Creation of a Maximo Laura Tapestry
When visitors come to the studio a common question asked is: how are the tapestries made?
For example, the tapestry below this paragraph is what Mr. Laura calls a Mural Tapestry and it has a size of 5 x 7 feet (176 x 400 cm). The weaving time for a piece of this size is of 6 – 8 months. During a visit we are able to share the whole process in person so through this page we would like to share with you the steps to creating a Maximo Laura Tapestry.
1. Drawing Process
All tapestries by Maximo Laura start as a small drawing on a sheet of paper. Mr. Laura works and organizes his designs by series or themes, so depending on the theme that he is currently working on, he might develop a drawing about Andean Musicians, about Sea Life or about Andean Mythology. There are a number of themes that he likes to explore, among them we can find: Musicians, Sea Life, Mountains, Birds, the Jungle, Landscapes, Animals, Andean Mythology and Symbols.
The creation process for a tapestry can take from 3 takes to many months, depending on the size and complexity of each piece, so while working on the drawings, Mr. Laura also has to have in mind the technical complexities that will have to be worked in the tapestry while making the drawing, as a more complex drawing might need more techniques and might take more time to create.
2. Painting Process
Once the design has been drawn, Mr. Laura continues with the coloring of the design, which is done by Mr. Laura with color pencils or with a computer as we can see below.
3. Interpretation of Color
Once the line drawing and colored image are ready, the design will go to the Color Laboratory where a specialist will hand-blend the colors to create what Mr. Laura calls “butterflies” of yarn, which will be the yarn used to weave the tapestry.
Each “butterfly” is created by hand-mixing single or multiple solid color threads to match the required tones of a tapestry, creating the bright and vibrant color combinations and tones for which Maximo Laura is known for. This special process is also the reason why if one sees an specific point in a Maximo Laura Tapestry, one will always find a variety of colors in a very small space, making it very hard to find solid colors within the piece.
At the bottom of this page we will have a gallery of images with details in very high resolution so you can click and zoom the detail to see each point and the mix of colors within that specific detail.
4. The Cartoon
The small line drawing is then drawn or printed to the scale of the tapestry, creating what is known as the “cartoon”. The cartoon will be transferred to the cotton warp threads on the loom to guide the weaver. The cartoon also specifies the sections of the tapestry where different textures and techniques will be included so it serves as a guide for the weaver.
5. Weaving Process
All Maximo Laura Tapestries are handwoven on a floor loom by a selected group of Master Weavers who have been trained by Mr. Laura on his own techniques. In Peru, tapestry weaving is an art that is transferred from generation to generation through family, so most of the Master Weavers who work with Mr. Laura have a background in traditional tapestry and have been trained by Maestro Laura to learn his techniques and process.
Row by row, the colors and textures emerge into images under the careful supervision of Maximo Laura. Some tapestries might take weeks to create, others might take months, but they all take the patience and attention to detail of experts to become a piece.
6. Streaching and Cleaning
After the weaving process is completed, the tapestry is taken out of the loom and goes through a cleaning and stretching process. You can see in the photograph below how the back of the tapestry has very long threads hanging during the weaving process, so those threads are lowered and the tapestry is cleaned. The stretching process helps with the elasticity of the tapestry, as there is a change of tension when the tapestry is taken out of the loom, by stretching the piece the final size will be defined.
Once the tapestry has been cleaned and stretched, a Certificate of Authenticity will be stitched onto the back of the tapestry, signed by Laura and the piece will be ready be sent to its owner or gallery.