Our Scandinavian Weavers Study Group theme for the year is “inspiration.” Many of us are weaving a new pieces based on some aspect of an older Scandinavian piece – like color, pattern, or materials. Many of these will be on view at the Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum’s annual National Exhibition of Folk Art in the Norwegian Tradition this summer. I had ambitious plans.
I can’t weave the large rya I planned, adapted from a historical piece in the Vesterheim collection, because I have a new tapestry in Helena Hernmarck’s technique on the loom. I am also planning a good-sized tapestry that includes many symbols and motifs from medieval Norwegian tapestry – with at least one of the charming horses. I want the medieval-update tapestry to appear, at first glance, to be an old piece (or a reproduction of an old piece). On closer examination, you’ll see that a queen figure might include stylized curly hair and a scarf instead of a ruff. It will become my daughter on the horse, holding a cell phone. Here is a small part of my cartoon underway. (Clearly, you should ignore the colors.)
Here’s a similar horse from an old piece.
By the time I pulled together all the symbols I want to include, and designed complex borders, I realized that the piece was too large and elaborate to complete for the exhibition this summer.
At about the same time, I took a weekend workshop at the Weavers Guild of Minnesota with Anita Mayer. As part of the “homework,” we were instructed to find a compelling picture and find paint chips to match all the colors in the image. I looked through some old Vesterheim magazines and chose a beautiful painting, “Tied Up in Coney Harbor,” by a Norwegian-American artist, Finn Nord. I loved the blues and greens.
The next week, when I needed to start something to use for demonstrating at the Vesterheim annual fundraiser in the Twin Cities, I decided to simplify the shapes in the painting a bit and weave a small piece, to play with entrancing blues and greens and practice weaving water and sky. It was enormously fun and I learned quite a bit. Here’s the modest result.