Wednesday, June 21, 2017

From Ab Ex to wedge weave

In January I wrote about a visit to the Women of Abstract Expressionism show at the Mint Museum in Charlotte. Here's a detail of one painting by Joan Mitchell that I especially liked:

detail, Joan Mitchell, Cercando un Ago, 1957
I concluded that post this way:

"I was surprised to find that while gazing at work with so much energy, movement, and color, I felt a paradoxical stillness and calm.  A meditative reflectiveness that I feel in front of . . .  weaving.  Of course I started wondering if there was some way to bring the energy, movement and spontaneity of this kind of painting to tapestry weaving. 
But that's a story for another day."  

Well . . . today is another day!  At the recent retreat of Tapestry Weavers South,  Connie Lippert introduced us to her signature technique, wedge weave.  It's a lot of fun, seems to go quickly, and while it's quick to learn it has an amazing potential for variety.  Just check out Connie's website for some fabulous examples.  You can also see some lovely wedge weave tapestries on Michael Rohde's site, clicking here, on the "small tapestries" link under Galleries.

So this for this month's tapestry diary I'm doing wedge weave.  The "rules" are that I'm using only yarns from my scrap bag, and that there are five horizontal bands, one for each week of the month. Here's where the diary stands today, roughly in the middle of the fourth band:


I'm having fun playing with color, seeing how I can make disparate colors work together by using the right proportions.  You can see that I'm not weaving the full 7" width.  As I'm weaving, it is 5" wide and will be 7" tall.  It will be turned sideways in its final form, so that the long, scalloped edges will be the top and bottom.

I'm pondering whether I can use wedge weave in the background of my next Mary piece.  I'm immensely encouraged by these tapestries which fuse imagery with wedge weave.

Connie Lippert wove a map of the world entirely in wedge weave.

Connie Lippert, Paradise Lost?, wool, linen, natural dyes.  32" x 47"

Ruth Manning has recently finished Donut Man.  You can read about it on her blog.

Ruth Manning, Donut Man 
I am transfixed by the way Ruth has integrated realistic imagery into a wedge weave background. She has handled the wedge weave areas with such subtlety, blending colors and values so that they do not shout Zig! Zag!  I love the tones of white and beige in the upper right, and the hatching in the top center.  The man eating the donut is the still focal point in a busy, blurred background full of movement.  There is much to see and learn from here.  Thank you, Ruth!

I'm hoping I can achieve a similar feeling of the still, iconic Mary at the center of the tapestry I'm planning.  Here's a sample where I'm experimenting with yarns and colors. The large striped wedge at the top is my attempt to make one of Silvia Heyden's "feathers."  Click here and here for more about Silvia.  She worked improvisationally in something very like wedge weave.



Here's a few sketches of the next (last?) Mary piece.  I'm thinking of it as a companion to the Mater Dolorosa (sorrowing mother) I just finished--same size, similar Churro yarns, but with a different mood.  Working title:  Mater Potens (powerful mother).  I'm not finished with the design process yet, though, so stay tuned for changes.