Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Fall is here...weaving again

Now that school is underway again, and before I start running my engineering and science sessions, I have found some time to weave.  I am excited to be using Helena Hernmarck's technique again on a new tapestry, this time one in color.   Although, it doesn't have much color, it is a white peony with some red in the center, it is more than just greyscale and so a bit more challenge.  I posted my artwork for this earlier in the year, but thought I would just post a quick photo of where I am now....

Friday, June 28, 2013

Summer Break

Every summer I think that somehow I will arrange my life so that I can continue weaving.  However, it seems always to work out that my loom stands idle while I run around doing things around the farm and around town.  This summer is no exception.  So, I will show you a few summer photos of "What I Am Doing With My Summer".  Credits for these photographs rest with my son with the exception of the photograph of him which was taken by my husband.

Black snake wandering through the grass.

Bumblebee on lavender.

Buckeye hen who gives us a couple of eggs a week.  We get more from our younger hens.

My horse Oliver whom I try to ride every day.

My daughter, the book worm, working through one of her many books and wearing her cat ears.  She is very photo shy at the moment, so this is about as much of her face as we can get in these photos lately.

My budding photographer and fisherman extraordinaire.

Hope you are having a good summer.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Perfecting my craft

I spent several hours weaving my frame for my next tapestry.  Because it will be white and gray, I want to weave a 2 inch frame of bright red that will reflect the red in the center of the flower.  I finally started, realized quite early on that I was pulling in the edges of my tapestry as I wove, so I took it out.  Next, I wrote a couple of people to ask their opinion (one thing I love about the internet is the connectivity that small isolated groups of people get who otherwise would be struggling on their own, e.g. tapestry weavers, Suffolk Punch owners--I bought one of these rare horses over the web, but that is a whole 'nother story), and decided to use many butterflies to weave across.  Voila, no longer was a pulling in the edges across my 20 inch tapestry, but now I had a different problem which I have encountered before....

I have use the meet and separate technique, but where they meet, no matter how carefully I try and get them even, I either end up with a "hole" in the weave or a bit of a bubble.  I had woven almost 2 1/2 inches and got so frustrated with the sloppy look, that I spent several hours unweaving it all.  I do know that when I use wool, this problem is not so noticeable.  However, I have used cotton because I really liked the sheen of the fiber.  I am going to try again, but now I have decided to work with my messiness to give the structure a diagonal look by being very deliberate in my placement of these joins.  

I guess I am putting in my hours to perfect my craft.  I tried to recruit my daughter as an apprentice and to get her to unweave it, but she didn't buy into it, so I  just finished unweaving it myself.

I will post the new pictures once I have rewoven this section.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Preparing to Weave

Our house got hit by the flu again three weeks ago.  It had my daughter in bed for three days, up for one, and the down for another.  Then of course, a day later I had a sore throat and then I was in bed for four days, and did little but lay in bed and watch television.  Now, after two weeks, I seem to be recovering, with just a few lingering effects.  So, last week I started winding butterflies for my new tapestry.  It is a time consuming task resulting in a pile of tabby butterflies and a pile of pattern butterflies twice the thickness of the tabby butterflies, and a scattering of yarn in half my studio.  While winding the butterflies I have to agonize about the colors, the mix of colors and which will be the tabby and which will be pattern.  I have delayed starting for all the agonizing, but finally decided that I had to dig in.

I finally finished enough butterflies that I felt that it was time to start weaving.  I am weaving a red frame around this tapestry.  We have white walls, so I thought that the white peony might fade into the wall, hence the "frame".  I am glad to be weaving again.  I am looking forward to seeing how this piece develops.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Weavings in Spain

We just returned from a trip to Spain.  It was a lovely trip, and we visited all kinds of beautiful places in the northwest of the country.  Although we weren't in Madrid on the right day for me to visit the tapestry works there, I did manage to find other weavers in the country.

In Barcelona, much to the chagrin of my children, we visited a modern tapestry studio in the old part of town, Teranyina. Here you can see my corralling my reticent daughter as we enter the shop.

 It is mainly a teaching studio but with a few small things to buy.  The proprietor, Teresa Rosa, does not speak English, but luckily one of her students was there and spoke beautiful English and showed me around and translated.

