Were we were going to get to the opening or not?

An unexpected visit to the emergency department and hospital, and a tapestry labeled for the wrong destination..things were not looking good

Yet it all came together, at the Foothills Arts Council in Elkin, on Sunday afternoon on September 1, 2019.

In a beautiful house with a circular wrap around porch, the Tapestry Weavers South had an impressive display of tapestries from Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, Florida and Tennessee. Leslie Fesperman helped to pull it all together, and it was a pleasure to meet with fellow tapestry weavers from Tapestry Weavers South. My husband, daughter and grandchildren were given a warm welcome and the company and the exhibit was delightful. Leslie showed me their studio spaces upstairs, where they offer classes in fiber arts to children and adults. What a fabulous resource for Elkin and the surrounding area.

I took photos of nearly everyone’s work but I missed a couple of pieces for which I apologize. I was distracted talking to everyone ( which was fun!) and never did get back to finish photographing all the tapestries. If anyone has images of the artists I missed, and you want to send them to me, I will be happy to show them on the blog.

The photos don’t do justice to colors and textures of the tapestries- the best way to see them is up close and personal.

Lily Layers on Mountain Island lake by Linda G. Weghorst. The yarns sparkle in this piece with incredible details

Sabilieres de Bretagne by Helene Crie Wiesner. Images from a French Breton church. A bold medieval style tapestry. Apologies to Helene for butchering her name

 

Breaking out of the grid by April Price. An intriguing tapestry which has 3-dimensional folds running accross the colors

Landscape 11 by Jennifer Sargent. A substantial, large tapestry which appears to be delicate

Fiddleheads Return by Tommye Scalin. Another lovely piece by Tommye where she uses subtle color shading to create the forms

Untitled by Jacqueline Mehring. Sitting beside Tommye’s tapestry and Nancy Duggers tapestry. Glad there was a space for me!

 

Almost 5 by Terri Bryson. There are a lot of deep rich colors in this small and fun tapestry

Dingle Cliff Walk by Laurie O’Neill. A lovely tiny tapestry, full of detail and atmosphere

Connection by Connie Lippert. Woven with natural dyes, I found myself returning to this tapestry many times.

Broken by Dorina Scalia. A very mysterious tapestry that needs some time to study it- I can see there might be many ways to interpret this piece

Fine Print by Michelle Elliott.This is woven with handspun newspaper- beautiful texture, appears like seeds. This is a tapestry that needs to be seen up close to appreciate

Out of the darkness by Nancy Dugger. Very rich dark colors with lots of texture, tension and emotion.

River Flow by Joan Griffin. A strong, bold design with dry and shining contrasting fibers

Losing it and Negative Positive by Rebecca Stevens. Both pieces are very delicate designs woven in linen- with a weathered/faded appearance

small vase with reflection (4 1/2 ” x 6″)

Sometimes I think I must like being contrary.

Was it just a couple of months ago that I saw the exhibit, Nomadic Murals showing some of the most important tapestries of the 20 and 21st century?

And what were the common themes?

Huge tapestries- some over 14′ long and wide.

Around 90% designed by men with none of the tapestries woven by hand, by the artist.

Meticulously woven by teams of professional tapestry weavers or woven on state -of -the- art Jacquard weaving looms.

in contrast…

Here is one of my tapestries- weighing in at 4 1/2″ wide and 6″ long.

It was hand woven on a frame made out of canvas stretchers. The warp is cotton twine, the filling in the weft is woven with a mixture of knitting yarns picked up from thrift stores, old projects and donations from friends. It was woven with very small bamboo cocktail forks- ( 75 forks for under a $1!) which were used as shuttles. Since then, I’ve found it easier to use my fingers or sewing needles.

Am I trying to make a statement?

Not deliberately!

I remember visiting a Museum of Art in Dresden, with my sisters and my father. The paintings were from the Renaissance up to beginning of the 20th century. My father, who liked to play the devil’s advocate, said to me-  “How can you say women are artists , when you never see any great paintings by women?” He waved his hand at the paintings on the walls, which were all painted by men. Of course, we know now, in the 21st century ( or do we?) that there were many, many reasons why there were no paintings in the museums by women and that this did not mean that women were not creative or artistic. Another thing to remember is that – the dominant fine art style in Western art- (for hundreds of years) was to create huge, technically superior art pieces to glorify and commemorate important events/important people  which were sponsored and paid for by the churches and rich clients. In my opinion, the tapestry exhibition, Nomadic Murals in Charlotte, is a direct descendant of those two great historic Western art  traditions.  A worthy exhibition indeed and it showcases those traditions admirably.

