Archive for the 'Weaving' Category

Eavesdropping at a half-open door

“one has to teach the skill of reading even to those who are no longer illiterate”

“uncultured readers… with a vague knowledge that there is something else here, and enjoying the text like someone eavesdropping at a half-open door, glimpsing only hints of a promising epiphany.”

Umberto Eco, on literature, pages 171 and 219.

Some days I have the confronting feeling that I’m a beginner in something I’ve practiced daily for almost six decades. Then I tell myself to stop being maudlin and self-indulgent, and just get on with it.

I have tried to make visible the work of reading. I have complained bitterly when I found reading challenging. I have made reading the foundation of every day. I write about attentive reading, focusing on every line and word… but lately I’ve wondered – am I getting all I can from all this effort? In particular, am I making connections, building usable knowledge. I note correspondences as I go, and the use of indexing glyphs in my notetaking has been useful in later consolidation around particular ideas. Possibly I need to be more alert to the need to extend my glyph set.

In my last post (7-Jan-2020) I tried to link books and authors with fabric swatches. That was step one in an experiment.

The previous data viz experiments were generally useful, giving me space and time to think, seeing from different angles, generating some surprises… I decided to look at where I was spending time reading, and to search for rhythms and flows in the mix of reading. Keep mine-ing the existing tool set and stash. The brief developed:
* Start recording time spent reading.
* Repeat the scarf form. This time with weaving.
* Begin simple, with options to elaborate as the process continues. So plain weave. I put a 2 metre warp of black cottolin on the 4-shaft table loom, a straight threading.

The result is a record of four weeks of reading – 30 November to 27 December. Information encoded:
* Length of weaving is proportional to length of reading. Four centimetres = One hour.
* Beginning of day is marked by 5 picks in cotton – white on Sunday, then darkening greys reaching black on Saturday.
* Indicate book by weft โ€“ torn fabric strips.
* Most reading was done in my workroom. If outside the house, a supplementary fine coppery weft was added (“sunshine”). If bedtime reading, a supplementary weft of silvery white was used (for the moon).
* When a book or essay was finished (not many were), mark by 5 picks in red cotton.

Detail – Wednesday 18 December 2019

In the detail above you might just be able to see the cotton picks at the beginning and end of the day. The book swatches all look quite different when squashed down and used for weft.

Umberto Eco on literature

John Berger
Selected Essays

In the morning I read Umberto Eco for 45 minutes. John Berger accompanied me on the bus, and in a cafe waiting for CPR training – a total of 50 minutes and a glint of sunshine.

Jane Hirshfield Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World

At that time I was reading Jane Hirshfield before sleep – hence the loops of white rayon. I wasn’t taking in much, just trying to find the flow, to get an overall sense, hoping to learn enough to be able to read it again with more understanding. Thirty more minutes, and a total of 8.3 cm.

Classic uses of a data visualisation are discovery (learn something new) and storytelling (communicate ideas). I can’t claim either here. Using standard viz software I would have waited to collect all the data before even starting, then probably run a variety of statistical analyses, experimented with multiple chart types, maybe colour themes and scales, transformations, brought in other data sets for context or comparison… There’s the faintest hint of this in the fringes.

By amazing chance, the number of warp ends was precisely four times the number of days woven. So each piece of fringe is one day. The fringing shown above records the total amount of time recorded reading each day (range from 0.67 to 2.75 hours). At the other end of the scarf the number of books read is shown – from 1 to 4 each day. Note the same information is already encoded in the weaving. This is simply a different chart type.

plump folds, showing more of the fabrics

Despite the proportions, the resulting textile can’t really be called a scarf. It does not drape softly and warmly around the neck. However while it sat on my desk over the last week, I came to love its edges. And to appreciate that “not drape-able” could also be described as “sculptural”

reading scarf sculpture

So perhaps wearable sculpture.

Click for larger image

Red warp coat

Back in 2013 I had a “window of time” and dressed the big loom with a red warp – 8-Mar-2013. The window proved narrow and the warp languished…

… for 6 and a half years.

Finally this September I finished weaving every last centimetre I could get from it. Beautiful luscious fuzziness.

And this week I finished sewing it into a coat. Very nearly every centimetre of fabric. Now a shorter and less patient pause while I wait for the right weather.

Sampling

This is basically an update from my Components and Sampling post a few weeks ago (1-Oct-2018). Little bits of this and that, hopefully not signifying nothing. I’ve decided to go with what’s exciting me most first, rather than chronological.

Leno
The Anni Albers book (20-Oct-2018) has me buzzing. I had to put the book down and get something into my hands. How’s this for a potential component?

This was done off-loom, held in my hands for ultimate flexibility. That worked quite well for the twined sections, but the leno got a bit wild.

