Lace 2 - A long term tapestry project 
Here are some images of the progress of the tapestry 'Lace 2'. This work has been on my loom now for some time, almost two years I think and in that time I have spent about nine months weaving on this tapestry. I am just over half way, just past the first eye. The tapestry features my youngest daughter Elissa - a portrait of her from about eight years ago. I took a black and white photograph of her face and a coloured photograph that I took of a magnolia tree that was just starting to come into bloom - a metaphor for Elissa's life at the time of designing this work.



The sett for the tapestry is 13epi (13 threads to every inch) and the warp is a 12/6 cotton warp, so a fairly fine one. I had always wanted to weave a large fine tapestry and this one is 'it'. An eighteen month project in total. The work measures about 115cm across and will be approximately 167cm long when it is complete. The weft threads are mainly wool, with some silk and polyester cotton in various shades of black, dark green, blues, yellows, white and pink. A fairly limited palette, but I think the colours are working well. There is a lot of colour graduation in this work entailing hatching to achieve this. Also heaps of small shapes, with often five or six bobbins working in a three inch space. So no wonder that it is taking a long time to weave.



Here is an image closeup of the bobbins on the work. The bobbins are lovely to work with. They sort of 'sing' as they knock together during the process and aso look lovely hanging from the fell line. There is no deadline on this work, and it goes on 'hold' when I have other things to do, such as commissioned work or exhibiton work. But one day it will be finished and I am looking forward to cutting it from the loom in about another two years time!!!! A definite rebellion against 'instant gratification' as I sometimes say to visitors to my studio.



This image shows a closeup detail of the work, showing the characteristic ribbed effect of tapestry. This is how you can tell a 'real' tapestry from an embroidery or a jacquard weaving, often called tapestry. These textiles do not have the 'ribbing' of the warp thread showing behind the weft threads. The light is catching the silk threads in the work. I am stitching all the slits in this tapestry, even the very small ones, as there are so many slits and turns around the warp ends. This can cause a small amount of buckling in the weave, but I find that if I stitch the slits as I go then the buckling is reduced to a minimum and the stitches help to keep the tapestry firm and solid as I weave. So I am very pleased with its progress so far.




More images from 'A Common Thread' 
Yesterday I travelled back to Timaru to attend the NZ Tapestry Network meeting and whilst there also visited the PWN exhibtion again and took some more photographs.



Here is a close up view of Wilson's lovely table setting. It is unusual in that it is made up of three long pieces that overlap each other on the table forming six places. Woven in double weave it makes a striking setting for entertaining guests at dinner.



We were all very shocked and sad to hear in January that one of our members, Robin McLaughlin passed away suddenly after a short illness. Her superb transparency and the blue tablemats have been travelling with the exhibition since September and here we have a photograph of these pieces. The transparency was woven in linen and looks lovely hanging in the window with the tablemats on a small table below. Robin was an excellent weaver who loved weaving with linen yarns. In 1997 she took over the weaving supply business Glenora Craft, running it from a building alongside her home in Dunedin. She will be sadly missed by all the members of The Proffessional Weavers Network and other textile people all around the country.



Here we see Rose Pelvin's lovely red huck-lace table setting. To go with the tablecloth Rose wove festive napkins, napkin rings, coasters and candle rings. The whole setting makes a very strong statement.
We have had excellent feedback about the quality of the work in this exhibition and visitors are 'wowed' by the impact of the display in such an unusual exhibition space.






A Common Thread  
Early this week Wilson, myself and Alison Francis from Auckland travelled down to Timaru to hang the Professional Weavers Network of New Zealand exhibition 'A Common Thread' in the Function Centre of the Landing Services Building. This wonderful old stone building is one of the oldest in Timaru and is situated down near the waterfront and the port. I had no idea what to expect as far as the exhibition space was concerned and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to hang the work in this space. The walls were stone that had been plastered over with a white plaster and the floor was an old wooden floor. Te whole effect was very rustic and suited our weaving very well.



Here you can see a view of one corner of the space with Alison's lovely rug in the foreground. Ashley Millikin Furniture Court supplied the furniture for us as this exhibition features contemporary textiles for interior spaces. My tapestry 'Musicians' is on the back wall at the right and one of Trish Armour's small tapestries is visible on the left with Anne Fields wall hanging in between the two works. This wall hanging features stainless steel threads.








Our Official Opening for the Studio 


Last Wednesday evening we had an official opening for our studio as we are now all settled in and working well together. It was a lovely gathering with a number of our friends coming to help us celebrate our new space. This photo shows some of our friends and visitors. Gwen on the right is chatting to a visitor from America who is making her way down to Timaru to the Woolcraft Festival which opens next week.