However, this is only one aspect of the tapestry tradition.

There are other tapestry traditions with an equally important artistic lineage

Fiber art encompases tapestry as well as many other textile forms. Right now, in 2019, there are many excellent practising tapestry weavers where creating the image and weaving by hand is an integral part of the process of creation and discovery. Many of these tapestries are not woven as representations of paintings, drawings or photographs, although they can be.  In many contemporary tapestries, the woven fibers and textures are the focus, not the translation of a design or drawing into woven cloth. When you study and incorporate the theories, traditions, skills and techniques of textiles from all over the world, and combine that with a western sensibility in the tapestry tradition,  you create pieces with a completely different mind set and motivation from the fine art Western approach. That sounds obvious, but what is not obvious is how this different approach is not always recognized as an equal or valid viewpoint.

Maybe I am ( making a statement)

Looking at my little tapestry, I know I have chosen to use canvas stretchers because they are affordable, easy to put together and I can quickly make a loom of a size I need. It’s small because in a world where there is no time, and tapestry weaving is very slow – I  know I can finish a small piece, even a tapestry. And still have time to work on non-art projects that will give me an income. A small size means I can put the loom in a bag with yarns and take the loom with me as it’s lightweight and portable. I can weave anywhere. I can work in different spaces.  It does n’t matter if the colors of the yarns are not from the same dye lot-  I don’t need a lot of yardage.  I am working with the everyday and recycled materials that surround me, in a scale that does n’t involve teams of experts with expensive and high tech. equipment.  Like many of the textile arts from Africa (and the rest of the world) my art is made from the everyday materials of life and is created in the midst of living, not as a separate activity. This is how I participate in creating my own version of the world.

 

 

Point of View 2019 Tapestry Exhibition with Tapestry Weavers South

View of blue tree and blue planter (6 1/2″ x 6 1/4″) on wool warp

at The Foothills Arts Council and the Yadkin Valley Fiber Center

129 Church Street,

Elkin, NC 28621

Showing from September 1- October 31, 2019

Showing one of my favorite things..

sketch in oil pastels and chalk

It’s a tiny tapestry based on a quick sketch from my back garden. In my back garden under certain light conditions, the silver maples turn blue, beside my favorite blue planter.

Opening on September 1, 2019 from 3-5pm

 

 

 

I have a photograph of a male stickleback, in my sketch book.

I saw the image in the ” Landscape ” magazine and for some reason that I could not articulate, I tore it out and carried it with me, probably for months. I liked to open my sketch book and study the image. Somehow, it was comforting to  look at.

The photograph reminded me of playing in the water of Leith as a child where I would see sticklebacks or “tiddlers”  flitting about the water. These were the fresh water sticklebacks, with hardly any scales as compared to the salt water sticklebacks who have some scales (or armor.) When the male stickleback is in breeding season, he turns bright red and then prepares a nest in the river out of weeds for the female fish. After the female lays her eggs, he fertilizes the eggs and then guards the nest until the eggs hatch.

Last month, when I taught the kantha embroidery class at Revolution Mill, we were discussing the personal symbols that were used by the women in kantha embroidery in India and Bangladesh.We had examples of images of fish, turtles, birds and dancing ladies.

I decided to demonstrate the kantha embroidery technique with my own symbol, rather than the example in the book. And there it was, my own personal symbol in my sketch book-waiting for me.  I understand now that my stickleback represents associations and memories to do with :- finding a homeland; family relationships, the drive to find and build a new home, the drive for security, protection and vulnerability.

