Tapestry on Tap: ATA’s 2016 Members Retreat


Susan Iverson & Aino Kajanieni

ATA’s 2016 Members Retreat

August 7-10, 2016

The 2016 Members Retreat has finished.

Running dry on inspiration? Quench your thirst when you belly up to the bar loom for a tasty micro brewed four-day tapestry retreat in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Master tapestry brewers Aino Kajaniemi and Susan Iverson will fill your empty mug with solid building blocks of creativity in the Cream City on the shore of sparkling Lake Michigan. Bring your enthusiasm… cheesehead hats optional!

ATA’s Members Retreat will take place over four days, from August 7-10, 2016 at Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI, USA, following HGA’s Convergence. Check in at Marquette is on the afternoon on August 6th. Single and double rooms are available and include all meals.

Pulling Warp/ Pushing Ideas
taught by Susan Iverson

Iverson_Horizon - Far & Near

Susan Iverson, “Horizon – Far and Near”

Pulled warp is a versatile technique that allows the weaver to create both simple and complex forms and shapes.  The tapestry may remain flat or it can become 3D.  The workshop will include: visual presentations, a thorough explanation of the technique and its variations, demonstrations, work time and discussions.  Through a series of woven samples and paper models the participants will learn the basics of this technique and understand its potential.

The idea of pushing ideas and developing a concept into a series will be integrated into the workshop.  Through a series of exercises and critiques/conversations each participant will have the opportunity to expand their work.  The participant may choose to develop ideas with pulled warp, but that will not be necessary.  The creative aspect of exploring the technique should help each person think of new ideas and/or think about their current ideas/source material in a new way.

Note:  If a participant has already been in one of my one or two day workshops they may still take this if they want to pursue this technique and get additional help with problem solving.

Susan Iverson, a studio artist, lives in rural Virginia near the small town of Montpelier.  She retired in 2015 from a long career as a professor in the Department of Craft/Material Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.  She earned a MFA from Tyler School of Art, Temple University in Philadelphia, PA and a BFA from Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, CO.  Her work has been exhibited widely throughout the United States and in Canada, Italy and Australia and is included in many collections including The Art in Embassies Program and the Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC.  In 2016 her work will be included in the “15th International Triennial of Tapestry” in Lodz, Poland.

Iverson_Horizon Atlantic

Susan Iverson, “Horizon Atlantic”


Flexible Lines
taught by Aino Kajaniemi

Aino Kajaniemi, "Gold Rain"

Aino Kajaniemi, “Gold Rain”

This workshop will focus on weaving and will be supplemented by discussions on developing themes and stories in one’s work. In my art and my weaving technique the most important thing is the line. You will learn ways to achieve variety in woven lines by experimenting with different yarns, yarn weights and woven techniques. The goal is to achieve intricate detail, natural, organic lines, and a lively and more three dimensional surface. This sensitivity to line creates tapestries that are delicate and emotive, sensitive and human.

We will look at actual tapestries and slide shows of tapestries in order to understand techniques and design related concepts. I will also demonstrate my techniques on a small tapestry. We will discuss together problems that appear in everyone’s weaving practice. We can learn through our own experience, but also by discussing and looking at each other’s work.

Aino Kajaniemi lives in Jyväskylä, Finland. She graduated from the University of Arts and Design in Helsinki. She says:

“Everyone has their own way, own rhythm. My strong suits are patience and hard work. I had four sisters; I am the second youngest. Nobody had any hopes and expectations for me so I haven’t had pressure from the outside. I have developed in my own rhythm.

I studied in a weaving school for two years and it was a good basis for my career. It is said that when you know the technique, you can forget it. After that I studied in University of Art and Design in Helsinki and graduated as a textile artist in the year 1983. When I took my final examination, I showed my sketches to my teacher and she said: “The only way to weave these is tapestry weaving.” So I started making tapestries for a very practical reason.

I started to work as an artist in 1990. My parents had died and my second child was born that same year. My life was in two extreme opposites, birth and death. My tapestries tell stories of human life. The symbolism of small, concrete things form a metaphor for something greater. I depict human growth and life’s complexity and emotions: longing, fear, joy, shame, sorrow, the difficulty of communication and co-existence. I think about the question of how a human being can find her/his place in the world, setbacks, fears, needing support and dreams. Not believing in one single truth, my work is often a series of scenes, which show the different sides of life.

My art isn’t directly polemical or political but approaches the subjects more poetically. I feel even sad things are more easily approached in textiles because the material itself holds optimistic and soft values. My work begins with drawing, pencil on paper. All my tapestries have a full-size sketch. My weaving is not traditional tapestry weaving. I think that it can be described as impressionism in tapestry. I don’t care about rules but want to weave freely and quickly. I don’t hide the warp, as in traditional tapestry because I feel the surface becomes livelier when you see the structure of the fabric. I am happy that I have found weaving; no other technique contains a similar history that is recognizable all over the world.

I have taken part in numerous exhibitions in Finland and abroad: Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark,  Estonia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Ireland,  Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russian,  Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Czech Republic, Turkey and USA. I have completed several commissions and liturgical textiles for six churches. I was selected as the textile artist of the year 2010 in Finland and received a five year grant from the state of Finland in 2011 and 2016.

Aino Kajaniemi, "From Near to Far"

Aino Kajaniemi, “From Near to Far”