Tapestry artists weave techniques – For folk weaving, there are appropriate weaving procedures for any decoration or weaving itself. Although weaving is generally creative, its performance develops according to standards over time and inheritance. While in tapestry, the principles of weaving practice differ in many ways. In the previous post, we explained the characteristics of the master weaving of medieval tapestry in Europe. Although the emphasis on artistic appearance, the dominant weaving centers developed specific tapestry weaving procedures. By spreading its influence throughout Europe and beyond, mixing with the achievements of local and national environments, the tapestry survived until the end of the 18th century.
Subsequent attempts at a renaissance of the archaic tapestry failed. Instead, of the old patterns, in the 20th century, Serbian artists enthusiastically joined the new Modern Tapestry trends. As I wrote in the previous post, Atelier 61 was part of a pioneering movement here. With the support of the social environment in the early stages, he was the backbone of the development of Serbian fashion tapestry.
Tapestry artists weave techniques – Conceptual and modes of artistic expression in the tapestry medium
After the initial experiences with village weavers, the originators of tapestry did not lose their focus on the specificity of a tapestry. That’s why a deviation from folklore soon arises. Artists who felt the spirit of the new medium encouraged the creative freedom of performing tapestry. The impetus for this in Atelier 61 gave Etelka Tobolka, a textile designer with some European experience.
Now I understand the essence of the task of a master of artistic weaving in tapestry work. At first, came up with a clear conceptual program for the Project. And then for the co-authors to apply the appropriate technical procedures. In some cases, the author of the concept sketch makes specific weaving procedures that expand the scope of the weaver’s skills. Or on the contrary, master weavers, by understanding the elements of the idea, propose solutions to upgrade the draft in agreement with the author.
Solid cotton is most often a warp in tapestry weaving, concerning a weft for weaving. And primarily multi-colored wool weavers use as weft but rarely hemp. There is an unlimited choice of materials of the most diverse types with the possibility of new solutions. I will try to present examples that illustrate well the achievement of the woven tapestry. When searching for the ideal of a clear expression of an artistic idea in the tapestry medium, weavers make a wide range of solutions.
CUBUS AUREA by Dušanka Botunjac (cycle “Imperial Records” 1989; 1992); 255 x 125 cm; hemp, gold lamé, tapestry technique; Co-authors: Radojka Ilić and Jelena Božić.
Undoubtedly, a work of timeless style, Cubus Aurea by Dušanka Botunjac, caught my attention at the Female Thread exhibition in 2022. Thus, she transforms weaving traditions into classic geometric or anthropomorphic compositions. The author moves within the natural values of wool. Thus, a palette of subtle relationships ensures color stability in her tapestries. Golden threads give elegance, and the long slits are reminiscent of a mosaic structure.
Left/above, Tapestry Cubus Aurea (1992) from the cycle Imperial Records. On the right/below, from the reverse side, we see a slit tapestry weave. Strips of gold lamé connect the traditional slit tapestry structure and achieve the luxury of the piece.
Tapestry artists weave techniques – Girl’s skirt, Danijelka Radovanović, 2004/2005; 196 x 270 cm; wool, cotton, combined technique. Co-authors Eva Đukić and Mirjana Dobanovački.
Evidently, a prominent designer of Textiles, Danijelka Radovanović, spent her working life as a museum restorer. In her original works, I see creativity soaring above the restoration routine. Then she sublimates the experiences of folklore weaving and transforms it into an inspiring spatial form. This “Girl’s Apron” is a sensational textile art form. On it, rustic stepped kneeling flirts with subtle tapestry shading. The parts are joined by hand embroidery with woolen thread.
Three objects in space, Nada Poznanović Adžić, 1996; 550 x 60 cm; wool, combined technique.
Basically, Nada Poznanović Adžić, like both previous authors, built her art based on weaving traditions. Made with basic interlaces, her tapestries aspire to space. In the spirit of new currents in tapestry, she finds a specific third dimension. Creates monumental playful textile verticals. Just exactly, is on tapestries. So, whether additional colors or even transparent forms, conventional weaves are always basic. But in motion, breaking away from the wall, playful with light and colors.
Our example is the object in the middle of the photo. It is a black layered vertical with lots of long slits. But it is intertwined with narrow long patterned fabrics of bright colors so that it shocks. The artist creates a contrasting interweaving of vivid colors within a woven flat tapestry structure in black with extremely long slits. Accordingly, she consistently uses (no) colors, black, white, and gray, and throws down on the observer the aggression of bright colors.
My next fascination is the complete opposite of the artistic challenges of monumentality in space. Namely, evidently, the refined manner is still stable in tapestry today, in which Atelier 61 is the reference environment. We see this after all the transformations since the 1950s through artists’ experimentation with materials and the third dimension.
