A Canadian Fibre artist at HGA Convergence 2010 by Line Dufour PDF  | Print |  E-mail

 HGA Convergence 2010 Albuquerque - New Visions: Ancient Paths

New Mexico has long beckoned  me. When I discovered that Convergence 2010 would be held in Albuquerque I felt that this was the perfect opportunity to respond to its call. Being of very modest means as an artist and craftsperson, I applied to the Ontario Arts Council for a grant and much to my great delight I received one, enabling me to participate in my first Convergence experience.

When I checked into the conference and tour I had signed up for, I bumped into Nancy Harvey who wrote Tapestry Weaving: A Comprehensive Study Guide.       

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Left to right: Nancy Harvey and Line Dufour

 The first stop on our tour was the Santa Fe Opera House lodged in an outdoor space,  with a panoramic view. Though it had a remarkable arched wood ceiling the sides were open to the elements. On one side of the stage area are wind and rain baffles. We were given a tour of the costume shop, where garments, shoes, wigs and hats were created with a great amount of technical detail. In the afternoon we visited 3 fibre artist studios.

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Georgia O’Keefe museum, a good example of the adobe style houses that are the dominant style of housing in New Mexico.

The first studio was Rebecca Bluestone’s. This gave us an introduction to the kind of architecture that is dominant in New Mexico,  the adobe style house. Rebecca creates  warped faced hand dyed silk wallhangings on a Cranbook Loom with a sectional warp beam and an epi of 8 using a 12/6 swedish cotton for the warp. She likes to weave with a temple because silk is rigid and does not have the give and amplitude of wool, thus its rigidity causes draw-in.

  James Koehler’s makes handwoven tapestries with his hand dyed wool yarn. He mounts his tapestries with Velcro on frames so that they appear more like canvases than wallhangings. He has a number of apprentices that work for him. He also uses a Cranbrook loom and works in the ‘bas lisse’ manner. He did say that he was looking into getting a gobelin style loom for he was beginning to find that always working on the Cranbrook loom was becoming more challenging physically. A gobelin style loom would give him the option of also working upright and perhaps more comfortably.  James also sells hand dyed yarns for tapestry and has just released a book about his work and life available through mail order.                                          

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 James Koehlers studio
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Wallhangings by Jennifer Moore

Jennifer Moore’s studio was our last stop for the day. She creates doubleweave wall hangings, scarves and shawls. Jennifer’s book The Weaver’s Studio: Doubleweave from Interweave Press has just come out, and she also sells dvd’s on the technique. Jennifer’s studio may be small, but this doesn’t stop her from being incredibly prolific. Her work was on exhibition and available for sale in many of the galleries and stores in the area.

I didn’t sign up for anything for my 2nd day at the conference. My new friend Jean, started her 3 day workshop Pictures, Piles, Potpourri and Perplexing Curiosities with Robin Spayde, whose binder of notes were the most spectacular we have ever seen for a workshop. Participants wove round robbin exploring different and unusual weave structures and textures.  Robin is a very thorough, organized and knowledgeable teacher and Jean highly recommends her.  I took the light rail train with my friend Cynthia to Santa Fe and visited the Georgia O’Keefe Museum which had of course, an exhibition of her work.

The Walk In Beauty fashion show was held on this evening and was unquestionably inspirational. Its worth obtaining a dvd/cd of the pieces in the show and on exhibit

Left to right: Irvin Trijulo, DY Begay and Jill Heppenheimer

 On my 3rd day I attended a talk by local fibre artists at 7:30 a.m. Fibre gallery owner,  Jill Heppenheimer, part owner of the Santa Fe Weaving gallery, opened the presentation. The weaver and fibre artist  Irvin Trijulo is of Spanish descent and his family has been in the area for many generations. He has a shop and studio and lives in Chimayo. He has seeds he uses to grow his plants for natural dyeing that are up to 200 years old. He uses the wool of Truro Sheep. He has established a reputation for weaving Chimayo blankets which are woven in the tapestry technique. For bobbins he uses cardboard tubes from yarn cones and the looms are of the most rudimentary construction. He employs 14 weavers and has orders from all over the world. Designs were handed down generation to generation within the family. He has a humble and gentle way and his respect for these traditions is evident.

DY Begay is a contemporary tapestry weaver of Navajo origins and in her rug and blanket  weaving tradition too, designs and technique were handed down generation to generation.  Children were supposed to learn by watching and doing and were not supposed to ask questions. For the Navajo, weaving was introduced to them through Spiderwoman. Begay’s own interpretation of her Navajo traditions are abstracted landscapes. Colours and motifs are inspired by the land. Her work can also be seen at the Heard Museum in Phoenix Arizona.

I also had my first workshop: Warp Painting on the Loom with Jannie Taylor. Ohhhhhhhhhhh....what fun! A juxtaposition of two approaches – the spontaneity of the painting and the structured planning of the weaving.  I can’t wait to share these techniques with my students and can’t wait to continue playing with them myself. I see  infinite possibilities.

