Category Archives: drawing

Summer Weaving

Summer is a time when my weaving projects must take priority since that’s when I’m home to work!  Yet summer offers SO many wonderful distractions!  The garden, family and friends visiting, lots of conferences to attend.  I want to kick back and enjoy the season, but I also feel the pressure to make as much progress as possible before I leave home again.

These are the scenes that greet me each day on my walk along the Connecticut River, although the peonies and iris have shifted to roses, and now the roses are being overtaken by hydrangea.



It’s been a banner year for roses in my own garden.  I have to give all the credit to Bob since he has fertilized every time I’ve asked, and he’s also used some kind of eco-friendly spray when the gypsy moths fell out of the trees on to the rose bushes.


We have a granite wall that is about 100′ long and planted in pink and yellow roses, interspersed with lavender, daisies, and boxwoods.


I’m going to back up a bit and reminisce about the trip I took to Tennessee to attend the Southeast Fiber Festival back in April.  Back in April?  Time flies!  I took three weeks to drive down to Gatlinburg and back.  It was a perfect mix of relaxation and adventure.  After spending Easter weekend with my new granddaughter and her parents, I continued south to meet my good friend and tapestry weaver AnnaByrd to make the rest of the trip together.  We had a wonderful 500 mile drive through the Shenandoah Valley and into the Smoky Mountains.  Both going and returning we stopped in New Market, Virginia, and enjoyed lunch in a cafe at the civil war museum there. We were both taking a 3-day class with Jon Eric Riis on Coptic tapestry techniques.

In spite of the terrible destruction in Gatlinburg by last autumn’s fires, Arrowmont is still a stunning place.  There is plenty of evidence of the chaotic and destroying force of fire, but I was relieved to see that there was still plenty untouched. This view is not the direction of the fire came from.


A view of the main building from the dining hall.  The dining arrangement is the best I’ve had at a conference.  I wish I’d photographed the dining room.  It is cafeteria style, and the food is excellent.  You sit at real wooden dining tables that have real chairs.  Although there are a lot of tables in this large room, it feels quite like gathering in a home situation because the food is excellent and so obviously prepared with care, and the setting is so comfortably home like.  Well done!


My few photos from this trip are not memorable, but the memories they conjure for me are too good not to use.  Here is Jon during his keynote address for the conference.


The slides of his work covered most of his weaving career.  I had no idea he’d been weaving for 50 years–how can he be old enough to have had such a long career?  I have always loved his Icarus tapestries, and I no idea just how many works he’s done over the years.  Look at this assemblage of pears! I know, it’s a bad photo– what can you expect of a photo of a projected slide during the presentation?


AnnByrd took this photo of Jon and me together, and it’s a great memory for me, even though blurry.  Some day the memory of the workshop will become like this photo….a bit out of focus–but hopefully not too soon.


On display in the instructors’ exhibit were a series of partial faces that Riis wove entirely in metallic yarns.  I don’t know HOW he got such a beautiful surface with such challenging materials.  On the last day, after this work was crated, he unpacked a few and let us pass them around.  Look at the curve of the chin–and the shading!



There are 20 partial faces in this series that hang together in a grid.  The piece is called “Diaglogue.”  You can see it here.

About 10 days after I returned home from this adventure, I was off to the Cape with a couple of lace making friends.  We were headed to the Sacred Hearts  Retreat Center in Wareham, Massachusetts, for the annual weekend  retreat of the New England Lace Guild.  It’s a wonderful setting near the beach, all our meals are served to us family style at big tables in a large dining room.  We have private rooms and shared baths, and we can stay up all night making lace if we like, go for walks, take classes, and even buy stuff from the Van Scivers who always come. For the past two years I’ve opted not to take a class, and instead, filled my days sitting in the sunroom with a couple of my own projects that needed uninterrupted attention. There are plenty of other lace makers who do the same.

I spent the weekend working on this project while also keeping track of the eagle cam that was following the eaglet Spirit, on the Anacostia River, just off the Potomac in Washington, DC.  You can just see Spirit at the edge of the nest (upper right) on my computer screen.


Here is one of the two classrooms….. since the center is in a large Georgian house, the rooms are generous and furnished from decades past.


Back at home, with the summer unfolding, we’ve celebrated our 40th anniversary, and been treated to a long weekend with both our sons and daughter in law, along with cherished new granddaughter Tori and a few good friends.  I’m working on a couple of floor loom projects and two tapestries.

One tapestry is the line of text that our son Christopher asked me to weave.  As of this week, I am 20% done.  It seems like an insane thing to weave, and even Archie tried to dissuade me from this project, in spite of having woven quite a lot of text himself.  Yet I find it both relaxing and challenging.  Chris made the font and then hand manipulated the spacing of letters for my cartoon.  I am not making any marks on the warp, since I’ve found that I have more success working from a cartoon when I let the cartoon be an idea of the weaving, rather than trying to actually follow the cartoon slavishly.


And here is the work in  progress on the design I created in Riis’s Coptic workshop.  The workshop was titled “Unraveling Coptic Weaving,” and we were to bring family photos to reinterpret in a Coptic style.  I balked at that idea and brought a lot of other images that intrigued me more–Minoan dancers, Greek vase paintings, and one of the bas relief religious figures from the facade of St. John the Divine Cathedral in NYC.  Anyway, after playing with those compelling ideas, I settled back on the idea of a family member…..dear little Tori.

The warp is sett at 16 epi, which is considerably finer than the finest sett I’ve ever used before — 12 epi.  Between the fine sett and the neutral color of the warp thread, I am struggling to see what I’m doing!  Still, when I pick the right threads, the weaving is also compelling.


