Monday, January 22, 2018

Using Collage to Make a Tapestry Design: The ATA 2018 Blog Tour

If you're a fairly new tapestry weaver, you may have done a sampler or two to learn techniques.  You feel sort of comfortable weaving shapes and angles and know the basics.   Now you're ready to start a "real" tapestry. . . but how?  In our field, there really isn't an abundance of ready-made patterns out there for you to follow, as there are for embroidering or quilting.  You pretty much have to dive in and make your own design (and really, that's much more satisfying in the long run).  But if, like me, you are a little. . . insecure about your drawing or painting talents, you may be at a loss for how to begin.

I'm here to help!  You can design your own tapestry!  Even if you think you can't draw or paint.

I do much of my designing by making collages, cut-and-pasted arrangements of paper and sometimes photographs and other objects.  It makes sense when you think about it, because tapestry is largely an arrangement of shapes and colors, just like a collage.  Also, tapestry is all about texture, and often in collage we are putting together papers and other elements with different textures.  For me, the collage process also keeps me from getting too bogged down in fine lines and fiddly details that can happen in drawing.

I'm going to walk you through the process I've used for some of my own tapestries.  Some of them are large-ish, and some are quite small, so you can see that collage can work in a range of sizes.  You might even use collage to design your own small format piece for ATA's unjuried small format show.  I hope you will!

Molly Elkind, Mary (a sword shall pierce), collage, 6.25" x 11.25" excluding mat
This is a collage that came together very quickly and that I was able to translate with few changes into tapestry.  The central image is a torn-out section of a black-and-white photocopy of an icon of the Virgin Mary, a painting that has inspired my work for the past few years.  I layered it on top of some textured pieces of handmade paper and painted paper I had on hand.  I drew in tiny crosses on the dark blue field in the upper left with a silver gel pen.

Notice that I said that I translated  the collage into tapestry.  Turning a collage into tapestry is a process of translation, an interpretation from one medium (paper and glue) into another (woven yarn).  Adjustments will need to be made.  And that's where it gets really interesting.

With this piece, these are the translation decisions I had to make:
  • Whether to try to try to render the embossed linear textures that you see in the gold and the light blue papers. (I decided this was irrelevant detail.) 
  • What level of detail I wanted in the face.  Would I try to reproduce every speckle and scratch on the worn surface of this ancient icon?  (No, I would not, but I did include some speckles in the final piece.)  
  • Whether to reproduce the torn white edges of the central eyes section?  (Yes, I  like the reference to collage in the woven piece.) 
  • Would I change the size?  (I wove the piece almost exactly the same size as the collage, 6 1/2" x 12".)
  • And of course the big questions:  which yarns would I use?  At what sett?   
To figure that out, I traced the collage to make a first draft of a cartoon.  



You can see how I outlined every major shape and identified the different areas of color.  In the eyes section in the middle, I simplified the image into areas of different values (light and dark) and labeled them with numbers from 1-9, with 1 being the darkest and 9 the lightest.  (For excellent information about working with value, see Sarah Swett's post from last year's blog tour.)  If I were to do this again today, I might simplify the values even further, into just three or four.

Then I marked two narrow vertical sections of the design to weave as samples.   I am a huge believer in making samples:  they give you a chance to try things out, to see what works, before you start on the piece for real.  You get a chance to practice weaving the tricky parts, so I always choose to sample the hardest or most complicated section of the design, which in this case was the eyes section of the face.  Keep in mind my sample below was for my informational purposes only--it was never intended for anyone else to see!

Molly Elkind, samples for Mary (a sword shall pierce)
In the sample on the left, I used Brown Sheep's Waverly Woolcolors for the areas of color and the red sword shape.  I used DMC cotton floss for the eye area. I also experimented with a wider sett (4 epi instead of 8) in the gold, blue, red and white areas, while sticking to 8 epi for the eyes.   In the sample on the right, I used Waverly wool (2 strands) throughout, and did not vary the sett.   Being a lazy sort, and this being only a sample, I did not sew up the long slit between the two strips.

My sampling told me that I preferred the look of using all wool. I moved ahead, tracing the cartoon again, this time on vellum.



I labelled the background areas with letters to indicate color, and continued to use numbers from 1-9 for the grayscale of the eyes area.  I decided to stick with the epi of 8 that I had sampled with, and used 12/9 cotton seine twine for the warp.

