Woolly, not Woody, Woodpecker

I had a bit of warp left over when the “Baldishol Duck” was finished, so I wove a small woodpecker on a tree limb. He has pecked a heart of appreciation. I had in mind an initiative from the British Tapestry Group and the American Tapestry Alliance, Weavers Applaud, in which weavers were encouraged to create small pieces with the theme of reaching out in friendship around the world.

In these difficult times we would like to reach out to weavers across the world to applaud and give our thanks to the medical professions, the ancillary workers and the ordinary people who are working to keep us, the people, fed and healthy and a message to other weavers that we are all in this together, united, hand in hand.

Weaving Notes: In my ongoing exploration of weaving in Frida Hansen’s wool transparency technique, in which parts of the warp are left unwoven, I tried a few experiments. Could I weave the pecked-out heart by leaving a bit unwoven? The short diagonals of open warp on the tree trunk were intended to mimic bark–perhaps room for more experimentation there. The bird body is completely filled in, but I left the foot and leg as open warp.

A weaving in transparency technique can appear so different, depending on the light and time of day. If there is a strong light source from behind, the negative spaces (the open warps) are prominent. If it is darker behind the weaving, and the light shines in front, the woven areas are featured more strongly. So when I put this small pictorial weaving in a window, I preferred the way it looked at night. The photo above was taken at 9 pm. Below is the same position, taken at 3 pm.

3 pm

Here is the woodpecker suspended from a loom beam, in front of a wall.

To me, a weaving and what it depicts is all about where you are in life when the weft is passing over the warp. This time of isolation is difficult and annoying, and one thing that has kept me sane is walking with my friend Kelly Marshall. We are such careful people, with social distancing and air hugs. One time, walking through bare early spring trees, we heard the familiar rat-a-tat sound, and looked up to see the red head of a woodpecker in the gray branches. This “woolly woodpecker” weaving has some greenery, but it still is a pandemic portrayal.

This woodpecker could travel

I would like to send my modest woodpecker to a health care professional affected by this crisis. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to suit up in full PPE and deal with constant fear–for yourself and your family, and for your patients. If you have a friend or family member you would like to honor, send me an email and tell me why. I’ll mail off the weaving to them. (lafleur1801@me.com) This is not a contest–more of a first come, first served.

Update: The woodpecker will travel to Colorado!

Joanna Dyson wrote to honor Dr. Amy Olson. “I’m one of her very grateful patients,” Joanna wrote. “She’s gotten me through some really hard times.”

I would like to honor Dr. Amy Olson, a pulmonologist at  National Jewish Hospital, a specialist outpatient hospital and the #1 lung hospital in America, in Denver, Colorado. Amy and many of the other doctors are heavily involved in our response to covid-19, as well as keeping many of our most vulnerable people well. The efforts NJH have extended to enable continued testing and treatment in the setting of lethal pandemic are noteworthy.






  1. thank you so much for your beautiful work and today’s blog sentiment
    i love your exploration of frida hansen technique
    the duck and woodpecker are just perfect

  2. Thank you, Victoria! Notes like yours are especially welcome when so much of life is disappointing these days. I’m working on my next Frida-Hansen-style pandemic portrayal cartoon today, and am eager to get to the weaving stage.

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