Archive for February, 2013

On the Easel – Tues 26th Feb 2013

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Carding Wool - Frottee

This is the start of another painting in my Harris Tweed Heritage series. This one is called “Carding the Wool“, it’s oil on canvas, 24 x 18 inches. The objective is to create a series of paintings capturing the heritage processes used in the creation of Harris Tweed.  – Work in Progress.

This painting will be part of my next solo exhibition at the Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh (June 1st to June 8th 2013).

Background Info

Once the fleeces have been dyed, thoroughly washed, dried and carefully teased; the next stage in the process is to card the wool to get it ready for the spinning process.

Using hand-cards (also called carding combs or carding brushes) the wool fibres are drawn out into a continuous mass of untwisted fibres of mixed colours and then rolled into rovings. This would get the fibres lying in a roughly parallel state. Hand carding was a very tedious and time consuming process. Crofting families often employed servants for carding and spinning. Carding was one of the first automated processes in the creation of Harris Tweed. The first carding mill in Harris was established in 1900 at Tarbert and before this some fleeces were sent to the mainland for carding.

The carding brushes shown here are those of Marion Campbell. Thanks to Catherine Campbell for allowing the use of her aunt Marion’s artefacts, you can find out more about Marion here http://harristweedandknitwear.co.uk/family.html and there is a lovely little book about her life written by Gisela Vogler called “A Harris Way of Life”.

The model is Nanan. Costume design is by Nicola Ellis.

Thanks to Kathy and the staff at the Carloway Mills for supplying Tweed and Wool.

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On the Easel – Tues 19th Feb 2013

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Spinning - Frottee

I’ve decided to start another 3 paintings in my Harris Tweed Heritage series before finishing the ones currently on the go. This one is called “Spinning“, it’s oil on canvas, 40 x 30 inches. The objective is to create a series of paintings capturing the heritage processes used in the creation of Harris Tweed.  – Work in Progress.

This painting will be part of my next solo exhibition at the Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh (June 1st to June 8th 2013).

Background Info

Once the wool has been dyed and carded, the next stage in the process is to make the wool into yarn which will then be ready for warping (warp yarn) and weaving (weft yarn). The spinning is a long process taking up nearly half of the time for producing the tweed from the dye pot to the finishing (waulking) but much easier then the hand carding process (painting coming soon!) The spinner has to work the treadle in a steady rhythm putting a twist into the carded wool and creating yarn on to a bobbin.

Warp and weft yarn used to be spun with different tensions, strong for the warp and much softer for the weft. It took on average a day to spin one lb of yarn. One lb would weave just over a weavers yard (eight feet).

The spinning wheel shown here is a common “cocked up” Saxony wheel. This was Marion Campbell’s mother’s spinning wheel on which she produced both warp and weft yarn for her tweeds. Thanks to Catherine Campbell for allowing the use of her aunt Marion’s artefacts, you can find out more about Marion here http://harristweedandknitwear.co.uk/family.html and there is a lovely little book about her life written by Gisela Vogler called “A Harris Way of Life”.

The backdrop for the painting is the Gearrannan Blackhouse Village at Carloway, Isle of Lewis. A beautiful and fascinating place to stay and visit, many thanks to Mairi and all the staff there. (You can find more information about this unique place here;
http://www.gearrannan.com/)

The models are Amy and Kirsten. Costume design is by Nicola Ellis.

Thanks to Kathy and the staff at the Carloway Mills for supplying Tweed and Wool.

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On the Easel – Fri 15th Feb 2013

Friday, February 15th, 2013

At the Loom - 2nd Painting

This is the latest progress on “At the Loom“, it’s oil on canvas, 20 x 16 inches. It’s about 75% to completion. This painting is part of my Harris Tweed Heritage project; the objective is to create a series of paintings capturing the heritage processes used in the creation of Harris Tweed.  – Work in Progress.

This painting will be part of my next solo exhibition at the Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh (June 1st to June 8th 2013).

Background Info

This painting depicts the weaver at the loom. After the Warping is completed the tweed is set up in the loom and the weft is woven into the cloth in the desired pattern. All Harris Tweed is hand woven on a treadle loom at each weaver’s home. The weaver will arrange hundreds of “heddles” to a specified pattern before the beam of warp yarn is “tied in” to the loom by hand. The weaver will then set up the weft threads, pulling bobbins of yarn through a series of guides to be woven into the warp threads by a flashing “rapier”. Once ready the weaver begins to weave, always observing, correcting, mending and amending their creation until complete.

The loom depicted here is a Hattersley loom. The first thirty Hattersley looms were sent to the Outer Hebrides in 1919. In 1924 the first six shuttle, 40 inch reed space looms arrived in Stornoway and this type of loom was the most commonly used loom in the islands’ Harris Tweed Industry. The Hattersley loom is still used by some of the weavers. The history of the loom innovations and developments is very intersting. There is a good overview here on the Harris Tweed Authority website: http://www.harristweed.org/blog/theweaversshed/

The backdrop for the painting is the Loom Shed at the Gearrannan Blackhouse Village at Carloway, Isle of Lewis. A beautiful and fascinating place to stay and visit, many thanks to Mairi and all the staff there. (You can find more information about this unique place here;
http://www.gearrannan.com/)

The model is Kim. Costume research and design is by Nicola Ellis.

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On the Easel – Tues 12th Feb 2013

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Dying the Wool - 2nd Painting

This is the latest progress on “Dyeing the Wool“, it’s oil on canvas, 28 x 22 inches. It’s about 75% to completion. This painting is part of my Harris Tweed Heritage project; the objective is to create a series of paintings capturing the heritage processes used in the creation of Harris Tweed.  – Work in Progress.

This painting will be part on my next solo exhibition at the Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh (June 1st to June 8th 2013).

