Monday, June 29, 2015

A Gold Thread Amongst the Silver

Gudrun Weisinger
October 8th 1941- June 22nd 2015

Gudrun Weisinger, nee Behmel, was born October 8th, 1941, in Dettingen (Hohenzollern), Germany as one of four siblings, two boys and two girls. In 1966 she moved to Canada, intending to stay one year, but there she met the love of her life, her soulmate Alfred. Together they built a life and had two sons, Peter and Franz. Gudrun also began her career as one of the most accomplished weavers in the country.

She had trained in Germany at the ‘Meisterschule für das Weberhandwerk', Master School for the Weaving Trade, in Sindelfingen, and completed a Journeyman certificate, earning the title of Master Weaver in 1964.

Over the years she has exhibited many works at art shows and galleries, and has received prestigious awards and prizes in Canada and the United States.

Her commissioned work includes a tapestry for the Japanese Sister City of Surrey, BC; a wall hanging for a library in Newton, BC; recreation of several historic home textiles; and restoration of a Jacquard loom.

She was a most loved and distinguished member of the Shuswap Spinners and Weavers Guild in Salmon Arm, and was an Honourable Member of the Peace Arch Spinners Guild in Surrey. She taught all levels of weaving and designing and was often a judge at weaving exhibitions.

Gudrun was a meticulous artisan. In her words, “finding a perfect harmony of colour, texture, fibre and technique is of paramount importance in my weaving.”
In addition to her weaving, Gudrun also loved gardening and being outside. She was always positive, vital, and up for a new experience.


I can honestly say that all those descriptions of Gudrun are true! She was always happy to see you, freely share a weaving draft or show you how to do something if you haven't tried it yet.  She became a dear friend and weaving mentor to me when we moved to the Shuswap area of BC in 2004.   We were guild sisters, friends and neighbours. We met socially for supper exchanges and both my husband and I became friends with her and her husband Alfred.  

Leaving our friends behind when we returned to the coast was my biggest regret about relocating and Gudrun would often ask when we were moving back?   Emails, phone calls and even Facebook all helped to bridge the gap between visits.  There were also the occasional envelopes in the mail from Gudrun with weaving drafts and woven sample surprises!

I simply can't believe she is gone.  I'm going to need some time to adjust to this new sad reality...

I have various pictures of Gudrun and her weaving work to share.  I think you'll see what a treasure the weaving world lost this Summer Solstice.

Beautiful kitchen towels

...and weaving her own tape for towel hangers!

Table cloths

Twill progressions was another of Gudrun's favourite designs and here are a set of placemats and a runner she wove that I bought as a gift for a friend.

Gudrun's favourite pine trees

Her overshot was stunning in her choice of colours and exquisitely woven. 

Full overshot bed coverlet that was on our bed! Its 16/2 cotton.... thousands of warp ends, woven double weave!

This LINK will take you to a Christmas theme post where she has made the most delightful decorations for our tree. 

This LINK will take you to a post where Gudrun had shown me some nifty finishing techniques and I used them in this project.

Gudrun at her loom

Its a large twelve shaft countermarch from Scotland and circa 1934 ... with a fly shuttle.

Gudrun had this really interesting, but heavy metal sample / workshop loom that she took to workshops and displays. Alfred would always carry it in for her and set it up.  I watched her use it many times weaving huck lace at one workshop, or Theo Mormon at another. She even used it at a tapestry workshop working her sample horizontally.

Gudrun was also an amazing tapestry weaver (* more on this later!)

Gudrun played the piano as well and we still fondly recall an evening  where she played for us after dinner.  She loved the classics. Here she is playing at a display where her weaving was on exhibit along with a few other weavers.

Gudrun sent me this picture of the ice cream cones at the local Co-Op gas station as bait to try and lure us back to the Shuswap!

Her  husband and true partner in all things, Alfred "helping"

Above is Liz Bosworth (Guild president then), Gudrun and myself at the Salmon Art Gallery.

So we went to visit and stay with them in the Salmon Arm area the end of June, 2013. We had a lovely time!

Later, Alfred and I sat and took in the view of the lake and Bastion Mountain while Gudrun and Bruce went for a walk on the pier.

Gudrun loved the Shuswap and its hot sunny summers and cold crisp winters.  She had a lovely yard and garden and they managed it well together.    Friends were invited to come and sit on their deck and do some fibre activity such as spinning, dyeing or simply twisting fringe.

Here's Gudie (right) with Gudrun enjoying the air  together and working on finishing projects together. The Salmon Arm Spinners and Weavers Guild are an active group so events like the fall fairs, workshops and projects are ongoing all year round.

Now back to the tapestry weaving....    I was able to photograph some of Gudrun's tapestries.

A night migration of birds.

close up detail

A computer chip!

Then there was  Autumn in Sunnybrae ... woven sideways.
Please see the link above for a past blog post on this amazing tapestry.

This was hung above their fireplace and when you see it from ten to fifteen feet away, it looked like a detailed, clear painting. It took your breath away!

Next major tapestry Gudrun embarked on was The Pond
Again, please take time to read the older post.

When viewed from a few feet back, you can see the shimmer on the water!

Then last August 2014, Gudrun finished another tapestry that she had worked on for nearly two years.  I have a great many pictures of it under way and the big reveal and we talked about doing a blog post on this work, but unfortunately Gudrun's commentary on the project didn't come to pass.

Gudrun's son asked her to weave him a dinosaur....  fossilized dinosaur bones!  Here are a sequence of pictures showing it under way... some are taken by me and most are by Gudrun and Alfred:
Be sure to click to enlarge!

The loom and weaver

The yarns and colours used

The cartoon

The start...

Finally removed from the loom last August 21st, 2014

Blocked and mounted by September 7th and now hangs in her son and daughter in law's home.

I have no more words other than to say...  I treasure my time with Gudrun and  I miss my friend.  Our deepest condolences to her family and friends. Gudrun leaves behind a dear husband, two sons, a daughter in law and two lovely grand daughters.   Maybe they will become weavers like their Oma?