January 2019: Studio class, vertical storage and getting ready for the exhibition.

February 3, 2019

parallel title

A reminder: This exhibition celebrates 20 years of woven shibori. I have invited Catharine Ellis to celebrate with me. All weaving is completed for the exhibition. The exhibition lists, artist statements and didactic panels submitted by both Catharine and myself. It’s rather a relief to be at this stage.

Redland Art Gallery has the exhibition listed in its exhibition guide.

RAG Exhibitions Booklet 2019_Kay Faulkner and Catharine Ellis (3)

The studio class as usual for this time of year was Linen and Lace. This time of year is usually perfect for linen. It was, though I suspect, hotter than usual. Unlike other years this group of four weavers all decided that they wanted to work on their own projects. Three had completed the course in previous years and wanted to revisit a structure, the other wanted to pursue a personal challenge. This meant that I did not need to set up a multitude of looms in different structures.

Maggie has the perfect solution for jet lag or so she says. She arrived in Australia from the UK on the day before the class. She treats attending a class in the studio as a gentle way to recover. Her project was to weave a series of napkins in linen and 3 end Huck. Her design was a modification of a studio hand towel. Her ongoing challenge was to weave every one differently. On the last day she wound an extra warp for 4 more napkins to take with her to be threaded with the same draft so that she could continue her challenge. It was well tied up as it will travel with her for her stay here and then get put on her loom when she goes back to the UK.

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Kerry is a new student to the studio. She had asked whether she could use her single 16’s linen and weave in Huck. She had woven with this yarn at home and had some difficulty with it. We started by designing her project. The warp went on and we soon saw that there was potential for warp fraying. The solution was to weave with a temple. This posed no problems as she was used to doing this. The other part of the solution was the use of sizing. Kati Meek has a recipe in her book, Warp with a trapeze and dance with your loom. It is amazing. It’s very gluggy.

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The sizing was put on with a sponge working in only one direction. The warp was also woven as soon as it was put on with no need to wait till it dried.

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Weaving with a temple and the sizing meant that this warp could be woven with no fear. Various treading drafts were developed. This is an image of her project being woven. Unfortunately my image of the full piece isn’t wonderful so I will not be sharing what she achieved. However it is a beautiful fine piece of linen weaving.

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Vilasa wanted to explore design, Huck lace and if time permitted Bronson lace. As she spins her own cotton, she put on a cotton warp as she wanted to weave with something that was relevant to her weaving at home. Vilasa spent time on drafting every day. She became expert at designing with only horizontal or vertical floats or both together. She accepted various design challenges. In the five days she wove 6 of her own Bronson Lace designs. This length of weaving is destined to be a panel of a shirt. Here are 3 of her designs.

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Jan had intended weaving a fabric length in turquoise linen. The yarn didn’t get organised so she wove another project that she had planned for later in the year. She had some hand spun wool that she wanted to use for a vest. The vest pattern is based on an existing garment. She had decided that the fabric should not just use hand spun as otherwise it would be too bulky and too heavy for her use. Rather, the hand spun act as an accent yarn as it had wonderful lumps and bumps. To achieve its potential she was going to combine it with silk and a commercial wool.

Jan had acquired some 20/2 silk, natural in colour to be dyed for the warp. Anyone who knows Jan, realises that she loves turquoise, greens and blues. In fact here is her rag rug that she had brought back finished from the woven shibori class in November.

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But I digressed. The silk had to be dyed. So that she didn’t end up with dyed silk left over from the warp, she wound the warp, secured it well and then dyed it. She also chose to paint a skein in various colours that would work in with this green and her weft colours. The warp went on smoothly. Jan’s challenge has been to weave the 3 yarns and to work out the best way to maximise the characteristics of the hand spun wool and very pretty multi-coloured silk. The yarns are to be used randomly so that there is no definite stripe repeat. She is still working on this. She probably needs an extra half a day to finish and I will certainly look forward to seeing this off the loom and made into that vest.

