Sketching Tulips

April 6th, 2018

Been tied up with weaving for a while and felt I needed to get back to sketching. These tulips (from a super market, not my garden) were on their last legs (stems) and I loved their nearly spent – never give up enthusiasm.

Image of tulip Image of tulips
Watercolor and ink

Dyeing Tests

April 1st, 2018

I have been exploring natural dyes with my Harrisville Koehler Yarn to use in mixed bundles for my tapestry. These small balls were dyed with madder, and iron & black tea.

Image of dyeing result samples
Samples of dyeing with madder, and with rusty iron and tea

The one on the upper right is just iron and tea in a jar left to set for days. The others use madder from a plant I grew and harvested years ago. The top left ball is pre mordanted with alum and a bit of cream of tarter – the lower left was a mixture of iron, tea, and madder all together, the lower right was pre mordanted with alum, then soaked in the just the tea/iron mix for days and then into the madder dye overnight.

I’m not going for exact dye recipes as I did years ago but rather letting the magic take me where it does. And it is magic!!!

First Real Tapestry

March 22nd, 2018

Well, I’ve taken the little looms class and attended the little looms workshop in the mountains of Colorado- both with Rebecca Mezoff. I’ve done a number of small tapestries on my Hokett looms and felt I knew what I was doing enough to sign up for the Unjuried Small Format Tapestry Exhibition through the American Tapestry Alliance. I worked on my design, did some samples on my 8 epi Hokett and ordered yarns from Harrisville. I thought I had simplified my design and thought Harrisville would be good as I do know I’m a beginner. WELL, the real world works to keep me humble. I still like my design, but should have explored more ways to do the veins in the leaves. There are slits all over the place to the point of making it unstable. I’ll try stitching them but…

Anyway, here’s my process – I do still like my design and will rework it after I pick my self up… I may do a series – I like the simple concept of friendship and nature. I call this one, “Have a Cup of Tea with Me”.

Image of inspiration Image of Harrisville Yarns

I had a watercolor sketch that I had done of leaves in a jar and liked it’s spring like quality and colors. I selected my colors based on it and ordered them – it was exciting when they arrived!!! Much of my work is with low chroma colors so these bright hues were a big deal for me!

Image of sketches Image of color sketch Image of final drawing

I knew the watercolor was beyond my abilities as this was my first real tapestry so I redrew it, cropping in and eventually cropped in a lot more. I wanted this to be a friendly, cosy, spring like design, so the jar changed to the suggestion of a cup of tea. I then scanned the color sketch and redrew it in Illustrator to flatten it and to simplify it even more. Once sized, that became my cartoon.

Image of sample Image of second sample Image of sample 3

I made samples. First, testing how yarns could mix to extend the colors I have, then adjusting the values of the greens to get the feeling of the tea cup under the leaves and finally exploring various angles I could achieve. I considered weaving this side ways, and perhaps I should have but I thought I could get away with a vertical design as I wanted the texture to be vertical and not horizontal.

Image of the start of weaving Image of color sketch

Finally I got started. I had warped my new loom when I got it to make sure I understood how. I didn’t use the shedding device as I used my fingers and it doesn’t seem to make a very large shed anyway. Also when I attached the cartoon to the back it made the shedding device unusable. I attached it with some bag clips from my kitchen – need to research how others do this. I re did section after section as I began to understand how the weft packed down – think I might be packing too hard??? My main problem was the vein lines in the leaves. My original design didn’t have them but I felt they were important to describe the leaves. I tried different blues (limited to the blues I have) and eccentric lines, and wrapping a single warp yarn. I ended up using anything that seemed to work – resulting is a fabric with too many slits. I thought I could stitch the slits but there is a problem with the wrapped warps – perhaps if I had stitched as I went along…but I didn’t. When it lies flat the problem doesn’t show but when I took it off the loom…

Image of final drawing
So, I have a lot to learn and I learned a lot.

Back to Sketching

March 18th, 2018

Spent Friday afternoon at The Wagner Free Institute of Science drawing from their extensive collection of birds. This museum is one of the lesser known gems of Philadelphia and my friend Jane and I had the place nearly to ourselves—Snowy Owls, Turkey Buzzards, Sparrows—you name it—they seem to have it—all set in natural poses.
Jane is taking a course at PAFA with live birds as models and wanted to brush up on her bird anatomy with some that held still. I tagged along. A wonderful afternoon—and humbling. With all my work trying to meet a deadline for a tapestry project, I haven’t been sketching … bit rusty …
But these make me think of spring.

Image of bird sketches
Beaks are hard—each has it’s own personality.
Image of pencil sketch
Love how they displayed the spread wings.
Image of pencil sketch
Reminds me of summer—down the shore.

We’ll be back!

Time Takes its Toll

March 6th, 2018

Imperfect Gallery had a exhibition “An All Women Show” and I wasn’t going to enter as I have a problem with being labeled a “Woman Artist” I am a woman and I am an artist but while each influences the other, I don’t feel they define each other. But as it got closer I decided to get over my self and enter as I really like supporting this small wonderful gallery that is doing so much for my neighborhood.

I had dyed this camisole previously and had been thinking how to display it. It developed from my rusty dyeing for stitches project but while I really liked it it did not stand on its own. I liked the references to time and decay that the dyeing with metal gears gave and wanted to develop that theme. After applying it to a distressed canvas with bits from old linen formal napkins that had belonged to my grandmother, I added the clock gears and hands – they had belonged to my grandfather. These references to family history, for me, added to the sense of time and things lost.

I got it just in the nick of time and was glad I entered.

Image of Mixed Media work, Time Takes Its Toll
“Time Takes its Toll”

I’m pleased with how it turned out and would eventually like to show it along side pieces from my “Stitches, not Words” project.

Valentine Hearts

February 21st, 2018

Rebecca Mezoff has had a Valentine challenge for the past two years. And for the past two years I have been late but did get them done in February…

Image of Valentine Heart tapestry Image of Valentine Heart Tapestry

They were fun to do – used my Hokett loom and realized each time I incorporated my handspun. (Not the red and purple.) I still am working on curves and still have a long ways to go… but when I cut a warp off this little loom I put a new one on so it’s there waiting for me.