Sunday, August 23, 2015

Eleven New Weavers Launched

Penland School of Crafts
Session 4
July 5 - July 17, 2015

Beginning Weaving 
Instructor: Bhakti Ziek

Cast of Characters:

Top to Bottom, Left to Right: Janie Woodbridge (assistant); Donna Anthony, Kat Nicholas, Monica Brown, Daniel Garver, Lew Greenwald, Joshua Kovarik, Rachel Qualliotine, Nikki Curry, Haley Toelle, Morgan Elkins, Jacqueline Sullivan
There are 12 people in the images above but Janie Woodbridge, pictured at top, was my assistant, and together we launched the 11 new weavers shown below. Classes at places like Penland self-select, and I am sure that teachers each think they have the perfect class with the right students, and perhaps each class feels like the best one you have ever taught, but I know for a fact that Janie and I made a perfect team for the perfect class and together we launched eleven new weavers into the world. A couple of the students had woven a bit before, but they still qualified as beginners and I think we can safely include them in this launch.

Student Work:
Top to Bottom, Left to Right: Work by Jacqueline Sullivan (pulled threads, detail of pulled threads, brocaded picnic; 4-shaft structure study by Haley Toelle; shaped ground for woven necklaces by Rachel Qualliotine; work by Joshua Kovarik (ombre undulating twills, double corduroy on loom, undulating twills)
Top to Bottom, Left to Right: Undulating Twills by Donna Anthony; work by Nikki Curry (block twills with areas of stuffed double weave, double weave pocket shown on the loom; brocaded elements in plain weave); work by Monica Brown (woven shibori cloth and dyed woven shibori sample; brocaded garden); twill sampler by Lew Greenwald and Lew weaving class scarf for auction
Top to Bottom, Left to Right: Turned twills by Daniel Garver; tapestry by Morgan Elkins; plain weave blocks by Janie Woodbridge; Bhakti Ziek removing her plain weave linen cloth; work by Kat Nicholas (double weave; twill blocks; clasped weft scarf)
Book woven by Haley Toelle in spider weave (deflected warps and wefts)
Almost immediately each student found their own path. This was a group that grasped the principles of weave so quickly that I had to abandon any thought of a plan, and just let each of them lead the way. You can see from the images above that they explored a huge variety of woven possibilities--twills, overshot, monk's belt, huck lace, block weaves, double corduroy, double weave, tapestry, clasped wefts, woven shibori, deflected warps and wefts, pulled thread plain weave, and shaped plain weave. There was more, and of course there were color and material studies along with the structural research. Clean selvedges were not stressed but they all wove long lengths with straight edges. This class had all winners. And watching them, I was the biggest winner of them all. I love weaving--everyone who knows me knows how enthusiastic I can get about the process of weaving--but these new weavers made me love weaving even more.

Visitors & Excersions:
Amanda Thatch, coordinator of fibers, and one of her ikat weavings below 
We packed so much into two weeks. The studio was in excellent condition thanks to the work of Amanda Thatch and her summer intern, Audrey Schroeder. Amanda also accepted my invitiation to talk to the class about her own work in weaving. I wanted the class to be exposed to as many ways of approaching weaving as possible, and Amanda's wonderful ikats were a great introduction into how dye and structure can work together.

Catharine Ellis showing piles of her woven shibori fabric which she dyed with natural dyes
Catharine Ellis lives in the region and has been instrumental in helping the textile area of Penland for many years. I met her years ago in the 80s when I was at Penland and have admired everything she has done ever since. She came with bundles of woven shibori, another way that dye and structure can interact, and filled the table with inspiration. Her book, Woven Shibori, is going to be re-released soon with all new images and the dye portion has been rewritten and deals with natural dyes. One of the students, Monica Brown, also lives in this area and she is an herbalist, so it was a perfect introduction for her to meet Catharine and try woven shibori.

Alice Schlein visited the class and wowed everyone with her handwoven jacquards and books
Our third visitors were my good friend and co-author of The Woven Pixel, Alice Schlein, and her wonderful immensely curious photographer husband, Bruce Schlein. Time with them is never enough, but I will take what is given. Alice can bring me to tears with what she knows about weaving, and how she shares it with others. She is smart, funny, and kind. Alice and Bruce are really engaged in life and everything it offers. Everyone was lucky to meet them and see the cloth and books that Alice brought with her. Not just the books she has written, but the books she is handmaking and covering with her own cloth.

