The tapestry I am currently working on, "Killing the Dragon", is nearing completion and while this is thrilling the thought of starting the next tapestry is daunting.
Finishing a work is rather hypnotic. After months of work it is that last piece that pulls the whole thing together, that little piece of magic. Relatively speaking there is so little to do but it takes so long. I land up working long hard hours on that "last little bit".
Starting a new tapestry on the other hand involves a completely different mindset and is also strenuous in a different way. First I have to warp my loom. My loom has 280 pins on each of the top and bottom bars. I have to wind 2.5 meter lengths of cotton thread from top to bottom along all the pins. This involves stepping up onto a high stool, then down again 280 times while holding the tension steady on the thread. If I don't take a break (this is simply suicidal) it will take me about 2 hours. Each time I do this I spend the next two days contemplating the lie of the seemingly passive activity of tapestry weaving, mostly because my muscles ache and remind me constantly that I am indeed human.
Once the warp threads have been evenly attached I then have to cut and tie another 280 strings to every second string to create a shed. Altogether it takes an average of 850 meters of cotton thread to warp the loom and most of a day.
When the loom is ready I prepare the thread by dying, cutting and spinning the sheets of newspaper. Spinning one ball of newspaper thread takes about an hour, takes one page of newspaper and makes about 18 meters of thread. Depending on the complexity and denseness of the weaving each tapestry takes anything from 100 to 200 sheets of paper and 140 to 190 hours of quiet back and shoulder- aching work.
Now that I have all this to look forward to, I will concentrate on enjoying the relative luxury of simply weaving that "last little bit".
Warp - The threads stretched vertically on the loom
Weft - The horizontal threads crossing the warp
Shed - The opening between warp threads through which the weft is passed