Peggy’s India Trip 2015 – Day 3

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More Hotel Art
03.1 lily pad ceiling - Copy
A major theme of the contemporary art decorating our hotel (The House of MG) is lotus flowers. Here are the examples I photographed today in the room with the gorgeous swimming pool: the ceiling over the pool, the pool itself, and two chairs beside the pool. On the wall were two “paintings” of lily pads. Upon close inspection one could see that the lotus flowers were made completely out of buttons! Outside a manhole cover was made of buttons, too! See the close up. My first post showed red buttons making a pattern on a wall in our room. We saw a column covered in buttons in a hallway. You never knew when you would come across more ” button art”.

Another fanciful motif seems to be mirrors. Here in one composition of mirrors we came across.
Another fanciful motif seems to be mirrors. Here in one composition of mirrors we came across. – click to enlarge









03.7 liquor permitBuying a Beer in Gujarat, India. We wanted to buy beer but this state in India ( Gujarat) is dry so we had to apply for a permit to buy liquor at the desk in our hotel no more than ten minutes before purchasing our beer. We had to show a passport as well. Compared to America, where you can buy a beer easily, even with one of the fake IDs you can find here, India’s alcohol laws are incredibly strict.The photo is of the permit, but the story is of the hair raising rickshaw ride to get across the street to the hotel that had the liquor store in its basement. Besides that the beer wasn’t cold.

A Wonderful Visit to the Centre for Environment Education Nehru Foundation for Development
This fantastic foundation takes on many environmental and cultural education issues. They are working for sustainable development all over India. We saw where they produce some of their educational materials and sculptures for national parks. They do fantastic work and the director’s talk to us greatly inspirational. Google him: Kartikeya V. Sarabhai. He is a fascinating man whose relatives have been and are important in India’s history. [click first photo for slideshow]

Velvet Weaving (part five)

The Jacquard Mechanism, ConclusionVelvet 5 - 1

Photo #1 shows the Jacquard mechanism’s “knives”. When a needle goes through a hole in a card, it pushes its corresponding knife over onto the bar adjacent to it. Then the whole frame with all the bars and knives is lifted, thus raising only the knives that are hooked onto the bars. This happens when the weaver steps on a treadle (peddle). (In the photo it appears that the knives are all in position to be hooked on the bars, but they are not. It is the angle of the photo that is deceptive, I think.) [click photos to enlarge]
Velvet 5 - 2Velvet 5 - 3Photo #2 shows one of the knives. If you zoom in you can see the hook on one end. Photo #3 shows the threads of the pile selected by the Jacquard mechanism (often called a machine) and a wire being inserted.

Velvet 5 - 4
Photo #4 shows the middle part of the loom. There are two sections and each one has its own Jacquard machine. They called them the big machine  for the pile warps and the little machine for the foundation warps.

One section is made up of wooden frames and can be seen more clearly in the photo. There are 8 of them. The foundation warps are threaded in this section.

The second section is in front of it. You can see wooden bars with cords on them. There are 8 bars. This is the section where the pile warps are threaded. Look closely and you can see that this front section is lifting all the gold pile warps. In the next shed, (formed by the next card positioned in the Jacquard mechanism) just the selected pile warps from the Jacquard machine will be lifted and a wire will be inserted– seen in Photo #3. Remember, the weaver stepping on the treadle activates the Jacquard and moves the next card with its holes into place.
What is Velvet 5Photo #5 shows the big velvet piece seen in the first of the velvet posts. Since it is such a tall pattern (maybe 20 inches) many, many cards are needed because there are so many different rows in a single repeat. You can see how important the Jacquard invention was because once the cards are punched a design can be repeated over and over. In the drawloom days, each shed had to be made by the draw boy every time.

If you have any questions let me know and I’ll try to answer them in part six.

