Thursday, January 31, 2019

Enchanting Color with Rebecca Mezoff in Taos

I'm just back from a wonderful retreat with Rebecca Mezoff and a crew of talented and lovely humans who share a passion for tapestry.  We were at the historic Mabel Dodge Luhan house in Taos, New Mexico.  Taos is justly famous for its artistic culture and history, and Mabel Dodge Luhan and her circle in the early 20th century were one big reason.  It was a blast to stay in this old New Mexican house, in rooms named for Mabel's illustrious guests.  (And the food was fantastic.)  The MDL is booked much of the year for workshops and conferences, but B&B rooms are sometimes open--if your travels take you to Taos, it doesn't hurt to check for availability.  You won't be sorry.

Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos
Each plate of flourless chocolate cake was decorated differently!
Fabulous desserts aside, for a tapestry weaver the main draw was the chance for total immersion in the mysteries of color in tapestry, with an accomplished artist whose work is powered by gorgeous color.   Rebecca familiarized us with the basics of color theory--RGB and CMYK, color in light vs. color in pigment or dye, color harmonies, Itten's seven types of contrast, and the crucial role of value.  We examined specific tapestries to better understand how weavers have used color to create certain effects.  And we did lots of hands-on work:  exercises on paper, yarn wraps, and sample weaving.  Rebecca's famous tables stocked with yarn as far as the eye can see were there, available for sampling and practicing various ways to blend and contrast color.

One exercise was to arrange colored squares in value sequence from light to dark.  
This black and white photo allowed me to check my work. 

The classroom at Rebecca Mezoff's Color Use in the Land of Enchantment Retreat

Two of the three Tables o' Yarn we could choose from to sample with
For me, the chance to experiment with yarns I hadn't yet woven with was really helpful.  I developed a better sense for how the size, twist, fiber and method of dyeing yarn really determine the look of the woven surface and thus the image being woven.  In my sampling, I fell in love with the blending possibilities that weaving with Weavers Bazaar Fine (18/2) yarn presents.  I discovered that if you lay the strands in more or less parallel to each other, you get more of a linear, streaky effect (at top in sample below), versus the speckled effect that results when you twist the plies.  (If you're not careful, you also get draw-in, as my sample demonstrates).  This exploration helped me begin to design my next wedge weave sky tapestry.

I also explored the color red at some length, playing around with shifting the basic hue of a given red yarn by blending it with other colors, both in the weft bundle and, near the top of the sample, using tapestry techniques such as hatching and pick-and-pick.  I had a particular piece in mind that I plan to start soon, and I believe I'm better equipped to choose the red for that piece now.

So. . . huge thanks to Rebecca Mezoff for planning and teaching a really wonderful retreat.  Yes, we learned a lot about color in tapestry weaving.  But the most important weaving we did was weaving community.  It is easy to see why so many students (many of them repeat students) traveled from across the country in January to study with Rebecca.  It was privilege to meet and weave alongside you all.   I hope to see you all again soon.

Fireplace in the dining room 

Weavers gather in a sitting area 

New Mexico in January
Sunset on the retreat's last night 


cate markey said...

What a great post Molly! I would have loved being there with Rebecca & you. Super red sample. I love weaving color samples - but usually mix on the fly. Your post is clear message to take the time for this. Hope This class will be repeated next year!
I know you’ve woven on the grey warp before but what makes you choose this and how is it on the eyes while weaving?

Lynn Edwards said...

Your post makes me want to attend a Mezoff workshop -- and I'm not even a weaver! The snow, the Mabel Dodge Luhan house, the sunset ... all magnificent. Can't wait to see the tapestries you'll create from such an inspiring experience!

Molly Elkind said...

Hi, Cate! I think Rebecca is planning to make the retreat in Taos an annual January event. Definitely go!
I don’t usually do such extensive color sampling, but this time I had the time and so much yarn to choose from!
I like the gray warp because any lice are less visible, and to my eye it looks less raw than a natural colored warp if I leave a visible hem and/or a fringe. That said, Pat Williams and Tommye Scanlin have done beautiful braided and knotted edges with natural colored warp ends. It may also be easier on the eyes while weaving.

Molly Elkind said...

Thanks for reading, Lynn. Go ahead and check out the list of workshops at MDL—there may be an art workshop a little more aligned with what you already do!

Ercil said...

Molly, I love your red exploration! It was so nice to have you as part of our weaving community! Your brought lots of depth to our time together. I hope to see you again! Love your blog post!

Molly Elkind said...

Ercil, Thanks so much for your kind words. I loved meeting you and your husband. I hope our “weaverly paths” will cross again too.