Molly Elkind, Mary (a sword shall pierce) in progress; collage visible at left. 
Molly Elkind, Mary (a sword shall pierce), cotton, wool, 6.5" x 12"  mounted on gray cotton to 10" x 16"
Let's look at another collage-to-cartoon translation.  Here's the original collage as it appeared in my sketchbook (9" x 12"):

Molly Elkind, Huh? collage
I painted question words with watercolor on the paper, then I adhered torn and cut sections of paper over the words.  My plan was to do a series of four small, 4" x 6" tapestries that featured words and text, rather like contemporary illuminated manuscripts.  I found an interesting section of the collage and cropped it to 4" x 6".  I liked the cropped version much better than the whole piece.

I traced the cropped section, shaded in some basic light-medium, and dark values, and started pulling out different yarns.

Molly Elkind, cartoon 1 for Huh? tapestry
 I decided my first set of colors was too bright and happy for a collage that was about questions and confusion, so I tried some others:

Molly Elkind, cartoon 2 for Huh? tapestry
I liked these colors better.  You can see by my note to self that I wanted to try to convey the feeling of collage by using yarns of different weights and sheens.  I was wondering again about using DMC floss in combination with wools. I ended up just using various wools.  I did use doubled warps in some areas, weaving at 5 epi instead of 10 (on a 12/6 gray cotton seine twine warp).  I traced the cartoon one more time, on vellum, and began weaving.

To summarize, for this piece my key collage-to-cartoon translation decisions were:
  • to crop and weave only the most interesting section of the original collage
  • to use a single and double sett (10 epi and 5 epi) for textural contrast
  • to use only wool yarn, but to contrast thick Churro singles yarn with thinner wools
  • to use double half-hitches at the edges and allow the fringe to show.  Turning under the hems on a small piece would make the edges lumpy.  
  • to mount this 4"x 6" piece on a larger, 8" x 10" background (gray cotton stretched over stretcher bars) to give it presence

Here's the finished piece:

Molly Elkind, Huh?, cotton, wool.  4" x 6" mounted on gray cotton to 8" x 10" 

Are you still with me?  In this last example you'll see how the initial collage was just the kernel of an idea that needed to be expanded and refined into a resolved composition.

Molly Elkind, Mary (greater is what she bore in her mind), collage

This was my original collage.  I was still working with the face from the Mary icon, and I was also inspired by a quotation from St. Augustine:  "the truth of Christ is in the mind of Mary; greater is what she bore in her mind than in her womb."  In the photo above you can see how I juxtaposed my  photo of a cave opening with a color copy of Mary's face from the icon, and a strip of gold-painted paper on the right side.  To begin to simplify the cave image, I broke down the rock faces into light, medium and dark sections and assigned value numbers.

A hugely important part of translating a photo into tapestry is simplifying it into basic shapes and areas of light and dark values. Value trumps color every time!

While working on this design I had the opportunity to take a wonderful workshop with Scottish tapestry artist Joan Baxter.  Joan quite rightly suggested that the collage needed an overall compositional framework or structure.  I did a number of simple thumbnail sketches in my sketchbook.  These are more like diagrams than drawings.  I was focusing only on major shapes and lines, trying out different framing designs.




Eventually this is the vellum cartoon I settled on, after many tracings and revisions.


Molly Elkind, cartoon for Mary (greater is what she bore in her mind) tapestry 
At the same time I was developing the cartoon, I was also weaving samples to test combinations of yarn colors and weights for the different sections of the tapestry.  The two processes inform each other.  You can see that I tested lots of yarns in the black-to-light gray range for the rocks.  It was challenging to find combinations that would make similar-sized weft bundles.



These are some of the decisions I made while translating this collage into tapestry:
  • to frame the central image with a set of concentric arcs or partial leaf shapes, especially on the left.  I also decided to make the edges of these leaf shapes irregular, fading in and out around the central image.  
  • to use metallic gold Lurex yarn for the gold area on the right and in small amounts on the left
  • to use a variety of green wools for the leaf shapes on the left
  • to use a range of seven values from black to very light gray for the rocks and cave opening
  • to add some lines of soumak in the lower left, and half passes in gold near the top, which were not in the original cartoon. I made these decisions on the fly, while weaving.

Molly Elkind, Mary (greater is what she bore in her womb)
cotton, wool, Lurex.   12" x 9" mounted on gray cotton to 16" x 12" 
I hope these examples have shown how collage can be an accessible entry point for designing your own tapestries.  There is so much more to say on this topic, but I want to leave you with just two more thoughts.

First, not every collage will translate into a weave-able design (ask me how I know. . .).  Collages with lots of fine lines, tiny shapes or marks, and lots of fine color gradations can be fiddly to weave unless you're very experienced.

