Thursday, May 30, 2013

Tapestry beaters or forks

My new babies got here yesterday.
Here they are all wrapped up for travel.
At the recommendation of a fabulous tapestry weaver, Lyn Hart, I purchased one Maggie fork several years ago. I have been trying to get more ever since. Yesterday the box arrived with four new forks nestled in the center. A huge thanks to Magpie WoodWorks, LLC for this beautiful work. These tools will hopefully last me a very long time (and honestly, I am already panicking that I won't be able to get any more and considering if I can afford a few more for rainy days in the future). The work of John Jenkins is outstanding. The teeth of the forks are pet combs. The tips are pointy enough to travel through the warp easily but smooth enough that I never worry about snagging the tapestry. They are spaced perfectly and are very strong. The woodworking is gorgeous and flawless.

In this photo, the forks are small, large, small, and the mini is lying on top.
Each fork is stamped "maggie". I love this... perhaps because I had a dog named Maggie once a long time ago. This is the handle of the "mini".
Here is a closer shot of the small sized fork.
Magpie WoodWorks is based in Grand Junction, CO. Their website is

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The first tapestry class in my new studio

I had my first class in my own studio May 4, 5, and 7. I had a set of fantastic students and I think we all had a marvelous time. At least I know I did and they all were lying if they didn't. They were a shy bunch and didn't much want their photos taken, but here are some shots of yarn, the studio, and the work being done.

The class was Color Gradation Techniques for Tapestry and the class description is on my website HERE.

Here is one student's preparation for a color gradation using singles yarn, three to a bundle.

Here are a few examples of the hatching and hachure practice we were doing in the class.

This is a detail of a jump-over technique we were learning. It is a sort of regular hatching. This is the back side of the tapestry.

Here is a detail of some shading we were practicing with pick and pick and above that in the blue is a vertical gradation using singles yarn. (Much of this class is woven using the 2-ply Harrisville Highland but we practice getting smooth color gradations with a singles yarn by Harrisville.)

Another example of pick and pick and a vertical gradation. Under the pick and pick in black and grey is a great example of a hachure exercise. We use this as a way to experiment with creating areas of shading using only two colors. When done in more similar tones, the effect can be quite subtle. I do recommend students start with contrasting colors so they can see the technique they are working on!

And Sunday afternoon there was even a surprise black bottom pie which Emily made for the class. You can't argue with that.
And here are a few beautiful photos from one of the talented students, Susan Fuquay. She said I could share them with you. If you love yarn, you might like these.
photo: Susan Fuquay
photo: Susan Fuquay
photo: Susan Fuquay
photo: Susan Fuquay

Thursday, May 23, 2013

How much fun can a girl have in a day?

So really. How much fun is one woman allowed to have in a day? I turned a bunch of little skeins of singles yarn into some great colors. Dyeing all those colors in just two pots is such fun. I know it. I'm a geek.

And this is the kind of thing Emily has to put up with all the time. Skeins of yarn all over the house... not to mention the eviction of her car from the garage when the dyeing enters its manic phase.  I feel such a phase coming on actually. My apologies to the Camry.

The good news is that I have more Ball jar dyeing to do this weekend in preparation for the next big piece. Before committing hundreds of dollars of yarn to the dye pots, I'm doing the knitting equivalent of swatching. It seems a good idea. Plus the little skeins are so darn cute.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Eldorado Studio Tour 2013

I didn't have a lot of time at the Eldorado studio tour this year but I did find a few hours Saturday to drive up there and visit four tapestry weavers. Eldorado is a large community just east of Santa Fe off I-25.

Lynne Coyle makes wonderful tapestries on looms her husband makes for her. I enjoyed hearing about how they make everything they can themselves. Her husband makes ingenious frames for the finished tapestries which are quite beautiful and some of her work was framed with metal which included decorative scrollwork. I was also inspired by her 96 year old mother who despite macular degeneration (which takes away your central vision), sews many hours every day and had a whole room of lovely quilts for sale.

Linda Running Bentley is a natural dyer. Several of the tapestries she had displayed were woven from yarn dyed entirely by plants from her Eldorado yard. She had made a beautiful green from juniper and some brilliant yellow from chamisa.

While Linda's work is grounded in the plants around her, Sheila Burke's tapestries are about the cosmos. She has been working with value in small format lately and the results are excellent.

Letitia Roller was an inspiration to me. Her tapestries are full of movement. She tends to put small bits of shapes together and builds a large image that is fascinating to study. I was blessed to hear some about Letty's process as an experienced artist and encouraged to see some of the tools she uses for design, many similar to tools I use myself. Letting the process just happen is important and sometimes takes deliberately focusing on something else for the pieces to fall together. Doodling is part of her process, but her doodles look like works of art. She has started using stamps and spray dye for this process and it reminds me of the art journaling that I have worked on intermittently for the last few years. Letty also is a wonderful pastel painter. I was captivated by her use of color in her pastel work and encourage you to look at her website at both the tapestry and the pastel portfolios. The work is very different in the two mediums, but both are inspiring. Her website is HERE.

