Getting on

So we are starting to come out of this lock down thing. We are fortunate that we live in a very low risk rural area but you just never know what Covid 19 is going to come up with next do you?

Obviously I am still weaving away. I started with a good routine but after about 9 weeks it sort of fell to bits. I was doing boring stuff in the morning and weaving in the afternoon/evening, however I found the boring stuff – housework and gardening, (although I like gardening) – was extending into the afternoon so am now starting weaving in the morning and getting on with the boring jobs in bits and pieces during the day as I do find my back is not happy after 3 hours solid weaving so it needs a rest.

Here is the latest piece:


That was just before I wound it round and here it is now.


I am just about half way so there is another 70 odd centimetres to go. This bit looks less interesting but I guess there is less to see, once there are another 12 inches/30 centimetres woven it will look more exciting (hopefully).

Small Tapestries

In spite of lockdown I haven’t managed to post lots more, but then tapestry grows very slowly.

I have images of two small tapestries I’ve recently finished.

Firstly is one that started as a photo of graffiti when I was stuck on the train waiting to get into Waterloo station last October. It doesn’t look too much like the original but then the photo was taken through a very grimy South Western train window.


Actually I think it might be upside down! I am sure the pink was originally at the top, which reminds me of when I went to see the nice man at the Lurex factory, he said the abstract piece of modern art hanging on the wall behind him had been hanging upside down for a decade or more before anyone noticed. I guess that’s the trouble with abstract work.

The other piece of weaving is a sample I wove as an example of blending, it isn’t necessarily my sort of image but you always learn from doing these things.


I have just warped up for the next large piece and had to do some emergency dyeing. I guess it is one of the problems of not sampling before I start, I realised the weaversbazaar dark grey was not dark enough so I had to dye grey that came between that and the black.

When I have woven a bit more I will post a photo.


So here it is:

Final Tapestry - Cecil - Pale - Small

I haven’t cut it off yet as I will have nowhere to hang it to photograph, hence the light is a bit bright on the bottom left. Not a bad photo though bearing in mind I had to take it through the studio window. I now have to find a space 2 metres square or more to block it out. Maybe when this Covid 19 thing is over I will have to hire a workshop space for a week and block this and the next piece out at the same time.

The face does show on the right hand side, just, which is good, I wanted it to be subtle, it may show more once I get the resident photographer onto it. Equally the shiny yarns in the red will show up better in the right light.

This is the poem that goes with it, it may change a bit but probably not much:

Cecil – The Uninvited Guest

You arrived out of the blue

initially insidious

potentially terminal



you stayed a year

you flaunted yourself

you burrowed

like a twisted broken skein

drawn taut inside

you oozed

you flowed

you fought

but eventually

you failed

leaving scars

and a


good riddance

we say



are closed

do not return

So just what is happening to our world?

Like many of us I am sitting at home wondering what is happening. I was tempted to write this blog not mentioning Covid 19 but that would imply a total lack of awareness of what is going on around me.

We have almost been self isolating for two weeks now, not because we are unwell but the whole world has stopped and there has been no need to go out except for food shopping and the odd walk and then the government told us we couldn’t go out anyway. We have had afternoon tea and cocktails with friends via Zoom. What is this Zoom thing that is suddenly all the rage? What happened to Skype? Skype always worked well enough for me in the past but that I guess is progress.

A friend just emailed me the following:

‘I wish folk would stop sending me inane songs & videos to make me laugh. I cleaned the dining room to La Boheme yesterday. All that hysterical singing was much more appropriate.’

I thought I might use the extra time on my hands (really, time on my hands?) to test some of those recipes I keep meaning to try out but the trouble is I don’t have the ingredients. The gluten free English muffin recipe requires quinoa flakes and guess what, I don’t have any quinoa flakes. But lets face it it is hardly a crisis, or as my husband would say ‘it is a first world problem’. I think that is the problem though, there are those who seem to be unable to manage without their smashed avocado or whatever and are getting very upset. Now don’t get me wrong I like a smashed avocado as well as the next woman but it isn’t a requirement for nutrition or survival is it? Well, not unless for some obscure reason you are on a high fat diet. I also thought it would be a good time to take an inventory of what is in the freezer and use up the stuff that might have been in there a wee bit too long.

