July 2016

July 28, 2016

My touring exhibition is having another showing. This time it’s at Gatakers Artspace in Maryborough. It is very interesting seeing how the exhibition interacts with different spaces. Gallery 4 at Gatakers is a large open space with exposed beams. That beam provided the perfect place to hang The Hand. Here are some general views of the exhibition. The staff at Gatakers and in particular Anne Brown who helped hang it were great to work with.

DSC03571

DSC03572

DSC03574

DSC03577

In conjunction with the exhibition was a 5 day workshop. Three students, Pat, Isobel and Karen took advantage weaving for the full time, while Ann could only come for four. It was a great place for a workshop: plenty of light and plenty of room. It was great to work with them. As well as preparing warps, they achieved a lot of weaving.

IMG_0797

Ann explored double weave in a sampler. Both layers were the same colour so it was challenging to keep track of what layer was where without reference to colour. Here’s her sample.

IMG_0817

Then Ann decided to use the rest of the warp for a scarf. But first sections of warp were removed to make a more interesting textile. There will be warp and weft floats as well as double weave layers.

IMG_0823

Karen explored 8 shaft twills. She’s got some interesting colour combinations and structures happening and some that she’s designed herself.

IMG_0801

Pat also explored 8 shaft twills. As a beginner weaver she’s having a lot of fun exploring colour and pattern.

IMG_0845

Isobel is also a beginner weaver. She’s working with four shaft twills.

IMG_0843

IMG_0839

Pat, Isobel, a friend and Karen celebrate the week’s achievements.

In addition there was an opportunity for people who had never woven before to come and weave for a day on pre-warped looms. All three are keen to continue. Here are these new weavers with what they wove in one day.

IMG_0851

Gloria

IMG_0850

Stephanie

IMG_0815

Susan.

It was a wonderful week where much was achieved as well as being delightful to spend time with weavers, both beginners and the more experienced.

Queensland Spinners Weavers and Fibre Artists ran a beginner weaving workshop over a weekend. There were three participants. They learnt how to wind a warp, dress a loom and weave. Just look at how much they produced in two days. They certainly went home with beautiful scarves; all very different.

IMG_0873

Tegan, Sally and Leonie with their scarves.

My friend Helen came for a visit. Of course she was going to weave. There was a spare morning so she had the opportunity to try out a draw loom. She did have fun!

IMG_0874

 

Sally stated weaving last month. For her third warp she decided to weave a tartan silk scarf as a ‘proper project’. In three and a half days she completed a beautiful scarf.

DSC03582 (600 x 400)

DSC03584 (600 x 400)

DSC03581 (600 x 400)

My exhibition will come down in a few days. It is quite amazing to think how quickly this month has flown.

Finally I’ll share this image. One of the bonuses of having the workshop and exhibition at Gatakers was the opportunity to stay at one of my favourite places. Here’s a sunset at Burrum Heads.

IMG_0787


June 2016

July 3, 2016

This month there’s activity in the studio with two new weavers and a wonderful week with some old friends. I’ve also got some weaving to share

Rosemary continued with her next project. She brought her finished hand towels,

DSC03467

and is getting one step closer to weaving a proper project using her hand spun mohair. Here she has put on a quick test warp to evaluate both how her spun mohair performs and to calculate shrinkage. She also wished to try out a table loom as she thinks that will fit her space requirements when she gets her own loom.

DSC03468

Sally is also a beginner weaver. She is obviously having a great time learning to weave. Here she has finished her first warp: a collection of handtowels.

DSC03472

DSC03477

Then very quickly there was a series of tea towels: to explore both how to weave her MacPhee tartan (colour sequence) and to explore various twills.

DSC03519

 DSC03521

Then even before she had finished off those she was planning her next project: a tartan scarf. As she says who would believe just a short time ago that she’d now be weaving and dyeing.

 DSC03522

DSC03523

In the meantime, I worked on a couple of scarves in double weave with supplementary warps. But then I decided to turn one of these sections into another narrow band of double weave. But how was I going to do that? Well it’s simple really: just add in a couple of temporary shafts, Laos style. What I did discover was that they were so easy to use.

 DSC03453

DSC03493

Then at the end of the month three friends from my time at Sturt arrived for a 5 day intensive. Each had their own project.

Sue wanted to explore lace weaves but more than that wanted to understand the relationship between design, profile and drafting. She wove and initial sample.

DSC03528

DSC03530

Then after working on theory and developing a design wove a second warp.

 DSC03554

Helen came knowing that she wanted to weave lampshade fabric to compliment an oriental lamp base. She’s requiring both fabric and accent braid. As the braid was the more complex she decided to start with that.

 DSC03527

DSC03565

Gillian came knowing that she wanted to weave curves and explore network drafting. We worked on several design approaches. One was selected to weave into a scarf with additional sampling as time allowed. What was an interesting experience for her was going from her usual table loom to weaving on a computer assist loom.

 DSC03526

DSC03543

DSC03559

DSC03555

It was great having such a diverse range of requirements as each learnt from each other. In addition there was time to spend together.

DSC03540 

Eventually the weather turned and those Southerners got to experience glorious Queensland winter. We even took time out to have lunch and play at Wellington Point.

DSC03536

 While they were here, I got to start threading my draw loom. Eventually I’ll get to weave on it though it will be some time till I can. In the meantime I’ll get it set up.

DSC03567

What I do like about drawloom weaving is the flexibility in deciding what to do with pattern shafts. They can be rearranged so easily. I’ll just get the loom ready to weave and  decide later what I’m going to do. I do have 126 pattern blocks to play with.

