Our October Interweave, A Study in Angles class was wonderfully challenging and exciting! Our students, Susan and Anne, were both enthusiastic and ready to try new things.

This was Anne’s first time at a loom. The first couple days were a little tricky, though you wouldn’t be able to tell by the beauty of her piece or the progress she was making! The final day, Anne dove into some building techniques to approach the angles and had no troubles at all. By the end of class she had finished a beautiful ocean-inspired piece.

Susan has been weaving for some time now, but had not had much time to explore tapestry techniques. She decided on a very complex design, using multiple angle techniques at the same time. The third day, she decided to play around with some other techniques, including ojos and wavy lines. We finished class with a quick intro into vertical joints, leaving Susan with a beautiful sampler and a great knowledge base for her exploration of tapestry weaving!

Interweave Susan 1

Susan’s Tapestry, Day 2

Interweave Ann 1

Anne’s Tapestry, Day 2

Interweave Susan 2

Susan’s Tapestry, Day 3

Interweave Ann 2

Anne’s Tapestry, Day 3

Interweave Susan Ann Class

Teresa, Susan and Anne at the end of class!

Ciao,
Teresa Loveless and all of us here at Weaving Southwest

PS – Thanks for joining us Susan and Anne! It was wonderful having you all in class!

PPS – We would love to hear from you! How do you think their pieces turned out? Leave a comment in the comment section to let us know what you think!

Would you like to receive free fiber related information & inspiration from us? Sign up for our weekly newsletter!

* indicates required



15 The First Tapestry

The First Tapestry, Original Tapestry by Rachel Brown, hand-dyed, hand-spun yarn,
54″ x 78″, 1960

This weaving was inspired by looking at the reflection in the window of my husband’s abstract paintings. The reflection in the window made the forms distorted and wavy.

I worked for the welfare department and my district was northern New Mexico. So I was always looking at beautiful colored sheep. I didn’t buy the yarn from the ranchers, I bought the raw fleece. I would go into their house and ask them if they had any wool from that sheep. I would come home with my trunk full of wool and ticks. So that was a nasty experience. But I met some wonderful ranchers.

I received some beautiful natural grey, black and brown fleeces. I found out that when you see a brown sheep in the field it doesn’t mean it’s brown- it’s black with sun-bleached tips so it looks brown.

One of the ranchers was Ariano and a few years later I went up to that same area because I was interested in land up there. I met him when he was 75 years old. He was sitting on his horse, upright, and trotting along like he was a 25 year old. And that fleece I handspun myself on the spinning wheel that my husband built for me, which is the prototype of the Rio Grande wheel.

Incidentally, my husband’s name was Malcolm Brown, who’s quite a well-known Taos artist of the 50’s. Along with a group of other artists, they were known as the Taos Moderns.

After I spun the yarn, I washed it and dyed it with commonplace Rit dyes because I’ve always done colored textiles. I created silk-screened printed textiles and I majored in color at my college at Radcliffe.

Incidentally, when I worked at the welfare department, out job was to visit the families in the field, which doesn’t mean “in the fields”, it just means in our work area in northern New Mexico. I love the district that I was given because it was all wool ranchers and their families. And then I would come back to the office and dictate into a machine and the secretaries would transcribe my stories.

This tapestry was woven on a Navajo loom, which I learned about in my readings. I set up a large Navajo loom because I certainly didn’t have a regular loom to weave on. I learned the hard way about weaving on a Navajo loom. I started on one end and I thought aha! I’ll be clever and just turn the loom upside down and start at the other end and weave it together in the middle. Well, I found out that that is not a good way to work on a Navajo loom. The Navajo loom is designed to have a very strong tension on the warp and is much more rigid on the end than it is on the middle so I made that mistake once. I never made that one again.   –Rachel Brown

Ciao,
Teresa and all of us here at Weaving Southwest

PS Does this tapestry inspire you? Remind you of anything? Have you seen this piece in person? We would love to hear from you! Leave a message in the comment section to let us know what you think!

Would you like to receive free fiber related information & inspiration from us? Sign up for our weekly newsletter!

* indicates required



01 Point of Departure

Point of Departure, Original Tapestry by Rachel Brown, hand-dyed wool, 41.5″ x 40.5″, 1989

For many of my weavings I have a system of design, inspired by a linear design on an American Indian pot. Then I chose my colors to gradate and alternate. The colors go from yellow to orange through red. Then the natural colors that alternate range from natural beige and white though gray and darker gray and finally black.

This weaving was chosen by Janet Webb to be on the cover of the Taos Vacation Guide for the year 1997 to 1998. –Rachel Brown

Ciao,
Teresa and all of us here at Weaving Southwest

PS – Does this tapestry inspire you? Remind you of anything? Have you seen this piece in person? We would love to hear from you! Leave a message in the comment section to let us know what you think!

Would you like to receive free fiber related information & inspiration from us? Sign up for our weekly newsletter!

* indicates required



We have had yet another wonderful round of Habitat, A Study in Verticals! These five wonderful students kept me on my toes the whole time. We had a wonderful few days together and everyone walked away with their own beautiful tapestry! Lyle had chosen a very complex design, so I had him stay on an extra morning to finish it up. This class was a great success! Below is a photo essay of the class. Enjoy!

