Driving back into Livermore from the Yosemite trips involved going over the Altamont Pass. After 38 years, and probably hundreds of trips over this pass, the view is still awesome.
Livermore is surrounded by golden hills. The windmills had not yet been erected. Once they started to appear, I wanted to show the hills as I remembered them in their pristine state. An image of the gold hills against the blue sky with freshly cut fire-breaks became a large tapestry.
The tapestry technique I use was developed by Theo Moorman, a weaver from England. It is a faster way to weave a pictorial image than traditional French tapestry. In traditional tapestry, wool yarn is woven in small sections on a thick warp and packed down tightly to make a heavy wall hanging.
Moorman tapestry can be done on almost any kind of warp. When the warp is wound, a fine, almost invisible, polyester thread is wound with it. The main warp is threaded alternately on harnesses one and two. The fine threads are threaded alternately on harnesses three and four. The background, which will be under the image, is woven as plain weave with harnesses one and three vs. harnesses two and four.
The colored yarns that make the image are laid across the background, while the fine thread on harness three is raised above them. When harness three is lowered, it holds down the colored yarn as the next background yarn is woven with harnesses two and four raised. Then harness four is raised, the colored thread laid in and harness four is lowered. The image is held in place by the fine threads.
This is a way of painting with yarn. All kinds of specialty yarns can be used to create abstract or realistic scenes.
In 1980, my boys were old enough to get up and make their own breakfast. My looms were in an upstairs room that by 10 a.m. became too hot to work in during the summer. I’d get up with Ray, pack his lunch, eat my breakfast, and then go upstairs and weave between 8:00 and 10:00 every day. Having two hours daily for weaving was wonderful, and resulted in many tapestries over the next four summers.