generous and knowledgeable teacher. It was a wonderful opportunity to spend a week in lovely Frisco and indulge my passion for Navajo weaving.
This is my weaving after day three along with the yarns and tools from Roy. The back deck of our house was a great weaving spot with a stellar view.
I am home from Arrowmont and reflecting on the highlights. Of course, it was a good time spent with good people but it was also so much more. It always amazes me that as soon as you pull into the craft school parking lot, the craziness that is Gatlinburg disappears.
Jennifer Sargeant speaking to us about this tapestry and the choices she made regarding color and texture.
Jennifer did a great job of allowing each student to work at their own pace. We had various levels of tapestry experience. It was such an encouraging and supportive group. We shared not only resources and skills but tools and yarn.
Mary Jane and Lynn
We all approached color differently
Mary Jane used a watercolor sketch as a starting point.
Jean was weaving using hand dyed raffia. She and I shared a mutual love of Silvia Heyden.
Really excited about those curves in the upper right. Regular hatching on the diagonal.
I am glad to be home and inspired to continue experiments with color in wedge weve and push myself.
What a wonderful time I am having at Arrowmont this weekend. It is SEFFA 2019 and I came to Gatlinburg Thursday evening. Jennifer Sargeant is the instructor for "Woven Tapestry and the Language of Color." I would normally not do a post about a class until it ends. However, I need to get some lessons learned down before I lose them.
Yarns I dyed for Arrowmont class
For the record, I love color. I just find color theory incomprehensible and choosing colors for tapestry daunting. I have a handle on value but that is the extent of my knowledge.
Hand dyed golds
Cell phone edit to black and white to check value.
We started class with a little bit of color theory. Jennifer kept it short and simple and we looked at Jennifer's samples.
The yarn packs Jennifer made for us of Vevgarn are on the table in front of us.
We were able to start weaving right away and of course my mission
was to play with color techniques in wedge weave.
Predictable wedge weave start.
At first I was taken aback by Jennifer's advice to break up the predictability of my wedges by distorting and interrupting the color or structure. There is purple in there for goodness sake, how more wild could this be?
End of day one, see that disruptive little purple box?
Evening of day two
Jennifer encouraged me to use some traditional tapestry techniques to manipulate the color and see what would happen. I was surprised by the results. Warning, some wedge weave/tapestry geekiness is ahead. Lot's of details of the good, the bad and the ugly for future reference.
First the bad, I was rocking and rolling with my giant purple wedge when Jennifer cautioned that is was dark and overwhelming. She suggested breaking up that large block of color. I did some unweaving to avoid a giant purple triangle (what I had planned).
I did some dashes by doing a full pass of purple and a half pass of gold.
The effect was nice but here comes the ugly.. alternating the purple and gold creates a messy spot unless done properly at the beginning or ending of the weaving pass.
I did some alternating stripes by doing a full pass of dark gold and a full pass of light. The colors are so similar the stripes are fairly indistinct and it looks like subtle shading.
Notice the disruptive quality of those little purple boxes and how that is lost with the yellow on dark gold box. The wedge weave is interrupted but there is virtually no impact on the visual interest of the tapestry.
Shy little yellow box
I have enjoyed getting to know my classmates and will post tomorrow with examples of the work and more pictures.
Flip Flop is finished and blocking. This is single ply yarn used for Colcha embroidery from Weaving Southwest. I wove it on my large C. Cactus Flower loom at 10 epi.
So how to decide what to weave next? I am thinking about gathering inspiration from female artists I admire, like Gunta Stoltz.
Having the tapestry yarn arranged by color made it much easier to choose colors for a new project.
She, Silvia Heyden, Anni Albers and the other women of the Baushaus revolutionalized the art of textiles in the 1920s. Moving from representational images to more industrial and modern designs.
The 1920s was a time of considerable liberation for women, yet, unfortunately, many of the female artists and designers who studied at the Baushaus were denied entry to courses such as architecture, sculpture, painting or design classes. Instead, much of the Webereiwerkstatt (Weaving Workshop) was female.
"We wanted to create living things with contemporary relevance, suitable for a new style of life. Huge potential for experimentation lay before us. It was essential to define our imaginary world, to shape our experiences through material, rhythm, proportion, colour and form.”
Gunta joined the Bauhaus as a student in 1920, revived the dye studio in 1921, became a junior master in 1927 and a full master the next year. She was dismissed for political reasons in 1931, two years before the Bauhaus closed under pressure from the Nazis
The small picture is an image of a watercolor Gunta did for the design of a striped fabric.
I did a yarn wrapping replicating the colors and am going to try to interpret this in wedge weave.
Oops, I will need to unweave the black/ white circled portion. It isn't woven on the diagonal. I lost my wedge! Loving working on my 22 inch Mirrix though.
This morning I headed to Black Mountain to do some work in our western office. As I came across the continental divide it started to snow, big fluffy flakes that thankfully melted right away. After work, I headed to the Blue Spiral 1.
This is a lovely gallery in downtown Asheville, NC with a invitational show called "Into the Blue." So glad I was able to take in this show and see several tapestries by Connie Lippert.
Achadh 25 x 26
Detail of Achadh
Finishing detail of Achadh
Ghigau 25 x 24
Refraction 25 X 30
Ice Palace 26 x 30
I am a huge fan of Connie's work. She is coming to North Carolina in March to do a wedge weave class for my guild. More details here.
The show included a variety of work, paintings, sculptural pieces as well as the tapestries.
New Year's Day is a natural time for reviewing the past year and thinking ahead. 2018 was an interesting year. In looking back at my tapestries, I was not as prolific as I wished but had some successes and lots of wonderful opportunities for inspiration. My current inspiration is arising from reading Connie Lippert's book.
The following quote from Martha Stanley really resonated with me as it did with Connie. "Time working in the same technique is always well spent, it teaches me as I push it in newer directions, trying to get closer to the core of what it can really do. Look carefully for the parts of weaving that are trying to choose you."
I have written previously about my inexplicable attraction to wedge weave. This is part of my artist statement.
"Almost immediately, wedge weave captured my attention. This ancient Navajo technique allows the weaver to transcend the vertical warp and horizontal weft by weaving on the diagonal. The distortion of the selvedges and the ability to allow the colors and shapes to develop intuitively at the loom appeal to me. It is a departure from the structured grid of life. "
The two pieces from last year that brought the most satisfaction in the process and product were both wedge weave with hand dyed yarns.
A Joyful Noise
Even playing with natural dyes and wedge weave with less than satisfactory results is enjoyable and rich with lessons.
What's a Madder You?
This piece resulted from a natural dye class at SAFF with Jackie Ottino. We dyed Cormo with madder using different modifiers. This was a small sample for a larger piece that will never come to fruition. What I had envisioned with bright reds and purple became muted pinks and lavender due to iron in the mountain water we used. Also cormo is lovely for knitting and spinning but not for tapestry weaving, it is simply too soft.
2019, I am going to work on some larger pieces, using the Zeus. First I will finish this. Starting with a little unweaving.
There will also be more of these in the next year. 2018 included a fun class with Ruth Manning and these characters resulted.
Won't You Be My Neighbor ?
An old fashion selfie taken with my young kiddos in a photo booth at Crabtree Valley mall shortly after our move to Cary. The fortune from a cookie from lunch that day.
Weave on into 2019 with health and grace my friends!