A simple start – an imagined head, in graphite. For those who remember, uncannily like Clement Attlee!
And who said both sides of the face should be equal?
Three-quarter head often more interesting than full frontal:
So – three-quarter head, in masses rather than in line, with use of negative space to bring head forward, and done in water-soluble graphite, water applied.
But if line is preferred rather than mass, sometimes a continuous line drawing can work (and sometimes not):
Does one really need to show the face in full? Perhaps less is more:
And yet less still
A group effort – five people in turn worked on this drawing of me. Therefore the first person set the scale of the whole and made the decision on line or mass. It’s done in soluble graphite and I did the final wash over.
This next series is aiming (not particularly successfully) at some chiaroscuro and sfumato effects. The ideal was not to put a clean line down but to rely on mass. The first two are in uncompressed charcoal:
Now, on brown paper and using two colours – charcoal and white chalk:
And the even more startling white on black!
But line is so seductive, black on white
Or white on black (with graphite overlay to give a silvery sheen):
Still two more sessions to go in this course.
These first two are done with watercolour pencil and wet brush:
a) Indian Jasmine perhaps – Ixora sp.
b) Not a good impression of a stag horn.
The next two are in simple colour pencil:
c) Bougainvillea leaf-petals.
d) a species of ginger.
I had wanted to try some texture in a fairly simple yet bold piece. Fossicked through the old photo file and came up with this b/w version of a lost colour original:
However I had worked on the lost original and still had this cropped, chopped and colour-manipulated image:
And its reversal:
I thought I’d go with the middle image above – the red-green reduction.
I wanted to use my current large loom – the steel one from Warrnambool, open frame space: width 20.5” ( say 51 cm), height 28” (say 71cm). I didn’t want to work too close to the top of the frame as I usually have a lot of tension on the warps (it becomes very tight indeed as one moves up the loom), so I thought I’d work to a height of piece of about 17” (say 43 cm). Taking into account that the floor would be a little under 3” (about 7cm) above the base bar, that would mean working two-thirds up the loom. Should still be possible.
Further, looking at the lay of the verticals and horizontals, I’d need to weave the piece on its side:
This then dictated dimensions of, width 11” (27.5 cm) and height 17” (42.5 cm).
Looking at the occasional thin colour bands of reds and yellows, I reckoned I could manage them with an epi of 8 (13 in 4 cm). I think this was my major error, and instead of my newly arrived 3×4 (12 thread) Glenora warp at 8 epi, I should have used the Ashford, which, as far as I can pick it apart, seems to be 3×2 (6 threads), and on Archie Brennan’s test (number of wraps per centimetre gives warps per inch) would have given me an epi of 11 (17.5 in 4 cm:35 in 8 cm).
The reduced flexibility at 8 epi led me to oversimplify and exaggerate. The following is the current state of play – leaf 1 completed:
The little purplish patches in the blue are blobs of open soumak. The yellowish-gold leaf outlines and central rib can be seen either as half-hitches with the knot pulled frontwards or as closed soumak on two warps, and the red or bronze leaf outlines and central rib are closed soumak across three warps, returning on the alternate warps.
The leaf side-ribbing is half-hitched, and particularly on the top-side (the bronzed side) it has burst the banks, as it were, and is too blatant and bubbly. I attribute this to a combination of too thick thread (too much in the mix) and clumsy knotting, often inconsistent in direction round the warps.
Unless persuaded otherwise I will probably close this piece off at this point with a double row of half-hitches.
Currently it’s still sitting on the loom – seen here with the cartoon mounted:
I had begun measuring out the warp for my next project when, much to my surprise I got to the end of my 12/12 Glenora cotton warp, and not yet half-way through. A phone call to Christine at Glenora Weaving (02 4234 0422), and hopefully 750 metres will arrive in the next few days.
But meanwhile, there are all those leftover tidyings up that one never seems to get around to. For instance, the need for a haircut and braiding at the back of The Forest Below:
And after that I’ve got to ball up the third skein of rather lovely silk I got at one of the little places on Salamanca, Hobart, last year. Just balled up the first two over the last couple of days. There must be a kilometre of winding in those skeins – next time I’ll have to try and improvise a swift. And then, still more braiding and finishing of my two white monochrome bits.
