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A HANDWOVEN TAPESTRY
inspired by
the beautiful white Siberian tigress,
Sabrina

Designed
and woven by
Leslie Kiser
with
the assistance of
a multitude
of
tapestry students,
friends in need,
and casual passers-by
while under construction at Woolenworks
in McKinney, Texas
1995-1998




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continue to


A RARE CREATURE



PORTRAYED
IN A RARE MEDIUM













A TIGRESS IN TEXAS
Shown here approximately 3/4 complete.
Continue. The documentation of the creation of a tapestry featuring a beautiful tiger while meandering thru topics tidbits
A RARE CREATURE PORTRAYED IN A RARE MEDIUM





A TIGRESS IN TEXAS
7 1/2' by 4'


Shown here still attached to its primitive frame loom,
A TIGRESS IN TEXAS
is a contemporary handwoven tapestry.

For most, the word tapestry brings to mind the monumental wall hangings in drafty Medieval European castles.
In truth, by the Middle Ages, tapestry weaving was already a well established industry
and a very sophisticated medium.

Surprisingly, in our world of assembly-line mass-production,
there still exist a handful of artisans dedicated (committed) to the creation of tapestries,
using the techniques perfected thousands of years ago.

The subject is a regal white Siberian Tiger.
In danger of extinction in her own land of origin, this impressive yearling proudly oversees her realm
- a small piece of North Texas real estate, known as The Texas Exotic Feline Foundation.



The best known tapestries depict unicorns, as in this detail from the 16th century.
Although we consider the unicorn to be a mythical being, to the people of that era, it was real.
Sadly, in the very near future, the existence of the Siberian Tiger may also become only a memory.



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For most, the word "tapestry" conjures up images of drafty Medieval castles with monumental handwoven pictoral wall hangings. Many would be surprised to know that in our world of assembly-line mass-production, there still exists a small number of artisans dedicated to the creation of tapestries using the techniques perfected hundreds of years ago.






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PAINT BY NUMBERS WITH YARN
premise for class...prewarped loom and design supplied



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But let's go back to the beginning.













The weaving starts at the bottom and at first we must sit on the ground. Outside, it's a typical Texas upper 90 degree plus summer, but the cement floor of Woolenworks in McKinney is amazingly cool.

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The loom consists of three vertical 2 x 4's, a diagonal to keep it "square", and two horizontal notched beams to hold the warp evenly spaced. (The warp is the white vertical string stretched tightly up and down between the horizontals that provides the foundation for the weaving.)

With seven feet of weaving width, there is elbow room for three weavers, although at times, the design forces one or more weavers to wait for an adjacent area to be completed before they can proceed, somewhat like laying bricks.

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As the weaving progresses we must elevate ourselves to the current working level by sitting on gradually taller pillows and chairs. Eventually we will stand on step stools to reach the highest areas.

If this were a more sophisticated (and expensive) loom, the weaving itself would be advanced to keep the working level even with the weavers, not unlike film in a camera.



However, I prefer this primitive frame loom for numerous reasons, the most important of which is that you can see the entire image area while you work, making subsequent design choices easier.

Otherwise, only a small section of the work is visible, making it necessary to continually "rewind" to view the progress or photograph the piece for reference as you go.









Here's the back of the tapestry. All the weaving has been completed and it has been cut from the loom, but there is still plenty of work to do.

All of the warp ends must be secured using the damascus knot. At 3 1/2 warp ends per inch (think pixels, if you're computer literate), that's 2940 warp ends and 2939 knots. And that's just the top!! There are just as many knots to tie on the bottom as well.

The top and bottom fold overs must be, .... ummmmh well .... , folded over to provide a firm, solid foundation for mounting on a horizontal board. Using not so ancient techniques involving velcro and (shudder) hot glue, the piece is truely finished and ready for installation.






This should provide some scale.







This link takes you to Bryan Livingston's Online Graphics Generator.