Friday, December 31, 2010

Tapestry cartoons

I (egocentrically) always assumed that everyone did tapestry cartoons like I did.  But recent discussions on the tapestry list seem to indicate that some people even weave tapestry without (gasp) a cartoon.  I aspire to this level of freedom, but doubt my somewhat controlled personality will allow me to get there any time soon.  Here are some photos of my cartoon process taken while I was working on Emergence II earlier this year.

I draw the initial design fairly small and then bring it to a photocopy place that makes blueprints to enlarge.  They can get at least one dimension any size I want (and both dimensions if I keep my initial drawing in proportion).  Then I transfer it to acetate (sometimes--sometimes I just use the paper... but have to remember to reverse the design as I weave from the back!  Acetate you can just flip over before transferring it to the warp).

Drawing the design in two colors (so I can keep track of which part of the design is which) on the acetate.

Then I transfer the lines to the warp.  This has to be done repeatedly while weaving as the warp advances.

Here the tapestry is finished by still on the loom with the cartoon hanging behind it.

And eventually you have a new tapestry!
Emergence II
Rebecca Mezoff
45 x 45 inches; hand-dyed wool tapestry

Now if I had only gotten the next cartoon ready before the day before New Year's Eve.  It seems that the two copy shops I have used to blow up cartoons are closed until Monday January 3rd.  This will inhibit my beginning a new tapestry unless I can screw up my courage and enlarge my drawing freehand. 


  1. What you need is a digital projector-- then you can scan in a sketch and project it on the wall at any scale you want (backwards or forwards), and trace it. And you can watch movies on it! Oh, but it might require some empty wall space :)

  2. That is brilliant. (I'll need a scanner too.) Then I could play with the scale and it would be cheaper than running to the copy shop for expensive big copies (completely ignoring the fact that I'll need two pieces of electronic equipment totaling more than all the cartoons I would have copied in the next decade of my tapestry career by several factors).

  3. Love your logic about the scanner/projector versus copy shop! Sounds like my kind of logic. I think they make projectors that don't require a scanner, but not sure about size capabilities.

    I love seeing how people work. I noticed that there appears to be masking tape on some yarns and what appears to be warp thread hanging on the tapestry in progress. Are those your color notes? Also curious about the areas where one color is transparent on another color. Did you just use strands of both blue and red in that part of the weaving?

  4. Hi Sherri! The masking tape tags are indeed marks about which color it is. As I blend bundles (because I have so many different ones), I mark them with masking tape. It is kind of a pain, but otherwise I make color mistakes. Often I can't really tell which colors are which when they are in butterflies but I can tell once they are woven!

    The thread is upholstery thread that I use to sew slits.
    The transparency is so so simple. It is just regular hatching with two colors.

  5. Thanks. I figured that it would be hatching, since that's not my favorite thing to do. But I've got a design floating around in my head that I think is going to require it. Sewing slits is also my bête noire. Oh, well, guess I'll have to suck it up! Colors: sometimes I have to put the butterflies in plastic bags, especially when I know the same combination of colors will come up again.

  6. I love this tapestry, such vivid colors, and the organic shape is so energetic. By the way, I'll be seeing your other one in ATB8 again in a few weeks, when it opens in Lowell, Massachusetts!

  7. Oh yeah, you don't need a scanner, just take a photo of it.

  8. Beautiful post about process, Rebecca! Thanks!!

  9. Such a helpful post and comments. Thank you for taking the time to write these ideas out and share them. I love how many of us have bored dogs under our looms. What a sweetie!