Friday, November 15, 2013

Tapestry Study Group Field Trip

Our Tapestry Study Group which is a local group of Tapestry Weavers South and Chattahoochee Handweavers Guild has been pursuing enrichment activities to learn more about tapestry this year.  On November 14, 2013 seven of us met at Tommye Scanlin's studio.  A more perfect day couldn't have been ordered from a catalog!  The autum weather was crisp and sunny.  Tommye greeted us with coffee, tea, and pecans from her own tree.  Best of all we got to spend time with Tommye in her studio and her home and in Dahlongea around the square. 

The first part of our visit was in Tommye's studio.  There we got to ask questions about her looms and works in progress as well as tapestries from other artists whose work is there.  Naturally, the looms and works in progress are even more beautiful in real life than in any photograph.  We also saw tapestries that Tommye has collected from other great tapestry artists like Archie Brennan. 

We were also treated to a tour of her beautiful home and home studio.  We were amazed at how much tapestry Tommye produces.  Tommye talked about her design process.  The experience of touring her studio and home left us aspiring to come close to her level and thanful for the opportunity to spend time with her.

We had lunch at the Crimson Moon Cafe on the square and walked to Jo Marie Karst's weaving class at North Georgia College.  Her students were there working an we enjoyed visiting with them.  The classroom is well lighted large and filled with looms.  Jo Marie has a mixture of beginning and advanced students.  Thank goodness some colleges keep these looms and programs alive and working!  The students are fortunate to have weaving as a part of the programs offered there.

Thank you, Tommye, for so generously sharing your studio and home with us and most of all for sharing yourself with us!  Thank you Jo Marie for sharing your classroom and students with us!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Frame loom modifications

It's been quite awhile since I've had time to make a post.  This one will be quick... I wanted to show a couple of photos of a recent bout of loom modifications I've made.  I do this sort of thing occasionally, adapting or modifying looms for some reason or another.  This time I wanted to add length to two of the fame looms I have, a Hagen loom (Norwegian origin) and a Mirrix.  Additionally, I've added leashes to the Mirrix-modifiation in a temporary way using C-clamps.  First the Mirrix-mod:

The top and bottom of the loom are the Mirrix; the gray pipe that's on the sides is the extender part that is from my Hagen loom.  I've added a threaded rod and two nuts at the top of that and those are going into the upper copper pipe part of the Mirrix sides.  The whole thing is sitting in a floor stand that's for my Hagen loom.  And the leashes are attached by way of the C-clamps at the top of the loom.  I've padded the aluminum part of the top of the frame to keep the clamps from scratching the metal.  The extenders and the extra bit of threaded rod in the sides have added about 18" of height to the loom.

In my quest to make taller frame looms to use at a couple of demos, I also adapted my Hagen loom by making new extenders with a 48" aluminum rod, cut into two 24" pieces.  These are slipped over the threaded rods at the sides of the loom.  Now the loom has a warp that's almost 40" high and the weaving distance has been increased by about 10-12" of what was possible with the 15" extenders that I normally use on the loom (the ones on the Mirrix shown above).

Both of these looms were sold with a shedding device.   I don't like to use the shedding device on either loom and long ago I had the Hagen loom drilled at the top to have two 8" eye bolts extended out to hang a leash rod.  I didn't want to drill through the Mirrix quite yet so decided to temporarily use the C-clamps.

I also don't like to use the spring spacer for warps that come with both these looms so those were taken off.  I much prefer to do the spacing myself and that works just fine.  I also like to use a single plane for the warp rather than making a continuous warp to extend length... hence the desire to make the loom as tall as possible.

Both looms will be well used in this new configuration and then put back as they were as none of the modifications have permanently altered either of the looms.  Even through I've drilled through the Hagen loom's frame, the eyebolts can come out and the shedding device can be added again, as with the Mirrix.

Adapt and modify to whatever suits your needs, I say!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Marzena Ziejka Offers Her Experience With Pricing Tapestries

I have experience selling from two groups: lower pricing to family and friends and the money received mostly went to supplies; I also have sold works as a professional crafts-person. The order for me was not what you might expect the natural progression to be. I moved from group two to group one. Due to my emigration to the U.S. I moved into group one. Now I'm entering a third category, and
dealing with pricing tapestries as art works which has many complexities.

My first experience in the second category of crafts-person was when I worked as a full time weaver at company that made tapestries. We charged only for our craft of making cartoon and weaving, not for art as we were commissioned to realize "other" artist's designs. There was a system of pricing based on complexity of pattern, which fell into 6 classes, and the company charged the client per square meter based on a particular class. Weavers received hourly pay depending on class, plus premium of 20-50% if tapestry was finished before scheduled due date (this was on a sliding scale based on the class that also had incentives for productivity, only the highest classes received up to 50%).

