Bead Color Intensities

I recently graphed a bead looming pattern of the classic subject, ‘Piano Keys’. This is a good time to offer some of my thoughts about creating a pattern for bead looming. Here is the looming, still on my loom.

From the first look, you can see this is not a standard, straight on shot of a piano key board. I wanted to make it different then what is usually seen, but still recognizable. After deciding the angle, the piano keys on a chamfer, I had to think about the shading aspect.

Looming patterns have to consider not only the bead colors, but the bead finishes as well. The darkest finish in your bead pallet is the ‘gloss’ or ‘opaque’ line of finishes. Notice the blacks in this close up picture below.

The opaque black reflects a darker color then the matte black. This equation is the same for every color. Not only do the opaques show darker, but ironically the transparent line of bead colors also show darker. A crystal white shows up almost gray next to an opaque white.

Another aspect of loom pattern creating is the ‘intensity’ of the colors, next to each. I chose an ‘ivory color Delica bead’ for this looming of piano keys, to sit with the black. If I would have used a stark opaque white with the black, the gap of intensity would be overwhelming. I would have lost a dimension in my pattern. Therefore, remember that a dark and light color bead, looming within the same pattern, should have a closer gap of intensity. Here I used an ‘ivory’ instead of the ‘white’. In my bead cup, the ivory looked too dark for the white of a piano key, but next to the black, it looks very white and you can notice a nice balance of intensity.

Practice looming some bead color intensities on your Mirrix. Get a feel for using darks and lights in a different manner then just to fill a color space. Remember how each bead plays a part, when loomed next to each. I’ll continue offering some ideas about getting the most from your Mirrix Loom, but sharing some thoughts on bead colors can only enhance your enjoyment!

Text and ikat

No, not text and ikat together, but it could be done. Hmmm…maybe that should be next…

I played around with text in Word, but of course I only printed it out for a cartoon and didn’t save it! Reinventing the wheel here. I used the Word Art feature to copy, paste, and play around with different fonts. When you use Word Art, the text enters the document as a kind of clip art, so you can drag the corners and center to manipulate the text the way you want. Who knows if what I weave will look anything like the intended font. It will be a guide only to getting text into a weaving. This will be on the next section of my Mirrix project, the last square. I plan to do some more soumak with this.




Last week a new chair PurpleChairarrived in my house, via my car from Office Depot. So far, I’m thinking this is pretty nifty. I’ve been needing a chair for using at the ikat board so that my back does not get so stiff and sore. I saw this one in the store—but couldn’t find online :(—and loved it first because, okay, I admit it, I’m shallow—it’s color! Price was reasonable too. When I went to buy it, they explained to me that it is pink with two additional chair covers, chartreuse and purple. Unfortunately, it comes in a box and has to be assembled. I’m loving it so far! The only drawback is that the casters can gather up yarn and cut off ikat tape pieces. Just have to adjust how I do things.

 Blue-IkatThis is board two for the blue section of the ikat piece that I’m working on. After this one is wrapped and tied, I will move on the the red section. There is a temptation to measure and tie several ikat projects at once.  Below is an in-progress picture, on which, if it will load larger, there is some explanatory text. And you can see the pile of ikat tape ready to be used on the right. The portion show that is already tied is in 1/8 increments so that the design will appear more rounded when woven. At least that’s the plan!BlueIkatwithYellow-tape



One-A-Day Bracelets Update

I don’t mean to be slack, beading like a crazy woman and then the holiday showed up, so I inadvertently took the weekend off from any beading.
I have finished all the loom work for the One-A-Day pieces and as of today, I just finished one cuff completely. I did it so I didn’t have to weave in all the threads, and it was so much fun not to have to worry about that!
Here are all the pieces finished and on the loom:

I have some nice thin leather (actually a recycled pair of leather pants) and I cut it out to fit my loom work, plus some length for the snaps. I put on my top snap and then I glued the end threads down, then snipped them off. Then I periodically added glue to hold the piece onto the leather. O took a needle and thread and started doing a ‘whip stitch’, every other space all the way down both sides to adhere the beadwork to the cuff. Then while I still had thread on, I decided to give this piece a picot edging, so went down both sides for that. Then I added the snap on the other side, rounded the leather edges and I was all done. I am very happy with the results and equally as happy to not have to weave all those ends in ;) Here is the finished result.

