More Progress 

These two photos were taken on Thursday 15th July and as you can see I am moving up reasonably quickly. Yesterday I completed the second eye and moved up even further, so I am hoping that today I will complete the top of her eye - the blue secton to the left. I still have three weeks to go if I want to get my entry in for the Art Award exhibition that I am aiming to finish this tapestry for. Still not sure I will make it but am feeling more hopeful now. Working very hard each day seven days a week at the moment. Thankfully my body seems to be coping quite well with the extra work, long may it last!!

Another Progress Report 

As you can see from this photo I am now working on the left hand side of the tapestry, building up the second eye. The last two mornings here in Christchurch have been very cold, minus 6 degrees centigrade yesterday morning and not much better this morning, so good frosts have covered the ground. My hands have been so cold that it has been hard to weave and I spend a lot of time dropping the bobbins. It is almost lunch time before the studio warms up properly, so it is a bit of a battle.

The Changing Fell Line 
These two photographs were taken yesterday the 9th July, showing more progress on 'Lace 2' Three days work from the last images.

This photograph shows a close-up detail of the tapestry.

The Changing Fell Line continued 
This photo was taken yesterday evening after another two days work since the last entry.

The Changing Fell Line 
I have been working hard on 'Lace 2' over the last few weeks and progress is being made. I have decided to post images of my progress on this tapestry as it is nearing completion though probably still at least a months work on it to do. The fell line is the top line of the weaving and it changes daily as the weaving progresses. Here are the first three images of the work over the last week.

This photo was atually taken over maybe two to three weeks ago when I had just completed the shadow on Lissie's nose.

A lot has happened since the last photograph and this photograph was taken four days ago.

And this one two days ago. I am working, as you can see, on the right hand side of the tapestry, building up the dark areas. There are lots of small colours coming into this section of the tapestry but they are not really visible in these distance photographs. I will post some details soon.

The photographs do not show the correct colours of the work as they are hugely influenced by the light in the studio when I take the photos and as they are only progress shots I am not being too careful to get the light absolutely right to take the best photograph.

Anita's tapestry is finished 
Anita's two weeks with me has finished and she completed her tapestry sampler and cut it off the loom last Saturday morning. She is very happy with her progress and looking forward to starting a new work at home. She took a frame home with her with a warp on it and a design all ready to start weaving. She is also putting together her Glimakra Regina tapestry loom and will be working on that some day soon.

If anyone reading this blog is contemplating a holiday in New Zealand at some time why not book a week or two week's accommodation and tuition with me in my home and studio in Christchurch. You can contact me from this blog page or e-mail or phone me at any time. Contact numbers are on my website.

Anita's Tapestry is Nearing Completion 

Anita's time in my studio is fast coming to its end as it is now Thursdy evening and she is flying home to Australia on Saturday afternoon. Her tapestry is looking good with the last exercises to do tomorrow. Saturday morning will be spent in cutting off the tapestry and finishing it ready for hanging.

Anita started her tapestry with simple straight lines and stripes to enable her to get used to the weaving process, concentrating on bubbling the weft so that it would not be too tight. Curves with an outline introduced her to building shapes and weaving the circle was another lesson in shape building. A circle is one of the most difficult shapes to weave. The black and white pick and pick came next and this is a very interesting technique which can find a multitude of uses within a tapestry.

One of the most important techniques learn is the simple hatching. This technique is one of the main ways of blending colours and involves recognizing the different sheds to allow the different colours to overlap.

The blue shapes are indicative of cloud shapes and here Anita was learning the difference between hard edged shapes and how to soften them by mixing the colours together on one bobbin.

Today she worked on regular hachures, weaving the long arrow shapes the was a technique prevalent in the early tapestries for blending colour. The last exercise is a series of diagonal lines, learning how to weave straight diagonals and outline the shapes to form lines.

My New Student 
My new student Anita arrived a week ago and has been weaving in the studio ever since. She is a new tapestry weaver and is learning the techniques on a sampler that is very reflective of her home country, Australia.

