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The Woe of the Prophet Isaiah

The Woe of the Prophet Isaiah

Unlike my sons and many other people, I never got in the habit of playing music all day. Instead, I have a habit of running the radio while I do routine household chores. Last Friday, radio news reports were playing clips about new state laws regarding abortion, when into my mind popped a memory of a tapestry I had woven in 1981, about this time of year.

I had begun weaving pictorial tapestries based on verses of scripture in the summer of 1980. This idea grew out of a number of years of reading through the Bible in a year. I actually enjoyed the Old Testament more than the New Testament. I underlined verses that I liked, but I didn’t mark up page after page.

Isaiah 5:20 is one of two verses I underlined in the first ten chapters of Isaiah.

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil     

            Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;

            Who substitute bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”

                                                  (New American Standard 1975)


Tapestry based on Isaiah 5:20

My weaving shows lemon juice being squeezed into a pot labeled ‘Honey’, a light bulb that is black giving off blue light, and a fetus in the womb being attacked with a dagger. The word ‘Woe’ appears twice in the tapestry. The prophet Isaiah begins his thoughts with ‘Woe’ six times in chapter five.

While Roe v. Wade had been the law since 1973, the debate in 1980s, as I remember it, centered around the question of when did the “tissue” become human. Now, forty some years later, our country is still making changes in the way we interpret and apply this law. Personally, I believe abortion is wrong, but I do not think it should be illegal.

I think Isaiah’s words could be applied to many things in our present day. And, like in his day, our leaders pay no attention to prophets or history.

I’m not reading the Bible through each year any more, but regardless of our political affiliation or none, as citizens, we need to call out our leaders when they allow evil to be called good, and when they prefer secrecy and darkness to openness and light.


Complex Weaving When Life was Simpler

Complex Weaving When Life was Simpler

Undulating Twill with Tropical Fish

When I moved to the West coast in 1978, I had been weaving for twelve years, and was hoping to get some fresh inspiration from California weavers. The annual weaving conferences and availability of several guilds in the Bay Area provided more ideas and friendships than I ever expected.

At one of the conferences, I became acquainted with Mary Elizabeth Laughlin who had published a book called “More Than Four” in 1976. She was always urging weavers to join Complex Weavers, an international group that shares information and encouragement about weaving with more than four harnesses. I was a member for several years until I became a full time college student.

I was already using multiple harnesses on the first loom I bought which has twelve harnesses. I was designing garments and household linens using more than four. In 1980, I was making tapestries based on verses of scripture using the Moorman technique, which features a plain weave background while the tapestry is yarn laid-in on the top and held in place by very fine strong threads.

In 1983, while I was making the church tapestries, which I wrote about in the blog on January 31, 2018, I began to think about doing tapestry over a more complex base weaving for my entry in the guild conference booth.

I selected a nine-harness design from a book by Oelsner, “A Handbook of Weaves” originally

Detail of Weaving

published in 1915. This is an undulating twill that looks something like ripples in water.

Over this cotton and rayon base fabric, I added three tropical fish and a few strands of seaweed. I also used the rest of this warp to make a wedding gift for a dear friend.

Looking at the tapestry today, and the book where I found the pattern, I wonder how I did that 35 years ago. I guess life was less distracting then.

If you visit me, you can see it up close in the guest bathroom of my home in Stockton.

Color – Influence or Reflection?

Color – Influence or Reflection?

Lilies in Marilyn’s garden

My garden was a riot of color in April and May, but it is settling into a more sustainable level of bloom for the hot months ahead. The lilies above show up while rose bushes and other plants are reorganizing to bloom again. Having brilliant color in my life is so important to me.

In the years I was weaving, I accumulated a good size stash of spooled and coned yarns in an enormous color range, and I still have a lot of it. Last week, as I made a repair on a woven item that I had picked up at an estate sale, I looked though my cabinets trying to find similar colors.

Just looking at the colored yarns is a delight, an emotional tug to play with them again. I get lost in the color so easily. Color is a huge influence on what I’m attracted to, and this is probably true for most people. Like who pays attention to ads with small black type on a white background?

