Elaine Duncan

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Dyeing with coreopsis in Mexico

by on Oct.15, 2018, under Blog Posts

I like this time of year….lots of plants for dyeing with.  Here in Mexico it is the season for this coreopsis plant.  The blossoms are bright orange.  The yarn is wool which has been mordanted with alum and cream of tartar.  I like to use a crock pot …. bring the dyebath up to temperature on high, leave for one hour, then reduce to low for 4 hours.  The yarn is evenly dyed and not needing a lot of tending.

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Small Format Tapestry 5: Crossroads

by on Jan.09, 2018, under Blog Posts

The Lost Soles (Souls)

This tapestry was entered into ATA’s STI 5:  Crossroads exhibition which toured to two venues in the US:  August 17 – September 30, 2017 UNT on the Square in Denton, Texas  and Handforth Gallery in Tacoma, WA from November 15 – December 30, 2017.  In Mexico we are constantly finding single broken soles in the dusty streets and at the beach.  Always curious as to who owned them and why they were discarded.  This was my inspiration for the tapestry.  It measures 10.5″ by 9.125″, the warp is cotton seine twine and the wefts include cotton, wool and silk fibres.

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ATA Unjuried Small Tapestry Exhibition

by on Mar.04, 2016, under Blog Posts

This is my entry into the ATA Unjuried Small Tapestry Exhibition, Tapestry Unlimited, opening in conjunction with Convergence in Milwaukee this coming summer.  “Opening Doors”  measures approximately 8.25 ” wide by 9.5″ high and is woven with cotton seine twine warp and a variety of wools for the weft.  I wove it from the back of the tapestry using a cartoon with just a few vertical and horizontal lines.  I sewed the long vertical slits as I wove and bundled the weft threads on the bobbins using a combination of thick and thin yarns.  It was like a journey as I had to make decisions of what came next.  I look forward to seeing the tapestry in the catalog.  Our tapestry group from Vancouver Island (Tapis) has a group entry into the show.  This is always a fun show to see as there will be many tapestries from around the world.  Catalogs are available from the American Tapestry Alliance website:  http://americantapestryalliance.org/exhibitions/ .

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Taller Mexicano de Gobelinos

by on Oct.26, 2015, under Blog Posts

The Mexican Gobelin Tapestry Workshop

Located at Contreras Medellin #288 in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico,  the Taller Mexicano de Gobelinos is hidden behind the door on the right.  There is no signage on the outside of the building other than the number.  The window on the far right is open and we peered into the room and discovered a tapestry weaver working on an upright loom.  He kindly left his loom and opened the locked door so we could visit.


Pedro weaving at his loom


Pedro offered to show us the other looms that were in the workshop.  These are traditional Gobelin style looms, each one was a different size.  The weavers had cartoons attached so they could follow the outlines as well as smaller drawings hanging from their looms.  They also used felt pens to mark the warps as well.  The bobbins were traditional pointed wooden bobbins and they used heavy metal hand beaters.  The warps were cotton seine twine sett at 6 or 8 epi and the wefts were singles wool yarns quadrupled.  The seine twine was very close to a #18 in size.  The wool yarns for the weft were from the state of Guerrero in Mexico.  All of the tapestries that I saw here were commissioned and designed by an artist.


Two young men weaving at a large loom


This man was weaving the heading in preparation for weaving

This was one of the completed tapestries waiting for slits to be sewn and finished.

Two tapestries still attached to each other waiting for finishing.


The tapestry weavers here at this workshop wove from the front of the tapestry and were very fast in their motions.  They hitched on and off.  We were very grateful to Pedro and his fellow weavers for taking the time to show us around and tell us about their work.  Muchas Gracias Pedro!























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Natural Dyeing Summer 2015

by on Sep.05, 2015, under Blog Posts

The past two weeks have been spent dyeing with natural dyes yellows and reds.  It has been a lovely time using my crock pot and a pound of fine 2/20’s worsted wool purchased the previous summer at Convergence in Rhode Island.  I divided the cone of yarn into 40 small skeins which some mordanted with just alum and others with alum and cream of tartar.  I plan to use this yarn with a heavier yarn for weaving my tapestries.  I will wait for a few weeks and then over dye some of the yellows to get more greens and some of the cochineals to get purples.


