Weaving Negative Space
While I’ve spent countless hours Navajo weaving, tapestry weaving has always been a bit intimidating. The thought of weaving a shape, the techniques, the constant planning ahead just seem daunting. There’s a lot of work before you come to a shape, and what if I can’t work that shape the way I want? There’s an investment of time, energy and materials to be taken into consideration. I’ve spent so much time worrying about how to weave a shape that I never considered weaving a negative space.
Negative space, is the weaving that surrounds the shape. A good part of it is often worked before the shape. It’s just as important as the shape itself. Because you’re leaving a void for the shape to fill, and it will determine the outer edge of your shape. I have wove, un-wove and re-wove negative space more in my first conventional tapestry weaving than I have spent on my “shapes”. Creating a curve on surface that strictly runs left and right is an illusion. That illusion often has to first be created with weaving in the negative space.
While Navajo weaving is a form of tapestry weaving, it’s created differently. So this is my first “conventional” tapestry weaving. I’m learning a lot on this piece, obviously. I was told that this is a difficult weaving for a first tapestry project, it figures. I always have to take the bumpy and winding road as opposed to the straight paved one, and not realize until I’m miles down it. There are several places I wove, un-wove and re-wove it. Examples would be the lower leaf on the right, the negative space below the curve of the upper leaf and the stem.
The leaf that’s partially woven will need to be reworked. This is where the negative space was woven improperly. Right at the base of the leaf there should be more background where the leaf meets the bird. I don’t plan to un-weave all that negative space, but I will un weave the leaf and weave in some more background. Perhaps just a few wraps to bring that spot up. It only glared at me once I had a centimeter of weaving above it. So, while it appears that I wove the leaf poorly, in fact, it’s the negative space that was poorly woven.
I could have chosen my materials better, too. I decided to use candlewicking thread that was given to me by an old friend. It has every color I need for this project. It’s a matte cotton string. As I worked my way towards my first shape, I realized I wanted my image to stand out more, have a sheen and rich colors. So while I’m weaving all my negative space with the candlewicking cotton, I’m weaving my image with embroidery floss. Both, it would seem, are difficult materials for tapestry weaving. I’m sticking to it, and I’ll hang it as a reminder to take it easy on myself, chose materials wisely, and remain tenacious.