This seems to be innate in creation—birds and insects are attracted by the colors of plants that will provide them the food they need. I’m personally most attracted to greens, particularly those that lean toward blue, like teal and aqua. I’m so attracted to this color that I can easily spot burr clover anywhere in my yard. If I see an item of clothing this color in a store, I must stop and look at it.

The emphasis on grey for decorating makes no sense to me. There is no energy in this boring color. So, when I come across articles in magazines or the newspaper promoting this trend I ignore them. Two years ago my dentist started to redecorate her office a little at a time. Now the walls, floor, and counters are all shades of grey, with black window blinds. It doesn’t look bad, but it is somehow disturbing. Going to the dentist is depressing enough.

From my limited perspective, it seems that the people who decide on the colors for the manufacture of clothing, vehicles, and home or business decor are in dense urban environments with lots of concrete. So we have car dealers displaying black, white, and grey cars and trucks, with a few bright reds.

For the last number of years the color of clothing, even for summer, tends to be dark, muted, and mottled. Not to mention that the styles do little to enhance the appearance of our less than perfect bodies.

On the other hand, I see photos in my local newspaper of ordinary citizens promoting and attending community events that are full of color and energy.

The question in my mind is: are the designers trying to influence how we feel about our culture through the colors they choose, or are they reflecting the mood of the culture they are part of?


“I Am the Vine, You are the Branches” John 15:5-6

“I Am the Vine, You are the Branches” John 15:5-6

“I Am the Vine, You Are the Branches.”

Having just observed Good Friday and Easter, I remember weaving a tapestry illustrating these verses. I was a member of the Creative Weavers Guild of Walnut Creek, California.

At that time, the Conference of Northern California Handweavers (CNCH) had an annual conference which featured displays by all the weaving guilds. It was a big deal. Many guilds selected a theme for their display.

In 1982, my guild decided to have a wine theme, so if we wanted to participate, we had to make something related to wine, or use the colors associated with wine. I was in the middle of a series of weavings based on verses of scripture and had no interest in things related to wine, so I didn’t particularly like the theme, but I wanted to show my work at the conference.

Then, I remembered these verses where Jesus uses the grape vine as a metaphor for how His kingdom functions. He said His Father, God, owned the vineyard. Jesus said He was the vine which provides resources to the branches that will bear the fruit. He points out that the branches cannot bear fruit if they become separated from the main vine, and if the branches do not bear fruit they are pruned back or cut off.

I designed a stylized grape vine where one side is flourishing with fruit, and a small, broken, and withered vine is dying on the other side. In the shading on the trunk of the vine is the crucifix which some people will recognize and others won’t notice. I was able to use the many colors associated with wine.

Today, this tapestry looks down on my studio work table. It blends in nicely with the cream-color, textured wall, and picks up the colors of the stones in the fireplace and the red tile floor. And it reminds me that I need to produce some fruit with the supplies and resources I have available to me.

Hunting for a Career

Hunting for a Career

Tapestries hanging in church lobby

In the summer of 1982 I had been weaving tapestries based on verses of scripture for two and a half years. The Handweavers Guild of America (HGA) was holding its biennial conference in Tacoma, WA and there was a workshop called Ecclesiastical Weaving which sounded interesting.

The conference lasts a week, so Ray and I came up with a plan to combine my interest with a family vacation. He didn’t want to hang out all week while I was at the workshop, but he knew a guy at work who had a motor home we could rent.

I flew to Tacoma, and at the end of the week Ray, Chris, and Dave drove up I-5 to pick me up. We spent a day in Seattle, had lunch at the Space Needle, and then started down the coast for home. We stopped often to check out the beaches. Ray read his stamp collector newsletters, I picked up shells, and the boys ran off their energy.

As we were riding along, I was trying to decide if I was going to try doing weaving for churches as a business. I had grown up in the Lutheran church where they have vestments—cloth covers for the altar, lecterns, hangings, and other items such as a stole for the pastor. Vestments are changed throughout the year as different aspects of the faith are considered in the music, readings, and sermons. Many denominations used these items at that time.

