Spring has come, all of a sudden everything is green… and magenta and yellow and violet—Philadelphia has a very wild burst of color when spring arrives. I’ve been busy working on a new set of paintings but I spell it with stitching.
My latest “rabbit hole” is a fiber book based on my grandmother, her mother, and her mother. Using many bits and pieces from their collections of saved fabric, lace and trims—my grandmother was the youngest and as all this was passed down it ended up with her and then to me—I descend from savers or some might say pack rats. All three women sewed so there is a wealth of scraps.
Slowly the pages have been taking shape as things are rearranged and reassembled. I learned to print photo’s on fabric—that was a big break through… my dyed fabrics make an appearance as does my stitching. And finally I made a commitment on a cover. So here is the cover and the pages for each woman.
The cover is piece of canvas dyed with tea and rusty bits. It is stitched and has self ties. When untied it reveals a pocket with a photo of me with what I thought was a most wonderful hat when I was four years old.
Three generations of women, all “Stitchers”, although I don’t think they would have used that title.
Other pages and spreads consist of fabric and buttons and feathers and prints and lace and … some are still in the works…
These women have inspired this book but it isn’t necessarily about them but rather about women in general, things that were important to them in their time and that belonged to them in their time.
This week the world has gone to the dark side or so it seems. So much hate and violence, fanned by those who should unify and comfort and put a stop to this. I can’t paint at a time like this with angry/sad thoughts racing through my mind. But the slowness of stitching, its zen like calming, focus on the task at hand—that’s where I burrow in and find some sanity.
This project has been in the works for a long time—first as the long green warp woven with Theo Moorman’s Technique. Much of it involved squares. Now it’s cut apart and I’m embellishing the squares to bring out their personalities—woven portraits of time and space.
It doesn’t fix the world but it allows me to gather the strength to live in it.
Here’s a selection waiting to be finished and framed.
Some might still be worked on – they let me know.
After the intense art retreat in VT, I really needed some down time before heading home. We headed for a place we have stayed before in Machiasport, ME—all the way at the end of the peninsula—the road ends in the driveway—high enough to see over the trees to the ocean but with a magical path down to it’s own beach. We stopped in Machias at the Hannaford to buy groceries and made it in time for wine on the deck as the sun set. Let the unwinding begin!
View from the deck.
The next day was misty and over cast – perfect to laze about in, but we did take a short run back up the road to Jasper Beach.
I always think the ocean gives you gifts, you just have to look and this day was no exception. Bits of seaweed, sticks and feathers, lichen and of course those Jasper Beach stones!
Jasper Beach closeup and my new treasures.
Back at the house I used the small bit of wood as a tiny loom and wove a tiny tapestry to commemorate our visit.
Jasper Beach Tapestry.
The next few days were sunny and we headed to Campobello in Canada (Important rule – always travel with your passport!) and to Maine’s Quoddy State Park for days of hiking, photographing, and just being! That’s another post…
Two of my little Tapestries are in current expositions. Here they are with an image of their installation. I won’t be able to get to either exhibition—my work seems to travel more that I do— but I’m excited to be included in each!
“Have a Cup of Tea with Me” is in the ATA (American Tapestry Alliance) exhibition, “The Biggest Little Tapestries in the World!” in Reno NV. This piece will be included in the exhibition catalog.
“…and She Looked out the Window” is in the Webster Arts Gallery‘s exhibit, “Warp and Weft”, in Webster Groves, Missouri.
I’m new to tapestry weaving and am thankful to both organizations for giving me a chance to exhibit my work!!!
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.
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!!!
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”.
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!
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.
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.
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…
So, I have a lot to learn and I learned a lot.