Sunday, October 17, 2010


I have spent the last few weeks looking at my old work/sketch books.
Several years ago I began weaving tapestries that were based on the unreal subject matter from my dreams or  imagination. 
Wyuna Bay    1999

I still have a tendency to create weavings  that have a certain surreal or abstract element to them. By moving away from a realistic representation of an image towards the unreal aspect was probably my way of getting around that dreaded and usually unjustified statement .... "I am not very good at drawing"....  I am actually quite good at drawing so don't tend to use this as an excuse anymore, however I do remember a time when I did, and it was really another way of saying I don't spend enough time drawing!!
Using a more abstract or surrealistic  approach to tapestry design for producing a weavable image is one I use to remind myself that it is not so much about being able to draw a perfect representation of an object, landscape, animal, etc but more about conveying a connection on an emotional level with the viewer. 

Although I rely heavily on the technical wonders of Photoshop to assist me with my portrait weavings, I prefer as much as possible to use only my own hand-drawn images to create most my other design work.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


"The Forgotten Fruit Years." My last Exhibition
held in Devonport at The Depot,  March 2008.
For the last 5 weeks I have been unable to weave at all due to some hideous un-diagnosed muscle pain problem. I will be seeing my doctor again this week to say that I am very grateful for the 800!!!! odd pain relief tablets prescribed, and will agree the advice that I was over-doing things was a good excuse to do NOTHING for a fortnight, but I really would like to get back onto the loom... THANKYOU.

I have so much to get up and going for various exhibitions, including my own. The last exhibition took a years weaving and planning and I am now down to 6 months weaving for the next one I am having in June next year in the Communnity Gallery of the Franklin Arts & Cultural Learning Trust .

Luckily the pieces are all very small and are being woven with the title of the exhibition..... Woven Tapestry Fragments... in mind.

So to all you weavers who have had a forced absence from the loom through lack of health at any time in your career, I now know the horror and frustration that our own frailties can have on our art practice. 
The wonderful flip side of this of course, is that the drawing and planning activities involved with creating our hand woven work gets extra special attention, forcing/allowing us much more time for planning and re-working our  ideas and designs. This in turn can only mean a much more resolved and therefore stronger end design. 

Portriat weaving "Evad" hangs between "Matariki Through Window Arches"
Invitation by Gallery to exhibit at Franklin Arts & Cultural LearningTrust 2010.
Close-up of weaving and hand-stitched detail in Window Arches shown above.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


I have always loved exhibiting my work and have decided that I am now at the stage of my weaving career where I probably need to produce less but larger works. Once I get my next Solo Exhibition out of the way in June 2011 I will be making a concerted effort to do larger works for a while.
The next 18 months or so for me are mainly being committed to four major exhibiting opportunities producing large works. It has been nice to get back my focus on the planning and design of fewer, but more important works. These working drawings and concepts are what carry the final piece, giving the underlying strength to simple designs, the x-factor that makes a tapestry weaving gel with the viewer, drawing them back for a second look maybe. Where did the weaver get their idea to weave that particular image? These are the types of questions that once answered, help the viewer to better relate to each individual tapestry weavers work.

I am available for several types of tapestry workshops, particularly design focused sessions should a group of you wish to get together. If you have a particular area of interest I am able to customize a learning workshop to meet your needs. For details and costs e.mail:

Living by Tapestry Weaving in NZ

I have been thinking about the time-wasting element of my day to day endeavors. Setting up my studio 18 months ago started with such enthusiasm and an absolute art focus. I believed as a professional weaver, an absolute income sourced from weaving related activities was not only desirable, but was expected from me. I have no spouse or possible family inheritance to help support me on my artistic quest, and apart from a sturdy Certificate in Adult Teaching, designed and tutored by the wonderful Penny Brownlee, my qualifications on paper are sparse, so it was always going to be a big ask. 

Bad Mood Arising

Overtaken by an obsession to be financially strong, a flurry of production weaving took over the sacred space, scarves, baby buggy blankets, travel and floor rugs were woven, in the process destroying the very thing I enjoyed most about my weaving..... THE ART.