I decided to ask the pastor of the nondenominational church I attended if I could weave something for the church. My intention was to keep records of the time I spent and costs of materials as if I were doing a commission. The pastor thought it was a wonderful idea. The church had a new sanctuary and a good size lobby which he was eager to decorate.

We discussed what he would like to see in that space, and gave me the theme of: “Jesus Builds His Church.” I made some small drawings, we set a target date for completion, and I got busy. I made full size drawings for the six panels, each measuring 72 inches by 40 inches. I put a fourteen yard warp on my counterbalance loom. This was a huge project. My records say I worked on it from September 1982 to December 1983.

As the weaving went along, I found that I needed to weave a certain number of inches each day in

“Sending the Spirit” one panel of church project.

order to stay on schedule. If I missed a day, I had to get caught up. I found that I was having a relationship with the loom rather than people. This really hit home when I had to leave a holiday luncheon early to get my inches done!

As a practice to see how it would be to do this as a job, this was an excellent trial. I realized I had no idea how I would market myself. (“Market” myself wasn’t even a concept in 1983.) I hadn’t been a member of a liturgical church for five years. Once the major creative work was done, I got bored with the project and just wanted to finish it.

Early in 1984, the community college in Livermore offered a class for women who were thinking of returning to school. The rest is history.

And let me remind you that you can read what happened before and after the tapestries here.



“In Him All Things Hold Together” Colossians 1:17

“In Him All Things Hold Together” Colossians 1:17

In the early 1980’s I was weaving tapestry and I did a series illustrating verses of scripture that I liked.

“In Him All Things Hold Together”

This one is a double weave with Moorman Tapestry added. Double weave means two layers of fabric being woven at the same time. The weaver can decide to bring some of the bottom layer onto the top to make the design she has in mind. This is a time consuming process, but one that I enjoyed.

The lettering is the bottom layer of fabric woven on top, and the stars and Milky Way are also made with the bottom layer. The hands and the colored nebulae are the tapestry part which floats on top of the black layer.

I remember trying to get one of my sons to hold a ball long enough for me to do a drawing of the hands.

The thread on the loom (warp) for the top layer is black Orlon with black silk for the tapestry tie-down threads. The warp for the under layer is a variegated rayon in pinks and violet. I wove across the warp with black wool on the top layer and the pink rayon on the bottom layer.

Upon seeing this finished piece, one of my best friends told me it would be a perfect gift for her husband, who is a meteorologist, and she wanted to buy it. I couldn’t tell her no!  The tapestry hung in her entrance hall for many years and I got to see it whenever I visited her.

While this isn’t a Christmas tapestry, I think its message is an important reminder for our times. The baby we celebrate at Christmas is the One who holds it all together.

Scripture teaches He has been holding things together since the beginning of creation. When we feel like we will fly apart into a million pieces, He holds us together, whether we believe in Him or not.

And He holds this scary world together today. And He is faithful.

Wishing you a blessed holiday.



Catching an Idea by its Tail

Catching an Idea by its Tail

I managed to turn my creative world in-side-out on Monday. It’s a good thing to do at the end of a year, especially if you’ve recently completed a large project.

Writing the memoir, “Looking for Connection,” took three years, actually about four years from when I hand-wrote the first few chapters. And this last year getting it edited and ready to publish filled many days.

My art making this year included one basket early in the year after a wind storm littered my yard with palm fronds. I enjoyed two days of classes with Finnibar in April. I painted silk prayer flags and made Gelli prints with my three granddaughters on the weekend June met July. I designed the cover for my book and a small card I could hand to people when I mentioned my book.

My garden became a jungle and my studio space gathered dust, piles of paper, and ephemera I couldn’t throw away. With the lovely weather in the last month, the yard is pretty much cleaned up and ready for winter, which I hope will be rainy.

Some months ago, I noticed a number of lose screws on the old counter-balance loom which fills a quarter of my art making space. A week ago, the idea flashed through my mind that instead of putting new screws into the loom, why not break it down and store it for awhile since I’m not planning to weave in the near future.