I now have to finish those up, and the horse brow band for my daughter, then it looks like a guitar strap will be born…and maybe a belt after that.

I am spinning again

I stopped spinning in earnest about seven years ago.  Mirrix, family and then politics got in the way.  I just didn’t have the stretch of hours necessary to clean and wash the fleece, dye the fleece, comb and card the fleece and then spin it.  I had forgotten the bliss of standing in front of dye pots and making color magic.  But you can literally stand there for hours.  An entire day will disappear and you find colored fleece hanging everywhere in the house.  The next step is to blend those colors either with a drum carder or combs.  Then comes the spinning.  I still love spinning but there is a point where I’ve had enough.  It’s good for watching movies.  Yesterday I spent probably six hours straight spinning and watched two movies.  My son  asked me if I was serial movie watching.  Yeah, well I was.  And spinning frantically.

My wheel.  She still feels new.  Made of cherry.  Gorgeous.  Double treadle.  
The colors do not come through.  The red and dark green were grey fleeces so the result is very heathered.  The front purplish one is actually rose and green and blue and purple.  You can sort of see the variation in the photo.  The light green is actually yellow and green and little bit of blue. The back purple ball is a rose purple.
I dye in the fleece so I can combine colors to get exactly what I want in the final product.  Plus, it is so much easier to dye in the fleece.  You don’t have to worry about even distribution of the dye, which can be a problem when dyeing already spun yarn .  I am a very sloppy dyer and am perfectly suited to this method.  
The problem with dye is that certain color absorb faster than others.  You can mix up yellow and blue to get green but once the dye hits the pot one of those colors might get absorbed faster than the other.  Let’s say it’s the blue.  So the blue gets sucked into the wool slightly faster than the yellow.  Those dye sites are now full and will not absorb the yellow.  The yellow will go into the sites that haven’t absorbed the blue.  It’s not that you are going to get blobs of blue and yellow and an absence of green, but you might get an uneven spread of color.  The way to avoid this is to manage your acid and base chemicals and stir a lot and fast in the beginning, with a high ratio of water to yarn.  You can see why I prefer the easier path .
Before I learned how to spin I did dye all my commercially spun wool.  Yes, I did get pretty good at it.  But I prefer this method.
I am toying with the idea of selling kits of hand spun.  Anyone interested?  It’s almost impossible to buy hand-dyed, hand-spun tapestry yarn.  

Inspiration, Museums, and Computer Lessons

Here in Fort Worth we are very fortunate to have some really great museums. One that I hope to visit soon is the Amon Carter Museum, which, locally, we usually think of as the museum of Western art. The Carter has an extensive collection of Remington and Russell paintings and sculptures. In addition, they have over 30,000 photographs in their collection. Right now, they have an exhibition of Ansel Adams.imageOak Tree, Snowstorm, Yosemite Valley, California

May 29, 2010–November 7, 2010

Ansel Adams: Eloquent Light

This exhibition of forty landmark and lesser-known works by the renowned artist-photographer is drawn from the Carter’s holdings and a private collection.

So, with these kinds of collections, it is always kind of surprising to me when the offerings are somewhat different. Currently, an abstract exhibition has just opened:


Joe H. Herrera (1923–2001)
Untitled, 1951
Oil on canvas
Jonson Gallery Collection, University of New Mexico Art Museum, Albuquerque, NM
Constructive 6

June 26, 2010–September 5, 2010

Constructive Spirit: Abstract Art in South and North America, 1920s–50s

Featuring approximately eighty seldom-seen paintings, sculptures, prints, photographs, drawings, and films, this exhibition juxtaposes the work from artists of the Americas, providing a fresh and innovative look at this dynamic and cosmopolitan period of modernism.

I love going to museum exhibits, even an exhibit of works that I don’t particularly like. Besides being good for the soul, art frequently inspires me with ideas and/or color combinations.