DSC03568

 


Invitation for 8 – 31 July 2016

June 23, 2016

Pattern Postcard June 2016 Web Back (600 x 399)Pattern Postcard June 2016 Web Front (600 x 399)


May 2016

June 2, 2016

Rosemary has been spending time in the studio. She is a new weaver with an aim of weaving with her own hand spun mohair. She is raising a few goats. Firstly though she has woven a few hand towels so that she can understand the process and play with colour.

DSC03058

Just starting…

DSC03065 and finishing! Congratulations Rosemary.

I was a birthday present! And I was delighted to be one. Anne Mette’s husband gave a weekend of private lessons to celebrate a special birthday. She had got hooked on weaving following a workshop I did at Go Create last year. She also has a Danish background and was interested in weaving rugs. This was her second warp and was partly woven. We explored all manner of basic weave structures on this warp.

IMG_0645

 

And then learnt about efficient ways of winding and putting a warp on. A trellis was a convenient place to hang a warping board.

DSC03073

We then repeated the patterns on a balanced weave. It was a very busy weekend and she had a party in the middle. We covered an extraordinary amount of ground as well as fine tuning her countermarched loom. Well done Anne Mette!

IMG_0648

It has been a busy time in the studio. I have even managed to weave off three of scarves with variations on a theme. They combine plain weave and twill with some supplementary warp patterning.

DSC03379

DSC03423

And some collapse weave scarves using a weft of overspun alpaca/silk. I do not spin regularly but as I required an overspun yarn, it was one way to get it.

DSC03424

On books and magazines:

DSC03434

This is a marvellous book. I was delighted to do a review for TAFTA. Robyn Spady, Nancy A Tracy and Marjorie Fiddler have created a beautiful hardcover book full of wonderful images of fabric swatches and full documentation of the work of Dr Bateman. I had seen some of his samples and documentation in folders of his work in Seattle. These are much better and so easy to understand. For those who don’t know about Dr Bateman, on his retirement he was prolific in his experimentation of weaving drafts, often taking them in new directions. 398 warps x 6 to 12 samples sure produced a lot of samples. The authors chose “the most innovative”. I was very happy to recommend it.

At the end of last month, I received the latest issue of the Complex Weavers Journal. I’m delighted to have an article in it.

Just arrived is the latest issue of Shuttle Spindle and Dyepot, the publication of the Handweavers Guild of America. I was honoured when they approached me for an article am delighted with how they presented it.

The highlight of this month though has to go to my latest adventure. On my ‘bucket list’ for ages has been a trip to Lake Mungo. Why? The remoteness, the landscape, the history, all have called.

DSC03152

Lake Mungo is a world heritage listed national park in the far south west of NSW, just north of Mildura. Normally it would be classed as dessert but it had rained and it was green. In some ways it was not what I was expecting but I was so fortunate to be there. Maybe I’ll have to go back to see it in another light.

It is the site where Mungo Lady and Mungo man were found. The Lake Mungo area is ancient and is a most significant Australian archaeological site. There’s evidence of man having lived here for over 50,000 years. That’s nearly beyond comprehension. Mungo lady was found first and is the earliest known human to have been cremated. A few years later, Mungo man was found. His remains had been coated with red ochre and is the earliest known use of pigments for artistic, philosophical or religious purposes. Both are around 40,000 years old with a possibility of them being even older. The mere fact that I was standing there was remarkable. We could see artefacts emerging from the sand.

DSC03201 (600 x 400)

Lake Mungo is a dried up lake. On one side is a crescent “lunette”. Here there is erosion and large sand dunes. The sand is moving. It is remarkable scenery.

DSC03226

DSC03173

DSC03306

You can see the sand being blown off the top of the sand dune.

DSC03303

Vegetation is being covered up as well as artefacts uncovered.

It is also the place where explorers passed through and of pastoralists trying to make a living raising sheep. Here are old shearing sheds and stories of early life on the land.

DSC03135

DSC03141

DSC03162

DSC03319

The remnants of an old tank stand provides a perch for swallows.

DSC03324

Bits of wire and weathered wood provide an interesting study.

I shared my adventure with two other textile artists. Judy Wilford is a well- known embroiderer and Truda Newman is a lapsed weaver who is finding a new voice in different media. It was really interesting to see how we each reacted to the environment and for me it certainly added to the experience. There’s much inspiration here. I’ll share some images. Firstly a flight over gives an idea of scale and how it all fits together. It also flattens the landscape allowing pattern and textures to emerge.

DSC03241_renamed_20215

DSC03265

DSC03267

 

DSC03285

Spinifex circles. The plant dies from the centre and new growth creates pattern. This wasn’t visible from ground level.

DSC03273

 

A straight line dissecting the land as far as the eye can see.

IMG_0709 (600 x 450)

Truda and I back on the ground having had the most extraordinary experience.

On the ground:

DSC03291

A grove of rosewood provides a place for contemplation.

DSC03181

Some Mallee and spinifex/porcupine grass.

DSC03193

Saltbush and a kangaroo.

DSC03295

Emu. When driving one certainly needed to keep an eye out for emu and roo.

DSC03231

The sun goes down looking back from the Walls of China over the lake bed.

As we were in the ‘area’ and it was on the way home, of course a stay in Broken Hill was also on the agenda. It’s also been on my list. It’s dessert country, a frontier mining town of another era where the mine dominates,

IMG_0716 (600 x 450)

the home of the movie, “Priscilla Queen of the Dessert”, an Australian cult classic celebrating 20 years (Do you recognise the murals and shoe in the foyer of the Palace Hotel?),

IMG_0719

and where a group of sculptors did remarkable work.

DSC03357

DSC03353

The round trip: over 4,000km. What remarkable country!

 

 

 


April 2016

May 1, 2016

DSC02953

This scarves came off the loom at the start of the month. It’s one of a pair.  Woven in 20/2 silk they combine some weaving structures that are used in South East Asia but with are woven on a 24 shaft loom as opposed to a back strap loom.

