So it is Easter weekend, I’ve got home and am about the head for the bath but thought I ought to catch up with the posts as I know I am behind. I wondered – apart from the skullduggery I am about to relay below – what I actually had to report, but looking back at the photographs of the past fortnight I realise how easy it is to forget what one has actually achieved.
The petals of Gracie’s hair are broken up with soumak weaving, a technique of wrapping the weft around the warps. It is a technique best done horizontally, if you try it vertically you only end up spiralling the weft up the warp like a barber’s pole. You can do it to about 45 degrees and I have pushed it beyond this in some areas of the tapestry. I knew during the design process there would be other parts where I would have to push it even further. I told myself I would cross that bridge when I came to it, but last week I crashed right into it. I knew Peter Collingwood had outlined a method of vertical soumak but it was too disjointed a look compared to what I was after. It took about two days weaving and re-weaving to come up with a way of doing it but I am really pleased with the results, I’m not saying I’ve invented anything, but in Chrissieland, I am feeling rather epic. I am learning to experiment more on the loom and to have faith that I will eventually come up with the answers I need.
I’ve also managed to make a start on the face, a strangely personal thing and I was anxious to do it while I was alone, weird I know. I was happy weaving away, keen to work fast and get it done and lost in an audio book and unwittingly managed to pull in my selvage too much for me to be happy with it and so out it came. When re-weaving I toyed around with hatching a cheek for her, but it was such a weak gesture in an otherwise strong design it just didn’t work and so out that came too. I must have been over packing the weft in her face because a few ridges have appeared, but actually I like it, I don’t want her face to be smooth and flawless, in my mind she’s a girl who has lived and toiled and so I have decided to keep it as it is.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned before that the frames donated by the Weaver’s Bazaar are up and running in the sewing room and have been a great hit. I had initially thought I would have to make some cardboard looms for the kids, but they have had no problems working on the frames.
Now then, that there skullduggery. In my little area there is a table with some FAQs and my sketchbook and the original drawing for the design of the tapestry and this is what I use to show what the finished work will look like. I had my grown up job to see to and as I would be away from Riddlesden for a couple of days I left all the material out as a good way for visitors to better understand what is on the loom when I am not there to explain it. Alas yesterday I realised that the drawing had gone missing and a hunt of the house in case someone picked it up and left it in another room, proved fruitless. Whether a visitor took it as a souvenir or stole it with more nefarious purposes in mind I don’t know but it felt like a real kick in the teeth after all the work I have put in and to be honest I was quite tempted to call it a day (did I mention I am a complete drama queen?). Despite being maniacal busy in the run up to Easter a member of staff managed to calm me down. She is so composed and consolatory and thoughtful I am quite sure she could find a way through the Israel/Palestine conflict if she had a mind to.
In the evenings I’ve begun work on the design for my next project, something quite personal to me and it has been raking up a lot of rather unpleasant feelings and it has I think put me in a bit of a funk, that and the missing artwork. But yesterday the sun was shinning, there were snowstorms of white blossom, the grounds was full of kids hunting Easter eggs and families having picnics on the lawns and it was impossible not to cheer up. I also had a lovely visit from Barry who helped set up the loom and his wife Claire who runs the fabulous Imaginarium Gallery in Haworth and they did much to revive my good will and energy.
So another week ahead. The tip of the brown petal marks the half way point and the end of April marks the middle of my time here so with a straight forward area to weave ahead of me and a good wind hopefully I will catch up next week. I need to start thinking seriously about how to keep growing my sitting height with the tapestry I am starting to get a lot of pain in my shoulders now the fell is so high. I would normally have used palettes but of course one has to think carefully about what wood one brings into a National Trust property. Some scaffolding is another option, but it might well obscure the work done.
Right, bath. Oh, but first, some cake, from one of the room guides – I had a sneaky slither and it was to die for. Did I mention I am never going to leave?