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I had put on an extra linen warp on a loom to accommodate two requirements of this class, just in case there was an opportunity for it to be woven on. Vilasa had expressed a desire to also explore Bronson Lace and Kerry was wanting to work in singles 16 linen. Kerry enjoyed time weaving on “good” linen. Maggie wove a strip to be used as a book mark while Vilasa of course developed her own design to be woven. Now that she understands the principles of horizontal and vertical floats, this was an easy transfer to another lace structure.

There was left over warp so I got to finish it off. Yes, more hand towels for the studio. Both employ the same block design within a lace weave frame. One has the blocks in lace, the other as a supplementary weft pattern.

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During the week, I also took the opportunity to get a loom dressed and ready for some play with a loom and vertical storage. The students were interested to see a frame become a loom. I was asked: Where’s the beater and where are the treadles? The loom to start with was just a frame.

What were my objectives in this project? In all my previous times of using a loom with vertical storage, it had always been positioned at the back of the loom. In Cambodia, I had seen storage, though horizontal behind the beater and in front of the shafts. This link should take you to the appropriate blog. Scroll down to see images of a loom with horizontal storage. There’s also a video of the loom being used.  https://wordpress.com/post/kayfaulkner.wordpress.com/4200

By positioning it here, I would be able to manipulate the sticks or whatever I wanted to store the pattern with more easily. But what would be the repercussions of having it here. I knew from past experience that when the treadles are not heavy or when long eyed heddles are used, movement of the stored pattern was possible to achieve while plain weave was woven. The pattern could be kept engaged and ready to be used. Logically I knew that this would not be possible with the pattern in front of the heddles but could some compromises be achieved?

I was also wanting to see if I could weave Bronson Lace- well it was the week of Linen and Lace! To achieve this I needed the warp threads to be used singly through the storage system. Traditionally in S E Asia there are doubled threads used here. The warp is usually very fine. I’m about to change a lot of things.

I started with just the dummy warp in a vertical storage.

So I began by winding the warp and threading it through a reed. I needed one end per reed dent.  This would allow me to keep each thread in sequence and I could identify a single thread when it came to picking up the design for storage.  I could accommodate a cotton/ linen yarn (approx. 16/2) singly in an 8 dent per cm (20 epi) reed. It was my finest “western” reed.

Then I knotted one cotton/linen warp (natural colour) to 2 ends of dummy warp (blue) to align with those in each long heddle. This will allow each thread to be raised independently. Everything has to be kept in sequence. So far all this could be accomplished off the loom. In this image note that the cotton/linen has been threaded in the reed before being tied onto the dummy warp in the heddles that make up the vertical storage unit (white).

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To thread the heddles on the shafts, I put the warp temporarily back to front on the loom. I could not access the back of the loom easily so it had to be back to front- temporarily. The reed and vertical storage were temporarily suspended in the loom frame purely to facilitate threading the heddles on 2 shafts. Here the two shafts are on the far left hand side ready to be threaded. The wooden clamp behind the beater holds the threads securely.

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When this is done, I have the warp threaded though heddles on 2 shafts, then  the vertical storage and then the reed with the bulk of the warp behind this.

Now to put the warp on. The total bundle is turned around. The reed is put in a beater. The vertical storage system suspended in its correct position and the shafts suspended. Treadles are attached to the shafts. Normality returns for my weavers with shafts behind the beater though with the storage between. The warp is pulled through and wound onto the back beam. I am ready to weave.

I want to weave Bronson Lace. If you understand the mechanics of the structure and have this loom set up so that I can choose an individual thread, I can manipulate the threads to achieve my goal.

This is a basic draft for a conventional loom. Using this draft it would be possible to pick up a design by selecting from shaft 3 and adding it to shaft one.

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Theoretically I can make my 2 shaft loom weave Bronson by storing the equivalent of shaft 3 on the vertical storage loom. In a 6 thread sequence the second and fourth thread will be stored. I will store this selection in the top of the storage unit.

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I will be able to use this stored selection to choose pairs of threads for each Bronson Lace unit. This stored selection will go in the bottom part of the storage unit. Here are two rows stored on bamboo lengths. They are stabilised by inserting the ends into some texsolv cord.