Velvet Weaving (part four)

The Jacquard Mechanism – part one

For each row of weaving, the warp threads need to be separated to make the space for the shuttle with the weft to pass through. This post is about how the warp threads are raised and/or lowered to form the spaces for the shuttle. The space is called the shed. This is a term weavers use often when talking about things. When the shuttle is thrown through the shed, the weft thread is going over and under the warp threads: the “over, under” that is “weaving”.  Remember the term: shed. You can see a good one in Part Three, Photo #5. [click photos to enlarge]
Velvet 4 - 1
Photo #1 shows several looms in the studio where I took a 3-day workshop at the end of our tour: we call it “Lisio” but the full name is: Fondazione Arte Della Seta Lisio and is located in Florence, Italy.

All of the looms have the mechanism to make the sheds on top of the loom. Notice the loom with the ladder. Jacquard is the name of the mechanism. It replaced draw looms where a draw boy or girl sat on top or at the side of the loom to raise the required threads for the patterns.

The Jacquard mechanism works with punched cards that select which warp threads are to be raised or lowered.

There are needles in the mechanism and if a needle goes through a hole in a card, a warp thread is moved. Where there is no hole the warp thread stays at rest. One card is needed for each shed of weaving. For long repeats or big patterns many, many cards are needed because there are many rows in one repeat of the design.  In photo #1 you can see some cards hanging at the top of the loom. They are seen in photos of the looms in previous posts, as well.

(Looms are similar to computers in that the warp threads are either up or down, which can relate to the 0’s and 1’s of the computer. Early computers used punch cards, too)

Photo #2 shows the velvet that we wove in the Velvet 4 - 2workshop—a necessarily simple pattern for us to do in only one day. You can count the 10 horizontal rows of pattern in one repeat.

(If you zoom in you can see our cloth was all loops or uncut pile. That’s because we couldn’t be trusted to weave the threads tight enough to secure them into the foundation. If we had cut the loops and the pile threads were not secure enough in the foundation, we would have cut all the pile threads themselves. We were warned that the worst sound is hearing the weights from the spools drop to the floor indicating that all the threads were cut and were coming out of the loom. It could take weeks to get them all threaded into the loom again.)

Velvet 4 - 3Photo #3 shows the pattern graphed out on what is called point paper. Each horizontal row on the paper represents one card which is for one row of weaving, or one shed. We sat at a machine and punched the cards, making a card for each row of the pattern. We punched holes in 10 cards for the 10 rows of the pattern for the pile warp for our cloth.

Photo #4 shows the cards we punched being stitchedVelvet 4 - 4 together which will then go onto the Jacquard machine. Each card is for one shed for the insertion of one wire. A previous post has a photo of a wire being inserted in one of the sheds for the cloth we wove. Photo #5 shows our teacher on top of the loom, putting our cards into the Jacquard mechanism.
More about the mechanism in the next post.

Velvet 4 - 5

What is Velvet and How it is Made? (part one)

Several people have asked how velvet is made and what is velvet so I thought I’d make a few posts to explain things in lay terms.  [click on photos to enlarge]

What is Velvet 2We talk of velvet being a pile fabric, meaning there are threads projecting from a ground or foundation fabric. There are three “effects” in the patterned velvet in the first photo. This is similar to what we saw being made. There are areas of what we normally think that velvet is: sort of furry tiny hairs. There are areas where there are tiny loops projecting from the foundation and there are areas where only the foundation cloth shows without any pile. Velvet that we normally see is all the furry kind of pile. This type in the photos is called “voided velvet” which means that there are areas where there is no pile. In the voided areas, the pile threads are woven into the foundation, usually so they are not visible on the surface.
What is Velvet 1Here you can see loops and furry velvet and the foundation. When velvet is woven, wires are woven into the cloth forming loops. The loops are cut with a razor blade sliding on top of the tiny wires. Sometimes the loops are not cut and remain as loops.

This photo shows What is Velvet 3cut and uncut pile. It is surprising how different the color looks in the cut and uncut areas. This is used a lot in the kind of weaving we saw. I’ll tell more about the wires and cutting in a later post. In this photo you can see that the pile comes up out of the foundation cloth.

