Friday, January 24, 2014

Making yellow into blue. Color Gradation in yarn.

I have spent this week teaching a color gradation technique class in my studio in Santa Fe. We have been practicing how to move color in tapestry using various techniques including hatching, hachure, use of texture, weft bundling, and pick and pick. The class has done a wonderful job and many new innovations surfaced during our work. Here are some photos. And if you missed my newsletter on 1/23, make sure to hit the link at the bottom as it shows a great transparency exercise.

After the usual argument discussion about weaving from the front or the back (in which I was soundly defeated--every single student chose to weave from the front much to my chagrin), we dove into irregular hatching. Hatching is one of the cornerstones of tapestry work and an important tool for moving color horizontally.
But the favorite exercises are usually the ones where we move color vertically.
This is really rewarding to do and after experimenting with moving one hue from light to dark, some people got crazy with grading between hues while changing values. (I expect great things out of this lot, I have to tell you.)
A big thanks to Kevynne Layne for getting this particular class off the ground with a group of weavers from the Damascus Fiber Arts School in Oregon. Marcia and Heather joined the group from Colorado and California and we had a wonderful group of 6 plus me.
As a teacher, you're always on alert at the beginning of a class to try to figure out which students are going to understand the way you best like to teach and which ones are going to need you to re-arrange your brain to explain things in their thinking style. And then there are the students like Janet who pick everything up right away and run with it.
That progressive hachure exercise she did in peach and orange is always the hardest exercise in the class. This time around I even printed out a whole instruction sheet just for this figure. Janet nailed it without a word from me and then proceeded to weave the pink meander with color gradation in the figure. Smarty pants.

This class was a whiz at color. Everyone had so much natural ability to mix and use color. It was astonishing.

And then Kiki pulls out this green sampler (eventually she added other colors and even had to use someone else's loom when she filled hers so full she bloodied her fingers trying to pick the tight warp)... Blood = dedication.
The techniques done all in green were so striking.

The whir of the swivel...
The thunk of the handbeaters...
The call of the double chocolate cookies at the coffee shop across the parking lot...
It was a really good week.

I am teaching some of this material in a two-day class at Convergence 2014 in Providence, RI. Join me!


My newsletter this week showed an example of a wonderful exercise a student in this class did with transparency. You can see that newsletter HERE. You'll be surprised which colors you need to mix to create illusions of transparency.

You can sign up for my newsletter at the top right corner or the very bottom of the blog... so you don't miss the next one!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Tapestry Tuesday at the Met

Here is a little something that came my way through some social media channel last week.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is having a show of 20 rarely seen royal tapestries from the early 1500s in October, 2014. In preparation for that, they have launched "Tapestry Tuesdays" on their social media sites. The show which is scheduled to open October 7th, is titled Pieter Coecke van Aelst: Tapestry and Design in Renaissance Europe. Between now and then the MET is going to have tapestry tuesdays which highlight tapestry from their collection.

This week's offering can be seen at THIS link.

Screen shot from the MET's website. See further photos HERE.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

American Tapestry Biennial 10

I had some great news recently. I submitted my newest tapestry to the American Tapestry Biennial 10 and it was accepted. Juror Dr. Jessica Hemmings, Professor of Visual Culture and Head of the Faculty of Visual Culture at the National College of Art & Design, Dublin, chose 37 tapestries out of 230 from 118 submitting artists. I feel quite lucky to be on the accepted list. I actually found out quite awhile ago since I am one of the co-chairs for this particular show. It was rather difficult for me to keep that secret for a number of weeks. I have learned a great deal from volunteering for ATA. The most valuable lesson is that if you don't get into a juried show, it isn't necessarily a statement about your work. It is quite possible that your work just didn't fit into the juror's vision for this particular body of work or show. Next time it just might.

The complete list of accepted artists can be found on the American Tapestry Alliance's website HERE.

The show will be at three venues.

Visions Art Museum
San Diego, CA
May 2 – July 20, 2014
Opening reception: May 10

Kent State University Museum
Kent, Ohio
September 25, 2014 – January 4, 2015

Omaha, Nebraska
February 6 – April 24, 2015

Rebecca Mezoff, Emergence VII, 44 x 44 inches, hand-dyed wool tapestry

Here is another tapestry artist's experience with being accepted to this show along with a photo of her beautiful piece. Link: Tommye Scanlin.

I am 2 for 3 on ATB shows (I entered work for consideration into ATB 8, 9, and 10. I got into ATB 8 and 10). At this point I think a 50% acceptance rate would be phenomenal, so I completely expect to not get into ATB11. I'm just planning ahead. You can't be too careful.

