30 November 2010

Weaving Like A Mad Woman

All semester I have been super busy with homework for my art classes, so you would think that having finished up my one weaving project due right after the Thanksgiving break, I would just relax and enjoy the time off. Instead, I thought, "I could use this time to make two rag rugs on my loom before I start my final project for weaving class!" (My friends say I am an over-achiever, but I just want to try to make as many of the ideas I have in my head as I can while I am alive.) Of course, I had to take into account the blizzard on Tuesday, and being out of town from Wednesday through Friday. "I can still do this", I thought.

On Sunday night I finished up the last bit of my tapestry, and sat down with a scrap of paper to figure out the warp for two 30" x 48" rugs. I wanted to use the same warp for both, but different weft materials to see how the difference in fabric patterns affected the striped warp. Also, it takes a while to dress the loom, so I got two pieces for one warping job.

I went in to work on my project on Monday, and got all of the warp measured and tied on to the front of the loom, and the warps threaded through the reed and about half of it threaded through the heddles before I got hungry and went home to eat. I thought I would be able to go back in on Tuesday, but ended up staying home and watching the blizzard through my front window.

We packed up our skis on Wednesday and drove up to Sun Valley to visit our daughter for Thanksgiving (and to ski). We drove back on Friday afternoon, and I spent several hours on Saturday working on the loom. I left that day with the loom completely warped, and the twining done, so when I went in on Sunday, I spent the while day just weaving away! I took the two finished rugs off the loom by 9:45pm, and headed home satisfied with my work.

After all that rush, I went in to class on Monday morning to discover that the teacher was stuck in Salt Lake City and class was canceled, so I spent that class time tying the fringe on my rugs. I just have a bit more to do on the second one to finish it tonight, and then I will plan the plaid pattern for the scarf I will make for my final weaving project.

Stay tuned for my latest jewelry adventures coming up later this week. (I should have my newest ring done by then.)


23 November 2010

My First Attempt At Tapestry Weaving

As many of you know, I am taking an introduction to weaving class this semester. Our second project for the class was to weave a 12 inch by 12 inch tapestry. As usual, I chose a really challenging design, then wondered why as I struggled though it. I always do this to myself, but 9 times out of 10 I am happy in the end, even if the piece doesn't turn out exactly as I planned.

I decided to make the tapestry a pictorial sampler, using different techniques within the piece. I love the beautiful mountains here in Idaho, with the huge blue skies above them, and the quirky magpies who live there, so that was what I chose to depict in my piece.

The first step was to draw a full-size cartoon of the piece. I had a photo of a magpie who lived in the big tree next to our old house in Hailey, so I enlarged it, then traced around it to get the shape just right. Then I drew in the mountains and sky behind him, and planned the different techniques I would try in the different areas of the piece.

As the work progressed, I realized what a task I had set for myself! It was tricky knowing where to cross the weft threads and where to leave a slit between, and because we wove the tapestries on our floor looms, it was impossible to secure the cartoon behind the piece in progress, so some of the proportions ended up being off. Also, because there were so many color changes, there were a huge number of tails to sew in at the end. Overall, though, I am tickled with how it turned out.

I found free plans for building your own tapestry loom online, so I plan on making one for myself over the Winter break, because even though tapestry weaving is time consuming and tedious (why am I always drawn to crafts that are like that?), the result is worth it! ...and it will keep me happily busy until I can get or make a floor loom of my own.

Thanks for stopping in!

21 November 2010

Rings Are The Thing!

As I said in my last post, my metals and jewelry class is my favorite (no surprise there!), and our latest project was to make a ring. I knew I wanted to do a ring with a bezel setting, but that technique is not taught until the second semester. I was determined to go ahead with my idea, however, and so I looked up articles on how to do a bezel setting online, and went for it on my own.

I did several practice rings before starting my ring to turn in. My first ring was a copper band with a design stamped on it. I am still pretty new at soldering, and I figured it would be cheaper to screw up on copper, rather than my silver sheet.

After I finished that one, and started to get an idea of designs, I did a couple of silver stamped bands for my daughters. Once I had done those (and melted one of my attempts), I felt I was ready to take the plunge, and started on my silver ring. I bought a number of cool, vintage glass millefiori cabochons earlier in the year, and decided to set one in my ring. I cut a simple flower shape, and bezel set the cab in the center. The first time I soldered the bezel on it soldered on perfectly (I thought), but popped off when I put it in the pickling solution. The second time it stayed on, and I burnished the bezel down over the cabochon. There were a few gaps that I could not get to go down, so my teacher showed me the trick of getting them to sit flush with a rounded steel tool and a rawhide mallet. Then I filed and sanded all the tool marks off, and viola! a beautiful new ring!

I wanted to practice setting some more, and I loved the flower ring design, so I did my usual thing, and made two more rings in the same design, but in different metals - one in copper and one in brass. They are so cute! My final project in that class is my choice, so I have been working on a tribal-style necklace design, using a big, beautiful onyx cabochon a friend gave me. There are only a couple of weeks of classes after the break, so I will have to be ready to go on this piece as soon as the break is over. I will, of course, post pictures of it when it is done.

Thanks for stopping in, and letting me share my work with you!

Coming Up For Air

This semester has been super busy, and I have only been able to look as far ahead as the next assignment due. I didn't even realize that we had the whole of Thanksgiving week off until a few days ago, when I looked ahead to see what was due next. What a welcome surprise! I thought we only had a 4-day weekend like when I was working at a regular job. Of course, I still have school projects to finish up, but I have been enjoying waking up without the alarm.

So what have I been up to all this time? Well, let's see. I had another portfolio critique for drawing class. We did some really fun drawings for this last portfolio, and I was pleased with how they all came out.

I finished my rug in weaving class and started on a tapestry piece, which is due the Monday after the break, so I will be going in to the weaving studio a couple of more times over the break to finish that up.

Our final project in Creative Process class will be a book, and I have been brainstorming ideas for that.

I saved my favorite for last - metals and jewelry class. Our second project in that class was to make a ring. I made several practice bands, and played with stamping and different textures before making my final ring to submit. I will save the details for a separate post. :)

More soon! I just have to organize my photos for the next post. :)