Despite being on the Creative Fibre Tutors List, I have not had any viable interest. I was led me to believe that being on that list would field interest from them for workshops at this end of the country to help spread the technique of tapestry weaving. In particular I hoped it would give me the opportunity to share what I have learnt about tapestry design over the 20 odd years I have been weaving. Tapestries that I feel are unique to this small country of ours, Aotearoa - N.Z.

I do get people to teach and share with though, but it is such hard work having to chase this sometimes. It is always a joy to be asked.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


The Creative Fibre Experience 2010 exhibition runs in conjunction with The Craft & Quilt Fair at the Claudlands Event Centre in Hamilton from the 9th-12th September.

This is a highly competitive, selected show of quality weavings and other fibre art works from members of The N.Z. Spinners, Weavers & Woolcraft Society.

To Glass or Not To Glass- That is the question.

Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker - The Crown Wants a Piece Of it All
Tapestry weaving is arguably the most obvious technique that readily lends itself to being shown as fine art. I recently discussed exhibiting practices and the presentation of  tapestry weavings with another tapestry weaver. We queried whether our work should always be shown in a way that allowed the tactile element of the work to over-ride all other considerations. Does unprotected framing remain the best way to present contemporary, smaller, non-functional works?

Should the most important element of the work even be the weaving?

From a traditional and purists point of view, tapestry weavings should not be shown behind glass. In many circles and obviously at the judged national exhibition level,  there is a continued expectation that tapestry weavings should be presented in a manner that best connects veiwers to the the fibre/craft element of the work. 

I have always struggled with this as a hard and fast rule especially if conveying the message of the piece is more important to me than the fact that I happened to chose tapestry weaving as the medium to convey that message.

As a hand-woven tapestry work that is made special by "Please  Do Not Touch" signs, does the weaver take the initiative to present the work from behind glass, in a manner that  acheives the same result.
Is it a matter of educating veiwers/judges to accept the work as it is intended to be viewed as a whole by its creator or should the creators still be striving to educate viewers of their fibre art through the traditional and accepted manner of presenting the work open to the elements and inquisitive fingers?

At the end of our discussion we rightly or wrongly concluded that the craft artist would probably argue in favour of the status quo, i.e that to present a tapestry weaving behind glass deminishes the work. Whereas  the artist/weaver would probably be more inclined to want the piece protected and presented to the viewer framed behind glass if that was how the piece worked best in relation to their intended artistic statement or concept.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


TITIRANGI    9 September - 3 October 2010 
TCAC Upstairs Gallery, Level 1, Lopdell House, 418 Titirangi Road, Titirangi, Auckland 

TAURANGA    12-26 October 2010 
Creative Tauranga Community Gallery, 112 Willow Street, Tauranga 

KERIKERI    7-21 November 2010 
Origin Art and Craft, 128 Kerikeri Road, Kerikeri 

WHANGAREI    28 November - 10 December 2010 
Reyburn House, Reyburn House Lane, Town Basin, Whangarei 

PALMERSTON NORTH    17-31 December 2010 
Van Uļ¬€elen Gallery, 88-90 Princes Street, Palmerston North 

ELTHAM    7 January - 4 February 2011 
The Village Gallery, 166 High Street, Eltham

Friday, July 23, 2010

Recent portrait work

Close up showing detail

The photo on the right is a close-up image of a portrait being woven on the loom. This close encounter with the weaving as you progress is quite intense and engrossing. When sitting up close to the work as you weave, your sense of perspective is constantly being altered and challenged. It is only when you take a step back from the loom that you appreciate the image as a whole. 

Because of this altered perspective, it is important to have a smaller image of the portrait design handy to remind you of the bigger picture you are creating.

Detail of work in progress.

Close-up of work on the loom. Note the built up areas of weaving already done where the hair and jersey portions of the portrait have been started. In this photo you can clearly see the warp threads that are yet to be woven onto.  The cartoon can be seen behind the work, which is used as a guide in the weaving process. 

Stepping back from the work on the loom, allows you to see the woven built-up area as a whole. A small photo is pinned to the loom above the working area and used as a constant point of reference to ensure the work in progress is as true to the original design as possible. In this photo you can also see the cartoon guide pinned up behind the un-filled warp threads. With my portraits these cartoons are simply an enlarged copy of the original photograph.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Selection Process

Black & white photo.
The selection process for portrait design is reasonably straight forward. The original photos are sorted through to determine which one has captured that special quality that best describes the essence of the sitter.

