March 2016

March 30, 2016

A textile tour to   Laos and Bhutan Part 1.

This trip started with a Laos extension with 2 friends (Bettes Silver-Schack and Deb McClintock) before we joined the tour to Bhutan.

Laos: Vientiane

The main purpose of this part of the trip was to attend the Paeng Mai Weaving School. This was just too good an opportunity not to value add. Deb had attended the school several times prior to this trip and was keen to re-attend, so we organised a 4 day class where we each chose a specific topic. Of course while we were in Vientiane we also added in a much textile related activities as we could.

Any basic loom information can be found on my previous trip to Laos/Thailand. The looms are similar. Here, I will be focussing on specifics related to the topics covered in the course.

I chose to work on the supplementary warp technique (Muk).

DSC02349

This is the traditional cloth from which I took my inspiration. I selected 2 of the supplementary warp motifs. As well as supplementary warp, it has weft ikat and brocade (discontinuous weft).

The basic loom was set up before I arrived though it was decided to move it as the light wasn’t great.

DSC02355

One of the advantages of this style of loom is that it can be easily dismantled and reassembled. Before adding in the extra warp, weaving of the ground begins. About 1 cm is woven. This provides a means of anchoring the supplementary warp later on.

DSC02375

The supplementary warp was wound. This is an extremely large warping board capable of winding a 60 metre warp. The principle of using a threading cross (bottom centre) is the same.

DSC02380

The supplementary warp is chained and taken to the loom.

DSC02383

Note the supplementary warp( white) is kept separate from the ground warp (black). It follows a different path and is tensioned separately. The angle of the supplementary warp under the ground warp is quite exaggerated. When required it is raised above the ground warp. When not required it will stay well out of the way. The warp is positioned on the loom frame before combining with the ground warp.

DSC02389

Once positioned, the supplementary warp is placed in its correct position in the ground warp. Each supplementary warp is passed through the vertical storage system, between the ground weave shafts and through the appropriate dent in the reed. The ground and supplementary warp alternate. The ground sett remains the same.

DSC02391

 

The supplementary warp is then secured on a stick at the front.

DSC02399

The next step: Adding the supplementary warp heddles. Each warp thread is allotted to a shaft ( length of bamboo) and a heddle constructed. In this case there are 6 shafts with the supplementary threaded point twill (11 threads)

DSC02402

When required according to the design, the shafts are picked up and raised. This “S” shaped hook secures the selected threads while 2 ground rows are woven. In this case 5 shafts were required and are on the hook. It varies every 2 rows according to the drafted design. That “s” hook is suspended by a series of rubber bands to give stretch to allow movement of the shafts on and off the hook.

DSC02403

Weaving progresses. Note: The single supplementary warp threads alternating with a single ground thread. (The weaver would be at the top of the image).

DSC02418

Close up showing some supplementary warps picked up and left unused. There is no danger of the warp being accidentally caught.

DSC02429

The warp is weighted to ensure it stays down.

DSC02439

I’ve finished weaving…. well me and my loom buddy, Tan,  have finished. Whenever I got up she would keep weaving and she was at it before I got to the studio and after I left. I did weave at least half. At least it got finished just before time was up on the last day.

DSC02406

Meanwhile Bettes has worked on a brocade technique (Chok) using a vertical storage system.

DSC02351

Deb had decided that she wanted to master a lace weave technique that she had seen on a traditional cloth. The loom was set up to aid the picking up of the leno groups but it is all finger manipulated. It originally was a Tai Lue technique.

Deb has mastered ‘Pineapple” leno.

DSC02449 (2)

The finished scarves. From LHS Bettes, mine and Deb’s scarves.

The following are a couple of interesting tips.

Until now I had used a knot above the head of the weaver to tension the warp. It must be undone and then reformed. However this modification means that the knot does not have to be shifted. The rope allows for the warp to be released, advanced and then retightened.

The following are a couple of interesting places to visit.

Lao Textile Museum

This is a privately owned museum which had a display of looms, traditional textiles and a shop with the focus on silk. I noted a couple of loom modifications. There was also an amazing collection of textiles.

DSC02309

On one of the looms that was set up, we noticed the bottom bar is extended. This is an alternative device that separates the supplementary warp from the ground warp.

DSC02310

This is an example of the supplementary warp fabric woven on this loom.

Carol Cassidy     www.laotextiles.com  A well known and long time USA entrepreneur/weaver, living in Vientiane who works with local weavers selling through her workshop/gallery.

