The shapes that inspire me exist beyond a two-dimensional plane. Most weaving techniques are relatively flat. Sculptural Tapestry is an ongoing series where I explore three-dimensional weaving on a floor loom.
While on a coastal road trip, I experimented with a lap loom. I grew bored of weaving on a flat surface. I had a limited color palette and wanted to make this enjoyable. Parallel to this, I was encountering shapes that intrigued my interest. I tried to recreate the essence of what I was experiencing. This is visually possible through tapestry techniques but not through touch. Rocks, fungus, bark, shells, and waves all provide the opportunity to feel their shapes. My goal in this series is to transfer the tactile experience of all these shapes.
The parameters I set for myself were simple: I didn't want to create surface embellishment; I wanted to create volume within the weaving structure.
The first steps are to build a weft-faced weaving. This provides the foundation of the sculpture. I denote shape changes in both tonal and contrast yarn colors.
When the flat plane of the tapestry is woven, I build a warp 90 degrees from the original surface. This warp needs tension. To do so, I have secured the warp to my studio ceiling. Click the photograph to the right to see a video of this process.
Once the warp is constructed around the shapes I want to build upon, I start to weave a weft yarn up this newly formed warp. I weave about 1" - 2" in height and tie the warp off. The warp is cut off from the tension and ready to finish.
Once the weaving is removed from the loom and secondary warp, the finishing process involves arduous tying, tucking, and stitching to create seamless sculptures. This process is highly involved and takes the most time and patience.
The finished tapestries, photographed by Trav Williams, are two pieces in this series. Gentle Waves (left) and Salt Seep (right) show the versatility of the perpendicular warp weaving I developed.