November 2018: Studio classes including woven shibori and continuing behind the scenes for my next exhibition

December 2, 2018

This month’s studio class was Woven Shibori.  Barbara, Ronda and Judy worked on class projects in a variety of fibres, structures, effects, warp and weft shibori, in fact a whole range of techniques that could be fitted into 5 days. Jan worked on her own project. She had attended last year’s class and wanted to extend that work.

Here are some images from the class. It was a very successful week. Sometimes students chose to weave a project from a warp. On others they chose to explore a variety of approaches and completed a sampler. The choice was theirs. As a result they went home with a collection of samples and projects and let’s not forget a whole collection of weave drafts.

Weaving: A variety of looms used including the draw loom.

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Pulling up.

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Dyeing: watching the magic of indigo.

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Undoing:

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The results:

Indigo.

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permanent pleating (not the bottom scarf).

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the acid dye bath

 

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Jan had to leave mid-week. Luckily she had finished the weaving of her rag rug but will return at a later date to finish the shibori process.

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One of the things that was considered in Colour in weaving, the October class, was the repeat that happens when yarn is commercially space dyed. We often pick up cones of yarns that look interesting and then wonder what we are going to do with them. The length of the repeat on this cone of space dyed yarn just happened to nearly match the width of a left over warp. So here was an opportunity to weave a space dyed yarn as weft ikat. As this was a shibori class I also wove it with a resist.

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Once the resist was pulled up, the fabric wanted to curl due to the resist being unbalanced in float length. So I worked with this, wrapped it around a rope and bound it before dyeing.

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Of course it ended up in the indigo which of course it was always going to overwhelmed it. I must admit I do like this fabric much better than the original because that red, white, black ikat is so subdued.

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Upcoming studio classes for 2019. All classes are limited to a maximum of 5 unless otherwise identified. Details under Kay’s weaving school.

21-25 January 2019          Linen and Lace.

18-22 March       Woven Shibori

13- 17 May          From a twill threading

10- 14 June         Special- own choice.

9 – 13 September            Colour in Weaving

21-25 October                   Weave a floor rug (class size limited to 3)

18-22 November              Double weave and friends

9-13 December                 Special- own choice.

BYO Loom one day a month class will continue next year.

Marja has been coming for the past 3 BYO loom classes. She had never woven crackle, so here was the opportunity to explore. As well as weaving a project a month, she has also come to understand the structure and how it is drafted.

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The ongoing saga that was begun last month for the exhibition celebrating 20 years of woven shibori with Catharine Ellis.

At the start of the month: Hot off the loom. I look at this pile and I am overwhelmed- not by the quantity of weaving that has worked out really well but by the amount of resist soon to be pulled up. And then I wonder in over 20 years how much resist would have been pulled up. This exhibition is a cause for celebration! Onward….

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Weeks later. The fabric lengths were finally all pulled up and ready for the dye baths. I decided that I wanted to get a range of colours to signify age. The colour had to come from sources that identified age to me.

I used pomegranate that I have had in my garden for probably well over 20 years. The original seed for this ornamental (unfortunately it can’t be eaten) came from my Grandmother’s property (50 years + ago) and then to my mother’s garden. I think that there is a lovely parallel there with my matrilineal line.

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The other dye source came from the old Tallowwood, Eucalyptus microcorys that grows beside my fence. It has been here a very long time. It was a very mature tree when we moved in 40 years ago so would have to be well over 100 years old possibly older than 200.

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Tallowwood were a predominant tree of this area before settlement. There is this wonderful example at a local nature reserve.

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This tree is protected and is over 400 years. It was never felled because it had been deformed by lightning when it was about 100 years old but it certainly gives a feel for what this landscape may have been like. I can just imagine the early settlers struggling through the scrub with these and other large trees dominating.