The photo is then adjusted to give the aesthetic that the client would want to live with within the context of other interior design requirements. No matter how good the image or how well mastered the weaving is, if it fails to represent the interior space it will  be hung in, then the whole exercise will have been futile from a design perspective.

The size of the weaving is usually associated with cost, however it is best to predermine what the client is prepared to pay before the photo is adjusted. At that stage the image can be striped back further to simplify the image and thus require less weaving time. Other cost reduction considerations could be the cropping of the image. One should never under-estimate how much of the person is held in the image of say just the eyes or a partial profile.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Update for TSE "Within the Square" Tapestry weavings by members of The N.Z. Tapestry Network

The Travelling Suitcase Exhibition is now travelling the country and having visited Christchurh and Dunedin, is off to Gore from 10th July to 8th August. Other dates and provinces are as listed below....
Titirangi: 9 Sept to 3 Oct
Tauranga: 12-26 Oct
Keri Keri: 7-21 Nov
Whangarei: 28 Nov to 31 Dec
Eltham 7 Jan to 4 Feb 2011

Tapestry shows "Summit Inertia" 20x20cm
Woven at 10epi with cottons, wool and rayons.

If you are travelling to Auckland to see the exhibition and would like to spend a day in the studio with me or if you just want to drop in for a visit, you can call the studio on 09 235 2699, Tuesday to Friday between 9am-4pm. For details on how to join the Tapestry Network simply send me an e.mail. The address is...  and I will let you know the details.

If you wish to veiw the blog as one page, scroll to the bottom of the page and in the BLOG ARCHIVE section click the first option... 2010

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Rugs shown tied off, ready for fringe finishing technique/tie off


All Warped Art & Design rugs are woven using N.Z. milled commercial pure wool carpet yarn and set on a cotton warp. Durable and purpose made, the designs are original one-off pieces. Commission works can be made to suit your own specific interior design needs.

The hall runner at left was a commission piece made for a client in Tonga, and took approximately 80 hours to complete. Most rug prices range from $350-$1800 depending on length and complexity of design.

Feel free to E.mail me for a virtual catalogue of current rugs I have in stock.


Weaving plain, striped rugs that are balanced and attractive is not as easy as it looks. However anyone with a trained eye will manage, through trial and error or intuition, to create a rug they will be happy with. Usually striped rugs are pre-sketched, coloured and well planned out with designated measurements and proportions set out. However most weavers would not bother to draw up a cartoon for weaving stripes but would weave free-style while following the sketched guide.

This tapa inspired rug is a variation on the striped theme and was also woven free-style (i.e. without the use of a cartoon).

When weaving free-style you are unable to truly predict how successful the final design will be.
As the rug grows it takes on a life of its own so the use of working drawings and a solid understanding of what you are trying to achieve are essential.
While weaving this rug I had several small drawings clipped to the loom. These were constantly used as a point of reference to ensure the end design retained a sense of balance and proportion.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Light, airy and warm in winter, the studio sits out in the back yard waiting for the garden to grow.

This photo shows the the work corner of the downstairs studio and gallery area. The looms show from left to right, a rug in the making, a portrait weaving at rear and the smaller un-dressed loom. This small loom is a great size for beginners, and with 4 heddles, could be used for many different types of weaving styles. It is reasonably portable, and fits comfortably into the back of a larger hatch-back car. Looms like these can be bought for between $50-$150 through on-line auction or through those involved with local weaving groups.

Upstairs Workspace & Storage

The upstairs area accomodates two looms with plenty of working space to spare. There are two spinning wheels available for those who want to try their hand at making their own yarns. The wheel shown at right in this picture is a Colthart Wheel, and is very smooth and even to spin on.
(Jenny - if you are wondering where the Waiuku Spinners & Weavers took off to with your wheel when they bought it, here it is)

