by Debbie Herd
I am currently a student in my final year of the Diploma of Art, Tapestry at South West Institute of Tafe Warrnambool, Australia. My plunge into the world of blogging began in early 2007 out of the utter frustration of lecturers not receiving my emailed assignments. I am required to send six progress reports, complete with photos, throughout the school year. Because of the difficulty of emailing this information, setting up a blog and uploading my assignments onto the Internet seemed to be the best solution to my problem. A search for other tapestry blogs at that time found only two. Both of the artists used Blogger and because I already had a Gmail account, creating the blog was very simple. A range of different templates was available and the program appeared straightforward.
In the beginning I uploaded photos to Blogger but soon became frustrated with the order in which they appeared and the way that they were placed in relation to the text. It seems as though this feature of the program has a mind of its own at times! So I began uploading my photos to Flickr, a free photo-hosting site that holds up to 200 photos.
If you are a member of Kathe Todd Hooker’s Tapestry 2005 email list you already have a Yahoo username and you can create your own Flickr account using your Yahoo account. I simply copy and paste the HTML code from Flickr into my blog posts to show the photo, and that way they appear larger in size than photos posted on Blogger. This works much better for me because the text and photos are where I want them. Keep in mind that my work is marked from these photos and I try to keep the format as simple to view as possible. I set up the photos in Flickr so that only I can download them. This helps avoid pirating of my images, although my work can be saved directly from the screen on my blog. Unfortunately, others can pirate whatever you publish on the Internet no matter how nicely you ask that your copyright be respected.
The main focus for my blog at this time is my Tafe assignments, although I sometimes include posts about the environment around me. I never upload images of any other artist, or their work, onto my site without their prior permission. If I use another artist’s work, or my son’s photos, I display them in a Flickr slide show so that they cannot be copied. This is a wonderful way to include works from an exhibition on your blog, while respecting the copyright of the artists.
I soon began noticing that other people were viewing my profile on Blogger so I decided to add a Clustr Map to see where these visitors were from. I also added Google Analytics, which gives additional information about each visit. Many of my new blog visitors come through Google Images or Internet searches for tapestry weavers. I moderate all comments posted on my blog. Posts are emailed to me and I decide whether to publish them or keep them private. This allows my lecturers to comment on my work without others being able to read the posts, an important factor for me.
Tapestry weaving is a solitary process. I live in an area with no Guilds or other tapestry weavers with which to share my passion. I study by correspondence, only attending classes once a year. Blogging has greatly changed my feeling of isolation. I find it inspiring to read other tapestry weaver’s blogs, learning that we all share similar struggles with the medium, doubts about our work and finding the time to fit it all into our day. It is wonderful to watch other artists’ work progress from the initial idea, through the tapestry’s growth and finally its completion as a work of art. Artists’ websites, exhibitions and beautifully printed catalogues and books give little insight into the creative process, the artist’s inspiration, environment and working practices. The powerful strength of blogging is that it creates a community of tapestry weavers from across the globe, sharing their creative process along with the trials of creation.
If I had not had the need for a simple and easily accessible way for my lecturers at Tafe to see, and comment on, my work, I would never have considered creating a blog. Uploading my first posts was a bit of a leap of faith for me, publishing my design work and tapestries in progress in a venue where anyone might find them. I feel more confident now even though I am still a student showing my assignments. I often receive emails from other students across the world asking about tapestry, or my work. The beauty of a blog is that it can be a useful resource for so many different subjects.
I am at present writing another blog, which I began after the tragedy of the Black Saturday fires in Victoria. It addresses my relationship with the environment in which I live and includes thoughts about our role on this earth and the footprint we leave behind. These are private thoughts and the blog is not available for public viewing. It is only accessible to me. At some point I may decide to invite others with similar interests to read it or change the settings and make this blog public. I hope that other tapestry weavers will become inspired to join the blogging community.