Wednesday, December 13, 2023


I've been noticing spirals a lot in my life and work lately.  This will be a post short on words and longer on images, because frankly I'm not sure yet what exactly the spirals are about.  Of course I know they are a multi-faceted symbol in cultures around the world.  But how they pertain to the current situation?   šŸ¤·Sometimes we have to feel our way, trusting that the meaning will come if we follow the . 

These narrow strips were woven on wire warps with a variety of fibers including wool, paper and plastic. 


Two details from the Shipwreck scene in the medieval Apocalypse tapestry in Angers, France.  I love the carefully stylized spirals in the waves that are overturning the boat.  Pattern and order amidst destruction.

Detail from my own tapestry entitled The Wreck, based on a collage I made five years ago (before I saw the Apocalypse) but recently decided to weave. 

Views of a small sample of a 3D woven spiral done in an online class with Vanina Bujalter.  I highly recommend the class if you are interested in weaving with supplemental warps and innovative techniques to create 3D forms in tapestry.  Find Vanina on Facebook at Vanina Bujalter Textiles and on Instagram @vaninabujalter

View of the labyrinth at Ghost Ranch, near Abiquiu, NM.  I spent a few days there on an art retreat last month and walked the labyrinth in the remains of the snow.  

Of course labyrinths and spirals are not exactly the same.  Spirals are potentially infinite coils that circle on and on, up and up or down and down (or sideways, I suppose).  Labyrinths are planned to have a definite entry point, an exit point and a center point for stillness.  When you walk a labyrinth, you find the path laid out for you so that you are frequently reversing direction.  It can call to mind the path of life--or of art--you take a few steps "forward" only to encounter a barrier that directs your steps "back."  You must trust that eventually you will reach the center, and then that you will eventually work your way back out and emerge.  It is perhaps the longest, least efficient way to go from A to B. 

Labyrinths allow for both movement or energy and stillness.  Spirals seem to me to embody only energy.  Whether it is positive energy or destructive energy, progress or regression, can be hard to know.  I often use the image of a spiral to describe the creative process for my students.  We might want to move in a direct, linear fashion from idea to finished weaving, with no missteps or stalls along the way.  But often the process is more circular--we move forward, then learn we must reconsider, return to the drawing board.  We move forward again with our new knowledge, only to find we might have to again pause to reconceive our project.  We are making progress, but it's not the shortest line possible between A and B!