It wasn’t but a few months back that I honestly thought I would never weave another tapestry. Sounds dramatic I know. But life just felt too difficult, too complicated, too heavy with many things to carry, to figure out, to decipher, to attend. But there was a time, about a year and a half ago, when I really wanted to make tapestry weaving a major emphasis in my creative life.
In the spring of 2021 I was enjoying weaving small tapestries, a few of them a bit larger than four inches square and I had a couple of opportunities that seemed to come my way out of the blue. One was an opportunity to take a Designing Tapestry Workshop with a well-known tapestry weaver whom I had been following for some time on Instagram. Tommye Scanlin was coming to the Yadkin Valley Fiber Center to teach a two day workshop in June of 2021 and there just happened to be a spot open for me to attend. Just prior to the workshop, I also had an opportunity to purchase, for a really terrific price, a large Ashford Tapestry Loom. I thought this would be a great way to begin working larger and so I bought it and brought it to my home studio.
But life had other plans for me. Though I had a fabulous time at the workshop, and enjoyed the creative exercises Tommye gave us to create designs for our tapestry work, I landed in emergency surgery the day after the workshop ended. Then there were complications that led to a lengthy recuperation, and then many efforts and trials to care for my mom in her ongoing journey with Alzheimers. This eventually led to our family placing her in a Memory Care Community this June, and it was simply too much for my brain to devote to weaving, especially tapestry. This spring I sold the Ashford Loom, a Mirrix loom I hadn’t even warped yet, and my Saori Loom. All of these items felt too weighty in my studio and “loomed” over me whenever I went into my sunroom studio. When they were gone, I felt lighter and freer in creating whatever I felt I could handle during a time of healing and restoration.
Over time, I began to have an idea for a series of very small tapestries depicting how we go through the “waves” of life. I am nearing the end of this series and cannot believe that I have been able to continue to weave 12 small tapestries, with a few more in sight. I still have enthusiasm and motivation for this and I’m trying not to charge forward ahead of myself. I have no clue what the future holds. All I know is that for now, I am content to be weaving tiny tapestries depicting various shapes and colors of waves, and my experience of them.
Yesterday, I received my copy of Handwoven, a magazine all about weaving cloth as well as tapestry. Tommye Scanlin had an article in it about Designing for tapestry, and there, in her article, is not only a photo of a collage I made along with all the other students in her class from 2021, but also photos of a line design she had us create and the very beginnings of a tapestry that I just had to begin the evening of the first day of her workshop.
The white cloth behind the loom is actually the hospital bedding. I remember that on the second day after my surgery, Tommye (who had no clue I had landed in the hospital) graciously emailed me to ask for a couple of photos of both the weaving I had begun and the design pages I was working from. At that point, complications had not begun, so I asked my husband to bring my unpacked bag from the tapestry workshop to the hospital so I could take a photo or two for Tommye to use. Now it is a year and a half later, and I am filled with gratitude.
Gratitude that tapestry weaving has not completely gone away for me! Gratitude that having gone through a crucible of sorts has given me a series of works that depict how we ride out the waves life brings us. Gratitude for the workshop that allowed me to meet Tommye Scanlin. Gratitude that I’m in a place now where I feel I can weave tiny 3″ x 3″ tapestries into a very full life. Gratitude that I don’t have to work really large to enjoy weaving tapestry. And gratitude for this article reminding me that despite all that has happened in this last year and a half, somehow creativity can happen too!
There are so many things I can count as blessings this year! Family, health, friends, and creativity are certainly tops on my list. May you, whatever you have going on in your life, have a most wonderful Thanksgiving, riding the waves, counting your blessings.🙏