Common Threads: Canada and Mexico
“Common Threads…Canada and Mexico” was woven for an exhibition which was held at the Peter Grey Museo in Puerto Vallarta in 2013. This was a collaborative show of Zapotec weavers from Oaxaca and north American weavers. The show was co-ordinated by Jean Pierre Larochette and his wife, Yael Lurie, as well as the Peter Grey Museo. I wanted to weave a tapestry that would show our common interests with Mexico….hummingbirds, butterflies, Pacific ocean, whales, flowers, as well as our love of weaving. The size is: 36 cm high by 49 cm wide. The warp is cotton seine twine and the weft is wool and cottolin. c2013.
Soul…Searching was woven in 2011. I started to weave it before attending a workshop week in Mexico and upon my return finished it. Woven on a cotton seine twine warp at 12 epi and using wool and silk for the weft materials. It measures 45.5 cm high by 31.0 cm wide. C2011.
“West Coast Inlet”
“West Coast Inlet” was woven as part of our local tapestry study group project where five of us designed the tapestry and then each person wove the tapestry choosing their own sett, colours, tapestry techniques. The basic shapes of the horizon and islands were consistent from one weaver to the next. This piece was woven with a cotton warp and handspun, nature dyed weft yarns. It measures 24″ wide by 36″ high. Private collection. C1998
- “In Mexico the Cock Crows Night and Day”
“In Mexico the Cock Crows Night and Day” is inspired by the Mexican culture. My memories of my first trip to Mexico in 2005 included the noises of the place–roosters crowing, dogs barking, children playing, music playing. This tapestry is woven with a cotton warp with wool and cotton weft yarns. It is 12″ wide by 10″ high. It was exhibited at the Huichol Gallery in February 2006 as part of the Small Format Tapestry Exhibition. c2006.
- “Awakening Dawn”
“Awakening Dawn” was inspired by a sunrise viewed from the bedroom window of a home in Qualicum Beach, BC which overlooks Georgia Strait. It measures 24″ wide by 18″ high and is woven on a wool warp with handspun, natural dyed yarns. Private collection. c2005.
"Be Here Now"
“Be Here Now” is a inspired by the waterfalls in Yelapa, Mexico. Yael Lurie was sitting on the rocks looking at the falls for about 20 minutes. When she rose from her seat, I asked her what she had been looking at all that time. She said she was tracing a single water drop from the top of the falls down to pool at the bottom. She was currently designing the “Water Songs Series” for Jean Pierre Larochette to weave and was getting some inspiration. She was present in the moment and therefore the title “Be Here Now” seemed appropriate. The tapestry is woven with wool yarns on a cotton warp. It measures 17 1/2″ wide by 21″ high. C2006
"Ruins to Tapetes I"
The “Ruins to Tapetes” series of small format tapestries was inspired by visits to Monte Alban and Mitla archeological sites south of Mexico City in the state of Oaxaca. Nearby is a small village of about 3500 people which is well known for their rug weaving–Teotitlan de Valle. Nearly every home in this village is a weaving workshop. In preparation for the weaving, they wash, spin and dye their yarns for the rugs. Many of the workshops use natural dyes collected from plants and insects nearby. At night you can fall asleep to the rhythm of the beating the looms and the clacking of the treadles. Their designs are inspired by stonework in the ruins of Monte Alban and Mitla. The ruins are many hundreds of years old. The arrangements of the stones signify symbols of air, water, waves, lightning bolts, and the life cycle. I wove three tapestries in tribute to the modern day weavers as well as the makers of the ruins. In the pieces I tried to show the rugs arising from the stonework. Although I used commercially dyed yarns I tried to choose the colours to replicate the naturally dyed ones. All three tapestries were shown at the Huichol Gallery on Corona Street in Puerta Vallarta in February of 2007. C2006, 2007.
"Ruins to Tapetes II"
"Ruins to Tapetes III"
"Coastal Rhythms...Ancient Ruins I"
The “Coastal Rhythms…Ancient Ruins” series developed from the previous series of tapestries based on the ruins in Monte Alban and Mitla. Inspired by a visit to a wonderful coastal beach south of Puerto Vallarta, the symbols for waves, air and life cycle are present in both tapestries. They are woven with cotton warp, wool, rayon and cotton for the weft yarns. Both are small format size. The first tapestry was woven for the Small Format Tapestry Exhibition at the Huichol Gallery in Puerta Vallarta in 2008 and was sold and is in a private collection in California. The second tapestry was woven in 2008.
"Coastal Rhythms....Ancient Ruins II"
"Logan Berry Leaves"
“Logan Berry Leaves” was inspired by the wonderful colours of the logan berry vines at the place where I lived. The sun shone on and through the leaves showing wonderful shades of green, red, blue and yellow. I took several photographs and collected some of the leaves in order to weave the tapestry. I used cotton warp and wool weft yarns. The size is approx 8″ wide by 21 1/2″ high. c2007.
