Tag Archives: sketching

Chalkboards are low tech dandy design tools

Sometimes, I get stuck in the design process.

That’s when I need to give myself nudges that break up the mental and emotional constriction that is keeping me from moving forward in a project.

And, so, I reach for some of my favorite tools that help me to see things differently.

My chalkboards and chalk.

copyright Noreen Crone-Findlay

Eh? as we say in Canada ๐Ÿ™‚

Really!ย  A chalkboard is a fabulous tool for knocking the design blechs sideways!

I have wondered about why they work so well for me and I think that there are a couple of reasons.

The first is that white chalk on a black surface reverses the way I normally see things when I am drawing.

This is invaluable, because it clears the deck of any pre-conceived notions that I had about sketching.

It’s like working with negatives instead of photographs. You really do see things differently.

And, if you are stuck, then that is really helpful!

The second reason why I love chalkboards so much is that drawing on a chalkboard is so playful.

There’s a real feeling of ‘little kid’-ness to them that is definitely very freeing.

You know that it’s not permanent… it’s just a bit of dust on black paint … so wheee…… draw, draw, draw!

If you don’t like it…. whoosh whoosh, wipe it off and it’s gone.

If only the rest of life were so easy!

AND… if you do like it, then grab a piece of paper and a pencil and copy the sketch onto the somewhat more permanent surface.

How did I get such a neat shape chalkboard?


I drew the shape on masonite, cut it out and painted it with several coats of chalkboard paint from the hardware store.

I even like the scritchy sound the chalk makes when I am drawing.

Low tech is often a wonderful way of opening the doorways to creativity and imagination.

Try it…. you might like it ๐Ÿ˜€

PS: Anne, who is one of my online friends in the Mirrix facebook group suggested that you take pics of your favorite sketches and load them into your paint or bead making programs.ย  I don’t use those programs, so it didn’t occur to me.

Anne’s suggestion also reminded me that I do take ‘archival’ photos of some of the sketches that I really like… sorry… I completely forgot to mention that!ย  Thanks for the reminder, Anne! ๐Ÿ™‚


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Sketching Swatching and Sampling are such valuable weaving tools

I am working hard on a new tapestry. It’s inching along, as tapestry does, when you are in focused mode.

BUT… I found myself feeling really stuck when I finished one section, and couldn’t move forward onto the next section.

So, I fell back on my ultimate design tool.

I got out my sketchbooks and aquarelles (watercolor pencils), and did the thing that my drawing master back in my art school days drilled into me: Sketch, sketch, sketch!

copyright Noreen Crone-Findlay

He also drilled into his students that it is essential to carry your sketchbook or notebook with you ABSOLUTELY EVERYWHERE, and to sketch every single day.

AND, even more important: Don’t worry about making ‘good’ sketches.

Just catch thoughts, dreams, words, and other fleeting moments on the paper and let them build a vocabulary for you.

The part of the tapestry that had me flummoxed is a child’s costume.

I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it, until I worked my way through a bunch of really rough, ‘thinking on paper’ sketches.

That took me through the roadblock to the ‘AHA’….

And I knew that I needed to move onto sampling and swatching.

copyright Noreen Crone-Findlay

I set up my 8 inch Lani Mirrix loom with a ‘no warp ends’ warp, using ‘S’ hooks… in the video, I show some pointers about this setup.

As a professional designer, I cannot underestimate the importance of swatches andย  sampling.

I am always amazed by knitters and crocheters who skip this foundation aspect of the creative process!

So much is revealed in the swatching and sampling stages of creation.

AND… something else that is a huge bonus- so often, the sampling and swatching will reveal that there is something new to explore!

(Which of course, leads back to the sketching…) !

Even though the feeling stuck part of working on this tapestry really stank while I was in it, I ended up feeling really grateful for being forced to move back to basic problem solving techniques.

Why? Because I am now inspired to explore soumak weaving, which I have not done before.

I am fascinated and intrigued…. there will be more about this!

In the mean time, here’s the video about sketching, sampling and swatching.

And, even though I don’t normally like to show pieces while they are in progress, I did do a little ‘reveal’ of the new tapestry.


Filed under Loom & looms & small loom weaving, Mirrix loom, tutorial & how to, weaving & handwoven