Monday, December 21, 2015

Happy Holidays to All

Long ago, before we were all photoshopping like mad, I had an idea for how to send out "Handwoven Tapestry" holiday cards to 80 people, without weaving 80 tapestries or even paying for 80 prints.

You can read about my Tapestry Holiday Cards in an older post on this blog. Just click the link.

A few days ago, I took the time to visit the Newport Art Museum. This is where my "large" tapestry, "Chaos: After the Storm" has been residing since late August, in the Art League of Rhode Island Members Exhibit. At the opening reception, in September, it was so mobbed that I only got to see half the show, and none of it from a distance. (NOTE: you can click on any photo to see it bigger)

Here is my "large" tapestry (21x33," not so big, but large for me), looking rather small and insignificant hanging on a VERY large wall, among larger works of art. (Second from right, on the bottom) Oh well, it will look enormous hanging in my studio next to its much smaller siblings. Here it is all by itself.
The 2015 Tapestry Diary, is almost done! I will post the complete diary once it's cut off the loom, sometime in January. Meanwhile, here are some tidbits: On TOP is December (Chagall) and a bit of November (Rothko) MIDDLE is October (Jawlensky) and BELOW is September (Johns) and a bit of August (Klee)



Enjoy your holidays, and I'll see you next year, in 2016

Friday, September 18, 2015

Still Here, Still Weaving

Sorry for being such a lazy blogger......these days it seems easier to just post a few photos on facebook with my iPad mini, instead of firing up the laptop. How times have changed....

The big news is that the BIG tapestry (big for me, 21x33") is finally finished, after languishing on my Glimakra loom for over 3 years!!! The title is "Chaos: After the Storm." I got it done just in time for the Art League of RI Members' Exhibition at the Newport Art Museum. The dates are September 5, 2015 - January 3, 2016, and the reception will be Friday, September 25, 5-7pm.


I hate to spoil the surprise, so until after the exhibit opens, I will only share details, not the entire tapestry.

Meanwhile, my small tapestry "Forest Through the Trees" has traveled to Australia, as it was a finalist for the Kate Derum Award for Small Tapestries. I am so honored to be chosen for this exhibit, which "was created in honor of the former Deputy Director of the Australian Tapestry Workshop, who passed away in 2008. She was a wonderful role model and leader, and influenced the lives of many young artists." (And some old ones too)


You can see the fabulous winning tapestry by New Zealand artist Marilyn Rea-Menzies here, and if you scroll down there is a downloadable pdf. catalog.

My small tree tapestry, "Anticipation," is traveling with the American Tapestry Alliance's Small Tapestry International 4: Honoring Tradition, Inspiring Innovation.

STI4 opened first at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, LA; the second venue is the Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover DE, October 2-Nov 22, and the third venue will be Artspace in Raleigh, NC, from January 16-March 5, 2016. Details on the ATA website. That's a long time for a little tapestry to be away from home.....

I just got back from my annual vacation on Cape Cod, and as usual the sunsets were amazing. I came home full of ideas for new work and resolutions for improving myself (haha). Much more than January 1, September feels like the real new year.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Tapestry Diary Update

I explained in my previous post about what this year's tapestry diary is all about. You can read about it here.
By now you have probably heard about the crazy snowy winter we had. It started with a blizzard on January 23, 19 inches of powdery snow. After that we had 2 or 3 snow storms a week for about 6 weeks, and then went down to a storm a week until the very end of March.
My February diary was based on a Paul Klee painting that was all saturated colors blended with black. When I started it on February 1st we had only had 2 snowstorms, and little did I know what was ahead!!!

So by the time March rolled around I decided it would make sense to weave something white for the next month, using a painting by Cy Twombly, "Study for the Presence of a Myth." (above)
For April I am using a Miro painting "Peinture." The warm (for April) yellowish color is very hard to capture, so I have created at least 10 different weft blends. This one will be really fun to weave!


Unfortunately I rolled the warp around the loom before getting a picture of the entire diary so far! Here is a photo of most of March and April 1st.
Below is a photo of January, February and part of March, so you can get an idea of what the whole thing might look like now. I took the pictures with my iPad so the colors a bit off (the whites seem to burn out cause of my bright Ott light)

I measured and I am very happy to see that I can fit the entire year on the same warp. Yay! Less finishing!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

2015 - New Year, New Tapestry Diary


This year will be my 5th tapestry diary. I started in 2010, then took 2011 off, and started up again in 2012. You can read more about my philosophy in earlier blog posts, all the links are on this entry.

It certainly makes New Years into an exciting holiday!

(Below: Dec 2014) 
The basic idea is to set up a plan, with rules, so that every day I can sit down and weave for 20-30 minutes, without having to make any major decisions. It is a small thing, but when you do it every day, then all the days add up to a year, which is not a small thing.

(Confession: in 2013 I decided to weave 5 days a week and take weekends off. That makes it much easier to catch up if I have to miss a week day because of travel)

This is the 2014 tapestry diary, just cut off 4 different looms, and still looking very messy. Since we were traveling for 4 months, I designed it to fit on a small wooden frame loom. Each of these is one month, and they are 3 inches wide. Sorry it's not a very good photo.

Since we knew we would be overseas for 3 months, I planned last year's diary to fit on a small wooden frame loom when necessary.

One big problem, since I hate the finishing so much, is that I now have TWELVE separate pieces to finish!!!! Luckily, I remembered to put in a row of knots at the beginning and end of each, so that saves one step. I might even leave the warps showing. I will probably frame them in groups.

