I couldn’t resist buying a huge weaving frame, 80cm x 50cm! I’m glad I practice yoga, because sitting on the floor, cross-legged seemed the only way to approach this. I took a day off work in the summer – a very rainy day – so I locked myself in the craft room and warped up the frame. It was a lovely day playing with my stash of thick wools. I took a section of the geological map of Rew Down as my colour scheme and shape and set to work. I wanted a textural weave and incorporated my newly learnt bobble technique, winding the weft over a knitting needle. I thought I would try to incorporate some stitching at the top and worked some samples with thick cords. However, I decided against it – why do I always try to over-complicate things? So I reverted to wool – very special wool with felted bobbles incorporated into it. The amazing thing was that as I weaved, the bobbles fullfilled the place of the tumulus!
The outcome – well its wobbly – a combination of my inability to keep the outer edge straight over such a large area and the variations of wool thicknesses etc. A few weeks away from the making of it, I think the wobbliness has grown on me – it suits the theme. Its a very different weave on this size of frame and I think simplicity is of the essence. It will be good for me to try and keep things simple. Watch this space!
A desire to stitch rather than weave, I used my Rew Down inspiration, but the colours came from an automatic drawing that I made after the visit. Made a few months ago, I can’t stop picking it up. I backed it in felt and it just feels sturdy and tactile. I’ve thought about making it bigger but I’m not sure that it will feel as perfect! I would guess its about A5 size. It incorporates stitch, needle weaving, applique and machine wrapped cords. I wanted some small patches of colour around the bottom edge of the circle and I experimented with machine zig-zag over the applique. It worked really nicely.
So it the split weaving in the centre of the piece is unstable, what happens if I weave the curves and undulations instead? This time I worked on my pin loom just because I prefer it when I’m just trying out tapestry. I used a few different threads this time. I wasn’t really sure about the pink crewel wool n the previous piece, so I used a mohair and rug wool combination instead. Its much more sturdy than the other thread which helped to distort the weave – I like this, but not sure how it would work within a woven frame. Also I took strands from the warp to needle-weave a handle at the top, which I incorporated into the landscape. You couldn’t do that within the boundaries of a woven frame either! I stitched the paths again and this time, I couched the tumulus to give it more prominence
As I was considering what to do next, I came across a brief for Quay Arts Open submission “A Life in Nature”. Whether I’ll ever submit a piece to it is anyone’s guess but the brief is appealing. It prompted me to visit a new place on the Isle of Wight, Rew Down in Ventnor, where the views are spectacular and the landscape, ancient and of geological interest.
Using the colours of geological maps, I used my #Humeloom to develop the idea in the previous piece. I tried split weaving in the centre, but it was unstable on a bigger piece, especially the cerise ‘frame’. However, it could be used to a different advantage – I’ll have to think what that could be. I liked the centre point using the embroidery floss and the curving tassels which reflect the undulations in the landscape of that area. I stitched some pathways across the landscape and added a geological feature – a tumulus with a French knot. I wonder what other possibilities there are for adding stitch?
This piece uses the final cut out section of my Cornish landscape drawing. I cannot have imagined the journey this doodle would have taken me on over the last 6 months. If you are stuck for inspiration then doodle a picture and cut it into sections. Take a section and work with it. It has helped me to push some boundaries in a new technique.
Here I have used my #HumeLoom to weave a border and fill in the centre with a tapestry based on my doodle. This is a good loom to use to combine the techniques. My other small landscapes were worked on my homemade pin loom. The interchange of the colours on the sides gave the opportunity to leave little handles to attach the side fringes. My biggest learning point is to consider how the weave will be finished before I start! Should I create a hem or should I leave space for tassels and hanging? I think I’ve decided that creating a hem is a good idea and then I can add the tassles if I want to. What’s next? Something bigger perhaps? Something combining more embroidery? Watch this space…
So I found a way to use my sample, afterall. I attached it to some fabric and laced it on to some card. On reflection, its a bit puffy and I should have used felt to cover the card instead of wadding. It was a new technique I used to mount Tallulah Seaside which I’d already forgotten about: cut a piece of mount card, attach 2 or 3 strips of double-sided tape to the card, peel off and attach a piece of commercial felt. Trim to fit. Then wrap with your design, lace and finish with a piece of felt on the back. Just the right thickness. Happily, it has been accepted for Ventnor Secret Art.
I had in mind that I would work this piece for Ventnor Botanic Gardens young apprentice scheme. However, the brief – simply an A5 piece that you can post in an ordinary envelope – proved too difficult! The proportions were just wrong and when the length of my tassels and cord were constrained, I abandoned its purpose and just made it into a piece that I really like.
The journey was quite a long one. First of all, I made my stitched centre a little too big. So I’ve kept it as a sample for now. I decided that the weave needed to be more than just a frame because why bother weaving it! I also felt it would work better as a square rather than a ‘windy day’ rectangle.
So, I chose a new image and just worked part of it as the central stitch feature, which worked much better.
I used glass beads to finish the warp strings and made the tassels from the weaving wool with a little bit of pink sparkly thread added to balance the colour of the beads. The cord is made from the same mixture of theads as the tassels. A nice straight, dark wood twig is the perfect hanger.
As a little aside, the Guldusi exhibtion, Keep Your Eye on the Planet was showing as part of the textile fair in Karlsruhe (Germany) and from May 29th, it will be in Textilmuseum Max Berk, Heidelberg-Ziegelhausen for around 2 months. The exhibition is accompanied by a program of supporting events that will be posted on the Guldusi website. So, if you happen to be on your holidays, do drop by!