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Once I’m ready to weave for a repeated design I’ll be able to move my pattern from the bottom to the top and back again depending on the number of repeats.

This is my graphed design.

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This sequence shows the selection process. The required threads are moved down from the stored selection. All pairs of threads are raised.

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The design is selected according to the graph.

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This pattern is transferred from the front of the loom to behind the beater and onto a sword. I have covered how to store a selected pattern for a vertical storage unit in previous blogs but as it has been a while, here is a reminder.

All the heddles from the vertical storage are brought forward.

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The sword turned on its side. This achieves different tension for those threads that are either side of the sword.

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By manipulating this tension, the threads that have been picked up at the front of the loom can be stored vertically. A bamboo stick  or dowel is inserted into the gap where the second sword now is.

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As each pattern is stored, the unit of Bronson Lace is also woven before the next pattern row is picked up. Here the repeat is nearly picked up and woven.

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In essence the weaving process for each graphed pattern row requires 6 rows of weaving.  Weave a row of plain weave, then the other plain weave row + pattern, repeat twice. Then weave alternate plain weave rows. The first row of plain weave should include the pattern warps. This is a very similar process to conventional pick up on Bronson Lace but with the facility of storing your design.

For this table runner I elected to do just one repeat. It suited the dimensions that I required. However having the facility to store this long repeat is certainly beneficial.

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As an aside, this pattern would require 36 shafts to weave- another benefit of this style of loom. There will be more on weaving on this loom next month. The same pattern will be interpreted into other structures and more.  Here’s a sneak preview.

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The next studio class will be in March (18th-22nd) on woven shibori to coincide with the exhibition.


August 2018: The Bradshaw rock art and weaving in the studio

September 8, 2018

A trip away and then a week of studio class has resulted in a very late blog.

In the main, I only report on textile related matters and of course weaving on my blog. So you will not be seeing images from The Kimberley in N W Australia. It is extremely remote and has featured on my wish list for many years. It would not even rate a mention here apart from an unexpected and amazing encounter with ancient Aboriginal rock art.

We were headed up that dotted road heading north on the map to Mitchell Plateau and Ngauwudu Safari Camp. The road is not for the faint hearted (understatement). A turn off brought us to a significant Aboriginal rock art location. There are no fences or glass panels around this art but once you are here, it is extremely accessible. That in itself was great for us for viewing but with a significant concern for the preservation of the art. My later research pointed out that: In a detailed study of 66 Bradshaw panels, approximately 9% of the Bradshaw images have clearly been vandalized. Some were scratched with stones, some damaged by thrown stones, and some have been broken by hammering with large rocks.* There’s a fine of $2,000 and 12 months imprisonment for interfering with cultural heritage sites. Another cause of destruction is back burning. Since 2009 as part of the government’s fire prevention strategy to aid the exploitation of oil and gas reserves has caused paint to peel from over 5,000 of the 8,742 known examples of Bradshaw art. A survey by archaeologist Lee Scott-Virtue has determined that up to 30 per cent of the rock art had been completely destroyed by fire.* In the light of these facts I consider myself very fortunate to have seen these.

We were in Wunambel Gaambera Country. There were several styles of art here but of particular interest for me were what westerners known as the “Bradshaw rock art” after the pastoralist who discovered them in 1891. As the Kimberley is home to various Aboriginal language groups, the rock art is referred to and known by many different Aboriginal names, the most common of which are Gwion Gwion or Giro Giro

The Gwion Gwion are at the bottom of this image. The rock art at the top is from a later time.

It is common to have later paintings drawn over the top of Gwion Gwion. These later paintings are often not as permanent with the ochres wearing off. We only saw Gwion Gwion with only two colours though it is thought that many more were originally used. The pigments in these two colours have been chemically bonded with the rock. Research suggests that it is the result of symbiotic relationship between black fungi and red bacteria.*

This example shows the style known as the Tassel Figures and identified by their characteristic tassels hanging from their arms and waists, various other accessories can be recognised, such as arm bands, conical headdresses and boomerangs. This style is the earliest, most detailed and largest. It has been dated as up to 22,000 years old from a fossilised wasp nest.

