Monday, March 31, 2014

Branching Out...

As I was getting ready for a slide talk for the local fiber guild later this week, I ran across this image of a tapestry I wove 20 years ago. I don't have a good digital image of the tapestry, as that was before 'digital image days.' I just have a slide. I no longer own the tapestry itself.

I was amused that I was weaving branches already way back then. This was the view outside the bedroom window of the house we lived in at that time. I kept track of the seasons by watching this aspen tree that we had planted. The title of this tapestry is "Colorado Winter Morning." I remember that my main reason for weaving this tapestry was that I wanted to work on weaving narrow vertical lines, and the branches gave me that perfect practice! I also was having quite a bit of fun with color gradation, as you can see in the sky. All in all, I still like this tapestry. It is 42" wide by 55" long. It sold from a Montana gallery, and I hope someone is still enjoying it, and I hope someone still watches the seasons change in the branches of this tree.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Evening Up the Odds...

When I reach the top of a tapestry I do what I tend to refer to as 'evening things up.' That's what I am doing in the photo above - I am making sure the top edge is all evened up (it isn't yet, in the photo) and that all the bits of yarn end up in the same shed. Then I weave my row of soumack across, followed by about an inch of hem.

I have all that done, in this photo, and have loosed the tension on the loom and have begun cutting and tying off every other pair of warp threads. After that is done, I will roll the tapestry forward from the lower beam and will loosen the bar across the bottom that the warp is tied onto, and will begin the tedious task of needle-picking the warp knots undone to untie the bottom of the tapestry from the lower beam. THEN, I can finally cut the rest of the tapestry off the remaining warp at the top, and pull the tapestry away from the loom. So, cutting off isn't really the quick snip-snip of the scissors it can look like at a cutting off party. I get everything pretty much done except for the final cutting of the top warp and pulling it loose at the bottom, then wind the tapestry up again to look like it is still all attached before a Cutting Off occurs. Otherwise, it would take a long laborious time before we could celebrate the finished tapestry.

Today, I am not having a Cutting Off party. This evening, I will keep at this process, and will cut this tapestry from the loom probably very late this evening. I have not yet seen the tapestry in it's entirety, but I am looking forward to seeing if it looks like I had hoped it would. I usually lay the cut off tapestry face down and cover it for a few days (mostly to protect it from Gus, who loves all the ends coming out of the back.) Then I will be ready to look at it and assess how I feel about it, and to continue with the finishing process.

When that is all done, I will post a picture of it. In the meantime... back to the cutting board (cutting loom?)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The End is Near!

This was my loom this morning before I began my day's weaving. You can see the top of the cartoon! And I have progressed some since then. My goal is to have it cut from the loom before next week begins. I will have two of my grandchildren here next week for their Spring Break, so will not have much studio time. Also, I will be speaking to the local FiberArts Guild next Thursday evening, and want to have a 'fresh from the loom' tapestry to take along, along with some finished ones.

When I remembered that I had agreed last spring to speak this month, I looked for (and found) the email to see what I had agreed to speak about. They had asked me to speak on "what inspires me." Oh, my! That talk could be either 20 seconds, or could last the rest of my life! I am assuming they will want something in between those two options. (If you are in the area and want details on when and where the talk will be, leave a comment or email me. I promise I won't ramble on for the rest of my life.)

Spring has seemed to come with the calendar this year, right on time! This is our remaining old apricot tree. The city had us take out the other one, as it hung too far out over the alley. It wasn't as productive as this one, anyway. If all these blossoms turn into apricots, I will have a VERY busy June! This tree hangs out over the sidewalk, and the city occasionally makes a few noises about it, especially when it is loaded down with fruit. But neighbors have fussed at them and told the city on several occasions how much they all love the tree (as do we.) My husband is 6'4", and can walk under the branch, so they have not yet made us cut it down. One of the city's arborists came out a few years ago to check it out and said it would be a crime to take out such a fine old tree. I hope they continue to send him! You can see the forsythia is also in bloom. The lilacs and the flowering crab and the quinces will all bloom before long! So I must get this tapestry off the loom, and get myself out into the yard and garden!

And while there... I will be pondering the next calendar tapestry, which will be (appropriately enough) for the month of April!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Weaving a Tangled Web...

White thread is used to sew cartoon to tapestry in progress

I love the abstract tangle of bare branches! I have taken many photos of them and I really enjoy the challenge of weaving them. The funny thing is, I see this as an abstract tangle of shapes. That is how I see it, and that is how I weave it. But, when it is completed, viewers often see it as photo-realism. I have woven this tangle before, most notably in the January and February tapestries, and somewhat in the October tapestry (all can be seen here.) All were woven as abstracted shapes, yet all read as branches and trees. This tapestry will perhaps be more abstract than any of those; oddly, because it is more of a 'close-up' of the branch tangles. The photo above shows an area of the tapestry that is about 8"x6", or so; a pretty good section of the tapestry. It does not look like branches when isolated like this --- because it is NOT branches! It is an abstract weaving. But when done, it will definitely read as a tangle of branches. I love how the eye can be fooled like that!