The detail shot below is on a 1 cm grid, to give an idea of scale. Most of the wire is 28 gauge, with a heavier wire used in the header and the actual cross of the leno.

Yesterday for the first time in a long time, I dressed a loom. Well… I’m using the 4 shaft Robinson loom as a frame, not involving a reed or shafts, not putting great tension on the 28 gauge wire. So far the wire is looped on (a variant of a technique I saw long ago on quick dressing a rigid heddle loom), and held in order with a couple of rows of twining at each end. I carried two wires together, bare copper and silver-coated, with ideas of some colour and weave experimenting. The plan is to do everything using pick-up techniques.

Can I get the structure, the variation and interest I want, with tension sufficient to help me working and keep from tangles while loose enough to keep it dynamic and flowing?

It’s on a brief pause at the moment while I make space on my work table, to move the loom from the side bench which doesn’t have great light (there used to be enough there, but something’s changed over the years ๐Ÿ™‚ ).

Looping experiments
Different gauges of wire.
The red is 12 gauge aluminium from Apack. The heavier brass colour 20 gauge (anonymous, from the stash). The finer one is actually brass, 0.5 mm (about 24 gauge), A&E metals. The fine “silver” is 28 gauge coated copper wire from Over the Rainbow (polymerclay.com.au/).

All of these were very easy to use, with no complaints from the joints (although keeping in mind these are small samples, each using one wingspan of wire).

The resulting “fabric” is quite easy to form and manipulate, and holds shape well in most directions.

Going dimensional.
Beautiful, bouncy, like unintelligible handwriting. In fact this is looping, with each loop upwards pulled through a little, twisted and bent 90 degrees to make it thoroughly three dimensional. The wire is 24 gauge “black reel wire” from Apack. I think it’s annealed steel (from the person who told me about the supplier), but can’t be sure. No signs of rust. Soft and easy to use. The fabric created holds shape very well, and all those projecting loops look full of potential for building further or embellishing.

Crochet
This is more of the 0.5 mm brass, using crochet. It’s a denser fabric. There’s a sort of dimensional corrugation with the rows worked back and forward, but overall it looks a little heavy and stable – not dynamic and lively. The killer is that I got some thumb joint pain even in this small piece. Not something I’m likely return to – certainly not with this gauge wire.

Twining
In wire.
The beginning of some twining, working in 28 gauge wire.

In structure and in technique (the thumb flip) just what Mary Hettmansperger taught using waxed linen (17-Sep-2018). This is much more open, and of course holds shape well without reinforcement with mod podge.

It’s meant to be semi-mindless work to cope with TV-watching (I’m no good with tension – if the music changes to a buildup, I dutifully get scared). However I’m finding it a little fine for that – I need good light (hmm… a connection with earlier comments???).

For painting.
The first of these little pots was seen 1-Oct-2018. My technique has definitely improved with the second, larger pot. The lid is domed because I made it a bit big ๐Ÿ™‚ . It’s been languishing a few weeks now. I’m hoping the alteration of proportions will let me do more of a slice down the height of the inspiration painting.

Folding
Pretty much on a whim, I recently bought The Art of the Fold: How to make innovative books and paper structures by Hedi Kyle and Ulla Warchol. I have lots of paper around, sketches and prints and experiments that have piled up. Perhaps I could fold them, transform them into something more satisfactory. Lovely book – good instructions and diagrams, techniques and structures that get reused, elaborated, extended, as the projects progress. Lots of great inspiration photographs.

My first attempt (apart from familiarisation bits on plain paper): a pocket accordion with separate cover.

So small and pretty! About 10 cm high, 5.5 or so wide. Very satisfying. While not apparent to others, I particularly like the refreshing and encapsulating of memories. The cover is leftovers from a class with Adele Outteridge (25-Jul-2014). The inside pages are from a large sheet of cartridge paper. I went back through months of photos to identify it – from a printmaking session back in 2016 (24-Jul-2016). That detective side excursion on a side excursion was a pleasure and revelation in itself – so many exhibitions, and travels, and classes, and so, so much making! Even the little inserts capture memory. I don’t know if you can see in the photo the inserts are paint cards, and one colour has been selected for the bathroom wall – but not my bathroom. In a class with Keith Lo Bue last year (23-Apr-2017), there was an exercise where we each put three things we’d brought onto a table, and we each selected three things from other people to use as raw material. My final choice, with not much left on the table – the rather uninspiring paint cards. A fairly random moment resurfaced, memorialised, made special.

Reading: Bauhaus weaving theory

Smith, T. (2014) Bauhaus weaving theory: From feminine craft to mode of design. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press

I found this a difficult book to read. It’s academic writing, with lots of references to ideas and philosophies and people and work that I don’t know, using words that I don’t know or know only in a more general sense, not the precise-in-this-field sense.