The 2015 Tapestry Diary will be woven on this Archie Brennan style copper pipe loom. (Plans are available here for personal use only, not to sell. Or buy one already made). Mine sits on an aluminum artists easel.

For the weaving readers, I am using 8 epi of cotton seine twine. The 2014 diary used 16 epi of fine seine twine, but I mostly wove it at 8 epi using the warps doubled. It was very useful to make steeper diagonals and tighter verticals, but it is so much easier and more comfortable using the heavier warp. My fingers are not as nimble as they used to be.

(Above: the first 2 days of 2015)

The idea for this year's tapestry diary came to me in a flash, on November 11. That's the day our new grandson was born. We were in Switzerland for 3 months, and planning to fly home on November 20, his due date, but he arrived 9 days early, taking us by surprise.

I was in the gift shop at the Basel Historical Museum, selecting tapestry postcards, when my cell phone rang. It was my husband calling from the house (2 hours train ride away).

He had just arrived home from his mountain hike to find an email with the announcement. I stood there with tears of joy streaming down my cheeks, then shared the good news with the cashier, who congratulated me and shook my hand.

I had planned to visit the Basel Kunstmuseum (Art Museum) next, but for a moment I thought "What the hell am I doing here, so far from home and my grandbaby?" It was tempting to hop the next train back to Interlaken so I could at least see a picture of him.

Instead, I went ahead and visited the modern galleries at the museum. I was admiring some abstract expressionist paintings when the idea came to me: each month I will weave my tapestry diary using one painting for inspiration. I will only use paintings I have seen in person.

The following week I visited the Kunstmuseum in Bern to get more ideas.  I jotted down the names of some favorites and then last week I printed a bunch of them from photos online.

I am weaving a rectangle 2 1/2 inches wide and about 3/4 inch tall every day (5 days a week). For January I am using a painting by Sean Scully, called Grey Wolf. There is a short video about it here. (You can't tell, but it is really big). I created a template with transparent mylar, and I use it to find a section that is interesting. Then I use tracing paper and a pencil to make a very quick cartoon. I have a stack of these and will choose one each day, perhaps at random. I don't know if I will use the same approach in subsequent months.

I am undecided as to how many pieces will make up the year. I am thinking perhaps 4 pieces, but I will decide later when I have a better idea how the months will fit together.

So, here I go!

PS A great story about the Basel Kunstmuseum: it belongs to the city, and the people of Basel voted, in the 1960s, to spend tax money to buy a Picasso painting for their museum. Picasso was so moved by this that he donated some more paintings, and then at least one collector donated some, so now they own lots of Picassos!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Thun- Tapestries in Surprising Places

I visited Thun castle in 2000, with my husband, in-laws and kids, but I don't remember seeing any tapestries there.

A few weeks ago my Swedish friend was visiting and we decided to take the lake cruise to Thun, stopping off at Schloss Oberhofen on the way. It's an adorable little castle right on the lake.

Arriving at the larger and more impressive Thun castle, we discovered that it has been modernized, with spiffy new galleries to exhibit various collections. Most of the time, I would rather just see old castle walls, but in this case, I was pleasantly surprised to find three different tapestries.

The first was a part of the spoils of the 1476 battle of Grandson, where the Swiss defeated Charles the Bold (also known as Charles the Rash), the last Duke of Burgundy.

Charles carried treasures of gold, jewelry and tapestries with him to the battle, and the so called "Burgundian Booty," was divided up among various museums in Switzerland.

The most famous are the tapestries at the Historical Museum in Bern, woven in Tournai. I have tried to see them twice, but always seem to arrive when the gallery is closed. (I'll try again soon) You can read more about them on a previous blog post here.

NOTE: click on the images to see them larger.

The tapestry at Thun castle is a very large fragmented piece which is mostly heraldic. I did not find it all that interesting.

One thing I love about tapestries in Switzerland, they always seem to be framed under glass, so I can get as close as I like without any alarms going off!

Photographing through the glass is a bit tricky though, and flash is not allowed, so please forgive the quality of the images.


The second tapestry at Thun Castle is the "Medallion Tapestry," woven in Switzerland in the early 14th Century. Like many Swiss tapestries of the period, it was used on the front of an altar.

The central figure is St Maurice, the patron saint of Thun. Around him are medallions of symbolic animals (including those that represent the saints Matthew, Mark, Luke and John)

This medallion is a combination of dragon and horse, with a lion's tail.

At first I thought it was a griffin, but when I looked it up, I couldn't find any imaginary animal with these attributes.


The third and most fascinating tapestry at Thun Castle is the "Crescent Moon Madonna." Woven in Basel, 1425-1440, it represents the Virgin Mary with the Christ Child, standing on the crescent moon in front of the sun.




This tapestry was donated to the Scherzligen Church in 1450, by Anna von Velschen, the wealthiest woman in Bern, in memory of her husband, who had been mayor of Thun before dying at an early age.

Apparently the gift would guarantee him eternal salvation.


I assume that it is his face we see sticking out from under the Virgin Mary's dress?











I find the weaving style to be charming, the facial expressions, the way the hair and textiles are woven, the lack of perspective (particularly in St Maurice's feet, which look like they are on the wrong legs!)

St Maurice in full armour, next to the Van Velschen coat of arms.








St Anthony, the hermit, with his staff and little bell.


Mary Magdalene, on the left, with angels lifting her up. It is common for medieval representations of Mary Magdalene to show her naked but covered in long hair. According to legends, she was sustained in the desert by angels who lifted her up and fed her manna from heaven.

On the right is St Catherine with her crown, sword and martyr's wheel.