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 The workshop took place in a room the size of a football field. About 4 or 5 other workshops were taking place simultaneously.  This was not an ideal situation for learning but had some advantages. One of them was that I could walk around and see what else was going on without feeling that I was intruding. One of those things was the Rio Grande rug weaving workshop. Special Rio Grande looms were provided to workshop participants and operate with 2 foot pedals.

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 As one participant explained to me, as you are treadling, the peddles start walking i.e. they start drifting away from the loom until you eventually have to reposition them under the loom. I could see that it required a great amount of physical exertion to operate the loom. Another element that distinguished this kind of weaving from others was the kind of shuttle they used. As shown here, the shuttle appears almost like that of any other except that instead of being open only on top, it has an extra opening on the side.

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 After my workshop I visited the several fibre exhibitions that were set up at the conference centre of fibre art works and the garments that were featured in the fashion show. I had the privilege at looking at all the garments close up where one could really appreciate their workmanship and artistry. I was delighted and enchanted with many of the pieces that were selected for the Eye Dazzlers exhibition of fibre art work among which several tapestries were on view: pieces by Kathe Todd-Hooker, Tommye Scanlin and Linda Wallace. I didn’t submit a piece for this exhibit because I don’t usually work that small. I also strolled around the vendors hall  and found lots to tempt, tantalize and sometimes finally succumb to! In the evening, Susan Lazear gave us a talk and slide show on her extensive research of historical and tradition woven garments that she garners around the world and their influence on contemporary fashion designs.

 Tablet Weaving  was my workshop for day 4 at 9a.m. with Inge Dam, a fellow Canadian as the instructor. Inge demonstrated admirably. My single biggest general complaint about the workshops are that there are just too many participants for each one. Often there are 50 or more in a class and I believe we definitely had that many. Other participants who had more experience with the technique were very helpful if one couldn’t get it right, and when Inge was attending others in the class.  I find tablet weaving interesting and challenging and will be happy to impart what I have learned to others, however, it definitely is not my calling. 

 Day five and six I participated in a Natural Dyeing workshop  with Liesal Orend (www.earth-arts.com.)   It was fascinating to see what all the dye plants could do and how colours could be shifted with various mordants. I dyed bamboo with logwood, alpaca with madder, silk with cochineal, and boucle mohair with brazilwood. They turned out wonderfully and much to my surprise, the colours we deep and intense for many of the plants. The second day we focused on indigo dyeing. Liesel is a wealth of information, experience and knowledge in this area.

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Saturday evening I attended an informal gathering of American Tapestry Alliance members.  By this time I had somehow managed to have laryngitis so I was very disappointed I wasn’t able to  befriend all the tapestry weavers present.

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Left to right: Tori Kleinhart, Kathe Todd-Hooker, Diane Kennedy at Enchanted Evening, a gathering of ATA members.
I tried to see as many fibre exhibitions as I could fit into the time I had and I was unable to get to them all.  I did see the tapestry exhibition: Dialogues at the South Broadway Cultural Centre in Albuquerque.  The work was creative and original and thoroughly enjoyable by the artists Linda Wallace, Elizabeth Buckley, Lany Eila, Katherine Perkins, Elaine Duncan and Dorothy Clews. Linda and Dorothy had the decomposed/deconstructed/reconstructed  tapestry pieces that were featured in FiberArts magazine recently, as well  as other tapestry work.   I went to the New Directions in Fiber Art exhibition featuring the work of Jennifer Moore, among others. The miniature tapestry exhibit, Small Expressions was hosted by the Jane Sauer Gallery in Santa Fe and was delightful! You can order cds of the work exhibited at the Conference from www.weavespindye.org .

 In all, Convergence  was a very thrilling and satisfying experience. There were though, a couple of disappointments. I would have liked to see more tapestry workshops being offered, either in designing or hands on techniques. Only one workshop was offered in a tapestry technique and was filled 3 months before the conference. Secondly, the American Tapestry Alliance Bienniale exhibition has always been held at the same time and place as the HGA Convergence event. This year, for the first time it was not, the year that I finally could attend, and a year in which I had a tapestry selected for this exhibit. Instead this exhibition will open September 20 2010 at the  Elder Gallery at Nebraska Weslaeyan University and then continue on to the American Textile History Museum in Lowell Massachusetts in January 2011 until May 1 2011.  However, my enthusiasm and passion were reignited by being surrounded by so many other people who were enthralled and passionate about weaving, as well as through all that I learned and all that I saw. This part of the world is truly an extraordinary place which only enhanced the love I have for weaving.  I am now eager to get back into the studio and to teaching my students. Opportunities such as this one rearranges one’s molecules so to speak, as I try to convey in my tapestry Joy.  Thank you Ontario Arts Council, for making this opportunity possible.


  Joy, handwoven tapestry, 14” x 60”, woven by Line Dufour, selected for American Tapestry Alliance Bienniale 2010.


Line Dufour is a fibre artist and tapestry weaver, teaches weaving through the Toronto District School Board to adults and gives workshops. For more information  email Line at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or go to www.tapestryline.com .


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