Taykeo Textiles Gallery  An amazing collection of historical textiles as well as modern traditionally based ones. Taykeo Sayavongkhamdy is owner.

DSC02459

Detail of one of the silk supplementary weft brocade cloths based in a traditional design.

Bangkok

A free day in Bangkok while we waited to join the tour to Bhutan, meant that there was an opportunity to visit The Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles. Deb had organised a private tour with a curator. Unfortunately there’s no photography allowed of the exhibitions but at the end of the tour we came across this weaver and some interactive displays. This is an amazingly complex fabric. And she managed to keep track of what was going where while talking to us.

 

The Jim Thompson House is also worth a visit. www.jimthompsonhouse.com

Over the next few days I hope to post the second instalment of my last adventure where I go to Bhutan- where there are the most amazing living textiles.

 

Advertisements

February 2016

March 1, 2016

DSC02287 (600 x 400)

I am currently working on a series of sotis inspired pieces. This is just one of the techniques that will be covered in the workshop here in the studio (East Meets West 25-29 April) and at Convergence.

At the start of the month, The Gold Coast Weavers hosted another weaving camp at Bornhoffen. It’s a great destination but this time it would have had to have been the hottest days of the entire Summer. In spite of the heat, everyone did great work.

DSC02229

In the late afternoon, it was delightful to relax out on the deck and watch the sun go down.

DSC02226

The workshop explored twill and the potential of the twill threading. Here’s a selection of completed work. No one wanted to cut off as they all were going to go home and finish the warps for tea towels. It is interesting to see the colour choices: from the subtle and classic though to the more contrasting. Everyone was fascinated how the different design approaches affected the treading sequences. While all did great work, I’ve limited the images to 6, purely from a colourway perspective.

DSC02232

DSC02233

DSC02235

 

DSC02240

DSC02246

DSC02258

 

At the end of the Linen and Lace workshop from January, I was left with 2 warps to be finished. On the Huck Lace one I managed to weave a tea towel and then a length for a different project. The second was woven in plain weave to be used in conjunction with the other. The first warp came off and I washed it. The yellow ran and no matter what I tried, I have not managed to get rid of it all. The fabric length is now a very pale yellow. Here you can see, the yellow tea towel (the culprit), the dyed fabric and a natural finished item used here for comparison.

DSC02262 (600 x 401)

So what about the other plain weave piece? Well, using the same source of dye ( a hank of yarn), I washed it and yes managed to get the same colour with a couple of tries. I also had to go through the same trying to remove process as the first. I wonder if they will wear out at the same rate? Eventually the project will be completed. Here are the two together (with something out of focus behind). I don’t think I could get much closer.

DSC02271 (600 x 400)

DSC02273 (600 x 400)

I have been having an interesting read. This book was written in 1947 from a 1920’s reprint. It’s interesting from a historical perspective. Here’s a couple of quotes:

From the Editors Preface (W. R. Lethaby)

It is desirable in every way that men of good education should be brought back into the productive crafts: there are more than enough of us “in the City,” and it is probable that more consideration will be given in this century than in the last to Design and Workmanship. 

From Author’s preface. This will give you a guide of what is in the book.

The object of the present volume is to inform the student of hand loom weaving of the best methods of preparing warps, fitting up looms and making or acquiring the various appliances necessary for the work, as well as inventing, planning and weaving plain and ornamental webs.

 And from the concluding note by Luther Hooper

This ending, although somewhat abrupt is not unintentional, for it was just at that time that weaving, to a great extent, ceased to be an artistic craft. It was then that the loom ceased to be a tool, more or less complicated, which the weaver himself could keep in order and cunningly adjust, alter, and adapt to any particular work he might have in hand.

On the jacquard loom:… resulted in the multiplication of patterns; patterns for the most part inferior to the traditional ones already in use. The Jacquard machine is also responsible, to a great extent, for the separation of the art of designing from the craft of weaving.

Referring to power looms and the Jacquard. There can be no question that the best weaving was done before these innovations…. It would therefore seem, that the right road to improvement in weaving, as in all crafts, can only be found by those who are willing to return to the traditional methods and simpler ideals of the earlier masters of craftsmanship.

From here in 2016, I wonder what they would make of the direction of weaving now and of their comments in retrospect. This certainly gives a bit of food for thought and even a touch of wry amusement. To finish though these images were real gems. I have woven velvet in the past so this image of the velvet loom and cloth storage is a real find.

DSC02278 (600 x 400)

 

DSC02279 (600 x 400)