Category Archives: Uncategorized

Phoebe McAfee at Guardino Gallery in February 2016

Phoebe McAfee, longtime tapestry weaver now living in Portland, will be showing nearly twenty of her tapestries in February 2016 at the Guardino Gallery.  The Gallery is at 2939 NE Alberta St, Portland, OR 97211.

She will be giving a talk about her work specifically for the members of the Damascus Fiber Arts School from 1pm – 3pm on Wednesday, February 10.  Please join us there.

Phoebe, known first for her work on the Mark Adams weavings from the San Francisco Tapestry Workshops, now weaves with us at Damascus Fiber Arts School. She enjoys the sense of community to be found at our school.

 

Autumn Flames

Autumn Flames

This collection of tapestries contains pieces both large and small, old and new.  She weaves on three different looms, including one of the first Shannock looms made.

 

Also featured in the gallery in February are ceramicist  and mixed media artists Carolyn Hazel Drake and Anna Wiancko-Chasman.
The Guardino Gallery has varied hours. If you cannot attend on February 10, please see their website for open hours. www.guardinogallery.com

Spring Flames

Spring Flames

Untitled

Untitled

Golden Palm

Golden Palm

Alex Friedman Workshop

Ten lucky students attended the 3 day workshop by Alex Friedman on her “Ripple Technique”.  The basic idea is to use eccentric weft in a manner to create a sculptural effect when the tapestry is released from tension.  For examples of her work, please visit her website.

www.alexfriedmantapestry.com

Part of Group with Alex

Part of Group with Alex

Eleanor Choosing Colors

Eleanor Choosing Colors

We each came prepared with  a four-inch wide warp on a portable tapestry loom.  The weft, provided by the School, was Harrisville Highland. Alex brought a picture book of examples she had woven, as well as a hand-drawn sketch with ideas to use to start.

 

Students wove a plain tapestry background, then added eccentric weft in several styles, similar but different than wedge weave.

Terry's Style Sample

Terry’s Style Sample

Natalie Makes a Pair

Natalie Makes a Pair

 

 

After trying a few methods, some people attempted soumak for an even greater surface distortion.

 

Arlene and Birch Tree

Arlene and Birch Tree

Laurelen and Loaf of Brad

Laurelen and Loaf of Brad

Kevynne and Mountain

Kevynne and Mountain

On the second day students wove designs they had contemplated overnight.  One person wove a tablecloth with a loaf of bread on it.  Another wove a pattern similar to the bark of a birch tree. A third wove a mountain shape.  Everyone’s tapestry looked very different than the others, in design, in color, in eccentricity.

Sandy in Pink and Orange

Sandy in Pink and Orange

On the third day we continued weaving our designs and tried more experiments.  The class was very popular and a total success.  Students accomplished quite a bit of weaving, surprising even the instructor in quantity and quality.  Thank you Alex, for coming up from Marin County, CA and visiting our school.  We definitely enjoyed the workshop.

Joan Baxter Tapestry Workshops May 2015

Joan Leaving on Train for Seattle

Joan Leaving on Train for Seattle

Last year I learned that Joan Baxter, of Brora, Scotland, was in the United States teaching workshops, so I tried to get her to add us to her schedule.  We ended up having her come out to the Pacific Northwest in May, 2015, to teach two workshops at our school, before she moved up to Vashon Island for a workshop with Seattle weavers and to Vancouver Island for one with British Columbian weavers. She got a longer trip and we were able to share the airfare, so we all came out as winners.

So many people wanted to take her workshop that I had to make 2 three-day classes instead of one five-day class.  That way we could accommodate up to 24 weavers.  Both classes filled within hours of being announced.

Class Two at Work

Class Two at Work

Both classes got basically the same lessons and wove very similar samplers.  We were told in advance to bring pictures, objects, ideas of what our “special” landscape would be.  Joan brought yarn from Britain that she prefers to use.  It is a worsted spun yarn with a harder, less hairy surface and a sheen. She had two weights, thick and thin.  The thick was very thin and the thin was half that size.

Joan and Yarn

Joan and Yarn

We are talking small yarns here.  For a tapestry at 8 ends per inch, the weft bundle was the equivalent of 6 thins, which was made of 2 thicks and 2 thins.  For those who warped at 10epi, the weft bundle was two thicks and one thin. (Yarn from Weaversbazaar.com)

Joan said she prefers to start with color.  She thinks of her landscape, finds the core colors and samples them.  She changes out the thin yarns to make subtle color differences and weaves small squares of each color change.  Students seemed to really enjoy this.  Some did that for all 3 days.