Habitat_Class_1

Habitat, A Study in Verticals with Lyle, Jane, Lynda, Shari, and Lee Anne

Habitat_LeeAnn_1

Lee Anne’s Tapestry, Day 1

Habitat_LeeAnn_2

Lee Anne’s Tapestry, Day 2

Habitat_LeeAnn_3

Lee Anne’s Tapestry: Day 3

Habitat_Weaving_1

Lyle and Jane weaving in our studio

Habitat_Shari_1

Shari’s Tapestry, Day 1

Habitat_Shari_2_New

Shari’s Tapestry, Day 2

Habitat_Shari_3

Shari’s Tapestry, Day 3

Habitat_Lynda_1

Lynda’s Tapestry, Day 1

Habitat_Lynda_2_New

Lynda’s Tapestry, Day 2

Habitat_Lynda_3

Lynda’s Tapestry, Day 3

Habitat_Weaving_2

Teresa showing Lee Anne a few techniques

Habitat_Jane_1

Jane’s Tapestry, Day 1

Habitat_Jane_2

Jane’s Tapestry, Day 2

Habitat_Jane_3

Jane’s Tapestry, Day 3

Habitat_Lyle_1

Lyle’s Tapestry, Day 1

Habitat_Lyle_2

Lyle’s Tapestry, Day 2

Habitat_Lyle_3

Lyle’s Tapestry, Day 3

Habitat_Lyle_4

Lyle’s Tapestry, Day 4

Habitat_Class_2

Jane and Lyle with their finished tapestries!

Ciao,

Teresa Loveless and all of us here at Weaving Southwest

PS – Thanks for joining us Lee Anne, Shari, Lynda, Jane and Lyle! It was wonderful having you all in class!

PPS – We would love to hear from you! How do you think their pieces turned out? Leave a comment in the comment section to let us know what you think!

Would you like to receive free fiber related information & inspiration from us? Sign up for our weekly newsletter!

* indicates required



12 Despues Oaxaca

Despues Oaxaca, Original Tapestry by Rachel Brown, hand-dyed wool, 39.5″ x 39.5″, 2000

This weaving was done after I made a trip to Oaxaca with two weaver friends of mine. On that trip, we saw weavings by a certain artist. He had a special technique for doing curves, even vertical curves, which is very hard for a weaver to do without having all these stepping-stones. Using his techniques I made smooth, round curves and a design similar to one of his designs. –Rachel Brown

Ciao,
Teresa and all of us here at Weaving Southwest

PS – Does this tapestry inspire you? Remind you of anything? Have you seen this piece in person? We would love to hear from you! Leave a message in the comment section to let us know what you think!

Would you like to receive free fiber related information & inspiration from us? Sign up for our weekly newsletter!

* indicates required



We have been in our new space here in Arroyo Seco for a year now! Over the last few months we have been honored to bring several of our local artists back into our shop. We now have five of our tapestry and rug artists and three of our apparel artists work displayed here. We are working on uploading everyone to the website, for you all to see!

This starts a series of blog posts featuring each of our artists. Today we would like to welcome back Donna Loraine Contractor! Below is her artist statement, the description of her process, a little about why she weaves and her current work and a little about her relationship with Weaving Southwest. Of course, we’ve included several photos of the tapestries we have of hers in the shop! Photos are great, but seeing these pieces in person is incredible. She uses our hand-dyed tapestry yarn to create beautiful pieces of art. Enjoy!

Donna Loraine Contractor, Artist

Donna Loraine Contractor was born in Waukegan, IL and came to New Mexico to attend St. John’s College in Santa Fe. Since she moved to Albuquerque 23 years ago, she has won over 30 art competitions and commissions throughout the state and country. Contractor’s work incorporates the landscapes and colors of New Mexico with bold contemporary architectural frames that create depth and optical illusions. The late Douglas Kent Hall, in The Thread of New Mexico, said, donna photo ( photo credit Sandra Coreless)4_jpg“Contractor combines unlikely dynamic forms with a scintillating palette to achieve an evocative and compelling style of weaving. She utilized traditional….concepts as well as certain graphic constructs that fueled the work of many twentieth-century painters and brings to contemporary tapestry a freshness that is sometimes startling.”

Contractor was named a Local Treasure for her contribution to the Duke City’s visual art scene by the Albuquerque Art Business Association in 2008. In 2002 she created the Bravos Award for the Arts Alliance – a series of small weavings. She operates an apprenticeship program at her Nob Hill studio. She has won numerous art competitions and commissions such as a triptych for the City/County Building in Albuquerque and a large tapestry for the Bernalillo County Courthouse. Other accolades include the display of her tapestries at the Albuquerque Museum, MFA at Santa Fe and an appearance on a HGTV special. Donna’s work is shown and collected throughout the United States and abroad. Her Tapestries were awarded “BEST OF SHOW” 2 years in a row at the Weems Artfest in Albuquerque. Two of her Tapestries in the Fractured Square series were installed in public spaces through the New Mexico State Public Art Program. One is located in the Zimmerman Library on the UNM, Albuquerque Campus and the other in the emergency room of St. Vincent’s Hospital in Santa Fe, NM. Most recently, two of Donna’s tapestries were featured in national magazines: Scientific American and American Craft Magazine.

