Friday, April 18, 2014

Resistance to possibility.

I was just reading a blog post by Tommye Scanlin which resonated with where I am right now. Beginning a new tapestry is hard. I have no problem whipping out a knitting pattern and grabbing the first yarn that might remotely work from my stash, but starting a tapestry is a whole different ball game. Somehow knitting just doesn't scream commitment like tapestry does.

As Tommye says, it is hard as rocks (of course she was weaving rocks so maybe she has a better position from which to say that). I like to think that other tapestry weavers have similar struggles with beginning and that this is somehow different from other art mediums. I suspect I am wrong about the other mediums. It is probably just as hard.

Tapestry somehow seems difficult because of the fear of beginning something I absolutely hate. It takes so long to weave a tapestry that the fear of making that mistake can be paralyzing. I often think about a design for months or even years before I even write something down. I fuss with it more, draw various iterations. Eventually I just have to start. Often what primes me is starting to dye. Sometimes I dye a bunch of sample colors in jars if I am really stuck. This gives me the opportunity to see multiple colors with less effort and time in case I make a real stinker.
But ultimately I have to get over the indecision and pick colors and start weaving.

And sometimes all that stuckness that I work out through dyeing means that I have this much yarn for a very small area of a tapestry.
At least I have choices.
...and as it turns out in this case, not enough yarn for the major color areas of the tapestry. Back to the dye pots.

As Tommye quoted,
"Begin at the beginning," the King said very gravely, "and go on till you come to the end: then stop."
(Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland)


  1. Thanks for visiting my blog and your thoughts about your starting challenges. I think many of us face the same hesitations. Moving forward even not knowing what's ahead is daunting. By the way, the quote was from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: Begin at the beginning," the King said, very gravely, "and go on till you come to the end: then stop."
    Lewis Carroll

    1. Thanks Tommye! I updated the post to reflect the Lewis Carroll quote. I should have known it was from Alice in Wonderland. :)

  2. Beautiful colors in that dye group! Love them!!

  3. Delicious colors, Rebecca. Yes, I agree that many of us do face those same challenges. It's all about mustering up the courage to take that first step...and then the next step...and soon one is walking (or in our case, weaving) right along. The fear is replaced with wonderment of what unfolds before us.

  4. I have the same problem when designing a large applique project. I have this notion, already an emotional tie, about how I want the design to progress. There are fabrics to select, details to puzzle over, techniques to consider. I think, though, that my applique process is a bit more nimble. I've found away to keep almost every decision revocable until the final stitching. But with tapestry, it's such a linear process, I could see how hard it could be to commit to an idea and go.

    I like being "in" a project much more than starting.

  5. Hi Hi Becky, (I know you're professionally, "Rebecca" but humor me, I've known you a while!)

    I am so pleased to see your career and work take off -- it's energizing and inspiring! I like seeing how you have taken some themes and let them wander back and forth through your work.

    AND - I totally get how hard it is to create new work.

    At Lawrence I remember wracking my little mind to come up with ideas for new imagery in Lithography class (a medium I have NOT gone back to, BTW) -- in the face of classmates with incredibly detailed, well-thought out and cool imagery. I struggled with capturing ideas as they wandered in and out of my hormone-addled collegiate mind. The challenge was to identify and pin down these ideas (like an old friend, new to a blog site, trying to figure out the technology of saving a post) before they evaporate into the next cool thought.

    I have gotten better at trapping these ideas (I invite them to dinner now -- instead of just leaving goofy poetry on the door). My key is to look diversely at other people's work -- in all media. The things I dig, I sketch, or write about on the back of my formal orders, full-up caption books and parking tickets. Sometimes I am purposefully looking -- but sometimes it's like a bolt of lightning.

    So - I encourage you to look at my abstract work -- and maybe the more formal stuff -- as that has some hooded creativity in it too. The link to the abstract stuff is:

    I encourage you (or any of your blogsville bubbas) to borrow ideas liberally from this stuff. I dig figurative, somewhat anonymous silhouettes in halftone: color and movement being parts of that world in which we humans live. The work is mostly straight photos, but I've done some photoshop to assist the vision here and there. Much of it is drawn from nature as well . . . God's hand is far more creative and prolific than mine. My organic art is often a macro view of an individual - which we academically understand - but in the individual, it displays unmatched coolness.

    So - press on my friend.
    You rock and I'm proud of you!

    Love, cheers, courage and -- sometime -- dinner,


    1. Awesome photos Rog. Thanks for posting the link. I also think it is so important to look at other mediums... photography and tapestry are a good mix.


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