Great-Grandmother Gunvalda in Color

I’ve been making small tapestry portraits of family members, mostly to explore portraiture in tapestry and to experiment with different yarns.  The small pieces are so instructive.  I wove an small-scale interpretation of a large wall portrait of my great-grandfather August Von Wurden more than a year ago, but was inspired to mount it nicely in order to enter it in the Minnesota State Fair.


It won a blue ribbon!  Here’s the original portrait.


Since I was on a roll, I decided to finish and mount the tapestry of his wife, my great-grandmother Gunvalda.  Edge threads had hung half-knotted for more than a year.  The portrait experiment in this case was using blocks of color to create the image.  I also used doubled threads so the resulting piece is a bit stiffer that the previous piece.


The process was rewarding; steaming and blocking transformed the lopsided, flimsy textile.  Overall I don’t think the experiment had a fabulous result, but I found it interesting that it is more appealing when seen from a distance than viewing it close at hand.


Here is the larger photograph from which I adapted the portrait.


I love this image.  Great-Grandmother Gunvalda is clad in Victorian glory, while her daughter, my great-aunt Valborg, sports a flapper-style dress and haircut. What was the occasion?

One comment

  1. She looks like a pleasant-natured lady (a very good thing). My farfarmor was such, kind, funny, and taught me to read the Bilble in German, say ‘I love you’ in Welsh, and to flush the toilet first in order to get a drink of *cold* water from the tap!