Anne and Wilson with Nigel from the Arts Centre Management. Anne's husband Edward and Leslie Taylor in the background. We are looking here at Wilson's loom in the foreground and Anne's computer assisted AVL loom in the background. Wil's loom is a Mecchia 8 shaft jack loom and he is weaving fabric for women's jackets. He has two computer assisted looms in his studio at home. Funny isn't it how obsessive we weavers are about looms and we tend to gather them up. I am not better owning three looms altogether.



Valerie Osborn and Wilson being a bit cheeky at me with the camera. Valerie is an excellent weaver and has taught Wilson a lot since he started weaving. She is very good with colour and also works with a computer assisted loom in her studio at home. She is a member of Artisan Fibres in the Arts Centre.


The shift is Completed 
Well, it is finally 'done'. The shift into my new studio is complete and yesterday was the first day that I could actually sit down and weave for about three weeks. It has been a long hard job with ten years of 'stuff' having to be sorted in my old studio, shelving units all painted up nicely and everything that would not fit into the new studio has had to find another home and be stored. But it is all done now and I can finally get back to normal. It will take a wee while to adjust to the new space. It is much smaller than the old studio but I should soon get used to that. I will have to be much tidier I guess, and try not to accumulate too much more. I should have more flexibility about my hours of work as well. I am sharing the space with Anne Field whose studio it has been for the last 20 years, and Wilson Henderson, for whom this studio is his first public space. A new venture for him too.



Here I am, looking all forlorn and small in a big empty space!



As you can see from this photo my section of the new studio is definitely smaller but I do fit in quite nicely. The guys who helped me shift managed to carry the big light table up the stairs and that was a bit of a mission, but I was so pleased that they were able to do that. It was very heavy but it fits nicely into the far corner. I have the two Lapponia looms in this space and my big loom has gone into storage in a shed out at Wilson's place.



This view shows my tapestry 'Lace 2' which is still a work in progress and Wil's jack loom with some of his work around it is in the background. Anne's big AVL loom is to the right behind Wil's loom but is not visible in this photo.

















State of Chaos in Studio 
My studio is in a state of chaos at the moment as I am in the middle of shifting it all into another space. I am moving with my friend Wilson Henderson into Anne Field's studio space and will be sharing with them. It is all a bit of a mission as this new studio space is smaller than what I have now, but this means that I have to organize my space better and store some of my ten years of accumulated 'stuff'. The last few days I was painting my shelving units etc and that was also rather difficult as we have been having temperatures up past 35 degrees centigrade, so the paint was drying almost as fast as I was putting it on. The benefit of that was that I could do two coats in a very short time. These photos show that state of chaos that I am in. Yesterday I shifted a number of my yarns into the new storage for them, and today will be back into painting the rest of my studio furniture.





In this second photo you can see the tapestry 'Lace 2' still in progress. I have been working on it since my exhibition work was completed and have woven about 10cm all the way across since the end of November. On Monday my big loom will be taken down and will go into storage out at Wil's place as he has lots of big sheds out there in Loburn where he lives. We will also take the other two looms to the new space and all my shelves and drawers etc. so hopefully by the end of next week I will be settled again. Next weekend I also have to help set up the Professional Weavers exhibition 'A Common Thread' at The Chamber Gallery in Rangiora, so it is a busy time for me, and not a lot of weaving is being done. However, I am working hard at home drawing a large work for the Margaret Stoddart Award at CoCa next month. The theme for this award is New Zealand flora, or plants, flowers etc, and I have chosen to draw the Marlborough Rock Daisy and the New Zealand Iris. I took photographs of these plants in the Botannical Gardens, manipulated them on my computer and am drawing from the resulting image. So the work metamorphoses from one medium to the next.



This photo shows the first drawing of this work which consists of four drawings put together to create one work. I am drawing with conte and charcoal, and these are very much like paintings with a drawing quality about them.



This photo shows the work in progress. To the right are the first two completed drawings and the one on the left is the third work. I have now finished this one too and started work a couple of days ago on the last one. These last two drawings will hang to the right of the first two. I will post images of the work when it is completely finished. Each section measures 1metre x 71cm so it will be a large work altogether.

















Exhibition at CoCA 
Well, it has been quite a while since I put my last entry into my blog. My main focus over the last few weeks was getting my work completed for the exhibtion at CoCA. It is all now finished and the work is hanging in the exhibition. The opening was just over a week ago and it has taken me all this time to get on to putting up the photographs etc. The opening was a very nice event with a number of my friends and family attending. I was so busy talking to people all night that I quite forgot to take any photographs of the opening, so was rather annoyed at myself for that. However here are some photographs of the work. I was really pleased with how the exhibition has come together.



The photographs shown here are all dealing with things like cracks in the pavement, little dead birds, fallen leaves in the gutters etc etc. I am attempting to show beauty in the things that we normally do not see, or walk over unaware of how they look.



The tapestries were hung on the back wall and the drawings to the right.






