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/ .
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 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Each student brought their own yarns and small portable looms as well as inspiration from magazines and photographs.
This year in Lo de Marcos one of my goals was to set up a small natural dye space. I went in search of an oval crock pot and was successful in finding one that had off, warm, low and high temperature choices. And it was also on sale, even better. I had a friend bring me a candy thermometer and timer while she was on a trip to Arizona over Christmas. I had hunted everywhere here and could not find those items. But I did find inexpensive large metal spoons. I asked a friend from Oaxaca to bring me some cochineal bugs and powdered indigo. I found alum (alumbre in espanol) at the hardware store in La Penita. Everything was coming together. I had brought a skein of Pollika Lace bluefaced Leicester which I had purchased at Maiwa before leaving for Mexico. I was interested in how it would take the natural dyes and whether it would be suitable for tapestry.
Since this was an experiment I made the 100 gram skein into small skeins, scoured the skeins, mordanted with alum, and then proceeded to dye the yarns. When it came to using the cochineal, I purchased a wooden pistle for grinding up the bugs.
You can see from the first photo my dyeing with cochineal. I tried to get a variety of shades of the gorgeous fuschia colour those bugs shared.
I also dyed skeins of yarn with an orange blossom from a coreopsis plant which I harvested the first few weeks I was here and I froze the blossoms in preparation for dyeing.
The small piece of wool yarn on the far right in the above photo was non-mordanted and solar dyed.
My last experiment with the dyes was to combine the two dye baths, more coreopis, less cochineal and this was the result. The skeins looked very much like they were dyed with madder.
I wove this small rooster in a tapestry workshop taught by Lynne Curran in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in the summer of 2010. It has taken me three years to find the perfect way to hang this little guy….a small metal frame which has a glass door that opens.