Second, weavers each have their own attitude toward the cartoon.  Some of us say the cartoon should be as detailed as possible and once finalized never wavered from during the weaving.  For others of us the cartoon is only a starting point, a pretext, and we feel free to improvise along the way.  Both are correct! This is a matter of individual preference and experience.  Each weaver will find their own way.  For me the point of the cartoon is to give me a road map to follow to start with.  It shows me the major decisions about shape, color, value and line that I need in order to begin weaving.  But I like to leave room to improvise along the way, to keep the journey interesting!

Want to know more?  Join me this July in Reno, Nevada at Convergence, where I'll be teaching a two-day workshop From Collage to Tapestry Cartoon.  We'll dive deep into the collage, design and cartoon process and you'll leave with a design ready to weave!

THE BLOG TOUR
January 22nd: Molly Elkind : Collage as research
January 23rd: Ellen Bruxvoort - Vlog on Instagram about her design process
January 24th: Tommye Scanlin: Literature as inspiration
January 25th: Debbie Herd: Digital design tools
January 26th: Barbara Burns : Documenting your design for promotion

WIN ONE OF 25 PRIZES!
Follow all the stops on the blog tour to increase your chance to win one of the following
prizes: $50 toward a Mirrix Loom, a Hokett loom kit , a Hokett Tiny Turned Beater , a project bag from Halcyon Yarn containing rosewood bobbins and a voucher for their online shop, a voucher for
Weaversbazaar’s online shop , a free entry into ATA’s 12th international, unjuried, small
format exhibition and a free one-year membership to ATA.

Here’s how to enter to win. Comment on this blog post then go here to let ATA know that you
commented. The more blog posts you comment on the more chances you have to win so be
sure to follow along. Ellen Bruxvoort is doing an Instagram video for the tour and if you
respond with a photo or video on social media describing how you design tapestry you get
five extra entries in the giveaway. Let the sharing begin!

To win another 5 entries into the giveaway enter to exhibit in The Biggest Little Tapestries
in the World , ATA’s 12th international, unjuried small format exhibition, and then let us know
that you entered by going here by Sunday January 28th. For this exhibition all entries get
accepted to exhibit as long as your tapestry fits within the size requirements!

The Biggest Little Tapestries in the World , ATA’s 12th international, unjuried small format
exhibition is open to all weavers. We invite entries which fit more traditional definitions of
tapestry, and also entries that expand upon the core principles of the medium as they
explore new techniques and processes. Multimedia work is welcome. The Biggest Little
Tapestries in the World! will hang July 2018 at the Northwest Reno Public Library, 2325
Robb Drive. The entry form (intent to participate) is due February 15, 2018. The tapestry,
and an image of the tapestry is not due until March 31, 2018. Find more details here.


ABOUT AMERICAN TAPESTRY ALLIANCE
The American Tapestry Alliance is a nonprofit organization that provides programming for
tapestry weavers around the world, including exhibitions (like Tapestry Unlimited), both
juried and unjuried, in museums, art centres and online, along with exhibition catalogues.
They offer workshops, lectures, one-on-one mentoring and online educational articles as
well as awards, including scholarships, membership grants, an international student award,
and the Award of Excellence. They also put out a quarterly newsletter, monthly eNews &
eKudos, an annual digest. Members benefit from personalized artists pages on the ATA
website, online exhibitions, educational articles, access to scholarships and more.

You’re invited to exhibit! The Biggest Little Tapestries in the World, ATA’s 12th international,
unjuried small format exhibition is open to all weavers. We invite entries which fit more
traditional definitions of tapestry, and also entries that expand upon the core principles of the
medium as they explore new techniques and processes. Multimedia work is welcome. The
Biggest Little Tapestries in the World! will hang at the Northwest Reno Public Library, 2325
Robb Drive. The entry form (intent to participate) is due February 15, 2018. The tapestry,
and an image of the tapestry is not due until March 31, 2018. Find more details here





177 comments:

Helen Smith said...

Gosh - this is such an interesting and useful post Molly - thank you so much. I have been weaving tapestries for just over a year now and seeing your process has given me a lot of ideas and starting points for designing my pieces. I was particularly intrigued by your process of selecting yarns and numbering the colours/shades - I am so much more haphazard and just grab what feels right at the time - I think I need to plan a bit more �� Thanks again! Cheers, Helen

Molly Elkind said...

So glad you found it helpful, Helen. Good luck with your weaving!

Chriss said...

Thank you for an informative and inspiring blog post. I am not confident in my drawing/painting skills so I mostly weave representational tapestries. I do love geometric shapes and often incorporate them into my daily sketches. This method of collage speaks to me and I think I will try it. I also like your structure around planning a piece. I am a planner! Thanks again!

Cynthia.Landers@ocps.net said...

Moly this is so on point for me right now. I'm taking a course in sketching, journaling and also taking a course from Tommye Scanlin in February. Thank you so much. I'll definitely be trying some of these techniques!

