Category Archives: Wall Art

Tension and symmetry

AKA – Adventures in Weaving, Part I

After the enforced break between my birthday and actually being here to use my present, I was itching to start weaving … so almost as soon as I got unpacked, I strung my loom and got to work on my first piece … it’s essentially a sampler piece, just practising the techniques and trying to find my way into it. I’ve based it on the sampler in Kirsten Glasbrook’s ‘Tapestry Weaving’ primer, working my way through the geometric forms and learning how to make different structures, shapes and rhythms with warp and weft.

The techniques themselves I find relatively straightforward, but to get the piece absolutely “right” is much, much harder … the amount of concentration needed is far, far higher than for quilting, embroidery or any other form of sewing, and I’ve found my piece gradually narrowing as I’ve headed on up – a common error, apparently, caused by too much tension on the outer warp. As a result, the symmetry is distorted – which is frustrating, but on the whole, I’m pretty pleased with my first effort, even with the obvious flaws and errors.

The process itself is absolutely fascinating – to immerse myself so totally in the slow addition of one line of weft above another, and see a piece of cloth gradually flowing out underneath it, the need to be so completely in the moment to transmit my intentions through the yarn, is new to me, and is something that I have connected with, so that I know weaving will be something that is a permanent part of my life.

I’m going to weave another sampler along these lines, perhaps in different colours, and working on softer shapes and curves, but I’m already generating ideas in my head for further weaving projects … and it’s changed the way I look at things, re-imagining pictures and textures in terms of blocks for weaving. Once I’ve mastered the basics, the next big lesson will be translating images into weaving patterns …. something I’m already excited about.

What has been equally fascinating has been Honey’s response to weaving … initially dismissive (we did that in year 1. It’s easy), she’s become gradually more and more interested, sitting with me and asking questions (and bearing with me as I finish a shed before I answer, or mutter curses as I unravel a row I did wrong because I was talking to her and not paying attention to what my fingers were doing), to the point that she asked to have a go. So I duly strung a warp on an old picture frame, and set her on her way:

She’s braver than me, mixing a hefty cotton with a delicate chenille on her first attempt – but then she’s not interested in the ‘rules’ – she’s just following her own internal dictates as to what she wants to do.

Perhaps that’s not such a bad way to go.

It looks like we’ll be teaching each other to weave over the next few months.

Anthriscus II

More work in progress for the Anthriscus piece …

With the background panel finished, it was time to start on the foreground embroidery:

The organza was just too sheer, so I replaced it with tulle … which brought its own set of problems, since the hexagonal structure was too open for the detail embroidery of the flowers themselves.

I made an ink drawing of the foreground first, and laid it underneath the tulle as a guide. The stems were straightforward enough … running stitch through the tulle, with the ends darned back in:

To make the flowers, I appliqued organza over the tulle, basting it in place …

And then for the fine embroidery … a combination of miniscule wheatear stitch, fern stitch, fly stitch and the occasional french knot … serious eye-trauma with all that translucent shimmering organza over hexagonal tulle, and back-ache to boot. But worth it, I think:

The organza got trimmed right back, and the basting stitches were removed once the flower itself was finished. There was a point where I thought I was never going to finish …. no matter how fast I embroidered, there always seemed to be a vast expanse still awaiting cover. But I got there in the end, and once I’d finished the frame with some strips of leather from an old coat, I was *so* pleased with the result.

It’s been submitted, so now I’m hanging on waiting to hear if I’ve made the exhibition. Fingers crossed.