One Day Workshop 
A couple of weeks ago I had two students for my second one day workshop. The students were Alice, a 12 year old girl from down south and Margaret, her aunty from England. We had a very good day and Alice and Margaret came really close to completing their small tapestries.

The photograph shows Margaret and Alice working on their small frames which they can take home with them. One day is not enough to learn all there is to know about tapestry, but it is enough to get a taste for tapestry, to try it out to see if you would like to learn more. The students choose a small design and are taught the basic weaving techniques necessary to weave that design. If the tapestry is not completed in the one day they can take it home to finish it. The frames are designed so that the tapestry does not need to be taken off it but can be hung on the wall as a small framed work.

If anyone reading this blog would like to book in for a one day workshop you can e-mail me at Phone me at +64 3 3743441 or make contact through the Creative Tourism website

Work started on City Scape 
Here I am again! I am finding that I seem to be writing in my blog only once a week, but I guess that is okay. I have had a couple of letters from my blog site and that is great. If any reader of this blog would like to e-mail me on any issue I bring up then please do. I enjoy the contact with people.

I have started weaving the new 'Cityscape' tapestry and it is going well. I am working week about on the tapestries as I still have lots of work to do on 'Lace 2'. They are completely different works and I am enjoying both of them. 'Lace 2' is very complex and very fine and the other one is not so fine and much simpler to weave so it grows much more quickly. Here is a photograph of the first stages of the tapestry.

The sett for this work is 9epi and it involves a lot of limning or outlining of the shapes in the work. See the detail photograph.

In this work I am not using hatching at all. The colours are mixed on the bobbins so there are no colour gradations in the work at all. This work is the third in my series of City Life tapestries. I hope one day to do an exhibition of these tapestries but I guess that may be a couple of years away.

Starting New Work 
Well, it has been a few days since I last wrote an entry into my blog. I have had a few days out of the studio this last week as my daughter Nicky and gandaughter Kate have been staying with me. Nicky and Kate live in Hobart in Tasmania and it was so lovely having them come to stay. Nicky is a lyric soprano singer just a month away from her final exams and she prepared a repertoire to sing in her first solo recital. She sang beautifully for her grandmother, friends and some of the family at Ngaio Marsh Retirement Village here in Christchurch. Nicky has the most beautiful voice, and everyone was hugely impressed by her confidence, her obvious joy in what she was singing and in her professional approach. A wonderful afternoon.

Anyhow I am now back at work in the studio. Since my last entry I have warped up my second loom for a new work. This tapestry is the third one in the 'City Life' series and is in the same style as 'Exhibition Opening' and 'Picnic'. Here is a photo of the loom showing the dressing of the loom with the warp partly threaded through the heddles.

I have yet to work out how to get the photographs smaller, though I guess it is much clearer larger than smaller, so hopefully readers will bear with my learning to do things on this blog. This loom is a Vapapu Lapponia, made in Finland and imported into New Zealand from Sweden. I received a grant in 1990 from the then Arts Council of New Zealand to purchase two looms for my studio and this is the smaller loom of the two. It has a one metre weaving width and is a lovely loom to work on. It is an upright tapestry loom with two shafts. It did have a beater attached to it when I first bought it, but I took the beater off so that I would have more space in which to weave. When warping the loom I first thread the warps through the heddles then tie them in pairs to the top baton which is lashed to the apron.
This is probably a slow way to do it, but because there is no reed on the loom now I find that this works well for me and I can control the sett of the warp easily this way. The top and bottom batons are marked off in inches. The sett for this tapestry in 9epi (ends per inch) so I have 18 pairs of thread over two inches. Once the warp is fully threaded through the heddles I wind it on to the top beam with a heavy cardboard separating the threads with each full turn of the beam, stopping every now and then to pull the threads as tight as possible. The next job then is to tie the threads to the bottom apron baton. This takes quite a while and it is quite difficult to keep the tension even. I usually retie the threads a second time to correct any tension problems. It took me three days to complete the warping process for this tapestry.

This second photo shows the warp completed, the first row of knots done and I am ready to weave. The design concept for this work is hanging on its side and features a row of shop fronts in the city. The cartoon, which is a simple line drawing of the design concept, is hanging behind the warp.

I have been working this week on finishing the tapestry 'Picnic' which features my son's children. We had been on a picnic in the Bird Gardens at Katikati last February when I caught this image on my camera. I loved the way I caught them all with their hands in their mouths - just one of those 'moments'! I scanned the image into Photoshop and played with it, came up with two different concepts and the tapestry is a mixture of both. I liked the colours and the linear qualities as well.

This work is going to be sent to Auckland to be shown in the North Art Contemporary textile exhibition which will be opened at the Northart Community Arts Centre by Dame Catherine Tizard on the evening of 24th September.

It took me about three days to complete the 'finishing' on this tapestry. With so many colour changes there were lots of threads at the back of the work. I trimmed all of these to the same length and darned the threads that were near the edges into the weft. I nearly always weave a heading at the bottom and top of the tapestries and did so in this case. I sewed bias binding to cover the warp threads and then handstitched the heading to the back of the work using a large zig-zag stitch. Velcro is then handsewed to that (see photo). I bought the sticky velcro to put on to the wooden baton and then stapled that for extra strength. The baton can be screwed to a wall when the tapestry finds its permanent home. This tapestry will become a family heirloom for my son's family though I am not sure which child will eventually inherit it. Hopefully it will cause no arguments amongst them and maybe they can share it. If looked after well, this tapestry will last a long time and will pass down through the generations. I am happy to take commissions to weave heirloom tapestries, so if anyone reading this is interested in commissioning a tapestry for your family, just send me an e-mail for more information on the commissioning process.

