Tapestry retreat

Learning the basics of tapestry weaving: Foundations Tapestry Retreat 2019

Learning the basics of tapestry weaving: Foundations Tapestry Retreat 2019

I just got home from an amazing week teaching my Foundations Tapestry Retreat at CSU Mountain Campus. This is the fourth retreat I’ve taught at this location and I have loved every single one. I didn’t want to leave yesterday but I’ll be back there next year for two retreats in June.

Three Lindas and two Karens

This group of twelve women included three Linda/Lyndas and two Karens. I will admit that it made learning the names easier for me, but in general everyone seemed to become a cohesive group quite quickly. It is my belief that the location of a retreat self-selects certain traits in people. Tapestry weavers already tend to be people who have a certain level of fortitude and even a little stubbornness and from that pool of potential retreat participants, the high-mountain setting, the difficulty in getting there, and the promise of time outdoors further self-selects people who are pretty darn easy going. These women* were a group that got to know each other fairly quickly, shared ideas and experiments, and made sure everyone was included in all the discoveries happening. I’m so grateful for their good humor, laughter, and can-do attitudes!

The workshop focused on beginning tapestry techniques. We started with warping tips, yarn choices, and how to create a structurally sound textile. From there I presented the basic tapestry techniques and allowed each weaver to choose where they would start their explorations. Everyone made different choices, but in the end, every single person had a good grasp on the basics and had started incorporating their own design ideas into their weaving.

Color in the Land of Enchantment: Taos 2019

Color in the Land of Enchantment: Taos 2019

Taos 2019: Color in the Land of Enchantment was a lot of fun. This tapestry retreat in Taos, NM wrapped up earlier this week after five days of experimenting with color.

One of my goals for the retreat was to help people lose the fear of color when designing for tapestry. This is a deeply seated fear for many of us—making color mistakes. We believe we are “bad” at color. We remember our elementary school teacher who told us our tree trunks could not be purple. Trees are brown. I am here to tell you that she was wrong. Sometimes tree trunks are purple.

We did talk formally about color theory. But we also messed around with exercises in paper and yarn. Color aid paper plus rubber cement* leads to sticky fingers, but also to revelations about how colors interact. Wrapping yarn combinations around cards can also be surprisingly interesting. And if you start moving those cards around, you can create a palette. Sure, eventually you need to weave a sample especially for a large tapestry, but we need a simple place to start learning how to do this. When designing for a particular piece, it is important to understand what you are trying to communicate. A lot of that communication comes through color and value choices.

What happens at tapestry camp, stays at tapestry camp... except for this

What happens at tapestry camp, stays at tapestry camp... except for this

Sweet mountain air, a community of people who love tapestry, and five days of fun.

The Colorado 2018 design retreat was so much fun. We had a wonderful group of people. As an instructor, it is so rewarding to spend five days with people who are able to ask questions both of the other people but also of themselves. They were able to dive into their creative selves and identify what they wanted to work on and then actually work on it!

This was a retreat where I encouraged everyone to follow their own path. This did mean that they had to think some about what they wanted to work on before coming to the retreat and then follow their ideas with some guidance from me and their fellow weavers throughout the week.

August's Tapestry Camp

August's Tapestry Camp

The second Colorado retreat went well. It was different from the first (details here) but also a great deal of fun with lots of adventuring and creativity. It is always fascinating to me to observe how a different mix of people changes the dynamic of a particular workshop. I've taught a lot of workshops in the last six years and every one is different. Even when the material I am teaching is very similar, the outcomes can be wildly different.

High mountain weaving at Tapestry Camp!

High mountain weaving at Tapestry Camp!

We had an amazing time in the July retreat at CSU Mountain Campus. What a group! We laughed, learned from each other, shared ideas, hiked some trails, watched the hummingbirds, looked for moose (no luck), searched out flowers, watched the clouds, and saw the brilliant stars.

Here is a bit of a photo essay from the week.