Project 9 Woven Structures Stage 3 part 1

This stage involves experimenting with different materials to create some interesting surface textures. As an initial inspiration I was thinking of some of the textures in seaweed, rocks and water that I saw on King Island on my recent trip (blogged 7-Oct-2012). The second part of the Stage is to select some of the most exciting sections and develop a sample piece. Currently I don’t feel too excited about any of my experiments, so I’ve decided to cut it off the loom, review results, and try to figure out a way to add some oomph.

The list of wefts grew as I went and in theory is promising, but the end result is really … just a bit too polite.

Top row left to right: fly screen mesh; individual fibres taken from screen; waxed black string; a light beading/fishing line; neoprene tube; a stiff black plastic(?) that reminds me of horsehair; handspun tissue paper – from stores, one with added black gloss lettering, the other with gold lettering; black woven cord, a bit like very thin shoelace; white knit cotton tube (plant tie); multiple strands of anonymous medium weight black thread; silver shredded paper.
Second row: I was rather chuffed with my success in spinning tissue paper, so I went on to spin: cooking foil; cooking foil held with cellophane; newspaper. Not needing spinning: cling film (from the kitchen); bubblewrap.

**Edited to add – the bubblewrap idea was taken from Claire’s work here. Thank you Claire!**

The warp was the rug linen warp.

Surely something there should lead to interesting and/or exciting???

Above is a front and back lit comparison. Next some detail.


I started off with the strip of insect screen. I’d really liked the result I got with it in the braiding section (blogged 16-Sept-2012).

After just a couple of picks of plain weave I could see it was crushing down and all that texture lost. I put in a section with the waxed string, to keep the various experiments separate plus in the hope of creating an interesting effect when backlit – filtered areas of screen divided by solid bands. Next was a row of soumak – good height above the plane of the fabric, but crushed down. After another band of waxed string I tried a structure with longer floats so that more of the “yarn” would be displayed (more about the structure below, on a part that is clearer. This was better, but all the spikey bits created by fraying the edge of the strip was ending up underneath instead of on top. The final part was the same structure but not pre-fraying the strip.

The photos above show on the left the front of the fabric – not the wild texture I was hoping for, but the later sections with almost oval shapes is reminiscent of some of the seaweed.The middle photo is the back, showing some nice spikey action, which could be useful if I could control it and get it to the front. The photo on the right is backlit. There is a hint of the banding I hoped to achieve, but not enough to bother with. I didn’t try ghiordes knots, but that could break up the politeness a bit.

The next section used a couple of yarns I got from Feeling Inspired – some thin black neoprene tubing and some fishing line. I wound five pieces of the fishing line together on the shuttle. In the photos above you can see the front of the fabric, the front at an angle to show some of the height, and a back view.

I started with a little plain weave in fishing line. Then comes a section which is pretty much a five-end satin. Basically the black neoprene floats above four warp ends, then under one (total five warp ends). Each time across the warp thread the weft goes under changes. First time across the weft goes under the first warp thread in each group of five. Next time across it goes under the third warp thread. Next the fifth; next the second; next the fourth. Then you repeat. In this example I wove a pick of fishing line between each pick of the black. In a normal satin you wouldn’t, the weft would pack down and you get a smooth surface. Here you get fairly long smooth lines on the top and dotting underneath. This is the same structure I used in the earlier section.

After the “satin” is a row of soumak in neoprene, an area of plain weave in neoprene, and a row of soumak in fishing line.

The backlit view of this area reminds me of glass bricks. There’s almost a watery texture to it when close up, but that’s only at a high detail level.

The soumak in fishing line could bring some highlights and sparkle into an area representing water. The longer floats give a flowing horizontal line with just a bit of diagonal movement. I can’t see seaweed in it. I wonder how tricky it would be to take soumak in different directions, going over wefts as well as warps and jumping from row to row.

Going further up the fabric there is the plastic “horse hair”. In a bundle like this it doesn’t really bend and there’s a glossy ribbon-like appearance. It doesn’t work in a seaweed idea, but could look really good in a sharp, modern layout, maybe framing something.

After a bit more neoprene we come to the handspun tissue paper. I’ve wanted to try spinning paper since seeing Fabrication No. 3 by Wang Lei at the White Rabbit gallery last year – info at www.whiterabbitcollection.org/artists/wang-lei-%E7%8E%8B%E9%9B%B7/. Paper from a Chinese-English dictionary was made into yarn then knitted into Imperial Robes. There’s also shifu, spun washi paper. I have a lovely Majacraft suzie pro spinning wheel which hasn’t seen much use in the last few years. After some trial and error I got a rough yarn, and the patterning on the store tissue paper gives some additional interest to the weaving. This is the one area where I used ghiordes knots and clearly they are great for some seaweed texture. I kept them limited because they make it so much harder to see the rest of the work in a small experimental sampler. Above the paper is some thin cord – bland.

Next up is the knitted tube of cotton, previously seen in Project 8 (blogged 22-Sept-2012). There are two rows of soumak, the lower one over two warp ends, the upper one over four. The longer length is better, as you can stretch and manipulate the yarn more to create texture, shape and height. It could be used as breaking waves, although care is needed as I’ve found it can take over quite easily. Dyeing the yarn could help.
At this point, halfway through the sampler, in all honesty I lost sight of the initial seaweed focus and got sidetracked onto an exploration of material and technique. At the bottom is the shredded silver paper. I used this in project 8 in early experiments with structure (blogged 13-Sept-2012). In that attempt I was able to retain the liveliness and wildness of the paper. Here it has been tamed, subdued. The multi-strand black yarn I used every other pick makes a very formal arrangement. I was trying to give the yarn space to shine. Darn
Next up in the photo above is cooking foil. Given the flatness of the silver paper, I decided to introduce some extra texture by loosely spinning the strips of foil before weaving. This created a faceted surface which catches the light and reflects in different directions. It also reflects some of the colour of the yarn around it, so I tried to extend that by spinning more foil, this time incorporating some cellophane. This has some potential. I’d like to try introducing lots of related colours around the foil in both warp and other wefts, plus bits of cellophane, and limit the foil to areas rather than across the width of the material. I’m thinking of light reflecting off water. In the backlit overall photo near the top it looks as if there’s some colouring of light coming through, but this isn’t so apparent in detail shots.

In this last section I tried spinning with newspaper. It creates a very matt surface, which could provide a useful contrast. There’s also a lot of visual texture and variation created by the glimpses of printed text and photographs, although nothing readable. I think this has potential as a background-with-interest. There are also conceptual possibilities in the choice of text or news story on the pages.
Finally there is cling-film wrap from the kitchen, and then bubblewrap. I just cut the clingfilm in half up its length and rolled it between my hands to form a “yarn”. The bubble wrap is a simple strip. Again my choice of weaving every other pick in black (the neoprene) gives a formality and rigidity. I don’t find the backlit view very interesting. It’s the reflections off the surface of the materials which adds light and life, displaying and taking advantage of the bubblewrap’s semi-spherical structure. Clearly (ho ho) the colour and texture of both warp and accompanying weft are very important.
For the last section of the weaving I was playing with ideas for the commentary that such materials could provide. You could create a sort of recycling diary – record all the waste materials that come into the house each week. Maybe just take junk mail for a period. You could sort by colour and weave patterns.
Not a line I’ll explore any time soon. Instead I think I now have enough distance and material to go ahead with the small sample required to complete this stage.

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