Category Archives: Workshops

A weaving conference Texas style

Shopping at the RedFish booth

This past week was a busy one with learning, visiting with friends, shopping, and listening to inspiring talks. The biennial weaving conference of Contemporary Handweavers of Texas was held in Sugar Land, Texas, a place I’ve never been, even though I’ve heard of it all my life. It’s close to Houston, an area I avoid–traffic, you know.

Wedge weave/4-selvedge

Wedge weave

As soon as I heard about the workshops for this year’s conference, I knew I had to go. I may have mentioned my attempts at wedge weave a time or two, so Michael Rhode‘s class of wedge weave/four-selvedge weaving was a must. Wouldn’t you know it, though…I left my loom at home. Thank goodness Michael had some frame looms for sale, quite nicely designed too. Turns out I was doing wedge weave correctly but I need lots more practice. One of them problems was not leaving enough weft before beating down. Michael brought many of his own pieces for us to examine. He’s an excellent teacher.

Wedge weave


Mary Zicafoose was teaching several classes, so I took a couple. One was using Color-Aid papers to do some color exercises. Now I’ve had a set of these papers for years, but have only used them once to design. After all they are expensive, and I certainly don’t want to get them out of order. You realize how silly that is, right? So, my goal is to actually use my papers and practice putting those scissors into them and cutting. Maybe try designing a bit.

Mary also did a seminar on symbols, which is something that I love. I can’t tell you how many books I have on symbols. So, more inspiration there, and a desire to go back to those symbols.

The theme

The conference theme is Connecting Threads, Crossing Cultures. Deborah Chandler , who has spent a great portion of her life working with weavers in Guatemala, gave a great keynote talk about this topic. On another evening, Mary talked about her first connection to textiles, expanding farther to textiles in many cultures with most of the photos from her own travels. Michael gave the closing speech, but I’m sorry to say I missed that one. However, he too has done much travel and seen weaving in many countries.


A short trip


Last week, after flying to Denver, I drove to Golden, Colorado, where I attended Art Biz Makeover by Alyson Stanfield. About 80 or so artists attended, so there was lots of creative energy. Plus, it was nice to see faces in person that I’ve only seen online and get to visit with new faces. I stayed at Table Mountain Inn, where the event was being held. I don’t know if Table Mountain is considered a boutique hotel because I’m not sure about the definition of a boutique hotel. Whatever category it is, it’s a nice hotel.

Table Mountain Inn

Table Mountain Inn

Unfortunately, I did not see much of Golden, but on my last morning I took a short walk before heading back to Denver. I’m sorry I didn’t get to drive into the mountains or walk along the stream because the pictures look beautiful.

Wait for seating on these benches outside pizza place.

Wait for seating on these ski benches outside pizza place.

Shop window. Love those fishes!

Shop window. Love those fishes!

A single fish

A single fish

Quilt museum

Quilt museum

What a summer we could have



Okay, right off the bat here, I’m just going to say that I was one of the last people in the world to get an iPhone. I was happier many years ago with a Windows based phone, but my previous phone was a Blackberry. The syncing really drove me nuts with the Blackberry. So, I’ve got this iPhone, I can take a picture, send it to my Photostream, and voila! there it is on my computer. Now I’m not going into any of the privacy concerns that this makes me think about, and I am pretty careful about what I post, names, etc, ‘cause this stuff never goes away. All of that verbiage gets me to the photo on the right. I took it, sent it to PS, walked to my computer and posted it. About the photo–Do you see all those empty spaces just waiting to get a warp coat? The last bout I wound on the warp beam just tells me that I have the attention span of a gnat! There are mistakes. I’m only putting on 30 yards, which means I have to count ten revolutions of the wheel. And I have to do that 12 times because each section is 2 inches and I’m warping 6 epi. But even with that simple count to 10, my mind goes walk-about. Which brings me to the next part…