It was a good challenge for me to draw this cartoon.  Tori will be surrounded by clouds with hearts in the corners….schmaltzy for sure, but I hope to balance that a bit by using some tertiary colors. Each cloud and each heart is somewhat different from each other….the only way I can do it. We’ll see.

This morning I measured the lace that I started at the retreat.  It’s also for Tori.  I just photographed it after I put away the measuring tape.  It is now a whopping 32″ long!


So I’d better get back to work on these projects so I can get some of them finished before the season changes!





In Full Swing

Everything seems in full swing now…. I am making progress on projects I missed all fall and winter, and at last (!!) I’ve connected with the interest groups in my new area: weavers, knitters, dyers, and lace makers!  It’s all very exciting and inspiring to me.

Earlier this week I met my oldest friend at the Lyme Art Association while she was dropping of her sculpture “Daughter” that will be on display as part of the upcoming exhibit by the Hudson Valley Art Association. Right nearby was a bronze bust of Robert Frost done by Jose Bascaglia. Exciting works! My friend also has a piece in the National Sculpture Society’s exhibit that is traveling this summer (Lea Ann’s piece is “Virga,” the first image on the page).

It was a soft green drizzly day , and LeaAnn and I decided to walk through the grounds of the Florence Griswold Museum where the gardens were in soft focus.

On my daily walks I pass a certain fence that is about 100 feet long and bedecked in this lovely candy striped rose.

Later in the summer this same fence will serve as support for about a million sunflowers.  The sunflower seedlings are already up!  And to add to the ambience there is a huge lawn just beyond this fence border that is home to a beautiful yellow barn and two Weimaraners who are often out frolicking on the lawn.  There is always something beautiful to see at this spot along my walk!

And in my own garden this summer I have a passion flower vine growing in a pot.  The first flower opened this morning!

Surrounded by so many flowers, it’s no wonder I’m thinking about them for my next tapestry.  I am halfway through the final pear in my ‘Trail of Pears,’ so I’ve been designing the next tapestry.  I’m intrigued by a still life based on a woodcut of nasturtiums in a bowl.

I am enjoying taking this pot of nasturtiums and putting it into an environment….perhaps with a window behind and some curtains, the edge of a table…. we’ll see.

>The Price of Eggs in China, aka Talking Pears


I did finally take an afternoon to weave while we were anchored in Hadley Harbor, on the Island of Naushon just across from Wood’s Hole.

Martha's Vineyard July 2010 058

I’m working on a small tapestry that was an assignment from a workshop that Archie and Susan gave to the Wednesday Group several months ago. They called the workshop “Talking Pears.” For the workshop we were to bring two Bosc pears, our sketchbooks and pencils, and a variety of colored papers.

For the morning, we arranged and drew our two pears several times.  After our lunch break, we took the sketches we liked best and used them as ideas for making several paper collage designs.  The nature of the paper collage designs being so graphic led to other ideas.

pears cropped

At the end of class we lined up our paper collages and discussed shapes, arrangements, and color choices.

Various. 3.24.2010 006

This may be more than you want to know about the “price of eggs in China,” but I’m certain that Archie and Susan carefully chose this workshop as a clever way to make us start thinking in the language of tapestry rather than in the language of pure image.  Many of us are often intrigued by an image first and foremost, and we attempt to make a cartoon that will be weaverly.

Here, the relationship of our pears as two shapes coming together, along with the relationship of the surrounding area, and the colors we chose to use took precedence over the image itself.  The simple paper collages we made prevented us from creating shading and contours.

This simple exercise has allowed each of us to focus on how to create the shapes of the pears and the surrounding areas.  I’ve never paid so much attention to my curves and slopes!  I’m usually too busy also trying to create light and shadow.  I had a lot of fun choosing the colors for this little project, and with only six colors I really concentrated on the relationship between them.


Martha's Vineyard July 2010 037

Here you can see the frame that Bob made for me to hold my copper pipe looms.  This frame allows me to adjust the loom up and down so I’ll always be weaving at a comfortable height.




One Wednesday Grouper has already woven eight small tapestries!  Several others have already woven two.  This is my first one, and I do hope to weave another.  I’m so slow that two will probably be my limit!

>Soul Collage


A friend of mine invited me to join her at a one-day workshop on Soul Collage which I had not heard of.  I thought that learning some collage techniques might help my tapestry design, so I was looking forward to the workshop.

The collage class ended up being much more than I expected!  It’s a way to get in touch with many of our deepest, strongest, sometimes unrealized feelings…and how great is that for creating art?  The collage techniques were nothing compared to tapping into such deep seated emotions and powerful core beliefs.  I’m so glad I participated in this!…although by the time  left I had a massive headache! (I still seem to wilt every afternoon with aches, headache, nausea and exhaustion…what a flu!)

Soul Collage Earth Wisdom

This is an image of someone else’s collage posted on the website.  Many of them are quite powerful.  I wanted to post one of mine, but my scanner refuses to scan right now.  It’s making a lot of noise and giving me error messages!  Hmmph!

>New Year

>It’s been ages since I sat at a loom, either my tapestry looms or my “regular” looms. I’m getting a bit frustrated about that! I haven’t even managed to get much knitting done this holiday season, except to finally sew together my Hild sweater, which I wore to the opera on Monday, when I saw “DieWalkyrie” at the Met with Lorin Maazel conducting.

My younger son has certainly been creative during his time off this month. This is a drawing he did for his dad for Christmas. It’s a traditional boat called a Friendship sloop, for Friendship, Maine, where they were built. I had envisioned us doing some drawing together, but it still hasn’t happened. I could sure use a dose of his creativity! He leaves on Sunday to return to school.