Early Tapestries

August 4th, 2017

All this work with tapestry got me thinking of some of the great tapestries I’ve seen.
The Unicorn Tapestries (1500’s) at the Cloisters in NY
The Apocalypse Tapestry from the 1300’s in Angers, France
The Lady and the Unicorn (1500’s) at the Cluny in Paris. Found a wonderful video here.

My first experience with the Unicorn Tapestries in NY was one hot summer day many years ago back when I knew nothing about tapestries. A friend said he had a surprise and we got on the NY Subway in mid town and headed north. I had no idea where we were going and the train was hot and miserable. We traveled what seemed like forever and then got off and had to take an elevator up and up and up.I thought we must have reached hell it’s self but when we arrived we were outside the Cloisters – it was breezy and delightful! Trees and flowers – then we went into the museum and I was blown away!

The other two were on a trip to France to meet my son who was studying in Strausbourg. We got there a week early and went on a bit of a tapestry tour. By now I had studied textile history with Sigred Wetlge who made the subject magical and I was a weaver. We first saw the non tapestry Bayeux Tapestry. Nothing prepared me for the length of this work – it’s condition and wonderful graphic stitchery!

image of old sketchbook pages
Pages from a very old sketchbook!

The Apocalypse Tapestry is known as a Tapestry with no back – the back is as clean as the front! Images of destruction and mayhem – interspersed with little bunnies that run into holes in one tapestry and climb out several tapestries later. And, the fact that records show when it was commissioned 1373, and by whom amazes me!

And the Lady and the Unicorn is pure poetry!

Tapestry Camp

July 28th, 2017

Been away at “Tapestry Camp”, a retreat with Rebecca Mezoff at Colorado State’s Mountain Campus. Can’t think of a more beautiful place to weave! It’s about 1.5-2 hours from Fort Collins up very twisty dirt roads at roughly 9000 feet!

image of mountain campus

I hiked, sketched, met wonderful new friends, and wove!

image of hikers
Hike in the mountains

Bob and I flew to Denver and visited with Mary and Estes, then I left for camp and Bob stayed with them, saw a Rockie’s game, and continued his summer of trains by visiting train sites. We both had much fun. I managed to fall on my face and spent most of time in dark glasses, a story for another day, but didn’t let it stop me.

Image of quick sketch of mountains
Quick sketch before class

The gist of our retreat was to be influenced by our surroundings and develop a weaving from our experience. Right up my alley – PROCESS! – I also wanted to work on making smoother curves etc. I love the aspen leaves and decided to use them – to concentrate on their rounded forms. So I began by photographing and sketching, then exploring colors.

Image of aspen leave Image of aspen leave studies
Designing my project

Six dent Hokett looms were part of the retreat and Rebecca supplied wonderful yarns to use including these oh, so wonderful Weavers Bazaar yarns. The weaving in my last blog post was done on an eight dent Hokett with much thicker yarn. Now I used the six dent loom warped double creating a twelve epi design with much finer yarns.

Image of 6 dent Hokett Loom being warped Image of Weavers bazaar yarns
tools and fibers

Rebecca introduced me to eccentric outline weaving which allows the curves to become smoother esp if using colors from each of the adjoining blocks of color. That and the 12 epi with finer yarns did the trick.

Image of final weaving
Off the loom – still needs finishing.

I still have a way to go with this new skill but I’m much happier with the results than with my last project of bison horns. But…not so happy I had to discover more expensive yarns which are not available in the US and have to be imported… Champagne taste and a beer budget…

Process…and Practice

July 14th, 2017

I am heading to Colorado for a little loom tapestry workshop and thought I should review what I had learned earlier this year…Well…It’s a good thing!
I decided to work with the sweet little horns I saw on the bison at Fermi Labs, so I made lots of sketches, cropped my photos and narrowed it down to a simple design derived from the slight curve on a wooly background with just a bit of reflection. I know I need practice with curves so keeping it simple seemed like a good idea.

sketchbook page final sketches
sketching

I was happy with my design and warped the loom. Lots of redos and I still need a lot of work on curves. And I did my soumak rows backwards. and I messed up with my meet and separate – try as I might… gots lots of work ahead of me.

