Throughout December until now my work has mainly been on tapestry weaving. In a previous post I showed a work in progress where I wove on a wooden block and it has turned out to be a fairly respectable piece in two parts.
I should say that these blocks were quite hard to weave; I used a kebab stick as a shed tick and had to needle weave to complete the surface. When the work got to the top and the last rows had to the be woven I had to sometimes/often lift individual warps with a pointed implement to get the needle underneath - a very slow and laborious process.
The warp was linen and the weft was a varying mixture and blend of all manner of handspun and commercial yarn: wool, silk, paper, linen, angora, viscose, latex covered yarn and more. I used only natural and white for one block and white-greens for the other. The greens were mainly dyed using Dylon cold water dyes.
They were photographed in more of a studio setting and so the colours seem a bit more enhanced, but they work together and suggest plant shapes as I had planned:
Here are some details of the different sides of it:
Basically I have wanted to work with interlaced wrapped elements for a while so this was opportunity to try this out, and as you can see the top of the white block was a mass of interwoven twisting elements.
Trying to work out how to finish off the linen warps around the nails, I platted the threads around the nails and tucked them under which in the end was the tidiest and allowed the threads to be cut and they now lie flat against the wood.
Another couple of detail images showing each side of the green-white block: Here I used some twisted wrapped elements but used more as features on the surface rather than as a mass, and on the other side I woven in a more graphic pattern partly inspired by Bauhaus type compositions, weaving it flat without any surface additions.
Over Christmas and into January I was working up a largish sample (26x54cm) in white tones using a mixture of handspun yarns, commercial natural and synthetic fibres. I had bought this raw silk which had a very interesting texture, quite stiff to the touch (although it went soft in handling during the weave) and I had wanted to wrap a number of warps to enable the yarn to be shown off properly.
I set out to create a sample that would be big enough to be a wall hung piece and would show off the different textures of mohair, paper yarn, rayon, wool, cotton and linen, and which would provide a neutral background to the raw silk.
Here's the final tapestry, off the loom but quite finally mounted:
You can see that I built in some areas using small squares woven in paper yarn to make the background area a bit more interesting than eccentric weft only - the squares were pretty randomly placed and spanned either 3 or 4 warps.
Close up you can see how the texture on the right works - the raw silk lies in bunches over 3-5 warps:
Looped mohair was also used and I think this needs to be used sparingly if used in this sort of work, or as features in large tapestries as it projects out from the surface and can be a bit too much of a contrast if the surface needs to be flat. In general I should mention that with so many different thicknesses and qualities of yarn I needed to keep an eye on how thick the weft became. Sometimes it probably got a bit too thick or thin, although overall the final piece feels fairly even. I think that you can use the density of weft to good effect in a textured tapestry and I want to explore this some more once I get onto my new loom (an old Dryad rug loom - more to follow soon).
I like the use of paper as a design detail in the squares, but see that I probably need to continue learning to control my edges as they tend to move in and out a bit depending on the thickness of the weft.