"Choices and Changes"
“Choices and Changes” was woven to be exhibited in Australia in the Land Exhibition in 2008. It was inspired by Al Gore’s video on environmental changes. The earth on the left side is as we know it today. The earth on the right side is a possibility of what it could look like many years from now if we do not make changes to our greenhouse emissions of carbon dioxides. Earth will survive the environmental changes but humanity may not survive. I wove this piece on my small 1/2″ copper pipe loom using “blind warping” technique so I would be able to weave a longer piece than usual. I travelled through Mexico weaving my tapestry and when I arrived home I only had a few inches to weave. I mailed the tapestry to Australia requesting airmail, but unfortunately the tapestry took the slow boat and arrived after the exhibition was over. Valerie Kirk was very kind to photograph my tapestry and use it on the blog post for the Land exhibition. Then the tapestry came home again.
Using Blind Warping Technique
“I Am Eternity” was woven in the Spring of 2008 for a private collector who chose the size, subject matter, design and wording. This was an interesting weaving challenge working with many different angles. It lead me to do a study working on diagonal lines to achieve certain angles using my favourite warp, sett and weft yarns.
Corn Maiden Series
I wanted to weave a corn field. But the exhibition required small format (less than 12″ by 12″). So I wove a series of corn stalks 5″ wide by 12″ high. Each corn stalk represented a person in our tapestry retreat in Mexico in 2008. In the lower left side of the above photo you can see all the corn maidens and Jean Pierre Larochette in the corn field. Each corn stalk varied in the colours of the tassels, the corn silks, the height of the stalk, the number of roots each had. When the series was exhibited in 2009 at the Naval Museo Gallery on the Malecon in Puerto Vallarta it was fun to see the audience pick up on the idea. There were a total of 8 pieces—one for each of the seven corn maidens and one with JP and Yael together. c2008.
"La Madre del Maiz"
“La Madre del Maiz” or the mother of corn is part of a series of corn tapestries dealing with the rituals of corn. This small format tapestry depicts the mother of corn being grateful for a good harvest. Corn is the mainstay of Mexico. The people use it not only as a source of food, but it is their tradition or lifestyle as well. This piece was also exhibited at the Naval Museo in Puerto Vallarta in February of 2009. Cotton warp, wool and rayon wefts. c2008.
"La Puesta del Sol"
“La Puesta del Sol” is also part of the Rituals of Corn series. The corn stalks wave in the evening breeze…the sunset marks the time of day to give thanks for a good crop. This piece also was exhibited at the Naval Museo in Puerto Vallarta in 2009. c 2009.
Rituales de Maiz: Danza Otorno
I completed this piece, “Rituales de Maiz: Danza Otorno”, as the third piece in this series. I have been playing with using different materials in my tapestries. In this piece I used cotton for the warp, wool for the background weft, but used linen, cottolin and rayon for the corn stalk. I wanted the linens and cottonlins to represent the dryness and brittleness of the stalks during the autumn season. c2009.
"Nature Designed: Arbutus Bark"
I am currently working on a small series of tapestries using nature as the designer. I live in a small cottage situated in a forest on Vancouver Island, Canada. I am surrounded by gentle giants which are homes to birds, squirrels and insects. As I look around it appears chaotic. There are no manicured lawns, no perfectly planned floral borders, no trimmed hedges. But what looks like a mess to one person, another might see a perfect pattern emerging. There is a kind of disorganized rhythm—a repetition in pattern, composition and colour. When I walk through the forest I become more observant. In order to become better acquainted with Nature, I have chosen to interpret her designs in a series of tapestries: Nature Designed. The bark of the arbutus tree teaches us to really observe the playful colours….lime green, rust, turquoise blue, pinks. The imagery is pictorial but there are many levels of abstraction as well. We must preserve nature in all its forms to keep the Earth alive and healthy. The size is 7 1/2″ w by 11 3/8″ high. It is woven of wool, cotton and silk. c2009.
"Nature Designed: Acacia Bark"
“Nature Designed: Acacia Bark” is the second in the series of Nature designed tapestries. This piece will be exhibited at Stirling Castle in Scotland for the British Tapestry Group “Weaving Within” exhibition in the fall of 2009. The size is: 10 3/8″ w by 17.25″ h. It is woven with cotton warp; wool, cotton and cottolin weft yarns. It was inspired by a tree growing in my son’s backyard. c2009.