Tapestry artists weave techniques – Letters, by Vajda Marija, 2013; 202 x 153 cm; wool, tapestry technique. Co-authors Mirjana Dobanovački and Željka Popadić.
The example shows the detailed execution of the content with a softly spun woolen weft. The crowded composition with a postal theme is still legibly “written” and radiates ideas of old-time communication. The work immediately attracts attention with the skill it displays. However, if it did not carry out strongly expressed contents, meticulous weave would leave us indifferent. But on the contrary, there the texture is the basis of the woven “storytelling”.
Letters by Vajda Marija, 2013.
There are numerous narrative elements on a light background of white, gray, bluish, and lilac tones. The surface is meticulously shaded by mixing thinned wool. While the thumbnails of the stamps stand out in color, everything is written in black and dark gray tones. All this is wonderfully framed by the dirty purple or dark mallow color. Otherwise, I have never seen in modern tapestry such specific handwriting as in the “Letter” produced by Atelier. “Letters”, a composition on the postal theme, legibly “written”, evokes the way of ancient communication.
Left/above, the stamp image of a bridge in Budapest has whitish and orange nuances. Right/below, in detail, the woven image of the seal illustrates the applied method of highlighting the drawing lines. Multiple threads of the dark weft are wrapping on a single thread of the warp.
Left/above, detail on the loom: setting thicker threads for “writing” multi-colored complex tones in tinting the surface. Right/below image, weaving tapestry “Letters” on a loom. There are countless wool dolls in shades that are constantly mixed during weaving. As always, the weaver clearly sees the cardboard behind the warp.
Tapestry artists weave techniques – Study of a Renaissance portrait (Branka Knežević Janković) and Dalmatian Coast (Lojze Spacial)
Two tapestries, Branka Knežević Janković’s Study of a Renaissance Portrait and Lojz Spacial’s Dalmatian Coast, follow. Both are on display, so any art observer can hardly find any element connecting them. It is a trick question due to the nature of the perception and sensory sensations of the tapestry.
The faces in the Study of the Renaissance portrait by B. Knežević are of gentle beauty, predominantly in shades of pink to dark brown. And the second one, the Dalmatian Coast, “attacks” you with a strong image of a contrasting black and white city, with a rough relief texture. Even doubled, like the reflection of a symmetrical shadow. And the compact figure rests on a bright orange background.
However, if you look closely at the fabric as I do, you will see that the warp threads lie horizontally, which is not technically feasible in weaving. That is why they resorted to the medieval or “Renaissance” procedure. I wrote about this in the previous post about the earlier tapestry era. Thus, in this case, the work is associated with the impression of Renaissance art. But also pragmatically, according to the way of working on the loom. Both cardboards were vertical, in the direction of the warp threads. Thus, the master inserts the weft at an angle of 90 degrees relative to the position of the presented composition.
Study of a Renaissance portrait, Branka Knežević Janković, 2019, cycle Renaissance portraits; 137 x 208 cm, wool. Co-authors: Jelena Božić and Verica Lazić.
Dalmatian Coast, Lojze Spacial, 1969 (2015); 148 x 192 cm, wool. Tapestry and loop technique; the effect of unspun wool. Signature lower left; monogram A61 lower right. Co-authors: Jelena Božić and Verica Lazić.
An insect by Vera Zarić, 1989; 202 (256) x 294 (346) cm; wool, a simple variant of tapestry weaving, bulging and looping from the decorative weft. Co-authors Tereza Horvat, Zuzana Andrašik, Radojka Ilić.
Although the artwork in many ways differs from the previous two, I continue with it, concerning its direction of weaving the weft. Because, in a simple variant of tapestry weaving, the weft is at an angle of 90 degrees to the position of the composition. However, it is hardly visible in black tissue. Especially as it is covered with visually contrasting ornamentation, executed with complex techniques of bulging and looping.
Vera Zarić expressed her striking artistry through several different media. Undoubtedly, the Tapestry stands out among them. precisely thanks to the work of Atelier 61. Thus, an intriguing example is the beetle tapestry, which shows the materialization of the painter’s experience of a tiny creature of God that devours a leaf in the chain of food and life.
The vascular network of a leaf is represented by a black rectangular piece of double thread weaving of a dense weft. But extends beyond the edges of the rectangle. The bug eats the soft leaf tissue. Executing patterns, weavers applied additional decorative wefts using bulging and looping effects.
Basically, the bug looks like a bulge, a technique applied with the effect of a wrapped cord soft of loose undyed wool. The beetle is robust and aggressive on the looped texture that represents the leaf. The looped web is predominantly dark red, with some remaining green areas. At this point, in the vocabulary of Atelier, it is understood as a bulging technique. However, the same type is defined in conventional weaving as a complex weave with an additional decorative weft with loops.