This last photo shows part of a piece I bought. What interested me is that there was so much voided area and none of the dark magenta threads showed—they were visible on the wrong side but nearly completely hidden on the front of the fabric. This piece would be labeled voided velvet with all cut pile. I bought one repeat of the fabric it measures 24” wide and 26” high.
What is Velvet 5

In future posts I will tell how the velvet is made: the loops, the cut and uncut velvet and the voided areas. The looms we saw and weavers were amazing. It was wonderful to see the complicated looms and patterns that were being woven.

Cinque Terre At Last

Cinque Terre At Last 1

Cinque Terre At Last 4Today I finally saw the Cinque Terra (5 towns) that I have heard so much about from friends. I took a boat up the coast below Genoa to see these picturesque little towns that sit on top of cliffs or cling to them. I bought a round trip ticket from La Spezia that allowed me get on and off. My plan was to go to the northern most one, Monterosso, and turn back and get off at the next to the last one, Vernazza, for a nice lunch. When I saw how precarious it was to get off at the smaller towns because of the choppy water and tiny gang plank, I stayed all day in Monterosso. [click photos to enlarge]

It was warm and sunny so after I explored theCinque Terre At Last 3 town a bit, I sat in the shade on a bench and read until lunch time. I was reading Beautiful Ruins which takes place in the area. I finished it when I got back to the hotel. It was nice to see the places mentioned in the novel and it was a good read.

For lunch I choose a sidewalk place that had a local pasta dish, trophie with pesto, as well as the Internet. I read, relaxed, and did email. It’s funny how having wifi makes me Cinque Terre At Last 5feel connected on this trip.

Most people come here to hike from one town to the next which looked too scary for me to even consider it. The last picture shows a hiking path leading out of Monteroso.

For the last day of the trip it was just the right way to go. I think I sat practically all day and it was wonderful.
Cinque Terre At Last 2

On the Way to the Cinque Terra (5 towns)

Now I am all by myself in the town of La Spezia. This is where I will take off for the Cinque Terre by boat in the morning. I’ve heard so many people rave about the 5 towns hanging on the cliff that I want to see them for myself. I don’t plan to hike from one town to the next as most tourists do because I think it would be too scary for me so I will see them by boat and take the train and stop at some on the way back.
Cinque Terra  1The train out of Florence was spot on time. On the way I saw white areas on the mountains that I knew could not be snow. They are marble quarries. So that’s where Italian marble comes from! One town had 2 big cranes like those for container ships and piles of huge blocks of marble in their yard waiting to be shipped. There also were a lot of big slices of marble.
Cinque Terra  2
Cinque Terra  3The harbor looks a lot like Sausalito in California. It made me a little (not much) homesick. There were a couple of little fishing boats. Some have lights in front to go out at night and draw the fish up to their nets–anchovies, I think. I’ve had some tasty anchovies dishes–not like the ones packed in oil that we get on a Caesar salad.

Cinque Terra  4The picture with all the steps I think is a bit like what I’ll see in the 5 towns. I don’t plan to climb them if I can help it. My new knee is doing very fine but I still feel a bit unsteady, or afraid I’ll stumble on the cobbler stones. That fall in Japan is still a close memory.

The last picture is from my hotel window. I sure know I’m in Italy! Church bells rang again at 5:30.Cinque Terra  5

Last Day in Florence

It was hard to say the final good byes to the last of our tour group– 4 of us stayed on for 3 intensive days at Fondazione Arte Della Seta Lisio outside of Florence. Lots of textile people have come here to learn about Jacquard looms, velvet, and other complex textiles. We all just call it Lisio. [click photos to enlarge]
Last Day in Florence 3
However, the first picture shows the view from my hotel window in Florence. It is in a great location. I have walked several times to the Duomo and the Ponte Vecchio. Hotel Loggiato Serviti. It is 5:00, my window is open I hear church bells and a soprano operatic singer singing her scales and warming up hitting the high notes. A bird is chirping, too.
Last Day in Florence 1
Last Day in Florence 2The second and third pictures are of the velvet the 4 of us wove–one of the weavers there wove some, too, so we would have a piece big enough to take home. Cutting it off the loom is often celebrated but we were too eager to get our hands on it. We cut it into 4 swatches. I was lucky and got a piece with a selvedge.
Last Day in Florence 4
The blue fabric is a new velvet woven at Lisio made to look old. Just like we like jeans to look old today, textile designers have woven fabrics to look older for centuries!