Background Info

Once the sheep had been sheared, the first process in producing Harris Tweed was to dye the wool. The fleeces were dyed using a variety of natural materials from the surrounding land depending on what colour was sought for the wool. Flowers and roots such as Iris, Water Lilly, Nettles, Heather and Ferns;  Yellow, Black and White Crotal (course Lichen) scrapped from the rocks, Old Man’s Beard, Seaweed, Peat Soot kept from the chimneys in the croft. The wool would be dyed in a big cast iron pot over a peat fire kept boiling continuously until the desired colour was achieved. Some of the old recipes are fascinating and the dyes truly put the colour of the land into the wool.

The backdrop for the painting is Loch Plockropool on the Isle of Harris. This is the same spot where Marion Campbell used to do her dyeing and in fact that is Marion’s old dye pot in the painting. Thanks to Catherine Campbell for allowing the use of her aunt Marion’s artefacts, you can find out more about Marion here http://harristweedandknitwear.co.uk/family.html and there is a lovely little book about her life written by Gisela Vogler called “A Harris Way of Life”.

The models is Kim. Costume is by Nicola Ellis.

Thanks to Kathy and the staff at the Carloway Mills for supplying Tweed and Wool.

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On the Easel – Fri 8th Feb 2013

Friday, February 8th, 2013

The Waulking - 2nd Painting

This is the latest progress on “The Waulking“, it’s oil on canvas, 48 x 36 inches – This is about 75 percent to completion. This painting is part of my Harris Tweed Heritage project. The objective is to create a series of paintings capturing the heritage processes used in the creation of Harris Tweed.

This painting will be part on my next solo exhibition at the Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh (June 1st to June 8th 2013).

Background Info

Waulking was the final stage in the production of a Harris Tweed. When the weaving was completed the web taken from the loom was greasy, tough and hard, so it had to be softened and thickened by “waulking” (working the cloth). During this process the tweed tightens and shrinks by several inches. The girls of the village would help each other with the job and although the work was arduous, it was a great social event. The tweed would be cleaned in warm soapy water and the door of a house would often be used as a waulking board with the girls seated on either side working the cloth back and forward. Waulking songs were used to maintain a rhythmic process and as a measure of time. A leader would sing songs in Gaelic with the chorus sung by the waulking team. It would normally take a couple of hours to get the required shrinkage and thickening of the cloth.

The backdrop for the painting is the Gearrannan Blackhouse Village at Carloway, Isle of Lewis. A beautiful and fascinating place to stay and visit, many thanks to Mairi and all the staff there. (You can find more information about this unique place here;
http://www.gearrannan.com/)

The models are; the Harris Girls (Shona, Kayleigh, Nanan & Kirsten), the amazing Amy from Lewis who orchestrated the girls waulking and singing and Tracey & Kim. Costume research and design is by Nicola Ellis.

Thanks to Kathy and the staff at the Carloway Mills for supplying Tweed, Wool and access to the mill and Lorna from the Harris Tweed Authority for her help and support.

Thanks also to Catherine Campbell for all her help and support with the project and access to her aunt Marion Campbell’s artefacts, such as dye pot, spinning wheel etc, you can find out more about Marion here http://harristweedandknitwear.co.uk/family.html and there is a lovely little book about her life written by Gisela Vogler called “A Harris Way of Life”.

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Katarina & Wilson

Monday, February 4th, 2013

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This is one of the commissioned portraits I have just completed. It’s oil on canvas, 36 x 24 inches. The location is the Meadows in Edinburgh where Katarina often walks her lovely dog Wilson. Katarina commissioned the painting as a surprise present for her husbands birthday. These were some of the kind words I got from Katarina;

“Thank you so much for the fantastic painting you did of me and Wilson for my husband David’s 50 birthday. He was so surprised, moved and happy over his present and is telling everybody about it. The first thing he did, after calming down and having a drink, was to put it on facebook so friends and family could share. The response has been enormously positive ….”

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On the Easel – Fri 1st Feb 2013

Friday, February 1st, 2013

At the Loom - 1st Painting

This is the latest progress on “At the Loom“, it’s oil on canvas, 20 x 16 inches. It’s about halfway to completion. This painting is part of my Harris Tweed Heritage project; the objective is to create a series of paintings capturing the heritage processes used in the creation of Harris Tweed.  – Work in Progress.

This painting will be part of my next solo exhibition at the Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh (June 1st to June 8th 2013).

Background Info

This painting depicts the weaver at the loom. After the Warping is completed the tweed is set up in the loom and the weft is woven into the cloth in the desired pattern. All Harris Tweed is hand woven on a treadle loom at each weaver’s home. The weaver will arrange hundreds of “heddles” to a specified pattern before the beam of warp yarn is “tied in” to the loom by hand. The weaver will then set up the weft threads, pulling bobbins of yarn through a series of guides to be woven into the warp threads by a flashing “rapier”. Once ready the weaver begins to weave, always observing, correcting, mending and amending their creation until complete.

The loom depicted here is a Hattersley loom. The first thirty Hattersley looms were sent to the Outer Hebrides in 1919. In 1924 the first six shuttle, 40 inch reed space looms arrived in Stornoway and this type of loom was the most commonly used loom in the islands’ Harris Tweed Industry. The Hattersley loom is still used by some of the weavers. The history of the loom innovations and developments is very intersting. There is a good overview here on the Harris Tweed Authority website: http://www.harristweed.org/blog/theweaversshed/

The backdrop for the painting is the Loom Shed at the Gearrannan Blackhouse Village at Carloway, Isle of Lewis. A beautiful and fascinating place to stay and visit, many thanks to Mairi and all the staff there. (You can find more information about this unique place here;
http://www.gearrannan.com/)

The model is Kim. Costume research and design is by Nicola Ellis.

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