“Tapestry design is more than copying a photograph or a drawing.  It is thinking in the language of the loom and how the combined use of specific techniques can create quality of line, shaped form, and illusory space. “     --Elizabeth Buckley       

Elizabeth Buckley’s core curriculum of classes and workshops provides a solid foundation in both theory and technique for her students.  Her courses incorporate principles of two-dimensional design and color theory that are relevant to the art of hand-woven tapestry.   She draws from multiple traditions—Southwest, Aubusson, Beauvais—as well as knowledge that she has gained directly from master weavers themselves, some of which is not documented in books.  She encourages and stretches her students, supporting them as they explore beyond their comfort zones to find and express their own unique voice.

Explorations of Light and Dark: the Use of Value in Tapestry Design workshop at 2013 Intermountain Weavers Conference

All workshops are intended for weavers of all tapestry traditions:  Rio Grande, French, Mexican and the spectrum in between.

Intensive workshops run for 4 – 5 days, although they can be adapted for conferences requiring a 3-day time-frame.  The longer the workshop, the more time there is for weaving.  All workshops begin with design exercises exploring the principles of color and design that apply to tapestry.  Students can expect to go through the process of articulating an idea, developing a cartoon, and translating it into woven form.  Students are encouraged to come with photos or sketches they would like to use in tapestry design, as well as to try out techniques they would like to know more about.  Students can expect to begin weaving a small tapestry, or a study of a larger design, and complete the weaving at home, after the workshop.

Intermediate level.  Students need to know how to warp their loom and have a working knowledge of basic tapestry techniques.

Core Curriculum:

"Seed of Life" detail in black and white  © 2000 Elizabeth J. Buckley

"Seed of Life" detail in black and white

© 2000 Elizabeth J. Buckley


Value is not only the foundation to effective tapestry design, it also can be an expression of the universal metaphors around light and dark.  Learn how to use the gray scale as a tool, and how to work with degrees of contrastin the use of color blending, shading techniques, and the illusion of three-dimensional space. 


Curves present unique technical challenges in tapestry.  We explore several approaches to weaving curves as shapes, as well as lines.  Empty and full warps and eccentric wefts will be demystified!   Learn how shading techniques can depict shallow or steep curves, organic shapes, and meandering lines.  Further your understanding about how to design weavable curves in tapestry, working from either the front or the back. 

"Remnants of The Dream" detail  ©1996 Elizabeth J. Buckley

"Remnants of The Dream" detail

©1996 Elizabeth J. Buckley


Rhythm is not only integral to the world of music and dance, but also to effective tapestry design. Repetition of motifs in layers helps to create the sense of visual movement as well as three-dimensions. The act of weaving in itself is filled with rhythmic gestures.

We explore different approaches to visual rhythm through the use of:  repetition, progressions, gradations, and contrast in shape, line, value and color. These underlying principles behind rhythm will help you go beyond the flat background to creating a dynamic flow.

"Sandia Mountain Winter Sunset" detail  © 2008 Elizabeth J. Buckley photo credit: Lany Eila

"Sandia Mountain Winter Sunset" detail

© 2008 Elizabeth J. Buckley photo credit: Lany Eila


Use of shading techniques can expand the yarn color palette without having to dye so many colors.  Learn how to create value changes using woven techniques based on gradations of dots and lines; how to weave  shapes within shapes through the use of different types of hachures, and how to  incorporate color blending achieved through the use of multiple wefts in a single bundle.  Whether weaving from the front or the back of the tapestry, the possibilities are endless for creating depth in space, three-dimensions, and shapes merging into other forms. 

"Dialogues Through the Veil" detail  ©2010 Elizabeth J. Buckley photo credit: Lany Eila

"Dialogues Through the Veil" detail

©2010 Elizabeth J. Buckley photo credit: Lany Eila


The illusion of transparency can be created through the careful use of technique, color and value.  In this workshop, we work with design principles that go into creating the illusion of one layer on top of another, and seeing through to what is behind.  At the loom, we explore several approaches, including the techniques used by the French masters.




Based on the Drawing as Meditation course, we explore the use of the pencil to create different types of lines, shaded areas, a sense of planes and three-dimensional form.  Focus is on drawing as if we were weaving. 

Ocean Memory  20" x 25" © 2014 Elizabeth J. Buckley

Ocean Memory 20" x 25" © 2014 Elizabeth J. Buckley


Hachures can be simple or complex.  Many medieval and gothic tapestries exemplify their use in the drape and folds of fabric, depictions of animals, and botanical details.  Contemporary tapestry applications of hachures can range from creating transparency or the feel of ripples on water to gradating color blends, or shaping and shading forms for a sense of volume and three-dimensionality.  In this workshop, we will explore different types of hachures and their applications.



Veils of Time  detail 60" x 50" © 2017 Elizabeth J. Buckley

Veils of Time detail 60" x 50" © 2017 Elizabeth J. Buckley


The landscape is about one’s relationship with the earth.  It can take many forms, inspired by a particular shape in weathered wood or a shell, a grove of trees, the shadow in a cliff, or the panoramic sunset sky.  The response in tapestry can be small and intimate, or large scale; abstract, representational, or somewhere in between.   In this workshop, we will explore the varied aspects of the landscape, how to distill and simplify into the language of tapestry.


Backgrounds can become more three-dimensional through the use of depth in space, whether it be in a landscape, or in creating illusory space.  In this workshop we will explore the design principles behind the use of planes and layers— perspective, bending and curving planes—and how to incorporate these in tapestry design, be it representational, abstract or somewhere in between.