There is a half floor with 6 upright tapestry looms sitting on it.  It was a great space for the women there all of whom were considerably shorter than me.  I smacked my head once on a beam and had to remember to duck as I walked around.  

On the main floor there were a couple of horizontal looms.

Mainly, the shop is there for teaching, but there were some beautifully woven scarfs and woven jewelry there for sale.  My daughter left with a beautiful little woven necklace.  I particularly liked the way they displayed the scarves.

I asked the English speaking student what she was going to do after she finished her course.  She replied that she hoped to weave and sell her tapestries.   There seem to be few weavers in Spain, but as I said, we missed the enormous state run weaving facility in Madrid.  It was an enjoyable half hour conversing with the women and seeing some of there work.  Here are a couple of pieces woven by Teresa Rosa.  To see more of her beautiful work, go to her website.

We all loved Barcelona, and I would love to visit again.  I have to say my favorite place that we visited was Parc Guell and Palau Guell.  If you go, then you must see one or both of these lovely places designed by the architect Gaudi.  I loved this little house and would love to live in it.  It had very organic lines and lots of natural light inside.

Another weaving mecca that I wanted to visit was this little shop in Ezcaray, in the mountains of central Spain.  Ezcaray was the weaving center of Spain until the early 1900's.  However, now only one shop remains, Artesani Textil, which has been owned by the same family since 1930.

It is small shop with a loom in the front and the back is filled with blankets and scarves.  The woman there did not speak any English, so we couldn't really ask where the blankets were woven.  Although they are all woven in Spain, just not in that shop.

It was really hard to decide what to buy there, everything was lovely.  Most everything there was made from local wool and woven by this family.  In the end, I chose not a wool scarf but a linen one.  The color was so lovely and the weight so delicate that I couldn't resist.

My son chose a blanket and we bought my daughter a scarf.

Finally, we chose a lovely blanket for our living room made from local wool.  The blanket is so soft it feels like cashmere, and we bought it for only 70 euro.  I thought is was an unbelievable bargain considering the beauty of the wool and the weaving.

Now, I am going to my loom to weave just a little while before I have to meet the school bus!

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Snowy Spring

We have not had much winter here until a week ago.  We got slammed with a foot of wet, heavy snow that broke many branches and a small native plum that I planted 7 years ago.

We had four days without power.  My son was a trooper and took responsibility for keeping the fire going so we had some heat.  We lost everything in the freezer and most of what was in the refrigerator. But, the hardest part is living without running water.  It makes you appreciate hot, running water and flushing toilets.  I could live without heat and light, but living without water is tough.

Lest you think we had no fun, we took out the surfboard again and we snurfed the hills in our pasture.  My son has really improved since our last foray into snurfing (SNow sURFING).  He has gained balance and confidence and can snurf the whole hill.  

I, on the other hand, after a back injury two years ago, have become much more cautious, so I am now snurfing the bunny slope.  Ugh, age is catching up with me, no matter how fast I try to run.

Our little puppy has grown into a 55 pound girl who loves the snow, however, she does not like what it does to her hair.  I am still trying to get the mats our of her hair from the snow balls.

Just so I don't leave you with a sad puppy face, here is a happy snow photo of our girl Giallo.

Finally, to weaving, I did get my sand pail mounted and hung.  Here is a photo of it hung in our living room.  I tried all kinds of backgrounds, but ended up with a piece of wool mounted on stretcher bars with batting under it.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

New Cartoon

Now that I have finished my daughter's portrait, I am planning my next weaving on my loom.  I had thought about doing an ocean piece from a vacation photograph from the Bahamas, but it was not speaking to me.  I tried to like it and had already bought the yarn for it.  However, I figure if I am going to spend a month or so with a piece, I better really like it.  I learned that the hard way with knitting.  I had someone discourage me from knitting a sweater when I first started.  She talked me into knitting a vest.  I never liked the vest, and never really liked the yarn I chose.  Therefore it sat for years.  The next person I went to about knitting said never begin a project unless you really love the yarn and the piece.  You are going to be spending a lot of hours with it, you had better be in love with it from the beginning or you won't finish it.   That advice has stuck with me, and works well with tapestry weaving.  Therefore, I returned the yarn for the ocean piece, and exchanged it for a flower piece.