As to my next project – once the warp arrives I’ll begin documenting it.
My next piece had been planned to be in monochrome with emphasis on textures. But what textures? I decided to do a sampler.
Texture can be added in four main ways (considering here only flat-weave):
- by warp wrapping – which is the basis for the Soumak technique,
- by the insertion of supplementary wefts,
- by looping, such as a continuous, uncut ‘rya’,
- by a combination of the above.
I wove 12 soumak variations, based on the examples in Mette Lise Rossing’s ‘The Threads Course in Tapestry’. The sampler is very small: width 15 cm (6”), height 10 cm (4”). In the list below the block type gives the corresponding paragraph number in Mette Lise Rossing.
Reading from the bottom up there is
- mlr 75 open soumak, one pass, ;
- mlr 77 closed soumak, one pass;
- mlr 78 open soumak, one pick, closed soumak one pick, open soumak one pick;
- mlr 82 double open soumak, one pass, notated as forward 3 back 2 or 1/3/2;
- mlr 84 double closed soumak, one pass, 1/3/2;
- variation on mlr 79-81 extended open soumak, one pass, 1/5/3, so with overlap;
- variation on mlr 79-81 extended closed soumak, one pass, 1/6/2, so no overlap;
- mlr 91 double closed soumak on alternate warps, 3 picks, each alternating with the last;
- mlr 93 as 8 but with the insertion of a supplementary weft;
- mlr 102 a ‘continuous rya’, one pass – can be seen as open and closed soumak on alternate warps, the second pick alternating with the first;
- mlr 103 as 10, but the second pick stacked on the first;
- mlr 90 3 triple half-hitches, knots to the front, one pick – essentially a triple closed soumak on 1 warp.
Items 1 and 2 show the basic soumak chevron. The doubled variations in 4 and 5 make the chevrons larger, more obvious.
Item 3 stacks one half only of the chevron.
Items 6 and 7 give elongations of the chevron, and convey a sort of lengthening, smooth effect.
Items 8 and 9 have an interesting pattern variation, quite different to the ‘bricky’ or chained appearance of items 10 and 11.
Item 12 gives the appearance of a strong raised welt.
There seem to be 4 basic patterns:
1 the chevron
2 the ‘fasces’ – items 8 and 9
3 the chain – items 10 and 11
4 the ‘welt’ or ridge – item 12.
There are clearly a large number of possible variations, depending on
1 the number of warps crossed forwards and backwards,
2 whether open or closed,
3 whether crossings are over or under, and
4 whether the following pick is stacked or staggered.
The notation I improvised above does not cover all the possibilities. A full notation system would be quite complicated, BUT when actually working it is essential to know exactly how the effect is being produced and to be consistent in its application.
If anyone knows of a notation method, I’d be interested to hear of it.
For this exercise I used this little ramshackle sampler loom, knocked up in a hurry and held together by string, a clamp and hope. The open frame dimensions are width 27 cm (10.8”), height 32 cm (12.8”).
44 cm (17 1/4″) x 28 cm (11″), 7 epi, mixed wool and mercerised cotton, from 3 to 8 ply.
Oops! This is not what was on the cartoon. Somehow it seemed to get a mind of its own and went wandering… It’s a bit like the curate’s egg – good in parts. Some egregious mistakes (which I’m keeping to myself for the moment). But for a first effort back after a long absence, I’m pleased.
Not quite finished yet. Still on loom – have to do the final double half-hitches, slit sewing and off-loom braiding. Might mount it inset on a board – or just let it hang.
I’ve just reread Lurcat on The Design of Tapestry – limited palette, no colour mixing by thread substitution, but by shades and hachure. [I suppose we just ignore his insistence on work being on a major scale.]
Next task is a thorough sifting of the yarn cache and trying to get some order into it.
I’m not sure whether the next attempt will be monochrome plain weave using several shades, or alternatively, a monochrome textured piece using soumaks – Mette Lise Rossing’s manual details a number of fascinating soumak variants.[Or, of course, something completely other.]