Much time is being spent in the garden and the studio. Hopefully by the end of the summer the garden will look beautiful and a lot of tapestry weaving will have been done. So back to weaving, that is the purpose of this blog after all.

I am just about to wind the big tapestry down again, so this is how she looks now:


The top of the paper cartoon behind the warps is the top of the tapestry and then I will have to do a selvedge. I can’t remember how wide the one on the bottom was, probably around 10 cm, maybe a bit less. There is a lot of subtlety in the weaving which I can only see if I lean my laptop screen back a long way so if it looks all white or cream to you, it isn’t really, try squinting.

My major problem with this piece has been the warp not being tight enough and the winding down, according to the laser level I use to check the straightness the sides are all over the place, so cutting off is going to be an interesting exercise. The red square and the bright white ‘T’ section are all straight so I might just have to hope some judicious blocking will sort out the sides if there are problems when it comes off the frame.  I am just keeping my fingers crossed.

What with all this being stuck in the house I am hoping to finish by the end of the week but being more realistic it will probably be the end of next week. Or maybe later. The bit of the design that is left to weave is a face, or half a face and I am fretting about that, I may have to have several goes at it, a mans face with a beard, I think the beard is going to be tricky.

What this space and find out how tricky!


So there I was the other night, just got into the studio to do a bit of weaving and there is this scritchy scratchy sound from above. My studio is not square, there is a lump taken out of it for another room which leaves a flat roof space in my studio (which has a pitched roof) and I store all my tapestries up there, rolled up and laid on their sides, it was from this area that the scritchy scratchy sound came. You can imagine my panic, I have obssessed over moth and all my tapestries are tightly sealed against them but mice? They will nibble through anything if they think it will make a good bed and I know from bitter experience that they do not distinguish between natural or synthetic fibres so the fact my tapestries are all now wrapped in tyvek was no comfort.

So I leapt up and got the steps out and pulled all my tapestries down. Absolutely nothing. Maybe it was a bird on the roof but it didn’t sound like it. To get to my studio you have to walk through the utility room and the other day I opened the door to the utility room to find a wren in there. I opened the external door to let him or her out but never saw it’s going so maybe there is a wren lurking somewhere making a nest?

We are not usually prone to such wildlife visiting us. I like wrens and I do not have a problem with mice as such but they can do so much damage.

On top of this I was getting everything ready for the course I taught a few weeks ago on finishing a tapestry and couldn’t find the brass nails for blocking out. So that resulted in the whole house being turned upside down. I eventually found them in the studio in a box tucked behind the scaffold frame. That was squeeze to get to and now half the house is in total disarray and needs putting back together in an organised manner.

Anyway the course seemed to go well:

Finshing a Tapestry Course 07.03.2020 aThere was much banging in of brass pins and sewing up of ends. We all decided that hammering is good for the soul, like beating a tapestry down, it helps get out any pent up aggression.

Sorting out the course materials did hold me up a bit on the big tapestry and in the meantime I wove a smaller one for the ATA unjuried small format exhibition as they have to be in by the end of March.

I had hoped to finish it to use as a demo on the blocking out course but didn’t quite manage it (too much time hunting for brass pins).

The exhibition isn’t until July so I am hoping it will not be postponed by Coronavirus as I have the airline tickets to go the Knoxville and attend the retreat, see the exhibition and then go down to Alabama to see my brother. My trip to France has just been postponed until September and we had tickets for the Photography Show in Birmingham last week and that was cancelled, at the time I could not decide if this is an overreaction by the organisers or not but since then it seems it was absolutely the right thing to be doing.

So not going to France means more chance to get big weavings done for the Artapestry6 deadline in July – hurrah. Oh and the big 3D piece for the Cordis in January.

This is how that latest big tapestry looks:

Cecil - 23.02.20

Excuse the blue square, one of the labels flipped over in the breeze from the window and I didn’t notice.

I am going to try to blog more often this year, I realised I only posted 4 times last year but can only plead extentuating circumstances which with PJ being ill and Heallreaf 3, and life getting in the way.

