Spring 2008 Vol 34 No 1

A Quarterly Review of Tapestry Art Today

©2006 American Tapestry Alliance

Note: Tapestry Topics Online has been trimmed down in order to present color images with selected excerpts from the printed version, available to members by mail. For the full articles refer to the printed Spring 2008 issue. < Back     Page > 1 2 3

Why Make More Work for Ourselves?

By Michael F. Rohde

My first year of weaving, in 1974, was with commercial K-Mart Orlon yarns, but the next year, I was exposed to dye processes. After that . . . I have never wavered from exploring complex colors and color interactions. Once I began to dye by mixing colors, or over-dyeing yarns, I learned much about the colors themselves, and how they related to each other. . . .

Color is a language; you can easily get an idea across with a limited number of words or vocabulary, but think how much richer your message can be if you expand your range . . .

We are constantly assaulted with the colors of various visual media. . . I prefer to venture away from tried and true (and often tired) colors and combinations, and to make new ones: colors that cannot be easily named, and combinations that break accepted color harmony rules. . . . refreshing mixtures of hues that cannot be quite categorized. . . . we are not content to reproduce what has gone before in our tapestries, so why not add color as one of your creative tools?

below: Michael Rohde, "Intricacy," 41" x 37", 2005; spelsau wool & mohair, dyes, some weft ikat; Photo by Andrew Neuhart

below: Michael Rohde, "Labrang," 25" x 25", 2006; spelsau wool & camel hair, dyes; Photo by Andrew Neuhart

below: Michael Rohde, "Litang," 25" x 25", 2006; spelsau wool & silk, dyes; Photo by Andrew Neuhart

below: Michael Rohde, "Sori," 25" x 25", 2006; spelsau wool; Photo by Andrew Neuhart

How Things Happen

By Connie Lippert

My first exposure to natural dyes was in 1975. . . . at Auburn University in Alabama taking weaving . . . A group of us in the weaving class decided to form an independent study class in natural dyes. . . . we spent a quarter collecting and dyeing with traditional materials as well as anything else we could find to throw in the dye pot that might give color. We all ended up with a thick notebook of samples, which is one of the few items I still have and use from my undergraduate and graduate education. . . .

In 1990, I saw a slide at a guild meeting of a wedge weave rug. . . . For years I held on to the desire, but could not find any information about how to do wedge weave. Martha Stanley, from whom I finally learned the technique in 1999, pointed out to me that my old Collingwood book . . . describes wedge weave. . . .

I do not think I would have come back to natural dyes if I hadn’t gotten interested in wedge weave. . . . The naturally dyed yarns bring something to this particular weave I practice that I want it to have. Natural dyes have lately evolved to the point where they can be consistent and uniform, but that is not what I am after. I am after the color of chance, surprise and wonder.

Left: Connie Lippert, "Leaf series: Acer rubrum," 25" X 24"; linen warp, vegetal dyed wool weft (madder, goldenrod, indigo)

below: Connie Lippert, "Storm," 24" X 47", 2004; linen warp, vegetal dyed wool weft (madder, marigold, indigo)

below: Connie Lippert, "Msitu," 24" X 47", 2003; linen warp, vegetal dyed wool (marigold, madder, indigo)

below: Connie Lippert, "Striving for Equanimity," 24" X 47", 2003; linen warp, vegetal dyed wool weft (indigo, madder, goldenrod, marigold)

Cultivating a Color Palette: A Life with Natural Dyeing

By Jane Hoffman

My first experience in dyeing yarn was as an art student at Western Washington University. . . This was in the early 1970's. . . Under the fiber curriculum, students were introduced to natural dyes. . . . once I experienced the magic of producing color from plant material, I was completely hooked. After graduation and a move to New England . . . Plant identification books and books on natural dyeing helped me identify dye plants found in the surrounding meadows and woods. . . . After two years in New England, I married and moved to the high mountains along the Arizona/New Mexico border. With a new set of plant identification books I hiked the trails . . . and collected native dye plants. . . . I began teaching natural dyeing through the local community college in the 1980s and since retirement have continued to offer workshops and lectures on natural dyeing at my studio, at Desert Weaving Workshop in Tucson, and at regional conferences. . . .

Although I do occasionally use fiber reactive dye for weft yarns, natural dyed yarns provide my workhorse colors in my tapestries. The endless range of intensity and values of color produced by natural dyes . . .truly reflects the colors found in the landscape of the Southwest. . . .

. It is extremely important that the dyes I use are reasonably lightfast. All the dyed yarns are light tested and recorded. Any that show signs of fading from long-term exposure (at least one month) to indirect sunlight are eliminated.

I feel connected to my materials as I weave. Most of all, I feel satisfaction in the realization of a vision inspired by my surrounding environment into a colorful tapestry.

below: Jane Hoffman, "Amaryllis," 22" x 14", 2003
below: Jane Hoffman, "Sea Grape," 22" x 14", 2000

below: Jane Hoffman, "Blue Vista – Rose Peak," 31" x 45", 1996

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