Don't you love the colours, rich reds, russets and oranges. For the last two days Anita has been working on colour blending through hatching, learning how to mix and blend colours that contrast and also those that create subtle blends. This afternoon she started building small blue shapes within a red/russet background in preparation for the weaving of her first tapestry.

'Within the Square' The Travelling Suitcase Tapestry Exhibition 2010 
The Travelling Suitcase Tapestry Exhibition is now packed up and on its way to the next leg of its journey in Dunedin. It was exhibited here in Christchurch in the Cloisters Gallery in the Arts Centre recently for two weeks and had a lot of visitors and a lot of positive comments. This exhibition is held every three or four years in New Zealand and consists of the work of tapestry weavers around the country. This is the second time that the Canterbury Tapestry Group has organized this exhibition and our thanks go to all the group and especially to Gwen who has shouldered to bulk of the work in organising the couriers and the itinerary. It has been a huge job for her and she has done it superbly.

Here are some images of the opening night of the exhibition in the Cloisters Gallery.

Leslie, Diane and Meg chatting at the opening.

Here we see Ria chatting with Jean, Gwen,Dave and Sue in the background.

Here we see two overviews of the exhibition. The tapestries are stitched on to boards that are covered in black cloth. The brief for this exhibition was that the tapestries could be any size or shape up to 20 x 20cm. The black boards set off the tapestries beautifully and they all slot easily into one big box for the travelling. The first exhibition was held a year or so after Archie Brennan's visit to New Zealand in 1993 and we have managed to keep it going albeit not every year since.

The Tapestry is Finished 

Here are the last images from Helen's Studio Experience and workshop with me. She is now winging her way home to China. I asked her if she would write a little about her experience here in my studio and has given me permission to do with it what I want. So here is her story.


Recently, I completed a tapestry workshop with Marilyn Rea-Menzies of Christchurch, New Zealand. The experience included six hours of daily studio time and accommodation at Marilyn's home. I must say that both the instruction and the accomodations were excellent, and Marilyn a marvelous teacher and a most gracious hostess who never once groused over my many interruptions while she did correspondence with friends and family or her daily Art at the Ktchen Table series of pen drawings. Let me share with you some of the lessons I learnt from Marilyn through our many discussions at the loom and the kitchen table.

Tapestry is more than the conjunction of warp and weft. It is art. It is bilingual, for it is spoken of in the languages of weaving and art. Also, it is intellectually challenging because the weaver is constantly engaged in interpretative and adaptive decision-making. More significantly, tapestry is passion, not patience.

At every juncture of the weaver's interaction with weft and warp is a constant decision-making, from design concept to the act of weaving itself. How to convey, using weft, one's vision? How is a non-artist, like me, to proceed from my own design conception to actual design to cartoon to tapestry? Marilyn Rea-Menzies showed me a manageable soloution to this dilemma that provides a foundation for my continued growth as a tapestry artist.

The act of weaving is the act of constantly adapting. I learned that inflexibility is not a desirable attitude in tapestry weaving; instead, you adapt according to the interpretative decisions that you make. It is this constant adaptation and interpretation that makes tapestry so intellectually demanding, I think.

Interpretation is a key aspect that is played out in color, tone, shape, texture, weft and other aspects of tapestry. Since the tapestry itself is a work of art, it needn't be - or shouldn't - be a replication of another work, either by oneself or someone else. Instead, the tapestry is an interpretation of the design as one conveys it from paper to warp and weft.

I must confess that I came to Marilyn's workshop with a somewhat pedestrian perspective on tapestry' however, I've been converted to realize that it is art, in and of itself. It is passion, too.

Though some tapestry projects can be of long duration, tapestry is passion because the creative and interpretative acts that compel you forward requires that quality, and not patience. I have a somewhat limited supply of patience, but tapestry never begins to plum either its surface or depths.

These are some of the lessons instilled during my two-week workshop with Marilyn Rea-Menzies, and they have become the firm foundation of my future as a weaver. I will always remain profoundly grateful to Marilyn for the insight, the patience, humor, and the passion with which she taught me.

Great workshop; excellent teacher!

Helen Cadogan

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