From these two sources, I required 8 different colours. These were obtained by the use of mordants (tannin + alum), the two dyes and a dash of iron. Pomegranate doesn’t technically required a tannin pre-mordant but I did add to help shift the colour for two dye baths. The tannin pre-mordants were tannic acid obtained from oak galls and myrobalan. Because pomegranate is so high in tannin, I also used it as a mordant for one of the Tallowwood baths. Usually I would add a dash of iron to make the colour muddier. In one case it was liquid from a collection of rusty bits that I found and that had been soaking for at least 2 years. While the mordanting was very measured according to weight of fibre, the dyestuff, proportion of them and the quantity of iron certainly weren’t. Here’s an overview of the dye combinations for the 8 colours. As you can see I aimed to cover different combinations of the basic elements.

  1. Pomegranate, no tannin, iron
  2. Pomegranate, tannic acid, iron
  3. Pomegranate, myrobalan, iron
  4. Pomegranate, tannic acid, iron
  5. Tallowwood, pomegranate, tannic acid, iron
  6. Tallowwood, myrobalan
  7. Tallowwood tannic acid
  8. Tallowwood, tannic acid, soaked iron liquid.

 

The tallowwood leaves were collected whether fresh or old, covered with water and soaked for a day before being boiled, strained and reused. I did not retrieve these for the next bath.

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To prepare the pomegranate bath, I collected both old husks and fruit- whatever I could find, covered it with water and left for a day or so. Before dyeing, the mixture was boiled and then strained. The fruit was returned to the bucket and soaked again till the next day of dyeing. The dye process took well over a week. It is interesting to note that the recycled pomegranate continued to give equally strong dye on each progressive dyeing and that there was still plenty of dye to be extracted by the time I was finished with it. I must admit the odour was pretty strong though luckily hasn’t stayed in the fabric.

Here’s the end result showing the variation in colours though you will have to wait to see what the finished pieces look like till the exhibition.

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October 2018: Colour in Weaving studio class and an exhibition announcement

November 4, 2018

The studio class this month was Colour in Weaving. It provided an opportunity to explore all manner of colour related activities and an in depth look at colour theory. There was a total of 8 warps provided exploring different aspects.  I’ll share a couple of their experiments because it was good fun and the results of their labours.

From straight theory they each wound a section of warp choosing a particular colour scheme. These were later combined.

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Then the challenge was to choose a colour that would unify.

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There was an opportunity to dye so we dyed warps and skeins randomly and for ikat which they took home to experiment with. I will look forward to seeing what is done with those. There was both ikat and painted warps in the workshop. They looked at how to combine several elements together without getting into a tangle. And an opportunity to experiment with a fan reed. Look for this effect in their collections.

This cone of variegated yarn provided one of the challenges. We analysed the colour repeat. They experimented.

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I loved overhearing the discussion involved in what colour choices were being made. It was no longer “I’m using this colour because I like it” as is so often the case when weavers are choosing weft colour. There was discussion of colour schemes, types of contrasts, values, hues and so on. The decisions being made were very much informed and quite often independently being considered and that was apart from the specific colour challenges I set.

Batch 1 of Sharon’s collection.

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and the second part.

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Some of Jan’s work. She could only attend two days. She also wove a colour and weave effect tea towel.

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Rochelle’s collection. She also worked on an extra warp for a couple of alpaca scarves.

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Karen’s collection

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Sometimes I get to finish off the warps.

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It was an extremely busy and productive week and of course a great week of very special camaraderie.

The BYO Loom class met with Marja bringing along her first project in crackle. She loves the structure. I love the end result.

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I have a couple of announcements to make.

Firstly I have been working on next year’s program prompted in no small way by two weavers wanting to book in to the Linen and Lace class.

Next month:    Woven shibori. It is full.

10-14 December 2018. Special. Own choice of project or technique. Weave on any loom including 8 or 16 shafts, draw loom or SE Asian style loom. Experiment with a fan reed.

21-25 January 2019          Linen and Lace.

18-22 March       Woven Shibori

13- 17 May          From a twill threading

10- 14 June         Special.

