The Frida Hansen transparency workshop for the San Diego Creative Weavers’ Guild was two and a half days long, beginning on Saturday afternoon. During those first 3+ hours, I barely took a breath as I dispensed as much knowledge as I could muster, and consulted with each of the nine students on their projects. On the freeway ride home, I reviewed the names, thought through the day and felt relieved, yet a bit anxious about following up with each person and getting the names straight. I say this because I think that is so typical of teaching a workshop. By the end of the third day our group felt close-knit and congenial. And how could I not know and appreciate each student?
I was hosted for the workshop by Rebecca Smith, who weaves smashing transparencies – the type that more often comes to mind, linen transparencies with a fine ground weft and inlay pattern. It was so easy to be with Rebecca and her wife Ruth in their tapestry-filled home; I was pampered with a comfortable room, great meals (with specially purchased Havarti cheese because I said I usually eat toast and cheese for breakfast), and happy hours with wine. I didn’t have to drive on the California freeways at all, and Rebecca even drove the long way to class one day so we could stop at the ocean en route.
Rebecca took inspiration for her wool transparent tapestry from a stained glass window she saw at a Frank Lloyd Wright house in Buffalo, New York, when she was out East teaching a workshop last month. The black warp is dramatic.
Jill Sparrow Koch was inspired by a Norwegian geometric wool transparent tapestry that was not designed by Frida Hansen. Her color palette is typical of many older Norwegian rutevev, or square weave coverlets: blue (in the warp), gold, red, and white.
Gail Thompson created a design based on depressions on some damaged wallboard that suggested a portrait. But her color palette was inspired by the blue shades of night in Frida Hansen’s famous Melkeveien [Milky Way] tapestry. Gail even added a cross of the style found in the tapestry.
Robyn Tanchum mistakenly warped her loom at 8 epi with the weft yarn (Rauma prydvevgarn) rather than the intended åklegarn, which is thicker. So she spent her time figuring out how to best use the warp. She wove a braided pattern at the bottom with doubled weft. It packed in fine, but doubled yarns don’t wrap around the edges as nicely as a single strand of plied yarn, so she wasn’t happy with the result. In the flowers above she used åklegarn as the weft, which worked well on her thinner warp because there were fairly large spaces between the 8 epi warp threads. Also, notice the clever use of her iPad to display a close-up of the flowers she was weaving.
And here is a photo of success. I’m sitting at the airport with my smaller suitcase filled with three years of work. I would not dare to check it. But all my materials for the workshop fit fine in one big and one carry-on suitcase; I now feel confident traveling far from home (beyond car distance) to teach.
That said, my next workshop will be close to my home, at the Weavers Guild of Minnesota in early spring. I will post details as dates are firmed up.