I didn't get pictures of the afternoon visit we had by Susan Morgan Leveille but it was quite a treat. Susan is the great niece of Miss Lucy Morgan, and everyone who goes to Penland knows about Miss Lucy. Susan had some clothing with her that Miss Lucy had woven and worn. Now that was a true piece of Penland history. One student, Donna Anthony, was the one student who contacted me ahead of time saying she had taken two classes before but felt she could benefit from the class--and I encouraged her to sign up and that I would work with her at her level, as long as she understood that rank beginners needed more help the first days than others. Donna came into the studio one afternoon saying she had just bumped into her first teacher--who turned out to be Susan!

Our class spent one evening before dinner with Edwina Bringle hearing stories about the early 60s at Penland and the transition from Miss Lucy's times to today. I loved sitting there looking at my students and thinking that we were the current moment in this long history. Is anything more perfect than sitting on the deep porch of Craft House drinking wine and listening to old Penland stories?

We also were invited to a short visit to the archives by Penland's archivist, Carey Hedlund. Among the things that Carey showed us were some samples woven by Miss Lucy Morgan as well as an old shuttle, that showed the patina of use and love, that might have been used by Miss Lucy. 

Details of looms at Valdese Weavers
Penland is located in an area that used to be full of textile mills. Lucky for us Valdese Weavers is still going strong and Janie knew someone who works there. I had toured the facilities many years ago with another Penland class when I was still teaching full-time and had former students who worked there. Turns out I still have a former student who is a designer there. It is incredibly gratifying to walk into a professional office full of cloth that is in production and designed by someone who studied with you. And I love touring textile mills. Big electronic looms are awesome. I couldn't take pictures of fabrics in production but I think the details of looms above show you some of the beauty of a mill. I know the students as excited about the visit as I was. Cloth is so ubiquitous and most people don't think about the ingenuity that has gone into the technology of producing it today. Also, having woven on looms themselves for a week, the students knew the foreign language being thrown at them--warp and weft and pick and fill and twill and selvedge and harness and more.

Picnic after mill visit--happy and exhausted
Finished Work:
Top to Bottom, Left to Right: Some of the finished work--Kat Nicholas with her clasped weft scarf; Daniel Garver holding his exquisite twill fabric; Janie Woodbridge offering Bhakti the scarf she wove (lucky me!!); Rachel Qualliotine modeling one of her woven necklaces; Joshua Kovarik tired by triumphant after a night of weaving his double corduroy rug; Jackie Sullivan modeling the poncho she team wove with Monica Brown and Dan Garver; Morgan Elkins radiently wearing her new scarf; Donna Anthony showing me her monk's belt fabric that I wish I could say I wove; Kat Nicholas hidden by her twill block fabric; Nikki Curry beaming as brighly as her overshot cloth.
Monica Brown, Daniel Garver and Jackie Sullivan teamed together to design, weave and sew this poncho, that they will continue to share. Penland really makes connections.
Cleaning up the studio on July 17th before putting up finished work at Northlight
It has taken me weeks to cull through the hundreds of images I took at Penland and try to eliminate them down for this post. Even so, it is long. How do you distill a time warp into a blog post? It was two weeks where time was so compressed that at the end of the two weeks you felt like you were saying goodby to people you had known your whole life. It felt like two weeks that really changed lives. I know it brought a very needed reinvestment of energy into my life. I often talk about being exiled in Vermont--but I left feeling appreciated and relevant. I left with renewed respect for weaving and its importance in people's lives. I left with hope for the future. I left very much feeling present. To paraphrase something I heard someone say the other day, it did wonders for my zen. 

