Design Issues

Two things can be problematical when designing a tapestry: printing the cartoon in the right dimensions so it can accurately serve as a guide when tacked on to the loom’s frame; inking the cartoon on to the warps.

The first is a local problem. In the US, I could go into any decent copy-shop and get any cartoon enlarged and printed up in the size I want. Not so in China. I know the shops must be there, but so far I’ve not found them. If they can print big banners and billboards and posters, they can print a middling-sized cartoon. Since I’ve not found such a printshop, while I’m in Hong Kong, I’ll have to look for one that will reproduce images 23″ x 19″. If you take a cartoon into a regular Chinese print shop and ask them to do it large, because they don’t understand what it is and don’t really deal in broadsheet–the largest I’ve been able to get has been 17” x 11.75″–they tend to be dismissive and say they can’t do it. That’s what happened with The Conversation.

Inking takes time, patience, a steady hand, and some artistic ability–if you don’t have the right sized cartoon behind the warps. If you don’t, you’ve got to calculate measurements and make sure the proportions remain right. So, keep the tape measure handy.

I’ve found this oil-based permanent marker, which comes with refill ink, by the way, that I’m tested out to ink the cartoon on warps. (I’ve got a fine point, a large point, but there’s no Momma Bear, and she’s really important. Ink bleed can really ruin a tapestry when you block it, or if the adventurous try to wash it.) I cut a piece of warp, inked a one inch section and let the ink dry. Then, I ran the inked warp bit under hot water. If it’s oil based ink, hot water should provoke it to run. The ink stayed fast, but there was just a slight bit of coloration drift when I pinched the inked section between thumb and index and dragged them down to the unlinked area.

What does that tell me? I should be able to use light colored weft over the cartoon inked on the warps with this oil-based marker. Now, I just have to find one with a mid-sized point. More than that, I need to learn to weave without a cartoon.