In October, I had the opportunity to take a tapestry weaving class from tapestry artist, Elaine Duncan. Elaine spends a portion of her professional life in her studio on Vancouver Island, a portion teaching various fellow weavers, and a portion working with the Zapotec Weavers of Oaxaca, Mexico. Her work has proven to be very inspirational to me. I have always been interested in creating fiber arts “pictures”…primarily in commercial and surface altered fabric. Below are a few examples of various techniques I
have tried over the years..
Revelation is an interpretive piece representing the “inner person” behind the facade exhibited to the public.
The “face” is a large loom beaded piece (12×12 inches) using a graphic based on an old established bargello design prevalent in needlepoint pillows and upholstery. All of these fiber arts pieces are now client owned. I am seriously considering creating another large loomed bead piece simply because it was so rewarding; however, I think most of my future pieces will be smaller and, thus, more immediately gratifying projects. A good example of projects that appeal to me at this stage of
my “creative” life are small tapestries (which I will discuss later in the blog) and cloth armature, bead encrusted “goddesses” like Brigid. Brigid is named for a Celtic triple goddess; patroness of poets, healers and craftspeople. She represents the three important aspects of my life…literary endeavors such as reading or poetry, a former nursing career, and a current obsession with art in the form of fiber crafts and gardening.
Brigid has a number of organic symbols beaded onto her person (leaves, flowers and fibers) that represent herbal healing, natural and literary art. She also has three hearts that represent the three aspects of her patronage.
I have made other goddess figures with both bead encrusted cloth armature and with lamp work beaded goddesses on quilted backgrounds. Ostara is an example of the former, and Create is an example of the latter. I enjoy both small art forms and will probably continue to think about a “goddess” (or, better yet, a “crohn”) series in both media. Both are popular with both myself and with clinets… I find them rewarding to make and they (and several like them) have found good homes.
When Elaine taught the tapestry class in October, she gave us examples of several Zapotec inspired designs. I designed a small (4 inch wide) “mug rug” that utilized a three warp square graphic. I then followed her directions for weaving with the “back” of the tapestry facing me. When flipped over, you can see what the finished design will look like when removed from the loom. As you can tell, the mug rug is still on the loom….after all, there is a whole lot of usable warp remaining and I always use up all the warp ends!
After completing the first small tapestry project, I decided that I needed a small pipe loom like the one used by both Elaine and a number of my fellow classmates. Of course, Larye constructed one for me. I made a free-form tapestry utilizing the “work from the back” technique that I had been taught….Of course, I had no intention of “wasting” the remaining warp on both sides of the loom, so I utilized the top half of the front warp as well as the back. After completing my second “work from the back” tapestry, I determined that I would be a happier camper if I worked from the front of the loom…so, I changed technique. Not a big surprise if you stop to consider that, for the 12 years I was in the machine quilting business, I can count on one hand the number of times I utilized a pantograph and worked from the back of the machine! That’s a minute percentage of the 1000+ quilts that passed through my hands during those years.
After I completed the lizard from the cartoon that I had drawn, I joined a newly formed tapestry study group. One of our members is a highly experienced tapestry weaver with multiple commissions to her credit. She informed me that I could have picked an easier subject for my newly acquired talents….no wonder the lizard looks a little strange! Oh well, pressing and beading will correct any imperfections…as my customers used to say, “it will quilt out”! The other thing I learned from these early attempts at tapestry…do make sure that you have enough yarn to complete the project… the piece on the right ended up about a yard short of the correct blue to complete the second dragonfly path! Oh well, perhaps “it will bead out”! All in all, I can see a number of small tapestries in my future…all with beaded embellishment, of course!