Adela Akers – Red Sticks
This piece is one of two I have by Adela Akers. She weaves narrow strips on her 4-shaft floor loom. Here are two stitched together with black horse hair woven in. Between the folds she has attached little red twigs from a tree in her yard. The red is the natural color, she painted the black color. The piece is 12” wide by 14” tall. [click images to enlarge]
Adela Akers – Horse Hair and Diagonals
This is another piece woven by Adela. Here, three strips are joined. Again, she has woven in horse hair. It is about 12” x 11”.
Sandra Brownlee – Black and White
This piece is by Sandra Greenlee. I love the simplicity/complexity, borders, everything. She weaves in the black patterns using inlay technique. I read that she opens the shed then decides what black threads she wants to lay in, each weft at a time. Originally I thought she had a jacquard loom—and I was crazy about the fact that she used it so sparingly. How mistaken I was—but I think it would be a good thing to try. Dimensions are 9 1/2” x 12 1/2”. Notice how nicely she finished the top and bottom and designed the selvedges.
Lia Cook – Pressed Work
The last piece is by Lia Cook. I remember fondly when she was weaving these lovely twills in fat rayon butchers string and then pressing them hard to flatten the large wefts. Dimensions are 7” x 8 ½”. I often wondered if it was one of her original samples. It gave me the idea of framing some of the experiments that I wove.
How these have inspired me:
Each artist has inspired my own weaving. I have used horse hair in my sheer silk pieces. I wove rose thorn twigs in other sheer silk pieces. I have always been fascinated by selvedges and little warp face patterns. And I pressed some linens I wove after hearing Lia talk about flattening her pieces using a rolling pin. I have these pieces on my walls in my living room and they continue to bring pleasure and inspiration.
Ethel Stein. The Three Graces, 1995. The Art Institute of Chicago. Gift of Ethel Stein. © Ethel Stein – click to enlarge
When I was living in New York in 1983 I began volunteering in the Textile Department at the Cooper Hewitt Museum (now part of the Smithsonian). Milton Sonday was the curator and a wonderful mentor for me. He introduced me to Ethel Stein and I visited her home and studio one day. She taught me the secret for using the warping paddle and was friendly and generous with her time .
Ethel Stein. Red, Yellow, Blue, Green, Orange III, 1995. The Art Institute of Chicago. Gift of Ethel Stein. © Ethel Stein – click to enlarge
She had just finished building her drawloom after figuring out the mechanics to make it work. She began with a countermarch loom and converted it to the drawloom after studying damask fabrics at the Cooper Hewitt with Milton.
thel-Stein-Moon-Wall-2008-The-Art-Institute-of-Chicago-Gift-of-Ethel-Stein-c-Ethel-Stein – click to enlarge
Her woven work is beautiful and especially so given that she didn’t have a computer or computer generated drawloom at that time.
I was thrilled to find this video of her working and think you’ll love it. I hope to have a video of me working to play at my memorial some day! Other weavers might consider doing the same thing.
“Shiny” by Peggy Osterkamp – silks dyed with black walnuts [click to enlarge]
I was busy over the holidays making this piece. All the fabrics were dyed with black walnuts I collected in early December. Some I put in iron water for a short time to “sadden” or grey the colors. There were two different fabrics which were shiny so I could play with the color differences when I turned them 90 degrees. I cut the squares and turned them 90 degrees from each other to get the same effect as changing the nap in corduroy or velvet. I mounted the pieces on cotton fabric strips and moved them around to make the composition. Then I mounted all the strips on black fabric. Everything was joined with long straight pins. Some time ago I realized the straight pins in my pin cushion were too fat for silk fabrics so I got “Extra-Long Satin Pins”.
Last night when only one light was on in the room, the pins themselves shimmered for further effect.
When I got started I wanted to know what fiber my fabrics were made of. I went to my files to look up “burn test” and there was a page from my own book! I’m still not exactly sure of what I have—it came from a warehouse sale I went to in November. I think they are silk. Here is the chart from my book, “Weaving & Drafting Your Own Cloth“.