You might ask how the classes were established? When the cartoon was made--lines/outlines described any color change; the cartoonist drew parallel lines in direction as the wefts would be added in decimal spacing (about 4"), and counted all intersections with outlines on each decimal interval. That number was divided by numbers of decimal spacing lines and the final number of average count (of color change) per square decimal was found. For example 4 changes per 4" on average is pretty high in class, and it generally meant that in some areas of tapestry there is not much going on, while other areas are very complicated. To help you visualize I use examples that we all familiar with: highest class is painting "Irises" by Van Gogh, no element skipped, while lowest class could be 'Icarus' by Matisse (when both are the same dimensions).

My salary was very good then--prices of tapestries I made were comparable to those you would find at high end craft fairs.

Then I gained experience within the first category of pricing. After arriving in Chicago I was time-to-time making some works on commission at a friend's request while earning living in completely different field. Usually such commissions meant not good money, but mostly the money was incidental. Just to find some appreciation... I was happy to fulfill the order, and then I collected my reward which was exactly 28 cents per hour. No class associated of course as in my previous work. Some friends, remarkably, still thought that I had overpriced my piece.

Today, I am entering the reality of having to price my work in the realm of art, or the third group. Approaching the how and how much is a very real question for me. I have to answer a lot of my own internal questions about how to price my artwork as an art piece, and I'm learning that my previous experiences here are invalid. Can you imagine a painter who charges by square foot, or by hour? Yep, this would be not an artist painter. Neither would building my very own classes help much.

Elements of previous experiences in the two first groups, are only a part to which I should consider adding entire new bag of qualifications, and some might seem quite elusive. The more I learn the more I understand, but it sometimes feels like the less I know. In addition to the calculation of costs keep in mind sharing profits 50-50 with a gallery (when represented by a gallery they often also collect a commission when you sell direct from your studio, and some go as far as to forbid such sales). But being an artist goes beyond physicality of your pieces. There is much more to be considered, and if you an emerging artist, you can't aspire to prices that long time well known artists might achieve. Maybe for a long time you will only be able to sell it below your total costs, but it is no longer per foot/per hour nor by guilt appraisal. And to get advantage of those elusive elements you have to commit yourself to 24 hours 7 days per week per many years work on being an artist with no guarantee of outcomes at all.

I have still question how to price my work, especially when selling internationally? Recently I asked acclaimed weavers in Poland about prices there as somebody expressed interest in purchasing my piece in Poland. I can't ask what I would have expect for even a low value acrylic painting
same size here, in US, because the market reality is different here from there, and second - I have 'no name'. Wlodzimierz Cygan (winner of many international prizes; reminded me to keep in mind beyond the price to consider including a clause that would ensure that the
work would be available for future exhibitions and that if the piece goes into a prominent collection that that would help raise future value of my works - both of these are crucial for the artist. So at this point in attempting to price this international sale, when I consider myself 'emerging' I might be in the pricing below cost category. I haven't made any formal decision as of yet but pricing your works becomes much more challenging a process in the third category as an unknown emerging artist. But I am enjoying a great deal of input from friends and associates from many parts of the world.

My last subject on this topic is everybody's favorite - taxes! I still have tax questions unanswered when selling internationally. Still digging for answers. Maybe someone has an experience with that they'd like to share?

happy weaving,

Friday, July 19, 2013

Pat Williams shares a link to her new bloggie bit.

Lately I've gotten the blog bug and now there's actually 2 new entries that you can get to on my website and click on the "Bloggie Bit" on the menu at the top of the page; OR go directly You will note immediately that the first entry is about practicing and playing with book arts. Designing and constructing books is exciting and opens up new avenues for drawings I may never weave.

I'm in the middle of weaving my next tapestry and enjoying weaving it--often gasping at the liberties I'm taking.  But oh well, gotta get some thrills some way.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A beautiful Fireside Traditional Tapestry loom for sale--SOLD!

                     60" solid cherry loom with bench and seat.
  Lovingly used and cared for 20 years by former president of TWS and ATA.
                             $3500 plus shipping and handling.

                         Contact Marti Fleischer, Oak Ridge, TN   martifl at bellsouth dot net    

Friday, July 12, 2013

Review of Archie Brennan & Susan Martin Maffei's DVD set by Debbie Herd

Debbie Herd recently posted to her blog with a review of the tapestry DVD set, Woven Tapestry Techniques, that Archie Brennan and Susan Maffei have available at their website.  Debbie has done an excellent job summarizing the depth of learning contained in the 16 or so hours of the DVDs.   She's given me permission to post her blog link here:

I bought the set a couple of years ago and continue to find it inspiring.  I especially appreciated learning four-selvedge technique from the excellent instruction given by Susan and have so far woven about 15 small tapestries in the technique.