Monday, January 20, 2014

A furious week of work

There has been crazy stuff happening in my studio, or perhaps mostly in my head. I think things have come back under control and perhaps I can find a few moments to devote to the blog.

I spent last weekend in the dye studio. I have had various dye "studios" over the past years, but this one might be the best so far. I loved the shed I had in Colorado, but when it is -38 degrees out as it was last January, dyeing outside is absolutely not an option. It turns out that a garage makes a pretty good dye studio. It is fairly cozy on a weekend afternoon in Santa Fe with the dye pots heating it and the sun shining. I made a pile of yarn, some for the class that started yesterday.
What you can't see is the table of dyes and jars behind me and the big stove to my left.
When I wasn't dyeing, I was re-envisioning handouts and exercises for the 5-day studio class. I pulled it all together and so far the class has been excellent. A studio full of students who are excited about tapestry and are enjoying some time in Santa Fe is a great experience. So with all that activity, I have felt like I needed about three of me the last couple weeks. Fortunately Emily helped me clean the studio Saturday evening and it was all spit-shiny and new for the arrival of 6 students from Oregon, California, and Colorado Sunday morning.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Secrets of a tapestry volunteer (Part 1... "Don't worry")

I have learned a great deal about shows from being one of the co-chairs for the American Tapestry Biennial 10 this year (the American Tapestry Alliance's biennial international juried show). I have little to no decision-making power, but I do have an inside seat into how the thing works. And it has been eye-opening. I'm not going to tell all the secrets here because frankly, we need volunteers (and honestly, it has been totally worth it anyway). But here are a few tips for entering an international juried show.
  1. If the show is in the USA and the dimensions are asked for in inches, please don't send me centimeters. I have to go and convert each and every one of those numbers because the size of the show is measured in feet which correlates to inches. And I know that it is crazy we still use feet and inches over here when the rational world uses the metric system which frankly makes way more sense, but trust me. It is a lot of work to convert all you metric-people's centimeters to inches. (Don't worry, I converted all the centimeters.)
  2. If the prospectus says "show the edges of the tapestry if they will be visible when the piece is shown," then don't crop them out of your photograph. A photo with the edges showing looks very different than one with the edges cropped. (Don't worry, we took both this time... but next time, don't crop!)
  3. Photo sizes. Yoy. I can't believe the variety. Some photos were 35 KB (WAY to small by the way) and some were 20 MB (WAY too big by the way). This is just something I have to deal with, but try to find a happy medium. There are pixel requirements on the prospectus. (And don't worry, I fixed your photos or asked for new ones.) I see a blog post coming about how to resize your photographs! It actually isn't the easiest thing especially if you don't have the right software.
  4. Send photos. Seriously. Some people didn't. (Don't worry, I asked you for them if you didn't.)
  5. If the prospectus says that October 31 is the "received-by" date, this means we aren't accepting any after that date. It is not a postmark date. Many shows use postmark dates. Make sure you check! (Don't worry, I emailed you if you missed it.)
  6. If you are challenged by the online entry, consider getting your entry together and mailing it early. I would far prefer the online method as it is faster for me, but some people have weird browsers or old computers and the online entry just didn't work for them. And what the juror sees is the same in the end regardless of whether you entered online or through snail mail.
  7. If you use someone else's PayPal account to pay, especially if you have a different last name from them, please leave a note that it is a payment for you. (Don't worry, I think we finally sorted all those out.)
  8. And lastly, if you are snail mailing an entry from a place that may take a long time to arrive or may actually get stuck in some mail-person's carry-bag for a couple weeks or whatever happens to random pieces of mail, send your entry really early. There is nothing worse than having to tell someone they weren't considered because their entry took over a month to get here. (Don't worry, if I didn't tell you this was you, it wasn't though I am super disappointed for the person it happened to!)
But don't worry....

Disclaimer: All of this is completely from my head. Please don't hold ATA responsible for my random grousing! I do hope these little tips help when the next show comes around however. I know I'll follow them (lesson learned!).

