Wednesday, 2 January 2008
The weekend was inspiring. William taught each of us according to our needs. He imparted a great deal of information about weaving which we were able to quietly absorb whilst engaged in our individual weaving projects. I learned several textural techniques such as whipping, wrapping and tufting, and my understanding of weaving moved another step forward and came away with a batch of invaluable notes. Shown here is the sample I produced that weekend.
About the artist
In his 2006 artist statement on the Craft Council website, William says: 'I use tapestry weaving like a method of building to produce small pieces. I am interested in the traditions of tapestry which use illusion and picture making but I also like texture and the substance of fabric. I like to use fibres which have character as well as conventional dyed wool. Problems of hanging and shape intrigue me. Inspiration comes from numerous sources. I use drawing and collage to arrive at a committed design.'
This is the reverse of the previous sample, showing its warp ends.
A friend, familiar with knots, did the knotting on the right hand side. The challenge was to find a way to hide the warp ends when the tapestry was viewed from the front.
I would like to explore this idea further and also find a way of weaving the ends into a reversible tapestry or finding other ways of 'losing' them inside the fabric
The tapestry is reversible with no ends so it can be viewed from both sides. The number and size of wires inserted in future samples would depend on the strength and bendability required. It throws up a whole range of possibilities.
In this sample, I was playing around with UV reflective cotton plus warp cotton. I wanted the contrast to be minimal under normal light, but then jump to life under UV. However, the design and execution felt too chunky and clunky and obvious - going straight up the warps didn't have the sensitivity I like to bring into my weaving. However, learning what doesn't work is equally useful information. This design is a small segment of a larger labyrinth design.
I like weaving across a limited number of warps. The narrow proportions enable the sample to grow at speed which brings a sense of immediacy to the process. Ideas can be tested out and distilled quickly; the warps move differently on the frame during weaving. I like playing around with the sample when cut off the loom. Suddenly it is free to move - I can fold, coil, wrap, and layer it over itself and consider the possibilities.
This sample didn't quite work for me in the same way as the previous one. I think it was a matter of proportions, and perhaps it would be better next time to use thinner fibres, or work on a larger scale. I would like to come back to this idea of random slits and disjointed patterns later.
I love working with hemp. It has a lovely fibrous feel to it, and works well as a sturdy and neutral base. It tends to be quite springy so I find it easier to work with loose lengths. I sourced my hemp from House of Hemp.
Here I've contrasted it with colours and worked in strips up the warps to break up the surface design, creating vertical slits in the process. These slits could be sewn up, but I've left them open here. Edges, meeting points, and spaces intrigue me.
At the bottom of the sample, you can see the warp thread I used as a heading weft (to space out the warps evenly before I started laying in the weft). The intention was to remove it later once the sample had been cut off the loom, but as often happens I just quite liked it there, so it stayed.
Techniques include: plain weave, pick-and-pick, diagonal shapes, blended weft fibres, eccentric weave, knotting, and floating weft vertically up the front of the tapestry.
It is so useful to have physical samples on file. Examining this sample again right now, long after its creation, reminds me of a technique I started playing with while weaving it.
'Eighteen Creative Spirits – One Thread – One Month'
'As I mentioned on the course, I have long had the idea to run a weaving workshop where participants were only allowed to work with one thread. The idea being, that by imposing tight restrictions, deeper experimentation with the ‘language’ of that thread would be encouraged. If we can do this ‘blind’ to each other’s creative endeavours, so much the better!'
- One type of thread: cotton warp thread from (Handweavers Studio) any thickness
- As many samples as you like
- Colour may be added in the form of staining, painting etc
- After minimum of two samples (!), you may introduce one other thread (which could be anything – wire, paper, leather, etc but only one type – ie if its wire, then only one type of wire.)
Can’t wait! Good luck, Sue '
Shown here is the first of four samples I made in response to the brief. Faced with only a white weft, I focused on building texture. Techniques used here include: soumak woven eccentrically (ie woven at various angles to the vertical warp); reverse soumak (the same technique woven 'backwards' which creates vertical ridges); wrapping around single warps; plain weave; vertical slits; and distortion of the selvedges (edges) by slackening or tightening the weft during the weaving process.
About the artist
In an artist statement, Sue says 'Throughout my creative life I have been drawn to textiles from times past, re-examining structure and exploring textile language. I have poured over tapestry fragments from Peru and Coptic Egypt or raphia cloths from Zaire. The more I research, the more I feel part of a rich woven tradition and the more I endeavour to add something of interest to it. I wish for my work to give me the same frisson that I experience from these humble textiles. In our present technological age, it feels important that the past should inform the present and that the human mark of the individual should be evident.'
The lower green section of the tapestry was woven with Joan's yarns at the workshop, the upper blue section was woven later with my own shop-bought yarns.
About the artist
On her website, Joan says: "My work deals with landscape, its echoes of history, its legends, its atmospheres and moods. I am particularly inspired by the rich cultural heritage and wild beauty of the landscapes of the far North of Scotland where I live.I choose to work in the traditional woven tapestry medium because I like the way my initial ideas can develop and expand during the slow and deliberate making process.The process, although a very ancient one, allows me to push boundaries in design, technique, materials and concepts."
I have woven a couple of times on coloured warp, but quickly found that it is harder on the eyes to weave with anything that isn't white or off-white.
However, I can see the possibilities of coloured warp, for example if the warp was deliberately visible as part of the design.
Tapestry Weaving by Kirsten Glasbrook which is an excellent and user-friendly guide for beginner weavers.
The Tapestry Handbook by Carol K Russell (out-of-print). A precise and highly detailed resource when you are ready to go deeper.
Book Butler is a good price comparison site when searching for out-of-print (and in-print) books. It's well worth checking Ebay too.
I decided to start weaving again in 2003.
All of the entries shown in the January 2008 archive are the weaving samples which I wove sporadically between late 2003-2007.
I started at the beginning, with a series of samplers to remind myself of the basic techniques as I hadn't woven for over a decade. This was one of the first ones.
Tuesday, 1 January 2008
- Traditional tapestry is a fabric constructed by hand using a weft-faced weave.
- This means the weft (the horizontal threads) completely covers the warp (the vertical threads held taut on a sturdy frame) to create a smooth flat surface.
- The basic technique is plain weave which simply means that the weft passes over one warp and under the next.
- [There are many additional techniques which can be used to create pictorial, textural and structural effects.]
- Tapestry has a long history throughout many countries of the world. Remnants found in Egypt indicate that tapestries were woven as early as 3000 BC.
- Regardless of where or when tapestries were woven, or what type of loom was used, the techniques were very similar and have remained basically unchanged throughout history.
Source: Nancy Harvey, Tapestry Weaving, adapted