Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Oh, Venus!

Venus de Milo showed up on Facebook today.  Or, at least more speculation about what her missing arms may have been doing did, in the form of a link to this article, which proposes that she may have been spinning with a drop spindle!

It was almost 4 years ago that I took these photos of her. I have to say that I was so in awe of her, I didn't even think about what was missing or what she may have been doing, or even why she'd have been spinning topless.... maybe spinning so she could then weave a nice top? I probably would have speculated that her missing arm was reaching for a towel. How unimaginative of me!

Closer to home, I discovered yesterday when I began to weave my small chicken tapestry that I had used the heavier warp from my stash, and it was so heavy and closely sett, there just wasn't room for weft! Not a good discovery. I first spread the warp out, but decided that I would be then fighting not only a too close sett, but unevenness in tension, as I wove. So today, I cut my losses -  and the warp and what I had woven so far (above) off and rewarped. Tomorrow, I will once again begin weaving on the finer warp, more loosely sett, and it should weave more quickly and easily, with fewer bad words and more enjoyment.

Otherwise, I have been doing my 'homework' for the SketchbookSkool kourse I am taking. This week we were supposed to do small books. I did the above accordion book about my paternal grandmother, and plan to do the backside, as it is reversible, about my maternal grandmother.

The other style book we were to do had us cut and fold a single piece of paper to make a little 8-page book. I did mine about my favorite heroine, Elizabeth Bennett, of Pride and Prejudice. I'm needing a bit of her 'spice' in my life right now, so it includes a few of my favorite Jane Austen quotes to remind me to hang onto my inner Lizzie. Below is the cover, with a little watercolor sketch. These books were fun to do, but I never know quite what I am supposed to do with them when they are done, so I try not to spend too much time on them. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Foggy Day, Foggy Mind....

I have been in a bit of a creative 'fog' lately, so I decided to do something about it. What I ended up doing was to sign up for the 'Expressing' klass online at Sketchbook Skool. I've been seeing some great sketches on Facebook for awhile from people taking these kourses  (sorry - they kind of hook you into that use of 'k'.) So I figured that, if I pay to learn something, I will at least follow along and DO IT.
The first week, the lessons have been about lettering. So I have done these pages in my sketchbook.

Obviously, I am still thinking of (and weaving a bit of) the Amaryllis tapestry on my loom, but this is the second of this winter's amaryllises (amarylli?) in my kitchen window from before the holidays, finally in bloom! I decided to sketch it in acrylic, which I now somewhat regret. I wish I'd just stuck to watercolor, and left the background white. Live and learn.... that's what it's all about anyway, isn't it? I am a bit pleased that I captured the transparency of the bloom, although I was using an opaque medium.

And we really needed that bright bloom this morning! A beautiful fog socked us in for the morning. I got out and walked to the city park, just a block away, to take some pictures. Those of you who live in fog all the time may not be impressed, but this kind of pea-soup fog is a lovely rarity here!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A bit of Zentangle to quiet a noisy mind...

From today's sketchbook
One of the things I discovered from doing #Inktober this past fall was that abandoning color is sometimes a very good thing to do, especially if I am working with vibrant colors elsewhere, as I am in my weaving right now.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Ready, Set, Bake! ...I mean, Weave!

So, the small loom is warped, and I think I may have chosen a design for the small tapestry. My choice is actually neither of the ones I was considering, but is based on a comment left by Robbie (Thank you SO much, Robbie! See why I love comments?!) She suggested I do a portrait tapestry of one of the chickens, similar to the portrait I had done of Wooster. That rang a bell in my mind, because the last time I was with the grand-chicks, I had actually taken some close-up shots, especially of O'Brien, whom my daughter-in-law tells me is a golden-laced Wyandotte. She is a beauty; sort of a Zentangled hen. (And yes, she is named for O'Brien in Downton Abbey.)


I have several photos of O'Brien, though she didn't really want to pose for me. And one of them looks like it will be a fun challenge to weave. Not easy, and not fast. The loom is warped at 10 epi, and I will probably be weaving with singles. I normally weave at about 8 epi, and use doubled weft threads. So this will be twice as slow. The photo maquette I'll be working from is below. I will turn it sideways to weave, so those beautiful lines in the neck can be woven eccentrically in a more horizontal way. The completed tapestry will be about 8.5 x 10 inches.

I guess I'd better get busy. Right?

(By the way, the title of this post is not a suggestion that I bake O'Brien, who is a good laying hen, but is in reference to another British TV show I love, the Great British Baking Show. And has anyone else fallen in love with The Detectorists? I love British TV!)