It was also difficult because of my expectations, my desires. I want to find a compelling reason for hand weaving today. Not a joy of craft or handmade functional/wearable item way, but an expressive or conceptual way in which weaving provides unique perspective or insight. That may seem narrow, or a backwards approach, it may combine with other things or develop or change out of all recognition as I progress in my studies, but to me today “weave” seems to contain more, to offer more, to have more in processes and materials and metaphors and allusions and human history, than any half lifetime could explore. So a “weaving theory” – what answers would I find in weaving theory? None really for my personal quest, not in Bauhaus weaving theory. After reading this book I have more questions – which in the long run is probably more valuable.

Smith’s book begins with the original manifesto for the Bauhaus published by founder Walter Gropius – an art-craft unity, joining “practical and scientific areas of work” (p. xiv). Weaving was there at the start, and continued throughout the Bauhaus history. And the weavers wrote about their work. “Through texts that explored weaving’s material elements, loom practice, and functional applications, a Bauhaus theory of weaving emerged” (p xv).

Their early weavings were “pictures made of wool” – not taking advantage of weaving’s specific nature, but translating other media, in particular painting. Later Anni Albers “argued that weaving’s processes, structures, and materials are best explored through direct experimentation on a loom” (p xvii). New fabrics were created from experiment, using advantage of what the medium weaving could offer.

The book explores the changing goals of Bauhaus, driven by individuals, politics and economics. Gender issues are explored. In 1922 weaving generated significant revenue, more than any other workshop at Bauhaus. However its status was low – “As the social and economic history of textiles haunted the Bauhaus weaving work, the textile medium, it seems, was dismissed as mere labor, as ornamental form without ‘intuition’, whose ‘inner sound’ could only ever ‘simulate internal necessity'” (p 32).

As time passed the Bauhaus developed a functionalist rather than expressionist approach. The weaving workshop responded. “At once modernist, or insistent on the distinctness of this thing and its space of practice, and acknowledging a specifically modern civic identity … early weaving theory joined together the rhetoric of functionalism, modern marketing, and the new women’s movement” (p 44). “Color and form as an abstract, autonomous terrain of inquiry remain integral to the object, even as it shifts toward use. Utility and formal concerns occupy the same matrix” (p 67).

By 1931 Gunta Stรถlzl in her writing “declares that there is a rhetorical cleavage between … the development of textiles for use in interiors (prototypes for industry) and speculative experimentation with materials, form, and color,” she also insists that any ‘cleavage’ between utility and experimentation is also bound within the very structure of the woven prototypes” (p 67). [By this stage the theory is definitely moving away from my own agenda – but I wonder, what is the modern day’s art rhetoric?].

The third chapter of the book, “The haptics of optics: weaving and photography” struck some resonances for me, beginning with “tactility”, which for me is one of the great strengths and interests of textiles generally. “The Bauhaus weaving workshop explored the possibilities of color and formal composition through the interlacing of threads, tacitly placing it in comparison to painterly composition and architectural function. Yet the specific palpability of threads and cloth surfaces required a new set of terms” (p.79). Photography, able to show the “intimacy”, the textured detail, the tactile nature of a fabric, provided a new language.

Previously I thought “haptic” was to touch as “optic” is to sight, but here I learnt it is more. Otti Berger “through a subtle and perhaps counterintuitive response to photography, … insisted on the tactility of different materials (the smoothness of silk or the roughness of jute, for instance) as well as the fabric’s contact with the kinesthetic movements of the body within architectural space (with curtains or upholstery fabric)” (p 81). Berger “queried the limits of the visual as modernism’s prized term of formal inquiry” (p 84). There is space and movement within haptic – is this part of the unique perspective or insight I am seeking? Moving beyond the visual to incorporate other senses? (I’m reminded of Hiromi Tango – see 30-Oct-2014).

Smith continues to examine Berger’s work in the next chapter Weaving as invention: Patenting authorship. In a traditionally anonymous field, Berger sought acknowledged authorship of her textile designs. Her initials appeared on sample books. She took out patents on innovative work. “Berger was not the typically creative author-artist – at least insofar as that would have signaled the deep recesses of her inner life, the projection of her soul onto her work. But neither was she the anonymous factory laborer” (p 111). Berger was an inventor. Smith explores ideas around the inventor as author, the anonymity of textiles, a link back to gender.

