Monday, December 24, 2012

"In Our Nature: The Tapestries of Helena Hernmarck"

I think it was back in September I learned of an exhibit of Helena Hernmarck tapestries at the American Swedish Institute, Minneapolis, MN (exhibit now over).  It seemed this would likely be the best chance I would ever have of seeing any tapestry of Helena Hernmarck.  I called a friend who is an artist (watercolor, collage, paper) and weaver, and asked if she would be interested in driving to Minneapolis together before Oct. 14.  We finally settled on Wed., Oct. 10th as weather would be good and roads dry.

Louise Engelbrecht, WI Northwoods Artist and Weaver.

American Swedish Institute, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Exhibit banner outside ASI Park St. entrance.

We were advised, when paying our entrance fee, to start in the old mansion, and end with the large exhibit room in the new section, that would "blow us away," so we did.  Photos (without flash) of tapestries were allowed in the old mansion.

"Envelope from Sweden."

"Kari's Leaf" and process.

Sorry, but I didn't catch the title of the above work.  I liked that it was small squares put together as one work, something do-able for a weaver with smaller loom(s).

In addition to the tapestries, there was a 40 minute video we could watch showing Hernmarck at work and her process for creating and weaving the tapestries.  I was hoping it would be available on DVD, but alas, it was not.  Perhaps someday?  And while I'm hoping, I'll hope for a new book of her tapestries since the publication of "Helena Hernmarck, Tapestry Artist." 


"Folk Costume Details."

The inspiration for "Folk Costume Details."

Sample for visitors to touch and examine.

"Linnea Borealis" by Lis Korsgren.

Last, we went into a large, semi-darkened room holding four large tapestries,... "Poppies," "Waterfall," "Leadenhall Market," and "Moss-klyftan.  In photos, they are fabulous, in person, stunning, they take your breath away.  I had taken only a few photos (some didn't make it as I must have turned my phone off too soon, trying to save battery), waiting until the end, only to find out No Photos Allowed in this room.  Ah well, we could stand or sit and bask in the artistry.  I couldn't get over how, when viewing each one up close you saw color, and the further back you moved, the more detail stood out.  It was amazing! 

Note:  The above photos, taken by myself, are published here with the very kind approval of Helena Hernmarck.  

There were also two other smaller exhibits at ASI, including one on Swedish lace, the following three photos were taken the same day.

Bobbin lace.

Variety of bobbin designs.

Lace in fine linen.
As we were getting ready to leave, we decided seeing anything else on this visit would "dilute" the experience of seeing the Helena Hernmarck tapestries, so we left for home.  It made for a very long day, but seeing this exhibit made it very worth while.  Altogether, a very satisfying day.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Black Bear cub at Wild Instincts, Rhinelander, WI.

A little catching up,... I am a volunteer for Wild Instincts, Rhinelander, WI, a wildlife rehab facility.  As a rescue driver for them, I rarely get a call, in winter, to go out and bring in wildlife in winter, so knowing they were working hard to get their new building ready for the spring "deluge," I went over to help paint walls for a day in January, and again in February.  While there, it was time for Mark Naniot, registered rehabber, to feed two baby black bears.  After he fed the first one, he asked if I'd like to hold it while he fed the second.  A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me, I happily held the now contented baby for a few minutes.  Of course while holding him, he peed on me, so I spent the afternoon smelling like baby bear urine, and yes, I tossed my clothes when I arrived home.  A month later, I was able to hold him again, this time I had a paper towel under his little bottom, and thankfully, no "accident."  I am happy to report the two cubs were placed in a den with a mom and her two cubs. 

To read more about these and other black bears, go to the Wild Instincts blog,  There are some amazing videos there!

WI Northwoods, Autumn 2012.
We had quite a beautiful autumn this year, good color as we'd had more rain than we've had over the past few years. 

Milo, watching me work outdoors.

Sock machine demo on Oct. 6, 2012.
On Saturday, October 6th, the Lake Country Weavers had their fiber arts demonstrations and sale in Eagle River, WI.  As I am currently the only sock-cranker in the group, and the sock machine is more portable than my looms, that is what I usually demonstrate on.  Then a call came from an area gallery, would I like to have my socks in their gallery for November, so I got busy cranking again to have socks to take over.

A few of the socks made in October.

Detail of "School Days Plaid" socks.

Cranking socks on an sunny autumn day.

Socks at the gallery.

Time to get back to my sketchbooks.
It feels like I've been doing the same kind of weaving for far too long.  I've been thinking and asking myself for the past year, "what is it I really want to weave?"  I finally came up with answers, and bit by bit, pieces of it have been falling into place.  

So, with the new year it almost here, I have a lot of learning and exploring to do at Shuttle Works Studio!

Shuttle Works Studio on an early winter morning.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Drawloom Weavings at VavStuga

This post is of photos of drawloom or double harness weavings, all but two taken during the Sept. 17-21, 2012 Drawloom Basics class I attended at VavStuga.  These photos are posted here with the knowledge and permission of VavStuga, and my thanks to them for sharing these and so many more examples with their students, and allowing me to share a few of them here.

Opphamta weaving.

Shaft draw weaving.

Shaft draw blanket.

Shaft draw blanket.

Single unit weaving.

Smalandsvav coverlet with sheepskin backing, woven by Becky Ashenden.

Becky's coverlet, larger view (photo taken Nov. 2011).

Smalandsvav coverlet, by Susan Z. Conover, quilted, with handwoven band trim.

