Project 8 Stage 2 Exercise 1 – Experimenting with Structure

This exercise begins our exploration of structure with paper weaving. For my first few experiments I worked with pages taken from an old Time-Life book on Eastern Europe.

Sample 1 was a failure. I used two photos of geese – one a closeup through a mesh fence, the other a more distant view of geese in front of a farm building. I thought the differences in scales of the images would be interesting, and that the mesh fence would add some sort of counterpoint to the grid of the weaving. Instead it’s a mess, virtually impossible to process visually.

Like Claire when she did this exercise (here), I found the back more interesting (nowhere near as interesting as her’s, but such is life 🙂 ).

Value is clearly very important. This is different to weaving a scarf or similar, where the smaller scale of warp and weft means that there’s a lot more optical mixing of the different colours, and no concept of trying to read individual images. Of course there are other weaving techniques, such as the Theo Moorman inlay used by Daryl Lancaster (see her blog including here – weaversew.com/wordblog/2008/12/20/big-sister/) and Ann Roth’s work using strips of fabric she had dyed (here – annrothtextiles.blogspot), where scale and structure mean the image or pattern of the materials remains visible in the result.

I tried to adjust for the value problem in my second sample by using a coloured photo as “warp”, unrelated text for the weft, and a larger strip width. The photo is easier to interpret, but it’s not enhanced or given any additional meaning or depth by being woven.

This third sample combines two photographs. The black and white is Warsaw after it was levelled by the Germans in World War II. The colour photo is fields in Poland. I cut the strips of the warp to follow the lines of the field boundaries.

I think this is easily the best of this series using photos. Each of the images can be understood separately, and combine to give enhanced meaning. Following the sloped lines in my cuts makes the images easier to interpret and also adds some movement to the result.

In my next sample I cut and layered strips of tissue paper. The thumbnail above shows the very uninteresting back, and the larger photo to the right is very subdued.

Sydney is rainy and grey this afternoon, so I’m back to the wobbly, handheld in front of a lamp style of photo. This is just the effect I was trying to achieve (the weaving, not the photo). I like the idea of hidden meaning or interest that is only revealed in certain conditions.

The course notes suggest trying variety and contrast in materials. I decided to bring in one of my “challenge” finds from Reverse Garbage, shredded silver paper, as weft. For “warp” I took a piece of acetate (previous life the front cover of a spiral bound book), and cut 2 cm wide slots in it.


This is a very tricky thing to photograph in artificial light, so I’ve put in a couple of attempts – sorry about the reflections. There isn’t actually any gold or yellow in it.

My biggest concern was to retain the liveliness and rather wild nature of the shredded paper, but in a form that somehow contained/controlled it and added some strength. I think it has worked very well, although it will be interesting to see it after it has been compressed in the mail a couple of times.

All the structure comes from the acetate – it remains a single piece with the paper woven through the slots. I wove with a continuous bundle of paper, wrapping around the edges of the acetate. Note the word bundle – I didn’t even attempt to separate the strands, just gently pulled out a handful and kept pulling, capturing extra bits as required to keep the bundle a roughly even width.

My final samples also come from my challenge purchases, this time a roughly woven bag that I think was used to ship coffee beans.

I cut a piece that had some interesting colour, both from the warp stripes and the overprinted labelling on the bag. My intention was to follow the note’s suggestion “make a more open weave and then weave across diagonally with threads or paper”.

Obviously I’m already bending the requirements somewhat, given I started with a woven fabric.

The plan was to make the fabric more open by removing threads from both warp and weft. I was going to weave diagonally over this, using the threads that I had reclaimed. I tried to keep the removed threads in order, with the idea that the overprinted text might be vaguely visible in the reconstructed, reintegrated, diagonal over-weaving.

Above is the result at the time I stopped. The photo is doing it favours – it’s really just a muddled mess.

Perhaps it’s a variant of the same problem as with the geese right at the top in my first sample – there isn’t enough contrast between my elements for them to make sense visually. At this time I was also in a mode of trying to be spontaneous and intuitive in my sampling, rather than planning everything up front. I ran into trouble because in my mind weaving is so much about structure, and working on the fly I couldn’t figure out what weaving through diagonally meant – at least not in the sense I was attempting, of creating a second layer like in doubleweave (there’s an early example of this from 2008 here, or you can click on the Structure/doubleweave category on the right to other versions).

My final example is included for completeness, since this is my learning log and I like to be open and honest about failures as well as successes, but it’s not going anywhere near my tutor or formal assessment. Shudder!

Having abandoned my diagonal double woven mess, I cut another piece of coffee bean sack with the thought of taking out more threads, but this time cross weaving in a contrasting material. After a while it occurred to me that it wasn’t interesting, it was never going to be interesting, and even worse I’d drifted entirely away from the requirements of the exercise.

Time to move on!

3 Responses to “Project 8 Stage 2 Exercise 1 – Experimenting with Structure”


  1. 1 Jane B September 15, 2012 at 7:53 am

    I actually like the geese. The grid in the one picture adds a lot of texture to those parts. And I love the Warsaw one the wavy cutting is so evocative


  1. 1 Project 8 Reflective Commentary « Fibres of Being Trackback on October 12, 2012 at 5:17 pm
  2. 2 Project 9 Woven Structures Stage 3 part 1 « Fibres of Being Trackback on October 21, 2012 at 12:48 pm

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