Tapestry artists weave techniques – He, she and those, Ulrika Mokdad, 2018; 205 x 160 cm; wool, tapestry technique, and shading (ashur). Co-authors Eva Đukić and Vesna Grbić
Danish tapestry has been living its renaissance since the 1900s, and today, the Baltic countries nurture a mature current tapestry. Colony Boško Petrović has been hosting Danish representatives since 2014. Due to the freshness of the expression, I single out Ulrike Mokdad`s work He, She and Those, 2018: wool, tapestry weaving technique; and through the exchange of ideas, the weavers of the Atelier 61 added to their Catalog a new modality of shading stylized shapes, called the “ashur” technique.
Tapestry artists weave techniques – Black–white–colored, Kvasnicja Ambicka Lileja, 2002. 209 x 221 cm; wool, hemp, decorative yarns (fishing thread, plush, silver lamé); tapestry technique, sumac. Co-authors Jelena Božić and Mirjana Dobanovački.
Therefore, the tapestry artist from Lviv, Ukraine, participated in the 4th Colony of tapestry artists Boško Petrović in 2001. I like this artwork, illustrative as the artistic idea and achieved color effects and performance techniques. Thus, there is a three-part composition on an approximately square surface. The central vertical is a coloristically dynamic series of intense colors made using the sumac technique. But, in the side parts of the composition, the accents are on the application of yarns (plush, fishing line, scattered hemp, and silver lamé).
The left and right sides are positive and negative. The white shape is on the black, and the other, the black on the white background. While the central stripe is woven with unbleached hemp, with thin silver lamé. A series of biconical shapes are the same width, but their height decreases to flat at the bottom.
Tapestry artists weave techniques – Yellow brick road, Dragana Kuprešanin, 2022. 148 x 211 cm, wool; Co-author Milica Kovač.
Evidently, the work is from the thematic circle City of Comics, from nine selected tapestry designs. Created by combining the art of comics and tapestry. The tapestry series represents the Everyday Heroes of an exhibition in October 2022. Formally and dynamically, the tapestry is a comic sequence of symbols in characteristic speech bubbles. And on the other hand, actually looks like a joyful tufted childish carpet. The composition of multi-colored wool is a catalog of standard tapestry techniques.
Yellow brick road
The weave surface is in the typical tapestry technique of woolen yarn. But all additional decorative content is wool. The artist chose a lot of different, contrasting colors. Also, the quality of spinning and twisting varies. The dynamic mixture of colors is in unusual combinations of interlaces. We can see and “hear” the sounds of the comics’ speech. This strange combination of colors and interweaving is consistent on larger surfaces and in every detail.
Lumps, knots, loops, sumac…
Embossed surfaces are varied: winding the thread into lump protrusions, then knots. Somewhere, the hand gathered the loops in the sumac technique. And the sumac also varies, diagonally in one direction or herringbone. Then the tufts raise around the flat star. All the different applied variants combine in the colorful relief texture of this cheerful tapestry. That’s how the water fists reach for the speech bubble in which there is a box of sumac…
The Garden, Maja Žižakov 2010; 194 x 142 cm; hemp, Tapestry technique, cord effect. Co-authors Eva Đukić and Mirjana Dobanovački.
At first, the earthly and heavenly worlds intertwine in the artwork of Maya Žižakov. Surrounded by the yellow ground, on the blue base, is the Garden of Paradise evokes a peace that mortals strive for.
Tapestry, Garden (of Paradise)
Evidently, weavers used hemp thread as the weft for the entire tapestry. On a blue square field sand color with a darker earth pattern frames the central flower. So, soft hemp yarn and the scattered fiber emerge unevenly on the surface. Which gives a touch of rusticity to this delicate piece. The special effect is the cord shape. These are circles around the flower and cords of grayish-blue ribbons. Indeed, spots of olive green and grayish color partially derive from the image as parts of the surface.
Tapestry artists weave techniques – Composition by Sava Halugin, 1986; 193 x 219 cm; wool, decorative yarn; tapestry technique and “cord” effect. Co-authors Ana Šijački and Eva Đukić.
Author Sava Halugin is a sculptor of vibrant works and a researcher in several art media. He extends his artistic ideas through drawing, painting, and sculpture. However, I will now pay attention to the tapestry entitled Composition in the Fund of Atelier 61. It really surprised me, given my preconceived notions about the work of the celebrated sculptor.
Certainly, the tapestry, a white woolen fabric from afar on the wall, is like paper or a painter’s canvas. The noble softness of white wool appears from the meticulous weave surface. A composition of softly stylized shapes with subtle contour lines. Shading the figures may give an impression similar to the sculpture here. So I sense a theme from his series of sculpted forms in bronze.