Final Exhibition:
Ceramics by Robin Ziek made in Kip O'Krongly's class
Shots of the weavers putting up their work at the final Northlight exhibition
Top to Bottom, Left to Right: Holbrook Newman who taught yoga (thank you Holbrook for creating a space of trust) pointing out the print work she did this session; Lisa Grey, one of my close friends, who assisted Jason Pollen, another great friend, in upstairs textiles (thank you Lisa for quiet walks home to our rooms and sitting quietly in the dark talking); Audrey Schroeder, intern in textiles this summer who was the honorary participant in the studio

No one wanted to say goodby, and setting up the work at Northlight meant goodby for some of us (I left right after lunch, some people left from the show). But watching these students work together hanging each others work, making sure everyone was shown properly, really made me happy. I was grateful for all the wonderful people I met during these two weeks--people not shown in these images. I was grateful for time spent with my sister, Robin, who took Kip O'Krongly's ceramic class this session. I was grateful for the trust I found in Holbrook Newman's yoga class and for my student Rachel Qualliotine who also teaches yoga and who kept at me until I finally attended a yoga session (and went from paranoia to trust). I was grateful for each of the 11 students who took my workshop. And I was grateful for Janie Woodbridge who took my class at Belinda Rose's place in Scotland last summer and was the most supportive assistant anyone could have asked for. 
Janie Woodbridge, Kat Nicholas, Haley Toelle beaming at final exhibit
Me (Bhakti Ziek) and Janie Woodbridge proudly showing all the work the weavers accomplished this session
So I am filled with good memories and very optimistic about the future of weaving and the young people who will carry it into the future. When I think of Penland, this is the image that comes to me--with gratitude:

Left to Right, Standing then Kneeling: Haley Toelle, Donna Anthony, Bhakti Ziek, Joshua Kovarik, Morgan Elkins, Jackie Sullivan, Nikki Curry, Lew Greenwald, Dan Garver, Rachel Qualliotine, Monica Brown, Kat Nicholas, Janie Woodbridge

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

July Already!

Bhakti Ziek preparing her Mirrix Loom
It's July already and I never got to post in June. So much for my intentions to be a regular blogger. But here I am today, preparing my Mirrix loom so I can take it to Penland with me. I leave on Sunday and have a full class of beginning weavers. Some people have expressed "sympathy" to me about teaching beginners but it is my choice. I could have proposed anything for my workshop but I want to work with new weavers. I hope to entice them to begin a journey that goes on for years.

Two tencel scarves woven by Bhakti Ziek in June 2015
I plan to start my students with 8/2 tencel and weave scarves (or table runners or just plain cloth). If someone wants to work with other yarn, that is fine--I see my role as explaining and demystifying the process of weaving on a floor loom. I wove the scarves above because I didn't know whether I prefered 24 epi or 30 epi for this yarn. Guess what--after washing and ironing I still don't know. At least the students will have physical examples to touch to help them make their choices.

Detail on top shows the two sides of scarf woven as a 1/3 twill (so reverse is a 3/1 twill)--there are changes of structure woven in stripes but always 1/3 tie-up; bottom shows the other scarf, woven as a 2/2 twill, with the weft color sequence forming a plaid (both sides of this scarf are the same); scarves woven by Bhakti Ziek, June 2015
Alpaca and silk scarf woven as a deflected double weave, by Bhakti Ziek
Here is an image of the second deflected double weave scarf I made using alpaca from Wild Hair Alpacas and silk from Henry's Attic. I was really pleased with the results and look forward to more exploration of this structure with those yarns. I sent this scarf and the other alpaca scarves out to Colorado to the store at Wild Hair Alpacas. They are having several open houses this summer and fall, so check their website for more information.

Third tapestry sampler woven by Bhakti Ziek for the online course taught by Rebecca Mezoff
I am continuing with Rebecca Mezoff's tapestry class online. This is my third sampler, which concludes the end of part two. There is another part to go--which makes me happy. I still have to finish the three studies--sew in the ends, that kind of thing. The instructions are in part three, along with learning to work with cartoons and weave shapes. I am going to do another study though of what we covered in parts one and two before proceeding with the rest. That's what I am doing in the first image--preparing the warp for another study that will probably be blocks and stripes, hatching and interlocks, demi-duites and floating bars. Rebecca has a video showing work by many artists using these processes and I am in awe of their skillfulness and creativity. Most of them are quite intricate narratives, which of course is a great tapestry tradition, but I am feeling very minimal these days and I think squares and color are going to be enough for me for now.