These are finely executed drawings. The lines are fine. It is possible that a feather was used in their execution; an imprint of a feather found at one site may support this possibility*. There is no evidence of several tries being attempted in their execution. They would require an extraordinary amount of skill.

Wayne, our guide, pointed out that these are not the oldest rock art paintings (earlier crude drawings are up to 40,000 years old) but they are the oldest that represent ceremony and therefore well- established culture. This can be deduced from the postures of the figures. By the way, the well- known cave paintings of Lascaux,  France are thought to be 20,000 years old and are of animals.

So why am I so excited by this art? Here’s my observation: If, as Wayne suggests that Gwion Gwion is the earliest known rock art (world- wide?) where the human form is shown performing ritual, then doesn’t it also follow that these are the earliest rock art paintings that include textiles as part of ceremony. Well, tassels of some form are a textile aren’t they?

Additional information on the Bradshaw Rock Art and selected quotes* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bradshaw_rock_paintings

Update: I have had a private email and whether I got any sense of a fringe/skirt and the formation of the tassels and whether it was too hard to see. Here are my comments as it was such a great question.

I gained the impression from both my research following and from what Wayne said that these are not “skirts” in the traditional sense and the figures are likely to be men. Women are drawn differently. I understand that these fringed ornaments/aka “skirts” are for ceremony and perhaps not daily use. I couldn’t see any detail but I presume they would be of twisted grass/bark or some fibre with an object on the end. You can gain a sense of what some of the objects were from the paintings. Remember some of the original pigments didn’t last so not all detail is here. These are 20,000+ years old and have been exposed to the elements somewhat so we’re lucky to be seeing anything. It’s mind blowing (a) what they are and the detail, (b) the subject matter and (c) that they are still around. Amazing, truly amazing!

Then reality returns. I have just completed a studio class in Doubleweave. There were three wonderful students: Jan, Barbara and Karen, who accepted the challenge of drafting, theory and completed some great work. A wide variety of techniques were explored. Even small samples have the potential to be turned into drink coasters. The following are images from the class.

Four versions from the one threading. The students developed the pattern on the loom.

Different aspects appealed to each student. While some projects are similar, others are quite different.

Karen’s collection.


Barbara’s collection.

Jan’s collection.

Jan and Barbara model their scarves.

Sometimes in a studio class, a student will come with an idea to explore. Karen brought one such project. She wanted to weave a dishcloth…. Yes a dish cloth! She wondered if her Vavbo Lin dish cloth from Sweden could be interpreted into double weave.  It is marketed as a very hygienic way to wash up with the natural qualities of linen meaning that they can be laundered over and over again, becoming softer and more supple with age. And when they eventually wear out, they can be compostable. She has acquired several but as a weaver thought it would be nice if she could weave her own version.

It caught our imagination. This is our version of a dish cloth. It has some elements of the original.

Karen weaving her dish cloth.

It is woven in linen.

We intend it to be compostable. We will avoid all micro fibre dish cloths in our kitchens in future.

It has an open weave body as the result of a stitched double weave structure. The stitching happens on the diagonal.

The selvedges and hem are in plain weave to give stability to the open structure of the main cloth.

We intend it to be compostable. We will not be adding to land fill or pollution.

It will be easily washed and quick to dry because of the linen and the open structure.

We know that it will be serviceable. Even though the structure is open the stitching provides a well- integrated cloth. Nothing will get caught between layers.

We intend it to be compostable. It is a plant fibre and will break down.

It has texture- ideal as a dish cloth. It is also flexible and will become increasingly so with wear and washing.

The double weave layers will enhance the absorbency of the linen.

And it will go into the compost after its lifetime of being useful!

I think I’m hooked on these. They’ll be a great addition in my kitchen.