Workshops. There are so many good workshops this summer, and I have been tempted mightily. But I finally decided that the money for a workshop could better be spent getting a “real” dye place set up, one that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to take home to my mother. The following are some of the workshops I have considered:

Sarah Swett

THE VALUE OF VALUE How do images come alive on a warp? What gives things the appearance of volume? How can a collection of woolen shapes exude energy, movement and mood? In this workshop we will look at yarn, light and color as we try to answer these questions and more. The class begins with a series of exercises in blending and value progression, exploring how these can be manipulated to model form. We then apply these principles, each person designing and beginning to weave a cartoon based tapestry. Students will work with pencils, paper and wool as they train mind, eyes and hands to develop and weave flat objects that come alive on a weft faced surface.
Plus as a bonus we will learn to incorporate a “4-selvedge” warping technique, for those that would like an additional challenge.

By the way, if you haven’t seen it, take a look at this news bit with Swett’s tapestries and an interview. Absolutely amazing work!

Mary Zicafoose at Tapestry Weavers South

You can read about it on Tapestry Share. The descriptions below came from Mary’s website. Mary is an excellent teacher, and this was so tempting. I took an ikat workshop with her in Nebraska.  If you’re interested, read here, although it seems I wrote more about the trip than actual workshop. And just as an aside–I think I need the last one on this list, The Zen of Weaving….

The Language of Art: COLOR

This one-day intensive dip into color will saturate your palette and provide courage at the loom and dye pot. In referring to the work of colorist, Josef Albers, students create a color workbook of 24 personal studies. After cutting and pasting through the rules, you will brave into bending theory, pigment and hue, striving to speak with a new frequency in your work.

Class Size: 40
Level: All
Equipment & Supplies: Separate attachments
Lab Fee: $25 (workshop folder and a 240 pack of color-vu silk screen papers)

The Language of Art: DESIGN

This one-day class will focus on the sequential steps required to develop your unique visual ideas into dynamic tapestry and rug designs. We will spend the day looking at images, drawing, and developing hunches into plans for a series. This is an ideal “time-out” to collect your thoughts, expand your design tools, talk about your work, and transform ideas into workable blueprints.

Class Size: 40
Level: All
Equipment & Supplies: Separate attachments
Lab Fee: $5

The Zen of Weaving: Getting Inspired, Staying on Track & Reflections on the Making of Fabric

This one-day workshop abounds with handouts and resources to nourish and nurture the busy artist, spinner and weaver. This unique fiber class provides stimulating exercises to aesthetically recharge and ample food for thought about unraveling the threads of life. Focus is on creative purpose, goal setting, stress management and staying in the flow of production and inspiration. There will be time for specific Q & A, and portfolio consultation.

Class Size: Unlimited
Level: All
Equipment: Slide projector, screen, CD player, flip chart

Indigo with Botanical Colors

Description below is from the email I received. Again, so tempting. While you’re there, read about Pigments of Provence with John Marshall and Kathy Hattori.

We will work with a number of different indigo preparations and specialty indigo powders procured from small cooperatives and organic producers. You will learn how to create, maintain and revive your own indigo vat using both the organic fermentation and the chemical lye-hydrox vat method. You’ll explore dipping and color strategies and techniques such as resists, overdyes, underdyes and surface effects and gain confidence and ease with working in your own studio by practicing vat observations, troubleshooting and problem solving with a skilled mentor.

We will experiment with the following indigo varieties:
* Organic indigo powder
* Bangladeshi fair trade indigo
* Salvadorean fair trade indigo
* Instant indigo
* Saxon Blue converted indigo
* Plus a few surprises if the weather and crops cooperate

Each student receives a notebook of indigo recipes and techniques, a set of pH indicator strips, plus yarn, paper and fabrics for dipping including ribbons, silk, velvet, and handwovens. Students are encouraged to bring their own fibers to dip; guidelines will be sent with registration.

Each student will tend their own personal vat that they will build, balance and maintain.