Contextart is an annual 6 day textile event run in the Blue Mts of NSW at Easter. Firstly however, on the drive down to Contextart, I stopped off in Tamworth and was lucky to see the retrospective of Vivian Chan Shaw’s work.

At this year’s Contextart, my class focused on Ties: Functional, Decorative and Unconventional. The students did extensive sampling exploring many design approaches. They were a very diverse group of 10 which certainly added to the experience for all. Here’s a snapshot of what they did.

IMG_0543

They calculated, wove and analysed.

DSC02999

DSC02992

DSC02994

DSC02995

Here’s some of the work on the loom

DSC02988

DSC03002

DSC03006

And finally, the class collection. What a lot of weaving was done in 6 days… and what a lot of theory. I am delighted at what was achieved. Well done everyone!

DSC03013

For next year’s event visit http://www.contextart.com.au

Kaz Madigan joined me for a very exclusive class. She spent 5 days in the studio exploring warp faced weave structures inspired by South East Asia. As well as covering a lot of ground, it was a very enjoyable week.

DSC03039

DSC03041

DSC03044

DSC03045

There are two other highlights this month.

Firstly, Trood Newman’s 16 shaft Noble loom is finally working. I acquired the loom while at Sturt in the expectation that my students would be able to have the experience of weaving on a computer assist loom. Till that point it had left Trood’s place in a horse float, stayed with Pat for a while and then to Sturt. It was dead and I contemplated and tried various solutions. Eventually it came home. I still hadn’t given up. 18 months later, then a visit to Ian, a wizard with a soldering iron and hey presto the electronics worked. He’d resoldered all the connections. I then came home put the loom together, connected it all up and “Trood’s Loom” is functioning beautifully.

IMG_0636

Who would believe a little bit of plain weave could bring such joy!

IMG_0634

With the plaque added. It was done 18 months ago when I started attaching plaques to all the looms in the studio. I had faith!

IMG_0638

Paw Nay Thah came to the studio. The visit was arranged by Meredith, the youth Settlement Co-ordinator with MDA Qld. Paw Nay and her family have been granted asylum from a refugee camp on the border of Burma and Thailand. She is from the Karen, an ethnic minority group from Burma (Myanmar). Meredith had asked “What would make you happy?” Her reply: to weave traditional fabric.  Meredith had no experience of weaving so she came here to see what was involved and if it could happen. Paw Nay arrived with the biggest grin. I got shown some traditional cloths and we discussed back strap looms and what is required to make them. It’s very fortuitous that I brought one back from Bhutan. It’s much easier to explain if there’s one to look at. The result: Meredith knows what is needed and Paw Ney will weave. It was such a fun and heart-warming experience.

Meredith and Paw Nay examine some of the textile’s in Meredith’s collection. She had been given them by some of the Karen ladies. Paw Nay can weave these.

DSC03016

Here’s a close up look.

An unmarried woman’s blouse. Note the fringing and the supplementary weft and twill weave structure. The fringing may be added in. In this case it has been added above the hem.

DSC03018

The reverse side. This was interesting because the yarn is carried from one motif to the next.

DSC03022

More detail

Another unmarried woman’s shirt and detail.

A married woman’s shirt and detail. It is much plainer. The reverse side doesn’t show as much pattern. This had a double row of fringe: one a the end of the warp, the other a couple of cm above and inserted in the weft.

DSC03029

Thank you Meredith for coming, bringing Paw Nay and a wonderful experience. Long may she weave!

 

 

 

 

 


March 2016 Part 3

April 4, 2016

In this blog, I record the actual specific of weaving and things related from my recent textile tour to Bhutan. This blog follows on from my previous one.

Yarns.

1

One of the most popular yarns is “telecotton”. It is cheap and comes in a huge variety of colours. It is most likely according to all the tests I could do 100% synthetic. It’s strong and weaves quite well; though not of course as well as silk or even cotton. As the fabric is very tightly woven, the handle is satisfactory. All the “cheaper” fabrics will be woven from this. It’s also what I used for my warp when I wove in Khoma. It will be imported probably from India (most goods seem to come from India)

2

This store has some silk. The colours are brilliant though finding a shop that sells silk is much harder than the telecotton. Here both are on sale. The silk is kept in plastic. We saw cotton also being used for weaving though we didn’t actually try to buy some so I have no idea as to ease of access.

2a

Silk is of course the most highly prized yarn and is used for kushü. Here are spools of coloured silk for use for the supplementary weft pattern threads. I must admit that I acquired some lovely plied natural coloured silk- all that was left in a store 750g. I’m looking forward to using it.

3

Wool. Yak hair is spun. The women will use a drop spindle to spin yak fibre. Here two spinners from different countries share a moment. We were also told that there are 3 types of wool: Australian is most preferred though it is expensive. Next best grade is wool from India and then lastly local wool.

Dyeing

While many yarns are bought coloured, there is some natural dyeing being done. At Leki textiles we attended a half day dyeing workshop. We were told that in old silk textiles the following colours were used: white (natural silk), blue (indigo), red (stick lac), yellow (turmeric with buck wheat) and green (turmeric and buck wheat over indigo). This is the oldest textile in their collection. It is over 100 years old and came from the oldest sister of the first king.

4

At the dye workshop we worked with 2 colours: red from stick lac, jatsho and yellow from turmeric. The following is what I observed and recorded. I have not confirmed details with any publications. I thought it was more important to write what was actually seen.

The yarn was pre-mordanted by boiling with symplocos paniculata known as Asiatic sweet leaf. We were told that alternative “sour fruit” may be used. There was some discussion whether this meant quince. The yarn was set to one side while the lac was prepared.

