The endless rya project began more than two years ago. I have a strong emotional reaction to the paintings of Robert Motherwell, particularly his many versions of “Elegy to the Spanish Republic.” His broad black shapes look like enormous brushstrokes; the oval black shapes between them look squeezed or trapped. I thought a similar pattern would work well as a rya, with the yarn adding depth to the bold shapes. I hoped to achieve an effect similar to the roughness of his paint strokes because the pile creates inexact edges. Mixing colors in the knot bundles of yarn is also a way to add subtle color variation. The resulting piece is “Squeezed: Homage to Robert Motherwell.”
So how long did it take? I estimated that the weaving itself, with tying the long rows of knots, took about an inch an hour – roughly 46 hours. But it was the design, yarn preparation, set-up, and confronting problems along the way that took at least as many hours, maybe more. Happily, the piece has personal meaning and met my hopes.
If you are a weaver, you may be interested in the longer documentation of this process, here.