I seem to have found myself finding vintage clothes and loving them and not being able to resist them. These are from known designers from the 60’s and before (I think). Jeanne Marc I remember from the hippie days from North Beach in San Francisco. The yellow outfit is a copy of Adolpho. Jigsaw from London designed the navy blue and white one.The dress with the bow is by Cynthia Steffe. And the Marimekko dress reminds me of dresses I made and wore. Anyhow the fabrics are delicious and some of the construction is haute couture. What a find for a textile lover.
Shopping. Here is a bit of my stash.
Thimphu. A Fantastic place for a great hot chocolate. Like drinking chocolate pudding. The pizza is good –recommended by a reliable source. Try not to miss it when in Thimphu.
Great bookstore in Thimphu. Lots of books in English and books about Bhutan. I’m sorry I didn’t buy a book about the fabulous birds in Bhutan.
Paro. Today was our next to the last day. It’s the place where tourists enter or depart from western Bhutan. It is in this lovely valley. Most of our group is hiking up to the tigers nest tomorrow for the day. Cathy and I are going to hang out in the town and shop and figure out how we will pack our suitcases.
Paro. Our last views of rice fields. We’ve seen rice paddies at all stages on the trip in India and Bhutan. These look like they will be harvested soon. The patterns are so beautiful. There are lots on terraces in the mountains.
The famous Tiger’s Nest monastery where everyone but Cathy and I are spending most of the day hiking up and back. I’m glad not to be going. Hiking all day doesn’t appeal to me even though I know the view at the top will be great. They are leaving the hotel at 7:00. I think we’ll set the alarm for then. We have to leave the hotel at 5:30 am the next day for the airport. The official name of the monastery is Taktsang.
Around the market stalls are the mothers’ children. These posed and mugged for me. First one then the other was ready for the photo. Finally they were in sync. A really nice way to end my reports.
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The loom used for weaving wool. A four-shaft floor loom. Very primitive with re-bars on top to hang the pulleys from. Quite a change from back strap looms with fine and dense warp threads. The wool warp and weft threads were not so fine or dense.
A close up of the wool loom that shows how primitive the mechanism is to hold tension on the warp beam. Re-bar again. Making a ratchet is difficult and many other solutions to keeping warp tension exist.
This is how the cloth beam folds the tension.
This is the woven cloth. It’s a plain weave with supplementary wefts.
This guy took my picture. Up close.
This guy held on tight to his toy at the festival.
On our second day in Jakar in the Bumthang district we drove out to the Chumey Valley to see wool weaving which the Bhutanese call yathra. This handicraft shop sells finished goods and does a lot of natural dying of local wool.
Here are dye kettles and the wood fireplaces that would heat the dye baths. It’s interesting how the wood fires we’ve seen work. The end of a log or piece of wood would be lit and as it burned it would be pushed farther into the fire.
The women gathered to pick up the dyed yarn to weave at home.
A women leaving for home with her yarns for weaving.
This woman couldn’t lift her load no matter how she tried.
With help she got her basket up onto her back.
One woman’s load of dyed yarns.
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Bumthang district in central Bhutan. Tamshing Monastery. This local festival drew a big crowd with adults and children in their best traditional clothing. It’s the Tamshi Phala Choepa festival. The official religion in Bhutan is Tantric Buddhism. The dancers and clowns reflected these religious beliefs. We watched for 2 hours captivated by the colorful dances, clowning, and the villagers attending.
Two of the clowns.
This was a major part of the clowning. Our guide told us it was to tell the people about using condoms. Traditionally this symbol was given by a monk long ago to protect the people. They were displayed in homes we were told and we saw them in shops and places where we stopped to eat. One place had the atenae for the TV draped on it. This clown came up to our faces–too suddenly to take a photo.
Lots of little boys there were playing with toy guns. I felt there was a connection to the theme of the clowns.
Typical photo of boys and their guns.
This little girl and her sister squirmed and fidgeted next to us during the dancing and wanted me to take their picture. I couldn’t resist. The girls were fascinated with my camera so I let the older sister watch through the camera while I held on to the cord. Sweet.
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It took all day to drive to our destination of Mongar. We were stopped here for road construction and then again for an hour so didn’t get to stop to see any weavers at all. Lots of single lane areas, switch backs, slides and huge potholes again today.
Stopped along the way to take pictures of this rainbow in the distance. We didn’t get the rain thankfully.
Getting close to sundown in Mongar. Tomorrow we’ll visit the village of Khoma to see weavers. Horray!