The rest will be listed shortly.

A major highlight of next year will be my joint exhibition with Catharine Ellis to celebrate over 20 years of woven shibori.  You may be aware that both Catharine and I independently yet at the same time developed the technique that became woven shibori. In 1998 she taught it at Convergence for the first time while I coincidentally had the first article published in Weavers. I thought that it was a significant enough milestone to celebrate so I invited Catharine to be a part of a joint exhibition.

Here’s some advance notice.

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Redland Art Gallery, Cleveland, Queensland. Sunday 10 March – Sunday 14 April 2019. The contract finally came through this month so now it is official.

Now that of course means that I am now officially busy creating. Thank goodness some of the work is retrospective and it is a two person exhibition!  Mind you I have been quietly working away, considering, planning and procrastinating in some cases, since last year when I first proposed the exhibition. While I won’t share the final pieces, I thought that it might be interesting to share some process. This is a glimpse of the start of one of the ideas that I’ve been following.

I am a long time resident of this area. In fact I have lived here for nearly 40 years. It is the place where my husband and I settled when we got married. It’s where our children were born, raised and left from and have even come home to. It’s where he died. It’s where I live and create. It does in some way give me a sense of belonging.

I have a general awareness of the history of this area of The Redlands. I have long been aware of the historic homes: Ormiston House, Whepstead Manor, The Pines, The Old Court House and the like. There are roads named after early settlers.  Perhaps its history could well provide a starting point for inspiration for a new body of work. And so I began researching. I found out lots about blokes who settled here. How much reference was made to females? Not much of course and the further back in time, the less you find. Why not limit research to history before 1900’s and even further to female history within that time frame? That will allow for a time frame of about 50 years when this area first had white settlement. As an aside, while I certainly acknowledge the first people of this land, I just don’t feel qualified to present it. I have had a very interesting time visiting the Local History section in the library, going on line for oral history, visiting the Museum, having discussion with people who have stories to tell. Everyone who I’ve had connection with in this project have been extremely helpful. I certainly appreciate their help. I have collected stories and references and found out all manner of interesting things. And sometimes there’s an echo of my family history even though I my family is not from here.

I hear the voice of my mother who praised 1961. That was the year that the contraceptive pill became available in Queensland. I have of course found references to women and family sizes. That was always going to be easy but here are two that are remarkable. I have intentionally removed names for now.

One bloke had been married twice before he left England (The first wife died after 5 children and the second after 10.) I wonder what happened to those children as he then emigrated to Australia and became the first squatter in the area, 1850 before acquiring a lease five years later. And of course he married: Louise in 1856 and had 7 children raised in this area.

The second story involves a husband, wife and a couple of children who took up a selection here. (You had to work 5 years and make improvements of a certain value before it was yours). She raised 14 children of her own (with the “midwife knowing the track to her house”) and 5 of a neighbour’s. I gather their mother had died.

While family size is often commented on, I have ferreted out other tales. Some are direct references to women while others can be inferred. There are fascinating tales of how the women got here. Apart from coming with their husbands, some came out independently and in the case of one was employed for the trip as a nanny and then abandoned here in spite of being promised a return trip.

I’m amazed at tales of intrepid settlers. I can’t imagine how a woman must have coped with a young family newly arrived in Australia deposited in a clearing and a simple slab hut, isolated with no neighbours close by, tracks that are merely blazed trails and children who have to be kept safe and raised and all those new sounds, strange animals, dangers. Yet they survived, their families grew and each successive generation built on the success of their toils.

And occasionally there are funny quirky tales of life. One involves corsets being worn to work, taken off and hidden and then put back on to go home so that if they met a young gentleman they would be “nice and shapely”.

And so I’ve collected stories, facts and figures and now have to develop a body of work. The research has been fun and an excuse to delve into our history. In fact it’s been rather addictive and I’ve gone down so many side tracks. I think that I had better stop the hard core research and get to making. To celebrate I visit Ormiston House for Devonshire Tea.