Note the tapestry weavings on the loom. Wound onto the the bottom beam and therefore unseen is one of four weavings. This hidden weaving has been followed by the bottom grey spacing, then 2 tapestries have been woven side by side. Above these two works is more grey spacing followed by a tapestry weaving of a sylized dog, which is still in the process of being woven and included hand-spun dog-hair. I subsequently entered it into the Whangarei 2010 National Creative Fibre Exhibition Festival being held over the Easter break at the Kensington Stadium. Do get along to see it if you are in the district over the long weekend. This judged exhibition features fibre works from our top artists and craft workers, and there are trade stands open for you to buy quality fibre related must haves. However - don't bother looking for the above mentioned tapestry as it was rejected by the astute judge. Even the relative experts like myself don't get it right everytime!!! If you are looking for a good starting point to show others your fibre work at a national level, visit the N.Z. Creative Fibre website and consider membership, they are tough but fair and it's a good way to monitor your own levels of quality control.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


My terracotta tiles set in tunnel
For 3 weekends in a row Coromandel township hosts its annual arts tour. The opening weekend is Friday 30th April, and begins with an evening art auction. Twenty five artists will open their studios for public viewing each consecutive Fri-Sun from 10am-4pm, and tickets cost around $13.00 per person to do the weekend trail.

Although I am not an official participant, I will be minding the studio of local glass artist Mike Barton. The organizers have generously permitted me to join them as a guest exhibiter while I mind his studio on that first weekend, so if you happen to be up that way, call in to his studio on Tiki Rd to see the loom at work and be part of an informative and exciting cocktail of art in action.

If you do happen to be in Coromandel, the Driving Creek Railway & Pottery is a must do visitor treat. The railway winds up through the bush to the viewing platform and it is an experience children will well remember for a very long time....If you are quick, you might just catch a glimpse of these two panels set in the brickwork above one of the tunnels. I made them in 1998, as part of a design process I was using at the time. Initial pastel sketches and drawings were used to form the basis for these two large tiles, which in turn were used to create the final weaving design.

Postcards From The Mother Ship.

This weaving and the clay works above were based on a road trip I made through Tokoroa in 1997. I had seen this area of man-made forest growing ever since I was a child.

With the forestry cleared up to the roadside only a few metres either side of State Highway 1, and the clear-felling finally revealing the contours of the land, it all seemed very violent.

The visual effect was raw and profound. The steep hills were completely stripped bare to finally reveal the starkness of emaciated land.

It is little wonder the people of Coromandel are so precious about their natural heritage.

It appears there is renewed interest in providing government support for mining this area.

Grass Roots

I have recently enjoyed two weekends of inspiration and support. The first was attending the N.Z. Professional Weavers Seminar at the St Francis Retreat Centre in Auckland, where my work and professional attitudes were acknowledged by the very fact that I was there. The second was spent relaxing with my local small group of Spinners & Weavers at Orua Bay near the southern entrance to the Manukau Harbour. I enjoyed a rare opportunity to play with dye pots and managed to felt a small handmade gift without too much purpose.

For anyone working with fibre, I highly recommend both. There is a genuine passion at both ends of the spectrum to encourage and share knowledge and wisdom, blended with a natural wish to acheive a high level of craftsmanship.

This special psyche extends across countries and borders, and was proven during a recent trip I took to visit family living in Australia last November. With a little bit of forward planning, I was able to visit the Hervey Bay Spinners & Weavers, where I gave an inpromptu presentation of my work during the show and tell session. I was received with much interest, despite their own business and routine being interrupted... and they insisted the spectacular afternoon tea was not in my honour. For me, keeping in touch with the grass roots craft-artists movement is most comforting.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

T.S.E. "Within The Square" Travelling Suitcase Update....Dates & Locations

Work from previous T.S.E.
The 20x20cm tapestry weavings in this show are scheduled to be travelling through the following areas so make a note in your diary:

Christchurch 4 - 17 May 2010 #
Dunedin 10 - 20 June #
Gore 10 July - 8 August #
Wellington 15 - 29 August
Titirangi 9 September - 3 October #
Tauranga 12 - 26 October #
Keri Keri 7 - 21 November
Whangarei 28 November - 10 December
Palmerston North 17 - 31 December #
Eltham 7 January - 4 February 2011 #
(Hash denotes comfirmed gallery booking as at Dec. 2009)

I will post a list of the actual galleries and venues as they become available to me. This years show should have some interesting pieces in it as it is the first time the shape of the work has not been restricted to a squared piece of weaving. As long as the work is able to fit within the designated space of 20x20cm, it will conform with the breif.
I have two booklets written by N.Z. tapestry weaver Diane Ammar that describe how to weave non-traditional shapes. She has run many workshops on the subject, teaching her method, and this exhibition may prove to be an opportunity to view the results of her enthusiasm and encouragement for this weaving technique.

