Woven Grace

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.

Tiny Tapestries ready to come off the loom! 🙂

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.

An “interior” wave as I move through “external” waves.

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.

Riding the wave…

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.

Collage as a great way to create designs to weave for tapestry.

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.

The humble beginning of weaving the cropped line design. I later changed this altogether. See below.

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!

The lower bit is from the line design. Shifted to a flower design as I enjoy weaving organic shapes much more than lines!

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.🙏

12 thoughts on “Woven Grace

  1. Cheryl Wright says:

    Jen, I’m happy to hear that you are in a better place healthwise and still creating your lovely tapestries. “Small is the new large” should be your rallying cry as it aptly describes your new focus.
    May God bestow large blessings as you weave your small tapestries.

  2. Nancy says:

    A very heartfelt message. Reminding me to take stock of all the good along with the difficult and give thanks for all.
    Thank you , Jennifer

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