When I lived in Massachusetts years ago, I had a good friend from Tennessee who used to give me gifts of irises. I learned that they were the state’s official flower. And for some reason I’ve always remembered that. Now that I am a resident of Memphis tucked away in the far southwest corner of the state and bordered by the Mississippi River, I’ve come to truly appreciate irises. Especially in early August. I never realized how many varieties and colors there were.
Because of their rich colors and textures, irises have for a long time been a beloved subject for artists. Though these irises aren’t from Tennessee, they were painted by an artist who shares my Dutch ancestral heritage.
And so this painting became my inspiration to create a rep weave wall hanging based on the colors and design of van Gogh’s irises. My weaving is not completed yet, but here’s a glimpse while it still sits on my loom.
Instead of a field of irises, I designed three large blooms in three different shades of purple. When completed, this wall hanging will measure approximately 30″ wide and 50″ long. I wanted to capture a “prairie style” block design with a visual imagery of long columns and squared off blocks – a suitable pattern to rep weave structure. My warp is 5/2 perle cotton doubled and threaded at 24 ends per inch. I find that the doubled cotton strands cover the weft nicely when sett at this epi. My weft requires two shuttles as the weft rows alternate thick and thin yarn, as is customary in rep weave. The thick weft is comprised of two strands of 100% cotton, Peaches and Creme by Elmore-Pisgah. The doubled peaches and cream strands are wound around the ski shuttle. The color is olive which is primarily seen at the selvages. The thin weft yarn is a 16/2 cotton in turquoise that I just found in my stash. This is wound on the bobbin in the boat shuttle. And so each shuttle is thrown alternately in successive rows to create the design in the pattern.
This piece is almost finished, and once the ends are hemmed and sewn , then I will post a photo of it here. But as with all my other work, during the weaving process I am always thinking of my next project. And I so fell in love with van Gogh’s painting that I think that I’ll stick with the theme of irises. But I may try to design narrower columns and smaller blocks of color so that the finished piece will more resemble an entire field of irises instead of just three individual beauties.