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Choices and Challenges...

I've been alternating work on putting away Christmas stuff, catching up on the laundry, and designing the next small tapestry, all morning. As you may recall from my earlier post, I'm working with two possible designs (with the always available option of chucking them both and coming up with something altogether different.)

The first design originated with the photo above. But it has too much going on in it for a small tapestry. So what I have ended up with in my maquette and cartoon for this one (both below) is a simplified, weavable version, that keeps all the elements I like, and eliminates the unnecessary clutter, which would not weave well.

tapestry maquette

One of the things I liked, though it was not really a recognizable element in the original photo, was the red wheelbarrow. I use the color red frequently to make the viewers eye travel through the design.  The barrow was tilted against the garage in the photo, and was not in a place that was helpful, design-wise. So I took out the garage and put in a new wheelbarrow and it's shadow in the garage's place. Now it will be not only weavable, but recognizable, and the red is placed where I want it to be.

tapestry cartoon
The only other major change I made to the image was to enlarge the chickens in the doorway. I enlarged them several times to get them to the size I want them. I'm actually pretty happy with this design now. It will be weavable, and will have enough challenges to keep me interested as I work.

tapestry cartoon
The other design I was considering was the sketch I did yesterday. I am somewhat amused by how many people relate to this sketch! So, in considering it as a tapestry, the sketch itself would be the maquette, and the cartoon is above. I actually see this as a more challenging design to weave than the chickens would be. The reason is that I really like the sketch; which I did in a few short minutes to capture my mood. It would be difficult for me to capture that immediacy in such a slow medium as tapestry. I know myself: I would see all my sketch's 'errors' and would try to 'fix them,' losing the mood and the sketchy quality I love about the image. I could weave this, and I may weave it; mostly because I love a challenge! But I am thinking I will weave the chickens first.

Or maybe I'll set up two small looms, and will start them both at the same time, and see which one wins my affections as I go! (Or which one looks like it will be done in time to go to the exhibit....)

Entry time!

It is time NOW to send in my entry to ATA's unjuried small tapestry exhibit. I have had a piece in each of those exhibits, except for the first one. I love the exhibit, with small tapestries from total beginning weavers hanging next to the pieces from some of our mentors and teachers.

My problem this time is, not only do I not have a tapestry done to enter, I don't even have one begun. Not even designed. So, this morning I am working a bit on an idea, so I can at least submit a title on my entry form. And that will make me commit to a design. Once that is done, I will warp my small loom and get weaving, because the tapestry itself is due in March!

OK, I admit it; I am a procrastinator. I'm not usually quite this bad, though. I have just been overly busy lately.

So. Here are my thoughts for this small tapestry:  I almost always do an 8x10 format. The size limit is 10x10. My daughter-in-law sent me the photo above of her chickens, wanting to come into the warm house on a snowy day. I love the photo, and she gave me her permission to work with it. Obviously, there is too much detail in the image for a small tapestry.

So, I deleted a lot of the background, and cropped it to this 8x10 portrait oriented image.

Then I cropped it in landscape orientation.

And finally, I tried it as a square 10x10" image, which I think I prefer, of the three.

I like doing detail, and I have done some VERY detailed small tapestries for this exhibit, such as the one I did of our last dog, Wooster. The one I did for the last one of these exhibits is the self portrait with a camera. I have it as the featured post on the sidebar (a new feature I have begun recently, putting related past posts there for you to see.)

Anyway, weaving this as a 10x10 tapestry would require a lot of small detail, 'fiddly' work, at a finer sett than I might otherwise work at. I would, of course, simplify the image a bit more - maybe even do a painting of that size to work from, which helps me simplify. But that also adds work time. My other impulse is to weave something quick, and non-detailed, such as working from the sketch I did yesterday in my sketchbook:

It is simple and expressive, and would weave very quickly. But, as it would have a very different title than the chicken image would, I need to make a decision quickly. The entry is due by the end of this month. (By the way, you can enter here, and my tapestry is the image on that page!) Time. That may be the deciding factor. That, and the fact that I also have a piece on my studio loom needing to be completed.

What do you think?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Year of the Monkey

This will be the Year of the Monkey, when the Chinese New Year comes around in a few weeks. I am already feeling the monkey on my back! That's OK, though, because in Chinese astrology (which I only follow on placemats at Asian restaurants,) I am a Dragon. I can handle this stinkin' monkey year!