I love the poem, ‘She Walks in Beauty Like the Night’ by Lord Byron….
To me, it’s about being aware of how we walk through the days AND the nights of our lives-
Walking each moment in attention to the beauty that surrounds us,
and the beauty that exists in us, and those whose lives we walk with.
Also, it makes me think about the ways we treat the night in our culture.
We’re a little (or a LOT) afraid of it, aren’t we?
We need to light it up and make it not so dark, not so scary,
not so much bigger than we are…..
And, so, I made this Woven Woman, with all those thoughts, and oh, so many more,
in my mind.
‘She Walks in Beauty Like the Night’ was woven on my 8 inch Mirrix tapestry loom at 8 epi and 4 epi (I wanted to add a lot of texture, so I took a chance and by going with what is considered to be a whalloping HUGE scale of weaving.
It was a challenge to accept what I was doing, but I loved what I learned in combining the 2 different ends per inch ratio- always excellent to learn new things- Yes!)
Her arms were woven on my 4 harness loom at 30 ends per inch.
The narrow bands at her shoulders and wrists were woven on my inkle loom.
I drew the face, hands and feet on Baltic Birch plywood and cut them out with the bandsaw, sanded, sanded and filed the edges.
Then I burned the pencil lines with a special rheostatic wood burner that my lovely, brilliant husband, Jim Findlay, LINK designed and built for me.
Next step was to do some encaustic work with laying color in with beeswax, and melting it in (without setting fire to everything, ahem- that does put a crimp in the day….). Then, layers of acrylic paints, more beeswax, and then the wooden pieces were all varnished.
I drill holes in at their edges so they can be stitched securely into the tapestry.
‘She Walks in Beauty Like the Night’ is just over 36 inches tall.
I am enchanted with weaving words these days, which has all manner of challenges, but it has absolutely captured my imagination.
I find weaving words to be utterly delicious, and phrases and fragments of favorite poems are jumping up and down, leaping through my dreams, marching through my mind or dancing on the edges, demanding to become Woven Women.
So, what am I to do? Warp up the loom and keep weaving, of course!
My beloved daughter in love, (light of my son’s life, my dear friend, and a total treasure), Alliston Findlay, is a master hand spinner.
Her handspun yarns are the richly shaded blacks in ‘She Walks in Beauty’.
The irridescent threads that I used to weave the words are from Kreinik threads LINK
Weaving tapestry with bundles of metallic threads (I used 3 or 4 strands of the metalics and blending threads held together) is VERY slow and definitely challenging, but SO worth it.
When I was steaming the tapestry after it came off the loom, I was VERY careful, as I was worried that I might melt the threads. Luckily, they stood up to the steaming and finishing process just fine- whew!
Finishing a tapestry is one heck of a lot of work, but that’s another story.
For now, let me leave you with the wish that you, too, will walk in beauty like the night, through all the moments of your beautiful life!
PS:I was told last week that Lord Byron wrote the poem because he deeply honoured and respected a young woman who struggled with cerebral palsy. Apparently, this made it difficult for some people to see her true beauty. This makes me love the poem even more!
If you check the comments, you will see a link to poets.org … check it out! (Thank you, Gene!)
Here is the poem in full:
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling place.
And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!