Lozenge Shape Structures in Tapestry Weaving
I have been asked many times over the years about the technique I use in my tapestry weaving to achieve colour merging, pattern and texture, in the creation of the “lozenge” shapes which are characteristic in all my textiles. It is a process I have developed and refined over decades to achieve my aim of mixing colours, whether contrasting or harmonious, to create curving flowing shapes and which will enhance the spirit of movement across the tapestry. All my work follows the theme of the curved line and hence movement which is expressive of time passing, of past, present and future time.
Weaving a weft across a warp both ways is a two stage process, from left to right and back right to left and so on creates a block of colour. Crucial to this is the control of tension. The weft yarns must not allow for the edges of the weaving to “waist”, to develop a narrowing of the whole width. Do not pull the weft threads too tight.
If you use one colour from the left and a different colour from the right and continue you will produce a “toothed effect”. This can be very effective in mixing colours and is often a component in Rug weaving.
You need to start on a firm foundation at the bottom of the tapestry. I usually weave a plain section about 2 inches deep before starting the actual tapestry. Having marked out the main shapes on the vertical warp thread weaving can begin.
Instead of weaving all the way from one side to the other take the weft from the left to only about two or three inches across then return. But NOT to the starting point but to the warp thread before, you can reduce by more than one thread at a time, and reduce more from one or either side. This enables a particular selected shape or form to be created. Continue this until you have completed a flattened pyramid or triangle shape.
Control of tension is paramount.
Now continue the weft from the point of the triangle further across the warp and repeat the process of creating a further triangle. You will have now two triangles and this can be repeated across the full warp width and at any time you can change colour. This will create a base of triangles along the bottom edge or within a chosen shape. Now return and fill in the shape between two of the flattened triangles and when you have reached the top of the shape continue weaving and produce a further triangle above. This will create a “lozenge” shape, similar to a flattened diamond. Refer to the above images and you will see how to build on these shapes.
Different colours may be taken over the shapes but take great care over tension. Do not pull the weft threads tight. There is now a need use a light beater, I use a silver fork to place the wefts in position. Do not beat too hard as you will distort the structure. This control of tension will be achieved in time and with experience and can be useful in producing differing surface textures. It is interesting to note that this method produces many ends with the constant change of colours and it is for this reason that I work from the back of the vertical warps. This helps me to control the individual bobbins which hold the coloured weft yarn.
Having mastered the basic lozenge shapes try incorporating the “toothed “effect by using one colour and another from different sides. Try varying sizes of “Lozenge” shapes and running a colour over the tops. The overall design of the tapestry will often dictate just how much colour manipulation using these methods will be required. The mixing of colours is fascinating and small amounts of really strong contrasting colours may be incorporated to great effect.
I am mindful of the Impressionist painters approach to handling colour in their free and spontaneous way. Why cannot tapestry weavers learn from this and develop their own processes? There are many challenges, happy accidents, successes and errors but textile artists attuned to their own ideas and concepts can gain much from such a creative approach.