Molly Elkind said...

So glad this speaks to you, Chriss. For me, too, planning is crucial to tapestry. I hope to see your work soon!

Molly Elkind said...

You will learn a lot from Tommye! Good luck with all your design and weaving endeavors.

Nan said...

I am just starting my Tapestry Journey and this post has given encouragement for design (an area I feel a bit weak in). Thanks for the jump-start!

tommye said...

Wonderful post, Molly! I loved following your process from inspiration to final tapestry.

msartpride said...

This is a great way to start the week. I have been making collages with the hope that one will steer me in the direction of a small tapestry. The detail you offer is so helpful, and freeing at the same time. Thank you!!!

Molly Elkind said...

It’s my pleasure! Best wishes on your tapestry journey.

Molly Elkind said...

Thanks, Tommye. You’re very kind.

Molly Elkind said...

That is so nice to know! Thanks for the feedback!

weavingrose said...

Molly so nice to meet you this way. Your process has moved me to consider moving away from my hodge-podge way of designing my weaving to more specific & intentional. Thanks!

Molly Elkind said...

Nice to meet you too! Best wishes as you move forward!

Linda W said...

This is really helpful. I'm looking forward to your class at Convergence. As a new tapestry weaver, how to get my ideas into woven form is a big question. Thank you!

Mary Lane said...

Great post, Molly! I especially like the list of questions you addressed that involve translating your design into tapestry. Thinking through those issues in advance can really tailor the design to the strengths and possibilities of woven tapestry. Thank you!!

Unknown said...

Great post, Molly! I have been weaving for many years, but want to get back to doing some small tapestries. It is helpful to see how others work.

Molly Elkind said...

I’m looking forward to seeing you in Reno! Happy weaving till then.

Molly Elkind said...

Thanks so much, Mary.

Molly Elkind said...

So glad you enjoyed it, Joan! Hope to see one of those small pieces.

Beth S said...

This post is very timely for me. I'm taking Rebecca Mezoff's online course and working on designing a project. I hadn't considered collage before, but I am excited about the possibilities! Thanks for sharing the details of your creative process.

Molly Elkind said...

You’re welcome, Beth. I know you will learn a lot with Rebecca. Can’t wait to see what you do!

jwilson39 said...

This is fascinating! I've never used a collage to plan out my weavings before but maybe I will have to try this. My sketches usually look pretty goofy lol but as long as I can read them that works for me lol

jwilson39 said...

^ For the ATA blog tour this is jswilson39 I updated my settings so it will show correctly for my next comment :)

Molly Elkind said...

Exactly! Whatever works for you is good. But I also find it helpful to see what works for other weavers too. Thanks!

Regina D. said...

Wow, you certainly got me thinking in a different way. I do not draw/sketch, but instead use my photos. My mind is spinning with ideas. Thank you for sharing your process! This is why I am so appreciative of ATA providing the Blog Tour. All our members can benefit, regardless of their experience, from what you all share.

Unknown said...

I love the idea of working from a collage. I am new to tapestry and love the ability to create the ideas I have rambling around inside of my head. Working from a collage gives me one more way to put thought into action.

Unknown said...

Molly, this post is very helpful to me. I usually weave from photographs and was never quite satisfied with the outcome. Your blog post gives me ideas how to add layers of meaning to my designs.

Victoria Stone said...

Molly, thank you for sharing your design process in such detail!
It is so inspiring to see how other artists create. I so enjoyed your thought-provoking ideas. I can't wait to try working from a collage.

Sarah Kimberly said...

Collage is something that never would have occurred to me on my own, but I've had so many ideas just in the time it took me to read this post. Thank you!

Unknown said...

Molly, this is a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing your process. Many times just starting a concept can be overwhelming! Using collage to convey texture and color is a great way to get an idea in motion.

Molly Elkind said...

Regina, It is so good to know you find this post and the blog tour helpful! I’m looking forward to reading the other blogs this week too.

Molly Elkind said...

Excellent, Ann! I look forward to seeing what you’ve woven some day!

Molly Elkind said...

Hi, I understand exactly what you mean. Photos can help but they are just a part of the whole design. It took me a while to realize I had to add my own ideas and emotions to any photo to get a design worth weaving. Thanks for your comment.

Molly Elkind said...

Thanks, Victoria. I hope to see what you’ve done some time!

Molly Elkind said...

You’re welcome! Im so glad you found this helpful.

Molly Elkind said...

Thanks, Wendy, for the feedback. I agree that collage is a very approachable starting point. Good luck on your weaving journey!

Carol said...

