I have been weaving a series of small (really small) tapestries. Three inches by three inches, these tapestries all have the same motif…a wave, or waves, sky, and a small round circle. These shapes, which change both in color and arrangement within the square of each tapestry, have meaning and represent the ever-changing experience of life. For many years now I have been keenly aware of the never-ending waves of life and I am fascinated by the sense of riding the waves, being dunked by them, and sometimes being held by the waves themselves.
The idea to weave a series of tiny tapestries depicting waves came to me as most ideas do…I woke up one morning with the whole series in my mind’s eye. Though complete in my imagination, the weaving of each one is a way for me to both process my own experience of these ever-evolving waves in my life, and to offer a conversation with others at some point about their own experience. The over-arching message to myself as I weave is this: to allow the waves to be there, to cease fighting them, to ride or be carried or dunked by their presence for they will surely shift and change over time, perhaps even daily.
I keep going through periods where I think I shall never weave tapestry again. This too is a wave. The exacting nature of tapestry, the hours and hours it requires, the puzzle of its unique structure and limitations are both fascinating and frustrating. Yet I seem to come back to it again and again, dipping my big toe back into the waters only to find that I’ve been pulled up and into a wave of weaving on a small loom strapped to our piano, an odd but delightful use for an unused instrument.
It is well-known that art delivers meaning to the viewer, and often different meanings from one viewer to the next. At this point I will not divulge too much of my own intentions within the color choices, shapes and arrangement of the waves in these tapestries. Not yet. Not until the entire series has been woven and displayed.
But it may not be so well known that art actually speaks to the artist as it is being created. I am continually awed by this. Every painting, drawing, and tapestry piece however small, whispers to me as I make it, new meanings and truths to hold onto that I had not originally intended when I first put paint to paper or weft to warp. I am now working on the 9th tiny tapestry and I continue to uncover rich truth and solace for where I am in the midst of the waves. There will be more, both waves and tapestries, before I call this series “done”. But I have a feeling I could weave this motif for the rest of my life and not plumb the depths of their teachings for me.
That is such a curious and odd thing to say. The idea that vertical warp threads with hand spun wool yarn being placed into their crevices could ever be a language, a conversation to both the weaver and the viewer, is a bit nutty. Yet there you have it and I for one am still along for the ride! This is also curious to me – that I’ve continued to hold interest in this series, continued to have motivation to weave the little squares, even as strong waves of living have at times threatened to engulf me. Perhaps that is the reason I keep on weaving…waves never stop rolling into shore.
I look forward to one day sharing each of these in detail with you as finished pieces and to have a conversation surrounding them. That will be a delightful way to share our common experience of being wave riders in an ever-changing sea of calm and turmoil. May this day find you riding the waves. But even if you are engulfed in a wave, no need to fight so hard…try to listen to it as it is rising and cresting. The wave will diminish at some point, delivering you to new undiscovered lands.