Update: Charlene has requested details of the draft. I believe that this is such a great thing for the environment that I am happy to share. If you share it please acknowledge the fact that it is my draft. Here is the basic draft. Shafts 7&8 are for the selvedge. Repeat the rest of the draft as required for your width, sett and yarn. Weave plain weave for the hems.

Next month’s studio class: Colour in Weaving. We’ll be exploring colour theory, colour and weave effects including log cabin and shadow weave amongst other structures. There’ll also be the opportunity to explore dyeing techniques such as painted warps or skeins, ikat and how to use these. And perhaps we’ll even get to use the newly acquired fan reed. There is currently 2 places left. 1-5 October.

The BYO loom series starts on the 24th September. It will be held on the 4th Monday of the month finishing in November.


February 2018: Linen and Lace, Woven Shibori and other stuff.

March 5, 2018

In the studio this month I held the second Linen and Lace class. The class was nearly full with 4 students. That is why this follows on from #1 in January. There were great results again. Here are some images of work by Karen, Jen and Jan. It is worthwhile to note that two of these are fairly new weavers.

They wove. Karen is missing from this photo.


And they finished off. Here a Swedish Lace series is being mangled using a marble rolling pin.

And went home with a great collection.

Jen’s collection

 

Karen’s collection

 

Jan’s collection.

Rochelle after attending #1 decided that she’d like to weave a double width alpaca blanket, so she had the opportunity to also refresh on the theory… and to check out what the others did.

 

One of the additional challenges of this week was to experiment with pick up on lace weaves if time permitted. In this way all could come to an understanding that more complex design could be achieved with minimal shafts. There are some projects in both Jen and Jan’s collection. Having the loom threaded that way also allowed me to play with a couple of combinations both while the class was underway and afterwards.

On the Bronson Lace warp students could accomplish pick up of a design for an overall pattern or combine it with inlay. I got to weave these two examples.

 

For those interested in drafts, here it is.

The other pick up warp was on Spot Bronson. Jen got to weave a complex spot Bronson design while I got to play with combinations afterwards. This is my playtime, all off the one warp.

I threaded that one so that both lace and Summer and Winter could be woven at the same time. Jen got to weave a complex spot Bronson design while I got to play with combinations afterwards. I also wanted to revisit the experimentation I’d done with doupe leno from the previous workshop. So it was a 3 way challenge and a bit of forward planning was required.

Here’s the basic draft.

Spot Bronson and Summer and Winter combined. Note as well as being woven full width, there’s an isolated motif in the middle of the lace weave.

To weave the leno, I required a group of 4 threads per dent if I was going to explore more doupe leno stored on an additional stick. My aim was to compare the method that I’d used in the previous month on a countermarche loom with this on the jack loom. However the loom had been threaded 2 per dent. As I knew that I’d be taking advantage of this warp I used a reed where I could remove the uprights allowing me to maintain the sett while achieving 4 per dent. Part way through increasing dent size.

An overhead view of this reed. Once I’m finished, I slide the brass strip back into place securing the reed.

This image shows the leno being picked up. Note the wider spacing has also grouped four threads across in the plain weave.

Preparing one group of 4 to be placed on a doupe. More about this process can be seen on January’s post. I found this process much easier to weave on the Jack loom. The important thing to remember is to put light tension on the pick up leno shaft as each row is woven. It prevents doupes being caught as the shafts change.

 

The finished leno.

On modifying my reed spacing: One might ask why I just didn’t use a reed with wider spaces to start with. So for the last experiment, I also wove a piece with leno (pick up alternating) and Spot Bronson as an all over pattern. While weaving the threads were very much isolated in groups of 4. After finishing, the warp threads are more evenly spaced. However while weaving, because of the denting, it was impossible to beat the fabric to square as a result the lace floats are elongated.

Here’s the finished collection from that experimental warp.

 

At the end of this month I was invited to teach at a weaving retreat for 5 weavers at Sewjourn, just north of Melbourne. They had chosen woven shibori as the focus for their study with a bit of additional dyeing tossed in.

Sewjourn is a perfect location for a small group. It has well set up and basic accommodation where you self- cater and a great studio space, set in a rural location. Those weavers sure can cook!

