Monday, December 10, 2018

About that Tapestry Diary. . .

I have to confess, lately I've been kinda bored with my tapestry diary.  I deliberately set up a simple plan that would be workable in a very busy year.  The idea was to weave a horizontal stripe each day with the color of that day's sky.  On days I couldn't weave, I'd do a half-pass of orange.  The abbreviation for each month would be woven at the end of the month.  I would turn the piece 90 degrees for display, so it would be a long scroll.

Molly Elkind, Tapestry Diary 2018 (in progress)

And so I've stuck with that. When we moved to New Mexico in April I made the weaving wider, for the bigger sky out here.  I've learned to weave the letters on the fly, without a cartoon, sometimes more successfully than others.  My letters are still pretty awkward.  But I rarely fix mistakes on my diary.

Molly Elkind, Tapestry Diary 2018 (detail; in progress)

And lately I've been wondering, what will I do next year?  I did have a great idea that was pretty exciting:  to select tapestries from the past and present that have inspired me and weave a small detail study based on one historical tapestry each month.  I'd honor my tapestry ancestors and hopefully learn something about how they worked their magic.  I made a list of possible tapestries to study and got pretty excited about the art history research I'd get to do.  I could start with a Coptic study, move on to a pieces inspired by early Southwestern Native weaving and Peruvian weaving, move through medieval unicorn and millefleur pieces, William Morris and Bauhaus and on up to the giants of the twentieth century:  Lurcat, Brennan and so many others.  There's more than enough to choose from!  It made my geeky heart happy to think of.

And then I looked at next year's calendar.  Whoa.  Lots of travel and teaching and shows I need to make work for.  Do I have time for such an involved project?  Maybe not.  Sigh.

So I decided that, just as I don't write in my journal every day, but only when I need to, maybe I would just weave small occasional pieces here and there.  I've long admired Sheila Hicks' minimes (from French for "minimal"), made on the simplest possible frame loom she took with her everywhere.  They are the record of a weaver thinking out loud, little thought experiments.

Sheila Hicks, Emerging with Grace, 2016

Over Thanksgiving I took a small loom and some scrap yarn with me and wove on it as I sat and chatted with the family.  I played around with color and pick-and-pick.  It looks like a coaster, but it was a way for me to get my fingers in some yarn every day, to weave as play.

Molly Elkind, Minime Nov. 2018 (in progress)
And this morning I realized, as I wove on the 2018 diary, that for me the diary has become a great warm-up to my studio work every morning.  If I don't have that, what will I do to warm up, to respond to the morning?  I know myself well enough to know that if I leave the commitment and the rules of the game vague enough (ie, just weaving a minime when I feel like it), I will find ways to weasel out of them.  And what do you know, in just the last few days I've been playing around with pick-and-pick and eccentric weft some more on the 2018 diary and that's been fun.  If you stay with something long enough, you can be surprised by new ideas even if you think you've run dry.

Molly Elkind, Tapestry Diary 2018, December (in progress)
What do you think, my dear tapestry (and artist) friends?  Should I do the minimes, on a loose schedule as time permits, or plunge into a big juicy challenging project that I may not have time for?  Or maybe I can do the historical studies on an as-time-permits basis.  Hmmm . . .

1 comment:

  1. Molly -- I think you know what I'm going to day -- stick with the daily art!!! If you want to do minimes, fine, but in addition.

    You could switch it up by doing a different stitch each month, (do you say "stitch"?) or incorporate a different color each day, or some other simple algorithm.

    I just think if you set such loosey goosey rules you won't accomplish as much as with a daily requirement. (Your mileage may vary)