tapestry teaching

Tiny tapestry landscapes of Penland

Tiny tapestry landscapes of Penland

After much deliberation, I brought my little pipe loom to Penland where I am teaching a two-week class about color use in tapestry weaving. I debated about trying to weave a large piece on a floor loom, but I'm not the kind of teacher that can really accomplish my own work while teaching a workshop. I need uninterrupted time to make work and teaching is definitely a full-on task.

I usually travel to teach with a Mirrix loom but I wanted to do some four-selvedge experimenting and the thinner bars on the pipe loom work better for this. So the decision was pipes. 

A stash-use failure

A stash-use failure

After trying to convince myself for a whole day that the camel/silk yarn I found in the stash was going to be the perfect thing for this two-week teaching trip, I quickly caved when Emily (the enabler) suggested we could make a quick stop by The Loopy Ewe on our way downtown last night. It took me no less than two seconds to agree whole-heartedly. Luckily for me, the Ewe is open until 8:30 on Thursdays and yesterday folks, was Thursday.

Tapestry Class at Harrisville Designs

I weave my large tapestries on the Harrisville rug loom that my grandfather gave to me when he could no longer weave. And since I started working with James Koehler, I have used Harrisville yarns for my work. So getting a request to teach at Harrisville Designs this summer was quite exciting to me. I have an aunt who is also a weaver with a Harrisville rug loom (we're a looney loomy family) and she has taken a couple classes at Harrisville with great stories of lakes and old brick buildings and a studio full of sunshine. Now it is my turn to go there. I feel a little like I'm going home even though I've never been to Harrisville at all.

The class I'll be teaching is 5 days and will include the content from my popular Color Gradation for Tapestry class. We will have a couple extra days in this class to explore ways to use technique and color to achieve the visual effects each student is interested in in tapestry. We will explore uses of color on the loom as well as through slide presentations and discussion. We will weave a sampler to practice these techniques and all students will be able to weave a small tapestry or a study for a larger work. I revel in teaching to a wide variety of experience levels at once. As long as you know some very basic things about tapestry weaving, you'll get along fine in this class. And if you're on your 50th tapestry, come and weave with me also. There is always more to learn for both of us. We will use the Knitting and Weaving Center's Harrisville floor looms. Unlike a lot of tapestry weavers, I most enjoy weaving on a floor loom, so this is a chance for me to convert some of my students to this way of doing tapestry. (Grin)

Harrisville Design classes are taught in an old spinning mill which has been beautifully renovated. And of course what could be more gorgeous than New Hampshire in August?

More information is available on the Harrisville Designs website HERE.
The specific class list is HERE.
And the link to my teaching page on my website is HERE with more information about this class and some good words from past students.

The class is August 5-9, 2013.
Mark your calendars!

Yarn waiting for tapestry weavers at the Michigan League of Handweaver's Conference in August 2012

Teaching in New Mexico in June

I will be teaching a three day class at Espanola Valley Fiber Arts Center (EVFAC) June 15-17, 2012. Many of you have been asking when I'm teaching in New Mexico this year, and this is your chance to take a new class from me and support a great organization at the same time.

The class I am teaching is Symbols of the Southwest. Here is the class description:

The southwestern United States is a place rich in culture, landscape, and weaving traditions. Tapestry weaving here is practiced by Navajo, Hispanic, and Puebloan weavers with traditions that reach back hundreds or thousands of years. In this class we will explore questions about the influence of traditional southwestern weaving on contemporary tapestry practice and how symbols are important in Native and Hispanic weaving practice over the last centuries and today. Most importantly, we will consider how we can use symbols from our own experience to inform our design process and investigate the essential pieces of ourselves that lead us to art making. We will use symbol as a design tool, create several tapestry cartoons, and weave either a small tapestry or a study for a larger work.

More information about this class is listed on the EVFAC website under Classes: http://www.evfac.org/classes.html 
and on my website here: http://www.rebeccamezoff.com/teaching/

This class is going to be a lot of fun. I believe that making art is about finding what is essential in ourselves and expressing that in some way. This class uses symbol as a place to start designing for tapestry. We will struggle with what is and isn't weaveable, what sorts of symbols traditional weavers in the American Southwest use, and how we can use symbol and visual imagery from our own lives to inform our tapestry designs. I will provide hand-dyed tapestry yarn as well as a wide range of resources from which students can experiment with different sorts of symbols. Bring your pencils, tracing paper, and your loom (or borrow one from EVFAC) and lets get weaving!

About EVFAC: Espanola Valley Fiber Arts Center is a non-profit center that serves fiber enthusiasts throughout northern New Mexico. The facility has a large collection of looms that can be rented or used for classes. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable and membership to the center brings great benefits. They are expanding their stash of knitting yarns (yeah!) and also carry weaving supplies. They have a dye kitchen and a members library. I recommend a visit and membership if you are in the area! Espanola is 25 miles north of Santa Fe, NM and 45 miles south of Taos.

