The cartoon is the weaver's blueprint. Carefully drafted on graph paper, the cartoons have tiny numbered squares to indicate the amount and length of rows of color to complete a pattern. Sometimes the colors are painted in by hand, giving the cartoon the look of a finished painting. Always the cartoon was larger than the finished weaving and the weaver would keep the cartoon by her side for instant reference while working her craft.

Following is a selection of cartoons from the Isle La Motte Historical Society. These artifacts were donated to the museum many years ago and stored there until several years ago when the curator, Gloria McEwen, discovered them and lovingly restored and preserved them through encapsulation.

I have grouped the cartoons by design, pairing them with photos of the finished weaving when possible. Inspiration for designs seems to have come to Mrs. Fisk from clients, nature and personal experience. All are works of art in their own right and worthy of display here.

Marty Dale

 

 


Section I

BOUQUET OF FLOWERS/PEDESTAL VASE


This series begins with a lovely unfinished watercolor painting and progresses to the finished product of a large table cloth (95” X 83”) woven for a prominent Isle La Motte family, now in a private collection. In between there is a finished watercolor, an enlarged cartoon (3 Pieces) and a conventional cartoon, paired with the finished table cloth.

 

 


Section II

GLASS BOWL WITH FRUIT

These cartoons were the blueprints for a lovely table runner (28” X 46”) woven as a wedding gift for one of Mrs. Fisk's nephews in 1927, now in a private family collection. Notice the way the glass bowl is crafted transparently with the fruit clearly in sight. The pairings with the finished runner are true to the artist's design.

 

 

To the left, note the maker's mark on the bottom of the weaving: "Elizabeth Fisk Looms 1927". The author has examined this mark - in some cases it seems to be woven into the piece, in others it is clearly embroidered on.


 

Section III

Basket with rope design

The next series includes a black and white pencil drawing of a basked of flowers in a vase with a rope trim, paired with two cartoons of the same motif. The flowers are very expressive, almost bursting out of the basket, the second cartoon is quite orderly and stylized.

 

 


 

Section IV

BOBBING BIRDS

Bobbing birds seem to have been a favorite motif for Elizabeth Fisk Looms. Here we see the cartoons done in black and white, gray and yellow and finally in color paired with two finished examples. One is a dresser scarf or placemat 13” X 8” and the other 17” X 18” possibly a pillow case as it is double fabric. Both weavings are in private collections.

 

 

 

 

 

Section V

LARGE COMPOSITIONS


All of these cartoons are huge and in sections as they could not be manipulated by the weaver all at once. It is fun to imagine what they would look like woven into table cloths, runners or bedspreads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Section VI

DIAMOND BASKET WITH HANDLE

This is fun because you can really see the cartoon and finished weaving side by side. The table runner is 20” X 35” and has a basket on each end and is in a private collection.

 

 

 

 

Section VII

BLACK BASKET WITH HANDLE AND FLOWERS

The cartoon on the left is expertly translated into a table runner (46.5 X 17") on the right, down to the lovely poppies in the center. This runner is currently in the Isle la Motte Historical Society, a gift of June Stata La Bombard.

 

 

 

Section VIII

CLASSIC GLASS PEDESTAL BOWL WITH FRUIT

There are many weavings with this design out there in private collections, especially in the placemat size of 17” X 11”. I have paired it here with the weaving. I have one dozen of these and unfortunately a matching runner with the same design on both ends was stolen in NYC in 1975.

 

 

 

 

 

Section IX

BELLS, POPPIES AND LEAVES


The grid is barley visable on this design with poppies, bells and green leaves. Perhaps it was part of a holiday weaving.

 

 

 

 

Section X

BLACK AND WHITE CIRCULAR DESIGN

The grid and numbers for colors are very prominent on this cartoon. It appears that the center is filled in. The size, colors and impact of this weaving can only be imagined.

The author has seen this pattern referred to as the "Della Robia" design from the 15th century Italian sculptor of the same name, famed for his terra cotta roundels.

 

 

 

 

Section XI

BASKET WITH HANDLES AND FLOWERS


This cartoon has been paired with a Workbag (15 x 17") from the Isle La Motte Historical Society collection donated by the author's mother, Anne Stetson Turner. The piece is a work bag or purse of some kind and was made by sewing two weavings together using the classic Italian Hem Stitch. The tassel was also made in the Elizabeth Fisk Looms studios.

 

 

 

Section XIII

TWO STYLIZED DRAWINGS/CARTOONS

These two cartoons are more drawings than cartoons and are very stylized. The former seems to be a smaller version of the latter and both are charming works of art. The small workbag (7.75 x 7.75") is a gift of June Stata la Bombard and is currently in the Isle la Motte Historical Society.

 

 

 

 

Section XIV

BASKET (NO HANDLES) WITH POPPIES


These cartoons are the same design with the former being less finished than the latter. The huge poppies, flowers dripping down the sides and errant twigs give the compsition an exciting feeling. I have seen this motif woven with the “twigs” done in electric red.