This means that I was able to concentrate on the second tapestry, again using a photograph as a reference point and selecting yarn colours that would evoke the image. At this point I would like to say that I have always worked with process as well as design when required or the work needed it. The pieces for the fina project are process driven in the main.
The photograph is of a magnolia stellata in our garden. The magnolia is a strange and wonderful tree. There are no leaves on the tree when it blooms. It sprouts these bright white, soft petals for a very short time (3 weeks or so) and then it turn into a dull tree that disappears into the garden greenery until the next spring. I re-worked the image to be more blue, modifying it from the orginal:
Here is the original picture:
This is a detail of the blue photograph blown up to show the colours that were useful suggestions for the tapestry. I placed the image above on a table in daylight in order to ensure when I matched the yarns they would be as close as possible. You will see that there are various greens, browns, purples, blues and in the white are certain soft rosy pinks and blues in the image, and I had a go at mixing various blends of yarns to suit some of this.
I stuck these pictures into the theme book to look at the colours in different ways:
The background is quite abstract, an assortment of organic shapes, layers of foliage and branches - colour masses that can be stylised in tapestry. The question then arose how to create the petals of the magnolia. From the outset I thought it might be interesting to apply fabric strips that would suggest these bright and luminous white flowers.
So here is the work in progress. This is a bit late in the development of the tapestry. I was playing with colour masses, choices and the placement of these across the tapestry surface. During the making I had to continuously check how the colour balances worked aganist each other when colours lay next to each other, but also to weigh the balance across the piece, looking at where greens, blues and brown were set and echoed each other from left to centre to right, from the bottom to the upper areas of the piece.
In this picture (above) some areas of brown and blue are shown, which I knew when I went home for the night were not right. This had happened in other areas of the tapestry, where somehow the colour areas did not really work, being either too big, or not intermingled properly. These areas I un-did and reworked and this mostly ended up as something much better. Working with materials and process in this way, measuring, balancing tones, hues, masses and blends, thinking about how they relate, this is a way I really like working with. It means you make decisions throughout the work and there is still a clear link to the original design at the end. It worked in this piece because it is small (26 x 31cm), but I am not sure whether in larger pieces it would work as well, I think that large tapestries need design and carefull working out.
Here are the yarns I used to create the blends. The yarns varied greatly, from silk, wool, linen and nettle to cotton and rayon. Some were handspun although most was commercial. A few vintage wool embroidery yarns were amongst them and some I had dyed, including the linen weft.
Below an image of the back of the work, I have included it to show how many times colour blends were changed.
The front is taking shape here. I was unhappy with the flower on the left, it just didn't seem to work as a flower and there were a fair few trials with different petal widths, lengths and angles.
And in the end the final piece looks quite interesting with the white petals shining on the surface. I used white silk with some Inktense stains in pink and blue to ensure they related to the background colours, to give them more body I ironed on some very light interfacing to make sure they had some definition. You will see that there areborders at the top and the bottom of the piece. When the work started I had planned these to be folded back, but they work well in the way they create a frame against the coloured central motif.
A detail to show a flower and some of the surface detail - I included some wrapped areas across single warps and some across three warps in some areas.