The Eldorado studio tour is a huge event. There were something like 70 stops and I only made it to four of them before I had to head off to the mountains for the day. They have a preview gallery at La Tienda which is a great place to stop first to get an idea of where you want to go from there.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Festivus Miracle!!

I spent today taking plastic off looms and putting together IKEA furniture. I am consistently impressed at how ingeniously that stuff is made considering how relatively inexpensive it is.

I reached a panic point late in the afternoon. I had the large Expedit bookshelf that is for my yarn all put together on the floor. I was pretty proud of myself for getting this one together by myself considering that this is IKEA's recommendation:
But I have some experience with this furniture now and I was pretty sure I could use the wall as another set of hands. Turns out it worked beautifully (and I highly recommend getting a small rubber mallet if you are going to put together one of these babies... it saves your hands and doesn't chip the finish if you're careful). But eventually I was looking at this:
...and wondering how on earth I was going to stand it up. I tried to lift it enough to get a 2x4 under it in the hopes that when Emily got home from work and I bribed her with some pizza we could lift it. I could only get it up far enough to smash my fingers pretty well. Turns out the thing weighs about 250 pounds when assembled. Remembering my physics, I knew I didn't have to lift that much, but the first few feet up would be a good portion of it. How do you lift heavy things? My dad moves pianos really well with an old car spring and a box of 2x4 pieces... he just jacks it up a little at a time until he can slide a dolly under the thing. But that wasn't going to help me get this bookcase from lying down to standing up.

I got some good advice from my sister via Facebook (basically she said, I can't solve your problem, but don't panic. We Mezoffs aren't good at problem solving when we are panicking). At that point I was exhausted from all the assembly (and a really hard yoga class earlier today) and I just wanted my studio to be useable already!

Then there was a knock on the door (the Festivus miracle part). My water had been out for awhile and my landlady sent our awesome handyman over to find out what the problem was. Turns out my water is still shared with my neighbor and he turned it off to do some plumbing on the other side of the wall. But Juan, being the helpful guy he is, took one look at that shelf and said, "Need help with this?" (Except in Spanish which I even understood!) I applied my puny muscle strength (hoping the yoga will help with this) and he basically picked the thing up by himself.

Here are the leftover pieces from the assembly day.
It is a little disconcerting to have leftovers, but I am pretty sure I don't need most of them. I probably should use the one that screws the big shelf to the wall though. All I need is for it to fall over on someone. I'll have to call Juan to get them out!

Here is Cassy doing her best to help all morning.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Two steps forward, three steps back

Well, I knew that I was going to have to tear apart the studio again to complete some soundproofing in the ceiling that the landlord didn't think really needed to be done before I moved in. Turned out that being able to hear every word of what the business owner upstairs says is not really a great situation. The last straw was being able to hear someone pee in a bathroom somewhere above my head.

So after my studio class the first week of May, I packed everything up again and moved it to the far side of the studio where it would be out of harms way. It sounds like a minor thing when chatting about it, but it has been a large set-back. I had hoped to be dyeing yarn for my new piece right now, but I haven't found a quiet space to concentrate on the design and decide on the colors... and my design and color materials are in boxes under layers of plastic somewhere. So I wait for the work to be done so I can put my new shelves together, get the yarn dyed, and start weaving.

Last Thursday the insulation went up. 

A couple days later, the soundboard was in place. I lost the cool rust-colored beams, but the sound barrier will be worth it.
The looms in their shrouds of plastic. No, I didn't move the Harrisville Rug Loom. That was my stipulation in them doing the work. It is warped and ready to go and I don't want to have to screw with the tension again.

And the furniture was finally delivered two weeks late after four different companies schlepped it who-knows-where... by a very chatty Sikh with a good string of jokes. I wish I could remember jokes because he was really quite funny. I know there was one about the Pope and lawyers in heaven.... I wonder if he knows any about freight companies.

I love spring. One of my studio neighbors had this huge rag rug hanging over his upstairs balcony the other day.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Moths in Tapestry... or Holy Guacamole, HELP!!!

I think I need some moth advice. I have worried little about moths living in a very dry place and having never seen a clothes moth in my tapestry career.

But tonight I unpacked this tapestry.
Rebecca Mezoff, The Goddess's Heart Song, 31 x 34 inches, hand-dyed wool tapestry
The Goddess's Heart Song has been rolled up in storage (in a storage locker) for the past year and a half. It was one of my very first tapestries and resides in my personal collection. I was getting ready to hang the tapestry in my home and looked at the back and saw this.
I looked closer and saw this.

