Monday, December 16, 2013

Here Today

'Here Today' is my new tapestry inspired by a rock formation at the end of the Tennessee Valley Trail in Marin County, California. With a little research I found out that this sedimentary formation is called 'Ribbon Chert,' formed millions of years ago under the sea. It contains billions of microscopic fossils. The fossils are skeletons of single-celled plankton, called radiolaria. These plankton are most common in nutrient-rich ocean waters. Like quartz, radiolarian skeletons are made of silica.

When radiolaria die, their tiny skeletons fall to the ocean floor, forming an ooze. This
ooze eventually hardens into rock. The chert forms horizontal layers about 5 –15 cm
thick. It took about 1,000 years for a 1mm thickness of chert to form! When the flat
layers of rock are carried on a tectonic plate, they may collide with the edge of a
continent. This slow collision will bend and fold the layers.
It was these rhythmic layers that caught my attention.

Here is another close up.

                                                  yes, it is right way round...

 I took a lot of photographs and began sketching out an idea. I liked the 'ribbonness' and the scale of the project.

A concern was how to make the ribbon area more interesting. I wanted shading and movement without a lot of time consuming weaving. I settled on space dying the yarn to create a dark / light rhythm and supplement it with additional colors.

 Here are a few preparation processes.

The loom was warped and ready to go. Cartoon drawn out on butcher paper and the table laden with my yarn palette.

The tapestry grew slowly but I was pleased with the start of it. Because this one is large at 72" (182 cm)  in height,  it is always hard to keep track of the color shifts because you cannot see the whole tapestry all at once (because the woven area is rolled up on the cloth beam). I had to devise a way to keep track of the different blendings I made and be sure that the values shifted where and when I wanted them to.

It was called 'Tennessee Valley' as a working title. (There was a ship that sank off this bay called the Tennessee) At the end I decided to call it 'Here Today' because the rocks are always changing. Last year a large arch near this area collapsed sending tons of rock and debris down onto the beach and into ocean.

Here is the final Tapestry  and a detail on the stripes made by the space dying.

                                         Here Today

I look forward to doing more with this idea as it has given me a lot of inspirations. I welcome your comments and questions.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Fevered Flow

In looking at ways to continue to bring out the dimensional aspects of tapestry, I wove this little piece called 'Fevered Flow.'  When it is stretched out on the loom the edges are straight and even but once cut off they move responding to the tension under which they are woven.

 In the detail you will see what happens. The only anchor is the orange thread that runs throughout and holds them to the border area. The Flow areas undulate with spirit!

 I put on a long warp so I expect to do a few more of these small pieces and further explore the possibilites of tension and dimension. This one is 9.5" x 10" (24 x 25cm)

Wave Re/Action

     The long open slits in the 'Terra' diptych inspired me to make a piece with even longer slits to see what would happen. I liked how the Terra piece had so much surface interest with open slits and overlaps.

      I wanted to keep the narrow areas free to move as they wanted some with twists and some just loose and falling in front of one another.  This is not what traditional tapestry is supposed to do but I am interested in this as a textile as well as a tapestry. By weaving the slitted area on an angle there would be tension built into those areas to start them moving out of the 2D plane. They will be free to overlap each other. The history of tapestry has long been about telling a story in a narrative form but tapestry for me is more about the construction and the ALL the artistic possibilities. I like to play with the dimensions that are possible when it is no longer linked to the 'flatness' of traditional tapestry.
     It was important to finish the back areas cleanly so that the little tails of the yarn ends would not peek thru. To give stability to the whole piece it was necessary to have a pretty solid upper and lower area.  I do like including geometric areas with more organic areas for contrast.

     When it was finished I felt it lacked a spark. It was too blue for my taste so I decided to add a surface design in the form of added threads and textile beads.
    I have had this HABU Yarn for a long time and liked the texture it gives with the short ends. When it is woven the ends are trapped in the warp so they will not show. By keeping them free and on the surface the special quality can be seen so this was a good opportunity to use it.
I also had found some small woven seedlike elements from a visit to the International Market in Santa Fe. They are djellaba beads that come from Morocco. I have added many of them to the surface as well.

Here is a view of the finished piece.  It went into a show as soon as I completed it but I may still add some more when it returns.  It is called Wave Re/Action and is 51" H x 36" W ( 130 x 92cm ).
I welcome any comments as this is a new area for me.