Tapestry off the loom
Off the loom and still has to be finished but THIS WILL BE REDONE!
Rebecca has her work cut out!

Where is the Summer Going?

July 8th, 2017

Been a while… trip to Chicago for Bobby and Liz’s wedding – beautiful wedding and got to spend time with my sister, Nathalie, which was a treat as she lives in FL and we don’t get to see each other very much! Did a lot in a short time, visited Fermi Labs (that was a treat) and photographed bison, got into Chicago which I haven’t been to since I studied at Lake Forest many years and another life time ago… Did an architectural boat tour and to the Museum of Science and Industry to see their train exhibit which was on Bob’s list. Saw Hope and Cindy coming and going in Columbus… so that was a major quick trip…oh did I mention it was a road trip!

Image of Robert and Liz McQuade Image of Wilson Hall at Fermi Labs
Wedding and Fermi Labs
Image of Bison at Fermi Labs Image of Bob Emmott photographing at Museum of Science and Industry
Bison and Bob

Been working on a web site for a neighborhood group which is coming along but taking longer than it should due to my eye surgery…but that’s been fun working with the members of the group. Other stuff here and there but… WHERE’S THE SUMMER GOING… Getting ready for a trip to Colorado – visit Mary and Estes and then study tapestry with Rebecca Mezoff – this is not a road trip! Once I’m back, we hope to get in a trip to Maine and then school will be starting. I will no longer teach at Philadelphia University but at a hybrid called “Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University)” – I’m not to say “…formally Philadelphia University” so I won’t – I’ll say “…formally Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science” which it was and still is in some hearts!

Monoprints with plants

May 23rd, 2017

I’ve been wanting to do something with leaves etc that I saved from last spring and summer and now that my eyes are on the mend I decided to try some mono printing. I have previously printed from natural objects that were glued to a base and ran through a press but I don’t currently have a press and I wanted to try various ways of using the same material more than once. These leaves have been sitting in a pile on my table all winter and finally ended up in a bag hanging from my bulletin board so the time had come.

First experiments
First tests of monoprinting with plants

Some were used alone, some in combination with each other, and some repeated in the same print. I used a mix of red, green, and yellow inks as well as straight black. Some results are more successful than others but I really am excited about the whole process and may combine this with some of my rusty bit prints.

Leaves after printing
I love the look of these leaves after they were used for printing.

Here are the leaves I used (and the “helicopters” from the maple trees). Think they will have a future life as well!

My Eyes…

May 19th, 2017

Haven’t posted for a while but on May 2, I had cataract surgery on my left eye and two weeks later on the right. I chose special lenses which were to work with the astigmatism I have and restore my normal site to not needing glasses – just some readers. I thought I was pretty together about this – seems like everyone and their sister my age has had this but I realize I was fixated on eyes. I drew my eyes, I photographed them, I journaled about it, I even included mention of eyes in some rusty dyed fabric stitching.

sketch of my left eye.
Sketch of my left eye.

After the first one I did see without my glasses – incredible! And bright lights at night were now one source of light instead of the multitude of sources that I had been seeing. And, whites were white – the world wasn’t washed in a golden light – is that why its called the “golden years”?
But only in one eye. For two weeks the other eye still needed glasses and still had lots of bright light sources and still revealed a golden world. And each eye was fighting to see who was boss – very tiring. Then last Tues Dr Fung did the other eye!
Whenever I’m anxious sketching helps. All I had was my iPad, so I used that.

Rough sketch of Bob.
Rough sketch of Bob waiting for them to wheel me away!.

Here’s a sketch I did of Bob who was waiting for them to wheel me into the operating room. Done with my finger on my iPad with my eye very dilated and iv tubes in my arm. Turns out the red bit hanging up is an important part of the pre opt operation. If the sign is still up, the patient isn’t ready to go!
I’m still on antibiotics and anti swelling drops, still have to wear a plastic shield at night but… it worked!