“Best of Show” Background

By Judy Ness

“Playa Summer Lake, Spring 2014” was woven with a combination of tapestry and krokbragd, a technique I developed while I was in graduate school at the University of Oregon. While the front worked well, I was not able to design an elegant back side while weaving the combination. In regular tapestry, the back side is not reversible and has a mass of yarns tied neatly to keep the ends from coming to the front. In krokbragd, the reverse side with the blocky geometric floats is expected to be clear and clean of any odd disruptions. Over the years, the judges at the show would sometimes ding me for the finishing of the back. I did the best I could to keep the tapestry joins that occurred in the middle of a shot from showing too much on the reverse side. Over the years, pieces would come back to me with the judges’ comments, sometimes dinging me for the unorthodox backside finish. Ticketed by the ‘Krokbragd Police’ again.

This piece evolved from a five-week artist’s residency in Summer Lake, Oregon, in 2014. The residency allowed me to concentrate without distractions on a difficult piece in the Diné (Navajo) technique that I couldn’t seem to face at home. The Oregon high desert in early springtime has subtle colors in the land and outrageous panoramas of dramatic color in the sky. The view out my cabin window was the inspiration for the work that was in the show this year. It was made to honor the experience–to be grateful for the opportunity and to mark it as important.

"Playa Summer Lake, Spring 2014" by Judy Ness. Detail.

“Playa Summer Lake, Spring 2014” by Judy Ness. Detail.

There was a little breakthrough on the structure issue. Clasped wefts. On a smaller piece like this one, using the clasped weft technique (à la Peter Collingwood) made the curves in the clouds. It only took me 17 years to figure that one out. Weaving is not for weenies.


“Playa Summer Lake, Spring 2014” by Judy Ness. Detail of clouds.

I can trace my deep interest in two favorite types of textiles: Norwegian and Navajo.  As a child, I visited the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle, Washington, during Nordic Fest and was fascinated by the beautiful historical items. The tools and textiles on display guided me to a connection with my people. I didn’t know I had people! The idea of becoming a weaver began when I saw the primary colors and startling geometric patterns in Diné (Navajo) rugs as a child. It was so clearly a way to weave beauty and harmony into the world.

Keep weaving. It doesn’t matter what they say or how many shows you get into. Impress yourself, and only yourself.

Judy Ness is a tapestry weaver from Oregon with special interests in Norwegian and Navajo weaving. She has shared her knowledge and love of textiles as an instructor in weaving, spinning, and dyeing since 1995.

One thought on ““Best of Show” Background

  1. Judy Ness

    Thanks for the article. A little correction….The Vesterheim was the museum I visited during the Nordic Fest in Decorah. I’m from Iowa, Lake Mills, just up by the Minnesota border on Hwy. 69. Best, Judy


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