It was in the final chapter, Conclusion: On weaving, on writing that I lost my tenuous grip on Smith’s arguments. “Recall that the Bauhaus weavers, in their practice and in their essays on their craft, absorbed the languages of other media. In their wall hangings, for example, the weavers adopted the formal principles of expressionist painting; in their workshop’s prototypes for architectural textiles, they assumed the functionalist vocabulary of the Neues Bauen; for their fabrics found in Neue Sachlichkeit photographs and glossy magazines, they considered the limits of optical and tactile perceptions; and within patent documents, one weaver sought intellectual property protection for her textile inventions” (p 141), seems a good summary of earlier chapters. Much that followed was beyond my grasp. The subtleties of “media” or “mediums” are clearly important, but I don’t have the background knowledge to appreciate them. “Weaving is not just a set of processes: it is also, as I’ve indicated, a certain mediation of the semiautonomous zones of form and history” (p 172) I want to understand, I suspect is relevant to my own inquiries. The following sentence, “Textiles are so overtly bound up in the modes of production that define precapitalist and capitalist societies, and the gendered problematics that circumscribe labor, that they are rarely called ‘art'”, seems to point to areas I have been keen to avoid in my thinking, that I want to move beyond.

So yes, a difficult book. It began as a doctoral dissertation, and it shows. There is nothing wrong with either of those things. I’ve learnt from this book and I’m convinced there is much, much more I could learn. I just need to work up to it.

ArahPaint

This morning I’ve been playing with ArahPaint, free software designed as “a drawing tool, which helps textile designers in editing pictures in repeat” (from the User Manual). It’s intended to support the first step in designing jacquard woven fabrics, but I was thinking of stamping and printing.

First some links:
http://avlusa.blogspot.com.au/2014/10/new-program-arahpaint-free.html The AVL blog which alerted me to the software. It has direct links to the software download, user manual etc.
http://www.arahne.si/The Arahne website. Their main product is weaving software for jacquard and dobby looms, and there’s also a draping or texture mapping program which looks complicated but fun (there are demos for both, but I don’t think they’re open source).
http://www.gimp.org/ Gimp is my preferred image manipulation software (also free). I found myself swapping between gimp (to adjust my basic image) and arahpaint (to produce pattern repeats) and it worked pretty smoothly. The windows snipping tool came in handy too.

p4s4_02I used a design based on a shell, from A Creative Approach (sketchbook here and blog post 11-Feb-2012). A few of this morning’s new patterns are in the slideshow below.

I didn’t get into the details of ArahPaint, just tried the things that worked without too much trouble. A few times either the program or I got confused, which was generally solved by starting a new image, closing and reopening the software, or getting a cup of tea. With my gimp experience most things worked pretty much as I expected, and the User Manual helped out.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Overall a very useful tool which I will explore further when a project suggests itself.

Jennifer Boldt, OCA postgraduate student and weaver

Jennifer Boldt, a postgraduatestudent of the Open College of the Arts (OCA) from Chicago, Illinois, has been shortlisted in the 3rd International Emerging Artist Award (OCA press release here).

Jennifer’s website: http://jenniferboldt.com/

Jennifer’s work is an exciting, contemporary, use of weaving. This is absolutely the sort of work or approach to work that I want to get to. Even more exciting is that she has chosen to be a student at OCA. The undergraduate course doesn’t seem to have much specifically focused on constructed textiles and I sometimes wonder if my OCA studies are a diversion, an interesting sidetrack. Asked and answered?

Workshop – Silk Tapestry

!!!!!Textile content!!!!!

silk_tapestry01silk_tapestry02silk_tapestry03silk_tapestry04silk_tapestry05silk_tapestry06silk_tapestry07I had a wonderful day yesterday learning to make small silk tapestries. The class was taught by Marie Clews and Yvonne Eade (see some of her work in my post 2-Mar-2013), and organised by ATASDA.

It was a really nice group of seven students. I thought it might be a relaxed, chatty sort of day, but apart from the breaks we were all very quiet and focused on our work.

We worked on canvas stretcher frames and wove 20/2 silk using a needle. The warp width was 5 cm and most of us chose to weave slightly less to keep a rectangular shape.

I am very excited about the possibilities with this – results with relatively small time investment; it’s small and portable, unlike most weaving; 20/2 silk is one of my favourite yarns and I’ve got lots of colours I’ve dyed in the past (for example see post 28-Jan-2011); it’s weaving!; although I haven’t done tapestry weaving before, I think some of the ideas learnt from a rug weaving class with Jason Collingwood (see 23-Apr-2011) may be adaptable, and there’s lots more learning potential; the results could be taken further with beading, stitching, etc; I’ve already started thinking about lots of applications as special little elements in a work.

On the right are all our results – unfortunately I didn’t make notes of names! Pretty little things, aren’t they ๐Ÿ™‚

Edited later to add: I can’t believe I wrote “I haven’t done tapestry weaving before”. There was just Project 9 of Textiles 1: A Creative Approach (see for example my post 14-Oct-2012)! Ahem. It will be interesting to try some of those techniques on a smaller scale.

 


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