Seeing the entries for ATB10 was enlightening. It reinforced something Thomas Cronenberg and Jennifer Sargent said in my rejection letter for ATB9. The juror may well be a person we respect who has worked a long time in the fiber field and who we desperately want to hope will like our work. But that juror is attempting to create a cohesive show and the work that gets in does have something to do with the other pieces submitted. Just because your piece didn't get in doesn't mean it isn't amazing (believe me, there was some amazing, wonderful, fantastic work submitted to ATB10). It just means it didn't fit the juror's vision for this particular show. Or maybe it just means that she ran out of room and those last 5 huge tapestries just couldn't be accepted. Or maybe he just doesn't like green or flowers or hanging installation pieces or whatever. Don't take it personally. Keep entering. And above all, keep weaving.

(What the ATB9 co-chairs actually said was, "Please keep in mind that the selection for this show is that of one juror. He chose works that fit his vision. Many tapestries not selected for this exhibition could easily be selected for another show.")

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Tapestry Studio Happenings, 2014

Dreams for the new year are many. Some will be realized, some probably won't be as I
run out of time and energy
overestimate my abilities
spend all my time weaving tapestries.

Wait! Maybe this year they will all be realized. I have dreams of being able to hire someone to help me make that happen. Now there is an idea.

Running a tapestry studio that is not part of my home was a huge undertaking in 2013. I love my time in the studio and hope for a lot more of it in 2014.

I am busy creating here in Santa Fe. I love to make things with my hands and I also love to create with my brain... which mostly ends up as classes I teach. There are many new opportunities coming up in 2014. Here are some of them. Stay tuned, there will be more!
  1. January 19-23, 2014: Color Gradation Techniques for Tapestry, 5-day class in my studio in Santa Fe. This class is full but let me know if you want to get on the waiting list.
  2. February 8, 2014: lecture about my work and my experiences weaving tapestry in the southwestern US, Las Tejadoras Weavers Guild Meeting, Santa Fe. Contact me for details.
  3. March 24-26, 2014: Warp and Weft: Learning the Structure of Tapestry, 3-day class in my studio in Santa Fe. There are still a few spots left in this beginning tapestry class. More information is on my website HERE.
  4. June 10-13, 2014, Warp and Weft: Learning the Structure of Tapestry, 4-day class at The Recycled Lamb in Golden, CO. More information HERE.
  5. Convergence 2014, July 14-19, Providence, RI. Classes I am teaching are: 
  • Color Gradation Techniques for Tapestry in a 2-day format 7/15-16
  • The Mobile Tapestry Weaver: Weaving Tapestry on a Hokett Loom in a 1-day format 7/17
  • Creating Without Pain: Ergonomics for Fiber Artists in a 3-hour lecture on 7/19. 
  • See HGA's website or the teaching page on my website for more information.
And here are the things that are in the works and are definitely going to happen, but I don't have all the details yet... just so you can marinate about them for a bit.
  1. Warp and Weft: Learning the Structure of Tapestry will be offered as an online class.
  2.  September 13-14: 2-day lecture and class in Southern California
  3. Creating Without Pain: Ergonomics for Fiber Artists will be offered as a lecture at Convergence 2014 (for sure--see above) and in e-book or video form by the end of the year.
  4. Many more blog and video projects sharing the fun world of tapestry. 
Check out my YouTube channel if you have missed some of my videos. I am shooting more every week for the online class and a few of them will make their way to YouTube for all of you to see. (Did you know you can subscribe to YouTube channels so you get an email when a new video is posted?)

You can sign up for my newsletter HERE. In 2014 I will be sending out two newsletters a month with updates on my classes and with information about the world of tapestry.

I also offer private classes in my studio. You can find more information about that on my website HERE. If you want to come to Santa Fe for a few days or a week and you want to get in some tapestry time in my studio, let me know! It doesn't have to be a scheduled workshop.
And the big dreams:
Weave a lot of tapestries! Because I love messing about with yarn.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

New beginnings

New Years always brings out blog posts about new beginnings and resolutions and such, doesn't it? But it really is a good time to make some goals. I have made some and will share some of them with you in the next few weeks.

I spent much of last week in the cold of the Colorado mountains watching a new baby come about. She scared us all half to death, but in the end everything went well and she is beautiful and healthy and I am so grateful for that.

And this is how cold it was when we went to the hospital for the arrival.
I know that won't impress those of you suffering through an extended cold spell in the northern USA and Canada, but it was mighty cold (as you may remember from when I lived there last winter!)

Today I am back in my studio trying to catch up with all of your questions and scheduling my classes and activities for 2014. There are great things coming! Expect a post with a list of classes and lectures later this week.

If you haven't signed up for my newsletter, you can do so HERE. I will send out two each month in 2014 with information about my upcoming events, teaching resources, videos, blog posts, and most importantly, stuff about tapestry!

Happy New Year!