James Koehler weft interlock for tapestry

The James Koehler videos from the Denver Art Museum, Part 2: Flat Tapestry

I have to admit that I am a proponent of the very flat tapestry that James taught me. I am almost as picky about it as he was, and that is saying something because James could be picky. He would probably not like that word. Perhaps exacting or particular would be better words. Being particular leads to a mastery of craftsmanship and James definitely was a master craftsman.

This is the second of five blog posts about the Denver Art Museum videos of Barb Brophy and I talking about our teacher, James Koehler. I am talking in this video about the interlock that James used in most of his work. I have posthumously named it the "James Koehler interlock", but it is really just a specific variation of a weft interlock. If you're interested in learning this join, I have a video on my YouTube channel about it HERE.

If you receive this blog via email updates, you will need to go to the internet to watch the movie. You can see it on my blog in your browser at http://rebeccamezoff.blogspot.com

The search for a very flat join can be traced back to a desire for a very flat textile. A lot of tapestry weaving is not very flat and in fact can be quite thick with yarn tails hanging on the back. Everyone has their favorite style, but I love the way James taught me to weave. His work was exceptionally flat, thin, and flexible. There were no tails hanging anywhere and most of his pieces were virtually reversible. This James Koehler weft interlock join contributes to that sort of textile because it is very flat when done correctly.

This join can be seen throughout James' work. The piece below is Ceremonial Masks which is in the State Library Archive in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The date on the plaque is 1998.
James Koehler, Ceremonial Masks
And here is a detail of that join. Note that he did the join every other sequence. I also use it in this way. It is faster and even flatter than if you interlock every sequence.
James Koehler, Ceremonial Masks, detail
And here is the same join in the Denver Art Museum piece, Chief Blanket with Blocks. Note the warp is running right to left so the joins are happening between the green and red at the top and bottom of the photograph.
James Koehler, Chief Blanket with Blocks, detail
And one last example of this join which shows what an expert he was at it. This is from Harmonic Oscillation XL from 2006.
James Koehler, Harmonic Oscillation XL, detail
And this is an edging technique that James no longer used when I knew him. The Chief Blanket piece at DAM has this fringe folded over the top in hanging. In his later work, all his work was hemmed.

James Koehler, Chief Blanket with Blocks, installation Denver Art Museum Creative Crossroads: The Art of Tapestry show

James Koehler Weft Interlock Video

James Koehler was my teacher for many years before his death in 2011. He used a particular weft interlock join in his tapestries which I have called the James Koehler Weft Interlock (how original am I?). This join is set up a particular way so that when you are making the join, the interlocked wefts are snugged against a raised warp which helps keep the interlocks straight and uniform.

James most often used this join every other sequence for long straight verticals. His technique created a very flat join which you can see in this detail from his Ceremonial Masks pieces which are on display at the New Mexico State Archive in Santa Fe.
James Koehler, Ceremonial Masks, detail
These pieces are in an atrium with various light sources and are covered with plexiglass so they are very difficult to photograph, but this photo gives you a peek (just in case you're not bumping around Santa Fe right at the moment).
James Koehler, Ceremonial Masks
I recently made a new video about how to do this join and you can watch it! Sign up for my bimonthly newsletter in the boxes directly below and I'll send you an email with the link to the video within the hour.

And if you're already a subscriber, I sent you a newsletter today with this video in it. But even if you sign up again, my mail provider gets rid of duplicate addresses, so you're safe from the inbox overflow. And thanks so much for following my shenanigans! For the best shenanigans, take my online class!

UPDATE 1/19/15: I'm adding the video for everyone to see here. It is too hard to reference for people who are already signed up for my newsletter and haven't thought to look at my YouTube channel (you can do that by clicking HERE). Please still sign up for my newsletter below though. I send two a month with updates about my classes, thoughts about weaving, and sometimes videos I don't put on the blog.

Here is the James Koehler weft interlock video.

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