The making of a tapestry...

Handwoven tapestry is an ancient technique for creating images through woven form.  It has been used world-wide for centuries.  More about historical and cultural aspects of tapestry may be found in many places, and an extensive list of sources is provided at the American Tapestry Alliance website.  A visit to the American Tapestry Alliance website will prove that handwoven tapestry as an art medium is alive and well throughout the world today. 

My work is based on the images I create through using drawing, painting, collage, photography and mixed media.  Let me show you a few of the steps in the process of designing and weaving a tapestry.

This tapestry is about the wildfires that swept through areas of the Southeast in the United States in late 2016.  Thousands of acres of wooded land were burned and at least fourteen people lost their lives.  Many more lost their homes and businesses in some of the most devastating of the fires in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.

This tapestry is about the wildfires that swept through areas of the Southeast in the United States in late 2016.  Thousands of acres of wooded land were burned and at least fourteen people lost their lives.  Many more lost their homes and businesses in some of the most devastating of the fires in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.

Some of the stages that came before the weaving...

As I learned about the wildfires in the Southeastern U.S. and how they were spreading rapidly in the extremely dry conditions, I began to think about how I might make images about the situation.  I went to Rabun County in north Georgia to photograph some areas of burned forest.  Using the experience of seeing the ash and charred woods, as well as the photos I took there, I began to paint.

This is one of many photos I took of burn areas.

This is one of many photos I took of burn areas.

My working process is not linear.  "Flux" is important to my initial designing, an idea of not committing to the first solution that might arise, as described by artist/teacher, Steven Aimone.

Another concept that I've learned from Aimone, is: "When in doubt, make big changes...." and that is certainly part of the way I work.

These are a few of the paintings I did based on the photos of the burned woods.

These are a few of the paintings I did based on the photos of the burned woods.

After a long working process, I finally have an image from which I can produce the cartoon for the tapestry. Even then, however, I make many changes in color choices of the yarns I use, and I also adapt the shapes I'm weaving. 

Eventually, it all comes together to be a completed tapestry.