Using stick lac.

5

The lac was put in an aluminium buck and warm water added. It was worked vigorously.

6.jpg

The water temperature was gradually increased to hot. It was repeated as many times as possible till there was no remaining colour in the lac. As the lac got hotter it clumped together, ending up as a solid brown mass that could be formed into flat hard cakes. This residue was used for sealing wax. The dyer must work more quickly, the hotter the water became.

The liquid was strained and then boiled. Before being put in the lac, the pre-mordanted yarn was rinsed.

7

Some “sour fruit” (quince?) was added to the boiling lac.

Using turmeric

Put the turmeric in the water and boil.

9

This is buck wheat (sour variety) that is milled into flour and then blended with a small amount of water.

10.jpg

Once the turmeric is boiling, the buck wheat slurry is added and brought to the boil.

11

The fabrics and yarn are added and boiled.

12

In all cases, the fabric is allowed to cool down before rinsing. I undertand that best results are obtained when the dyed material is left a while and allowed to dry before being rinsed e.g. for a week.

Winding a warp

13

This is the most basic of procedure that we saw and is for winding a basic plain weave fabric and was demonstrated at Leki Textiles. Required: two end posts and two vertical posts in the middle. The warp length is determined by the distance around the two outside posts. Noe that they are firmly weighted by heavy rocks to prevent movement. The two posts in the middle create the two sheds.

14.jpg

The larger central post is used to create heddles. One thread (blue) goes through a heddle formed by the white thread. The other smaller post has the green thread looped in a half hitch. It is quite a skill winding a warp ergonomically.

Please ignore the sound on the following movie. It has nothing to do with what you are seeing.

This movie shows a friend, Bettes managing both warp threads.

 

The more complex the type of fabric, the more involved is the winding of the warp. We saw two different methods for winding a warp that included a supplementary warp.

15

Both methods required an extra two sticks. They will be used for both sheds for the supplementary warp.

 

Method 1. This method was the one that we felt was the most difficult. The warp was wound back and forth. The basic principle for the ground is the same. The two yellow threads are the ground and are used alternatively for the heddle and other ‘shaft’ stick, as before. The red thread is the supplementary thread and passes alternatively around the extra sticks. It is quite lovely listening to the mother and daughter talk while she winds the warp. This method achieves 2 ground warp to 1 pattern warp in this case.

This was the cloth that she wound the warp for. She used it to check her warping sequence.

16.jpg

Method 2. The warp was wound in a continuous circle. This is the start of the plain weave outside stripe. The supplementary thread has yet to be started.

17

The winding of the warp has been finished. It was too dark the previous night to record the addition of the supplementary thread. The supplementary thread as per the previous video has been wound around the two extra posts. The difference is that there has been no change in direction. This method seemed more logical for me.

18

I have used my sample that this warp was prepared for to confirm that 2 ground threads and 1 thicker supplementary thread is wound at the same time.

18a

The warp is wound up, starting at one end.

19

20

It is now taken to where weaving will happen.

Looms

There are two styles of looms in Bhutan: the triangular back strap and the horizontal loom.

The back strap loom

22

At Leki Textiles here are many versions of the same frame for the back strap loom. The basic framework is a vertical frame which has two sides. The two sides must be sturdy as force will be exerted against it when tension is applied. The two sides has a series of holes that match. Here some looms have a braced frame (blue warp) while another utilises the framework of the building (white warp). The one in the front was 2 metres high with the holes about 15cm apart. The choice of holes and height of the frame will determine the length of warp that can be woven. We saw variations on this in other establishments.

23

The warp is tensioned by body tension. One end of the warp is around two pipes attached to the frame (top and bottom). This allows for separation of the circle that is the warp. The third corner of the triangle is the ‘front beam’ which the warp goes around. This is attached to the body by the ‘back strap’. Tension is applied when the weaver braces her body against the loom and released when she relaxes. This ability to tighten and then relax is necessary to achieve good open sheds to put the shuttle through.

The following sequence shows how the warp is anchored in the front ‘beam’ to stop it slipping.

23a

Note there are two halves to the front beam.

23b

At this point the warp is not anchored between them.

23c

Once the warp is organised to her satisfaction and weaving is ready to begin, the warp is sandwiched between the two halves.

23d

The warp is wound around the joined beam

23e

And tied together. The other end of the rope is attached to the strap that goes behind the weavers back.

The width of the back strap loom is limited by the comfortable width for the weaver to work with.

24

In this tent there is a loom. The height of this tent does not allow for a tall back strap loom of the type we have seen. An alternative way has to be improvised to weave a long length.

25

Here is one end of the loom. At the far left the warp is tied to the framework of the tent. The height of the loom is achieved by 2 forked sticks which are the same height.

26

At this end is the weaver. She braces her feet against a board attached to the forked sticks.

The horizontal loom

27

The horizontal loom was introduced from Tibet sometime around 1920. Apparently the story is well known. A young man Sonam Dondhrup went to Tongsa Dzong, the home of the royal family at that time to seek his fortune in the king’s service. He became a skilled back strap weaver. Ashi Wangmo, the young daughter of the first king who was a nun noticed his skill and asked him to stay with her as an attendant. She had over 100 female weavers but no male ones. She knew that there was a different loom in Tibet and asked him to go and learn about them. He spent 9 months there but no one would teach him. Then Ashi Wangmo sent two sets of gift cloth to give the Tibetans and after that they taught him. He came back and made a horizontal frame loom, and taught her how to weave on it. (excerpts from “the Land of the Thunder Dragon” see reference list on previous post. It was introduced into central Bhutan by the 1930s. The loom I measured was 94 cm wide, 104 cm long and 110 cm high including the castle (top part at the centre of the loom). There are 4 foot treadles which are often not anchored to the frame of the loom. These are tied directly to the 4 shafts.

