The jumble of yarn looks like a random play of colors. But if you look a little closer, and push the yarn butterflies out of the way, you can tell that the color choices are deliberate. You see only a hint of the image, though, until you look through the back end of the monocular, or step up on the step stool to have a look from up above the weaving. That’s when you get an overview of what’s on the loom.
This warp is a study project. I want to test some tapestry techniques to help me develop my style. I made the cartoon by cropping and enlarging a photograph I took years ago. The butterfly had just emerged from its chrysalis! The subject for my study: the butterfly’s intricate wing.
Who designed the butterfly wing? A stained-glass artist may conceive it. A tapestry weaver may copy it. A silk dyer may imagine it. But only our Creator could bring it to life. God makes himself known. Push the obstacles out of the way. Look for design. Gain a higher perspective. With each woven row, the image becomes more and more clear. When the butterfly wing begins to flutter you know you are witnessing something from the mind of God.
It is a daunting task to weave a tapestry of an important person. Do I have enough skill to give what this project deserves? I started with a photograph of a beautiful woman in her eventide years, and made a workable cartoon. The person in the picture is someone who has significantly influenced my appreciation of beauty all around. This is my mother.
In preparation for the tapestry, I have been weaving sample areas of the cartoon. The eyes, the chin and neck, the mouth, the edge of the ear. The biggest lessons I’ve learned are to exaggerate contrasts in value, and to dull the colors that are adjacent to colors that I want to appear bright. It’s time to step out and give myself to the task. This is where I aspire to show more than the unique features of my mother’s face. It’s where I show her heart.
A generous heart always has enough. Giving out of our surplus is not generosity. However, if I give you what I’d rather keep, I give you some of myself. Give time, resources, support. Share talents, fascinations, insights. Mom, thanks for giving me so much of yourself.
When I pick up a color of thread I don’t want to have to guess if it’s the right color. Four of the five blues in the weft sequence are close neighbors in value. The one color that is easy to identify is the navy blue, which provides a good contrast among the blues.
The weft order matches the warp order, and is marked out on a ribbon. I am using a separate boat shuttle for each shade of blue. But how do I know which color is which, when the difference is subtle from one color to the next?
Simplify Subtle Color Changes
Give each color a number. Write the numbers next to the colors of the warp order on the Project Notes.
Label the thread tubes with a small piece of blue painter’s tape. Each tube of thread is numbered to correspond with the numbers on the Project Notes.
Label each boat shuttle with its assigned color number, using a small piece of blue painter’s tape.
Place wound quills under the rubber band of their respective thread tubes.
It is easy to keep track of these five numbers as I follow the weft sequence that is marked on my reference ribbon. Now, it’s shuttle #4’s turn…
Sugar Pie has been waiting in the wings. Now, his nose wriggles up to the fell line. The day that Ari and Lucia went with me to visit my neighbor, their attention went to the cute furry thing in the rabbit hutch. At first, the bunny was wary, but before long, Sugar Pie was nibbling carrot slivers from Lucia’s hand.
Now, I’m the wary one. The rabbit will make or break this tapestry. I made notes when I wove the rabbit on a narrow samplewarp several weeks ago. With careful review of my notes, I am inching forward, giving attention to value contrasts that shape and define the animal. The good news is that when I reach the end of Sugar Pie’s soft, furry back, I will be at the tapestry’s finish line.
In trying times, our senses are heightened. Will we flourish, or merely squeak by? In all the confusion, where is clarity? In the chaos, where do we find calm? The Lord extends an open hand. The open hand is an invitation. Come and taste. Trust. Find deep satisfaction that reaches the soul. Courageously inch up to the greatest challenge of your life.
The best thing about weaving a pictorial tapestry? Having a cartoon to follow, with row-by-row definition. This Siblings tapestry has its joys and challenges. It is a joy to weave Ari’s hair, as if I get to comb his locks into place. At the same time, it’s a challenge to see up close what can only be recognized at a distance. Lucia’s shirt is a joy to weave because of the bright colors and distinct shading. But what a challenge to get the right value of turquoise for the leg of the rabbit hutch in relation to the value of orange in Lucia’s left shoulder.
The yarn is my paint. I make decisions and adjustments as I see how the colors interact. Under the warp, of course, is my cartoon with all the details—outline, hues, value changes. That cartoon is constant, unchanging, and reassuring. It’s the key to this whole process.
In the joys and challenges we face, we make decisions based on what we see. Take a look below the surface. Look through the warp to see the cartoon. True love is in the details. Jesus instructs and guides through his love. Constant, unchanging, and reassuring. It makes perfect sense to follow the Maker’s cartoon.