Demonstrating a Technique

Demonstrating a Technique

Joan also demonstrated techniques she likes to use.  One is a texture created by weaving over two and under two warps with a weft bundle that is 3 times as thick as normal.  One is to make dots by weaving back and forth over 3 warps for four passes, to create a small square. Using these small squares in apparently random places creates a dotted effect, more pronounced on larger tapestry and seen from a distance. Another technique we hadn’t tried before was to make a knot in the weft before bringing it to the front to weave.

Joan showed the second class how to sew a slit using the sew-as-you-go method preferred by Archie Brennan.  She also showed us a technique for a single-warp wrap that doesn’t involve interlocking weft. A friend of hers named Jennie taught it to her, so we decided to call it the Jennie lines.

Teaching Composition from Postcards

Teaching Composition from Postcards

One night, between the two classes, we had a potluck dinner and a slide show.  Joan showed a Powerpoint slide show of her tapestries and the landscape that inspired them.  It was very informative and interesting to see.  She used those same photos to demonstrate composition and the way she uses zones and boundaries in her tapestries.

Joan Baxter was a joy to have at our school. Everyone really enjoyed the workshops, her pleasant personality and sense of humor, her skills and techniques and her teaching style.  We were sad to see her go.  I heard some students yesterday plotting to go to her house in Scotland next year and stay in her caravan.

Unfortunately, many of the photos I took came out really fuzzy, but here are a few that you might enjoy seeing.  Thank you, Joan Baxter.  We won’t forget you!

 

Newly Completed Tapestries

Been a while since I published any newly completed tapestries.  Here are some of the weavings completed in early 2017 by members of the Damascus Fiber Arts School.

 

 

 

 

Dorothy Pratt

Dorothy Pratt-2015

Dorothy Pratt-2014

Dorothy Pratt wove at Damascus Fiber Arts School for 15 or 20 years.  When I met her she was weaving Navajo designs and tapestries of birds.  I learned that Dorothy was a lifetime bird watcher.  She even had a life list of all those birds.

Dorothy and her husband of 64 years, Clayton, traveled the US in their RV.  They spent summers in Oregon and elsewhere on the continent and spent winters being snowbirds in Arizona.  While in Arizona Clayton played golf and Dorothy took classes in pottery, making Kachina dolls and other crafts.  Clayton passed away a few years ago.

Dorothy Pratt Oyster Catcher 2006

Dorothy Pratt
Oyster Catcher 2006

Dorothy was an only child, both in 1925 in Illinois.  Her daughter, Jan lives in Maryland with her husband, I.J. They have a son and daughter.  Daughter Candace lives in Oregon with her husband, Tom. Candy has one son.

 

Dorothy Pratt

Dorothy Pratt

Several years ago Dorothy developed Alzheimer’s Disease and eventually became most unable to communicate verbally.  Amazingly enough, for years after that she still was able to weave small, striped rugs on a portable loom that Candy learned to warp for her.  It was like her hands remembered what to do even when her brain wasn’t at all helpful.

Dorothy was friendly, fun, talented and will be missed.  She passed away on November 16, 2014.

Tapestry: Constructed from Strings

Tapestry: Constructed from Strings

Use of the word “tapestry” extends far beyond the definition for the weaving technique. The concept of tapestry invokes a complicated, rich, textural feeling—positive and often nurturing. It is often used as a metaphor for life.

A common misuse of the word tapestry is to label any wall hanging as such, especially needlepoint and embroidery, even some forms of painting and plaiting. Tested by time, true hand woven tapestry techniques carry forward from native traditions, from European castles, from contemporary studio weavers, to artists working in their own homes and studios.

Tapestry is defined by the American Tapestry Alliance as “hand-woven, weft-faced fabric with discontinuous wefts”—a technical description that only begins the job.

Handwoven textiles, including tapestry, are constructions, not surface applications like paint or embroidery. Using a frame to support the vertical threads (warp) under tension, a tapestry weaver constructs the textile by weaving horizontal threads (weft) between the warps. In tapestry, the weft threads pack down to cover up the warp threads, creating the image. The fabric and the image are created simultaneously.

Weaving shape by shape

Weaving shape by shape

Weaving tapestry shape by shape, changing yarn for each color is a process no machine can mimic. Weaving machines such as computerized looms can create images on the face of a textile, but not by using discontinuous wefts. Machines need to weave from one side to the other, but tapestry need not be woven that way. A tapestry weaver uses many pieces of yarn across the surface of the textile, carrying these in “butterflies” or on bobbins.

Tapestry artists are often asked, “That takes so long, why do it?” Personal answers vary, but many seem to feel the very reason to weave tapestry is because it is slow and deliberate, because it takes the weaver into a mindful place that is just the opposite of the place required by the hectic, digital, constantly-in-contact world inhabited when not weaving.