Last Day in Florence 5The swatches are velvets that we used to analyze different kinds of velvet. It was a challenge to find the fine threads with out little magnifiers. Our teachers were great and made lots of diagrams and drafts so we could see the different constructions.

It’s 5:45 now. The bells are ringing again and they did at 5:15, too. Lovely, lovely. I am pretty tired, so it is a treat to help myself with some sort of toy, like lelo gigi, and relax in my room and hear the bells. And yes, the singing is still going on.

Off by myself tomorrow for the CinqueTerra area to relax.
Going home on the 28th.

Weaving Velvet Ourselves

Here is the school outside of Florence where we spent 3 days learning hoe to design and weave velvet and how to analyze old velvet textiles. It has been a wonderful experience and hard brain work. This photo shows the velvet we were weaving. I hope to send more pictures of us at the loom and our teacher working on top of the loom when things got a little out of whack. The red velvet is one we analyzed. The graph and card is the design of the velvet we wove.  [click first photo to start slideshow]

Museums, Churches, More

Venice Four  2

Canals On Friday when I walked day we visited some museums and lots of churches. Of course we couldn’t take pictures in the churches but they were spectacular. My partner had a list of places to visit and photograph that took us criss crossing Venice.

Venice Four 1The first picture is of the sign for the museum, Ca’ Rezzonico which had many interesting period rooms, as well as a lot of paintings (which I didn’t pay much attention to). Then we saw a marvelous exhibit of drawings by Leonardo da Vinci at the Gallerie dell Accademia showing 52 drawings showing 10 areas that he was interested in. There was the famous drawing of the man with all the lines showing proportions, weapons, studies for art work, and battle strategies, among the 10 topics.Venice Four  4

Next stop was San Marco Square. We were surprised at the crowds, it being October. The colored marble on the Doge’s Palace interested me.
Venice Four  5

I think I have here a picture of the Bridge of Sighs, where prisoners were led off long ago.
We stopped in a small church where the columns were covered with velvet cloth which we had been told was done on occasions.

[click on photos to enlarge]


The last church was the Basilica San Maria Gloriosa dei Frari. It is huge and magnificent. The late afternoon sun was streaming in through the windows.Venice Four  3

A Walk to See a Textile Archive in Venice

Textile Archive in Venice 5We walked to the Rubelli company’s elegant offices  and textile archives in a building on a canal. The first picture is the room where we were shown prime examples from the archive. There are 16 in our group and we were too crowded in this lovely room.

Textile Archive in Venice 2Textile Archive in Venice 4The other pictures I took along our walk to Rubelli’ s. I seem to be fascinated by the walk-ways, bridges, and the canals. The bridges have steps going up and down, of course. You can see some of us going up and down the steps on the Rialto Bridge. I loved the small bridges, too. The last picture is of one of the pretty building on a canal.
Textile Archive in Venice 1

Getting Around Venice

Today I walked almost all day on the alley-ways that are the streets here. The vaperatto (sp?) boats were on strike so the canals were less busy with many more small boats and gondolas. I am too tired to write about all the churches and museum we visited. The walkways have bridges everywhere to go over all the canals. We went up the steps and down on hundreds of bridges it seemed! It is a magical place! [click photos to enlarge]

Velvet and Venice, Too

Velvet and Venice 1Our first stop was to a workshop that looked out on a canal that made handwoven velvet on old, old looms. There were 15 looms and 5 weavers. The looms survived because long ago Napoleon forbade any weaving in Venice so the looms were idle for all that time. It was fabulous as always to see the big velvet looms and the weavers. This company has been in the family a long time and is doing contemporary designs as well as traditional ones. It seems like a very vital business. They have decided to only weave velvet by hand because power looms can weave all the other types of fabrics.