Demi-duites in top form are very neat on the face of the tapestry, but a mess on the back; detail of tapestry weaving by Bhakti Ziek, woven as a study in the online course taught by Rebecca Mezoff
Mark Goodwin preparing walls of Chandler Gallery, to hang Sisyphus, a seven panel weaving by Bhakti Ziek
There is another opportunity to see my seven panel weaving Sisyphus! The current show at Chandler Gallery in Randolph, curated by Rebbie Carleton, is called Creative Cosmos. It is up through September 7th. There will be a reception for the artists on August 8 from 6-8:30 pm and earlier that day, at 4:30 pm, the artists will talk about their work. My wonderful husband, Mark Goodwin, once again helped me hang my work. Okay--he did all the work and I watched.

Three panels from the seven panel weaving, Sisyphus, by Bhakti Ziek, 2015. Each panel is 28"w x 88.5"h, silk, cotton, metallic yarns, handwoven satin damask, hand woven on TC1 looms
Mark Goodwin's studio, June 2015
I will get home from Penland the night before Mark has an opening of new work at BigTown Gallery on July 18th. Perfect timing. His work and paintings by James McGarrell will be up from July 15-September 6, 2015. Meanwhile if you haven't seen the Viva Cuba! exhibit that is showing there now, it is not to be missed. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Branching Out to Chaos

I am very linear, which of course is a good attribute for a weaver. I like being involved in a big project, which gives me focus and a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Long ago, when I owned and ran a restaurant in Panajachel, Guatemala, I understood that I liked knowing everyone and being friendly, but also that the responsibilities of the restaurant kept me too busy to do anything that wasn't involved with running the restaurant, and it kept me out of trouble. I suppose this is another way of saying boundaries can be helpful.

The keeping out of trouble refers to my own mind and my inclination to activities such as computer games and reading. Reading is okay, but that other thing..... Anyway, I don't have any big projects on my calendar right now and it is a perfect time to explore. Which if you have read my recent blog posts you know I am doing: card weaving, taqueté, tapestry, reading, and yes, that other unmentionable activity. So this story begins with my trip to Conway, MA to purchase a small Mirrix loom from Elisabeth (Lisa) Hill

Lisa Hill and some of her amazing fabrics
I walked into an old barn, with an amazing studio, and met the most wonderful enthusiastic woman who brought me across to her house filled with more looms and piles of incredible alive textiles. I wanted to touch everything, and if I had realized where I was going, I would have planned my day to have time with her. But I didn't, and had to rush away, loom in hand, determined to return as soon as possible.

Details of four scarves woven by Bhakti Ziek for Wild Hair Alpacas
One of the things I had to do was weave some scarves for Wild Hair Alpacas from yarn spun from the fleece of their animals. (Full disclosure: my brother and sister-in-law own Wild Hair Alpacas and have named most of their animals for someone in the family, so I never know if they are taking about a cousin or an alpaca when they say things like "Nancy isn't feeling well these days".) You would think that 45 years of weaving would make an assignment like this simple--but keeping track of my hours is almost the antithesis of making art. Also, the yarn I had on hand was limited, of different weights, and I knew probably not what they were having spun up for my use in the future. Still, it was a beginning and I do know that experience is my best teacher. So I wove five scarves, washed them, twisted the fringe and ironed them and decided to bring them to Lisa for some input.

Laurie Autio, Ute Bargmann and Lisa Hill--all three are master weavers with certificates from The Hill Institute
Lisa made arrangements for a power lunch with her, Laurie Autio, Ute Bargmann, and me. The three of them are Master Weavers with certificates from the Hill Institute. This is no small feat, and I was thrilled to be there with them. Ute's expertise includes card weaving and she brought a display of bands she had woven in conjunction with some historical research to be published. (You can purchase another book she contributed to on Amazon.)

Laurie showing some of her lace work (left and right); Ute in the center with her tablet woven bands, many of which are brocaded
Laurie Autio is a respected teacher of weaving who offers a study program for intermediate to master level weavers called Explorations in Advanced Weaving. This course goes on for years, and her students are devoted to her because of her kindness, clarity, and breadth of knowledge. She is about to start a new group this fall, so if interested (and you should be) contact her at <>. She also brought cloth with her and again time did not permit us to see everything--so there must be another luncheon soon. Laurie is going to be the newest TC-2 owner (maybe the loom has arrived by today) and I can't wait to see what she does with that loom.

