What is weaverly?

Complete freedom leads to artistic travesty.

Each medium has constraints. How may those constraints be conducive to creativity? What sets a woven tapestry apart from a painting – and what are it’s unique constraints?

Sylvia Heyden notes the primacy of the grid.

The shapes native to the grid are: steps, the diagonal, and the triangle. A curve or circle should therefore admit that it is composed of steps.

From Lurcat we have the prescription of:

flat images, with no modelling/shading – no three-dimensionality,

no perspective,

no horizon or skyline –  I think this may be relaxed in the modern context

greatly reduced palette – he had six major colours and five or six tones or brightnesses of each, giving thirty or so choices,

colours bright, adjacent colours setting each other off.

But I do not accept Lurcat’s dictum that a tapestry be a very large scale architectural adornment, or that the designer’s cartoon and colour specifications be adhered to with no deviation by the weaver.

Colour blending is to be achieved with hatchures. Blending by gradually changing the colour balance of threads on the bobbin is, to my mind a ‘painterly’ approach.

The medieval ‘greats’ – Lady and Unicorn, the Unicorn series, Devonshire Hunting, like their predecessors, all abhorred a vacuum. The weaving field is crowded with images. This may not appeal to modern sensibilities – but avoidance of empty space is definitely an option to keep in mind.

Vertical slits that require Gobelin stitching are also relying on a non-native solution. Perhaps there is no solution – the completely straight vertical may be alien to tapestry, and the solution lies in the interlock as in Scandinavian style so-called “Flemish weaving.”

Scandinavian weaving abounds in interlocked verticals and triangles, as do the Navajo blanket geometric designs.

Texture on flat weave may be given by warp wrapping and looping with the several variations of soumak and running rya. I am dubious about cutting the loops to form pile – seeing that more as a rug technique. I am hesitant about using twining – this brings two wefts into play simultaneously, where the rest of the work is done with one weft at a time.

These may be artificial limits, but perhaps worth playing with.

The ‘go to’ texts for me:

1. Mette Lise Rossing – the thread’s course in tapestry (tradens gang i billedvaev)

2. Marie Cook, Valerie Kirk & Cathy Hoffmann. Dye Yarn and Produce Woven           Samples – SW TAFE Unit VBAU036 Dip Tap 21870 Vic

3. Marie Cook, Valerie Kirk, mod by Cathy Hoffmann – Refine Techniques for Textile Work – SW TAFE Unit CUVTEX501A – Dip Vis Arts – Tap CUV50111

4. Peter Collingwood – Techniques of Rug Weaving – Chapters 1-6, Chapter 14.

5. Peter Collingwood – Beyond the Basics – Weft-faced rugs in Plain Weave.

There are obviously lots of other useful texts. These are the pick of the lot.

2 thoughts on “What is weaverly?

  1. Vicki

    I have woken from a long, long sleep, and apologise for not responding before this.
    The world seemed to overpower me for a while.

    Now awake again, and will be posting my latest tapestry tomorrow.

    I found my Mizrach a bit disappointing – but thanks for liking it. I decided not to give it to our local little progressive shul because of one letter being dropped lower – in error!

  2. I have been following you for years and was dismayed when yourr posts ended abruptly in 2017, but my husband refound you! I am so delighted! I love your tenacity and obvious love of creation! Are you Jewish? we are, and I remembered when you wove alovely Mizrach! I look forward to more of your posts! I live in Portland, Oregon, USA. I am a selftaught tapestry maker. what is the name of the tapestry course you have been following? are you on instagram? thank you for your time

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