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Color and Texture: Our New Tapestry Class

Tapestry by Tea Okropiridze
“Red Spot,” wool, acrylic, and cotton, by Tea Okropiridze.

Whether you’re an experienced weaver or you don’t know warp from weft, we have a new class for you to check out — The Art League’s new tapestry class kicks into gear Saturday, January 19. The seven-week course is taught by new instructor Tea Okropiridze, who previously taught a two-day workshop in tapestry this fall. Tea is a tapestry artist who started her career in the Republic of Georgia and more recently has participated in exhibitions with the Washington Project For the Arts\Corcoran and the Arts Club of Washington.

Tea told us more about the class, who can take it, and her artistic background, below.

What will students learn in your Tapestry class?  What sort of finished product will they take home?
Tea Okropiridze: This class concentrates on basic and intermediate Gobelin tapestry weaving techniques, creating a miniature woven tapestry (a little less than a letter size page) on a small frame loom. This class will start with warping the loom, and then we will learn how to make horizontal lines, vertical lines (pick-and-pick technique), different types of interlock, color mixing and hatching, shading, shaping, outlining and more.

Each student will work on individual small tapestries and will be able to take home the sampler they completed during the class. Depending on students’ level of experience, they can choose to weave a sampler or some other designs of their choice.

Should students have previous weaving experience?
Students do not need to have previous experience, since I will cover basics as well; however, it will be useful if they do. In that case, they will be able to dedicate their time to more advanced techniques.

Keep reading for more about the class!

What supplies do they need?
I will be supplying all students with all the necessary materials and supplies needed for this class, which include a small wood frame loom with shed road, cotton or linen warp thread, different colors and shades of weft yarn, a beater or fork for beating, etc.

How is this class different from the Tapestry workshop?
Since tapestry weaving is a very time consuming and slow process, tapestry class will give students more time to work without rushing and getting overwhelmed, versus workshops, which are more intense crash courses trying to cover all the important issues in a short amount of time.

What is Gobelin tapestry?
Gobelin tapestry has more vivid pictorial and detailed woven images and scenes than tapestry as we know it in the United States. The word Gobelin comes from France, Paris, where the Gobelin family lived in the 15th century. They founded and owned a tapestry weaving factory which was named after them.

Tapestry by Tea Okropiridze
“Portrait,” wool, by Tea Okropiridze.

How would you describe your own art?
Even though everyone thinks that tapestry is more craft than art, I consider my weaving art. First, I create miniature artwork by painting or drawing it, and then I develop a cartoon for the actual tapestry and weaving it in larger format.

By creating my art, I am trying to show my world to others using natural resources such a wool, cotton, and silk, and by combining three-dimensional forms and transforming them into a decorative or abstract images, I create a two-dimensional composition, rich with color and texture that, in my opinion, no other medium has.

Can you tell us a little bit about your life — when you started studying art, how you got into textiles, and so forth? When did you move here from Georgia?
I was born in Tbilisi, The Republic of Georgia. I started my art education at the age of 12 at the Tbilisi Art Lyceum. Soon after graduation in 1989, I continued my art education at I. Nicoladze Art College at the department of sculpture. After five years of studying in 1994, I received an associate degree in sculpture. During my study at college, I was often visiting my friends at textile department, and exploring new and interesting media. I found myself drawn to fiber art and decided to continue my study in that field. However, in 1991, I got married to a sculptor, George Tkabladze. We had 2 daughters named Ann and Tamar and I decided to put my further education on hold and put my energy toward my kids.

In 1997, after several years of a break, I applied, and was accepted to the University of Art and Culture at the department of Fine and Applying Arts to study artistic waving and tapestry. Meanwhile, in 2001 my husband received several artist-in-residency grants in United States and he left Georgia to participate in those programs. In 2002 after my graduation from the university, my daughters and I joined my husband in the United States, and continue our lives and our artistic careers here.

You can register for Tapestry here!

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Did you know: The Art League's Art Camp is the longest running visual arts camp in the area! We've been here for more than 30 years! While sadly we can't find any photos from the '80s (please let us know if you have any lying around), let's take a look back at the last several years of burgeoning kid artists and eight years of fun at Art Camp!

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