My next day course at Weavers Bazaar was on ‘Weaving Eyes’ on Saturday 27th June but it looks like it will be delayed. I have some amazing eyes to weave between now and then.


Still weaving – just

Since November I have done quite a bit of recovering from Heallreaf 3 – it really was a task too far. Next time I have to build a team to take on some of the work. I spoke to the NCCD at Sleaford last year and they were interested but I haven’t heard back from the message I left a week or so ago, I am hoping to go up and talk to them about Heallreaf 4. It may slip to 2022 in order to be the other year to The Cordis but then I am not sure the Cordis is going to happen in 2021, they don’t seem to be regular in a bi annual cycle, just when they decide to do one.

In case you remember and are wondering, I didn’t get the Lady and the Unicorn tapestry started. The backgound is all wrong, it just looked like images stuck on in the sketches I did and I didn’t want to weave such a large tapestry without being totally sure of myself so I have gone back to another project whilst the Lady and the Unicorn sit around waiting for me to make some decisions. Sometimes things just need to compost in my brain for a bit.

Since my last post I have taught two pod courses at Weavers Bazaar, just the one day each and they both went well, well, the students all gave positive feedback which is nice.

I did weave a smaller tapestry in December, more than anything to just keep weaving, I have this fear that is I don’t keep some weaving on the go I will stop and all that time at College etc will be for nothing.


Whilst not the most amazing tapesty in the world I quite enjoyed doing it. The image comes from a photo PJ took of a dahlia and then seriously photoshopped, hence the odd colouring. I think it proved to me that I am not good at following cartoons when I don’t really HAVE to and the colour blending is not as good as it could be but I refused to buy/dye more yarn. And as usual it was a bit too small for me to get exactly the right colour blending even where I did have the right colours. Blending the burgundy into the blue was an interesting exercise. It still has to be finished, I am rubbish as getting around to finishing my work, it is usually done at the last minute before the piece goes off to an exhibition.

Talking of finishing, I am running a one day workshop at Weavers Bazaar on finishing your tapestries, details are here:

It came about because when I posted and image of the Dahlia tapestry on Instagram I said it needed blocking out and several people asked me what ‘blocking out’ was so I talked to Weavers Bazaar and lo we have a one day course. It is going to be a bit of talking and some practical, obviously we won’t have the time or space to block out large tapestries but we can get through the basics.

So the Lady and the Unicorn are consigned to the compost, not literally, maybe marinade would be a better word, the whole thing needs to mull around in my mind for a bit longer, the answer to the background problem will come in time. I have gone back to a previous design which was going to be another diptych but I have decided it will be a triptych, quite ambitous as each piece will be 1.5 metres x 1.5 metres, well, that’s ambitous for me. It was an image I had knocking around for some time and then after PJ being ill last year I had some copies of his CT scans so that got overlaid onto the original images, along with some other drawing and hey presto.

Cecil 1

This is it so far, about 35cm of the design woven in about 40 hours. I don’t normally quote the hours – it can be so irritating when people ask how long it took to weave something – but I thought that was pretty good and it is at 2 warps to the centimetre which is much coarser than I usually work. Whilst it is interesting to see how quickly it grows I don’t think I will rush to weave anything of my own at that sett again, the curves are not smooth enough as it makes the tapestry look quite pixelly.

It looks a bit wonky in the picture as I was winding it down when I realised that I hadn’t taken a photo and once that bit at the bottom is gone it won’t be seen again until it is finished so I had to wind it back up a bit. It looks very pale and subtle at the moment but there is a red square on it’s way. It is being woven on the side so the right hand side is the bottom.

Other news is that on the 19th February I am speaking briefly at a conference on ‘Medium’ at the London School of Mosaic. So here’s another link for you if you are interested:

I think that is about it for today. I don’t post for ages and then you get lots to wade through all in one go. In the next post I will let you know how my learning French is going. I am off on an orgainsed Tapestry Tour of France at the end of May and thought I should brush up on my school girl French. No, lets be honest I have virtually no school girl French so it will be more than brushing up and my brain is already full.