Thank you, Molly for sharing such an informative as well as inspiring post. I am a painter and a weaver who loves to draw and finds her self of late, trying to integrate it all. Your post was very helpful.

Molly Elkind said...

Carol, I’m very glad you find the post helpful. I hope to see one of your weaving some day!

Agnes Iley said...

Thank you for this blog post. It's a major light bulb moment....
I'm doing a two year textile art course and in a couple of lessons we used collage as a starting point for the design process. And I really enjoyed working that way. At the moment I'm rekindling my love for tapestry weaving after 20 years of not weaving. I never thought of using a collage as a starting point for tapestry. I must dig up the collages I made and look at them with a new viewpoint.

Julia Rapinoe said...

Molly, thank you for your thoughtful blog. I really enjoyed seeing how you think through your process from collage to tapestry. Very timely for me as I enrolled in a collage class to find another way of developing a tapestry design instead of my usual line drawing.

Molly Elkind said...

That is wonderful, Agnes! It was exciting to me too, when I realized that collage was a natural fit for tapestry design. Have fun!

Molly Elkind said...

So glad you found it helpful, Julia. I hope you find that it all leads to wonderful weaving!

Katie Hickey said...

Molly, thanks for such a thorough and clear description of your process! I also use collage to design my tapestries. One of my reasons is that I think the layering effect that arises naturally out of collage also naturally creates depth and dimension in tapestry. Another reason, however, is that I'm too impatient to spend time drawing!

Vallee fam fave recipes said...

Just a great post, Molly. I'll be putting some of these ideas into practice in the near future. Thanks!

Sarah said...

Wonderful post Molly. Thank you so much for all of the info —and also the kind mention of my value post from the last tour. Weave on!
Sarah Swett

michielerelliott@yahoo.com said...

Thank you Molly. I have never used collage but you have inspired me!

kayaknancy said...

What a great article, Molly. I hadn't thought of using a collage as inspiration. Generally, I use photographs I've taken. Also, I am new at tapestry weaving and I like the idea of sampling.

Marlena Rogers said...

Molly, I found your use of collage in the design of tapestries very inspiring since I am by no means good at drawing original pictures, although I have many original designs in my head! I will definitely be using this technique.
Thanks
Marlena Rogers

Martha said...

Molly - Thanks for taking us through your design development process. I tend to struggle thru this phase and don't take my cartoons seriously enough or simplify enough.

Rebecca Mezoff said...

Lovely explanation and examples. I really enjoyed seeing how you designed these tapestries. Thanks Molly!

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for sharing your method. I am to the point of wanting to create my own designs, so this is very helpful!

Greta Holmstrom said...

Molly -
Thanks for the great details on your process. Your writing style builds confidence!

Lindsay K. said...

Thank you for the great examples of your process.

Jane Hallstrom said...

I am very new to tapestry and learned a lot from this post. I've never used collage--just drawings and I like the idea of trying it. But the descripton of the decisions made was the most helpful to me--thank you.

Annette said...

You've definitely inspired me to try collage as a design technique sometime! Thanks for the detailed post.

K Spoering said...

Well done, Molly! Thank you for sharing this with us!

Patti Kirch said...

Thank you Molly.
My latest tapestry is an arrangement of sketched elements, a collage of my Mom's new view of life. I hit a road block but your post helped "untangle my knot". Thank you for sharing your process.
Patti

Ellen said...

You have articulated your process so clearly! A wonderful resource. Thank you!
~Ellen R.

Linda said...

Molly, thank you for an a-ha moment!
This explains a few techniques that I struggle with. Thank you

Bridget said...

Thanks for sharing your techniques! I am a long time weaver, and have just started to experiment more with tapestry. I have never thought of collage to help with the design process... I think it's a great idea!

cate markey said...

Loved this post - so much that I quickly logged into my Convergence registration to see if there was still room in her class, and on my schedule. Yay. Yes on both. I am at the point of reinterpreting photographs and other art for tapestry, so this post very timely for me and truly useful. Thank you.

Kfolson said...

Great ideas! Thanks for sharing your process

Kathryn Olson said...

This is a wonderful idea, thanks for sharing!

Mike Wallace said...

A really clear description of the process itself and how to use it and apply it to one's own work. Some great new ideas and also many reminders of things and techniques one knows one ought to do but often just skips.

Patti Kirch said...

Thank you Molly,
Earlier today I was in a bobbin battle, your blog tour process helped me "untangle my decision mess". I appreciate your thorough collage design process.

Unknown said...

Thanks for explaining this process so well! I liked hearing the whole process - the tracing, samplings, etc.
Bonni Opthof

olly said...