Susan's coverlet, prior to finishing, with reverse side shown on the right.  (Photo taken Nov. 2011)

Smalandsvav coverlet by VavStuga apprentice Terry Slagel, Sept. 2012.

Smalandsvav weaving.

Smalandsvav weaving.

Smalandsvav weaving.

Smalandsvav weaving.

We were shown so many other examples of double harness weavings, and I wish I had photos of all of them.  (Any errors in identifying the types of weaving shown here are mine.)  So, now it's time to learn more and begin weaving my own.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Drawloom Basics Class, Part 3 of 3 ~ Samples

The photos and basic information are shown in the order they were woven, and unless otherwise indicated, the side you are viewing is the side that was up as woven.


Opphamta weave has a plain weave ground, with pattern floats.  You work from a chart, your own design or one you found (be careful of copyright).  This sample has a warp of 16/2 cotton bleached (plain weave), and 16/2 linen for pattern.  Warp is 14 ends/cm., and 14 picks/cm.

"Double Dragons."

The "Double Dragons" were woven on an Oxaback single unit drawloom with the charted design saved in pattern lashes.  This piece is 5 shaft satin.  The warp is 28/2 line linen, half-bleached, and the weft is 12/2 line linen, natural.  Warp is 16 ends/cm, and 16 picks/cm.

Smalandsvav sample.

Smalandsvav is a double harness weave, and can be set up on a standard loom.  This particular loom had a small extension for the warp beam to improve the shed.  The warp is 16/2 cotton, 12 ends/cm, and has 16/2 cotton (single) for the plain weave, and 16/2 cotton (doubled, a shuttle with two bobbins), 12 picks/cm.

"Cattails" woven on shaft draw.

The "Cattails" were woven on an Ideal loom with Myrehed shaft draw system.  This photo only shows a portion of the piece but I wanted to include a bit of the border.  The weave structure is 8 shaft satin.  Warp is 8/2 cotton, 14 ends/cm, and weft is 16/2 linen, 14 picks/cm.

Charted design (underside when on loom).

For this piece, I had chosen a charted design that would not be too difficult to weave given the time allowed, and I added a simple border.  It was woven using a Myrehed single unit attachment on, I believe, an Anderson floor loom with long extension.  The warp is 22/2 cottolin, doubled (black), 20 ends/cm, and 16/2 linen (I chose bright red), 10 picks/cm.

This photo shows a bit of the border (underside when on loom).

This side was up as I was weaving.

When weaving, or researching a weave, I like to keep notes on warp and wefts used, sizes, fibers, sett, and so on, to help in future weaving projects.

The samples have not yet been hemmed or washed, so you do see a few wrinkles from being folded when shipped.  How I wish I had a cold mangle for pressing pieces as the iron does not seem to get the wrinkles out.  Even when I think they are, a photo shows they are not! 

The next post, coming mid-week, is of drawloom pieces woven as examples for students, and pieces hung for display.  I was particularly taken with the Smalandsvav and Opphamta pieces.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Drawloom Basics Class, Part 2 of 3

Smalandsvav sample.

My next weaving experience that week was Smalandsvav.  We had gone over basic design possibilities, and with that sheet in hand, and a bobbin with two shuttles, I decided to weave two colors at once.  It must come from my using three colors when cranking socks? 

Smalandsvav is a double harness weave.

Smalandsvav is not woven on a drawloom but is a double harness weave, requiring two sets of shafts.  The above photo was taken to help me with setting up a loom at home when I weave this at home.

Small extension added to the loom.

Smalandsvav was set up on an Glimakra Ideal loom with a short extension added to help with achieving the shed.  A double-bobbin shuttle was used.

Cattail design being woven on a shaft draw system.

For weaving on the shaft draw system, also set up on a Glimakra Ideal, I chose a design of cattails.  What I did not realize (and still need to understand) was there was an "x shaft" in the design.  Though I worked from the center of the design when pulling the cords, you can see there are "double" cattails in the photo above that should be single.  I need to get "Damask and Opphamta" out to read and understand what was going on here.

Loom with shaft draw system.

Shaft draw systems are for weaving designs that repeat across the width of the fabric.  (The opphamta attachment also produces designs that repeat.)

A better view of the weaving, nearly completed.

My last weaving was on a loom with the Myrehed single unit draw.  With that setup, you can do freeform designs, though the design I had chosen (the first day of class) was a balanced design, with border I added. 

Drawcords are in front of weaver instead of overhead.

This loom had the newer Myrehed single unit attachment with drawcords coming down in front of the weaver, instead of the older style single unit drawloom with drawcord warp overhead (as in the single unit with lashes in the previous post).

The charts/designs used at the looms were kept on a magnetic board that sat on the bench next to you.  Pull the cords according to the chart, weave the required rows (depending on structure), release the cords, pull the new cords, weave,.... until design is completed.

A better view of the weaving in progress.

The warp was black, and I chose a bright red weft.  The only issue I had was getting used to focusing my bifocals on the cords so as not to have errors in the weaving.  I did end up with one error, but there was not enough time to cut it out and re-weave.  At home, I would never have left it in no matter how far back I had to go.  However, it was the last afternoon and I decided having a finished design was more important at that point.

Looking at the shaft draw piece.

Class Photo from Drawloom Basics, Sept. 17-21, 2012.

Part 3 will have photos of my samples (off-loom), and brief information on fibers used, sett, and so on.

Next will be one or two posts with photos of woven samples we viewed during the week as well as woven pieces on display.

Following those will be a post on the Helena Hernmarck tapestry exhibit "In Our Nature," at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, along with a few pics from Swedish handknits and Swedish lace exhibits that were on at the same time.