Lisa Hill modelling alpaca scarves and a shawl woven by Bhakti Ziek
Even though we were at Lisa's house, we didn't have time to go to her studio and talk about what she is doing. Instead she modeled my scarves and an alpaca shawl that I made. They gave me good feedback, positive and helpful, and I felt encouraged. (Here is a plug for my work--it will only be available through Wild Hair Alpacas--which has an online store that includes felted alpaca products and children's books starring alpacas.)

Pilgrimage to Vävstuga Weaving School, next to the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls, MA and then to their offsite location where the drawloom class was in session
Lisa teaches at Vävstuga Weaving School in Shelburne Falls, MA. Since moving to Vermont I have meant to go there, even had it planned a couple of times but it never materialized. Becky Ashenden owns and runs the school (she's pictured in the two bottom pictures above) and she also has a fantastic store that will make you pull out your credit card (I know what I am talking about). So when Lisa made arrangements to take me there after lunch, and the drawloom class was in session that day, it felt like a pilgrimage. Which is sort of funny to me because I have actually gone to Shelburne Falls a couple of times to do ten day silent retreats at the Vipassana Meditation Center, Dhamma Dhara (that should have a line above the last a but I can't seem to make it happen here). If you can't make it to one of her classes there, she has many workshops scheduled around the country and maybe you can meet her there. 

First deflected double cloth woven by Bhakti Ziek, unwashed top left and washed, bottom right
As soon as I got home from that inspiring day, I set up my macomber with my first deflected double cloth. I am indebted to both Lisa Hill and Madelyn van der Hoogt for sharing information with me on this wonderful type of cloth. Madelyn, founder of The Weavers' School, editor of Handwoven, and author of many books, including The Complete Book of Drafting for Handweavers, which should be on every weaver's shelf, has been a hero of mine for years. I can pretend to be a beginner, and it wasn't hard while doing this scarf (I had no idea whether I was suppose to beat my weft loosely or hard), but the fact that I can send an email out to friends all over the country when i get in difficulty is a sign that I have been doing this for a long time. I will just say that all my scarves feel heavenly, and they probably will improve as I keep going, but the graphic quality of this scarf makes it really nice to wear.

Small sample of Bhakti Ziek's deflected double cloth but beaten tighter than the scarf
I want to keep good records of what I am doing but I barely had enough warp to do one scarf; yet somehow I did manage to get a small sample off the warp. I beat the weft much harder on the sampler and when I washed it the cloth came together in a way that I liked. Next scarf I should have enough warp to make it large enough to allow for shrinkage and a tighter beat.

Gilmore inkle loom--old style with weaving by Bhakti Ziek
Here's another branch to the confusion of my life. I wanted to follow up the card weaving study with an inkle loom band. I pulled out my old Gilmore inkle loom--can you see the faded ink label on the loom near the shuttle? I love that loom, maybe because it was the first one I purchased. It is so simple to use; a really smart tool. I looked online to try and find images of how to warp it because after all these years of disuse, I wasn't sure. I sort of knew but wasn't positive. I am surprised that I didn't find a good picture with the flap, which is for tensioning, and all the pegs. Finally I just bit the bullet and warped the loom, following draft one in Anne Dixon's book, The Weaver's Inkle Pattern Directory: 400 Warp-Faced Weaves. Guess who did the forward--Madelyn van der Hoogt! I started at one because I was thinking it would be nice to do all 400 bands. That was before I started. Now I think I will finish this and put the loom away. 

It's not that I don't think the process is perfectly wonderful. In fact, I am totally inspired by what Daryl Lancaster does with her inkle loom. She uses the bands for her incredible handwoven garments--it makes sense for her to make the cloth and the bands. And she has written a book on using the inkle loom that I plan to order (and when I was in doubt an email to her got an immediate response with a diagram of the old Gilmore loom like I have). But I feel fractured by all this exploring and long to return to my TC1 and the taqueté and samitum study that I have neglected (and to continue with the tapestry lessons). There are so many avenues one can go down as a weaver, but my birthday is next week, and I better start pruning myself so I am not just rambling around as I near the end of my 60s.

