Tapestry is an ancient form of pictorial weaving that is believed to have come into existence over two thousand years ago. During the medieval and renaissance periods, apart from being decorative, it was also functional, hanging on castle walls to keep the cold and drafts out.
There are several technical features that distinguish tapestry from other forms of weaving. The main difference is that woven fabric has a repeating pattern. Tapestry generally does not. Tapestry depicts a pictorial image and is mainly intended for hanging on walls, and thus, is decorative. Fabric weaving is generally more 'mechanized' as opposed to tapestry which is entirely finger manipulated in construction, if it is a genuine tapestry.Why are tapestries so costly?
Tapestry is a very time consuming process. On the whole, it takes hours to weave a square foot of tapestry. How long it takes depends on the amount of detail and the fineness or coarseness of the sett. The sett refers to the veritical threads through which the colored yarns are interwoven. The sett for contemporary tapestry usually ranges between 4 to 8 threads to the inch. For antique tapestries they were more in the range of 20 threads to the inch.
These days, so-called tapestries can be machine made. However, these machines are unable to produce the amount of color detail, variation and gradation that a genuinely hand made tapestry can achieve. Personally, a tapestry takes me approximately one week per square foot on average. The sett is usually 6 threads to the inch. A great amount of detail can be achieved.
There are many factors affecting the selling price of a tapestry. As I've already stated above, time is one of them as well as the cost of one's materials. Reputation is another, that is to say, the reputation of the artist. This determines how collectible one's work is and whether or not it is even a worthwhile investment. Several publications have spotlighted my work. More recently a book entitled Tapestry published by Phaidon Press and written in Great Britain by Barty Phillips recognized me (Line) as a 'Contemporary Master.' What is significant about this is that the book is an international and historical survey of tapestry and thus I have found a small place in tapestry history.How do I commission a tapestry?
Establish what you want the tapestry for, where you want it to go, and how large you want it. Determine if you want something abstract or realistic. Are there colors you especially want to be dominant? Do you want it to blend with the interior or stand in contrast to it? Do you want it to be bold or subtle? Do you want texture or would you prefer a smooth finish? Do you want the artist to have free reign or do you want to collaborate with the artist to arrive at the final image.
Once you have thought over these things and have a somewhat clear idea about the kind of tapestry you want, it is time to meet with the artist to discuss your preferences. Preliminary sketches or photographs are $200. which is deducted against the cost of your tapestry if you decide to go ahead with a commission. Once the artist gives you a definite price before the tapestry is started, it will not change as long as you have not made any changes to the design agreed upon. Once you have decided to go ahead with the tapestry, a 50% payment is required at the outset to pay the cost of materials. Midway through the tapestry you are welcome to view it. The remainder of the monies owed is due upon the delivery of the tapestry. Installation may or may not be an additional cost depending upon what you and the artist agree to.
Le Corbusier, one of the great architects of the early 20th century, was an avid believer in the power of tapestry. He called tapestries "mural nomads" for their portability and considered tapestry necessary in order to establish a stimulating harmony and balance in our automated and austere environments.