Stuff Happening in the Studio
Yesterday was a different day in the studio because the guys were drilling the broken chimney above the studio. They were drilling 4 metres down into the stone to be able to put steel rods in to stabilize the chimney. There is no fireplace in the studio or in the basement below us but the chimney goes right down into the basement so there must have been some fireplaces in this building at some stage. The drill made a terrible noise and I felt it all in my teeth!!! Sounded like a very bad dentists drill. Ha ha!
Here is the tapestry commission that I have been working on for a wee while now. The tapestry is a memorial for the man featured in it. His wife has commissioned me to weave the tapestry which will pass on down to her son one day.
I have done about three weeks work on it now and yesterday i decided that the tonal value of the mouth was wrong, too dark, so I took it out and needle wove it back in, with a lighter value. I think it looks much better. i have actually done quite a bit of 'unweaving' in this work so far, as the tonal values are so important to get right.
Here you can see how I have lifted the woven section above the mouth and taken the weft threads out, leaving the warps bare.
It is always a bit of a pain to have to unweave a section but it is worth the effort in the end, and if it is done as soon as possible then it is not too hard. It would be really difficult to do after the weaving was completed. I learnt this the hard way many years ago when I agonized over a tapestry that I wasn't happy with and thought that it might be okay. However, I ended up undoing almost half the tapestry and reweaving it. A big lesson, and now I always say, 'If in doubt, take it out!!"
What a shaky few days we have had after our major earthquake early on Saturday morning. Today was the first day we were allowed into our studio and I was quite surprised to find that it was mostly alright - no damage to any work or to the looms either, so all good. However my corner of the studio has quite a good crack in it and my light box table, computer and printer were covered in concrete dust, small stones, rusty nails and dust and more dust. It took me a good couple of hours to clean it up. You can see the dust sitting on top of the small tapestry 'Do not Stare' which is a collaborative work with Paul Johns.
Yarns were thrown all over the floor, but the shelves did not fall down and it did not take too long to get them back up in place again.
And here is another view of the yarns on the floor, also showing my latest commissioned tapestry on the loom. Luckily this had no damage either. I have been working for about two weeks on this tapestry and it is going along nicely.
One of the saddest sights I have seen today is the cutting down of the old gingko tree in the South Quad. I can see this tree from the window of my studio. Unfortunately it has had to come down because it is very close to the Observatory Tower, which also has to come down, little bit by little bit. I do hope that it will be able to be rebuilt, but am not sure yet whether that will be the case. Below is the view from my window showing the Observatory Tower and the gingko tree in the process of losing its life. I think it was one of the first trees to be planted in the Arts Centre, so a very sad day to lose it. I can't imagine the Arts Centre without the Observatory Tower and am just going to hate watching that come down too.
Finally - The Cutting Off
Last night was the night - the cutting off of Lace 2. It has finally happened! The tapestry is off the loom! Hoorah! We had a great celebration. Almost 50 people, friends and family turned up for this event on a very wet, cold miserable evening. But what a lovely time we had.
Friends enjoying the evening. Caroline Bull, in the purple scarf,is chatting to Gwen Cairney with two of my sisters-in-law, Claire to the left and Marilyn to the right, looking on. Caroline and her husband Geoff Low, brought a friend, whom they introduced to me as Richard, to the cutting off and I was awed and excited when I discovered that he was none other than Richard Nunns, who is a most amazing musician specializing in ancient Maori music and bird song. He gave us a wonderful surprise, when to quieten the crowd so that I could introduce Lissie, he brought out a greenstone whistle and beautiful bird song suddenly filled the studio. Awesome! Thank you so much, Richard.
Here I am introducing Lissie, standing in front of the tapestry.
Lissie cutting the warp threads.
And here it is, the right way up at last.
And today after lunch and a very hectic morning, a very understanding student who put up with me rushing here and there and giving her only a little attention, pinning and sewing the side seams and the velcro on to the tapestry, gluing the velcro to the baton and finally we were able to hang it on a wall in a spare studio in the Arts Centre and photographs were taken. Here are Lissie and I posing while 15yr old Connor takes our photo with the finished or almost finished tapestry. Still some threads to sort out at the back of the work and the sides to be finished stitching. All good and so pleased to have it finished after so long.
The tapestry is fiinished.
Hooray! I wove the last of the heading and the last row of soumak knots yesterday and now the tapestry is finished. It is sitting on the loom waiting for the weekend when Lissie will cut it off. So I have a whole six days without any weaving to do. Good for my body probably but it will feel a bit odd not having a tapestry on the go. However, I have some drawing to do and a garden at home to sort out and housework that could be done, so I will keep busy.
The Millennium Tapestry coming down from its place in the Mayoral Chambers
Yesterday morning the Millennium Tapestry was taken down from its site in the Mayoral Chamber of the Christchurch City Council. It is going to the Christchurch Art Gallery to be stored until later next month when it will be hung in its new place in the brand new City Council Building. I went along to watch it come down from the wall and checked it out for any damage and also gave it a light vacuuming to get any dust off it. It is actually in very good condition. This work was woven as a community arts project for the year 2000 and almost 3000 people in Christchurch and visitors had a hand in the weaving of the tapestry.
Here is the tapestry still hanging on the wall in the Chamber, whilst discussions go on as to the best way to take it down.
Rolling the tapestry from the bottom
The guys balancing on top of the ladders as they gingerly remove the tapestry from the nails, lifting it out and down.
And down it comes! Me! I was on the other end of the camera, watching proceedings and thankful that they didn't drop it. I don't own this work any more, but it is surprising how proprietal I feel about it.
And here I am! Almost finished vacuuming the tapestry. It was quite dusty, especially along the top where it was attached to the baton.
Two more weeks to finish the Tapestry
On the weekend of the 7th August my daughter Lissie and her husband Ian and son Connor are coming to Christchurch. Lissie is going to cut the tapestry off the loom and we will have a celebration. It will be so good to have this tapestry finished. It has been on the loom for so long and it is now time to get on with other work. Since my last posting on Monday of last week I have progressed a lot and there is now two more weeks left to finish the work. I think I am on track to do this.
And now at last I can see Lissie's second eye. If you tip your head to the left and look at the work that way, the eye is quite clear. Hurrah!
I am getting there. I went into the studio early today and worked really hard and on the left side I have only about three inches to weave to get to the top. The border at the left has reached the top.
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!!
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.
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.