I love flowers; I have painted flowers since I was a teenager.  I continue to paint and draw flowers.  So, I went back to photographs that I had taken last spring and pulled one out that would work with the warp that I have on my Macomber.  I took the photograph, worked with it a bit in Photoshop, and here it is:

For whatever reason, I don't like weaving from a photograph.  I prefer to redraw the piece and color it myself.  I want it to have a more impressionistic look rather than a more photorealistic look.  The piece shown below is an 8x8" drawing that I drew and colored with these fabulous Japanese art markers.  I then uploaded it into the computer.

Next, using a program called tiler recommended to me by another weaver, I printed out the piece on 6 sheets of paper from my computer.  I taped them together, and now I have a full-size cartoon of my hand drawn and colored piece.  

I have started to gather my yarns and make my butterflies, but will need more time to get all of them together.  I look forward to starting this piece, which should be approximately 20x20" when complete.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Weaving Finished

Today I finished weaving my portrait of my daughter.  It was my first piece using Helena Hernmarck's weaving technique.  Overall, I am pleased with the outcome.

I do have some tweaking to do after it comes off the loom.  There are some problems with the chin and the right side of the cheek. I can fix those with a bit of yarn and a tapestry needle, but otherwise, I will leave it alone.  A detail of the piece is shown below.

I still have quite a bit of warp left on the loom, so I am thinking of weaving my first color piece using this technique.  I bought some yarn for it, but I need to do adjust the warp a bit  and rewind the weaving onto the cloth beam.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Tapestries on the Web

My last two weeks have been filled with sick children.  Right now I am keeping my fingers crossed for myself.  So, I haven't touched my loom in two weeks.  That three inches is calling me, and I hope to go in and weave for a couple of hours after I get ready to teach my science class for tomorrow.

In the meantime, I found a new-to-me blog with all things animal art.  It is written/managed by an Italian woman.  Today she posted photos of tapestries by Jean Picart le Doux and Jean Lucart called Wild Tapesties.  Have a look and enjoy!

Friday, February 1, 2013

More Portrait Progress

I have made some more progress on my daughter's portrait.  I became a bit discouraged by the amount that the piece is pulling in at the edges.  I thought about cutting it off the loom and discarding it, but in the end decided I would never restart this piece again so I am carrying on.  I have had some difficulties with the loom.  I think it needs some adjustments, but I will have to figure those out before I make the next tapestry on the loom.

In the meantime, Helena Hernmarck in her workshop stated that she never unwove anything.  However, I am certainly not Helena, and I as I wove on the second eye and eyebrow realized they were both out of place.  So, I did unweave that piece.  Luckily, I noticed pretty early on that they were not in the right place so it wasn't too difficult to repair.  Another piece that is not quite right is the shadow on the chin.  However, I will leave that to be fixed after it comes off the loom.  Because it was in a pattern part of the piece, I can use a tapestry needle and the thread to fix that.  You can see that thread in the photo hanging loose at the neck.

This tapestry has been a BIG learning experience for me.  I learned to warp a floor loom with a fair amount of success thanks to Rebecca Mezoff and Klaus Anselm and their generous help.  I have gotten the process of Helena Hernmarck's technique in my head if not in my hands yet.  I have learned some of where my mistakes are coming from thanks to Winnie Johnson, a student of Helena's, who has kindly answered lots of questions, and to Helena herself who answered several of my questions.

I have four more inches to weave, and I am excited to see how the piece looks after it comes off the loom.  One thing about this technique which is interesting, it is best viewed from several feet away.  When I look at the portrait as I am weaving, I am a bit unhappy with it, but when I view the photographs of the piece, I am much more pleased with the results.  That will present a challenge when hanging the piece, but that is a problem I will address much later.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Two thirds of the way!

I am 2/3 of the way through my portrait of my daughter.  I am having some issues as I explore this new weaving technique which I am calling the Hernmarck technique, AND at the same time learning to use my Macomber floor loom.  One of the women in my tapestry group had several pointers for me today on learning to use the beater a bit better.  Thanks Tal.  Here is a photo of my progress.  I hope to finish soon and I will post the portrait after it has been cut off the loom.