The painting above reminds me of lessons that I used to do with my elementary students in computer class. Using a simple drawing program (Paint in Windows), draw a rectangle, the vertical and horizontal lines.


Then use the drawing tools to form ovals, circles, squares, rectangles, triangles, and freeform shapes. This was good exercise for the kids in mouse skills and using some keyboard techniques, like getting a perfect square or circle by holding down the shift key while drawing. The same with lines—straight lines are obtained by holding down the shift key while drawing.

imageNow, for the most fun of the whole thing! Use the paintbucket to “paint” all of the shapes. The example below is not finished, but you get the idea. And sometimes, a good idea comes out of doing mindless exercises like this. You can isolate a part of the whole or use the whole design. This lesson also taught the kids about the curved lines which, if too curved, let the paint leak into places where it’s not supposed to go. That’s another reason for drawing the large rectangle and letting the vertical and horizontal lines extend past the boundaries of the rectangle. Lessons that were hard-earned by some students! Another lesson about using Edit>>Undo. The colors available in Paint are basic, although you can add others.

imageimage image

Simplified (or not) designs similar to the above can certainly be woven on the Mirrix loom, or any other loom. Look at some of Claudia’s tapestries here or on her blog, and you get the idea.

Today I am going to start on text on my last rectangle-like square. Hopefully I will have some pics tomorrow, but I have to admit, the 4th of July has interfered with my schedule, so if not tomorrow, then Wednesday.




Just talked to one of the founders of Weavolution (also a Claudia and grew up just a few miles from me at about the same time . . . you don’t meet many Claudias).  What fun.  So much to talk about.  So I am directing you to that site so you can play there:  Have a blast.  Join up. There is a tapestry forum.

Soumak again


First of all, let me say that these pictures do not represent anything that I really like, either design-wise or good craftsmanship-wise. I am simply experimenting in a non-threatening environment. In the top picture, you might notice the line with text. This particular area points out one of the major problems that I have with using soumak lines. I forget the direction with which I am wrapping the warp! To get the top portion of the orange line to be straight, observe that I was entering from the right, and then catch myself when I forgot that.

After reading the appropriate section of Line in Tapestry, I decided to try the spiral next. I am drawn to spirals nearly always, but I prefer to have one a little more filled in. This soumak method might work with a filled in, thicker spiral to kind of smooth out the edges—I just don’t know yet. Obviously, there are a few problems with the spiral technique. When I want a square spiral, I will make it square. All angles in this spiral were purely unintentional and caused by my faulty soumak technique. In a piece that mattered, I would have made corrections. For this I am sticking with the warts! I think a technique like this would work with simple petroglyphs-style of design.  Below is a close-up of the spiral.Spiral_close-upAfter reading the posts in the Tapestry Yahoo group for the last few days, I may attempt some text in the last square to be woven. Yes, I said last square! Yippee! Because I am so bored with these small tedious squares. I think I need to try something that fills the available space next. On the other hand, I am also looking forward to finishing this in order to see what kind of whomper-jawed cube I end up with. This started out as a pulled warp idea. Hmmm…


At the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft is a show called Paper Runway. Here is the link for the creator of the above dress.

This is a link about textile mills in North Carolina that have escaped Armageddon.



Canoe adventure

We are back and I survived without any major damage to body parts.  Three days exploring white water on a river and one hike up a very steep mountain to view cliffs my husband imagines I would like to climb someday.

Claudia in a canoe

But the “best” photo is of me getting ready to do some white water.  Dig the get-up.  Maybe I can use it as a Halloween costume someday.  It’s scary enough.
Don’t you just love the color scheme?
And then there is the reason for that get-up:

So I am back and yes we did the above.  Four miles of it the first day.  The second day we did the worse part a couple of times and then went for a hike to calm Claudia’s nerves.  The last day we did eight miles of it with enough calm water breaks to keep me calm.  I thought I had done my adrenalin thing as a State Rep. but this, well, it’s different.  Ever try to spot rocks under the water (you can see them only because you can see what the water does around them) wearing tri-focals?  I think I need to break down and get a pair of distance glasses because it’s kind of hard to see when one third of the time you are looking through a reading lens.