The central sensation of the tapestry is the cord effect, otherwise a mode from the arsenal of Atelier 61. Here it is a plastic intervention in the flat surface of the tapestry. In the delicate artistic composition, intertwining thick cords of circular cross-sections jump out. I suspect that it could have been the idea of the co-authors.
Tapestry artists weave techniques – Morrigan, Mira Djurić, 1987; 127 x 191 cm; wool, bulging, and tufted technique the effect unspun wool. Co-authors Tereza Horvat and Žužana Andrašik.
The already irregular format of the tapestry directs attention to the marvelous bird. Possibly an association with the omniscient goddess Morrigan from Celtic mythology. She seems to have taken the form of a bird. Because transformation is one of the powers of the morbid deity.
Although the entire surface consists of two muted blue and earth colors, the character has a complex design. In the subtle combination of colors, the effect of packing unspun wool, woven using the bulging technique, stands out. Cotton thread restrains those wool fiber piles. Thus, the artist emphasized the robust appearance of the tapestry composition.
Tapestry artists weave techniques – Deep blue, Vera Radovanović Marković, 2003; 221 x 127 cm; wool, cotton, sisal, PVC foil, visually noticeable yarn; tapestry technique. Co-authors Eva Đukić and Vesna Grbić.
Deep Blue, Vera Radovanović Marković, 2003.
This artwork of strong expression shows that hand weaving is her artistic potential, although she is more concerned with embroidery in fashion clothing. I believe that Deep Blue originates from a situation such as Gordana Glid’s words illustrate. It was the first case to invite artists to work from the obtained material under such good conditions for work and residence.
The weave surface is a rough texture. Also, the irregular shape of this tapestry is at first sight. According to the co-authors, there are effects of sisal fiber and strips of plastic bags inserted in the weft. Which is visible on the texture.
Tapestry artists weave techniques – Drawing of air and sun by Daliborka Đurić, 2010; 240 x 234 cm; non-woven hemp, PVC foil; tapestry technique. Co-authors Eva Đukić and Mirjana Dobanovački.
As an applied artist created at the turn of the millennium. Explores models of combining elements of tradition in textiles with new materials. It seems to confront coarse hemp as an archetypal material, with PVC recycling in modern times. Today’s world otherwise searches for models of adaptation of anachronistic values. Because the classic noble patina attracts contemporary taste. That’s where artists lead the way because experimentation is the task and path of art.
The Cat Cradle, Bojan Milojević-Asterian, 2022; 158 x 187 cm; wool, decorative ribbon, silver lamé; tapestry technique. Co-authors Vera Lazić and Jelena Božić.
I have already mentioned the Capital of Culture project and the review of the results. There is also a share of production by Atelier 61, the realization of a thematic series of tapestries in collaboration with comic artists. The cat cradle is among the selected ones. From afar, seems to me that may be tapestry as well strip art.
(Left/above) From afar, seems to me that may be tapestry as well strip art. Asterian signed a masterpiece of production tandem, Vera Lazić, and Jelena Božić.
(Right/below) Wool, decorative ribbon, silver lamé. Tapestry weave technique.
I’m interested, and I believe you are too. Is the wolf good or bad? Maybe it’s putting the kitten back in the cradle by protecting him from UFO beings. The symbolism needs to be figured out… For now, let’s take a closer look at the technical side.
Tapestry artists weave techniques – From the rich oeuvre of the tapestry artist Milica Mrđa Kresoja, two examples characterize the phases of her creativity. The first, Great Sign, 1987, 240 x 140 cm; wool, combined technique. And others, Fish and Bird, 1991, 350 x 150 cm; Both of these works wove Ana Šijački and Eva Đukić.
The lady artist felt wool and weaving since her childhood. She was always loving the colors of the earth and the sun. Using an analytical approach to tapestry, he breaks down the form into physically and artistically separate parts. Using the example of The Great Sign 1987. the author imposes the concept of SIGN as the essence of her searches. She achieved the synergy of the whole and the details of the sign, with consistent ideas but varying means of execution.
Then, during the 1990s, she freed up his painting technique and chose a more spontaneous color palette in the templates. She loved ocher, umber, and sienna tones, in wool and sisal weaves. As well, as created weaves with hairy, tuft surfaces, and massive reliefs enhanced by rough, massive cords. In the collection, such an example is Fish and Bird, 1991.
Surely, the entire work of Milica Kecman is far above the standard of decorativeness. For decades, created authentic values of complex ideas, messages, and meanings. That is how she outlined the specific line of the new tapestry. She remained tied to tradition by weaving, but her strength and senses created a contemporary and surreal work. That is why Atelier 61 marked 58 years of existence with Milica Kecmans` thematic exhibition Archaic Hours Tapestries and Drawings 1984-2019.
After a wide selection of tapestries produced by Atelier 61, I look forward to your further visits.
Sincerely, Branka on Textiles