Saturday, 20 August 2011

The saga of 'Revolt'

My mother is an artist (painter) and has done many landscapes and portraits, among other things. She very much loves the Australian high country and spent a lot of time skiing. She is a signatory member of the VAS (Victorian Artists Society) and has exhibited many times. So when she came up with the idea of doing some wildly colourful abstract watercolours, she felt she was revolting against all the 'proper' paintings she had done. 

The first major one of these paintings was appropriately called 'Revolt'.

After she had done a whole series of these (and got it somewhat out of her system) she suggested that 'Revolt' would look good as a tapestry. I had to agree.

And so it began.

I thought that a larger size would look good: say 2m x 1.5m.

OK, I needed a loom that would accommodate this!
So I talked to a woodworking friend who agreed to build a loom based on the one in the Carol Russell tapestry book, minus shafts and beater.
A couple of years later this was more or less done, but the beams were rough and needed machining.
Another woodturning friend was able to do this.
Then I needed the hardware  -  ratchets & pawls and 1.25" diameter steel rod to mount the beams. Fortunately the local steam engine society put me on to a member who was able to manufacture these parts to suit, including laser cut ratchets!

Wow, I now had a beautiful, custom built loom to my specifications.

I spent 3 days winding a warp using #24 seine twine, and putting it on the loom.
Then I used a printed photo of the painting to make a tracing on acetate, which I enlarged using an overhead projector, and created the cartoon on large sheets of paper on the wall.
This is hung behind the warp.
The design is inked on to the warp using traditional tapestry inking pens and indian ink.

This is a view of the back of the loom showing the top beam.
You can just see the top of the cartoon hanging behind the warp.

I use a leashes system of making my shed  -  I much prefer that to pedals and shafts.

OK, so now, 6 years later!!!! I have almost finished 'Revolt'
Mind you, I have only been a part time weaver, and there have been some months when no progress has been made, but I am nearly there!

This is the top half of the tapestry, the rest has been wound on to the lower beam.
This measures just under 2 meters wide. When I do finish it, and weave the top hem, I will wind it back up and take a photo of the whole piece. I'm looking forward to seeing it!


  1. I can't wait to see it finished!!! Sounds like a wonderful project nearing completion. Congrats!

  2. That is an amazing project. I am always impressed with someone who can persist for that long! SIX years! Your loom is beautiful, and the tapestry too!

  3. love the colours and the design. Congratulations on persisting, Makes me think I can tackle one of my UFO's... perhaps.

  4. What a marvelous collaboration this will be for you and your mother! I look forward to seeing the completed tapestry.