And that's the great thing about the Travelling Suitcase, it's a wonderful opportunity for quite unknown weavers or students who have attended specific workshops to have their work up on the wall beside some of the countries better known tapestry weavers.

This is my first ever entry into The Travelling Suitcase Exhibition from around 1997/98.

The idea for the design was taken from a wood print I had previously been working on a few years earlier.

Monday, February 1, 2010



One of a pair from an exhibition held at Hauraki House Gallery. Although the weavings were obviously referenced from Nusery Tales, they were fantastically dark little pieces. Simplicity sometimes works strong magic and these were sold during the exhibition.

I have mis-placed your name but thanks to the buyer for your support, and I hope you are still enjoying the work.

Some time during the mid/late nineties a Keith Haring Exhibition was shown in Wellington if I remember rightly. His simplicity of line and movement was incredibly inspiring for me.
Social comment in an abstract or sparse art work, subtle or otherwise, has the ability to show time and place in a multi layered type of way. This weaving from Inquision/Supperstition is one of a pair.

I have been interested in working collaboratively with someone on a larger mural-type weaving for quite a while now. If there are any community mined artists out there with roots in the street art movement and who have a mature and focused desire to work on a joint project involving tapestry weaving, get in touch.
Ahhh.... The beautiful Coromandel. What better place to have gathered up the kids and moved to.
With quartz crystals in the foothills towering over you and the sea surrounding you, always in the background, where ever you go.

If you have never been to Coromandel it is one of the most beautiful places north of Taupo to visit. Take an adventure up the Thames Coast road to visit a community packed to the rafters with fellow artisans. Check out the Annual Arts Trail if you can, which runs Fri-Sun over 4 consecutive weekends during late summer. Participating artists have their studios open, and it is a fantastic way for children to see and learn about art in the making.
In 2000 my son and I moved from our comfy nest in Coromandel township, into a new temporary one on K. Road in Auckland city.
The front door of the flat opened directly onto the chaos of one of the countries busiest and most notorious inner city streets. It was in dramatic contrast to what me, the brash Earth Mother and my Rudolf Steiner educated boy were used to.
There were many, many K.Rd Kenny's living on or around Karangahape Road, and this is a weaving of one of them.
Although not a calm place to live it was probably one of the safest places to live in Auckland city. Thanks for sharing the adventure Izack, I hope you forgive me.

Sunday, January 31, 2010


Ends per inch or e.p.i. are used to indicate the number of warps (vertical threads) that the tapestry weaving is woven onto for every inch you measure across the completed work.
For example the rug you can see being woven on the loom here is set at approximately 5 e.p.i. This means that for every inch across the entire horizontal row of the warp threads there are 5 vertical threads. This is referred to as a low warp.

It also means that creating vertical lines in this particular rug design should be avoided as much as possible. The low number of e.p.i. will always dictate the limitations of the end design.


Woven on a much finer warp thread at approximately 10 e.p.i. allows for more detail to be incorporated into a design. Being woven at 10 ends-per-inch still makes it a reasonably low warp count and the jump from vertical warp-to-warp threads is clearly noticeable where the line of the cheek on the face meets the main background. If the warp had been set at 20 e.p.i. this would be far less obvious, however the hours of work involved completing it would be much increased.

I love this weaving …Beyond The Wall Of Melancholy
Every now and again you produce a piece of work that you feel is as close to what you were trying to create as you wanted. For me this is definitely one of those pieces. By having such a strong visual impact, it manages to strike a chord with viewers, and got a half page review in the FEATURE PLUS section of the Timaru Herald when it was exhibited at the Aigantighe Gallery while promoting the 2009 National Creative Fibre Exhibition in April last year. It is often this type of unexpected hands-on support from people who are unfamiliar with me or my work that feed the artist within….. Soul food is good too.

