Thursday, May 20, 2010

The perils of a home studio and the philosophy of tapestry and the secret to life....

After weeks of no rain, we had three lovely days of rain.  It was perfect, no hard down pours, no major flooding thunderstorms, just nice soft rain.  Now the grass I planted is really beginning to grow, the yard no longer looks like a mud pit, but has the nice soft fuzz of new grass.  After a few weeks of hard labor in the garden, I got to return to my studio, what a nice break.  I have missed making art.  I have scattered pieces throughout the studio in various stages of assembly, but I try to push them all along as I can.  I have never been a linear thinking, singleminded person who can abandon all else for one thing.  I seem to flutter from one thing to another, unless of course I have a DEADLINE! 

The perils of a home studio awaited me on these rainy days however.  My studio is directly across from the kitchen, which can be a minor distraction, but this week it has been a major distraction.  I normally don't keep many sweets in the house and potato chips are strictly forbidden.  The reason is, I confess, I have no self control.  We had a dinner party this week for my husband's students who are graduating.  He brought home several pastries from our favorite artisanal bread bakery.  He always overestimates the amount he should buy so we had two boxes of pastry, homemade chocolate gelato, and then someone brought an apple pie.  It has been too much for my limited self control so I have definitely overindulged this week.

In the meantime, I had a lovely visit with Susan Iverson...  I have been reading several essays lately on the philosophy of different tapestry weavers.  So far, my tapestries have all been renditions of my drawings and paintings.  I have been asking myself, why the extra step?  I could just stop at the painting step, except for the fact that I love the tactile element of fiber art.  I LOVE fabric and yarn and the feel of them and what they can do.  The past American Tapestry Alliance had several essays on the philosophy of several different weavers, the two that really caught my eye were Alex Friedman and Sylvia Heyden.  Both of these women have been exploring the uniqueness of tapestry as a medium.  What can you do with tapestry as a woven form that you cannot do with paint on a canvas.  I really like this idea.  To begin my exploration of this idea I contacted Susan Iverson who graciously spent a morning with me giving me a tutorial in shaping tapestries and showing me her work.  My ideas of what to weave and how have been transformed.  I soon (when the rains started) warped a loom and started weaving a small tapestry that I can sculpt into shapes by pulling warp.  I also ordered Sylvia Heyden's book from Fine Fiber Press, what a revelation that book is!   I am seeing tapestry through a whole new lens and looking forward to more interesting weaving. 

In the meantime, I unwove about 2 inches of the sand pail, the weaving that will never be finished, since it was pulling in quite a bit.  I was advised that I would be unhappy with steaming it and should just unweave it and make it right, so unweave I did.  Now I am back to weaving it once again.  I have 6 inches woven, and another 8 to go.  It doesn't sound like lot, but it seems like it is really slow going since I have been working on this tapestry for 2+ years.  In the meantime, I really want to get that tapestry off the loom so I can use it for my new ideas!


Threads of Inspiration said...

Susan,How lovely that you got to spend a morning with Susan Iverson. I truly loved studying under her. I have done a pulled warp tapestry and it is kind of a miracle. I can't wait to see what you create.

Christine said...

I can totally relate to having no self control w/respect to potato chips. I also have my studio across from the kitchen and it's a constant struggle not to walk into the kitchen when I get tired or am struggling with a piece of art.
I wanted to thank you for commenting about my experiments with natural dyes. I just visited a friend who uses onion skins to dye on silk. OH My! such glorious color!
It is important to use a mordant. I know I need to do that with my work.