Tapestry artists have long used photography as a way of capturing images. Often collected to be used as a resource for further development into design ideas for tapestries. Twenty years ago as a visual arts student with a one year old child, I developed a habit of setting up still lifes around my home. I used the viewfinder on my camera to try out many different compositions, looking from different angles and perspectives, using 35mm film. Films were sent away for processing, photos were then pasted into my journals, along with notes and sketches. Some images became drawings, paintings and linocuts, some eventually became tapestry designs.
I decided to use the photo for a tapestry that would be woven to a format of 100cm W X 80cm H. The photo was hand cropped to a format that would scale up to 8 x 10 inches. Slightly altered and painted in gouache for the final tapestry design.
The design was then traced onto an overhead projector sheet and projected onto paper taped to a wall and enlarged to 80cm H X 100cm W for the cartoon. 'Blue Patterned Plate with Fruit' 2008
With the introduction of digital cameras, photography became a quick and easy way to record images. Most homes owned a personal computer and programs such as Photoshop became popular editing tools. In 2008 a group challenge was announced for an exhibition titled 'Tapestry Blues'. I remembered a digital photo that I had taken of chillies picked from my garden and set on the same blue plate I had used in the previous tapestry.
The format was to be no larger than 20cm X 20cm. I cropped the photo to size in Photoshop and played around with a simple Solarize filter.
I then played around in Photoshop with altering the curves and balances in this image.
I finally decided that the images were far too busy for such a small tapestry and chose to paint the design in gouache. The background was painted blue which gave good contrast to the vibrancy of the red chillies.
Final tapestry 'Late Season Chillies' 20cm H X 20cm W 2009.
The only tapestry that I have woven directly from a digital image is fully documented here.
Fast forward a decade and it is unusual to see anyone using a dedicated camera. Smartphone's seem to now be preferred, as many have high quality built in cameras. I have a Microsoft Lumia 950 XL Smartphone. I chose it as it has an excellent 20 megapixel camera with a dedicated camera shutter button. It has a Windows 10 operating system and runs most of the same apps as my Surface Pro 3. My phone has the capacity to take up to a 64gb micro sd card. Photos are set up to be saved to the sd card and are around 3 megabyte and 3000 megapixels in size, giving you a high quality image to print, crop or manipulate in some way. The only downside to choosing a Windows phone is that it is neither iOS or Android. So far the Microsoft Store has limited photo editing apps available.
While researching for this article I tried to find some photo editing apps that are available from the Apple Store, Google Play and the Microsoft Store. One of the only options that I could find was an app called SuperPhoto. The app is free but it has a lot of locked features. I downloaded a free trial of the full app but found it difficult to use and was not pleased with any of the results. Rather that altering the images, it seems to simply cover your image with a filter. A search for photos using this app can be found on instagram here. I then decided to have a play with the highly popular app Waterlogue So far it is available in both the Apple and Microsoft Stores, you can download it as a free trial without committing to purchase it. Unlike some apps you do not need an internet connection to use it. I have chosen to use the above photo of an Australian native 'Egg and Bacon' plant as it was taken with my phone and is a good example of the photo quality.
The app has a small camera icon on the left, when selected it gives you the option to take a photo or choose one from your pictures folder.
The app has fourteen different choices for image manipulation so I will upload trials in order from left to right. This is the Vibrant selection.
When the next option is selected the app creates a small preview.
By clicking on the preview the photo is then changed fully into its final image. This selection is Natural.
This selection is Bold and one of my favorites to use.
This one is the Luminous selection and you can now begin to see how different they all are.
The It's Technical selection adds a black outline to the more dominant shapes in the photo.
The Streamlined selection becomes less outlined and slightly softer in the background.
The background colour is completely altered with the Travelogue selection.
A lot less detail in the Rainy selection but for certain images it could be quite lovely.
More colour in the background with the Illustration selection but it also has the white areas suggesting a watercolour painting.
The Soaked option seems to have flattened out the background in comparison to the previous image.
This time the Shallow selection has flattened out the entire image.
Colours are becoming brighter again with the Colour Bloom selection.
The Fashionable selection seems to take most of the colour out of the background.
Completely changed the Blotted selection breaks the image down into large shapes.
There are simple editing tools built into the app. You can slightly change the size of the pixels, which is like painting with a small or larger brush. Light variances are also available.