* If you would like to help feed the artist without, the piece remains unsold and represents approximately 40 hours work. Offers that support the principles of N.Z. Fair Trade can be sent to me via my blogspot E-mail address.

"Chester" What you see is what you get.

Another one from the archives... This weaving has been woven facing this way up, or across the weaving as you are veiwing it. The strength of the horizontal lines in the design dominate the weaving. There aren't that many verticals, and the few obvious ones are manageable enough to weave without having too much affect on the resulting image. Despite the clean lines of his shirt, he looks a little strung out and devious, and although this has absoblutely nothing to do with the weaving process it is never the less still worth noting. Compare the flow lines of the hair in this weaving with the one below, and you are now able to view tapestry weaving with a more technical eye for details.

Although this is an early work that is reasonably basic in its design and construction, I still find weavings like this unashamedly simple and compelling.

Which Way is Up?

This archival weaving is a good example of how the design dictates the direction of the weaving process. This piece, and the weaving "Moehau" below, were woven sideways so to speak. If you look at the images with this in mind it is easy to see that vertical lines in a design need to be carefully planned, and that these vertical lines will ultimately determine whether the piece will be woven on the loom vertically or horizontally.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


I have always preferred to use a selection of yarns in the weavings I produce, and for me the mixing of these different wools, cottons and rayons in particular give the weaving a less flattened and more interesting appearance. When trying to present 2-dimensional fibre art as fine art, I like to enhance the texture of the surface, especially as my weavings tend to be pictorial and the images in them easily identifiable.

The use of texture range is important in the weaving if the veiwer is likely to critique it in the same context as a 2-dimensional painting, As much as that, having all those cones of scrappy odds & ends feeds the magpie in me, and gives an excuse for all the space-wasters in my studio storage area to exist.

Travelling Suitcase Exhibition 2010

I have been contributing work for the Travelling Suitcase Exhibition since 1998. This is a non-selected exhibition of 20 x 20 cm. tapestry weavings produced by N.Z. weavers, and is open to anyone who is a member of The N.Z. Tapestry Network.

The Exhibition spends a year travelling the country from venue to venue in both the North and South Islands. It is well supported by some of New Zealands leading weavers and I highly recommend viewing the exhibition if it has a venue near you. Here is a sneak preview of one of the two weavings I have been working on for this years show. I will put the dates and venues of this years T.S.E. up in one of my next posts.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Welcome to the new WARPED ART & DESIGN blog site. I will be posting updates of what I am working on, as well as letting you know of other events and activities that may be of interest to you. Some of this may be as grass roots as what's going on within my own local Spinners & Weavers, through to events and exhibitions that may be of interest to you.

It is my intent to make better use of my studio this year and to get some basic workshops up and running on a semi-regular basis. I will list workshops as they become available.

Although weaving is the focus of my own work, there are many young women in particular who are wanting to learn more about the very basics of fibre construction. Feel free to make contact with me if you think your group or organisation may be interested in learning the basics and more when it comes to weaving, spinning, or knitting.

Work on the loom

Finished portrait
Work on loom

This woven portrait "Evad" won the Creative Fibre - Gisler Architects Award for Excellence in Artistic Design, when it was exhibited at the Creative Fibre Experience 2009 in Hamilton last year.
Working with what appears to be a predominantly black and white colour palette is a challenge for all fibre artists, and this piece was no exception. It measures approximately 1.3 metres by 900 cm. and took about 90-100 hours to complete; from the first stage of photo adjustment for the weavable design through to its final readiness for hanging.

Portrait Weaving in the making... Note the original photo above the weaving. This is used by the weaver as constant point of cross referencing while the work is being woven on the loom.

Tapestry Weavings By Stephenie Collin


I hope you find Warped Art & Design both interesting and inspiring, and that it will encourage anyone working with fibre to investigate and experiment further within their chosen field.

The basic loom, which is my tool of trade, has remained technologically unchanged. This aspect appeals to me as I weave contemporary images on a machine of such simple and ancient construction.

And if the loom be silenced,
then needles, threads and fingers
have plenty more to say.

About Me

My photo
Waiuku, Auckland, New Zealand
I am an artist, weaver, gardener, mother and grandmother, home food gatherer, political sceptic, modest future eater, and much much more.