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Jan worked simultaneously in multiple mediums, which he developed throughout his career. Within each of these mediums he would develop a methodology and stay within that process. One of the key components of the process is the materials that were chosen. There is a consistency to materials over a 40-50 year period and sometimes even longer. This mix of the traditional process of material use and mastery along with the integration of his cultural and lived environments with his imagination enabled Jan to continue to innovate his work throughout his life.
Inspiration for the abstracted Tapestries started numerous ways. Occasionally Jan would draw inspiration from photographs he’d taken or see something in a magazine. Sometimes Marianne might point out shadows from plants or dunes for Jan to take photographs. The surroundings were constantly seen as opportunities; peeling posters and written text were just some of what was reaped from the surroundings. Jan, Marianne and Annabert all participated in this process; there was a constant dialog and experimentation between the three.
From there Jan would begin to frame/crop/focus the subject matter. Gouaches, tracings, sketches, and collages were worked through to get to a final image. Gouaches are brightly toned paint that allowed a clearer sense of color for the tapestries. The image was then traced and gridded to be able to translate it to a larger scale and transfer the image to the loom. Full scale painted cartoons were made and often hung behind the linen warp as the pieces were woven for guidance. The warp threads themselves were also painted to demarcate color shifts.
The yarns were dyed to Jans specifications. Sometimes there would be shifts in color choices from the studies and cartoons to the final tapestry. “A design may actually evolve from my excitement over a particular wool color.”
An eight-by-ten-foot tapestry usually takes four or five months to complete with three to four people weaving eight hours each day. Using an age-old method, the Yoors thread their handmade 15-foot loom and then carefully transpose Yoors’s original full-scale cartoons onto the threads with a paintbrush. They weave one color at a time, beating the threads down individually with a screwdriver; no treadle is involved. Their final product is hemmed and pressed by hand. Only Persian yarn is used because its long fibers are strong, dense, and lightfast.
One single tapestry was woven from each cartoon, unlike the tapestry weavers of France, and elsewhere, who weave “limited editions.” They approached tapestry weaving as a painter would his work, experimentally and as a speculation.
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Process of the tapestry Black Shape on Beige with Orange Moon
Process of an unwoven tapestry
Process of the tapestry As Clouds to Moon