By selecting the small heart icon on the right hand side, the app gives you several options to save or share your images. The Save to Photos option, images are saved directly into your pictures folder. The app automatically changes the original file name to Waterlogue. It's a good idea to go straight into your folder and change the name of the image to the app selection that created it, rather than wonder later on which one you used. Transferring images into dedicated folders helps keep your pictures folder tidy.
Manipulated images are saved slightly smaller that the original, but will print out to a good scale if you wish to make a cartoon tracing from them.
While playing around with other photos I was surprised how this burnt log with little contrasts.
Could be transformed into such a beautiful image. This was created using colour bloom.
An iconic Australia image of Uluru taken while I was waiting for the sun to set, clearly shows the shadow of a passing cloud.
Transformed here into a desert painting using the Luminous option.
If you are new to tapestry weaving and feel that the examples that I have show would be challenging to weave. You may like to choose a less detailed photo to manipulate. This photo was taken from Big Hill lookout in Stawell where I live.
Manipulated with the Natural option it would make a very beautiful small tapestry.
This photo was taken at dawn after a night crossing from Melbourne to Devonport in Tasmania.
Manipulated with the Luminous option it becomes a simple but beautiful image.
You may like to use photos of you own drawings, paintings or collages to manipulate for design ideas. They can then be printed, reworked, photographed again. The possibilities are endless. If you would like to see what others have created using this app, you will find lots of inspiration here.
Do you have a favorite photo editing app, if so, please share in the comments below.
If you finally made it all the way down to here! please be aware that on the east coast of Australia, I am 19 hours ahead of United States Pacific Standard Time. Any questions left in the comments will be replied to, but for me now its almost January 26th!
January 22nd: Molly Elkind: Collage as research
January 23rd: Ellen Bruxvoort - Vlog on Instagram about her design process
January 24th: Tommye Scanlin: Literature as inspiration
January 25th: Debbie Herd: Digital design tools
January 26th: Barbara Burns: Documenting your design for promotion
WIN ONE OF 26 PRIZES!
Follow all the stops on the blog tour to increase your chance to win one of the following prizes: $50 towards a Mirrix Loom, a Hokett loom kit, a Hokett Tiny Turned Beater, a project bag from Halcyon Yarn containing rosewood bobbins and a voucher for their online shop, a voucher for Weaversbazaar’s online shop, a free entry into ATA’s 12th international, unjuried, small format exhibition and a free one-year membership to ATA.
Here’s how to enter to win. Comment on this blog post then go here to let ATA know that you commented. The more blog posts you comment on the more chances you have to win so be sure to follow along. Ellen Bruxvoort is doing an Instagram video for the tour and if you respond with a photo or video on social media describing how you design tapestry you get five extra entries in the giveaway. Let the sharing begin!
To win another 5 entries into the giveaway enter to exhibit in The Biggest Little Tapestries in the World, ATA’s 12th international, unjuried small format exhibition, and then let us know that you entered by going here by Sunday January 28th. For this exhibition all entries get accepted to exhibit as long as your tapestry fits within the size requirements!
ABOUT AMERICAN TAPESTRY ALLIANCE
The American Tapestry Alliance is a nonprofit organization that provides programming for tapestry weavers around the world, including exhibitions (like Tapestry Unlimited), both juried and unjuried, in museums, art centres and online, along with exhibition catalogues. They offer workshops, lectures, one-on-one mentoring and online educational articles as well as awards, including scholarships, membership grants, an international student award, and the Award of Excellence. They also put out a quarterly newsletter, monthly eNews & eKudos, an annual digest. Members benefit from personalized artists pages on the ATA website, online exhibitions, educational articles, access to scholarships and more.
You’re invited to exhibit! The Biggest Little Tapestries in the World, ATA’s 12th international, unjuried small format exhibition is open to all weavers. We invite entries which fit more traditional definitions of tapestry, and also entries that expand upon the core principles of the medium as they explore new techniques and processes. Multimedia work is welcome. The Biggest Little Tapestries in the World! will hang at the Northwest Reno Public Library, 2325 Robb Drive. The entry form (intent to participate) is due February 15, 2018. The tapestry, and an image of the tapestry is not due until March 31, 2018. Find more details here