Saturday, 26 October 2013

Early stages

To continue with my love affair  with tapestry weaving - I connected by chance with a private teacher in my area. Kirsten didn't put me through any sampler exercises to learn the slow way. She asked me design anything with a circle or oval in it and let me go for it. That's when I began my 'learning the hard way' mode of weaving which certainly gets you through the technical challenges fast. Here it is:

23.5cm x 21cm
Well, eventually I found my way into the Warrnambool TAFE course and went back to the beginning with samplers and that was much more relaxing I can tell you. Here's my sampler of colour exercises which I just loved doing and hope to do more of, as exploring colour combinations for itself is as valid as any conceptual design.

Then my first design, which was supposed to be a few simple shapes, but my path was already set towards  complexity and I couldn't resist the view from my caravan window. The pink on the left of the curtains happened because I was running out of violet wool - I am learning how much wool gets consumed in the process.
31cm x 22.5cm
Oops, the yellow bowl was a bit strong. I have resisted the temptation to embroider over it as some friends have kindly said they like it like that. I loved weaving the folds of the curtain, but I don't think the wall in the front really works as anything other than an unfortunate gap in colour.
My next weaving was based on a photograph near where I was living on central Victoria. Some of you may know of Lake Jubilee on the outskirts of Daylesford. Down the back of the lake is a row of stately elm trees and if you are there in late afternoon in autumn you can catch glorious evening light shining through the trees on the grass and the ankle deep leaves.
42cm x 34.5cm
The shifting colours in the fallen leaves were a bit of a challenge for my stage of technical development but I look on this tapestry as a testing trial that made all life seem easier after that. And you do have to love tapestry to appreciate the stepped tree trunks on this coarse warped weaving. In case you are new to tapestry I had better explain that I had woven it sideways to make the trunks smoother it would have been much more of a challenge to render the autumn leaves and the other horizontals in the landscape.
Somewhere during that first year we did a lot of textural samples as shown below.

As you can see we tried out bizarre knots, weaving with anything looking vaguely string-like, composting and dyeing after the weaving. I loved it and I am still trying to find my way back to that innocence after all the more complicated design concepts I have gone through since then. I vow never to put these priceless pieces out of sight again.
My final weaving first year was based on a dream-like image which came to me quickly one full moon after many attempted designs with pinks and emerald greens together.
42cm x 29cm

Elements from nature have played around in my unconscious. I like the idea of leaves forming some sort of guardian role when upright, here guarding the more fragile branching structure. I wove them with knots to give them more textural strength, and discovered how easy it is to create a complex of colours in knots rather than in normal weaving. I am sure it will look better when I get around to mounting it.
Well, that was an exhausting first year of study along with all the drawing, design, colour, and history assignments. I didn't do much else with my year. I will leave the next years progress till the next blog and take a rest.


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