28

The shafts operate in a counterbalance method with shafts 1 and 2 being linked and 3 and 4. Note the rollers at the top of the loom that allow movement of connected shafts. There are two sets: one for shafts 1 and 2, the other for shafts 3 and 4. (I’m allocating shaft numbers by counting from the front.) When shaft 1 is pulled down, shaft 2 will go up and vice versa. At the same time when shaft 3 goes down, 4 will go up and again vice versa. It is important to note that the first two shafts ae not linked in any manner to the second two. This has repercussions for achieving weave structure. If the warp was threaded from shafts 1 though to 4, then plain weave could be achieved by depressing with two feet treadle 1 and 3 for one row and then treadle 2 and 4. This makes weaving the “everyday cloth” of the previous post very easy.

29

The other point of interest is the breaking system. Notice the use of 2 metal spikes with a bent end. Holes in the front and back beam and nails or in this case pegs on the inside of the top of the loom is used in combination with the spike. The right combination will achieve a desirable weaving tension.

Weaving equipment

30

The weaving sword is a solid piece of wood that has both a narrow and a wider edge. It is used to open a gap (weaving shed) through which the shuttle passes and beat the weft into place. Because of the tightness of the weave it needs to have reasonable weight to help pack in the weft thread.

31

The shuttle is just a log stick that has the weft thread wound around it. Here the shuttle with green thread can be seen inside the weaving shed.

In this weavers hand is a slim pointed stick used to pick up the design. It may be brass or made from bamboo. In following movies it will be seen to be used.

33

A temple is used to keep the weaving width constant on a back strap loom. Unlike a western loom, there is no reed to keep the warp threads spaced. If a temple is not used, the weaving width will gradually decrease. Look for it under the cloth being woven near the edge of weaving. The temples used are bamboo cut to size with two points either end. These points leave quite large holes along the selvedge.

Weaving Processes

33a

Many Bhutanese textiles have this chain effect on the ends. It may be one or two colours. It may be a single row or several. It may be done on a back strap or horizontal loom. In this case it is done on an open shed. This means it will only be seen on this side of the fabric. It is easiest to work with 2 loops as that will ensure one loop passes through the other.

Weaving with a back strap loom.

All Bhutanese fabrics whether for plain weave, kushü, supplementary warp or supplementary wefts require the ability to weave plain weave.

34

This image shows the two elements to achieve both lifts for plain weave. When the yellow heddles are relaxed, the warp threads that pass over the bamboo are raised, especially when tension is applied. When a weaving sword is inserted and turned on its side, a gap is achieved to allow the shuttle to pass through.

When the yellow threads are pulled up and to do this the warp tension is relaxed, the weaving sword can be inserted, turned on its side to allow the alternative shed for the shuttle to pass through.

35

The weaving sword on its side. It is in this gap that the shuttle will pass.

Kushü being woven

 

This movie shows a simple form of Kushü being woven. In this case after every row of supplementary weft, a plain weave row must be woven. There are several important things to note. The first is that the insertion of the supplementary weft is always done on an open shed. This means that the fabric is one sided with only the tails of the reads being seen on the reverse side as they are poked through to the back when finished being used.

An examination of a kushü fabric will show that there are several styles of stitching.

36a

There are two classes of kushü stitches. Sapma includes the filling stitches: A and B in the above image. Thrima includes the wrapping or coiling stitches: C (diagonal), D (vertical), E (horizontal).

37

In both A and B above, both have an outline and then the centre filled. The filling for A is achieved by picking up the motif and inlaying the thread, while B has a solid centre. Note on B that there appears to be crossed threads.

38

This sample shows how to construct both the diagonal and how to create stitch B. This sample was woven on a loom that Wendy (our tour expert) had provided. While the yarn wasn’t great it allowed an understanding of process.

This scale of thread also allows for the management of the warp threads to be seen. When weaving kushü 4 sticks are required to set up the loom. Two are for normal plain weave. Two extra sticks are used to raise all threads that will be used to work the kushü. A 6 warp sequence id required- 3 on one shed and 3 on the other. The threads for the kushü is picked up so that 2 threads are on the extra rod and then one dropped, for each extra rod. If you look closely at the above image you should be able to see this. The gap provides a space for the supplementary weft threads to turn and sit nicely (especially if there are 2 in the one turning point) and is a very useful tool for choosing placement of motif.

The sampa or filling stitches as well as the diagonal thrima are completed every row.

The following movie shows how to complete a horizontal row.

 

Here’s how to get ready to move to the vertical position

 

The vertical stitch is worked every 2 rows in the following manner.

 

39

These are two samplers. One with the basic stitches and half a pattern that I worked on Wendy’s loom and the sample that we worked on at Leki Textiles. I can’t claim credit for the whole lot, only the very top end: that was half a day’s work. The rest was done by a weaver at Leki’s. We were fortunate that they did some patterns as this will give us reference for how the stitches are used. The most important thing to remember is to be aware of what will be the next pattern row and to get your threads into position.

Supplementary warp being woven.

40

There are 4 sticks required for the supplementary: 2 for the ground or base fabric and 2 for the supplementary stripes. The weaver picks up alternate supplementary warp threads, constructs heddles for them and places them onto the extra rod. The process is repeated for the alternate supplementary warps. In this image from the bottom is the heddle rod for plain weave, then one of the pattern rods and then the alternate one. The rod she has in her hand is the one that will hold the pattern heddles. She will repeat it for the other pattern rod.

41

The process complete.

