Thursday, July 12, 2018

tapestry changes

for many years the only weaving besides darning socks  i did was tapestry.
they were small,
less than seven inches in any dimension, most about three square inches.
i wove many one of a couple  little canvas stretcher frames
or sometimes on warp wrapped round a book.
i made dozens and dozens.
at first they sold for $35.
i used all kinds of weft yarns
everything from quiviut to raw flax.
and much wool and dmc embroidery floss.
i also made igolochkoys with a tiny punch needle
with silk and cotton thread which allowed
for imagery that was more complicated than my fairly thick warps allowed me to make.
i didn't make so many of these.
they often had animals on them,
celebrating my other passion,
the animals filling up my now fallingdownbarn.
every single one of these except the ones my dog Tater chewed on
is somewhere else, not in my possession.
the tapestry thread basket is still here
then came a period when i was studying shifu and making kami-ito
and books for my papers and stories and poems
and i wanted to make shifu books.
of course.
i was trying to make fringe-free discreet pages.
i was driving my subaru one summer when it came to me
(i know it was summer because i remember my bare legs under the steering wheel)
make a loom that is just warp and weft at once.
and is plain weave.
which is what tapestry is, except tapestry is scrunched together,
weft beaten down to completely cover the warp
but it's still plain weave.
anyway, make a loom--a stump loom.
                    side story: i later discovered that the amazing jim bassler
                    started making four selvedge pieces about when i did,
                    inspired by the same weavings. he wove with nettle, i with paper.
i went into the paper mill and found a 4 x 4 x 8 chunk left over from a deck project

i used in the paper press,
and very very carefully eyeballing,
and bearing in mind that i like odd numbers,
i hammered two parallel lines of small brads in the chunk of hemlock.
it's a tiny square, 17 brads in each side
and i took one long kami-ito thread and warped it and began weaving with a nice long needle.
well, my idea had been to make each unit or page with one piece of kami
but that proved too hard with this size
because of abrading the thread before I was complete with the weaving.
I later achieved this with goal a smaller stump loom that's now in the possession of a friend.
i've made more than dozens of shifu squares now. maybe hundreds.
pages for books.
little bags,
little stories,
patches on clothes,
a couple tsunobukuros
sometimes writing on the paper before it's spun
weaving in tales.
some dyed, some printed.
and now
in a return to those tapestry roots i guess
i'm taking an online class with sarah the magnificent
and her friend rebecca (also seemingly magnificent)
called fringeless.
i didn't know that this was coming when i told my PBI classes this history
more or less, you know how stories are,
and said that i really didn't want any fucking fringe.
i'd looked at old peruvian textiles trying to figure it all out
but i couldn't quite, but those ancient ones were calling to me
make it without fucking fringe.
or, as sarah says, fringeless. 
the side story: 
 my first weaving was fringeless.
pot holders.

one loop doesn't              
  count as fringe.
       my first tapestry was woven when i was 17.
  there was fringe. 
and beads,
and holes. 
    and linen! delicious linen.
     it was 1975 and i had a lot to learn.
      but i was smitten.
detail of how i solved the top fringe problem.
pretty clever for an untrained weaver.
this is my new pipe loom for fringeless,
the class
here she is with the warping jig taped in to see if it fits
i wonder where this will take me.
or if, 
in frustration because of computerese and my inability to understand it, 
i give up,
but i've constructed my loom, my jig, and have fly line.
i have yarn here, or if i need any i'll make it.
 since beginning this post,
and because i don't have the heart to do more right now,
one of the dogs you sometimes see here, the orange and white setter,
our friend Gwen, has died.
i'm sad, but it's ok.
she was a fine bird dog and a good companion, 
my partner's best friend.


  1. may gwen rest in peace. she had good friends, too, in you and m.
    and he was right: that is a fine loom!!!
    i love that you put the story in one place about your weavings and stump looms. it's amazing how far you've gone and it seems like it has been forever that you've been at it. i guess it has now as time FLIES.

  2. aimee, you are so sweet, the loom is fine, the jig will need to be altered for warping, but it fits! yes, time is a weirdo thing, and it was only yesterday, last year, when i was young.

  3. mo, gwen will, totally on her own terms. she was such a strong minded animal, and very, very calm.

  4. Hi Velma! Back in the late 90's and early 2000's I was weaving tiny tapestries out of wool, silk, linen, and other natural fibers which became jewelry - pins, pendants, etc. Sizes ranged from 1x1" to 2". Sold every piece I made. I loved working in such diminutive ways. Still do, but the weaving in of ends was the least pleasurable aspect. I read about and tried the Peruvian four selvedge way with some success. Then in 2009 Sarah shared with me her fringeless way of weaving. Much better, especially with all her little tricks. I know you will enjoy the Fringeless class. Anything Sarah teaches is a blast and treat! I plan on registering just to be able to catch up on all the details and extras that she always shares. She is such a fun and amazing person.

    Losing a beloved family bird dog is hard. Sending you and your partner light and peace.

  5. Love to you both as you say goodbyes to Gwen.
    Love the stump loom for many reasons, but including this photo...with the light and the imperfection to that little line of 17 and the glory of this hunk of wood!
    The weaving course sounds fascinating.
    Be well xo

  6. bonnie, i remember the first of the miniature tapestries was in 1982. the first igs came along a couple years later. i sometimes woven ends in, sometimes not, but mine were mounted, not worn! less work for me! i'm excited to hear of our parallel paths!
    nancy, thanks. the stump is one of my favorite tools, crude as it is.

  7. sending you an email, so happy we are doing the tapestry together.

  8. yes, we have parallel paths, velma! since meeting you in clayton, I have been smitten with book binding, taking classes from Peter and Donna when they are in town. and a few years ago I took a paper making class from a friend of mine. and of course, I have been spinning all kinds of fibers since the 80's...though have never spun 'paper'. right now on my floor loom I have a very fine (30 epi) warp, 4" wide of tea-dyed silk thread (50/3) which i am weaving as background cloth on which will become the scroll of a scrolling book (another technique I learned from Petr and Donna). I will most likely embroider sacred geometry designs (a passion of mine) on the cloth, which will become the 'story'... of sorts.

  9. jean, me, too!
    bonnie, oh that synchronicity!

  10. love for you and Gwen.
    love to see all your weaving.
    and ha, for me, the fringe is my favorite part, although I did do some scaffold patches way back.

  11. jude, thanks. i do like fringe...sometimes! (i had a brown suede fringe vest in 1970 or thereabouts). but not when i want to make pages. mostly.

  12. it's interesting the way people are going back to tapestry where they started their weaving life.don't know whether it has to do with the direct manipulation of yarns or the quest for a simpler way of life or what.
    wonder when i'll take the way.

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