Today I started to weave again after over a year. It takes two swifts to hold the skein.
This skein of raw silk from Bhutan has a cross in the middle of it! I’d never seen such a skein before. However it really makes it easy to ball off the yarn because of the cross. This is definitely hand spun and sticky.
Here’s that hand spun yarn woven with my fine silk warp at 125 EPI.
I decided to try a fatter weft so the weaving would go faster. I may have a dog on the loom. I’ve spent so much time already with broken ends I can’t quite give it up yet. I think I’ll use the cloth to dye with my dyes I brought back from Japan. I’m weaving two layers at once. Well since I’m going slowly anyway, why not?
I had accumulated a large pile of fabrics I collected for collages and it was growing uncontrollably. I decided to organize them by value. That was too foreboding at first so I sorted them by color (hue) then I took each pile and took out the light ones for the box of light-values.
Next I pulled out the darkest value ones for the dark box. That made it easier to fill the medium box.
The fourth box was for larger pieces of cloth.
What fun. But I sure had a backache after all that working with piles on the floor.
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“.
Many years ago I took a class in damask and learned about satins and I focused on warp face and weft face and color. I don’t know why I thought I needed 11 yards, but I made the warp that long. I would say it was about 15” wide. The warp was blue and grey out of 20/2 pearl cotton. The threading was 2 blocks and then I played with how colors mixed and looked next to each other. I still have a large stash of a lot of colors and shades of sewing thread which I used for wefts.
Since I was playing, sometimes the “right side” was on top and sometimes the “wrong side”. Of course there was no repeat!
When I showed it to my students one day Antione Alexander said he could make a coat out of it. The next week he had a muslin and the next week the completed coat! WOW! Later I had a seamstress put in interfacing and a lining. I wore it to the symphony a few weeks ago and have gotten nice compliments every time I wear it. I really feel I lucked out! I think he did a great job.
After each trip I seem to need to patch worn places and last time, a 3-corner tear. (I learned the name for that kind of tear in 4-H as a kid). When we took this photo, I realized that I’d sewn one of the pockets shut!! Another job to do before the next trip. Here is the current version after the trip to Japan in May. It felt so good when I put it on for the photos–nice and clean. At the end of a trip it is limp from sweat and constant wearing every day! I love it because of the pockets: for my camera, purse, train tickets, hotel key pad and pen. This is a Safekeeper vest made by Marion Gartler in Seattle. She brought them to Berkeley for a trunk show a few years ago.
I took a workshop with Yoshiko Wada’s Slow Fiber Studios in Berkeley, California recently. We learned to fold cloth in origami-like ways and then we did arashi shibori (pole wrapping shibori) with the cloth and got these lovely simple patterns. The teacher was Chris Palmer and his book is called Shadow folds: Surprisingly Easy-to-Make Geometric Designs in Fabric by Jeffrey Rutzky and Chris K. Palmer.
I folded and dyed 11” silk squares I got already hemmed from Dharma Trading Company. This was my first attempt at arashi shibori and I used my own indigo vat. I am proud of the results for such a novice. They can be used singly or as a group as pieces for the wall or gifts.
I took small pieces I’ve dyed and made little collage compositions and mounted them on squares of dark indigo linen I got in India a few years ago. We went to see the Matisse and Diebenkorn show yesterday and I decided to call these pieces “My Little Diebenkorns”! They can be used singly or in a group, too. I have put similar pieces in CD cases to present them! They also could be little coasters or gifts.
I had really nice responses to my previous post which showed details of my new collage wall hangings with my dyed fabrics. Now you can see what they are like in reality. There are seven–all 11″ wide and 36″ long. Now if you want to see details again, you can go back to the first post. Click on these thumbnails to see them full size then click again to see the detail.
Finally! I wove a record of 7 1/2 inches the other day–in a 2-hour session. I think most of the repairs are done now and I can weave along. You can see how it is going on the video.
