Wednesday, September 13, 2023

New class: Essentials of Tapestry Design

Next to weaving, making up new classes has been one of my favorite things to do.  I love having an excuse to dive deep into a topic and share what I've learned with fellow weavers.  Right now I'm in the middle of creating a new workshop:  Essentials of Tapestry Design.  I'm distilling the crucial strategies, tips and design principles that have been scattered across a whole range of my classes into one place.  Plus I’m adding new content, since tapestry is bottomless and I keep finding out new things! This new workshop will make its debut online with Mid-Atlantic Fiber Association (MAFA) November 11, 16 and 18, 2023.  Get all the details and sign up HERE.  You can also just keep reading while I tell you a little about it. 

Over the years I've assembled quite a collection of lectures and workshops.  Each class has a bin of materials, samples and notes devoted to it, and those bins were starting to crowd out valuable yarn storage space in my studio!  Just kidding; you can always find room for more yarn, right?  There's a more important reason I've streamlined my class offerings.  I've found in each session I lead that the same questions and dilemmas keep coming up, and it seemed like it would be useful to gather all the crucial information together in one place, a kind of one-stop shopping for newer and intermediate weavers. You can see the new, tightly curated list of my workshops HERE

I've boiled down the key principles and strategies for designing tapestry to nine key concepts for Essentials.   Of course I can’t tell you all nine here—you’ll have to take the class!— but here’s a teaser:

Molly Elkind, WUI 1: platted. Linen, rayon, grama grass.  15" x 12" x 1.5" framed.

#1.  Observe your obsessions.  What in the world are you passionately interested in?  What kind of art do you love to look at?  You will be most inspired if you start with what already inspires you.   We'll drill down deep to see how you can mine your own obsessions for material.  If you've followed my work recently you know my own recent obsession has been the native plants in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) where I live. 

Molly Elkind, photo of yucca pod in desert environment, one inspiration for the tapestry below.

Molly Elkind, Faraway Nearby.  Cotton, wool, linen, metallic, kudzu.  32" x 17" overall

#3.  Transform your source material.  It's not enough to have a gorgeous photo and say to yourself, "I'll weave this."  Learn how to go beneath the surface to discover what your real subject is and how you can interpret your source image to convey the important emotional charge the image has for you.  Tapestry is a unique artistic medium.  Images created in other mediums--whether photography, collage or paint--need to be significantly transformed to be weave-able.  This is where the rubber meets the road—where the yarn meets the loom.  Learn several strategies for making your image powerful—and weaveable. 

Molly Elkind, Virga.  Cotton.  Weaving is 6.5" x 9.5", mounted to 12" x 14".  How much more effective would this be if it were four times larger?  Six times? 

#4.  Size matters.  One of the most critical decisions you'll make is deciding what size your tapestry will be.  For many of us, constraints of space, time, and our available loom dictate this choice for us, often leading us to choose to weave small pieces.  Small can feel quicker, easier and just less risky.  Here's the thing, though:  not every image we'd love to weave is suitable for weaving in small format.   Learn how to figure out details of sett, warp size, weft size and direction of weaving to see if you can do justice to your image on the loom you have in mind.

Intrigued?  Want to learn more?  Sign up for the MAFA class HERE.