Bonfire, Complete

I’m so happy that the bonfire tapestry is complete, the first I wove on my upright Glimakra Regina loom. During the last part of weaving I was merely eager to get it done, but as soon as the loom is empty I feel a twinge each time I walk by. I won’t go four months this time before warping it again.

“Burn, 2020″ 23.5″ w x 27.5” h

I wrote about my design inspiration earlier, here. While weaving the tapestry, I decided to document it in progress with headlines or editorial cartoons taped to the warp. Some are in a gallery, here.

I printed my cartoon on several sheets of paper and taped them all together. The cartoon was my weaving guide, to be sure, but with many small variations along the way. I taped a smaller version of the cartoon to the loom, with the real photo below. I shortened the bonfire for weaving because I liked those proportions better. And my actual tall bonfire didn’t work so well either, as the wood burned below and thin flaming branches started to fall near the grandchildren.

I also come up with a rule of weaving no more than four rows on any edge of color, so I would have no slits to sew afterwards.

I made many color decisions along the way. And there was ripping out! At the top of the tapestry, with the woods behind the fire, I didn’t want to weave actual trees and make that area more detailed than the abstracted fire. Yet I didn’t want just an expanse of one color. I thought of weaving oblong shapes to suggest treetops in a slightly lighter shade than the deep green. But my first choice, I soon realized, had too much contrast and would just look like distracting blobs. Instead of using two strands of the lighter green, I switched to one strand of the dark with one strand of the lighter shade. Much better.

Here’s another piece of documentation. During this month I was vaccinated. In the grass near the left edge, here’s the syringe.

I wove this tapestry from the bottom to the top, vertically. I normally weave from the side, so I wondered how my usual sideways initials would work out. I thought they worked well.

When my grandson Fitz is with me, he gets my full attention. But on the day I was weaving the top hem, which didn’t need special concentration, Fitz went along happily with that plan.

It’s always nerve-wracking to take a piece off the loom–did it work, or is it just dumb? I cut it off, turned under the hems so I could properly assess it, and put it on the floor to take a photo. I received immediate approval.

And from a distance, the fire in the ring looks satisfyingly blazing.


  1. > It looks absolutely fantastic. I really wondered how you would capture not only the colors but the critical sense of movement, the dance of the flames. I still don’t know how you did it but it’s there! You always show me something to aspire to in your posts. Thanks so much. Joanna >

  2. Your best piece yet. I’m particularly drawn to the circle of metal container, my eye sees a curved line into the green grass and woodland with the warmth of the fire rising out of it.

    Can you paste that as a comment? Or simply enjoy my enjoyment? Sally


  3. This is perfection! The colors, the sense of movement, everything just works. I can almost feel the heat of the fire. Burn 2020, burn!

  4. It’s a morning of discovery here. I was gifted a subscription to the American-Scandinavian Foundation—the first mailing arriving yesterday. So, I’m sitting here reading the SCAN while drinking my first cup of coffee, and came to the article on folk-arts fellowships and public program grants and discovered your name. This was the first blog entry I’ve read, and look forward to reading much more about you and your beautiful tapestries. Thank you for sharing your artwork with us.

  5. Hi Robbie, I have enjoyed following your Bonfire tapestry, it is a strong piece and you are so generous sharing its story. I miss my Scanweavers friends and hope to join in the weaving quests sometime, still a bit scattered. My cousin, Kiki, who lives in Piteå, posted a photo on FB of her bonfire and thought you’d be interested, so I tried to forward it to you. I think it appeared on your instagram account. Just so you know it is not spam or a Hack. Have a good week, today I’ve already enjoyed sitting in the sun on my balcony, probably you have done the same or will so today. Phyllis


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