The question is this: can I create images based on my personal symbols that will resonate with other viewers?

stickleback on white cotton

stickleback with flowers on fabric base of hand painted silk and silk scarf-  work in process

 “Inspiration Kantha” by Anna Hergert

Creative Stitchery and Quilting with Asia’s Ancient Technique

Everywhere you look, there is kantha cloth- made into quilts, bags and clothing and mostly sewn from upcycled saris. I have two beautiful pieces covering my couch, in my porch.The majority of what we see for sale, is the most basic kantha cloth with  lines of running stitches, holding layers of recycled fabrics together. Beautiful as this is, there is so much more to kantha’s than the basic straight line running stitch. I highly recommend Anna Hergert’s book for anyone interested in learning more about this fascinating technique.

“Kantha 

is like a personal diary, a letter one writes to a particular person, and is not meant to be read by all. In East Bengal the kantha was a personal expression, an art-craft that was made spontaneously, even whimsically. It was never commissioned by rulers, nor ordered by the landed gentry. No two pieces are the same. It was the craft that was practised by women of all rural classes, ….The kantha is an invocation to the gods and spirits for the prosperity and protection of the family. A real kantha is able to narrate a story, and is much more compact in design, and is made out of used materials. It has been passed on for generations, from mothers to daughters, and is largely a dowry tradition”  Krishnadas Kavira

Traditionally, kanthas are made out of layers of recycled fabrics, usually thin layers of silk saris, stitched together with running stitch to form a warm and firm covering. There are many different types of kanthas and there are many variations of applying the running stitch.

The first sample of kantha embroidery is based on examples described in “Inspiration Kantha”. There are three layers of silk fabrics ( which are from old silk scarves) with a simple motif of a fish. The outline of the fish is made with the kantha outline stitch.  Inside the fish is a circle which is filled with the stitch called jhing phool meaning “flower of the ridge gourd”  The stitches around the circle are called a running stitch pattern called dorma which is rows of different spaced running stitches to create tactile interest. The background is filled with running stitch that echoes the shape of the fish- the stiches are sewn parallel to the previous row and create a wave-like or rippled effect. This sample was stitched with sewing thread.

 

The second sample is the Jaal bird with a variation of the Jaal stitch in the form. It is three layers of re-purposed silk scarves. The bird is outlined with the kantha outline stitch and the background is the running stitch, following the form of the bird.  In this piece, there are embroidery threads and sewing threads

So you can see that you can add a lot of texture and color by varying the thickness of the threads and combination of running stitches.

For me, Kanthas are exciting because it’s more like a drawing technique. The running stitch is simple to learn yet capable of creating very complex combinations. I love the fact that the ground fabric is an important part of the design too, unlike punch needle and tapestry where the ground fabric is completely covered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Recollection Pond.Tapestry by Romare Bearden, a native of Charlotte. His collage work translates beautifully into tapestries

Now showing at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, in Charlotte, NC from April 5-December1, 2019.

A fascinating exhibition, showing some of the Big Boys of Art in the 20th century. From Europe-Picasso, Chagal, Le Corbousier , Joan Miro  and others. From America, Alexander Calder, Roy Lichtenstein, Frank Stella, Robert Motherwell,  and others. Most of the Modern masters were collected around the mid-20th century. Here are some of my highlights from the collection….

The die is cast. Tapestry by Corbusier

Normally I’m not a fan of Le Corbusier’s art work yet it seemed to me his artwork is a perfect fit for a tapestry construction.  I loved the vast areas of flat solid color broken up by the contrasting outlines of figures and forms. As for Victor Vasarely’s tapestry, I don’t think I have ever seen such a 3-dimensional form on a flat surface.

Vega Zett. Tapestry by Victor Vasarely

In general,  tapestries from this era were not woven by the artists themselves but were woven by tapestry weavers- either individuals or a team of tapestry weavers.

In this exhibit, all of the mid-century European tapestries were woven in the traditional tapestry construction- an intermittent weft woven in plain weave.

Not so for all the American tapestries. Some of the American tapestries were woven with a pile construction – which technically, could be called a carpet, although a tufted structure has an intermittent weft as required in the definition of a traditional tapestry. The weft in this case is not plain weave, but individual tufts of yarns to form the pile. Roy Lichtenstein’s was the most striking example.  Rober Motherwell, Frank Stella and Davis were other examples of pile fabrics.

Tapestry with pile by Roy Lichtenstein

 

 

Radient Passage. Cotton Jacquard tapestry by April Gornick (2017)

There was a contemporary section (starting from 2006)  where I was so happy to see some tapestries by women. At last!