The DVD set is noted at Archie and Susan's website:
Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the information about it and a link to a YouTube preview.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

John Moss Bobbin News from Janette Meetze's Blog

Janette Meetze has recently added a post to her blog about some of the bobbins available from John Moss.  With her permission, here's the link to that post.

John Moss has been making tapestry bobbins for a few years now.   I know John and his wife, Joy, since they live not far away.  I also know a bit about the back story about how he began to make these beautiful tools.  He describes his introduction to bobbins briefly at his website.  I've used an assortment of styles of the bobbins he makes since he began selling them and I really enjoy each one.

Sometimes students ask me how many tapestry bobbins I have and I have to say that I truly don't know!  I've been buying bobbins for over twenty years now and have quite a lot now, all bought a few at a time.  Bit by bit, the ones that I don't enjoy using as much are put into a separate basket.  Occasionally, I need to pull one or more of them out when I'm working on several pieces.  But, when I unwind left over wefts, I always organize the "favorites" and the "less than favorites" into groups.

In Janette's post she also mentions the Ymmyarns that's she's importing from Australia.  I haven't tried this particular yarn yet but plan to do so soon.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Slit Sewing 101--courtesy of Kathy Spoering's blog

Kathy Spoering is a wonderful tapestry artist who lives in Colorado, USA.  She has a blog at which she posts very inspirational and helpful information.  Recently she wrote (and showed through photos) about her method of sewing slits.  I've asked her if I might link to her post here and she was happy to let me do that.  So... here's here Slit Sewing 101 post link.  I'll also post this at the side margin so it will be easy to find.

Susan Martin Maffei also has a nice tutorial about several slit sewing methods shown at the ATA website at this link.  That's noted in the side margin at links for interest.

And what method do I use?  I usually use the Archie Brennan method that Susan describes.  However, occasionally I still use an interlock for edges where I'm going to be carrying a color quite a long way in a vertical beside another, and where I want to see the "tooth" of the interlock.

All methods are equally good.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Sarah Swett's wonderful written/woven work

Here's a link to an interview with Sarah Swett about her tapestries that are based on her writings.

Sarah's work is just amazing!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Monique Lehman's YouTube videos

Tapestry artist, Monique Lehman, has been compiling and posting tapestry related videos on YouTube.  Here's a link to those:

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Tapestry loom for sale in SW Florida--SOLD

Just saw this notice posted at WeavingSalesAds:

Fireside Cantilever-style Tapestry loom for sale. $400. Original price  - $2.775 Must pick up, 24รข€ weaving width 12 dpi reed, 300 texsolv heddles, 2 treadles, cherry wood. Laura at raku9@... email for photos  SWFL

If you're interested in contacting the seller, let me know and I'll forward her email to you.  I don't know the loom or the seller and have no vested interest in this sale, but if this loom is in good condition, I do know about the Fireside Cantilever-style tapestry loom as I own one.  I like it the one I have very, very much.  A nice upright tapestry loom.

Update -- this loom has been sold

Friday, March 8, 2013

Tapestry Weavers South workshop with Mary Zicafoose

Tapestry Weavers South presents Mary Zicafoose to teach 3 workshops in Gainesville, Georgia, USA on April 18, 19, & 20, 2013.  Each workshop may be taken separately or two may be taken or all three!  A great concept for a workshop, I feel.  From what I've heard from others who've taken workshops from Mary, there will be wonderful inspiration and ideas flying about.

Here's the description of the workshops:

Thursday, April 18--"Inspiration, The Zen of Weaving"
"This one-day workshop abounds with handouts and resources to nourish and nurture the busy artist and weaver..."

Friday, April 19--"Design, The Language of Art"
"This one-day class will focus on the sequential steps required to develop your unique visual ideas into dynamic tapestry and rug designs"

Saturday, April 200--"Color, The Language of Art"
"This one-day intensive dip into color will saturate your palette.... In referring to the work of colorist, Josef Albers, students create a color workbook of 245 personal studies...."

Additionally, there will be an exhibit by members of Tapestry Weavers South on display at the Quinlan Art Center during the time of the workshops.

If you're not a TWS member, please get in touch with me at to ask for the workshop chair, Nancy Dugger's, contact information.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A beautiful video...

... shared by someone from the Weavolution website.

Here's the Vimeo link:

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Warp onto Old, as the New Year Begins!

I'm beginning my 2013 tapestry diary and have tied the new warp onto the ends of the warp used for the 2012 diary.  I'm doing that because I'll be using the same warp sett (8 epi in this case) and the same width.  I know from past experience with this warp, 10/3 linen, that the knots will be able to be worked through the 8 dent reed and through the heddles without snagging.  By the way, someone at Weovolution asked why I would do this for tapestry that's threaded a simple plain weave.  My answer is that it's easier for me to do by tying on rather than freshly warping the loom for a couple of reasons: the process of warping this upright loom is uncomfortable for me since I have to stand on a step stool for part of the time as I get the top of the warp in place on the warp rod, and also because I have to either stand or reach uncomfortably high to thread the heddles.  It's much easier on my body to be able to tie onto the ends that hang below the reed.

