tapestry artist

Mary Cost and Architectural Abstractions

I was able to swing by Mary Cost's new show at Downtown Subscription in Santa Fe, NM on the first day of its run, Tuesday the 5th.
I was sitting at a table, drinking an Izze soda (I had already had a chai tea latte that day at another coffee shop and couldn't go for a second round), and was delighted to watch a woman enthralled by the tapestries. She was holding her coffee (and frankly I was afraid she was going to spill it all over her shoes as she wasn't paying any attention to it), stumbling along between the tables and people looking up at the tapestries. People do find tapestry fascinating if we can just show it to them!
Morning, 55 x 33 inchesNote: This tapestry was hanging high on the wall thus the photograph makes it look narrower at the top. It is actually rectangular.
Mary also used to study with James Koehler. Her work has changed and grown significantly over just the last couple years. I think these recent architectural works are stunning and I hope she considers weaving something really large one of these days. I think it would be gorgeous.
Spring at last, 48.5 x 28.75 inches; Morning, 55 x 33 inches; Inside Looking Out, 38 x 27 inches
So Mary Cost is out there in Santa Fe making sure people see her tapestries. Lets go see them! Her work is beautiful and though the walls are not well-lit, the coffee shop is bright and you can see the work (if you can get by the people--the place was packed by the time I left!). She is represented by La Mesa of Santa Fe.
Mary recently had a piece in the international juried show of the American Tapestry Alliance, American Tapestry Biennial 9. I was able to see it at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art and you can see my blog post and photos about her work HERE and in the video on THIS post.

Look for this postcard on the newspaper rack right as you come in the door. It has all the info on it.

Mary Cost
Architectural Abstractions
March 5 to March 31
Downtown Subscription
376 Garcia Street
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Reception: Friday March 8, 4-6pm

James Koehler, 2 years gone

It has been two years now since I got a phone call on my way to Chaco Canyon that James Koehler had passed away. It seems like a lifetime ago, and like yesterday.

Harmonic Oscillation HOLXIII,

James Koehler

I have been thinking about James and my time studying with him over the last few days. I learned many things from James, both positive and negative. I am sorry he is gone as there are still questions I would ask him. Here is the original post from shortly after his death:


The art of tapestry needed people like James.

Stay safe.

Take care of yourselves.

Keep weaving.

2013 or What Tapestry Still Has to Teach Me

New Years Day. After an exhausting few days of marrying Emily and my storage lockers across 1200 miles of the United States, I slept 15 hours last night. When I woke up I didn't know what time it was as Emily consistently unplugs all the appliances when we leave the house for more than a few days. My clock said 3:10. I came downstairs to find that it was closer to 11am. With great hope I tried to find the Rose Parade on TV, but we only get 4 PBS stations, 3 of them in Spanish and though I'd have been happy enough watching the Rose Parade in Spanish, they were more interested in showing soap operas on New Years morning. I did manage to find it streaming live on the internet and caught Dr. Goodall (she is such a bad-ass!) going by before the parade was over. I missed all the bands and everything. (I always hope that one of these days they will show the half time show at a football game and I will see some marching band... but they never do. You'd think I'd give up on this, but I continue to hope in vain that I will see "the band".)

In the spirit of looking forward and hoping for positive changes, I spent today doing what I hope to do much more of in the coming year. Weaving. I happily warped the Mirrix and started a new piece. Yes, I miss my big loom terribly. I patted her beater yesterday in the storage locker and promised to free her sometime this year. In the meantime, the ever-versatile Mirrix will have to do. There is more travel and relocation in our future and no matter how I try, I can't fit the Harrisville rug loom in the back of my VW.

Being an artist and making a living have been the biggest struggle this year. I have learned a great deal about how to be an artist and make a living at it, but have not yet accomplished that while supporting myself or my family. I have learned a lot about balance, and if my not-infrequent tears of frustration are any indication, have a lot more to learn.

I think that tapestry weaving still has a lot to teach me. And when I am not weaving much (like in 2012), I forget the lessons of the slow accumulation of fabric. I forget that if you put a little bit together every day, eventually you have a whole tapestry and something new is born. I forget that the process of each of those weft passes is building something important even if I just can't see it minute to minute. And I think that steady activity of weaving builds something in me too.

So for 2013, I am returning to the loom. I have many other goals, but this is the most important one. Whatever loom I am able to use, I will weave on it. I will make things which may or may not become public pieces, but I will weave nonetheless.
2013 has begun.

The forecast for Alamosa tonight is minus 27 degrees.
27 degrees below zero.
Degrees (F).

Makes your snot freeze when you breathe.

James Koehler's weft interlock join...

Some of you have asked me recently about James Koehler's weft interlock join. He talks about it in his autobiography but doesn't really describe how to do it. He used this join for all the straight verticals in his tapestries which were primarily the darker frames he wove around his images. It is difficult to describe how to do techniques in words, so I am supplying some video below to make it clearer.

James finished his autobiography, Woven Color: The Tapestry Art of James Koehler less than a year before he died. It is a beautiful book that tells the story of his life and journey as an artist.

 In chapter 10 of the book he discusses his interlock technique which he started using early in his tapestry career while weaving a piece inspired by Rothko. Here is how James describes it:
I noticed that when I was weaving the interlock and moving over by one warp end, it affected the ridge that formed on the surface of the weaving as a result of that particular join. Sometimes, the ridge was on the front of the weaving. Other times it moved to the back--depending on the position of the warp end that I was wrapping around.
If the weft moved through a color block toward a lowered warp end, the ridge was forced to the side of the tapestry facing the weaver when the warp end was raised in the next shed. If the weft moved toward a raised warp end, then the ridge appeared on the opposite side of the tapestry facing away from the weaver. By weaving 11 feet with that in mind, I saw the subtle difference that took place depending upon whether or not the interlock was made around a lowered or a raised warp end.
 In the video I show you how to weave this interlock join from the back side of the tapestry. If you are weaving from the front, simply change the weft that you are wrapping against from a raised warp to a lowered warp and the ridge will move to the side away from you (watch the video, you'll get it).

 And I have been sad that James' website was taken down shortly after his death. But I did run across an older geocities website tonight that seems to be operating. It looks like it was last updated in 2009. So you can see some of his tapestries on that website here as well as in some of my old blog posts such as this one.