Velvet and Venice 3
Then a friend and I had a lovely lunch complete with a little orchestra playing beside us on San Marco Square. I had wanted to get a chance and sit out and watch the pigeons and the people and this was the perfect place.

[click photos to enlarge]

We then took a boat to the island of Murano to see Venetian glass and to see some glass blowing. This photo shows a little typical Venice-like scene on the island.Velvet and Venice 4

Tonight we were lucky to get a ( very bad) seat at the Velvet and Venice 5Teatro La Fenice to see the opera Madama Butterfly. The inside of the opera house is quite grand. The singing was great but I didn’t like the costumes, set, or the production. Interesting that the super titles were in Italian and English. I loved, loved the beautiful music. Then we took a boat home and looked in the windows of the grand palatial places on the canal.

Looms, Oh My!

Looms Oh My 1Today we visited the Rubelli weaving mill in Como. The modern mill was awesome beyond words. This picture shows one aisle of huge looms weaving fast and loud. The cords going up to the ceiling are the cords that lift the individual warp threads at lightening (?) speed. One woman “manned” all these at once, watching to see that all were going all right. Occasionally a loom would be stopped and needed tending. The looms in the aisles were faced inwards where the women could tend them. I can’t remember how many looms there were–maybe 30 or 40.

They still use an old technique used early on in power looms to stop the loom by cutting off the power if a thread breaks. This is done by having every warp thread go through a metal thing. If a thread breaks, it goes slack and the thing falls down which breaks the current. It was interesting that the old technique is still in use. An order takes 6 weeks from start to finish with the actual warping and weaving taking 4-5 days.

Looms Oh My 2


This picture is of an old hand woven velvet loom. Rubelli mill had 3 or 4 but only one weaver who wove for us. These are wonderful looms and make beautiful velvet cloth.

[click photos to enlarge]


pLooms Oh My 4

Then we went to the Museo Studio Tesuto to the Ratti Foundation to see their huge collection of fabrics. Mr. Ratti collected fabrics and samples from dealers and by buying old mills themselves and their archives. He was interested in them to use for inspiration for designing textiles. At the foundation we were taken back behind the scenes inside to the storage rooms and shown fine examples of old velvet fabrics.

Looms Oh My 3The Foundation is right on Lake Como. The picture here is from their building. There is another Ratti center at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Both very well funded. It was dark with a bit of a moon over the lake when we left in a small bus to take us to our hotel in Milan.Looms Oh My 5



It was a busy day with 3 trains to catch to get to Genoa, Milan, then Como. Another good day.

Pitti Palace, Passamaneria, and Ponte Vecchio

Pitti Palace 1
We started off this morning at the Pitti Palace where there was a wonderful show in the Costume Gallery. Old evening gowns were juxtaposed next to gowns from the 40’s through 2000. You could see how the old dresses with bustles and huge skirts and elegant details influenced the modern ones. All were gorgeous. The catalogue was sold out but I may get to borrow one so I can send some photos in another post. It was a big show and stunning.  [click photos to enlarge]

Pitti Palace 2After lunch we went to a shop that sells tassels and trim. People from all over the world know about it. It is called Valmar “La Passamaneria”.

That’s a take off for passamentary which is what we call trims, braids, tassels, etc.

Pitti Palace 3It’s a tiny shop and we squeezed into the workshop upstairs for some demonstrations.

Pitti Palace 4

The end of the day we went across the river and got this view of the Ponte Vicchio in the late afternoon light. The blue sky was a welcome sight because it has been cloudy and a little rainy for several days.