Once again it has been a while

So here I am again apologising for not posting in an age. Well, organising Healleaf 3 sort of got in the way of everything. It finished in London last Saturday, we took down on Sunday and slowly all the work is disappearing back to the artists. I am currently waiting for FedEx to arrive to collect two tapestries but as they were supposed to come yesterday I am at a bit of a loss to know when they might appear. Fortunately I am in all day, packaging more tapestries and recovering from a really nasty virus that hit me just before Heallreaf 3 went up in London. Under normal circumstances it would probably have gone by now but daily trekking backwards and forwards to Shoreditch High Street on the train didn’t aid recovery, although my coughing fits kept my fellow travellers at a distance so I got plenty of space to travel in.

So here is the final image of the diptych I wove for Heallreaf 3:

Espacio Private View 191017-27

The poetry that goes with it is:

He dances alone on the pin

it’s metal hot



his mythical wings burn

oh the folly

from fire

to ice

falling through eternity

the vestigial stumps

just a memory of flight

it is cold

as the ice rises

to burn him


It is interesting that on reading this a lot of people immediately think of Icarus but of course he fell into fire, not ice. Someone else also asked if the reference to the pin was related to the idea of butterflies being pinned to a board. Wow! I didn’t think of that.

To be honest it all started with the question ‘how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?’ (For an answer see Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.)

A guy came into the gallery and we were talking about the work, he said the dark side was too dark and the light side too light, but that didn’t bother me, I spent 3 years at West Dean with few positive comments about my work so it isn’t so much that I have a thick skin in that respect it’s just that I have a certain amount of confidence in my work, and everyone else is entitled to their opinion too. However after I had talked this gentleman through the poem and we discussed the work for a bit he looked at me and said ‘so it’s all about balance’. And I thought, amazing, you are just about the only person to have got it. From falling from the pin to the dark and light of the tapestry to the fire and ice of the poetry, it is all about balance and I am not sure who else really understood it in that way. Having said that I don’t worry too much about people ‘getting’ my work. As Francis Bacon said, ‘the job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery’ I want people to see what they see not what I impose on them even if it is about entymology pins rather than dancing angels.

So that’s Heallreaf 3 over and done with, although the good news is that I was joint winner of the People’s Prize. Hurrah! The People’s Prize is sponsored by Weavers Bazaar, those nice people who sell amazing yarns for tapestry weaving. Everyone who comes to the shows is asked to vote for their favourite work. Last time we had a tie and this time we have a tie as well, the winners were me and Joan Baxter. WoooHooo I won a joint prize with Joan Baxter. For anyone not a tapestry weaver reading this, Joan is a renowned weaver who lives in Brora, she teaches and does lots of commissions and worked at West Dean Tapestry Studio for many years.

Talking of West Dean Tapestry Studio, the piece I helped weave is now at The Blue Mountain School, 9 Chance Lane, which is just opposite Shoreditch High Street Station so one day I played truant from the gallery to go and see the tapestry.

Modern Art Eva Rothschild’s ‘Furniture, Tapestry, and Ceramics’ continues at Blue Mountain School, London until 23 November 2019. Presented by Blue Projects. Image: Rings of Saturn, 2019, dyed wool, 286 x 175 x 1 cm, 112 5/8 x 68 7/8 x 3/8 ins #evarothschild @bp.bluemountainschool #stuartshavemodernart

I am not sure about the copywright of the images of this work – sorry if anyone objects  let me know and I will remove it but there are images all over the internet now. So the original artwork was by Eva Rothschild and then the tapestry was woven at West Dean by me, Ellie and Philip. It is on view until the 23rd November in Chance Lane and worth a look. I was a bit worried about weaving something so unlike my own work but actually as it was blocks of colour it wasn’t too bad. I basically wove the right hand side and that long thin strip of green was terrifying, it was only across about eight warps and at 1.8 metres high, maintaining the right tension was scary but we did it.

So I am going to finish with an image of my latest tapestry. Yes I did manage to get some weaving done too. This is a portrait of my Great Uncle Antonio.

A Mazzalini - Drunkard (2)


And following the dual portrait of my neice and my Great Grandmother I thought I would do one of him, so here it is:

Great Uncle Antonio

I have included the original photo this time as I am pleased with the likeness. It is one thing to be able to weave a face but it is completely different  to weave a portrait that looks like the person, I think I have it here, although I cannot decide whether it does look like he has a moustache or a hair lip. I think I have the sad eyes, eyes are such tricksy things for weavers, in fact for any artist, at least with the shadow and the tilt of the head there was not a requirement to get them looking almost identical which it the worst bit.