I'm using an upright loom that has two harnesses or shafts, with wire heddles.  I've also tied old onto new on another tapestry loom that has Texsolv heddles so the process can work with various looms.  However, you've got to make sure the knots will pass through both reed and heddles easily before committing to the task!

To test that, you can knot together two short lengths of the warp and see how easily the knot can be slipped through both reed and heddle eye.  I use an overhand knot rather than a weaver's knot, although a weaver's knot makes a smaller bump... I just can't get the weaver's knot to hold each time--and I certainly don't want knots to begin to come apart as I'm beaming the warp.

Here's an overhand knot before it's tightened.

I prepare for tying on a new warp before cutting off the old one.  I treadle each shed and either weave a few passes loosely across a few inches below the reed, or I place lease sticks into each shed (that's what I did in this case).  Since the loom is an upright loom, I have to tie the lease sticks to the reed and to each other to keep them in place.

The old warp, loosely knotted below the lease sticks.
Next, I take the new warp and, one by one, tie the warp ends together with the overhand knot.  I usually hold the cross of the new warp in my hand.  One could also put in another set of lease sticks for the new warp and attach them at the bottom beam.

All the new warps are now tied to the ends of the old warp.
I usually wind on without tension held on the warp... yes, it IS possible to get a firmly packed warp beam without a constant tension--more about that in a couple of paragraphs.  Before beginning the winding on, I take the lease sticks out; once the warps are connected with the ties, I don't need those any longer.

I wind up a bit until the knots are at the reed, then I carefully pull the knots through, a few at a time.  Once all the knots have cleared the reed, I wind up a bit more until the knots are approaching the heddles.

Knots are above the reed now and the heddles are next.
At the heddle point, I find it's helpful to open the shed so that the heddles are apart.  That way the knots aren't so close together as they pass through the heddles.  I wind up a bit, then "help" the knots through the heddle eyes, one shed and then the other.  Most knots slip through just fine but if there are one or more that are really snagging, work with those to get them through--don't force them.

Knots are now through the heddles. 
Next comes the beam winding.  Instead of constant tension, I turn the beam one revolution, then pull firmly -- pulling down, bit by bit, across the width of the warp, a handful of warp at a time.  My packing material for beaming, in this case, is corrugated cardboard and kraft paper, using the cardboard first, then the paper.  Both were used in this case since I didn't have enough of either for the 3 1/2 yard warp!  To wind on, I pull the warp out of the chain and step back a yard or so from the loom to shake out the warp.  In this case, I've put the warp chain across my loom bench.

I have choke ties bundling the warp at intervals, and I untie those at about a yard from the reed.

When the warp is wound up and hanging several inches from the reed, I'm ready to tie onto the cloth beam rod.

For this step, I use only 1" wide amounts for the ties.  In fact, I make the edge ties a bit smaller.  This warp is sett at 8 epi so all the bouts except the two at each side have eight warps in each tie.  The sides have only six ends in the tie on bundles.

When I tie on, I make the center tie first, then each edge.  After those, I work alternately from center to each side.  I make the tie as a half of the completed slip knot at first, then make the second part of the tie at the second stage, starting in the center and working out to each edge alternately, tightening as I go.

After tying on, I spread out the warp bouts.  In this case, I wove in three picks of cotton seine twine, from edge to edge of the loom, pulling each pick very tightly against the frame of the loom.  I'm able to use these three picks of foundation with this particular loom since the loom's frame is at the same plane as the warp.  The white picks that are seen here are the picks of the seine twine (these foundation picks will be cut free from the loom frame before the warp is wound forward).  Below, I'm beginning to spread the warp to the sett that I need.

I'm working from each side to spread the warps out.  I use a bobbin tip to help with this.
After spreading out the warp (take your time to get this right), I measure to see if I've gotten it the width I want (12" in this case) and check the sett.  

Next, I twine across the width, using the same thread as I've used for the warp.

After the twining, I weave about 1/2" of header, again using the same thread as I've used for the warp.

And, finally... I make a half-hitch across the width before I begin (no photo of that but I explained that in an earlier post... there's a link to that at the left side margin).

That's the set up for the 2013 tapestry diary warp, ready for the new year to come!  Here's the entry for yesterday, January 1:

I use an unwoven warp at each side to serve as a visual guide for width... that's the unwoven warp seen at the left side here.  Those unwoven warps are left out of the half-hitches, by the way.