I scraped away the little semi-translucent trails and saw places where it seemed like the nap of the tapestry has been chewed. It is hard to see in the photograph, but here it is. See the little trough in the center of the photo?
So does this evidence suggest moths? (I can't imagine it is anything else.)
And if so, what do I do about it. I think I need some help on this one.
As soon as I post this cry for help, I will vacuum the tapestry. Does anyone know what I should do after that to make sure I save this piece and don't have an infestation? I know that people put yarn in the freezer, take it out and thaw it, and then freeze it again. Is this a good procedure for a tapestry? I certainly don't want any of my other pieces infested. This piece was one of only a few that were in that storage locker. The ones I had with me seem to be fine.

And are there any other thoughts on using cedar? I won't use moth repellant as I don't want that chemical in my environment. I do hang my tapestries 3/4 inch from the wall. The little buggers may have found the tapestry in storage. Probably someone in the next locker was storing thrift store sweaters. Sigh.

Heaven forbid I introduce moths into a new house and they find their way into my extensive yarn stashes. I shudder to think of the potential catastrophe. I don't have any clothes worth two cents, but my yarn... well, they better not mess with the yarn.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Trying out the Facebook Page: Rebecca Mezoff Tapestry Studio

I'm testing out the use of a Facebook page (as opposed to a personal page).

Notice there are only 11 likes on there so far...
(And for my Mom, I'm definitely not saying you should get on Facebook! You can like me in other ways. Blueberry muffins?)

Sunday, May 5, 2013

My grandmother's writing

My grandmother was a weaver. She wove tapestry. She got a BFA in fiber when she was 60 years old. When she could no longer use her tools, they were passed on to me. Much of my studio has been in storage for a year and a half and I have finally found time to unpack those boxes this week. I found a lot of my grandmother in there.

This box contains the heddles that fit on the 48 inch Macomber loom. There are 10 shafts on this loom, each of which has a hefty number of heddles. (Maybe some day I'll get the other 6 shafts just so I can weave some 16 shaft lace. I know a few of you are groaning right now at my tendency to multiply projects.)
But I really have to ask if she ever needed THIS many heddles.
Here is a beautiful hand-carved tapestry fork which has been emblazoned with MEZOFF. I suppose I should be grateful a student won't take it home accidentally (and that my name is also Mezoff), but it sure would be prettier without the label.
I especially love this peanut can which holds the hooks for the tie-up on the Macomber looms. And this may also explain my spelling difficulties. These problems are genetic, right? I am pretty sure the correct word is LOSE... all caps of course.
And a typed label stuck to a small piece of weaving she (or perhaps my grandfather) did. It may have been a gift for me at some point and the label was a courtesy.

And my favorite leash sticks. I am pretty sure anyway that they are called LEASH sticks, not LEASE sticks (the L got cut off in the photo). Although after awhile I'm not so sure about words anymore. Once I've used them wrong enough times, it is pretty hard to rewire my brain to the correct spelling/grammar/useage.
And her books did not escape either. Here is a Harriett Tidball monograph. Most books look something like this. It is of course ironic that she consistently wrote "valuable" or "do not loan" on books that she felt were valuable. But I suppose in some ways that makes them more valuable to me as a remembrance of my grandmother. She is still very much alive and kicking, but no longer weaves. So I weave for her on the days I don't have the mojo to weave for myself.
Thanks for being a weaver Grandma!
And Happy Cinco de Mayo from the sunny southwest. (The tapestry class is going great in case you were wondering.)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Studio progress

Little by little this studio is coming together. There has been a lot of furniture assembly. Somehow I feel like furniture should come in one piece, and I suppose it is possible to buy it that way. But if you go with an IKEA sort of decor, you're going to be following those little pictures and putting it together yourself.
I have a collection of those little hex wrenches this furniture all comes with. I save them religiously in my red toolbox, though honestly I expect never to take any of this furniture apart. I pulled the baggie where the collection resides out of the bottom of the toolbox today. There are many of them. Maybe 20. I have no real recollection what most of them were used for. (Emily put them in the baggie. I would have just thrown them in the bottom and never been able to find the one I need... in the unlikely event that I needed one of them. Emily is smart like that.)
And with the assistance of the taller of my helpers for the day, I got these tapestries on the wall.
These two pieces have never hung side by side and I enjoy seeing them this way. On the left is Emergence V: The Center Place (45 x 45 inches). On the right is Emergence I (48 x 48 inches).
And here is the shorter of my two helpers for the day... without which I would not have gotten the yarn re-arranged on the floor, the spool rack spun, or the boxes climbed upon. Great to have a little niece in the studio!