Molly thank you for this inspiring blog on collage for design and the ways to translate this into tapestry. I think part of my problem has been in the translation process. I will now look again at the way I go about design and weaving.

Deb Berkebile said...

WOW! Thanks for showing your process and explaining things in a very interesting manner. What a great blog!

Molly Elkind said...

Me, too, Katie! It’s nice to know collage is working for you, too.

Molly Elkind said...

I am overwhelmed with these positive comments. Thank you, everyone.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your thorough explanation of your design and sampling process. Another thing to add to my long 'to-do' list! Could you clarify what you mean by 'vellum' as in the UK this would be a type of parchment, and very expensive. Is it a high-quality tracing paper?

Anonymous said...

Thanks!
I appreciate your describing your design process.

Shanna Robinson said...

Thank you! I appreciate that way you talk about the translation of your idea into cartoons, samples, sett and yarns. This is very helpful.

Molly Elkind said...

Thanks, Janna!

Molly Elkind said...

Can't wait to see what you do, Michiele!

Molly Elkind said...

Simplification can be hard, I know! Thanks for reading!

Molly Elkind said...

Thanks for reading, Rebecca!

Molly Elkind said...

I'm so glad, Lu!

Molly Elkind said...

Thank you, Greta. happy weaving!

Molly Elkind said...

My pleasure, Lindsay.

Molly Elkind said...

You're welcome. So glad to be of help.

Molly Elkind said...

Thanks so much, Kathy.

Molly Elkind said...

Thank you so much, Ellen!

Molly Elkind said...

So glad you found this helpful, Linda!

Molly Elkind said...

Great! I hope you have fun with it and it helps you with tapestry.

Molly Elkind said...

Cate, I would love to see you in the Collage to Tapestry Cartoon class in Reno. Hope it works out!

Molly Elkind said...

My pleasure, Kathryn!

Molly Elkind said...

Thanks, Mike. Glad you found it helpful.

Molly Elkind said...

A bobbin battle! I hope you won! Glad the blog helped a little. Onward!

Molly Elkind said...

I'm so glad, Bonnie. Thanks for commenting.

Molly Elkind said...

The translation process is really where the rubber hits the road, isn't it? Good luck with it and happy weaving!

Molly Elkind said...

Thank you so much, Deb! Glad you liked it.

Molly Elkind said...

You're welcome. It was helpful to me to break it all down, too.

Molly Elkind said...

So glad it is helpful to you. Happy weaving!

Kathy popoff said...

What a wonderful idea! I've been taking drawing and painting classes to enhance my tapestry design skills. I will now try collage. Thank you for your detailed post

Dinah Rose said...

Thanks Molly for your well laid out view of your design process, this is very helpful

Marilyn Switzer said...

Fascinating! I think my big "aha" was that you can use different warp sizes within the same piece. I never would have considered that at all. Also, the idea of sampling for tapestry is new to me. Lots of food for thought.

Laurie O'Neill said...

Molly, I love seeing how you designed from collage! I've recently dipped my toe into collage and this post definitely makes me want to use it for tapestry design.

Spinnerholm said...

This was so helpful . Your design process is very intriguing and something I will definitely try out. Your attention to process and detail will make that easier. Thank you so much for sharing!

Molly Elkind said...

My pleasure! Good luck!

Molly Elkind said...

THanks, Dinah, for reading and commenting.

Molly Elkind said...

Great! So glad to have sparked some new thoughts.

Molly Elkind said...

Laurie, Excellent! I wish you good luck and happy weaving.

Molly Elkind said...

My pleasure! Happy weaving!

Unknown said...

Inspirational, educational, understandable and extremely interesting to a total beginner such as me. Thank you.

Meisha Synnott said...

This is a great idea! I love collage as an art form in its own right. Such interesting designs are created. And I love mixed media. So why not look up, down and sideways and combine these processes. Both the collage time and the weaving time will be enjoyable and help each other in the creation of interesting pieces.

Thanks Molly!

Meisha Synnott said...

This is a great idea! I love collage as an art form in its own right. Such interesting designs are created. And I love mixed media. So why not look up, down and sideways and combine these processes. Both the collage time and the weaving time will be enjoyable and help each other in the creation of interesting pieces.

Thanks Molly!

Molly Elkind said...

Thank you, Billy!

Molly Elkind said...

My sentiments exactly. Thanks for commenting, Meisha!

Alice said...

Thank you, Molly, for your wonderful inspiration. My mind is whirling with ideas and exploration for future tapestry. Maybe I’ll enter the small format show for my first ever to get some experience and to jump into the new year of weaving! Sampling and “Value trumps color every time” really stood out to me.

smay said...

