Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Process or processing typically describes the act of taking something through an established and usually routine set of procedures to convert it from one form to another, as a manufacturing or administrative procedure, such as processing milk into cheese, or processing paperwork to grant a mortgage loan, or converting computer data from one form to another. A process involves steps and decisions in the way work is accomplished. (from Wikipedia)
I am in the process of designing my next tapestry. It is to be a commission for a local church. There are a number of things I do in my design process, before all will come together to give me an image that will be weavable. This tapestry began in my head over a year ago. During that time, I have been gathering things: thoughts, symbols, images in the form of photos I have taken, and found images. All of these things have been simmering in the soup of my mind, eager to be 'plated' and tasted. It is not there yet, but I have gathered the main ingredients, and am just 'spicing it to taste.'
Fot those of you who like a more specific explanation of the design process, I will tell you that the 'mind soup' is really the most important part. But I also have gathered many ideas (religious symbols, etc.) from the internet, as well as from my own religious background and beliefs, as this is to be a religious tapestry. But I bring my own beliefs and experiences into all of the tapestries I create. Here are elements I know either I or the clients want in this tapestry: Mary and baby Jesus, in an intimate pose; I have chucked Joseph for a shepherd (haven't told the client this yet); upper border of local landscape; lots of flowers on Mary's half, and lots of animals on shepherd's half. There are some things I have chosen because they are meaningful to me, some have been expressly requested by the client. Some have been chosen or discarded because I just do not want to weave them. (There ARE some things that just shouldn't be woven - at least that is true for MY loom! Some shapes are too complex, and necessary details may be lost.)
I have collected many books of copyright free images that may help with a person's expression or body position, or may give me a background flower that 'just fits.' I also have a lot of books of art, which may give me some inspiration, or help me solve a design problem.
I am a prolific photographer, with over 23,000 (yes, that is thousand) photos in my iPhoto file. While a goodly number of them are of my grandchildren, the great majority of them are images I have 'collected' while on walks or trips, and there will be animals, flowers, trees, etc. among them that will find their way into this tapestry. I have also taken some photos that are specific to this tapestry, and I may take more: someone's hands, a specific flower, a local scene...
As I said, all of the major elements have been put together in the beginning drawing of the maquette. I need to add some background 'spice' elements, which I think will really be the making of this piece. Then I will paint the maquette, beginning with watercolor, and probably dragging out colored pencils and acrylics when I see changes that I want to make. I will also take the image back and forth between the easel and the computer; taking photos of the maquette and making changes in my design programs, possibly even printing out parts and gluing them onto the maquette. The maquette will not be a 'work of art' - it will be an image for me to weave from, to help me select colors to order for the yarns, and to show the client for approval before the weaving begins.
I project that it will be late in the month before I am ready to enlarge a cartoon to weave this tapestry from. It is to be two woven panels, each about 18" wide, by about 40 inches long. The process is well underway! This is the beginning of a narrative tapestry....
Sound like a lot of drudge-work? Well, I wish I could tell you that I just sit at the loom and it 'comes to me all-magic-like,' but you KNOW I'd be a-lyin'!