In another case of apparent serendipity, I wrote a blog post this past week about what I termed "weave-worthy" designs. My point was that since tapestry is such a slow medium, and most will complete a relatively small number of them in a lifetime, that it might be good to identify what factors make a design especially viable. I ended up having numerous comments from weavers in three separate (and unique) conversations: on the blog itself, on Instagram and on Facebook. Responses ranged from "anything is worth weaving because I learn something from it" to having a deep sense of purpose as an artist and making sure your work was in alignment with that purpose. The primary response was that it must have meaning to you, as the artist, to make it weave-worthy. If anyone is curious about that conversation, it can be found at weavingelements.com. I mention it because it seems so similar to some of the questions that Jane posed for us this past week.
A second event this past week also strongly shaped my thinking about my work. While driving up the road to deliver my completed tapestry of the small chihuahua, Lily, it came to me that the theme I want to have for my work right now is love. This was reinforced when I gave the tapestry to my friend whose pet had died. Upon seeing the image, she immediately started crying and as we chatted for a few minutes I saw her touching the tapestry, almost as if she were petting her beloved dog. It made me aware of the value of not just the image but the tactile component of having a weaving rather than a photo.
To me, both pet portraits I have done have been all about love. I have several more animals (3 cats, 1 dog) in the queue. I also want to do two weavings based on photos, including this one, which for me represent love. I have not woven a person before so this will be very challenging for me. My process was different than Jane suggested, in that I already knew the images that I wanted to weave, but it was helpful to think about what was compelling for me about them and what the unifying factor might be. When I started weaving contemporary tapestries, I was expecting to weave abstract pieces based primarily on color. It is surprising therefore to be focused on a portrait style but it seems to be what I am drawn to right now.
I have also considered doing another series of weavings that are very different from what I just mentioned. I need to generate income and I would like to have some of it come from my art. I have thought about a series of larger wall hangings that are very simple in structure, using just lines, squares, rectangles and perhaps triangles. They would be similar to this sample that I wove recently.
The largest I could make them given my current looms is about 20x24. I would use thicker yarn and a wider sett, which would make weaving them more expedient. I think someone in the class once said something about their commercial pieces and this is how I think about this series. It is a pragmatic choice but one that still allows for artistry in design and execution, including color choices, without requiring the amount of time necessary for the love series.
I welcome any thoughts that you (Jane and class members) might have about my direction.