Rug-001We visited a textile dealer at the end of the day and I saw a wonderful rug with both pile and flat weave areas. I have been looking for one for years. This one is made of fine wool yarns and the scale is very fine. The dealer said it was made probably by a girl to show off her skill before marriage. It has several motifs as though the weaver were sampling them in the rug. Anyone who didn’t know a little about rugs or weaving would wonder why anyone would get excited about a rug that is frayed and with holes. It is the fine weave and fine yarns that caught my eye. It is from Turkmenistan.

To Zoagli (the Italian Riviera, I think)

Zoagli 1Today we traveled north along the coast up to south of Genoa to the tiny town of Zoagli where we will see some velvet weaving tomorrow. This first picture is of the town and entrance to the Zoagli Hotel where we are staying, over looking the water. Our train passed the lovely little villages of the Cinque Terre (5 villages) where I will come at the end Zoagli 2of the trip.

 [click photos to enlarge]

Here is the patio off my room and the view of the Mediterranean.

The next two pictures are from Lisio, the school where we visited the other day. Here is a draft we studied in a

Zoagli 3heavy-duty drafting lesson for velvets which took a lot of brain power. I loved the little old loom in the last picture because of all the heavy weights dangling off of the back of the loom. Click to get a close up of those Zoagli 4weights.

Day 5 – Our First Velvet

Weaving Velvet - Peggy Osterkamp Blog > click to enlarge
Weaving Velvet – Peggy Osterkamp Blog
> click to enlarge

Today we visited a velvet workshop and school in Florence. The looms were awesome and too big to grasp for me to photo just yet.

Velvet on Loom-Closeup of Rods
Velvet on Loom-Closeup of Rods

We’ll see more velvet looms as we travel around. Besides seeing velvet being woven on huge Jacquard looms, we saw old examples from their archive–and we got a serious lesson in analyzing and some drafting these complex fabrics.

After the tour, 4 of us will be taking  a 3-day workshop at the school. We’ll punch the cards and weave a variety of velvets ourselves– with very knowledgeable teachers who are English speakers.

School Name

I look forward to coming back and digging deeper into learning about how the gorgeous velvets are woven.

They provided each of us with a study guide for the analysis  of 4 different types of velvet.  It was a challenge to wrap my head around their way of drafting besides the complicated weaves. The photo of the study guide gives the official name of this world famous organization.

Day 4 – The Duomo

The first view is when we walked up to the Duomo today surprised me because it didn’t look familiar. It was so bright and so decorated.

Then the dome came into view and I recognized it, but it really didn’t look like I remembered it.

The third picture shows a little area with a weaver at a loom. How would you think one could find this tiny spot in the enormous church!

Then we discovered that part of the building was still very dirty. That’s why everything looked so different. It had been cleaned. It is really striking to see the dirty and clean areas next to each other.
[click first photo]

Day 3 – Visit to Fiesole

Day Three - 1Today we took a taxi to Fiesole, a little town on a big hill overlooking Florence. The views are stunning. There are ruins of a Roman theater, temple, and baths as well as older, Etruscan ruins overlooking the surrounding valley and hills. It really felt like we were in Italy now. This picture is of the theater.
Day Three - 2
This second picture is after our relaxing, two-hour lunch over looking Florence.
Day Three - 3
Here I am with my familiar water bottle. Not shown are my back pack and camera which is usually hanging from my neck. It was a thoroughly relaxing day with no crowds, lovely sun and blue sky with puffy white clouds. We meandered back to our hotel on a local bus.

Tomorrow afternoon we meet our tour group. We’ve met several already. I went today with my friend from Mill Valley so it was nice to have a friend along.

My First Day in Florence

Here is my first dinner. It was rainy so no sitting on a piazza would do. Besides I was getting my bearings going out from my hotel. I felt like a cat exploring its new surroundings. The first expedition was to find an ATM.  Then dinner. The big Duomo and also Piazza San Marco were on the way. Pretty good for finding my way by myself.
Day One -1
Here is dinner in my room, after having a gelato at a corner bar.
I know I will be eating well!
Day One - 2