Here is a close up of the cloth with only one broken thread repair–hooray! I think I am finally on my way now. I make the repairs with colored sewing thread so I can see what I’m doing. Usually those threads will continue until the end of the warp so it will be a bit of a surprise to see what it looks like off the loom. I have about a yard done so far with the previous sessions averaging an inch or so each because of all the repairs that needed to be done. For each repair, I have to find the missing heddle and route the repair thread in the exact position where the broken thread was. I join the sewing thread to the silk one and weight it at the back of the loom. See a previous post of my set-up to weight the threads and keep them in order–keeping them in order is crucial so I have a cross on the stand where the weighted threads are.
Each composition is made up of fabrics that were in the same dye pot. The differences in the tones are due to the different fabrics I put into the pot. I love these subtle “colors”. The yellows were from woad plants. The browns were from green persimmons over dyed with indigo. I especially find myself liking things that have almost no color at all. One of these is from oak galls. I can’t remember all the specifics but I like to put dyed fabrics in a bath of iron water to “sadden” the color.
Over the holidays I dyed a lot in my very first indigo vat. Lots and lots of dips were necessary to get the different shades. I always used a variety of silks and cottons in each dye bath to get a variety of close tones. I’m thrilled with the results and all the “colors” I could get just by using different cloths. Then I did similar experiments with saffron, henna and turmeric. It has been fun seeing what I could get. My next post will show some of the art pieces I made using these small pieces.
I’m weaving 125 fine threads per inch so I can weave another ruffle (see my gallery) which I will shibori dye with indigo. Then the ruffle will disappear and appear in the dyed and un-dyed areas. [click any photo to enlarge]
I’m trying to weave with finer-than-ever silk threads. I should have starched them first but didn’t because I didn’t realize it would be necessary. That would have made the threads stronger. There are 125 threads per inch and I made more threading errors than I’ve ever made in my life. I have spent hours correcting these almost invisible threads and have lost a few and a few have broken –there are 16 threads to date that are hanging off the back of my loom and I expect I’ll have more as I weave along. Here is a close up of the weaving and one broken thread pinned in. (I’ve been mending the threads with sewing thread so I can see them.)
I used this stand which I’d used when I was weaving velvet to rig up a way to keep all the threads from tangling. Knowing that the only thread that can’t tangle is one under tension this is what I did.
I took the threads as they came from the warp beam and made a cross to keep them in order.
I took a workshop called Shibori and Sublimation Printing on the weekend. It was really inspiring. We were dying on polyester using shibori techniques and dying by sublimation using disperse dyes and a heat press. I hope to use the ideas with my persimmon dyes on silk and cotton.
I’ve been interested that I could dye with green persimmons for awhile and I have a friend with persimmon trees. But when I got Chris Conrad’s book, “Kakishibu: Traditional Persimmon Dye of Japan”” and found I could buy the dye already made I was hooked. These are some of my first experiments. I love them and have more pictures for an album we’ll make later. Her book told me all I needed to know to get started. Visit her website : http://kakishibui.com/
Here are my Structo table looms all ready for the campers later in June. Last year we had great creativity from the 6-11 year-olds. Finally a use for my looms that have been gathering dust n my studio. Last year was a great success so we are going to do it again this year. I always wonder before hand how it will go over. The kids last year were so eager. I made the warps–2 1/2″ wide and then cut cut them off when they are all done and glue the cut ends.
I stayed up late Christmas Eve to make these yarn figures–had one more to do Christmas morning. They were so much fun and I’m glad I can keep the doll clothes for myself for awhile. I stuffed them with little bean bags I made out of old socks. The stuffing came from old pillows –one with grains of rice and the other, rice hulls. I had a mess to clean up when one or another tipped over in the making.
I intended these doll clothes I have knitted over the year or so to be Christmas presents. When they turned into art sculptures I knew they needed to be in a group and that meant as of two days before Christmas all of a sudden I didn’t have my gifts anymore! I had planned to make one of the dresses into a paper weight for one gift but when it became a sculpture and I was out of that present. Another dress was a gift, too. I was out two at the last minute. I won’t say how I resolved my dilemma but the next post will show my little people standing upright in a group.
I dyed several pieces I’d woven out of the sheer silk threads that collapse and was thrilled with the results. There are a few more but since they are a dark indigo, they don’t show up as well as in person. I’d woven the pieces in various ways to encourage or control the collapse areas. However, that was a few years ago. When I put them in the indigo dye vat, they all were flat. What wonderful surprises I got.
The reason I call them caskets is the mounting I’ve done. One of them shows the piece in a frame—the frame is made of very thick foam core board for the depth and covered with a frame of mat board with beveled edges on the window. The pieces themselves are stitched to a backing piece of mat board. Then I put a sheet of Mylar over the top and held it in place with a few stitches in the corners. Thus the pieces are protected and encased but in a simple way. They could be framed more properly later. I plan to show them this way in my show at the Tiburon Library for the month of November.
Note: I had a professional framer cut the foam core frames and the top mats. I stitched the pieces themselves to the mat board on the backs and cut and stitched on the Mylar myself.
If you click on the images to enlarge them you can really see the loops and textures better.
The counsellors and a few of the campers and a parent came to my studio to set up the looms before the camp started. The day of these photos a counsellor made a warp and she and I threaded one of the 7 Structo looms together. Her little brother and his friend came, too, and had fun weaving while we were having fun ourselves setting up the loom. It was a lovely afternoon. [click photos to enlarge]
I’m thinking of making a book with small pages of my own woven cloth dyed in indigo with clamp resist. The cloth is sheer silk I wove in a crepe weave. It is flat when it is woven and doesn’t crinkle up until it gets wet. Sometimes I wet the cloth before dying and sometimes I let it crinkle when it got wet in the dye vat. This is great fun. The pieces are mounted on small pieces of cloth about 4 1/2″ square. I love these little miniature patches and can’t wait to begin stitching them down.
I arranged all the cloth pieces I’ve been dying in the indigo vats from Yoshiko Wada’s Boro workshop to make my own large “boro futon cover”. All the pieces are pinned to a flannel sheet on my pin up wall. Now, the hard part comes: how to get it off to stitch it to a backing fabric. I’m thrilled with the whole process and can’t wait to start stitching.
Here it is: the video of my ruffle mobile. The three short ruffles are about 18″ long. I like it a lot; however, the juror did not and rejected them. I don’t like to be rejected but like the mobile so much more. Please click the YouTube logo to view in HD on the YouTube page.
Nationally, people have known me for my teaching and instructional books about the art and techniques of weaving for 35 years. Few people knew that I was creating art pieces during this long period of time. Now I fee it is time to share my work with art lovers.
I have been interested lately in weaving sheer cloth. When I went to Japan in 2013, I wanted to make something that would show how sheer I could weave cloth. That is how I got the idea of weaving my bookmarks. I enclosed them in a package because I knew that the wrapping of gifts is very important to the Japanese. I received a lot of very good feedback.
In Japan, I fell in love with a book that had gorgeous holes in the pages where bookworms had eaten the paper. I treasure that book today. I brought home other books with interesting calligraphy that I thought I might use somehow with my weaving. It was a long time before I realized that my bookmarks would be perfect with their pages. Some of the pages are poetry and some are practice pages for brushwork for calligraphy.
I love old textiles for the home, too, and grew up with rag rugs in my mother’s home. When I saw these rag balls in an antique store on Bleeker Street in New York, I was completely smitten and had to have them. I can image the woman who carefully cut the strips and hand stitched the lengths together and them wound these tight balls. All this was in preparation for weaving a rag rug.
I hesitated to unwind the balls to weave a whole rug, but wove these small pieces. I loved handling the “rags” of old, vintage cloth. I added my personal touch by weaving in horse hair, a material I have been using in recent work.
[click first photo to enlarge]