Little by little, I have been trying to get the room I designated as my studio in order. Things were piled up, unassembled, unpacked boxes are under tables, etc etc. So it was not an environment conducive to getting things dones. So a bit at a time I cleared some floor space. I put a tiny tv that used to be in my kitchen in my old house in a corner. The studio is still not ready for prime time, or publicly posted photographs, but I have started spending time in there. If I spend time in front of the tv in the den, I either knit or just slouch there feeling bored. If I turn on the tv in the studio, I end up playing with the materials in the studio. So since I have been wanting to weave tapestries, I picked up the small Hagen loom I have, which already had a warp on it, and just began playing, using scraps of weft from earlier projects. Here is the scraps basket:
Then I began playing with tools. In my tapestry classes, we used ordinary dinner forks to beat the weft once it is placed. I have tried some other beaters: this wood one from Schacht for example. But I didn't particularly like how it felt. Kathe Todd-Hooker, a tapestry weaver with an interesting shop, now has a manufacturer add weights to dinner forks. You can see them in her video. But I dunno -- I guess while I like the idea of improvisation, I also like nice tools.
When I was in the latest tapestry weaving workshop at the Southwest School, I found another beater on a shelf. I really liked using it, so I decided I needed to find out who sold it. I don't remember how I discovered it, but it turns out that Lacis carried it. So I ordered it, and it arrived earlier this week. I really like using it, and the size (really the spacing of the tines) works well with the warp EPI I tend to use. So I turned on the tv (barely visible from where I sit), and I began to just randomly weaving using scraps from the basket and my new beater.
Nothing gorgeous is resulting, but that is OK. I am just going to continue to weave, and will experiment with colors, and knots, and lines. It is like knitting a simple sock for me at this point -- I am doing the tapestry equivalent of mindless knitting. And soon I will tackle getting a warp on the big loom and starting a tapestry with a bit more of a design and a goal. In fact, I can use this little random tapestry to practice some of the techniques I want to use on the larger one. Knitters call it swatching. Weavers call it sampling.
As I cleaned up the desk where the small loom sits, I found the tapestry I did in last month's workshop. And it turns out I like it a lot more than I did when I finished it. The colors are nice and subtle in their variations, perhaps more than shows on the computer monitor. And the little improvisation I did with the remaining warp is kind of interesting as well. I have decided that til I block my finished tapestries, I should at least pin them to a cork board, rather than leave them in a jumble somewhere. So that is a project for the near future as well.
Temperatures are in the 90s and there is still no rain. I wa trying to plant some groundcover (that will survive drought) on Sunday. I have planted in that part of the yard before (more of the groundcover, in fact) but this time when I dug in my shovel I discovered about 2 inches of soil on top of hard limestone. I moved over -- same thing. I managed to find spots to plant two of the pots of Asiatic jasmine (and rake up live oak detritus) before the heat got to me and I spent the rest of the day in the house with a wet washcloth on my head. I still have to plant a few more pots of Asiatic jasmin. If I can find a place to plant it, it will eventually grow over in those areas with just an inch or two of soil over the limestone. But it was a graphic illustration of a geological fact here: my part of San Antonio is located where the Balcones escarpment and the Edwards Plateau meet, and also meet up with what's called Houston black clay.
Limestone, found in the Hill Country and much of central Texas, is a sedimentary rock formed through a process of precipitation of calcite and other minerals.
Caliche, a calcium carbonate, also has great reserves in Texas and is commonly used in the manufacture of Portland cement, the most common general cement
So I have limestone, caliche, and black clay in my garden. Limestone plus a common ingredient of coment and black clay. And the black clay is where I am lucky. Sigh. I also put in some Katie ruellia. Someone warned me it could be invasive. We can only hope.