Sidewalk Notes

I have walked on sidewalks for as long as I can remember. For twenty years, the sidewalks here in our Kernersville neighborhood have provided daily paths to pound pavement, breathe in fresh air, and work out the kinks in my mind and heart. Before that, it was sidewalks in and around the Ardmore area in Winston-Salem, NC where we lived prior to our current home in Kernersville.

Walking is essential to my health and creative practice. For years I have wanted to depict in paint, the regular yet subtle shifts of a walking path, watching the rectangles just under my feet. Those rectangles are quite fascinating when you really look at them! You might think cement is cement. But no!…the colors within the paved areas change with the weather; the cracks in between have interesting things growing up in them; the sides where pavement meets grass, or dirt, or mud…well, it really is like watching a film strip of abstract paintings, one after the other. Some day I’ll do it justice in paint…or maybe in tapestry.

A good start and high expectations! Most of this is woven with Rowan Felted Tweed, not bad for tapestry!

About a year or more ago I thought I would venture into capturing just small bits of these lovely rectangles in a daily tapestry weaving. I was so inspired by Tommye Scanlin who has woven every single day creating a tapestry diary each year for 15 years now! Her tapestry diaries are so inspiring and I really wanted to try my hand at this daily practice. I decided to begin with the shadow of myself as it is cast on the sidewalk. My plan was to then continue adding a rectangle each day recording the changes in colors, and keep to a basic composition of the grass or edge on the left with the main sidewalk rectangle for the rest of the area.

Tapestry became cloth (warps visible) as I could not keep up the daily pace of 6″ width.

I quickly became bogged down in it. As Life did not allow for such a large area to be woven each day (in tapestry, a 6″ x 4″ area takes quite a bit of time!), I soon abandoned the project altogether, pulled the warp off of my rigid heddle loom (which I was delighted to find it worked fairly well for tapestry) and went on my way…

A new beginning using only half the width of the previous warp.😃

Until early January of this year! Due to having woven the 3″ x 3″ Wave tapestries and finding I could fit a little tapestry weaving in on most days, I decided to try resuming this Sidewalk Notetaking, but with a much smaller area to weave and not to pin myself down to it having to be every single day. I am finding that it is helpful for me to place simple parameters around what I plan to do. The goal for this tapestry is to weave tiny rectangles that each have a color for the left hand side (denoting the edge or grassy area), another color for the sidewalk cement, and then plain white for each of the “cracks” in the pavement. I only have about 9 or 10 of these rolled up on the loom, but each one is proving to be a fun, short practice when I need to “just weave” and not think too much about what I’m going to do.

As typically happens with me and tapestry weaving, things start evolving. I began to really enjoy seeing two colors juxtaposed with one another. I’m getting quite adept at Meet & Separate, a technique of weaving different colors across the same “pass”. I’m using all kinds of yarns to test them out and see how they behave for tapestry. I’m not trying to replicate the exact colors of the sidewalk on any given day…I’m just putting together two colors in a manner that pleases me and suggests perhaps the weather of the day, or adding some element that I noticed on my walk.

Wonky woven shape to denote a puddle of reflected light!

For instance, I wove a wonky pale shape on one of the rectangles because as I walked after a rain, these puddles were reflecting the pale sky above and I wanted to see if I could weave that. Just for fun. Recently, I saw this aqua blue string stuff along my favorite Silver Dapple Lane. I had seen it before and I can only surmise that it might be used by linemen who work on electrical wires or something. Anyway, it was beautifully frayed and I picked it up and brought it home to weave it into that day’s Sidewalk Note. Today I picked up bits of hay in the road from the two farms I walk by…perhaps I’ll weave them into the tapestry as well. And I’m even thinking that I may change the color of the “crack” to denote which season I’m weaving in. White for winter, pink for spring, yellow for summer, and orange for fall. Well, we shall see if I make it that far.

Frayed pale aqua “twine”? I think it’s lovely! Picked up another longer strand today on my walk…hmmm.😃

The warp I have on this loom is not very long. That’s ok, I can warp it up again whenever I finish this one. I could even somehow attach the thin woven strips or maybe just display them as they are. I think it will be fun to see how many I can weave in one year, hang them all next to each other as a chronicle of walking through my days. I do love regular practices, even if they aren’t every single day. They remind me that beauty is afoot in ordinary places. Even on well-trodden sidewalks. 💖

6 thoughts on “Sidewalk Notes

  1. Edward L Pilkington says:

    Your sidewalk etchings and engravings are the memories of my mind revealing where and when I walked, hand in hand with my essential shadow walking with me…two souls gathering treasures placed along the sidewalk from Dare to Grandfather and weaving them into a grand tapestry of time.

  2. Sheryl Means says:

    Your work inspires me to do a similar daily practice for a long period of time. I’ve missed almost a month. Thank you for sharing so generously.

  3. Juli says:

    Love this! Thank you for sharing.
    I rarely get in consecutive outside walks here because of the cold. BUT, do mall-walk. Talk about a daily montage of people, storefronts, etc. Lol. Always something new.

    Your tapestry…a lovely way to capture time….and keep going at the same time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *