Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween....

This is a photo of which I am particularly fond. First, I love the huge ravens that have moved into the neighborhood, even though they terrorize the neighborhood cats (some of whom need a bit of terror in their lives.) Also, I have been learning, and have "97% ready" the Beatles song, 'Blackbird' (according to my guitar teacher.) I am quite impressed with myself for this, because I am playing the same actual thing Paul McCartney plays. It is the first song I have played, in my past almost two years of lessons, that I have not grown bored with before learning it well. I've always loved the song, and have discovered that fingerpicking is what I enjoy most doing on the guitar.

Anyway.... I even considered this photo as something to weave, without the words, of course. But look at all those pine needles! Lovely, and necessary, and no thanks, from a weaving point of view. But I love the bird with the crab apple in his mouth. This is one of quite a few raven photos I have taken.

Have a good halloween. Eat some chocolate - it's good for you!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I am soooo warped!

The 'naked loom' with the new warp beginning to be tied on the top beam

I ran out of warp doing the Nativity tapestries. Not literally, but way too close to it for comfort! I had about 10" from the top of the final hem to where the warp tied on to a dummy warp. I have used a 'dummy warp' for years - a warp that just stayed tied on to the top beam, and I rewarped by tying onto the dummy warp, saving a few steps and time in the warping process. But I had a bit of tension frustration with the Nativity Tapestries, which was probably due to weaving two tapestries at once, more than anything else. Anyway... I decided to get a total fresh start, so I removed the dummy warp and have warped the loom with enough to weave three or maybe even four Calendar tapestries. (I have six left to weave.)

Warp tied and wound on top beam, and through heddles and reed

Did you notice the caption on the photo above that says the warp is through the heddles and the REED?  You may or may not be aware that a Shannock loom, wonderful as it it, has no reed. It has a spacer-thingy  attached to the top beam, but that is really too far from the weaving to do any good in helping keep the warp evenly spaced. I have compensated over the years in various ways for this lack. But I saw in a post on Rebecca Mezoff's blog that James Koehler had someone make him a reed support for his Shannock.

I happen to live with a fantastic woodworker. So I posed him the problem of something to hold a reed horizontally on the loom for me. A few days later, I had the beautiful and solid oak addition to my loom that you see above!

As you can see, it looks like it is an original part of the loom. It is beautiful, and I can hardly wait to weave with it there to keep my warp perfectly spaced! My 'adaptations' have left me with a very small open shed over the past umpteen years, and I don't know why this solution didn't occur to me sooner. Every Shannock should have such a reed holder; every weaver should have such a spouse! I am quite a lucky person, don't you think?

And a new warp! So fraught with possibilities! Like a clean canvas, an empty journal, or a new sketchbook.... just waiting for something wonderful to be created to bring it to life.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A bit of a break...

I will finish sewing slits on the Nativity tapestries tomorrow. I would have finished today, but I took a bit of a break from the task. I have been missing the act of smearing paint on canvas, so I sat and painted this small 8x10" study of the Seine from the left bank today. I already see a few corrections and changes I want to make on it, but they will probably now wait until the slits are all sewn. It was good to thaw out my palette of paints and paint a scene I enjoyed so much. For a bit I was back in Paris, watching the river pass by in front of me, with the towers of the Louvre poking above the bridge in the distance. A lovely escape for a rainy Colorado day....

Monday, October 22, 2012

Breathtaking October...

On our walk this morning, Booker and I were brought up short by the beauty of this tree in the park. Well, not so much Booker, as he had his nose in some bushes. But this is one of 'my' trees; at least I think of it that way. There are a couple of trees that I keep an eye on, as they always manage to astound me with their beauty. The photo doesn't really do justice to this tree today. It is so brilliantly golden against the bright clear Colorado sky. I think this tree is as big around as my whole house, and I don't live in a small house. It is the same tree I posted a photo of in winter (see below.) I had my camera with me on that winter day, though, and just had to settle for my iPhone camera today. Such a sight can 'make my day,' though. Overcome by Nature's beauty: that's how an artist should be, I am thinking.

I hope you see something today that takes your breath away, as well.


I read this quote this morning, and felt I should add it to this post:
October dresses in flame and gold
Like a woman afraid of growing old.
Anne Mary Lawler

Friday, October 19, 2012

Loose Ends....


So here is where I've been today... and yesterday... and the day before.... and a number of days before that.  I have been trimming all the loose ends from the back of the Nativity tapestries and sewing slits. One of the tapestries is all trimmed and sewn and tidy, and even blocked. I started on the second tapestry today. I have decided that, for various reasons, this will be the last time I weave two tapestries at a time! It was an interesting experience, but not one to repeat, I am thinking.  I will have a few more days of slit sewing on this tapestry, then I will block it, and will line both tapestries and prepare them to hang. 

I do not hate this finishing process. I fact, it gives me a chance to think of the next project, and to have a bit of closure on this one. These particular tapestries will be leaving me for good when they are completed, so I am enjoying having them around for this bit of time. The thing that I do not so much enjoy about sitting sewing slits for hours and days on end, is that my body is older than it used to be (don't know how that happened) and I frequently feel aches in new places if I work at too long a stretch.