Counter-balance Loom

Catching that idea by the tail, I began to think about where I might have room to store it. The first idea was under my bed, but as the week progressed I started measuring my back yard storage space. After a donation to the local thrift store of suitcases and pillows I no longer use, I had space cleared out for it.

So when the younger woman who cleans for me once a month arrived Monday morning, I told her we were going to take apart the loom. I had disassembled it and stored it in the 1990’s when I was going to graduate school. But now there are parts of it that are too heavy for me to lift by myself.

Once the loom pieces were carefully stored, the studio floor got a much needed cleaning. And all the boxes, bags, and containers that were scattered everywhere under tables and in corners are now on top of every available surface, while I play with how to arrange that space with an intention to work in collage and mixed media in the coming year.

It’s like Christmas as I open containers and discover things I had forgotten about or couldn’t recall where I’d put them. I expect it will take me a month or so to thoughtfully reorganize my studio space and get my thoughts on where I hope to go with my art, instead of where I have been already.



Life seems to be extremely distracting lately. Just keeping up with the disasters in the last two months is almost like a part-time job.

There was Irma slamming into the Keys where I’d been just two weeks earlier.  Puerto Rico was already in dire straits, but the government didn’t want to pay attention to it. Before the Las Vegas carnage was sorted out, Northern California caught fire. I know a couple who live in Santa Rosa, so I’ve been checking their Face Book page for updates daily. They did not get burned out.

In between the disasters we have protests and scandals to distract us further. In the early 1980’s when I was weaving a lot of tapestries, I thought sports had become a huge distraction in our nation. My husband watched all the sports: baseball, football, basketball, golf, car races, and Olympics. It was impossible to find an evening or weekend where we could consider matters of family importance because something was always on TV that he had to watch.

I made a collage-type drawing of sports, movie, and music with a crowd of people watching with their arms raised. I made a weaving and titled it “Looking for Someone to Worship.” It’s not a pretty weaving—not my best work.

Today I would call it “Distractions” because I still believe that sports and Hollywood get way more attention than they should. Personally, I don’t watch TV. This year it’s been on for


the inauguration and to track the hurricane.

I’m not saying that people should not enjoy a game, movie, or concert if they wish to. But do we spend time reading things that challenge our mind set and our goals?

When will we as a nation spend time, money, and energy on things that enhance our communities, our understanding of how our government should work, or finding solutions, that are without corruption, for real problems that never get addressed?

When will we require better results from our leaders? When will we stop supporting these man made distractions?

My Multi-harness Loom

My Multi-harness Loom

It does not seem to be in my nature to start out small when I have an exciting new interest. When I was learning to weave on a floor loom in 1967, I thought I would only have one loom so I got one that had ten harnesses so I could design complex patterns. At that time the weavers I knew had Macomber looms which were made to order so you could choose the width and the number of harnesses you wanted.

Last week my son added a video on my Face Book page which shows one of these looms and the artist is showing the process of threading the loom and preparing to weave on it. You can view it at 

I haven’t used my loom in several years, but I still have it and who knows what I might do in the future. I also have a granddaughter who loves crafts and perhaps she will want to learn weaving when she gets past the thrill of being a teen.

I guess having a hard time letting go of things is normal for the stage of life I’m in.

Do you have hang on to things for s

Two Trees

Two Trees

When I lived in Portsmouth, Virginia, we were two blocks away from the Elizabeth River which flows into the James River and then into Chesapeake Bay.

Across the river was City Park where I often took my two young sons. I was fascinated by two trees of different species that had grown together.

At the base of the strong straight tree a weaker tree leans left and a foot or so off the ground has grown into the stronger tree. They grow together for a long time until, way above my head, the smaller tree breaks free and begins to grow away from the supporting trunk. Further up its branches seem to be encircling the companion.

I made a sketch and took some photos.

Two Trees – top section

After moving to California, when I was

looking for subjects for tapestries, I wove

a seven foot long tapestry of these two trees.


It spoke to me of how a person may depend on someone else for stability until they have gained enough strength to reveal them self without needing to be totally separate from their companion.