• Sue McDowell

Documenting process....


I consider myself a pretty well-socialized introvert but screaming "here's what I do!" from the rafters is not, normally, my thing. But this year, I joined the American Tapestry Alliance and the Alliance (ATA from this point out) is hosting their ATA 2018 Blog Tour - a very cool concept of promoting several wonderful blogs by great tapestry artists with the theme of "..there is no wrong way to design." As part of the promotion, we're encouraged to tag a story or image of our own design process. So I thought I would share my thinking behind "Northern Lights" - one of my first tapestries done in late 2016.

This is one of the pictures I took in Churchill. There is no photo that can really do the Aurora Borealis credit...but what I like about this shot is the sense of scope - the breadth of illumination across the sky against the tiny tundra buggy headlight in the bottom left.

Before we got home, I tried to capture the feeling of watching the lights with a fast marker sketch - emphasizing the undulation and motion of the gas molecules dancing in the sky.

When I got home, I set up my Mirrix loom with the intent of weaving just as my drawing was oriented. And I drew a cartoon of the marker sketch and began to attach it for reference to the back of the loom.

I immediately realized two things -I was envisioning a finished piece that was longer, left to right, than what I'd warped. And, second, my new tapestry skills are just that...new. I didn't know how I would show the streaks of light if I were weaving from left to right as drawn. I could see how I would weave the threads if the drawing was on it's side - that would allow me to do a line of black, then a line of green (repeat). I did a quick review of other tapestry artists I admire (see Rebecca Mezoff and Sarah Swett) And guess what! They advocated for thinking about the cartoon image in exactly the way I was exploring..the way that made the most sense for weaving northern lights. Freedom!!!!

Off I went. The result is here:

A 4" x 8" piece using black acrylic yarn that had sparkles embedded in each strand. The lime green is roving and "angelina" green sparkle fiber needle worked onto the green roving after the piece came off the loom. I've mounted the piece in a shadow box, held in place by hat pins against the black back fabric.

So that's it. One piece and one design process. I have to admit that I'm fascinated by seeing how other artists think about their work before they actually begin it. This whole entry encourages me to think about sharing more of the process behind the product. What do you think??

#ATABlogTour2018

#ATABlogTour2018 #tapestry #AmericanTapestryAlliance #SarahSwett #RebeccaMezoff #NorthernLights #AuroraBorealis #Churchill

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