Those gnomes are still not helping me with the weaving, but they were seen having a marvelous time in the woods of north Georgia. In fact, judging by the drawings scattered around my studio at Hambidge each morning, they do like to draw quite a lot.
At the end of my time at Hambidge I was able to take a day to visit Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina. Tommye Scanlin and Bhakti Ziek are two amazing masters of fiber art. Tommye is a tapestry artist and has been a big inspiration and mentor for me over the last half-decade. Bhakti has also become a mentor in a wide variety of ways. She is the master of jacquard weaving but also has a vast knowledge of weaving and weave structures.
The two of them are teaching an 8-week concentration in textiles at Penland. They have 12 motivated students who are working on everything from tapestry to complicated weave structures to overshot to indigo dyeing. I was quite impressed by the variety of projects these students are working on.
My first blog post was April 20, 2008. Somehow it has been nine years of blogging. My first post was about a tapestry called This Time I Dance which was purchased by a friend of a friend.
The blog has evolved a lot over the last nine years. It has absolutely been the driver for my career as a fiber arts educator and I am so grateful to all of my faithful readers. Some of you have been around for that entire nine years--and I don't just mean my parents! (but thanks for reading Mom and Dad).
(Hint: Read full post for discount code for Little Looms online course!)
I love long-distance hiking fiercely and unapologetically.
I love long-distance hiking (backpacking to many of you) with the same engrossing focus that I love tapestry weaving. I think both activities bring my brain to a similar place where worry falls away and creativity slowly spins out bit by bit. Something happens and I find myself completely invested in the activity, just waiting to see what comes next. When I'm weaving, there is this little voice that is always wondering, what will happen here? What will this color do? What if I move this sequence over by one warp? And though that sounds completely boring, in the moment I am absolutely engaged.
After finishing the big design at Hambidge, I moved on to some small weaving projects. Of course I wasn't able to bring a big loom to this residency, so I worked on my galvanized pipe loom, a Mirrix, and a Hokett loom.
One of the things I wanted to work out was how to do a four-selvedge weaving that was shaped. Of course you can use a home-made pin loom to do this, but I don't like weaving that way as you don't have a shed. I wanted to use the method that I learned from Sarah Swett using a jig.
This is the fussiest warp I have ever put on, but it did work. After a talk with Tommye Scanlin this week, I have another idea to make this easier. We'll see if I can perfect it. Here is the first try. The orange is flyline backing which makes up the supplemental warps. This is a fussy material to work with, but since it is a braided fiber instead of spun and plied, it behaves better than using warp does. The supplemental warps can be pulled out at the end and used again.
I spent some time weaving down by the creeks that run through the Hambidge property. Sitting by a creek, listening to the frogs and the water while weaving on a little loom is one of the best ways to spend a bit of a life.
The last couple days I wove this little piece. It is called, "Pete pulls a rabbit out of the hat." Unfortunately, the real Pete didn't actually manage to pull a rabbit out of a hat in the long run, so a second tapestry will have to be made. In the finishing I need to clean up a few things. In the next version I will also use a slit instead of a warp wrap for the bottom of the nose. This version makes him look like he has a mustache. That bow tie also needs a little accenting.
Many of the craft schools in Appalachia feature weaving in their beginnings. Mary Crovatt Hambidge (1885-1973) started Hambidge Center as a weaving business in her home. In the mid-1930’s she created the Weavers of Rabun near Rabun Gap, GA, where I am sitting today. By 1937 she was selling the items produced here in her shop in New York City.
After about a week of hard work, I finalized this large tapestry design. You can see part of it in this image. This is the next large work you’ll see me weaving. I struggled with imagining how big the design was actually going to be, so I did a mock-up in paper full size. This allowed me to see what parts of the form were going to be more difficult to weave, how to adjust things to make the curves better, and decide what sett to use. It also impressed upon me just how big this piece of weaving is. It will be a massive dye job followed by a whole lot of weaving.