Tapestry Topics Online
A Quarterly Review of Tapestry Art Today

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Summer 2006, Vol 32 No 2

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Dominoes and Risk

by Susan Martin Maffei

– TT p.12

Over the past 12 years or more I have been experimenting with the process of building tapestries without any pre-existing drawings or images. …The goal was to make a marriage of my interest in the narrative of memory with the intrinsic mark making and weaving characteristics of the medium.

I often start lectures with a small 24" x 3.5" tapestry of a domino game.  It encompasses most of the things that attract me to the medium of tapestry and perhaps, most simply, illustrates what I am trying to achieve in my experiments and how I approach a piece.  The building of the work begins at the bottom with the first shape to support the first domino (color and yarn decisions, number of dots on the first domino decision, and negative shape for placement decision).  The subsequent decisions that follow relate to the choice of that first domino.

above: Susan Martin Maffei, The dominoes box is 25" l. x 4.5"w. x 2.5"d. The tapestry on the lid is 24" x 3.5" and the dominoes inside
are 3" x 1.5" each.
below: Susan Martin Maffei, Dominoes, 3" x 1.5" each.

In working this way the combinations of color, texture, marks, memory and image teeter on the verge with each decision on the journey and with each there is an agony that engages and persists until the work is complete.  Risk? Chance? Luck? Like the game of dominos itself - a game of decision making within each step.  Win or lose.  No going back.  A game of  visual play.  Luck and chance and risks!

Landscapes to Chance

by Joyce Hayes

– TT p.13-14

My first tapestries were geometric abstract landscapes; in fact I had always considered myself a landscape artist. …I enjoyed making the watercolors and drawings but after a time the thrill of weaving the paintings lost its edge. … Still weaving the abstracted landscapes, [experimenting with ikat dyed cotton thread] led to a series of geometric, patterned ikat tapestries.  During this process I was becoming more and more enamored with chance; whatever happened stayed.  The unknown became a lure. By this time my hands started to go numb … I could no longer weave shapes and had to switch over to weaving straight across and using a beater.  This was an important change in direction.

above: Joyce Hayes, Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets I

My interest in music, color, and stripes became a starting point.  So, what does this have to do with chance.  My daughter was writing her PhD dissertation on Sarah Vaughn and every day I would hear "Whatever Lola Wants Lola Gets." After assigning a color to each of the twelve tones of the western classical scale, I transposed this song into color notations and wove it, making no changes or concessions.  This piece was the first in an ongoing series inspired by music I enjoyed playing as a teenager.

above: Joyce Hayes, Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets II

 Once all of the design work has been completed in black and white I go through the cartoon and initial in the transcribed score’s color for each shape/stripe. ...By intentionally eliminating [control and perfection issues] the creative flow is more constant. Every day is different because I do not know which color will come up next and I get to enjoy each color interaction as I weave.   Sometimes I cringe and other times the colors bounce all over the place.

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