Friday, January 8, 2010


I spent this quiet, cold, snowy day washing, pressing and hemming the last tapestry from fall. I have always loved goldenrod; I made a dye from it when I was at Cranbrook long ago (the last time I fussed with natural dyes) which made the most memorable, vibrant yellow I have ever used. I also made a pale yellow with it. Two tapestries resulted from that dyebath: Angel's Walk, with the pale yellow, and Ornamental Garden, with the thrilling yellow. Sadly, the latter yellow has lost its thrill over the years and has faded. As this piece belongs to an important mentor of mine, Gerhardt Knodel, I will no doubt re-weave it for him. I am actually looking forward to that process -- imagine re-making as carefully as possible something one made 30 years ago! That was a time of radiant discovery in my artwork: I wonder if the re-making would stir that sense again.

This current goldenrod tapestry came out of a startled observation one day as to how it grew. Having plucked if over & over for years, made dye from it, and thought about its color, I had never actually looked at how it grows -- which is vaselike, originating from a single stem and branching out. Between the sturcture and the color I had to weave it.


I made two Bee tapestries in 2009; the first is of our hives over by the flooded Wabash river (the river is one field away from us, but in the spring the field floods up to our property line, where the hives live). The second came later, begun after watching in admiration and dismay as we lost 3 swarms of bees in May last year ("come back! come back! what did we do wrong?"). Swarming is a breathtakingly beautiful sight, when the air is filled with a vibrant buzzing audible from a long way away as the bees leave the hive and hover over it for a while, in a cloud, waiting for the next command from their queen. They then move up into a nearby tree and hang in a quivering mass as the scouts go out -- for hours or sometimes for days -- to find a new home. In our case, it took about 2 hours, during which we wrung our hands and wondered how to get a ladder high enough to reach them and get them down (Ben has experience with capturing swarms, but not a long ladder!). The as we watched, they suddenly let loose and flew in a huge mass across the field toward the river, never to be seen again. ("come home! come home!")