Here is another post I wrote about EVFAC with more photos: /rebeccamezoff/2011/06/espanola-valley-fiber-arts-center.html

Come take a tapestry class!!!

I am teaching a class in a couple weeks at Espanola Valley Fiber Arts Center in Espanola, NM.  The class is Color Gradation Techniques for Tapestry.  It is three days and there are still some openings!  This class is a benefit for the center and I am hoping to fill the class to maximize their profits.  So this is a great time to take a class in tapestry if you never have.  Here is a recent blog post I did with more photos of the center and some of its offerings.

photo: Laura Barger
The class focuses on technical ways to grade color in a tapestry including using hatching and hachure.  I have some great hand-dyed yarns we can play with and the class promises to be a lot of fun.  As a bonus I will also be showing a slide show about the Bauhaus Tapestry Project (Interwoven Traditions: New Mexico and Bauhaus) I did with Cornelia Theimer Gardella and James Koehler which was completed six months before James passed away.

photo: Laura Barger
photo: Laura Barger
photo: Laura Barger
photo: Laura Barger
photo: Laura Barger
From the class description:
 In this three-day class, students will weave a sampler exploring 
color gradation techniques in contemporary tapestry.  A small tapestry 
may be started if time allows.  We will learn different forms of hatching 
and hachure along with various methods of grading color.  Color mixing 
techniques along with some color theory will be investigated.  Hand-dyed 
wool yarn in a large range of hues suitable for gradation will be provided. 
  Rebecca Mezoff was a student and apprentice of James Koehler for 
6 years and as part of the class, will offer a presentation about their 
Bauhaus project which included his last shows, photos of some of his 
work as it relates to color gradation techniques, and discussion about 
how James used the gradation techniques we will be studying in his work. 
  James was an avid supporter of EVFAC and this class is offered as a 
benefit for the center with all proceeds going to help EVFAC keep its 
doors open.  Basic knowledge of tapestry weaving is recommended, a 
desire to learn and have a great time is a requirement! 

A new tapestry teacher emerges...

I always thought I would teach tapestry "someday".  After all, I have been a teacher since I was an undergraduate, teaching piano to preschoolers, then running my own piano studio in graduate school, teaching a couple sections of 200 undergraduates medical terminology as a graduate teaching assistant, and then pretty much my entire subsequent career as an occupational therapist (teaching is teaching whether you're showing someone where middle C is or how to wipe their butt after a spinal surgery--just sayin').

Until my own teacher died three months ago today, I hadn't thought I would teach tapestry for a few more years.  But here I am and I am very excited about this new journey.  I have things to say and my own voice to say them in, so what better way to spend my time then showing people how exciting tapestry can be?  Teaching was incredibly important to James and I still feel that he would want me to teach now that he cannot do it himself anymore.  I hope I'm right about that James!

I'm starting out with a workshop at Intermountain Weaver's Conference in Durango in July.  IWC has been a great conference for me.  I love Durango and have enjoyed the atmosphere there studying on the Fort Lewis College campus.  I'll be teaching a class about color gradation for tapestry.  My work is full of this kind of color shifting as I find it fascinating, so I am looking forward to showing other weavers how to do this.  I am also looking forward to the learning that I know I will do as part of this process.  I know there will be questions that I hadn't considered.  Perhaps that is the best thing about being a teacher--the way it pushes you to learn more yourself.

Contemplative Garden, 30 x 48 inches, hand-dyed wool tapestry
Emergence II, 44 x 44 inches, hand-dyed wool tapestry
So today marks the day when I start a summer of tapestry focus.  My school year is completed (I buy groceries mostly with my paycheck as an occupational therapist working in the public schools) and I am ready to begin.  I have a multitude of projects to complete in the next 6 weeks and I'm so excited about each of them I don't know where to start today--probably that is why I'm blogging instead!  In the next week or so I'll be dyeing pounds and pounds of student yarn, beginning a big tapestry for an upcoming show, completing a sampler for one of the classes I'll be teaching this summer, working on powerpoint presentations for the classes, helping a friend put on a sectional warp, and finishing a design for a commission I hope to weave later this summer.  Okay, perhaps that is more than anyone can do in a week...

And for those of you in one of my upcoming classes on color gradation for tapestry, check out this online article by Kathe Todd-Hooker about ways to achieve optical blending with yarn.  Kathe is a brilliant woman and successful tapestry weaver who has published several books and runs her own fiber art company.  This article contains a lot of information that is similar to what we will be practicing in the class.

My best weaving buddy Cassy who is going to help me decide which project to start with today... or perhaps just snore.
And as a random post-script to this post:
I just returned from a trip to Michigan for my grandmother's funeral.  I had to check out the local yarn shop, Threadbender.  It was a great place.  There was a weaving class going on--but the shop is so full of yarn that the looms are tucked into corners.  You're looking for Mini Mochi for a hat and you round a corner to find a woman working on summer and winter on a Baby Wolf.

And this last photo is for my Grandmother Thelma who died Friday May 27th.  Thank you for living an inspired life Grandma.  We'll miss you!