I couldn’t agree more! Excellent and very helpful in breaking the processs down into doable pieces.

Sharon said...

I appreciate your so clear explanation of your designing process. Thanks!

Bonnie Klatt said...

This was fascinating and very helpful. Thanks for sharing.

Molly Elkind said...

My pleasure, Sharon!

Molly Elkind said...

So glad it was helpful, Bonnie.

Peacecat said...

What a wonderfully detailed blog post! I am a beginning tapestry weaver; and a novice at anything to do with design. It often seems like talented artists take "risks" more easily (i.e., not needing a pattern or directions to simply explore). This technique of yours is really helpful! I may make a collage...

Faith Varrone said...

I love working from collage and so appreciate the detail in your work! Fantastic post! Thank you!

Unknown said...

So interesting using collage to then create a tapestry. Your detailed description of how you create a cartoon and even choose your yarn is very helpful to me. Thanks!

Unknown said...

I would love to take your class, but Reno isn't in my future this year. Wonderful article.

pcooper said...

Excellent post, I love following your thought processes and it was very clear, thank you from a beginner

Anne said...

Thank you for the great explanation and for illustrating it so well, Molly!

Jessica said...

Thank you for describing your process.. in addition to this being a good way for people who don't think they can draw, using collage is also a good way to find ideas when stuck! :)

Debby said...

I was so looking forward to the Blog Tour again. Thank you for your illustrations and explanations.

Martha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Martha said...

This is great information. I was very intimidated by the cartoon because I can’t draw. But I am going to try the collage. How do you store all your samples and notes for a piece?
Thank you Martha M.

Jennifer Robinson said...

This is a wonderful post-- thank you so much for sharing some of your tricks with us!! My Mom and I love to learn more and more about weaving, and will incorporate what we've learned here!

Unknown said...

This really helped me to understand the use of a cartoon.

KateP said...

Thank you for this - it's very helpful to have illustrated examples of how you get from a concept to a cartoon.

Anonymous said...

I love this idea of collage, and I am just a little intimidated by the planning and testing phases, but I will give it a shot... :)
Sandy

Heather Myers said...

Interesting idea.I have more ideas than time and design is easy, but I might try this technique.

Mavis said...

Wonderful post! Very helpful for creating new ideas for tapestry weaving.

Molly Elkind said...

I hope you do and that it works for you!

Molly Elkind said...

I agree, Jessica, collage can be a fun way to explore and see what bubbles up.

Molly Elkind said...

Depending on how large the piece is, I store samples and notes and sketches in either a file folder or a large flat box. I use a sketchbook too but it doesn’t work for storage for me.

Molly Elkind said...

Just take it step by step. We all find our own way, and you’ll figure out what works for you.

jm144 said...

Thank you for laying out a very clear and easy to understand process. Really interesting!

Gina G said...

Very interesting approach to solve the "what do I want to weave" question. And takes me beyond adapting a single photo.

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for sharing! I appreciate the openness about using a cartoon and a really great reminder to test/do a sample of the hard parts first!

Gloria said...

Molly, thank you for a wonderful post. So many ideas. Using a collage seems to be a great way to overcome the block I often feel when putting pen to paper. I will try it. Thanks for the reminder to sample. Not my favorite thing but your illustration made it pretty obvious that sampling is useful. Value trumps color. Thanks for sharing your process.

Susan Q said...

How generous of you to share your process. Using photo or cut paper collage is a great way to get over fear of drawing.

Laura said...

This was great! Informative and inspirational. I will have to try this--*and* make myself do some sampling.

Janet said...

So glad to be visiting the blog tour.

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for your incredibly informative article. I love to weave but have difficulty drawing, so collage sounds like a wonderful way for me to get ideas down for my mini weavings.

Dori said...

Thank you so much for sharing your process. It was so well explained and it helped me with gaps in my own process! Wonderful!

Mara said...

Thank you so much, Molly.
I'm just trying to get inspiration to start my tapestry journey yet again and your article has certainly helped.

Molly Elkind said...

Sorry for the delay in answering your question. Vellum in the US is not that expensive. It is a sturdy, translucent tracing paper, avaialble in regular size sheets and in large rolls. Hope that helps.

Sandy said...

I never considered using a collage to design a tapestry. I find it an interesting concept and hope to give it a try with my next project

peg said...

Thank you so much ! Just the kickstart I needed as a new tapestry weaver.

Unknown said...

Wonderful to see this process from collage to cartoon. And to see it repeated for different projects. Thanks

Meisha Synnott said...

Hi again!

This collage idea has popped into my head several times since reading your blog. Must try! Need to get some paper, magazines, and whatever else that can be used - anything I sa.

Thanks

Molly Elkind said...

