A return to Penland

At the end of my time at Hambidge I was able to take a day to visit Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina. Tommye Scanlin and Bhakti Ziek are two amazing masters of fiber art. Tommye is a tapestry artist and has been a big inspiration and mentor for me over the last half-decade. Bhakti has also become a mentor in a wide variety of ways. She is the master of jacquard weaving but also has a vast knowledge of weaving and weave structures.

The two of them are teaching an 8-week concentration in textiles at Penland. They have 12 motivated students who are working on everything from tapestry to complicated weave structures to overshot to indigo dyeing. I was quite impressed by the variety of projects these students are working on.

They are in week 6 of their concentration with a continued variety of experiences including field trips and instruction in all things weaving. 

In the dye studio

Bhakti and Tommye asked me to do a mini-workshop about acid wool dyeing while I was visiting and I was happy to oblige. Though I have dyed my own weft yarn for the last 12 years, I haven't spent much time teaching dyeing. This group proved willing guinea pigs for a dye-workshop trial run. The biggest thing I learned? Come prepared with handouts that explain the math.

We did two gradations in quart jars. One was yellow to magenta and the other was 100% violet with a depth of shade change. The only dyes they had were WashFast Acid dyes and it was interesting to see the different color results than the Sabraset acid dyes that I use.

My attempt to explain the math. Color wheel dyed by Tommye Scanlin.

Penland has a very nice dye kitchen. Actually there are two in the Lily Loom House. We were using the dye area on the third floor this day.

Sarah making the dye solution. Notice the great dye measure station with exhaust fan.

The finished colors are below. When measuring the violet dyes, I miscalculated how much solution we'd need by about 10 mLs. I asked the class if they wanted to mix more dye solution or go rogue. I shouldn't have been surprised when they chose the latter. The lovely color in the center of the photo below is their rogue color. It had what was left of the violet, some magenta, and a little yellow. 

After I left, studio assistant Nina made this wonderful record card. I shamelessly stole this photo from the group's Instagram feed which you can follow at @weaving.a.dialogue.

After the acid wool dyes were cooking, the class moved on to indigo dyeing with Bhakti's instruction. Here they are starting an indigo pot. Unfortunately I had to leave before seeing anything come out of it.

Below are a few more dye experiments in process.

Tiny skeins waiting for the indigo pot.

Dorina untying her ikat warp after dyeing it in black walnut. I believe it was also destined for the indigo pot.

Dorina working on the ikat warp with the help of Sidsel Moreb who was visiting.

Student work

They were working on so many things! The excellent possibilities presented by two such talented teachers as Tommye and Bhakti are evident in the work of their students. There was a huge variety of work being done, but everyone I talked to was able to articulate what they intended and where they hoped the work might go.

Nancy was working on this beautiful overshot set of pieces. In each piece, more of the overshot pattern disappeared. Her Instagram account is @nordquist_studio.

Nancy Nordquist, overshot work on a Macomber loom

Nancy Nordquist

Sarah was working on these wonderful small tapestries. They came from a drawing she did when she was a kid. Her Instagram is @miss_sarah512.

Sarah was also weaving an amazing loom-controlled piece with clasped weft and patterns that came in and out of the design.

I was fascinated by this work the studio assistant Nina was doing. It was a combination of tapestry with open weave/plain weave areas. I think it holds great possibility! 

Krysten was weaving with both tapestry and loom-controlled work. She was doing some floor-loom weaving that reminded me of something I might do--controlling gradation with line spacing. Fascinating stuff! The tapestry work she was doing in the second photo was also interesting. I wished I could see it off the loom. She was half-hitching the edges and I believe expecting the fabric to buckle when taken off the loom.

Rebecca was doing some wonderful experiments with loom-controlled weaving using cotton and silk. I really enjoyed looking at her progression of thought through the large number of pieces she has woven in this vein. Her Instagram is @rebeccadarylart.

There were so many cool things happening on all the looms and I only got photos of a small number of them. If you want to review what the group is doing, please look at Tommye Scanlin's blog HERE and if you're on Instagram, there are links above and the instructors also have feeds at @bittersweettapestrystudio and @bhaktiziek.

Tapestry diaries and a warp-weighted loom

The class was doing a tapestry diary and each of the students had to weave a little bit every day. I believe they each had an individual color they were using and if they were gone for a day they had to add a strip of paper indicating that. They were using a warp-weighted loom which was fascinating. The warp is tied on the bottom of the loom on a rolling beam but it is just looped over the top of the loom and weighted at the back. Tommye adjusted the amount of weight until the warp tension felt right. There is a reed near the top of this loom which assures good warp spacing. I wove a little bit on the loom and indeed it was a marvelous thing to weave on. The warp was quite springy and nice on the hands. I believe they were using Weaving Southwest's wool warp

Warp-weighted loom with tapestry diary on the right.

Warp weighted loom from the back with weights indicated by the arrow.

Tapestry diary of the class

Tapestry diary: Students had to put a strip of paper in when they were gone for a day.

Tommye also brought her tapestry diary along for her two months teaching. She is weaving flowers this year.

Tommye Scanlin's 2017 tapestry diary in process in the Lily Loom house textile studio at Penland.

And it is always good to connect with Edwina Bringle again. She is a weaver and Penland icon.

And Bhakti was working on this beautiful large overshot coverlet.

Bhakti Ziek, overshot coverlet

Around campus

The building formerly known as Northlight currently looks like this. A new building will be built here and hopefully will be ready in 2018 for gatherings. 

New installation by Chip Thomas. This is a photo mural from photos he took at Penland.

Gratitude = leaving Hambidge Center one day and waking up in Little Lear at Penland the next with a view of the Pines.

Until next time Penland.