Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tapestry Sampler: The Long and Winding Road

When I post about a project on my blog, I like to have a beginning, a middle, and an end.

For the beginning, I like to write about what inspired me and what motivates me to create that project. At the end, I like to wrap-up the technical information and highlight what I liked about the project and what I learned.

That leaves the middle. Some of my projects end up with several middle posts because of technical hurdles I have to jump.

For my tapestry project, started years ago, I felt like I might not even post about the middle of the project. Technically, I just followed the sampler pictures and instructions in Kirsten Glasbrook's Tapestry Weaving and the sampler grew and grew.

But this project did have a lot of middle that wasn't technical. It stalled badly and for years, not for technical reasons, but for emotional ones.

When I started this tapestry, I was inspired by sights I'd seen on a trip to Chile, and yarn I'd purchased there. I envisioned learning to weave tapestry and then designing and weaving a tapestry of the Chilean fjords, using that Chilean yarn.

I warped my rigid heddle loom and got to work learning to weave tapestry.

Then health problems struck both me and my mother....grinding any creative progress or energy I had to nearly a complete halt for several difficult years.

During those years, I did take a drawing class - thinking that an organized class pursuing my dream of being able to draw would be a good idea. Not such a good idea for me at that time it turns out! I was fine in the class, but at home alone in my studio trying to draw was pretty much impossible for me. I didn't have the emotional wherewithal to be such a beginner in an area that I cared about. I didn't have the support or camaraderie of other artists. I didn't have the emotional energy to let myself make the many mistakes I'll need to make to be able to draw.

What does this have to do with tapestry and why this project stalled? Fast forward to August 2008 when I decided it was high time to have a more disciplined approach to making things.

I surveyed the projects I had underway, and chose those that I felt the most positive energy toward and got rolling. Then I realized that projects that I was lukewarm about - for example, projects for workshops, or projects for guild challenges - just didn't motivate me to get to my studio. I decided to move toward the projects that motivate me, and set aside the idea of doing projects that I felt like I "should" do for some external reason. Only projects that really resonated with me in some way would get time and effort.

I worked in that mode until January of 2009. In January, I added the idea of one 15-minute segment at the start of my time in the studio, when I work on the designated UFO (unfinished object). Since early February, that designated project has been this tapestry sampler.

My tapestry progress was slow but steady. The book's instructions were excellent. I had a few days when I questioned whether I should pick a different project to finish - but used my "less thinking, more doing" motto to just power through that. (How do I end up with 15 stalled projects? By thinking that I have some very good reason for moving on to some other project. So once I commit to finishing one of these projects, I want to actually finish it.)

Finally, last week, I finished!! Woot!

Related Posts:
UFO Strategy
Tapestry re-start


sheilabythebeach said...

I do know exactly what you are talking about...the projects that thrilled in the beginning and then got set aside...rarely being finished; they become such nags. Ah, but the resolution to finish and then finishing!
Nothing like it!!!
Good for you.
Life blooms as well as looms!
Oh, and what a perfectly wonderful sampler you have there!

Frida said...

Your sample is so pretty! I don't think tapestry is for me, it's way to slow. I really like your idea about spending 15 min on something that's not so exciting and using the rest of the time for something more fun.

Jennifer said...

Wow - I knew finishing the tapestry was a milestone, but with this entry it shows what a BIG milestone it was. Good for you that you stuck with finishing. I understand the less thinking and more doing. I remember at one pointyou also mentioned likeing one of my looms being vertical. You could take that rigid heddle one and turn it vertical is you decide to pursue another tapestry!

Valerie said...

Congratulations on the completion! It looks wonderful. I did that one in primary colors a couple years ago, but have had difficulty getting back to the tapestry loom.

I like your idea of 15 minute warm ups on stalled projects, and will be thinking about how I can incorporate that into my studio time. Thanks!

charlotte said...

Congratulations! It looks great! i really admire your patience with learning tapestry.

Life Looms Large said...

Glad you guys like the tapestry!! I'm mostly just glad it's done.

Jennifer, thanks for the idea about putting my rigid heddle loom in a vertical position next time I tackle a tapestry. I hadn't thought of it - but of course it's a great idea!

The 15 minute trick really works well. I have to dig out whatever lurking unfinished project gets that treatment next!


Chris Stusek said...

I love your tapestry.Well done to get it finished I love doing tapestry. The idea of taking a UFO and spending the first 15 minutes on working towards completion is a great idea.
I hope you try tapestry again.