The dyes used from left to right:  Coreopsis from Mexico;  Achiote from Mexico;  Osage Orange from Canada;  Gardenia Pods from Canada;  Marigolds from Mexico;  and iron used on Osage Orange skein.


The reds from left to right:  Cochineal from Mexico and Madder from Canada.




























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Visit to Huichol Village in Mexico

by on Feb.19, 2015, under Blog Posts

Welcome to the Huichol Village:  Centro Ecoturistico, Tawexikta Lugar del Sol, Bienvenidos.

A group of seven fibre artists toured a Huichol community north of Tepic.  We woke early and left Lo de Marcos at 7 am.  We drove to Tepic for breakfast and then continued north from there to a hydro electric dam on a lake where we caught a small motor boat to the village.


The Dam


The boat awaits our arrival to take us to the Village


The Village


The old mixed with the new...new bricks, new roof, Coca Cola signs

We visited the school children


Artisanias setting up their beautiful beadwork and yarn paintings.


A Cleansing ceremony performed by the Shaman


A dancing ceremony with handmade musical instruments

Everyone together...dancers, artisans, Shaman, Musician, and tour participants


Peyote, a symbol of the Huichol people, grows in a garden.


Soon it was time to return to our home after a delightful day in the Huichol Village.

We had a delicious meal served at the small restaurant with a tour of accommodation just in case we would like to return and spend a longer time in the Huichol Village.  And then we got into our little boat and returned to civilization.  This was an extraordinary as well as, delightful, time for all of us.


Adios lovely people!

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Bandhani Shibori Maiwa

by on Dec.23, 2014, under Blog Posts

Bandhani Shibori Shawl

Purchased from Maiwa Handprints on Granville Island, Vancouver, BC was this lovely undyed silk shibori tied shawl.  During the past summer I dyed the shawl in successive indigo vats knowing that when the shawl was dry, it would look lighter.  I brought the shawl to Mexico with me and started to un-do all the wrappings and slip knots holding the threads in place.  You can see where I started in the top right hand corner.

The finished product

After the ties were removed the above photo shows the finished product.  The shawl had originally been folded a couple of times and then the layers of fabric were all tied together in the knots.  This shows why it looks different in different areas.  Apparently to retain the texture the shawl should be dry cleaned.  I should also mention that I am happy to use the leftover tie threads, which appear to be cotton, in my tapestries.  The threads have a great variation in the shades of blue.  A wonderful by-product.

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Wedge Weave Book Marks

by on Nov.27, 2014, under Blog Posts

Wedge Weave Book Marks woven by Audrie Sands


Audrie Sands, a very good friend, sent me photos of some wedge weave book marks she had made for gifts for the holiday season as well as for her own use.  I think they turned out really well.  Congratulations Audrie!

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Natural Dyeing Workshop 2014

by on Nov.02, 2014, under Blog Posts

The results of our efforts


During a two day workshop on Natural Dyeing, four students participated.  The first day we dyed to achieve yellows…tansy, osage orange and fustic in the morning.  The afternoon was devoted to reds…cochineal, madder and logwood to give purple.  The next day we spent with indigo and woad…dyeing natural whites and then overdyeing some of the yellows to give greens and the cochineal coloured yarns to give purples.  This produced a full range of colour.


Overdyeing with indigo producing greens and purples



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Making Waves Workshop July 2014

by on Jul.13, 2014, under Blog Posts

Last week was our workshop titled, “Making Waves”.  It was for intermediate tapestry weavers where we worked with the shape of the wave as our inspiration.  We looked at different wave shapes and used pick and pick and wedge weave to weave stylized and realistic wave shapes.  I have included photos of the students’ samplers.  Excellent job by everyone.


Woven by Jenny Tindall


Each student brought their own yarns and small portable looms as well as inspiration from magazines and photographs.

Woven by Bonnie Nicholls

Woven by Linda Alexander

Woven by Marguerite Band

Woven by Audrie Sands

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