DSC02693 (600 x 400)

To weave, the pattern row is lifted and included with 2 ground weave passes. This as it is shown will achieve a horizontal row of supplementary warp. If a more complex pattern is required, the pattern is picked up from this rod.

Weaving supplementary warp and kushü together

The general sequence is:

  1. Pick up supplementary pattern rod and select motif with the pick-up stick. In this case as the pattern is picked up, it is stored for temporary use on an extra rod. You will also notice that in the initial stripe, she corrects a mistake. An extra ground thread had been picked up.
  2. Then change the ground shaft and weave.
  3. Select the shaft that has the rod for the kushü.
  4. Pick up the motif.
  5. Bring back down the supplementary stored design. The stored pattern is used twice.
  6. Change the ground weave and beat.

The following 2 movies show the sequence. My apologies for the background chatter. Most of it does not apply to this loom.

 

Weaving Yathra on the horizontal loom

42

This example shows the characteristics of yathra. It is a supplementary pattern on a twill ground. To weave a 4 end twill which is what this is, requires a 4 shaft loom.

But the inherent qualities of the Tibetan horizontal loom having 2 separate rollers means that it cannot be threaded as we would on a western loom. A reminder: on a horizontal loom when shaft 1 goes up 2 goes down. Both cannot be up or down at the same time. The same applies to shafts 3 and 4. So for us in the West a normal till progression may be shafts 1 and 2 followed by 2 and3 and so on. This obviously will not work. So the Bhutanese have come up with an alternative threading system: shaft 1, 3, 2, 4 or it could equally be 1, 4, 2, 3. The important point is that the back and front alternate. That means a twill progression can now be achieved by shafts 1 and 4; 2 and 4; 2 and 3; 1 and 3. For those that are weavers the following draft will explain the theory.

yathra draft 2

The supplementary weft needs to be added in.

43

The supplementary thread is added in the same shaft as the ground. This is a two faced fabric. In other words pattern can be seen on both sides hence it is inserted in the same shaft.

44

The same style of wrapping and twining as for the kushü may be used.

The background row of weaving follows the pick-up row. The pattern row may be every row and this will achieve a diagonal line or it may be every 4th row for a vertical line. A single shaft will be used for a horizontal row. (see above blue textile). The pattern rows alternate in the following example.

45

There is one remaining mystery: what causes the “breaks” in the vertical that you may have noticed in this and the above textiles. It appears that the diagonal line of the twill is interrupted.

46

This effect can be seen very clearly in this fabric on the loom. From a weave structure aspect, it has no answer. But look to the reed for the answer. Four warp threads ie shafts 1,4,2,3 are all placed in the same dent. The spacers are very solid bamboo. These spacers are what is causing this pattern effect. By the way the new yathra textiles are sold unwashed. These gaps may close up with wet finishing. But in Bhutan, how often does that happen?

The trip is over, analysed and recorded. The memories are fresh. It was an amazing trip. I have collected new textiles for my collection and for sharing with others.

47

My current textile wall. They are all there (nearly). There are 2 from Laos and 7 from Bhutan in all different techniques. I do like the fact that two of those are ‘foreigners’.

It is however what follows now that I am looking forward to. I did bring home a full back strap loom that I had set up in in Khoma with a supplementary warp as well as other loom bits. I will look forward to playing.

48a48b

 


March 2016 Part 2

April 3, 2016

This blog is about an extraordinary textile tour to Bhutan. Organised through Bhutan & Beyond www.bhutan.com.au, we had Wendy Garrity as our textile expert www.textiletrails.com.au. Wendy had lived for 2 ½ years in Bhutan and has become expert in the technique of kushü. We had the services of a wonderful support staff in Bhutan with extra special accolades going to our guide, Tshering Gyeltshen (email tgyeltshen@hotmail.com) I can highly recommend him if anyone is going to Bhutan. He certainly facilitated a great trip and as an added bonus understood weaving. His wife and mother wove. He was also very obliging especially when it came to shopping and our need to find out price.

My blog as usual is about textiles but before I begin, I’ll share just a snapshot of some scenery and some details to provide background colour.

Bhutan is a land of stunning scenery; of deep valleys and perhaps snow-capped mountains;

1

of challenging roads that zigzag up and down mountains

2

and of roads being made. Currently a ‘road widening program is being undertaken on the main road from one end of the country to the other. Challenging could be applied to travel. It may take 8 hours to drive 200km.

3

It’s a country of where the king is revered. His image/s appears on public buildings, in restaurants and shops, on the entrance to towns, on mountain passes.

4

It is a Buddhist country where religion is important. Monks are a part of everyday society. Here at the largest Buddhist Statue of Guru Rinpoche also known as Padmasambhava standing at 49m, there was a week of religious study being undertaken by both monks and the lay in a huge covered area. There must have been hundreds of people  listening.  I have included this image also because of the sign and the awareness of rubbish disposal. For this event at this statue the potential for generating a lot of rubbish is huge. In villages monks are a part of community.

5

The church and the state are equal in respect and daily life. The Panakha Dzong is recognised as the most beautiful Dzong in the country and has an alternative name which translates to “Palace of Great Happiness”. It was the capital of Bhutan until 1955 and is also the winter residence of the central monk body.

6

It was spring and trees were starting to flower. Jowo Temple of Kyichu.

IMG_0230 (600 x 600)

 

And a whole hillside of ‘magnolias’ and indigo. These looked like the familiar bauhinia trees of Queensland grown often as street trees so they are tough. When researched the bauhinia originates from India, so they are probably native to here too. Our guide said that this was also referred to as magnolias. They have true magnolias here too.

8

Some fields were unplanted though in the south where it was warmer, crops were growing. Here barley was being grown.

DSC02807 (600 x 400)

It’s a place of distinctive architecture with laws ensuring the maintenance of the Bhutanese style. This is one of the hotels we stayed in. Painted decoration on buildings abound.