…………………………………………..

DLC_NeonCurves and Rectangles(1)

Neon Orange Curves and Rectangles, Original handwoven tapestry by Donna Loraine Contractor, 79″ x 40″

…………………………………………..

Donna’s Process

Color is a source of constant joy for me and I delight in the full range of its use from the bold and surprising color combinations to the subtle gradations of a single color. The image of a window set within a frame, a view to another place, another reality, is a unifying theme in my work. The colors and the unique quality of light in the southwest make up a rich and diverse palette that I naturally make use of and the diverse forms of its land and skyscapes find their way into the window “views”.

I use wool as my medium because of its particular light reflecting characteristics that are so unique and beautiful. No pigment on paper could reproduce the texture and luminosity of the hand dyed and tightly spun wool that I use in my tapestries. I am very concerned about creating a fine textile which is the vehicle for my image; each should be of the highest caliber. I use a flat tapestry technique, with no slits or holes ensuring the integrity of the tapestry as a piece of cloth. The tapestries are hand woven with 100% wool and have been moth-proofed. The wool has been hand-dyed, giving the colors richness as well as some slight variations and is light fast. I use a strong cotton warp, the underlying structure of the weaving, which is finished at the ends with a hand-manipulated edging technique, then finely braided and looped to fit around acrylic poles, which are provided for installation. All the tapestries are fully finished on both sides, as I laboriously sew in the tails of yarn from color changes, enabling the work to be free hung or used as a room divider.

…………………………………………..

2_DLC_Black neon Square

Black Neon Square, Original handwoven tapestry by Donna Loraine Contractor, 38.25″ x 39.5″

…………………………………………..

Why Do I Weave?

The answer to this has many layers. The first is probably my love of machines. I fell in love with the pottery wheel and the loom at the same time, at the end of my college years. I walked into a “loom room”, never having been at close proximity before, and fell in love with the way it looked, the things it could do, and all of its parts.

Next layer would be a love of the materials, from the strong smooth cotton warp to the luster of hand-dyed wools and the sparkle of silks. In the future I hope to be using some unusual materials which I am falling in love with like stainless steels, paper and UV changing fibers.

One of the final layers would be my love of the metaphor. This is present in the very act of “weaving” and is woven into my choice of imagery such as the use of the “window” and in my current theme of mathematics which is the underlying balancing force of the natural world.

…………………………………………..

2_DLC_BLUES & GOLDS

Blues and Golds, Original handwoven tapestry by Donna Loraine Contractor, 30″ x 20″

…………………………………………..

About Donna’s Work

I usually work on several pieces concurrently. The various themes and motifs of the pieces cross-pollinate each other, the patterns and pleasing ratios found all around us: the golden mean, the spiral of a seed head or the placement of branches on a tree. The three specific bodies of work that I am working on concurrently are:

The Architectonic Series is challenging me to create three-dimensional imagery from a two dimensional plane. Hand-dyed and tightly spun wool, with its particular, beautiful, light-reflecting characteristics produce a texture and luminosity that no pigment on paper could.

The Universal Language Series draws from my background in liberal arts at St. John’s College, and my studies of Chinese mathematical images. Circles, curves, and fractal patterns explore the concept of nets or webs, all in order to showcase the principles that order our world.

The Feng Shui Series is a meditation on color, balanced energy, and finessed design, combining symbols found in the I Ching with geometric forms and vivid hues. All the pieces in this series celebrate the precision and elegance of geometric forms and formulas and the beauty of color and balance.

…………………………………………..

2_DLC_Reds and Black Triptic

Black, Red and White Skinnies, Original handwoven tapestry by Donna Loraine Contractor, Skinny Runner One (Left) 50″ x 9″, Skinny Runner Two (Middle) 42″ x 9″, Skinny Runner Three (Right) 50″ x 9″

…………………………………………..

Donna and Weaving Southwest

I have been showing my tapestries and buying my yarns at Weaving Southwest since 1989. Rachel Brown was a great mentor and inspiration for me through the years. And I now feel privileged to be working with her lovely granddaughter, Teresa, whom I first met when she was 11 and working in her Grandma’s shop. I love supporting a local company when I am buying the essentials I need to create my tapestries and their large selection of hues, each in 5 shades, satisfy my love of color. The fact that they are hand-dyed in small dyelots adds to my color palette enormously and gives the yarn variations and luster that is lacking in commercially dyed yarns.
Over the years, Weaving Southwest has built a wonderful relationship with both artists and collectors and has established itself as the place to go for contemporary fine art tapestries of the highest caliber and I am proud to tell people that they can see my work there.

…………………………………………..

We hope you enjoyed this post and we would love to hear from you! What do you think of Donna’s work? Have you seen her work in person? Leave a message in the comment section to let us know what you think!

Would you like to receive free fiber related information & inspiration from us? Sign up for our weekly newsletter!

* indicates required