So what’s next? A bit of a rest. Package up all the Heallreaf 3 tapestries and send them back to their artists, clear the studio up a bit. Then I have to do some pod samples as I am teaching a ‘pod weaving’ day at Weavers Bazaar in November. Then there is a smallish flower tapestry I want to do and maybe a couple more family portraits and then of course there is my Lady and The Unicorn Tapestry, I hope to get the artwork for that and the frame warped up by the end of November – okay end of December.


So, I have been working at the Professional Tapestry Studio at West Dean for five weeks now and as of yesterday we have woven 40cm of 180cm. The first two weeks were taken up with stuff like dyeing and weaving 15cm of selvedge – 15cm that’s 6 inches in old money. It isn’t usually quite that much but the artist decided she might like an inch of the black at the top of the tapestry so we had to weave it just in case. Yes we are starting at the top, so weaving the work upside down as there is going to be a fringe on the bottom, so that is all the left over warps which will be at the top of the weaving – does that make sense?

Last Saturday I went up to Nottingham to Surface Gallery where Heallreaf 3 is showing in September. They are very proactive and really want the exhibition to be a success which is good. I am currently wondering about the logistics of a Heallreaf 4. No sure I really want to do it but will see it as a failure if I don’t, although it will have to stop sometime. Having both the exhibitions out of the area has created alot of travelling. Also less than half the work that was submitted was submitted correctly, I really got fed up with resizing several hundred images in photoshop. I think my resident techie elf could have written a little macro to do it almost automatically but I didn’t think of it til I had nearly finished them and he has been poorly since last year so don’t like to ask too much. Although he is going to have to do the photographs for the show ill or not!

So what weaving have I been doing? Well, some. I finished the Heallreaf piece and will post an image when it is all blocked and hung properly. It is still on the frame at the moment but I must get it sorted as I will need images of the two pieces for the Heallreaf catalogue. I finished the small tapestry I started on Joan Baxter’s short course and am trying to finish the one I started on Lynne Curran’s course. I am struggling with that a bit as I think the gap was too long between the course ending and re starting the weaving and in following the course criteria it hasn’t really done what I want it to do so I have lost interest a bit.

This is the piece from the Joan Baxter course. The course was about weaving work inspired by words and the words from the came from this Persian Epigram:

Look at this parti-coloured flower,

An agate streak, a pearl pale streak –

Two lovers who have crept away

And lie together, cheek to cheek.

This just shows the curled petals of a flower but I had considered doing it larger and doing a lot more work on the image so they could be flower petals or they could be bodies but I am not sure. This is about 30cm or 12 inches high, although I am not sure whether it should be hung vertical or horizontal. if there is anyone out there reading and you have an opinion please comment. The colours aren’t quite right either, I wanted to use the Weavers Bazaar Teal collection with a sort of ochrey, browny, orangey colour but they don’t have that colour and I didn’t have the time to dye it. A bigger one would probably have different colours. The poem mentions agate but agates can be any colour you like.


This piece is the one from the Lynne Curran course. Although it was before the other course I was thinking about using poetry as inspiration as I often get stuck on what to weave for small pieces so this came from a poem by Spike Milligan. Spike wrote amazingly funny stuff as in his book ‘Silly Verse for Kids’ but he also wrote some very serious work and this one called ‘Omen of Emptiness’ was about his depression. Spike suffered from Bipolar Disorder or manic depression as it was called then.

The clock has turned enough

To reach a planet

Life is endless night

I hear wings beating in the dark of my room

A giant raven is waiting

for me to fall asleep


The idea was to have an image of the clock face but it should follow the contours of a landscape. The black is very shiny rayon as a nod to the raven’s plumage but it didn’t really work that well. It was supposed to be square but you can see marked on the warps a second curve and I think I will stop at that curve at the top edge. Oh and the marks that look a beigey colour are actually shiny gold lurex, it just made me think if how the alarm clock seems to shine in the night, mocking you with the time when you can’t sleep.

