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Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Slow Weaving in North Georgia
I’m an occasional tapestry weaver. I learned enough from my wonderful tapestry teachers Rita Landau and Betsy Snope (both members of Archie Brennan’s and Susan Martin Maffei’s Wednesday Group) to finish the three tapestries I needed for HGA’s Certificate of Excellence in Handweaving Level I. I even managed to write a tapestry primer for Handwoven Magazine in spring of 2009, with careful editing by my tapestry mentors.
A few other tapestries have come off my loom since, including a puffin tapestry that’s currently exhibited in the Blue Ridge Fiber Show. The puffin had been on the loom almost two years. In the course of finishing it, I realized my tapestry skills had become a bit rusty. A new member of Tapestry Weavers South, I headed off to a mountain camp/conference center just north of Toccoa, GA, last weekend to take a refresher workshop sponsored by TWS with Tommye Scanlin and Pat Williams.
The weekend was filled with excellent instruction, beautiful inspiration, entertaining conversation and even a visit from master tapestry bobbin maker John Moss, who brought a whole box full of the brass-tipped beauties for us to try and buy. What a treat, as I’ve always had to order these and wait for my order to reach the top of his list. I added three more to my collection, and only about five remained by the end of the weekend.
Though Tommye and Pat are good friends, this is the first time they have taught a workshop together, and they complement each other nicely. With no TV and limited cell-phone coverage, the 15 of us, about half of whom were from Atlanta, enjoyed an intensive 2 1/2 day study of tapestry and design, interrupted only for meals and sleep. Our evening sessions gave us insight into Tommye’s and Pat’s design processes, a slide show of their work and influences and an amazing show and tell by some of the students. My roommate wove the piece above in sewing thread. (Note the pen for scale.) Conversations continued into the late night. Here are the finished samples most of us cut off the loom on Sunday. Mine is third from the right.
On the drive home, I was visualizing a tapestry design I’ve been thinking about for a while. I’ll need to do some photography to put the pieces in place, but am now excited to get the next warp on my tapestry loom. Yes, it’s very slow weaving, but it’s also addictive, especially with the support of my new weaving friends pictured here. That’s Tommye and Pat in the center of the second row. Between weaving for sutherland, teaching and going to school, I’ll do my best to keep the tapestry skills tuned.