10

Rocks on the roof were a common occurrence to keep it anchored.

11

Prayer flags of many types abound; whether these small rectangular ones, or long white funeral prayer flags or shorter rectangular coloured ones. Wendy supervised the adding to the collection at the top of a pass ably assisted by members of our group.

DSC02854

 

And this is the sound that I’ll always associate with Bhutan: the sound of temple and water wheels.

But it is the textiles that we went to explore. They are a part of everyday life. Anyone in public office is required to wear the kira (female outfit) and the gho (man’s tunic). (I have seen gho spelt go but have taken the spelling from a publication by the Royal Textile Academy). It’s a must for religious ceremony and for festivals. It is worn when communities get together. The people are extremely proud of their national dress. In the country we saw more traditional dress than not. Western dress is often worn in the home and more commonly by the younger generation in informal life. Both provide a feast for the eyes. The following are some examples.

Students at school wear the kira and gho.

12

The gho is worn at an informal archery competition between villages.

IMG_0407

At the Paro Festival everyone was dressed in their finest- the audience

13

and the performers

14

Stephanie, one of our group also dressed the part. This was greatly appreciated by the Bhutanese. As they walked passed, if the scarf wasn’t exactly right, they’d stop her and adjust it. They took delight in being photographed with her.

15.jpg

Watch the movie and appreciate the passing pageantry. This was a formal section of the festival where a huge banner that had been hung at midnight was then refurled at around dawn before being taken back with ceremony for storage. It was considered to be good luck to help carry it. Our guide is very excited as he got to help in the carrying up the hill.

 

I must brag: This was the second major event that we were lucky enough to be present for. Our timing was perfect for both. Just a few minutes earlier when we were walking up the hill to attend the dance performance and met this ritual on the way down, we had also met the king also on his way down. We were greatly honoured that he spoke to us and in fact spoke to everyone in the main who lined the path. I can say that he was extremely gracious and dignified and was dressed in a gho of the most glorious brilliant citric yellow with a touch of turquoise. He was spectacular! No photography was allowed unfortunately, but there were many official photographers in attendance.

The following sequence is of our driver being dressed in the gho with explanations by Tshering.

The gho is put on. As you can see it’s rather large and long. The right hand side is wrapped tight across the front under the left hand side.

17

The left is then wrapped tight around the body.

18

The hems are checked to be level and sitting right.

19

The surplus fabric at the back s folded into a pleat. In sewing terms this would be a box pleat. The height of the tunic is adjusted.

20

The belt is wrapped around keeping everything in place.

21

Lastly the white cuffs are added. These are attached by a safety pin and can be changed when they get dirty. They also protect the sleeves of the garment.

22

“When visiting a temple or government office, or when paying a call on a social superior it is necessary to wear a ceremonial shawl” Royal Textile Academy catalogue, Thangzo, pp24. The man’s shawl or kabney is a wide plain weave length of cotton or natural silk. Colour denotes status. The general male population wear this cream one. There is a very precise way to put these on. DSC02897

The following is of one of our group being dressed in the kira, a dress made from a long wide rectangular cloth.

The fabric is wrapped around the body with a corner positioned slightly forward on the left shoulder. The corner is then secured to the fabric at the front with a broach.

22a (450 x 600)

She then brings the other end around the body securing the corner on the right shoulder with a matching  broach. The excess folded fabric is straightened, the garment is pulled up to the correct length, and then adjusted so that its stripes or pattern are nicely aligned where the layers of fabric meet at her right hip.

22b (450 x 600).jpg

The belt is wrapped around keeping everything in place.

22c (450 x 600)

Lastly a jacket adds to the ensemble. A shoulder scarf (rachu) would also be required for formal occasions. This can be seen in other images.

22d (450 x 600)

Now for a closer look at the weaving. Firstly some interesting background. We met with Patrizia Franceschinis (back right dressed in Kira and green jacket) who is the Italian wife of one of the ministers in the former government and spent an afternoon with her.

DSC02535 (600 x 400)

 

She provided all manner of interesting background information on life in Bhutan. She also collects significant textiles and employs a weaver (front). According to her, weaving is done in areas with no agriculture. Bhutanese textiles possibly predates C8th and one of the main purposes for textiles was for trade. She explained that significant textiles might be traded across and down generations and were given as significant gifts.

Later, we saw evidence of a husband looking after the children while the mother wove. She was in this case the major source of income. The Bhutanese recognise the value of textiles. Textiles are considered to be one of the highest forms of art and spiritual expression. Bhutanese recognise the financial value of textiles and explains why Bhutanese textiles are regarded as ‘expensive’ by western shoppers.

I will give an overview of the textiles that we saw: techniques and where we saw them.

Kushü

23

Kushü is a discontinuous weft technique that involves wrapping or twining woven on a warp faced fabric (backstrap loom). We saw these in the private collection of Patrizia Franceschinis in Thimphu. In Thimpu, we also saw them being woven at the Gagyel Lhundrup Weaving Centre where Wendy had learnt to weave. Note the thread tails left hanging.

24

Kushü was being made further east in Khoma and had the opportunity to buy from local villages. According to my research, this northern central area is known for kushü. It was also being woven at Leki (Choekhor Valley) and in the Chencho Handicrafts, Paro. The most celebrated of the kushü weavings is used for the woman’s dress or kushüthara( means brocaded dress). There were many examples at Paro’s Festival. Kushü appeared to be the most prevalent technique for formal women’s textiles.

Aikapur or supplementary warp patterned fabrics.

25

Aikapur features alternating bands of plain weave and supplementary warp on plain weave). The fabric is warp faced (backstrap loom. This technique is often used for the gho and we saw this style of fabric being used across Bhutan.