So I am not sure what is next. I have two big diptychs in mind but they have slightly got pushed out of the way by a thought of weaving a Lady and the Unicorn tapestry. A very experienced weaver has kindly agreed to talk to me about my work as I worry that there is no cohesion, no sign of a path evolving in my work or a definite ‘artists voice’ there. But we are not going to be able to get together probably until November and a bit of me is reticent to start another large tapestry until after that, although the Lady and the Unicorn is calling to me but new ideas always do (No medieval maidens or unicorns will be in sight, I haven’t lost it totally.) I think I may take the time to build a body of small works, either portraits as I liked doing me and The Mazzalini Girls and have some more family portraits I might like to do. Or I could carry on with the work inspired by poetry, I have a whole book of the Persian Epigrams and could happily sort images for many of them. I am struggling a bit weaving all day at West Dean and then coming home to try to weave but I think if I had a big piece on the go it wouldn’t so difficult. There is always a bit of an hiatus after finishing a big piece. Mainly because I don’t like the blocking out, sewing on the tape and all that stuff.


The studio is quite tidy!

Having ended the last post saying that I was going to tidy the studio it is quite tidy at the moment, although a bit tricky to get into as you have negotiate the obstacle course that is the utility room to get there. I have just turned the whole studio around in order to get a small table in to use as a desk. Part of me would rather not have a laptop in the studio because it is very distracting but otherwise it lives on the dining room table which isn’t good either.

So what has happened since the last post? I will remind you of the image of the last tapestry – The Mazzalini Girls. I was quite pleased with it until my brother made the comment that one face was white and the other black.

Well, this is art and the original image of my great grandma was very dark, and in some ways she is a shadowy figure from our past so I am not going to rush around and reweave the work but it has somewhat taken the gloss off for me. Sorry Bro, your fault but then I do not always say the right things about the short stories you write so maybe we are quits. Let’s call it artistic licence.

I have not rushed off to do lots more of these portraits, although a series of family portraits is a possibility but I have done a self portrait which I am in two minds about.

I started this blog in May and got somewhat sidetracked due to the deadline for Heallreaf 3 looming. The aforementioned self portrait was for a self portrait competition which I never got around to entering. However, all was not lost as it was the right size for the bi annual Kate Derum Awards in Australia, so I entered it for that and heard a day or so ago that it has been accepted. This is what it looks like:

I think it looks vaguely like me. There is a reason behind this particular composition. I have for some time been interested in the idea of weaving what I believe they call optic black, that is, black made up of all the colours, so each strand of weft yarn has three colours in it, one red, one green and one blue. Like the computer uses and calls it RGB. I did try using the main primary colours, red, blue and yellow but there is no way you can get a yellow dark enough to blend with the red and blue. You can see as the blends got lighter the red, or pink shows through much more than the blue and green. Interesting. The lighting effect, or Rembrandt lighting is one of my favourite lighting effects, I think it came from a photo PJ took ages ago.

So on top of all this I am trying to finish my diptych for Heallreaf 3. All the entries are in now and I had to photoshop the images of my two pieces together although the latest one isn’t quite finished, so here goes with that:

You can see the one on the left isn’t quite finished yet but it gives a good idea. It will be around a metre and a half square when they are both hung side by side. I hope it is enough for the jurors to select it for the show.

The Heallreaf 3 entries went well, I had 73 artists submit 141 pieces of work so now it is over to the jurors to decide what gets selected for the exhibition.

On top of all this I have been asked to work at West Dean in the Professional Tapestry Studio which is an excellent opportunity. I am there three days a week until the end of August which means I will stop just in time to dash off to Nottingham and set up Heallreaf. So far I have done two days at West Dean, today in the dye room dyeing yarns ready to start weaving next week and last Tuesday I spent doing samples which is a huge joke as I rarely do samples, I make decisions as I go which sometimes means undoing a few hours work but if I sample I am going to get so bored. Anyway this piece at West Dean is another commission for Eva Rothschild it is big blocks of colour on quite a chunky warp so it should grow quickly, it has to be finished by the end of August, so the timing was pretty good for me. It is odd having a proper job and having to get in at 9am and leave at 5pm, it’s years since I’ve had to do anything like that. Well, apart from college but that was a bit different and they were very laid back about timekeeping.