I am about 5 inches from the top, and I am loving being at the big loom again, though this is not a very large tapestry. I intend to have it ready to cut off before the end of the month.

One of my many tangled tree photos

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Day....

We spent the past couple of days up at our mountain cabin. It is lovely there in the winter, but we are already seeing signs of spring approaching, even in the high country. Booker was thrilled to sight several chipmunks and a squirrel already out of hibernation. He dreams of cornering one someday, but  I doubt that will happen (and certainly hope it won't!)

As I grabbed what we would need for the few days there, I left behind my camera and my knitting. Fortunately, my husband had his camera, and I had a very good book. We mostly sat in front of the fire and relaxed, which is what you are supposed to do there in the winter.

After we filled the bird feeder,  a scold of Steller's Jays, probably about a dozen of them, came to try to figure out how to get the seeds from the feeder, which is made for smaller birds. They spent all morning working at it, and were finally chased away by some smaller red-wing blackbirds. The jays are not uncommon at the cabin feeder, though there are usually just a pair or two there with the more common chickadees and nuthatches. The smaller birds usually drop enough seeds to the ground below the feeder for the few Jays, but there were so many Jays there today, the smaller birds couldn't get to the feeder, so the Jays had to fend for themselves. (I put a Steller's Jay in the lower border of my Winter tapestry.)

While we were watching the jays, a coyote came to the end of the driveway. Booker 'marks' each end of the circular drive as soon as we get to the cabin, letting all who might care know that he is there. This coyote wanted to let Booker know, in no uncertain terms, that she did not care that he was there; this was her territory. She marked on top of his 'message,' then kicked it about a bit before leaving. Booker watched all this from inside the window, and did not even bark at her, as he would have done at another dog. Sometimes he seems to know when it is best to just let it be.

It is so good to have time away. And then it is so good to come back to the tasks and the work that await us back at home. It was lovely to be in the winter again, and to hunker down in front of a blazing fire with a hot cup of tea and a good book, with nothing more to be done. A quite impressive winter squall was building as we left the mountain. But it was also good to see the line of daffodils brightly blooming in our front yard as we returned home to the valley, and to go out with just a vest on over my long-sleeved tee.

I seem to be the most fortunate of women today, and to have the best of several worlds, and of several seasons. I wish the same for you, wherever you may be!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

'Acadian Autumn'

This is the small 8"x10" tapestry that I am sending to the Untitled/Unjuried exhibit, to be held in conjunction with Convergence this summer in Rhode Island. I love this exhibit, and have participated in every one of them since I saw the first one in Portland.

The tapestry is titled "Acadian Autumn" because when I went to Maine the first time in 2009 with a couple of artist friends, the colors were so unlike our golden Colorado autumns. We were there at prime color time, and I believe we had our cameras to our faces most of the time! This was also the first real trip I took with my beloved Nikon, so I think it is where I came to love it. The leaf in the lens is indicative of the many red leaves I shot photos of, like the one below. We do have beautiful autumns here in Colorado, but they have very little of the color red to them, and red is my favorite color to weave. 

I designed this tapestry when my camera was broken, and I believed lost to me forever. My husband got me a newer Nikon, but it felt different in my hands and I was not getting photos I liked with it. So he decided have my camera fixed, and he has the new camera. So now, instead of an 'In Memory' tapestry, it is a celebration tapestry!

My favorite part of the tapestry is the camera strap, where you can read a part of the word, 'Nikon.' My husband thought I should not have a brand name in the tapestry, as if I am 'endorsing' something, but I still really like that part.

The tapestry is blocked, lined, and with the proper hanging system on the back, ready to mail off to the exhibit!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Time to Spring forward....


My sweetie brought me these beautiful flowers last week to remind me that spring is coming, and I have been wanting to take the time to sketch them, but haven't yet, so I at least took a photo today, to maybe sketch from later. I also noticed this morning that the first yellow crocus is blooming in my yard! I don't think I've ever been happier to see spring coming!

Gus, opening an eye long enough to ask if hibernation time is over.... Not yet, Gus, but soon!

This morning I had a dozen or more things on my ToDo list, some more urgent than others. But I have chosen to totally ignore the list, and finish up the small tapestry for the ATA 'Untitled/Unjuried' exhibit, as it is due soon. I got it all woven except for the hem, which I hope to weave before music takes over the rest of my day, as it always does on Monday. I will cut it off tonight when I get home. Then, tomorrow I will tackle that horrendous list, beginning with cleaning up my studio!

It felt a bit bizarre to take a photo of myself taking a photo... but this little tapestry is a celebration piece, celebrating that I have my beloved camera back, and that it means so much to me.

I have had such a variety of  things to do of late, and it seems as if I have less control of my time than I have ever had, a fact which baffles me. But I have made a decision that I am going to begin to eliminate things from my life and schedule that no longer excite me, and do not seem to benefit me or anybody else because of my participation. There are several things that fall into that category, and the time has come, the walrus says.....