A Warning to Artists 
Well, this last week has been a bit of a disappointing one in that I thought I had made my first sale from my website. Great excitement initially. I had been in contact by e-mail with a lady from London calling herself Katherine Cole and asking me to send her three drawings which she had seen on my website and for which she would pay me by travellers cheques. Katherine said that she lived in London and was shifting to South Africa to live. I was also contacted by her carrier, telling me he would get Fedex to pick up the drawings. Her letters were very friendly and chatty. Luckily though, I did not send the work to her at once and requested payment first. The travellers cheques arrived on Monday last week and after being warned by my friend Brian Gartside in Auckland that this might be a scam, I took the cheques straight to the bank and asked them if they could verify that they were genuine. Of course they turned out to be counterfeit. How disappointing is that!!! I am just pleased that I had the sense not to send the work to her straight off. I find it hard to believe that some people can use others so badly.

However, on a better and more positive note, I also received this week, a letter from the Norsewear Art Award Event Coordinator, inviting me to send some work for their 21st Anniversay exhibition in April next year. They are inviting work from all past Award Winners. I would like to weave a new tapestry for this, so am now working on design concepts for a tapestry reflecting the 'City Life' theme. This new work will be in the same style as the tapestry 'Exhibition Opening' which also reflects life in the city.

Well, time to get over to the studio. I haven't spent as much time there this week as I have had a rather nasty cold, and have been feeling a bit miserable. Much better today though.

Commissioned Tapestries  
I am writing today, about commissioned tapestries after posting the image of Kevin Hickman's tapestry yesterday. This photograph shows Kevin and his wife Joanna, his father Tony Hickman and myself holding the tapestry just after Kevin had cut it from the loom. The 'cutting off' ceremony after a tapestry is completed is very special. The person who commissioned the tapestry cuts it from the loom and a small celebration follows. This is a time when the whole tapestry is able to be seen, often for the first time.

Kevin's tapestry features his little brother Paul Hickman, who was born in 1946 as a 'blue baby' and who only lived until he was three years old. A poem, written at the time of his death, and copied out in his father's handwriting, was woven around the border of the tapestry.

I have completed many commissioned tapestries over the years, some longer term, larger corporate projects and many for private homes. Have a look through the Commissions Gallery for further info. If you are interested in commissioning a tapestry for your home or business premises, you may contact me at any time through the website or just send an e-mail. I enjoy the relationships that develop through the process of commissioning and weaving a tapestry.
Another tapestry which was woven in the same style is the earlier tapestry 'Gianna - Portrait of a Grandchild' featuring my son's eldest daughter at the age of nine months.

Commissioned Work 

Hullo to my Readers 
Well, here we go - my first attempt at writing a blog. Many thanks to Ian, my son-in-law, for putting this page together for me and also for all the work he has done on my website over the years. He designed the website and set it up for me so that I could change the images and add to them when neccessary.

A week or so ago I finished the tapestry 'The Picnic'. This tapestry (sett-11epi, so quite a fine one) features my son Michael's five children as they were on a day back in February. We were visiting the Bird Garden at Katikati when I caught this image on my camera, all with hands in their mouths eating their lunch. I manipulated the image on Photoshop, came up with two slightly different concepts and the tapestry is different again. I am working on family heirloom work at the moment. Have been on a bit of 'limbo' time after my major exhibition, trying to decide what theme to work on next for another exhibition in the future. Lots of ideas and have exhibited drawings in two exhibition this year and last, but so far am still working on ideas for tapestry. See the website for these works in the exhibitions 'Sittings' and 'New Connections'.

I am back working on 'Lace 2' a portrait of Lissie, my youngest daughter. This work is a major one, 13 epi, and will be 120 x 160cm when completed. (See the website for work in progress images). I had always wanted to weave a large fine tapestry and this one is 'it'. Probably the only very fine large one I will do, though it is nowhere near as large as the old medieval tapestries which were woven around this sett and up to 3 x 5metres in size or larger. We just can't afford to weave this size in this day and age. 'Lace 2' will take between 15 and 18months to weave and this time is spread over possibly 3 years as it is the work that goes on 'hold' if I get a commission or need to weave something else.

Last night, my sister Julie Steffens and I went over to the Christchurch Art Gallery to hear Jonathan Mane-Wheoki give a lecture on Pacific Art. 'Pasifika Rising: A Cultural Strand in Contemporary New Zealand Art'. Jonathan is a great speaker and in this lecture was discussing the tuakana-teina relationship between contemporary Maori and Pacific Art. The tuakana-teina relationship deals with the older sibling/younger sibling realtionships between tangata whenua (Maori - the original settlers in New Zealand) and tangata Pasifika who are part of the tangata tiriti (more recent settlers such as Pakeha, Pacific Islanders and others). A very thought provoking lecture. Pacific Art is going from strength to strength with artists like Fatu Fe-eu, Michael Tuffery and Shane Tuffery and many others producing wonderful work.
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