Detail of Radient Passage by April Gornick showing different weaves

Interestingly enough, a lot of the tapestries were Jacquard tapestries-meaning that they were woven on an industrial Jacquard loom.  They are computer generated designs by the artists, are woven on very sophisticated machines.  A traditional tapestry usually features plain weave-  a Jacquard tapestry can incorporate many, many weaves as part of the design. Jacquard tapestries can be reproduced multiple times.

Detail from Fred Tomaselli’s tapestry

After migrant fruit thugs. Tapestry by Fred Tomaselli

Fred Tomaselli’s tapestry is described as “silk birds with metallic threads on wool background” It is an amazing tapestry with incredible detail and colors. I ‘ve seen his work years ago, where he made a hyper realistic collage ( again of highly detailed birds)  with different colored drugs/pills.

Detail from Kiki Smith’s Jacquard tapestry Parliament

Parliament.Jacquard tapestry by Kiki Smith

Kiki Smith has an ethereal tapestry called Parliament from 2017, with subtle color and weaves.

Forest Noise. Tapestry by Ian Woo

Last but not least-I found another lovely tapestry by Ian Woo, in the Mint Museum Uptown which sits beside the Betchler Museum of Modern Art!

Detail of Forest noise tapestry by Ian Woo

As my father would have said-“It’s a cracker!”

 

 

Overlooking the Blue Ridge mountains

My friend Connie and I were lucky enough to get a place at the Gathering at Wild Acres Retreat, off the Blue Ridge Parkway beside Little Switzerland.

It’s a beautiful setting, on top of a mountain enclosed by higher mountain ridges. The building and furniture is very much influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement, from the early 20th century.

the reception area

The reception area

The deck on the North House

Artists, writers, poets, potters, quilters, knitters, musicians and photographers gather to work on their own projects while enjoying each others company, the fantastic views and delicious food.

The start of the “Gingerbread House” tapestry

I went out sketching and started a small tapestry based on a sketch of a cabin, hidden by trees…

Meanwhile, Connie did some exciting knitted wire jewelry and some inspirational chrochet trims.

Connie’s experimental crochet trims

 

 

 Friday, March 8, 2019

Drawing inspiration from traditional Japanese dye resist techniques– we wrapped paper around wooden towels and cardboard cylinders tied on with cotton twine and rubber bands. Then we painted with different colored dyes …with some lovely results..!The resists block the dyes and form unpredictable patterns.

Our Goal? To allow things to happen without judgement. To be spontaneous and enjoy the results.

Sarah, a self confessed”non-creative person” shows off her stack of beautiful tie dye papers

 

Renee made some fabulous prints with plastic square resists and clothespegs

Cindy wrapped, tied, painted and …and did handpainting and finger painting

Wendy pleated her papers in different directions for some lovely herringbone effects

Elaine pleated her paper and applied plastic square resists on top of the pleated papers- then re-dyed

Lots of inspirational spinning ideas from “Intertwined” The Art of Handspun Yarn, Modern Patterns, and Creative Spinning by Lext Boeger.

We had our first Handspinning Class for Beginners, at Revolution Mill on Friday, February 8th.

Everyone, without exception, spun some gorgeous yarns with their own personal drop spindle. The drop spindles were made of old cd’s, a wooden dowel, rubber grommet and hook. Instructions about how to make your own drop spindle are from interweave press at: https://www.interweave.com/article/spinning/how-to-make-a-drop-spindle/

“Intertwined” gives examples of how to knit, crochet and weave hats and scarves, sweaters, bags and -one of the easiest project and my personal favorite– shoelaces! 

Cathie is spinning with some Corriedale fibers. She is spinning in a clock-wise direction, and adding different lengths of colored fibers as she spins.

Josefina showing her felted geode from our felt class in January

Some of my plied yarn is spun from Merino fibers

Following in the tradition of

the Great Wall of China,

Hadrian’s wall in Northumberland, England,

the East Berlin wall in Germany..

Presenting the very first section of The PomPom wall of North America…

If we start from the concept that all the other great walls failed in their objective to keep people apart, then we start with a distinct advantage with the pom pom wall.

 

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