Nature Designed: Fir Bark
One evening as I was riding my bicycle into the driveway, I happened to notice the way the sunlight was hitting the trees. I ran into the house to get my camera and spent the next minutes walking around photographing the bark on several of the trees…we have fir, cedar and pine primarily on the property. I then downloaded them into the computer and was amazed to notice how blue the fir bark looked. I printed a copy and decided to weave this into a tapestry. It is cotton warp, and wool and cotton weft yarns. Size: 10.6″ wide by 17.1″ high. c2009
“Art in Nature” is the next series of small format tapestries I decided to weave. The actually weaving on the loom was 4.5″ wide by 5″ high, finishing to be 4″ by 4″ woven and framed in western maple to be completed at 8″ by 8″. So far there are 8 completed tapestries, but more are on the way…. These will be exhibited this summer at the South Broadway Cultural Center in Albuquerque, NM in conjunction with convergence in July. The title of the exhibition is: “Dialogues: Tapestry and Human/Nature” with 6 tapestry artists represented from the 3-2-1 group: Lany Eila, Katherine Perkins and Elizabeth J. Buckley from the US; Linda Wallace and myself from Canada and Dorothy Clews from Australia. The exhibition runs from July 1-August 22, 2010, 1025 Broadway SE, Albuquerque, NM. The hours are Monday to Friday, 8 am to 6 pm. c2010
Textures in bark
Seed pods floating
Debris floating on water
Waterfall on river
Waterlilies on pond
Kelp on sand
Sunlight on tree bark
Continuing with using mother nature as a source of inspiration, I wove two pieces this year based on the ocean/sea/water/sand as my subjects. The piece below was started last summer 2011 and interrupted with our 4 month winter journey to Mexico and thus completed upon my return. “Go with the flow” teaches me to remember the mysterious nature of water which is a fluid energy. Water is soft and appears to flow easily from one place to another. And yet it can exert an incredible force as it shifts mounds of sand and carves away rocks. The water makes patterns in the sand as it pulls the particles out to sea in a wave. It creates a foamy edge where the water meets the sand, white in colour and airy in appearance. The various shades of blues, turquoises, greys, and taupes appear on the surface of the water as the air, sky and light changes. Not only is the observance of the patterns in the sea an inspiration for my work, but also perhaps a lesson for living life as well, as we learn to go with the flow. This piece measures 20″ w by 40″ h, cotton seine twine warp, sett at 12 epi, wool, cotton, cottolin and silk wefts.
Go with the flow
I also wove a tapestry while in Mexico over this past winter. “Seashell Collection” teaches me to slow down and study closely the patterns in the shells. I read Anne Morrow Lindberg’s book, “Gift From the Sea”, many years ago and am constantly returning to read it again. The author gives us her experience at the seashore and shares her thoughts about her life. I have always collected seashells. Who cannot walk on the beach and not reach down and pick up one of these treasures? Each is distinct and has a story to tell. I purposely enlarged the seashell to a much larger scale so I could become intimate with each curve and crevice in its structure as it sits nonchalantly in the ever-shifting sand. It measures 20″ w by 15″ h. Cotton seine twine warp. Wool, natural dyed silk, cotton wefts.
In the fall of 2011 I wove a small format tapestry for the American Tapestry Alliance Unjuried Small Format Tapestry exhibition in Long Beach, CA in conjunction with the Handweavers Guild of America Convergence 2012. Our local study group decided to participate as a group using the Pacific Ocean as our source of inspiration. There were a few rules: we all had to use a certain blue DMC embroidery floss somewhere in the tapestry, we each would choose a country that borders the Pacific Ocean, that the Pacific Ocean would need to be woven into the tapestry positioned appropriately for the country represented and it must be no larger than 10″ by 10″. I chose Mexico!
Pacific Portals: Mexico
If you notice the tapestry was woven in two separate shaped pieces so the Pacific Ocean could be oriented in the correct direction (also because I wanted to see if I could weave the two pieces and how to join them). The tapestry has an image of the pyramid outside of Mexico City, a woven cloth using the ruins of Mitla as inspiration, and the ocean situated to the left side. The warp was cotton, sett at 12 epi, with naturally dyed wool yarns and cottolin. Our local group had 13 members participate.
Searching for the Mother Inside
Using a piece of pottery and the title of a favourite song I planned the design of this tapestry, “Searching for the Mother Inside“. It is woven at 12 epi with cotton seine twine and woven with natural dyed wool for the rug design in the back and Appleton tapestry yarn dyed commercially for the pottery and the inside design of the pottery piece. I wanted to experiment with using the two kinds of yarns. The small format tapestry is “hung” in the purple heart frame to float freely as though hanging on a wall.
The tapestry, “Connecting Threads”, is an accompanying piece with “Searching for the Mother Inside”. It is framed and hung the same way. The inspiration for this tapestry was a statue of a Mayan weaver working on a back strap loom. Once again I used the ruins in Mitla for the inspiration for the background. Natural dyed wool and silk, wool and cotton were used at a sett of 12 epi.