I started planning this tapestry portrait of my mother one year ago. As I was concluding her portrait on my loom, it became evident that her real-life tapestry was also coming to a conclusion. I arrived at Mom’s bedside with the portrait in hand, warp ends dangling. Her smile in that cherished moment is one I will never forget. In the days that followed, she quietly slept. I silently braided the warp-end edging, trimmed the tails on the back, stabilized the tapestry through the lining, and stitched the lining in place. I carefully secured the last stitch. In the wee hours of the next morning, while she was asleep, the Lord Jesus called my mother home. Tapestry complete. Beautiful.
Eye of the Beholder is about my mother who taught me to appreciate beauty. This is a portrait of a woman with an eye for beauty, with beauty in her eyes.
I humbly share my process of weaving Eye of the Beholder in this video:
Yellow is everywhere right now. A profusion of wildflowers stretches across our backyard, and much of it is yellow. The bright yellow linen weft fits right in! This is skirt fabric in the making. Wearing the skirt will be as if I’m wearing my own little summer flower garden.
One shuttle, one color. There are no decisions to make about the weft. Just keep these quills full of glowing yellow thread. When the last of the filled quills is in the shuttle, I weave until I find a good stopping place. Then, it’s time to get up and wind a handful of quills again. Replenish before the quill in the shuttle is bare.
To be full of faith is to be faithful. We say we trust Jesus. But can Jesus trust us? Faith-ful means you not only believe in him, you abide in him. You believe, and you live what you believe. Day, after day, after day. Quill, after quill, after quill. Replenish regularly to keep getting filled up. Never depleted. Always ready for the next pick.
Documenting your work for repeatability is valuable for any any step-by-step process. With the Lizardtapestry I learned how to do the finishing, including the backing. By the time I was ready to put a backing on the Siblings tapestry, I had limited recall of that first experience. Now that Eye of the Beholder is ready for backing, I need help again. Fortunately, I made note of every detail while constructing the backing for the Siblings tapestry. So, this time I have the benefit of written and photo documentation. No guesswork!
How to Document Your Steps
Do research. Gather your notes, search resources, and get advice from experienced weavers regarding the process you want to document.
Outline the steps. Write out and number all the steps as you understand them. Doing this before you start helps you think through the entire process.
Refine the steps. Begin working through the steps in order. Adjust the steps as you go. You may need to add or eliminate steps, or change the order in which they are done.
Make it visual. Take a photo of any step that benefits from visual clarification.
Finalize. Simplify and clarify the instructions in every step as if they are meant for someone who knows less about this process that you do. Remove redundant and/or unnecessary photos.
This may be the most difficult thing I’ve woven so far. It has been compelling, rewarding, and especially difficult to weave this tapestry. I can’t tell you how many times in this process I have said to myself, “What was I thinking?!” Yet, at the same time, I can truthfully say it’s been a joy.
How does one weave a portrait of her mother? With many hours of reflective thinking — a play on words, since I probably reflect my mother’s attributes more than I know. At long last, as the maker of this portrait tapestry, I am cutting the warp ends to release the cloth from the loom. I still have finishing work to do, and then comes rest.
The Lord God is your Maker. We worship him by allowing his master-weaver hands to do the weaving, and we willingly conform to his ways. When he is finished, his hands finally rest. And then we hear the invitation we’ve been waiting for. Enter your Maker’s rest. And the Kingdom of Heaven welcomes another tapestry Master-piece.
Cutting off is like reading the ending of a good short story. Even though you are eager to get to the end, when you reach the final paragraph it seems to soon for the story to be over. Fortunately, even though I am cutting off these happy blues, I still get to enjoy the fabric a while longer as I bring it through the finishing process.
The 8/2 cotton fabric is woven, washed and dried (multiple times), and ready for its final step. I will cut and hem individual pieces to be used as covers for the arm rests and the headrest for my mother-in-law’s recliner. I can’t think of a better place for this story to end up.
Enjoy this little video slideshow of the making of this cloth: