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“.
Calcutta. Hand tying fringe at the workshop.
Every knot exactly right.
Embroidery area at the workshop.
Interesting that this is man’s work. Note their postures.
Another area clamped wooden pieces on folded cloth to resist the dye for interesting patterns.
Clamp resist dyed fabric.
When Pat Keily sent me his question, I gave him my thoughts but non suited his problem with floating shafts with multiple tie-ups. Here is what he wrote for this guest post to explain the problem and his happy solution. Thanks for contributing this tip, Pat!
“I have a 67-year-old LeClerc Nilus 36-inch, 10 treadle loom that has given me fits. The problem has been floating frames on multiple tie-ups. For some reason still unbeknownst to me, depressing a treadle would cause one or more frames to “float” an inch or so off the bottom. I was finally able to determine the cause and solution by googling the right key words. The problem is caused by the weight of the treadles (but why depressing a treadle would cause this is beyond me) lifting the jack. The solution is to install springs that keep the treadles from weighing down the frames. After searching for the right size springs and seeing they would cost over $50, my wife came up with a much better idea. We went to the Dollar Store and bought clasp-free hair bands for 10 cents each (pack of ten for a dollar). I bought 20 eye screws, installed ten in the end of the treadles and ten on a hardwood strip that I attached to the loom (Pat told me that he opened the “eyes” with two pairs of pliers). I slipped the hair band (fancy rubber bands) onto the eye screws and my floating frames floated right out of my life!”
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.
Here is how the clamp on my sewing cabinet works. I have needed to make patches on my travel vest after each trip. The clamp acts like a third hand and is really a help to stitch along. I began using it right after my recent Japan trip. the Japanese word for patching things is boro.
Day 22. A cosmopolitan day in Tokyo. In the morning we went to the Shibuya district to look for interesting contemporary shops and up-to-date people watching. I was shocked at the crowds we saw when we got out of the subway. All these people were waiting for the light to change so they could cross the street. We ducked into the Seibu department store to get away from the hordes of people and to cool off. There were nice contemporary and designer clothes to look at. I got a nice linen blouse.
We left these Shibuya crowds and headed for our favorite tea shop for lunch. It was too crowded so we headed for our favorite lunch place and the wait was worse so we went across the alley to another place and had a great lunch in the Omonte-Santo district.
Then we spent the afternoon in the Nihombashi district in the Takashimaya department store. On an upper floor were maybe a dozen craftsmen (and their wives) demonstrating their craft and selling their goods. This weaver was weaving weft ikat fabric and had lovely things. I treated myself to a tote bag with a crane on it done in weft ikat. In another area was a weaver of fabric for contemporary clothing. I bought a simple jacket for myself. My friend at home asked me to buy her something that I would like. We were lucky there was another jacket just like it so I got one for my friend who lives across the hall from me.
Then home to our hotel in the Shiba district for a “last night” sake. It was sad to think of leaving a country we love so much. Then to our room to eat a lovely take-out dinner complete with a delicious bing cherry tart. Then the job of packing began. We leave Tuesday morning and will get into San Francisco Tuesday afternoon.
This is gold leaf on paper cut into strips for wefts for obi weaving. For the paper warp loom in my previous post I think the paper was cut in a similar way and put on the loom before the strips were detached from the paper at the margins. The gold leaf can be patterned or plain.
Day 14. Leaving Okinawa for Kyoto. The architecture in all of Okinawa was so ugly to my eye. This was outside the front door of our hotel. We realized that everything had been bombed during the war and this is what has been built since. The people and the textiles more than made up however.
Beautiful beautiful Kyoto. We walked along some residential streets on our first day in Kyoto and I loved seeing the beauty here. This is what I seek out in Japan. This is an old style building with the second floor being very low. It would have been where the servants lived. The slits for windows upstairs were for collecting crickets we were told. They they would have been kept in small cages. I remember seeing the cages at Cost Plus when we came to San Francisco in the 60s.
A more modern style with a taller second floor next door to the old style house.
Outside a doorway on our walk. The natural rock made a nice bench.
Many doorways had pretty flowers. Never mind the red box.
Our goal was to visit a famous gold leaf artist, Mr. Yasushi Noguchi. It will take a whole other post to tell about our wonderful visit.
Day 13 – Ikat weft thread in a shuttle in Ishigaki. The weft thread has the dark and white areas that an ikat thread would have after dyeing and removing the ties. The special thing here is how the weft is in the shuttle. The weft “bundle” is made similar to winding a kite stick. The tool it is wound on looks a bit like a mechanical pencil or pen but there is a split at one end so you can anchor and start to wind the beginning of the weft thread around that end. (The weft thread will come out of the center of the bundle when inside the shuttle). The thread is just wound around the pencil-like tool a few times then it is wound like a kite stick around the tool. In my books you can see that I wind my warps on a stick that I call a kite stick in the way a kite stick is wound instead of chaining the warp. A bamboo stick holds the weft bundle in place and the thread comes off like any bobbin.
She was winding the weft thread on the tool too fast for me to get a good photo of the end where the weft was anchored and started. Here the weaver is winding the thread around a few times before beginning the “kite stick” technique. (Winding a kite stick is very much like winding on a nitty noddy.)
To keep the pattern exact the cloth is stretched to the width in the reed with the bamboo stick here. Also notice that the edge of the cloth isn’t perfectly straight. That’s because when the ikat weft thread is being woven it has to be slid either to the left or right so it lines up perfectly. The weft loops at the edge shows where the thread had been moved so it will line up. I bought a hanging with just a small amount of weft ikat and I love seeing the straight edges except where there are small weft loops sticking out where the weft ikat pattern is woven.
This shows where the ikat warp threads are joined with the white foundation warp behind the heddles on the loom shown in yesterday’s post.
Day 12 Ishigaki Island, Okinawa. We took a taxi to the Minsa Textile Institute & Minsa Craft Center and were met with lovely yarns drying outside the entrance. It is a large shop with a little museum upstairs. We spent quite a long time there. The weavers were winding huge warps onto beams to be put into looms when an order was placed for that color and design. There were tens of warp beams on the shelves to be woven as needed. We weren’t allowed to show photos of the process or the things in the shop. The shop was very attractive with contemporary colors and designs using traditional techniques woven on this island. Too bad I can’t show photos. Minsa technique means narrow weaving for obi for men and women. This shop used the warp faced technique with wider warps for lovely products to sell. Some examples were placemats, pillow covers, small coasters and lots of bags of all sizes. Everything was beautifully made.
Skeins drying after being dyed. The ones with the white plastic sticking out were ones that had been tied before dying. The area with the ties resisted the dye and will remain undyed. The cloth woven with these specially dyed threads in patterns is what is called “ikat”. Ikat is pronounced “e-cot”. See the next photo for a closer look.
A close look at the threads tied for ikat cloth. When they are put on the loom the tied will be removed and the yarns will be beige and white.
In the afternoon we visited a small weaving studio where the patterned “ikat” cloth was woven on looms with the pattern warp on a reel device that fit onto the back of the loom. This I had never seen before. Instead of tying the pattern threads they were painted on the warp threads while the warp was on tension on this reel device. This meant that the patterns lined up perfectly and didn’t need adjusting like we had been seeing before on the other islands. The next photos will show closer looks.
Here is the warp with the pattern painted on it.
There are two warps on the loom. The patterned one and a white one which is the main part of the cloth. The two are integrated in the heddles and woven together.
This is what the woven cloth looks like. Besides the warp threads being patterned the weft threads are patterned as well by tying the ikat threads and then dyeing them. We call it double ikat when both warps and wefts are dyed in these ways. The warps are the vertical threads and the wefts are the horizontal threads.
This is the tool used to “paint” the pattern on the warps.
Day 11. Ishigaki Island, Okinawa. The tradition in this area is of weaving narrow cloth called Mensa. The warps are very dense so the cloth is totally warp face. There is a stripe with two warp ikat patterns. The traditional textile has a”four-square” and a “5-square” pattern that stand for eternal love. This photo shows the 4-square design. The 5-square design is in the cloth,too, but not shown in this part of the cloth. This is s woman’s obi. A sash for the men is about 4″ wide; the women’s is bout 6″ wide. I love this piece because all the rest of the patterning comes from the arrangements of dark and light colors in the warp. They are woven on two shaft looms in plain weave; over one and under one.
Traditional Mensa narrow obi. I saw a picture with both men and women wearing this narrow “belt”. This is the traditional color but now many colors are available.
Traditionally the wefts were beaten in with a sword. Now the looms use a beater to do the job. With warp face cloth getting a clear shed and beating in the wefts are issues to consider.
At the end of a hot and humid day we tried the traditional Okinawan sweet treat: zenzai. It is made of red kidney beans sweetened with raw sugar and covered with shaved ice. We almost ordered one for each of the four of us but thankfully we were advised that one would be enough for all–and it definitely was. It was refreshing but I like soft ice cream better and that is found all over.
Day 10. Tiny Patterns Woven at Miyako Traditional Crafts Research Center. It was impossible to imagine these patterns were tied and dyed (ikat) until we saw how it was done.
Imagine whole kimonos woven with such fine patterns! It was thrilling to see how it was done.
This is what I hoped to see and it was hanging to dry after being dyed with indigo. This woven thick piece is how the tiny white patterns are made. In the photo all the places where there is weaving resisted the indigo blue dye and remain white when this thick mat is unwoven. The unwoven threads with the tiny white areas are then put on the loom and the real cloth is woven.
marmarweaves commented: This is pretty unbelievable, if you had not seen it and shown it, it would be more than one could imagine. Astonishing. Thanks Peggy for taking us along.
Here you can see the mat being unwoven and the threads have white areas where they were originally woven to resist the blue dye.
Here the threads are on the loom about to be woven into cloth for a kimono.
Here is a pattern piece ready for the dye pot. You can see the pattern that will eventually be woven into cloth.
On the loom if a thread isn’t exactly lined up it has to be tightened or loosen to be in the right place. The weaver watches carefully with every row.
Here is a close up of the edge of the piece woven and ready to dye. Bundles of threads are woven. Where the threads float is where the dye will sink in. Where they are woven will be too tight and won’t allow the dye to penetrate causing the small white patterns.
Day 9. Miyako Island. We had time to drive around before the shops opened today, Mother’s Day. We saw many butterflies on a little sandy walk to the beach. This island is proud of its beaches. A butterfly museum we were seeking closed but it was thrilling to see so many out in nature–and photographable with my stop motion setting on my new camera.
Another butterfly. Only a few really were in focus.
I was thrilled to see that this photo turned out.
This was the walk down to the beach.
Cathy settling the bill with the shop owner at a really nice shop with lots of Miyako Island textiles. It was great that she sold pieces cut from old kimonos or lengths of fabrics. Tomorrow we will visit a workshop and we hope to see how they ikat such tiny patterns. I’m betting I can guess how it’s done in principle but we’ll have to see.
Outside the textile shop. It is near the airport and so close to our hotel that we walked “home”. I bought a lot of pieces of cloth that were irresistible.
Day 8. Chibana Village Okinawa. At the Chibana Hanaori Cooperative they also wove cloth with extra warp threads to create patterns with threads floating on the surface. This complicated but beautiful cloth also had some ikat designs where the tied and dyed threads are woven in the cloth along with areas where the threads ride on the surface of the cloth.
This is the back side if the previous cloth. The threads not on the “right side” float on the back of the cloth.
In this area the shafts on the loom are lifted to create the patterns on the top of the cloth with this hook. In the previous studio they pulled down the shafts with their toe or foot to make the patterns.
For this pattern extra threads were laid in as the weaving progressed. We call this inlay technique. The left side if the photo is the right dide of the cloth and the right side shows the back side. See the next photo.
Here the yellow thread is the starting point of an inlay design.
The warp beams on the looms were square.
A photo of Part of the weaving studio.
The warp beams are square but they are round with the warp wound on them. There is a square “sleeve” made of wood that goes on the beam before the warp is wound on. I don’t know why. The photo shows that one warp is the foundation thread and the other for the pattern.
Day 6 we drove 2 hours out of Naha to the Kijoka Bashofu Cooperative where precious cloth is made out of banana plant fibers. The cloth is called bashofu.
We saw the special banana plants cultivated for the fibers in the stalks. These plants aren’t grown for their fruit and the plants must be cultivated–wild ones can’t be used.
Double ikat patterns are typical of basho cloth that I am familiar with.
We visited a famous weaver Kyoto Shukumine who has exhibited a lot and is known for her distinctive colorful cloth.
There are special pattern shafts in addition to two shafts that are for the ground cloth.
The pattern shafts are operated with the weaver’s toes or in this case her foot to pull down the required pattern shafts while the other foot operates the treadle for the ground plain weave.
Day 5 Naha Okinawa. This is glorious cloth woven by Michiko Uehara an artist/weaver who has exhibited in New York as well as in Japan. She reels the silk threads off the cocoons herself and weaves the most sheer cloth I’ve ever seen. This piece is double woven as a tube.
Another silk woven by Michiko Uehara. She dropped it from the sir and it simply floated down. She showed us maybe 20 large pieces–each one more thrilling than the last.
One piece was woven both warp and weft with threads that came from single cocoons. Always several if not 10 or so are reeled off at once to form fine threads. I held the cloth and was amazed that is was light as a feather. What you see here are the warp threads. If you look closely you can glimpse the cloth.
One of Michiko’s daughters is a potter and made these tiny containers for the tea in the tea ceremony. These are what I’ve been so interested in. Michiko herself wove her fine silks for the bags for the containers made by a contemporary potter in a joint exhibition.
We also went to Haebaru Village to see kasuri cloth being tied, dyed, and woven. Here a man is painting the lines on the threads instead of tying and then dyeing them.
Here two sets of fine warp threads are being put into the reed.
These are warp threads that have been starched before weaving. The warp looked like straw.
Day 4. We flew to Kume Island for the day and visited a spectacular place where they make traditional cloth from raising the silk worms, reeling the silk off the cocoons, tying and dyeing the warp and weft threads and weaving. It is the Kumejoma Tsumugi Museum.
Here are baby silk worms being taken care of I can’t remember why the women were taking off the worms and putting them in the boxes. I think they were in the process of feeding them. They eat a lot of fresh mulberry leaves and will grow to the size of a thumb.
Here the women are unwinding the silk thread from the cocoons. You can see how many cocoons are making a single silk thread.
Here the tied and dyed warp threads are being adjusted so the pattern will be exactly lined up for each and every thread. The little bobbin is putting a bit of extra tension on a warp to keep the thread lined up.
This is a small area showing how the dyed threads come together in the woven cloth. This tiny motif is precise and woven by one of the experts.
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.