In a few days time, I will be able to get some good photos of these tapestries to share with you. Until then, this is pretty much where I'll be.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Now I have remembered...

...what for a moment I had forgotten. When I teach, one of the things I emphasize to my students is that they design tapestries of things they love. A tapestry is too labor and time intensive to create images that you are ambivalent about.


In my last post, I had thought to work out a tapestry design for the October tapestry from a place that is not home to me; an image that I find beautiful, but have no emotional attachment to. Then, over the weekend we traveled over the mountains to see my son's family. Although the aspens are mostly bare, the later cottonwoods along the river valley were taking their place in showing Colorado gold. The grey skies and majestic clouds only emphasized the golden glory, and it reminded me that I love October in Colorado. So I have been working on a new design for my next Calendar tapestry. I think about it and work on it in my mind as I sew slits. And sew slits. And sew more slits, on the Nativity tapestries.

In addition to loving the Colorado fall scenery, I got to spend some time with a couple of precious grandchildren, and my son and his lovely wife for a few days. (I even roller skated a tiny bit, without breaking or spraining any body parts, though my grandson informed me that I do not fall correctly.)


And, seeming quite out of their proper element, we saw cormorants in Denver's City Park! Evidently a flock lives in a pond near the zoo there. They and the park geese were quite unconcerned with our presence. A cormorant away from the ocean... that is what I would be like if I were to weave a design for the month of October that did not reflect my love for my favorite month in the Colorado Rockies.

"It is not how much we do, but how much love we put into doing." Mother Teresa

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

October gave a party...

With my loom standing empty, I am thinking ahead to the next Calendar tapestry. It will be "October," and I would like to get the loom warped and the weaving at least begun this month. I am still slit-sewing, blocking, and lining the Nativity tapestries, but that gives me time to think and plan ahead. 

The photo above is one I took in Maine on one of my fall trips there. I love the riot of color October is in the Northeast, as opposed to our beautiful but analogous gold  Octobers here.

So, working with the photo (which is unaltered in the top image) I cropped it, as all the Calendar tapestries are 18"square. Then I began to work in Photoshop to make it a weave-able design.

I like this bottom version best. The shapes are pretty manageable, though the weaving will be a bit fussy and fiddly, but I've done fiddly weaving before, so no worries!

It reminds me of the George Cooper poem, which I think I've shared before, but it's been awhile, so I'll refresh your memories:

October gave a party: 
The leaves by hundreds came -
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing.
Professor Wind the band.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

En Plein Aire...

We went up to the mountain to cut some more wood for the winter, which we are hoping will require a LOT of wood burning this winter (meaning a lot of snow and cold, plus a lot of cabin time.)

While there I took my 'en plein aire studio' (aka my husband's truck, where I open up the back and sit under the shell) down to the lake to paint. I did the 8x10 oil study above. It is really hard at this time of year to get the color right. Lest you think I mean that it is hard to not get it too bright, I will show you a few photos from the day. What I mean is that it is hard to get it bright enough to show the true gaudy brightness of the season! We really don't have very many fall colors here in Colorado: we have an INTENSE gold, plus the dark green of the evergreens and a bit of indian red from the ground scrub oaks. 

But when the sun is blasting down on you at 10,000+ feet of altitude, and the sky is intense Colorado blue (wish there was a paint color called that), the color's so bright, I gotta wear shades!

Most of the places, the aspen are bare already, but the cottonwoods have taken over in the valleys, so there is still a lot of gold in them thar hills.

I was sure Gus was telling me he wanted an adventure, so we took him along this time. (Turns out, we had the adventures, on our drives up and down the mountain. Gus is not a good traveler.) While at the cabin, the chipmunks and birds and one little squirrel were busy gathering the seeds we put out for them, and Booker and Gus were glued to the window, supervising them.

I always forget how much I enjoy painting en plein aire. I am never really happy with the result, but the experience makes that seem somewhat superfluous. In addition to the little oil sketch, I did a few watercolor sketches in my moleskin, which I am also enjoying using quite a bit lately. All in all, a lovely fall weekend!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Nativity Tapestries Cutting Off...

The cutting off for the tapestries I have been weaving for the Church of the Nativity was last night.
Below are some photos of a few of the people involved in the creation of these tapestries: one of the commissioning couple, the congregation's priest, and one of my first weaving teacher's (who came all the way from Denver!)

Below is the left tapestry, which is still attached to the lower beam as I hold it up.

And now the tapestries are at rest on my dining table; ready for the next stage of work, which will involve sewing all the slits, trimming the wefts ends off the back, and lining and hanging them.

 I didn't take photos of the food this time, but between what they brought and what I had out, I should've invited more people! I had planned this to be a somewhat small and intimate event, though, so it was just perfect.

Today, both tapestries and I rested. I took the day off, and read and sketched, had my guitar lesson and did little that required much effort. Tomorrow: back to work.