This blog is a little late so “waiting” is appropriate.
But this month I waited for my studio to become available again after it was temporarily appropriated as a storage venue. It was only meant to be for a weekend but it took a little longer.
I also waited for the announcement of what can only be described as a career highlight. I have also waited a long time to be able to talk about what I’ve been doing.
And what does one do while one waits….. one weaves. One also weaves on whatever loom is accessible in amongst the accumulation of stuff, the household effects temporarily here on their way to their new home. I’ll leave it to your imagination but let me say it wasn’t fun. But there was a loom that I could reach and that was available.
Before I had left for my adventures last month, I had put on a 16 shaft parallel threading ready and waiting for when I got back. It had been a very long time since I had explored parallel threadings and echo weave and double weave… possibly even 15 years or more. Interestingly, my friend Jette who I stayed with in Canada last month and I also took the opportunity to collaborate on some 8 shaft parallel threading samples. There are some images of that play on last month’s blog. It was rather addictive playing with what can be achieved on a 2 parallel threading draft: Double weave, turned taquete, echo weave, shadow weave.
Here’s just some of those samples.
Then because I was still waiting, I did a 3 parallel threading draft on firstly 16 shafts using the same profile as the previous 2 parallel draft. I decided to weave a pair of scarves from the one draft using a different echo weave approach. The 3 warp colours chosen are subtle, not what I would usually choose for this structure. Here’s the two scarves from the same warp. They are quite different.
And then another 3 parallel draft but this time on 8 shafts. Again I wove 2 scarves in echo weave, but this time I used more contrasting colours.
The studio finally returned to some normality, but I’m having way too much fun to stop. So what will happen if I use 4 parallel lines with 4 warp colours. Here’s some sampling.
And then some fabric destined eventually for a shirt. It feels lovely and drapes beautifully: 4 colours of mercerised cotton in the warp and silk for the weft and not a dominant pattern.
And the day that I’ve been waiting for and working towards finally does arrive.
I have been involved in a very long term project. The project: To design and create new robes for the High Court.
This is the announcement that Bill Haycock, an amazingly talented designer and a pretty wonderful person to work with, made on Tuesday, 4th October.
I’m pleased to be able to finally say, without embargo, that as of this afternoon’s sitting the High Court of Australia are wearing new robes designed by me. ….
Other people involved include talented pattern maker and cutter: Margaret Adam, sewer who has a pretty amazing eye for detail: Saffron Firkins and myself.
This has been an amazing project to be involved in. It has also proved that I can keep a secret. This project has been under wraps since its inception. It all began more than 2 years ago when I was approached by Bill and sounded out as to whether I would be interested in weaving a commission. There was no hint of what the project was but I’m always interested in a challenge. A year or more passed. I presumed it had fallen through and hey I didn’t know what it was anyway. But then I heard from Bill again. That was the start of many meetings. I had the design brief, I sampled. Bill, Margaret and I met over several meetings and discussed overall robe design and conferred on the design of the woven elements. Finally the weave pattern was decided and I got to weave. The first set of sleeves are woven. A toile is made. It and the proposed fabric is presented to Justice Kiefel. We progress. The prototype is constructed and presented to all seven Judges. They unanimously approve and are delighted with the new robes. I heard they loved the woven fabric. We celebrate a milestone. This has been quite some journey. The project proper starts. Now time is of the essence. There are deadlines. The robes are delivered and we wait to hear when they will be worn for the first time. This day has now arrived. I can now share what has been and what continues to be an amazing collaboration.
While I can’t share the actual design details or the draft (It now belongs to the High Court), I will share some general facts on the woven component. In the overall design, Bill has incorporated several concepts. (See the press release.)
The basic fabric design is based on sand ripples. The concept is that Australia is an island hence sand enclosing our nation and yet ripples of sand can also be found in the Inland and is so inclusive. The fabric has a wool warp and silk weft. The aim of this combination was to allow maximum contrast for viewing of motif from a distance; maybe the back of the court room. It was a challenge especially as it had to be black on black. The weave structures used were chosen to maximize this contrast in lustre. The threading has no repeat and constantly changes. The treadling sequence evolves from narrow ripples on one end at the sleeve hem through to wider ones on the other sleeve hem, hence the pattern repeat is the total length of the two sleeves.
The first row is woven.
The puddle of fabric on the floor.
As the project developed, we were asked by the female judges whether a scarf /collar piece could be a part of the robe design. There are currently 3 female High Court Judges. The men wear shirt collars under the robe so the women required something that would give the same effect. The fabric design is based on the same concept of ripples, ensuring that the total effect is cohesive. It is however a much more simplified version of the sleeve pattern. The fabric is a natural cream silk. Margaret has then crafted the fabric so that it is fits inside the robe. Several collar pieces are required for each judge.
The fabric being woven.
The finished yardage.
Eventually I hope to be able to share images of the robes when they become available.
I have waited a long time to be able to share what has taken many hours of designing and then weaving. The project continues. I have woven the initial fabric for the seven judges’ robes. Now I am weaving more fabric for the High Court’s requirements and as of now and till the completion of the project have 2 looms (16 and 24 shaft computer assist) dedicated to the project. I hope to have it finished within the next month or so. I am so very honoured to be part of this project and very aware that this has certainly the potential to be a heritage that will live beyond me. How amazing is that!