This drawing was the second one of the fallen camelias. I draw with the coloured conte crayons and charcoal and the end result is a work that is somewhere between a painting and a drawing. I love drawing the fine details and am sure that my tapestry practice has influenced the way I draw.



I loved working on this drawing. It is very detailed and took me about two weeks working in the early mornings for about 2 hours and again in the evenings for another two hours, so a lot of work but I was very pleased with the result.



This last image shows two of the 'Undefoot' photographs. For the last few months I have been walking around with my camera and my eyes glued to the ground and some of these photographs have turned out very well. I print them up on my Canon Fine Printer on to Fine Art Arches Digital paper and then they are pasted on to a board and framed in a box frame in the same way that I frame the small tapestries. They are then sprayed with a UV filter spray which helps to protect them. They are in an edition of 5 so can also be sold unframed.










Tapestry workshop in Palmerston North 
Last week I was in Palmerston North teaching the Manawatu tapestry weavers colour and design in tapestry. We had a great week, very full on, and the students produced a lot of work and hopefully learnt a lot. They were quite out of their comfort zones with some of the design exercises that they had to do, but were pleasantly surprised that they could actually achieve good design concepts to weave. My goal was to teach them that they could use their own images as a starting point for something new. We also worked on colour blending exercises, learning how colour works in weaving and finding many ways to mix and blend the yarns.


Beth, Jeanette and Joy working on their colour exercises.


The group discussing their designs


colour exercises


Some of the designs and weaving that was produced during this workshop.


This was Gwynneth's design that was the result of a line drawing of vases and pots, which was then cut up into strips and rearranged and glued down on to a fresh sheet of paper. Gwynneth then drew into the shapes and finally used colour to create an abstract composition


In this design, Beth placed a grid on acetate over a portrait photograph and then drew into a grid on her paper, using colours chosen from the corresponding grid space on the photograph. A lovely abstract drawing resulted.

This workshop took place at Heather Adlam's home and I would like to thank Heather for her hospitality and warmth which rally made my stay so enjoyable.















Work continues and Paradise ducks 
I have been working hard in my small studio at home on the small tapestries for my exhibition in November. These small works are a spinoff from my 'Beachcomber'tapestry which was in the 'Land' exhibition in Canberra last May. Beachcomber has sparked a whole new series of work, my 'Underfoot' series. The first small tapestry is 'Small Blackbird' and is 10 x 16cm in size. I completed this one about two days ago and have now started on the secoond wee work 'Two Sparrows'.



I am not using realistic colour as you can see from this photograph which was taken when I had just started the row of sumak before the top heading. The design for 'Small Blackbird' was very complex and I have simplified it a lot though it still looks very detailed. It actually seemed to take an age to weave though I was only working on it in the early mornings and in the evenings while the light still held.



I started 'Two Sparrows' yesterday morning and completed the heading then, and last night continued on the main part of the tapestry. This one is also 10 x 16cm so I turned my frame upside down and am working on the same warp as 'Small Blackbird'. So they will both come off the frame together. You can see from the cartoon how I have simplified this image. The colour is a little more realistic, but is still not wholly natural. I am enjoying weaving these wee tapestries but am finding that my body is complaining a little, as I am still working on the larger pieces during the day in my studio at the Arts Centre. But when a deadloom looms, one has to keep on working!!

I took a break yesterday at lunchtime and wandered around town with my camera and took this photograph of the Paradise ducks and their babies. This is the first sighting for this spring of the baby ducklings. The mum, the one with the white head, was hugely fractious and actually attacked a seagull who dared to fly a little too close to the wee ones.



The Paradise ducks are Pasture birds but the last two or three years they have colonised the city, and there is a pair roughly every 50 metres along the banks of the Avon river which winds through through Christchurch. This pair live between the bridges on Worcester Boulevard and Hereford St. and this is their second year breeding there. The ducklings are lovely little black and white striped creatures and their parents are very good parents. They are shelducks so are slightly larger than the grey ducks and the mallards and they pair up for life. I am hugely entertained by their antics on my way to work each day.










A Tapestry in the Contemporary Art Collection  


Last weekend I went to a breakfast given by the Friends of the Christchurch Art Gallery where Julia Morison and I talked about our collaborative tapestry 'Raiment'. The tapestry has been put up in the Contemporary Art Collection at the Christchurch Gallery and it looks really great alongside the works of Christine Webster and Bill Hamond. Our talk went very well and everyone was very interested in the concept that Julia designed and the interpretation that I put on her work. A lot of interest was also shown in the techniques of tapestry and they were all amazed at how much detail could be achieved in tapestry. I pointed out the different setts in the work which created a lovely contrast in textures. Julia said that she was really happy to see her work developed in ways that created something new from her first concept. Together we were able to make a work that neither of us would have achieved on our own.



Here the tapestry is hanging alongside Christine Webster's large cibachrome photographs. The top photograph shows the tapestry alongside Bill Hamond's painting.









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