I generally share info about what’s happening in the studio or how I do a certain art technique, or fun art shows coming up. This month I want to share with you someone who has amazed me beyond words. Judy Nelson-Moore, an accomplished ceramics artist from Santa Fe, had never made a rya rug in her life, but contacted me with an email that started: “After seeing your website, reading your blog and email news, buying a rya backing, and ordering rya yarn samples, I almost feel like I know you! I hope you will not mind if I send you pictures of the entry rug I plan to make using the backing I bought from you and ask your advice about the yarn.” Thus began the a relationship across the states, of one artist with another. Judy shared with me her technique for graphing her design with the help of her extensive computer know-how. Graphing with the help of a computer had been something I’d been trying to figure out for months! She applied logic and figured it out. She went on to say, “Unfortunately, the ease of doing the designs was almost a liability. I have about 200 images in my “rya” folder. It has taken me far too long to decide, but I finally have the selected design.” The design she chose was full of blended shades which could be daunting to most beginners, but I had no doubt she could do it. She made a graph overlay and plotted out her course. Next she had to select colors to make this design come to life. Since she had the sample color card in hand, she selected lots of colors. I am always happy to help a designer by cutting skeins so they don’t have to buy more than they need just for small areas or highlights.
So once Judy gave me her yarn request, I piled it on the studio table and send her a photo to be sure the pile matched her vision of her rya. The yarn was all Lundgren yarn (my grandparents’) and the backing from Finland if I’m not mistaken. With the yarn in her hands, she was able to more accurately chart out her progress. She created needle threading combinations and a color chart for herself. Everyone does this differently and it is great fun for me to see how she chose to keep her vision on track. In essence, this is comparable to the painter’s palette where countless color combinations can be created. (Other rya artists, how do you create your color combinations?)
At just beyond the halfway point these are some of the most subtle blendings I’ve ever seen in a rya. (And I’ve seen a lot of ryas!) Look at the strands of yarn on the margins–her way of knowing when to change colors. She followed the graph very closely up to this point she tells me.
I can only imagine that half way into the rug, she began to feel like the “captain of the ship” and details of the graph become less important than the feel of blending colors.
A few days ago, I received another email and more photos from Judy. It read, “Melinda, I finished the Rya Rug I had started knotting in September. In retrospect, it doesn’t seem so very long, but it has seemed like a long time during the making! Thank you for being there when I decided to make this rug…couldn’t have done it without you! I really love the finished rug. My husband thinks we should hang it on the wall instead of putting it on the floor where our three cats will probably adopt it, but I am fixated on putting it in the entry to replace my grandmother’s rug. “
What do you think, friends? On the floor or on the wall?
Your choice, Judy. On the wall, it will always look as beautiful as it does today. On the floor, it will still be beautiful, but will gradually show signs of living and household activities. In this photo, the rya is a great focal point in your hallway gallery. I think if your three cats have any say in the matter, it will stay on the floor.
I am often asked if I find satisfaction working on the computer so much, cyber-connecting with people who I may never meet…such an impersonal way to conduct business. NOT! Most of my rya connections are with people who live very far from me. But with connections like I’ve made with Judy, I can honestly say that I am more than thrilled with life as it is. Once my how-to rya book is published, I will be able to get out more, meet people, teach classes. I am really looking forward to that.
Would you like to learn more about Judy Nelson-Moore? You might even see in her ceramics works designs similar the the rya design she brought forth. Take a look at her website to see her other works. http://judynelsonmoore.com/. I think I would like to see her add on to her Dancing Mud Studio an area called Judy Dances With Wool!
In Judy’s first email to me, she had just selected her design from many she had created. Here is another of her designs that I really liked and hope it becomes her next reference for rya #2.
Wouldn’t you just love to see this in wool? I have already put the bug in her ear that she may have requests for designing assistance from others. We’ll see. Go, Judy, Go!
PS Judy recently wrote about her experience with the rya project from her perspective. It has a lot more detail and background info. Take a look for “the rest of the story.” http://judynelsonmoore.com/category/other-media/