Sunday, April 24, 2011

Postcards and new friends

Over the Easter weekend Bill and I took time to work on our joint project.  Bill collects postcards, and he thought it would be fun to paper the powder room with some of his collection.  We have been slowly working on it for a couple of years.  So this weekend we managed to mount some more of them.  Eventually we will cover the walls above the chair rail.  So far we have only a wall and a half done.  So a visit to our powder room does not have to be dull at all.

Friday Karen Hampton came to visit.  She is a fiber artist who teaches at Howard University in Washington.  Her work is a marvelous exploration of her very interesting family in Spanish Florida.  Lots of images that are seen through layers of printing and embroidery.  It was such fun to make a new fiber friend.

Another friend sent me a link to Brown Grotta's blog.  You might want to check it out at Arttextstyle.  There is also a link there to the new show at the Textile Museum, an article about Lia Cook's recent work, and some stunning pictures of Grethe Sorenson's three large jacquard tapestries for Trondrud Engineering in Norway.  

Friday, April 22, 2011

New colors

I am trying out new colors for the Rock Creek Spring piece.  I am definitely not a "pink" person.  I won't even plant pink flowers in my garden, but the Eastern Redbud is such a striking tree that I have to make an exception for it.  Although it is hard to see here there are some outrageous purply pinks and yellow greens in this gamp.  The new leaves have the most amazing acid yellow green to them.  I hope I can capture that.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Time and designing

I always say that designing takes far longer than weaving.  The last two days have been justification of that statement.  I have finished weaving Rock Creek the second try, but do not have a picture to show you yet.  It is still on the loom.  The next piece is again Rock Creek, this time with spring images collaged and paper woven.  

I had forgotten how time consuming paper weaving can be.  
And for a bit of a change I have been designing new presets for four color stitched double weave based on five shaft satin.  There are 112 possible combinations. I am up to 32 now.  Alice Schlein helped me with the stitcher placement, when I couldn't get my mind around that. After doing some of these I now believe Alice and Bhakti did not charge enough for their book The Woven Pixel.  They take an enormous number of largely repetitive steps--except that one has to pay attention all the time, since (at least for me) it is so easy to make mistakes.  I am in awe that they put so many of these weaving presets into the book and CD.  I will use these structures in some other new work I am developing--not the Rock Creek series.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Moving along

The new version of Rock Creek is moving along, and I am designing another that tries to capture the elements of spring in the park:  Eastern Redbud, new beech leaves, and runoff from spring storms.  The initial design is done.  I now have to cut it up and weave it in the paper.  Then I will scan it again and start doing the modifications in Photoshop.  But the picture above shows the first design about 2/3 of the way. It looks like it will be easier to "read" than the first version.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


I should never be a gambler.  After fussing with various small mistakes in my warp I started to weave on Rock Creek 2 yesterday.  The four shuttles rotate in a particular order, and I knew the order.  I just did not know--and for some reason couldn't figure out--which one to start with.  So trial and error took over.  I had a 1 to 3 chance of getting it right the first time.  Wrong.  So there was a 1 to 2 chance in the second try.  No.  By the third try my odds were even.  But even there I was wrong.  So that left only one alternative, starting on the blue shuttle.  So I am glad I am not a gambler.  It could get expensive really fast.  You can see my trials at the beginning of the weaving above the orange hem.

I think I am getting a bit more definition in the design this time, but we will have to wait and see when it is off the loom.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Rock Creek, Woven, Rewoven

The next piece had a long gestation.  Four and a half years ago we had a fire and had to move out of our house for six months.  That was six months with no loom!  I had to weave something, so I took up collaging photos, cutting them into strips and reweaving them.  Never keep a weaver from her interlacements--too dangerous!  One of these was a study of Rock Creek Park near where we live.

Last month I decided that it would be interesting to see what the jacquard would do to this image.  I realized that there would be some degradation in the image due to the greatly reduced number of pixels available, but I had not anticipated that the result would be so hard to read.

