Weeks 13 & 14: Back at the tapestry loom

The Makers Fair of the Saltaire Arts Trail was great, I really enjoyed it. Much quieter than previous years, but fabulous to have a loom there, it seemed a real hit and definitely worth the effort bringing it over – it was a lot heavier than I thought it would be! It was lovely to meet so many people who are readers of this blog – thanks so much for stopping by to say hello.

Tapestry loom, Saltaire Arts Trail, tapestry weaverA major highlight for me was doing the weaving activities on Monday. Paula and Nicola of Sponge Tree were spectacularly friendly and were there to help set up and run the event too. It was so lovely to see kids weaving and enjoying it so much many took supplies with them so they could continue weaving at home. The card loom weaving and the peg looms were clear favourites. I’m really grateful for the opportunity and hope to do it again.

Saltaire Arts Trail, weaving workshops Saltaire Arts Trail, weaving workshops Saltaire Arts Trail, weaving workshops I took a couple of days off to recover, but was soon back at the loom. I had exiled myself from the studio whilst getting ready for the Arts Trail and it was great stepping back in there. It almost felt like I had had a break. One thing that had been bugging me before I downed tools was the blending of her skin, it seemed too tweedy. I wanted some tweediness to contrast with the more solid blends elsewhere in the tapestry, but it didn’t look right. I sampled a dozen or so more blends that would have looked exactly  the same to any sane person, and picked its replacement although still with doubts. With a fresh eye it was clear there was absolutely nothing wrong with the new colour and I was making a fuss about nothing. I did have a play around adding some shading to her neck area but in the end it just made it more fussy than it needed to be. I’ve had to be very careful weaving the hair as I know it won’t take much for the structure of the cloth to turn into a tumour once it is removed from the loom, but I’ve had a good look with the tension released and – hurrah! – it all looks remarkably good. tapestry weaver, tapestry loom, tapestry artist, tapestry studioYesterday I wove her face and at that point it all became a bit poignant, as, no doubt, it should. I’m finding it a bit odd not having the whole image before me as I would with one of my scaffold looms; I’m spending quite a bit of time on my hands and knees looking under the loom and referring back to what has already been woven. At least I’m not having to balance myself on boxes and goodness knows what else to keep level with the fell. That I am relatively comfortable has meant I can work much longer and I am pretty much living off toast and a loom-bed-loom-bed cycle at the moment in order to get her ready for Art in the Pen in Skipton in (gulp) August.

tapestry weaver, tapestry artist, chrissie freeth

My role as the weaving features editor of the Journal for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, involves me working with authors to forge their articles into something publishable. It is very much a background and rather invisible role, so I was a bit nervous when asked to write something about Maides Coign and my time at East Riddlesden Hall to fill a couple of empty pages in another department of the Journal. It was quite an experience being on the other end of all those comments and edits in red type! But it was lovely to see the article in print. In the same edition was an account of Katharine Swailes’s tapestry Play woven at the West Dean, so I was in very good company!

tapestry weaver, east riddlesden hall, maides coign, journal for weavers spinners and dyersTapestry has also been in the newspapers recently with a feature on Maureen Hodge in the Independent and the resurgence of tapestry in The Telegraph.  I’m looking forward to the next episode of How to Be Bohemian on the iPlayer which will include Eric Gill, currently one of my favourite artists, despite the shagging of his dog and daughters. He was also a chum of the man who built my loom, so I will certainly be tuning in.

I did have some rather lovely news on Wednesday. I’ve been approved as a  Member of the Society for Designer Craftsmen. This was originally the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society as in Walter Crane and William Morris, before it changed its name a few decades ago. It champions the work of contemporary designer makers and they foster emerging talent through their licentiate programme. I’m very pleased and honoured and looking forward to getting involved.Capture (2)So that’s what I’ve been doing over the last few weeks, give or take a bit of website updating, researching and general pondering. I’ve also been posting regularly on Instagram, so please drop by if you use it. Right, I’m back to the loom for a couple of hours before bed. I’ve got a good few days ahead of me blissfully empty of jobs so I’m looking forward to putting my head down and just getting on with weaving.

Ta ta for now x

Chrissie freeth, instagram, tapestry weaver

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