Dimity studies, above face and back of a study by Lisa Hill; below a study by Ute Bargmann
Oh, but I didn't mention the study of dimity that Ute Bargmann and Lisa Hill and others undertook, did I? It was Lisa's notebook of small swatches like the ones in the photo above that got me determined to return to her barn soon. These are three shaft weaves--or at least based on three shafts. Plain weave. Now three shafts and plain weave do not go together--so I am confused. Maybe it isn't three shafts? I really don't know. But I have to find out. So pruning some branches, but adding others. Weaving might be linear but it also is a mysterious web.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Studying Tapestry Weaving

Bread and Puppet 2015 Calendar
I know I said I would do a new post in a week, and that was three weeks ago, but really, three weeks is much better than a year--and I do say I am an "erratic blogger" right up there under my name. So here is my tale of how I came to my current study of tapestry weaving--a meandering story of course.

Taqueté study by Bhakti Ziek, 2015
Taqueté is a weft-faced structure using two warp systems and multiple wefts, and it is one of the structures I taught last summer at Belinda Rose's studio in Scotland using her Thread Controller loom. The basic structure of taqueté is always plain weave, like tapestry, but the wefts travel from edge to edge, unlike the discontinuous wefts of a tapestry. The wefts should completely cover the warp, and you can see in my study above, that my warp is definitely showing--especially at the bottom. So I began to think I could learn something from tapestry and tapestry weavers and contacted a few friends who are experts in tapestry.

Emergence II by Rebecca Mezoff, 40"h x 40"w, hand-dyed wool tapestry, in the permanent collection of Craig College, Craig, Colorado
It seemed like everyone kept pointing me to Rebecca Mezoff and her online tapestry courses. I wasn't really thinking to take a class, and as a former teacher of weaving (well, I still do teach sometimes but not full-time) I have taught tapestry--but Rebecca has posted some wonderful free videos on the internet and I began to watch everything that was available and realized I could learn alot from her. So I signed up for her Three-in-One Course. You can read all about her different courses and options HERE.

Front (left) and back (right) of Bhakti Ziek's Part 1 sampler from Rebecca Mezoff's online tapestry course.
What works for me, besides the fact that she has made professional videos that are in focus, clear to follow, and funny (so you enjoy watching the videos), is that these are self-directed courses. There is no meet-up time when all the students and Rebecca are online together--you work at your own speed, whenever you want, and you can ask as many questions as you want. Rebecca tries to answer everyone within 24 hours, but my experience is that she responds much quicker than that. I can watch her videos over and over--and I do. In fact, I watch so often that Mark and I think we have a roommate. You also can see what the other students have done in any section--after you post what you have done. That is a really nice feature because you get a sense of sharing without feeling competitive.

Tommye Scanlin's mirrix loom, on loan to Bhakti Ziek
Okay, here is the truth--I wanted a new loom. I saw people using the Mirrix loom in one of the workshops when I taught at the ANWG Conference in Bellingham, WA in 2013. I loved what everyone was doing, and I loved the looms. So for two years I have been wanting one of those looms, and I got it in my head that if I got one, I could work downstairs at the kitchen table by the woodstove at night, instead of going to bed and reading. And Rebecca demonstrates most of the steps so far on a mirrix loom--and that tap tap sound of her beating the weft into place is very enticing. You can hear that tap tap sound at about minute 2:30 of her splicing video.

Macomber loom set up for tapestry in Bhakti Ziek's studio
But I have this perfectly wonderful 24" 8-shaft Macomber loom in my studio and I haven't used it for a long time, and I knew it was a great loom for tapestry--so I couldn't legitimize buying a loom, especially if I didn't know if I was going to be serious about tapestry or not. So I started Rebecca's class and put seine twine cotton (I didn't know about this wonderful yarn before watching her videos) on my macomber.