So now that I have a new warp on the loom I am going to try again with slightly different choices for the 17 colors and a sharpened and reduced pixel count in the design.  Instead of using half of my ends (655) the new design is 328 pixels wide.  Then when it is blown up for weaving and the aspect ratio is adjusted there are always two ends and picks at a minimum in each color area. I have also made some adjustments in certain design areas to clean up the design.  It is a tedious process but somehow addicting.  Since the weather promises to be quite beastly out today with a big rainstorm, it will be great fun getting back to the weaving.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Now back to work

It has been a busy week.  We have hosted five Thai students, which has been fun, but it has cut into the weaving time.  On Tuesday I took them to Mt. Vernon which is beginning to flower. 

In between times I have been warping and tying on another black and white warp.  

Here it is on the warping reel.

And here It is being tied on.  I use an overhand knot to tie on.  I find it more secure and faster than a weaver's knot--although that may sound heretical.  With fine threads it is not difficult to ease through the heddles, and there is no more bulk on the beam. 

Today I met Bhakti and her sister to visit a trunk show at the Harmon Center in DC and for a delicious dim sum in Chinatown.  

So now it is time to get back to tying the rest of the warp on.  This is one of those tedious parts of weaving that I cannot say I especially enjoy.  But it must be done.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Some catch up

There are a number things I would like to post that are not up to the minute--not created today.  But it would be nice to have them here for the record.  So some of this will be catch up.

It is wonderful to have a deadline again.  I used the excuse of Bhakti's visit to do a lot of work in March and wove two pieces.  The most important piece is called "Pixilated Forest".  It is destined for a large space above my living room fireplace--a chimney stack that rises about 20'.  So the weaving needed to be large or at least long.  The finished piece is 28" wide and 84" long.  It is also woven in four color double twill.  The sett is 45 ends per inch, and the four weft colors are brown, blue, green and red orange.  I achieved the block effect by radically reducing the pixels in the design and then blowing the design up again to 1310 wide.  

Here is a detail where you can see the weave structures much better.  I like all the color blending you can achieve with a choice of four wefts, two warps and three twills.  It seems very pointillist to me.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Stimulus, stimulus

I am just starting to come down from four days of almost non-stop stimulus and excitement.  Bhakti Ziek gave the program, a mini workshop and a two day workshop for Potomac Fiber Arts Guild this weekend.  She arrived Thursday to stay with me and joined our complex weaves study group on Friday.  We fit in a quick dash to the Textile Museum on Friday afternoon.  While I had met Bhakti earlier at the Denver HGA Convergence, we did not really know each other.  But my did we connect on lots of levels--personal and professional.  It was a joy to find such a kindred spirit.  Her workshops were full of insight, and she challenged us all to push ourselves.  The critiques were especially helpful.  She is such a generous, open and yet insightful teacher, so she drew concrete and positive analysis from us all.  I have a lot of new ideas gestating and this helped to give them some form and direction. Now I need some time to get back to work and let them percolate through my consciousness.   

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Experiments in four color double weave

This summer after taking a very stimulating seminar at Complex Weavers in Albuquerque with Alice Schlein, I came home determined to try four color double weave.   So I got out my Woven Pixel by Alice and Bhakti Ziek and got to work on samples.  Here are the three attempts I made with images of iris.  The warp is end and end black and white in 20/2 sett at 60 epi.

Here is the first Iris in four color double weave.  The warp was 880 ends wide.  I reduced the file to 440 because of the double weave structure. The four colors are burgundy, green, orange and light yellow.  The yellow areas cast decidedly green, and I lost a lot of definition from the photo.  The weft is rayon embroidery thread.  It gives a nice shine.
The second attempt was more effective although the design was not any more defined. But I like the effect. This one had green, orange, blue and beige wefts.  The file was reduced to about 110 pixels wide, simplified and then enlarged to 880.  This produced the pixilated appearance that you see here.  I rather like it.
Here is the third attempt.  The four weft colors were red, violet, blue and green.  It makes a very dark composition.  I also used 4 to 1 as the aspect ratio.  As it turned out that was twice as many picks as I should have used.  But the elongated vertical pixels are rather interesting.  But at 162 picks per inch, I don't think I will weave much yardage like this.


After enjoying Alice Schlein's "Weaverly" blog for many months, I have decided to join the conversation.  A visit from Bhakti Zeik this weekend made this possible.  She has walked me through the setting up process and graciously provided many helpful hints.  While I am sure I will not be blogging as often as Alice, it will be nice to get some of my work out there and receive a bit of feedback from you, my readers.  So on to the new adventure. . .