The Mirrix Looms Ambassador program hopes to unite Mirrix Looms (both the company and the products) with talented bead and tapestry weavers from around the world. By connecting these gifted artists, quality weaving equipment and the networks of both, the hope is to simultaneously increase awareness of each ambassador and of Mirrix products.
Each ambassador will have a unique role, but you can expect instructional blog posts, project ebooks, inspiration and more from these amazing artists.
Today, we are very excited to introduce our third Mirrix Looms Ambassador, Natalie Novak.
How long have you been weaving and what first attracted you to tapestry weaving?
Not long at all! I only started weaving in early 2012. I had spent the previous fall and winter checking out every weaving book I could find at the library, at first I mostly focused on Southwestern textiles, (Navajo, Zapotec, Rio Grande), but my curiousity quickly spiraled out to include anything weaving related. At a certain point it was obvious to me that my interest was going beyond casual observer and I could hear the loom calling my name.
What formal weaving/tapestry training do you have?
I’m really lucky to live near The Damascus Fiber Arts School, which is amazing! I learned Navajo style weaving from Audrey Moore and tapestry from Terry Olson. They’re incredible teachers and weavers and they’ve created a great community there. It’s funny in a way because I attended the Oregon College of Art and Craft 10-15 years ago and they have a really great fibers department, but I was there for painting and drawing so the only fiber class I ever took was Surface Design with Lisa O’brien. I remember there being an entire room full of floor looms and I’d always walk through really quickly or avoid it entirely because I was afraid I’d break them somehow. They looked so complicated and intense!
What kinds of looms do you currently weave on?
I have a Navajo style loom made by Duncan Fiber Enterprises and a variety of frame looms: copper pipe ala Archie Brennan, Glimakra and some gorgeous wooden frames that my husband made; it helps that he’s a furniture maker.
How do your tapestries and paintings relate to one another? In other words, what makes you decide to weave something in tapestry versus painting it?
Right now I’m weaving everything. I’m obsessed! Initially I was working only with geometric shapes and color relationships in my woven work because it felt so different from painting, it seemed so structured. But there’s definitely a shift taking place and my approach and subject matter in tapestry are getting closer to how I think about painting, which has always been very narrative for me. When I think about making work now, I think about painting mostly in conjunction with other woven works. When I ask myself why something should be woven I can always come up with an answer that adds to the meaning of the piece.
What are your three favorite tapestries?
This question is way too hard! I guess the first pictorial works that really blew me away were some of Mark Adams’ designs; I remember thinking, “Wait, that’s tapestry?” I couldn’t believe these psychedelic, technicolor artworks were made with the same techniques as the medieval/renaissance tapestries I was more familiar with. My favorites are the three pieces in “The Garden Suite” which hangs at the San Francisco Airport and “Queen of Heaven.” Can I count this as one?
I also really love Gunta Stolzl’s Bauhaus work; it’s so modern and timeless. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I guess “Slit Tapestry Red/Green” is at the top of my list.
I recently took a workshop from Joan Baxter and so I have to include one of her beautiful pieces. She really understands color and has a way of creating the illusion of transparency in her tapestry, which isn’t easy to do. I’m impressed by just about everything she’s made, but “Waterforest” is my favorite.
What are your favorite and/or “go to” tapestry techniques?