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I spent a lovely afternoon with Jessica, their historian. This house and garden is credited to Captain Louis Hope, the father of the sugar cane industry in Queensland amongst other significant positions. We know lots about him. He built this house over a period of time 1858- 1865. There is a wife in the background.  In 1859 he married Susan Frances Sophia Dumaresque.  They had 8 children. However there is some recorded history  made about her and thank you Jessica for providing these and more references: ‘Mrs Hope is just as nice [as Captain Hope], so very good natured and lady like’ (Harry Alington Creaghe in a letter home) and by Mrs Evelyn Alford, who used to visit Ormiston House as a child ‘we often saw her sitting in her favourite position – sitting beside the big windows doing her fancy sewing or entertaining friends’. They eventually sold the property and returned to England.

I should mention that Ormiston House is open to the public on Sunday afternoons.

There was an unexpected bonus from today’s excursion: it’s a real treasure! I have collected some dye material that I’m sure will find its way to being used. This collection of rusted metal is from the large sugar pan that was used by Mr Hope when he ran his sugar mill. It is one of two of the original artifacts from the sugar mill. By the way, the caretaker gave these to me. I didn’t just take.

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What imagery, process, structure or form will I use? And there so many more red herrings, not even related to this research which can distract.  It is major decision time. I need to weave.

 


At the end of April 2018: profile drafting and weave structures among other things.

May 6, 2018

I have been on an adventure to western Queensland. No, this blog will not be about that but in passing I will mention that I’m sure that the colours, textures and history in particular will find expression sometime in my work. The Longreach and Winton areas are extremely interesting destinations.

Rochelle spent a couple of days in the studio and finally finished her gigantic double width blanket. She has promised to bring it back totally finished. I bet it will keep her warm as toast. A reminder for others out there: the studio is available on a negotiated basis for students to come and weave.

This month’s studio class was Beyond Basics where we started with profile drafting and extended into structure. Jen and Hilary, both from Western Australia, produced a quantity of weaving files and actual weaving. This is an overview of the 5 day class. All the warps had the same profile drafts for the treading, while the treadling was based on each students profile draft. In this way all the samples related.

There were several hours spent on creating weaving drafts.


Jen weaving Atwater Bronson lace on a wool warp with a silk weft.

Hilary is weaving twill blocks on a draw loom. The pattern shafts are arranged as for the profile draft. What a great way this is to promote understanding of how profile drafting can be used. It’s also a fun experience.

Fabrics include 4 and 8 shaft overshot, crackle, atwater and bronson lace, summer and winter, twill blocks. The following images were taken late on the last day when the lighting wasn’t all that good.

Jen’s collection:

Hilary’s collection:

Congratulations to both. They have some very beautiful results and all projects are totally finished. It was a great 5 days. What a lot of work they did!

There was enough warp left over on two of the “overshot” looms for me to play. There had been much discussion on the length of supplementary weft floats when weaving overshot. So the challenge was for me initiated by the students was to find ways to make use of these long floats to make interesting fabrics. I’ll share these 3 experiments. It was a great way to clear the looms and to enable students to really appreciate the potential of a structure.

Of course there’s always woven shibori. Any structure that achieves long supplementary floats is ideal for converting into weft shibori. Eventually I will get around to dye this hand towel.

This hand towel uses just one block of supplementary weft which are then stitched into groups once removed from the loom. It’s a pretty effect.

When weaving multishaft overshot (a 4 shaft profile draft converts to 8 shafts of structure) each block can be woven independently. This meant that I elected to use just the half tones with just weft floats on the front to weave this fabric. The pleating will stretch because of the wool/lycra yarn that was used. The finished result and the reverse side and before laundering.

 

 

I thought the weavers may enjoy my installation. I had acquired these very rusty reeds over a number of years. Here, at the entrance to the studio, was the opportunity to do something with them.

 

Next month: There will be no studio classes. I’m getting ready to set off on another textile adventure.