I first found out that I had talent in art in a junior high school art class. My formal training in art was at Baylor University (BA in Art), Tulsa University, and University of Oklahoma (MA in Art). I have taught art in the Fort Worth (2 years) and Tecumseh Public Schools (4 years) and Oklahoma Baptist University (26 years). As to weaving, I first learned from research and trial and error when an antique loom was given to OBU. Since then, I have taken many workshops as well as continuing to read and do research.
Art for me can occur at any moment when my mind suddenly becomes involved with what I am seeing, what colors I can see and where they repeat, what negative shapes can be picked out and how they relate to other negative shapes, how a texture is repeated or contrasts with other textures, how balance and unity are achieved, etc. In planning compositions these relationships make up the process. I start with an idea that may come from doodles on paper, a workshop I have taken, something I have read about or seen, or a previous work that I want to do again but with changes.
I used to work out weaving plans on graph paper. Now the computer makes that part much easier. After the design and colors are decided on by the use of the computer, there is still a lot of planning needed. What type of yarn and which weave best fits the project? Next there is a lot of math involved. Things that have to be taken into account include: how large is the piece to be, how many warps and picks per inch are needed, how much loom waste and take up will occur, how much will the piece shrink in finishing. Yarns are selected from samples kept on hand from several suppliers. After the yarns have been ordered and arrived, the next step is to weave a sample if the project doesn’t build on something already sampled. Next it is time to measure the warp and dress the loom. Then the weaving can finally begin! People always want to know how long it takes. The planning and getting ready take twice as long as the weaving. It is a big bother to count the minutes and I don’t always do that, but a 3’ x 5’ rug usually takes about 40 hours of work from the point of getting the yarn to having a finished wall hanging.
If customers want to commission a piece in a pattern that I have already woven, it is easy to customize the colors and size to match their preferences. Of course, if a new design is desired, the planning is much more involved.