Finally I got around to it.

I am not sure what has happened to wordpress,  they are the people who host this blog but when I went in to start this one is has all gone odd. So if the posts completely cease after this have a look at the web site as I might have had to change the hosting of this blog. It probably doesn’t help that I started writing it in the middle of making a lasagne and the cheese sauce has gone lumpy. Fortunately I own a silicone balloon whisk which gets rid of lumps in all sauces.

So, what has happened since the last post. The bungee cord weaving got thrown out, well, I took it to pieces as you can’t waste good material can you?

The latest tapestry I mentioned, the one with strips of four faces just didn’t work either. The idea was that the faces I used were those of my niece, my face, my Mum’s face and because there are no half decent images of her mother the final face was to be my great grandmother. Unfortunately neither the photo’s of me or Mum worked in the making of the cartoon, unlike Natasha (my niece) or Susannah (my great grandma) neither Mum nor I were looking at the camera in quite the right way to work with the other two  images. It also meant that the two outside faces where barely visible as all you got was the cheeks, so no real identification of the person.

So I ended up just doing the two faces, of Natasha and Susannah, the youngest and the oldest. Below is an image of the joined photo’s, which took a bit of jiggery pokery in photoshop to get the features all at the same height. I didn’t intend to do all the colours on this image but I had the original four faces in my mind with all their colours so I was a bit stuck for a while on what colours to use on this, hence I put the backgrounds in.


The faces were to be a dark greeny grey on the right hand side and a pale bluey grey on the left hand side. Unfortunately the greeny colour made the bluey colour look bright blue so I have used a grey which just happens to be slightly blue. Does that make sense? So the background colours are sort of the complementary colour to the face.

So here is the tapestry, it is just 10 inches square, I am not sure how much they look like Natasha and Susannah. This is the first time I have put the photo and the tapestry together. Susannah’s eye is too bright but I liked that so left it. Not being able to do eyelashes also has an impact and I just don’t have enough space to get rid of the dark line across Natasha’s cheek.


Apart form this, since the last blog I put in my third Arts Council funding application for Heallreaf 3 and yes, I heard a few days ago that we have got the funding. I went into a bit of a flat spin at that so now all the arrangements are being made. I have two entries so far and am just starting to weave my own entry, the second half of a diptych, the first half of which was finished some time ago.

I have also got into a bit of a thing about faces and thought I might start doing some more family faces. Part of this I guess is going through my Mum’s photo’s. Mum died last September (hence the big gap in posts) and I have been going through all the stuff in the house, including photo albums. Many of the photo’s haven’t much definition in them but I am not sure that is such a problem. If you look at Pat Taylor’s website her portraits don’t have a lot of detail in them. I had thought of doing the above tapestry in the that style but I am not sure it’s me. By the way the tapestry is called ‘The Mazzalini Girls’. This is because my great grandma’s married name was Mazzalini and we all have the genes from there downwards. The family came to the UK in the early 1800’s as economic migrants, if you look at the history of the time they were treated very badly, especially as they were catholic. Many of the family changed the name to Mack because they thought it was less foreign and of course once World War Two came it does sound a bit like Mussolini. And you know how people can be, like those who attacked paediatricians because they thought they were the same as paedophiles in Bristol some years ago. I think it was Bristol, but please correct me if I’m wrong.

I had wondered about doing a similar tapestry with the boys of the family, they of course would be ‘The Freeborn Boys’ as that is my maiden name. Maybe I could get four of them in a shot. I am currently, as well as the second half of the diptych, starting a 12 inch square self portrait in a very different style. I am not sure weaving two pieces at once is such a good idea but the warp was there on the scaffold frame and it was a shame to waste it, warp is really expensive.

Oh, I have just realised I haven’t posted my photo, the one that was in the Qest book, so here it is:

Qest Portrait

I thought they wouldn’t let me use it, copyright and everything but they sent us all the images, brilliant, although there is more studio than me in the shot. It is a great big book, the type you need to reinforce the coffee table legs to take the weight.

Well, that was a long post, just to make up for the gaps of late. As always I need to go and tidy the studio.