26

 

Our driver proudly models his gho. This was a special one that he put on for the Paro Festival. On other days he wore a checked gho. The width of the pattern band and by association the ‘legs’ of the pattern denotes status. ‘Legs’ can be loosely interpreted as pattern blocks. Patterns with 9 or more ‘legs’ are highly regarded as they are more complex in design.

Discontinuous Supplementary Weft

28

 

According to Myers and Bean “From the Land of the Thunder Dragon” these have only appeared since the 1940’s. Blocks of motifs have appeared between the stripes on the warp faced striped fabrics and can only be seen on one side (backstrap loom). In eastern Bhutan, they may be referred to as ‘designs in blank spaces’ or tongpang rigpa and in the west as ‘having little boxes’ or dromchu chema.

28b

We saw it used predominantly with the supplementary warp stripes. It may be used on its own for kera, the traditional women’s belt. We saw it being woven in the Gagyel Lhundrup Weaving Centre and at Pat Patrizia Franceschinis in Thimphu, and examples at Leki Textiles.

Yathra textiles

30

Yathra (hanging on the wall at the left in Leki Textiles gallery) are woven from wool, have weft stripes and discontinuous weft patterning on a twill ground. They were mainly seen in the Bumthang district of central Bhutan. It was woven on either the back strap or more commonly the frame loom from Tibet.

31

These were without weft stripes. We saw them being woven at the Thokmed Yeshey Handicraft & Yathra Centre at Chumey, Bumthang, at a roadside stall at a pass between Mongar and Checkor Valley and at the Chencho Handicrafts, Paro.

‘Everyday Textiles’

32

‘Everyday textiles’ was the description given to plain weave checks and stripes in a balanced weave structure (warp and weft can be seen) found in the Chencho Handicrafts, Paro. At this craft centre, these were woven on 4 shaft frame loom. Here 3 very narrow widths went to make up the useable width.This image shows a mix of dress including a checked gho and skirt. In previous images our guide and driver also wore these plain weave textiles. I must admit I didn’t take too much notice of these ‘everyday textiles’ when there was so many other different textiles to notice.

Handspun handwoven yak hair

Along the road in the Bumthang region we came across a yak lady herder who had these hand woven, hand spun purses for sale (as well as very hard yak cheese).

IMG_0295

 

Checks with supplementary weft

33

While we didn’t see this being woven, it is a very striking effect. This was found at Leki’s and I presume is woven on a frame loom. I also saw it in Paro. I presume the technique is from central Bhutan

Leno

34

This is a modern technique from Leki. According to Rinsin (our contact at Leki) this technique was introduced about 11 years ago by an NGO. It probably came from the south. It’s a hand worked leno done on a backstrap loom.

Warp Patterning

DSC02485

I couldn’t believe my eyes. This is not a technique that I’d researched from here. I found it at the Gagyel Lhundrup Weaving Centre in Thimphu. It’s similar to a technique from Timor and Nth Vietnam and even the pebble weave of South America. It is not supplementary but rather manipulation of warp threads in an alternating colour sequence. According to the weavers it was also introduced by an NGO in the south, possibly Samdrup Jongkhar which borders India and has made its way north. To all appearances it fits neatly into the overall effect of Bhutanese textiles but its introduction hasn’t been a success.

Embroidery

Between Trongsa and Panukha at a roadside restaurant and handicrafts shop, we saw these two girls doing embroidery under the supervision of a Master Embroiderer. This work was for a wall hanging.DSC02848 (600 x 400)

DSC02849 (400 x 600)

Card woven belts

An example can be seen in the belt in the demonstration of how to put on a kira above. They are woven on the same back strap loom used for other weaving. One end of this belt has several different patterns, the middle has no pattern and the other end has one pattern repeated.

DSC02972 (600 x 400).jpg

Pile Rugs

I saw small rugs being woven in Chencho Handicrafts, Paro. These were being woven on a vertical frame loom in the pattern style of the yathra. The woman who was weaving them said that they came from her mothers home town. I think that I also remember seeing them for sale in the Thokmed Yeshey Handicraft & Yathra Centre at Chumey. Unfortunately I didn’t record an image. Therefore I presume they may be being woven in central Bhutan.

Places of interest

So far I have mentioned a number of places where we experienced weaving. The following is a list.

National Textile Academy, Thimphu: exhibitions, retail outlet and school. Arrange for a guided tour. B

Gagyel Lhundrup Weaving Centre, Thimphu: weaving studio and retail outlet. B

Leki Textiles, Bumthang: weaving studio, workshops (weaving and dyeing), retail outlet.C

Thokmed Yeshey Handicraft & Yathra Centre at Chumey, Bumthang: retail outlet with weaving centre. C

Chencho Handicrafts, Paro: studio, retail outlet. A

The village of Khoma. It’s a recognised “textile village” specialises in Kushü. Also gateway to other weaving villages/ groups. D

DSC02969

This map shows our journey from west to east and back again as well as identifying where the above places of interest were. It is also worthwhile to note that village handicraft shops and roadside stalls also had weaving.

References

“From the Land of the Thunder Dragon: Textile Arts of Bhutan” edited by Diana K Myers and Susan S Bean. Serindia Publications, London. 1994, ISBN 0 906026 33 4

“Grace of the Kira: Bhutan’s Textile Heritage” David K Barker, 2013 To order www.Xlibris.com

“Thagzo: The Textile Weaves of Bhutan” published by Royal Textile Academy, 2013, ISBN 978-99936-912-0-4 (catalogue)

CD “ An Introduction to Textiles of Bhutan” The Textile Museum, Thimphu, Bhutan.

 

The next blog will cover the actual textile production.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 92 other followers