Project 8 Stage 2 Exercise 4 – weaving in a rigid grid

The requirements for this exercise were fairly open – use rigid materials to make a grid, any size, then do something with it. Possibilities included filling in spaces, weaving across diagonally, using the grid as a frame or base structure…

I took a number of photographs of this structure on Cockatoo Island when I visited it with Claire during the biennale.

I did some work in my sketchbook (here) and was thinking about filling the spaces with some kind of exploration of rust colours and texture (I’d done a little on rust using stitch back in project 2, blogged 24-Oct-2011).

It took a couple of evenings wandering vaguely purposefully around the house looking for suitable rigid materials, but eventually I found a bundle of metal loom heddles, scavanged from a Guild clearout. It seemed a nice twist to make a weave structure using loom parts. The heddle eyes and the loops at each end helped to combine the heddles to create a grid, and after a lot of experimentation and false starts only a few twists of wire at key points were needed to provide some stability.

I was pleased with the shape I came up with – more reminiscent of electricity pylons than the original image, but still pretty nifty I thought (unfortunately I forgot to photograph it bare). It had such interesting lines and odd shapes that I decided to be very simple in the weaving. It took a lot more experimentation, both on paper and in attempts on the frame, to get a method that worked.  The multi-colour diagram on the left of this sketchbook page, towards the top, was the final design. Even once I’d figured it out I kept going wrong in the weaving, since I was using a single length of yarn and kept losing track as I worked up and down each triangle. In the end I carried along extra yarns in the different colours as I wove so I could identify each pass, then removed them once the weave was formed.

I  used one of my challenge yarns from Reverse Garbage  – not actually for additional challenge, but fortuitously it was in a colour and with a texture that suggested rust. It’s definitely synthetic – possibly a type of nylon, but I have no idea of its original purpose. I also used a blue version of the yarn to create a counterchange pattern, providing some extra visual interest while highlighting rather than obscuring my nice grid. I could pretend that the blue was echoing the colour of the sky, but really it’s just what I had.

I’m actually really pleased with this, although it’s a very odd thing. I’ve considered bending down those protruding wires near the top. A 90 degree angle could increase the suggestion of electricity pylons. In the end I’m too attached to the idea of the integrity of the heddles – ten altogether I think. It amazes me that they could be fit together without modification to create such an interesting set of shapes.

The choice of a simple weave worked well. It meets the exercise brief, fits with my chosen source image, and doesn’t obscure the grid shapes. I also like the way the spaces in the weave structure vary in size, just like the grid itself. Plus I’m pleased with my process, a good mixture of planning and experimentation, not losing sight of my source but not slavish and literal. It’s not a thing of beauty, but it does have interest and in my eyes a kind of oddball charm.

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Fabulous figure sculpting workshop with Kassandra Bossell!

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