exquisitely crafted and fanciful tapestry creations shown below are from the Wissa Wassef
studios in Harrania, Egypt. Woven by young artisans who learned the tapestry craft as
uninhibited, free-spirited children in their after- school hours, the meticulous weavings
of fine cotton threads are exceedingly time- consuming to produce, and the source of much
pride. Small pieces often represent months of weaving.
Like the larger, more well-known traditional Egyptian wool tapestries, these lyrical cotton miniatures are woven without drawings; the artists work from mental images alone. Animals, birds and plants from the surrounding countryside normally are the subjects. If you have not already read the Wissa Wassef Story, for some background on the astonishing Harranian experiment in creativity, be sure to do so.
Rarely are the tapestry surfaces perfectly flat; instead, their rippled planes reflect the inherent freedom of the medium, as well as carefree attitudes toward the work-- attitudes in which lively and creative imagery are of paramount importance. This three-dimensionality is not conveyed by the JPEG photos; indeed it makes some of the pieces exceedingly difficult to photograph.
Except for the last piece (which has been mounted), the enchanting cotton miniature tapestries below are just as they came from the loom: they have not been mounted, and you may frame or mount them as you wish. The colors in these pieces are soft and muted, as is typical with indigo and other natural dyes on cotton threads. The photos at the end of this page show an indigo-dyeing session. Because of the fragility of natural dyes on cotton, these tapestries should be not be displayed in direct sunlight.
For background on the important Wissa Wassef experiment in creativity, click HERE.
Go to the Wissa Wassef Story
Go to the Main Tapestry Page
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