I always feel happier if I move beyond simply weaving a photo. As someone (Jasper Johns?) said, Transform, transform, transform.

Molly Elkind said...

Susan , Gloria and Laura, many of us are are reluctant to take the time and effort (and yarn) for sampling, but I am always glad I did.

Molly Elkind said...

Just plunge in with whatever you have on hand. So much fun!

Larazar said...

Thank you! Very informative. Made me appreciate and better understand the importance of sampling.

MAD said...

Born without the drawing gene, this not only looks doable but FUN! Thanks for all the details of your process you offered, very valuable to me as a newbie.

Nancy Nordquist said...

Thank you for this detailed description of your process. I am particularly interested in the way you began with a fragment of a painting that is meaningful to you. Now I am going to keep my eye out for collage material that has personal meaning for me.

Molly Elkind said...

I think that’s a great idea, Nancy. I find I am inspired by art over and over again.

Rita D,. said...

Thank you for your post, and sharing your methods. I particularly found the cartooning process interesting as this is quite different from how I work and it's always good to mull over alternative methods!

Lotsoftinybeads said...

Wow, a whole workshop in a blog post! Thank you for the wonderful ideas and instruction.

Anonymous said...

thank you for sharing a great idea. I don't draw, so the idea of using a collage as the basis of a tapestry is very helpful.

Thanks,

Teresa

Robbie LaFleur said...

Thank you for your thoughtful work on your post. I particularly loved seeing the details of the original images transformed into tapestry and reading how you chose to include some details and not others.

Erin Riggs said...

Thanks For sharing your wonderful technique it’s really amazing

kathy said...

An inspiring idea and if the collages never become tapestry at least the ideas were explored and expressed. Thank you!!!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Molly, this is inspirational! I'm always saving paper and other bits of things with the idea that they might be useful in just the way you describe-- both for collage and for inspiration for tapestry. Now I see that I just need to get started. The translational tutorial is very helpful.

Carolyn

Mary Severine said...

I've never prepared for a piece in such a detailed manner, which may be why I'm not always happy with my results! thanks!
Mary

reblue1973@gmail.com said...

Molly, I really enjoyed your blog post and photos. As someone who is just starting over after years of being away from weaving, I found it very helpful to see your process from collage to detailed cartoon to woven samples to finished tapestry. I loved seeing the flow of your work. Thank you for sharing!
Mary Mason Banks

Sue Waters said...

Molly this was an excellent blog tour start and one I have returned to several times just this week. I've made collages before when I began tapestr: thinking that my artistic capabilities were not what I deemed good enough. Of course, having Sarah Swett as a role model, ha that set the bar mighty high! What is appreciated with your thorough process to cropping, selecting and going several steps beyond. This has encouraged me to pull out a collage and see if I follow your steps, a cartoon will evolve into a final tapestry. Thank you very much.

Molly Elkind said...

You have put your finger on exactly why I do spend so much time preparing, sampling, etc., Mary. Tapestry takes so long to weave that I want to be as sure as possible that I'll be happy with the results. Thanks for reading and commenting!

Molly Elkind said...

I am so glad you found this helpful, Sue. We all doubt our abilities sometimes, especially when we compare ourselves to those we admire who may have more experience. I find that success in art and tapestry is more a matter of sticking with it and being thoughtful and analyzing what works and what doesn't, and then doing it again. Good luck to you!

Ashley Campbell said...

Thanks for this! Very informative! Can’t wait to try it :)

Unknown said...

Wow, I really enjoyed seeing your process! Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience.

Kiki said...

Thank for sharing your process! I can see how I need to spend more time with collage and samples!

Lee McIntyre said...

Very interesting-- thank you for sharing your process in such detail. Your post has lots of ideas to play with- something to refer to again and again. I think it will be very helpful.

Jeanine ertl said...

Thank you for this wonderful article on developing ideas and inspiration for weaving. It is wonderful to see in such detail your process, as I'm quite new to Tapestry Weaving. Thank you for this informative and thorough article.

Unknown said...

Thank you, Molly. I learned a lot from your blog. I am an very inexperienced beginner, and I have been attempting to do photographs or getting ideas from others’ work on Facebook. But this way, it will be MY design.
I have a question. When you say varied the sett from 10 epi to 5 epi, or 8 to 4, does that mean that you warp the loom at the lower sett, and the double up at the higher number?

Kantu

Molly Elkind said...

Thanks for asking, Kantu. You are correct. If I warp the loom at 10 epi, I can choose to weave over or under 2 warps at a time, thereby effectively making a sett of 5 epi. This creates a coarser weave texture which can be an interesting contrast. Good luck with your designing and weaving!