This kind of construction is common along our trip. Finally got a chance for a close photo.
There was a real buying frenzy. A lot of money was spent on gorgeous textiles. The village women came with bags full of woven pieces. The best were large pieces made for women’s ware.
After dinner our waitresses at the hotel showed us how the woven cloth was wrapped to form a dress. Two safety pins held it together at the shoulders. A tight sash held a big tuck in place at the waist which would held all the things one would put in a purse.
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Sunset last night from our window. We are outside the town of of Trashigang. I understand this eastern part has the mountains so am sending more mountain pictures. It’s hard to choose which to send.
Sunrise from our hotel window. We are perched on a mountain. The mountain scenery is spectacular.
Bhutan more mountains, winding roads and river. Road construction and mudslides have altered our itinerary. The switch backs are frequent and tight. Often there is only one lane because of construction being done by hand by laborers from India.
We have visited one or two weavers each day. All backstrap looms in the mountains. All with very dense warps of pretty fine yarns. This was a silk warp. Have seen cotton and raw silk warps too. This woman was weaving fine silk yarns in complicated small patters. Each row seemed to take forever. Silk on silk. And a large piece was priced at $1000. Cheap for the work.
At one weavers home this young mom carried her baby all over the place. She wasn’t the weaver however. We walked down and up a mile on a rutted dirt road to get there. It was hot. I was glad to have my umbrella and fold up cane.
A weaver of raw silk. Just plain weave but the warp threads were very close together. Here she is getting the opening ready so she can throw her shuttle with the weft thread.
Bhutan Day 1 – Here we are in the eastern part. We drove up and up mountain roads that hair- pinned back and forth. Lovely greenery. No on got car sick but I didn’t weave either. Lots of fog part way up. Road construction many places with mud and rock slides and laborers from India working on repairs and widening the road. I didn’t look down when my side of the bus was on the edges of the cliffs.
Nice clouds on the mountains. We are in the Himalayas foot hills now.
Hard to show all the mountains at once. Everywhere mountains sky and clouds.
Rice paddies near the top lovely color in the afternoon light.
A glimpse of how the rice paddies were situated.
The entrance to our huge gaudy hotel. Our bathroom you could play soccer in. Good enough WiFi and food for Americans. We almost wish for something more modest in the town so we could go exploring the local color. This is perched on a hill top up a long muddy and ditty drive way staying here two night for a change so don’t have to pack up in the morning and can do laundry. Off this morning to see weavers. I’ve been giving shoe elementary weaving and textile lessons after dinner. I love it and people are glad to know what a selvedge is!
Silk Production on a Small Scale. Our last day in India. This is what I came to see. These are tiny young silk worms feeding on leaves on a tree out in nature. Actually it’s like a small farm where the trees are grown and silk worms raised.
The breeze was moving the leaves so they aren’t in focus but I hope you can see where the silk worms have nibbled at the edges. They eat voraciously until they are as fat as a thick thumb. Then they crawl down the tree and settle in some dead leaves to make their cocoons.
Here is a cocoon that was made on a dead leaf. The cocoon is make of silk that the worm extrudes.
Here are cocoons from different species that make different types of silk. The gold ones are prized for color and smooth fabric. The silk strands are unwound from the cocoon into very very long threads. This is achieved because the worm (pupae) is killed before the mature moth emerges from the cocoon. This is called reeled silk because the strands are reeled off of the cocoons. Muga silk is what this golden silk is called. The white cocoon is from another species called eri silk. For this type the mature moth is allowed to break out of the cocoon. That makes a hole so one continuous strand cannot be reeled off. The silk is white in color and isn’t smooth because the silk fibers have to be spun into threads note the hole in the white cocoon where the moth came out.
Muga silk cloth. Smooth and golden and prized. I was able to buy a piece 8 meters long and 40″ wide. I’ll share it with others in our group. It is crisp and gorgeous.
Eri silk cloth. Often there are slight variations in thickness of the threads when the threads are hand spun. If they are spun by machine the threads would be uniform. The cloth feel and looks a bit like cotton except there is a difference in the way it feels.