Start of Part I of Rebecca Mezoff's Online Tapestry Course being woven by Bhakti Ziek
What I was totally unprepared for was my reaction to doing tapestry. I was completely mesmerized and engaged and loved it. My friend Sandra Brownlee explained it perfectly: she said "my fingers were thirsty." (You can experience Sandra's wisdom in The Tactile Notebook workshop she is teaching at Longridge Farm this summer.) I am going to write more about this in a future blog because I think it is an interesting topic, about the differences I perceive between the jacquard work I have been doing and the hand manipulation of tapestry--but it is a big topic and I think I should leave it for a future discussion. Let's just leave it that my hands, which have done so much brocade in the past, and yes, I have done tapestry before, felt at home with the butterflies and moving of weft threads that is part of tapestry.

Tapestry rug woven by Bhakti Ziek about 45 years ago with holes carefully chewed by her beloved dog when she was a puppy--and now is gone but the holes remain
Of course, the same week that I set up the macomber for tapestry, my brother and sister-in-law who own Wild Hair Alpacas in Colorado Springs called to see if I could weave some alpaca scarves for them (that too will be another post). Suddenly my macomber loom was in high demand. And that is when my friend, Tommye Scanlin offered to lend me her Mirrix loom--so I could test the loom in person to see if I wanted one and also free up my macomber for the scarves. The mirrix is pictured above, and yes, I do want one.

Front (top) and back (bottom) of Part II sampler from Rebecca Mezoff's Online Tapestry Course as woven by Bhakti Ziek
I had to finish the warp on the macomber before I could start the scarves, and you can see my work from Part II of Rebecca's course. We are weaving from the back and in Part III I will learn how to deal with all those tails hanging down, and then the back will be almost as clean as the front, and I will be sure to post it for you to see. 

Area of different ways to join wefts in a tapestry, part of the lessons in Part II of Rebecca Mezoff's Online Tapestry Course, as woven by Bhakti Ziek
I am constantly amazed at how the smallest detail can change the effect of the weaving. I pulled out my Peter Collingwood The Techniques of Rug Weaving (the weaving books are all coming off the shelves these days and piling up by my bed for night time reading) and just couldn't understand how the difference between one weft going over the other versus the other going over the first could make a difference, but when I tested it at the loom I saw that he was completely right. That is another thing--tapestry is an ancient process and one that has been used by cultures all over the world--so there never is one way to do anything, and what is right for one group is wrong for another. I really like how even-handed Rebecca is about all the variations. She is quick to point out what others do, and often sends us to videos by other artists, and she is very clear about why she does something, and of course she is teaching us her way, but she always leaves it open for the student to decide what works best for them.

Sisyphus, a seven panel weaving by Bhakti Ziek, 2015; each panel is 88.5"h x 28"w, silk, cotton, metallic yarn, handwoven satin damask; woven on TC1 looms
I didn't have enough warp on my loom to finish all the exercises in Part II, so I will either finish them on Tommye's mirrix or--isn't it funny how things happen-- I met some friends at Brattleboro Art Museum last week so they could see my weaving Sisyphus (I will do a blog post soon about this piece), which is up until Sunday, May 3rd in their current exhibition. Of course I went on and on about studying tapestry, and one of my friends who is moving her studio soon offered to give me her tapestry loom, which she isn't using.

Nilus Leclerc Tissart loom now residing at the home of Bhakti Ziek
So yesterday Mark and I drove over to her place and got the loom. Although she had sent me a picture, I was rather surprised in person to see it is really a sturdy big loom. Luckily we had the topper off the truck, and it just fit perfectly. This loom makes me think I had better get serious. I actually don't have any idea of what I want to do in tapestry. Right now I just love the process of learning and understanding. At the moment I have the sense that despite all my years as a weaver, I know nothing, and there is so much to learn that I am never going to get "there." Of course, I also know there is no "there" and that one of my pleasures right now is that I do know something about weaving, and can grasp the nuances of the differences I am being taught--and this was not something I could have understood when I did tapestry in the past.

I have more to say--and obviously I have many more blog posts that I have to do, since I have promised them to you in this post--but I think I will end by saying, I could finish up Part II and do Part III on my Nilus Leclerc Tissart loom OR I could do it on my own mirrix--since I am buying one from another weaver next Monday. This story has a happy ending.

And thank you Rebecca Mezoff for being such a wonderful teacher and artist and a generous soul. Rebecca also blogs--so go here to see more. The color work she is doing for a new class is totally inspiring.