Trying to Get Your Chickens in for the Night. I may have my days confused because on my birthday (9/19) we were sequestered in our hotel all day in the town of Along by the government to somehow prevent refugees from Bangladesh in. So our itinerary was set back a day and we drive almost all day long from place to place. Anyhow it was dusk and I think we were outside the town of Ziro when we saw this hilarious scenario of an old woman trying to put her hen and baby chicks into their basket for the night.
Finally I take a look at the woman herself and see that she is one of the villagers we hoped to see! Besides, don’t you think she’s glad that nightly ritual is done?The woman’s face close up shows us her nose plugs! They identify her as being from her village/tribe. We had seen a woman earlier who posed for us to take her picture but it was so much better to see her going about her business. We all thought she seemed afraid of the chickens.
Another Woman with Ear Plugs. This woman was coming out of her house when we walked past. Our guide takes to her and she let us take her picture while our guide chatted her up. Her face has such wonderful expressions I couldn’t just choose one photo. Notice the tattoo as well as the nose plugs.
She posed with each of us. Our guide gave her some money when we left.
We saw this woman in a rice field in the village. They put tiny fish in the water when they started growing the rice and now that the rice is tall the fish are grown and she had just caught one. Since she wasn’t going home right away she put the fish in a basket and put another basket inside the first one so the fish couldn’t escape. Then she put them back in the water channel until she was ready to take it home for dinner. I liked her face a lot. She only had the tattoo and I nose plugs. Only the old women have done this we were told.
The rice near time to harvest.
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A man in his tribal hat was at the market in Ziro, India. It was hard to get a good angle but our driver modeled it in the next photo so one can see the unique details.
A close-up of a spectacular man’s hat. The yellow is the bill of a Hornbill. The feathers are special. The claw is from an eagle I think. A man in this ethnic group wears it proudly. The black fur in the front is bear fur I believe.
A local woman’s skirt at the market in Ziro India. Each village had differed skirts in different colors and patters but all were worn like this with western blouses etc.
A mother with her baby at the market. We have seen alt of babies and all carried in similar manners. Many woman wore pants and many wore the traditional skirts.
Two women walking outside of the market. This was what we saw a lot of women wearing too.
Women often carried enormous loads on their backs. This is like the basket I bought worn on her back at the beginning of her shopping. The headband and rope is called a tum line I think.
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Morning at the Market in Ziro, India. The stalls can be simple but they almost always are tidy with produce carefully arranged.
The butcher lady at the market. I selected this photo instead of the one with her hefting the clever because this one showed her bloody hands better.
This woman was selling vegetables and woven head bands called tum lines I think. Here she is preparing the strands. A lovely close up of her is my next photo.
She was so sweet when she posed for us to take her picture. Notice her tattoos which represents her ethnic village.
My basket lady. I bought this gorgeous woven basket. I’m relieved to know it fits in my new duffel bag.
This basket is especially for a rooster and i heard it crowing. My Uncle Charley told us that the way to keep a rooster from crowing was to put him in a low cage so he couldn’t raise his head. I was thrilled to see this born out today. Notice the pointy basket was the rooster’s. the other baskets nearby were not quite as tall and were all flat!!
I took this video to show how terribly bumpy the roads are. A 10-hour trip. I sat behind the driver and held my camera steady. I hope all the jerking conveys the horrible ruts (not a strong enough term for the holes, water pools, mud , cows, rock and mud slides and meeting on-coming trucks, buses, motorcycles) we suddenly encountered at any moment coming around the curves in the one lane road. It was a road connecting two towns–not a country lane.
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Another road photo. Our driver of the four wheel drive kept down shifting. We were in low gear most of the time. The speedometer got up to 20 km/ mile but that was when we were “rolling” along. He was constantly looking ahead for oncoming vehicles because two could barely pass–especially when both cars wanted to be on the same ruts!
I tried hard to get photos that showed how bad the road was on our 6-hour drive to the town of Along. We saw lots of big road machinery but none was working. Mud and rock slides often filled half of the road– usually at curves of course.
We saw a gaur (, Bos gaurus), also called Indian bison, called by our driver “White Socks”. Special to see one of these agile animals in the forest–actually we have been driving through jungle. They are fast so the head will be in the next photo. Or drivers were excited to sight one.
The head of the gaur.
Another longer bridge. A few of our group of 5 ventured out halfway with our guides. The only reason they stopped there was that the mat floor was broken up. It was scary enough for me to just watch.