It was an amazing 5 days. Congratulations to Trudi, Di, Jillian, Elizabeth and Kaye. Here are some images.

The studio. Weavers hard at play (aka work).

Some fibre reactive dyeing both as painted warps and pulled up woven shibori.

Different shades of blue from the indigo bath.

Completed dyeing of warps (painted and ikat) and small skeins for weft ikat.

A weft ikat being woven. While the focus was on woven shibori, it was too good an opportunity to see how this would weave up.

The result of a fabulous five days of play.

Next month: In the studio there will be a 5 day class focusing on all manner of twills. There are still 2 places available.

 


January 2018 Lace weaves and Leno

February 2, 2018

In January, I hosted Linen and Lace in my studio. This class will be run again in a few weeks’ time. My intention is to run small classes with highly personalised teaching, hence the need to divide it into two. It also gives me an opportunity to play as you’ll see later.

Rochelle and Heather explored all manner of lace weaves (Spot Bronson, Bronson, Swedish, Huck, 3 or 5 ends and one piece that combined several). They demystified structures, investigated finishing techniques and took home a collection of beautifully woven and finished pieces. Here’s some images from the 5 days. Congratulations to both of them. It was a great week!

 

 

They also explored leno with one piece. The left over warp gave me the perfect opportunity to play.  They got to see the benefit of my play so it’s a “win, win” situation. Towards the end of last year I had explored a technique from John Becker’s Pattern and Loom: Chapter 1, Chinese Han monochrome pattern weaves. The next chapter is on gauze weaves and I spied leno from the Han Dynasty. What caught my attention was a drawing showing loops (or doupes) put on a rod that mechanically achieved those twists that characterised leno. I have used a treadle doupe system to achieve leno and while it works a treat, it takes ages to set up. I wondered how efficiently this would work. It also ties in very nicely with my fascination with S. E. Asian textiles as I’d been seeing leno in use there. Here’s an example from my collection from Bhutan with a detailed view.

 

Leno is a different way of creating a lacy effect to “lace weaves” which are loom structured. They are classed as being in the “gauze” family. However they do still fit nicely into the week’s theme.

So I set it up. Here’s some things I had to consider. I was working with linen at a sett of 8 epcm (20epi). The warp was already on the loom however I would need to rethread the reed to do what I wanted to do.  Each twist has to have all multiples in one dent of a reed, and I did want to use a reed. So I went to my collection of reeds and found one that had a spacing of 3 dpcm. That meant that I’d thread the reed with 4 per dent for two dents and then leave one free. A dent by the way for those non weavers is a space in the reed.  I quite liked the look of the spaced warp.

Then I had to construct the loops or doupes for the leno. These loops are between the reed and the shafts. It’s easy enough to create the twist in front of the beater and transfer to behind the reed. I could have constructed these loops in much the same way that I do for heddles on SE Asian looms. However I took the soft option of using old texsolv heddles folded in half. They were a bit bulky but it would save time and let me see how this would work.

These two images show how the loops are formed to create the leno twist.

 

The rod with all those loops on behind the beater.

To weave, it was a relatively simple matter to raise the extra shaft to create those leno twists across the full width of the piece. I did find that it was most effective as the shed wasn’t huge to insert a stick to clear the shed.

The loom I’m using is a countermarche. On this loom there is a lot of movement with the warp threads going up and down. I did find that to weave plain weave a bit of tension on the loop stick allowed for a freer passage of the warp threads. Once you go into the rhythm of just putting a bit of tension while the threads were passing through the “neutral” position at the middle of the treadling movement, weaving progressed easily.

By the way the weft thread is heavier than the warp. I wanted weaving to progress quickly for this experiment. My choice was that heavier white linen thread in my stash: the only one and one that I’d like used up. I’m not sure that it was the best colour choice but it suited my purpose.

Weaving progresses on the loom.

 

After finishing. The first image has light behind to see the leno more clearly.

 

And while I was about it here’s a piece of leno that is manually manipulated using the threading on the same loom. The threads in one dent are twisted with those in the next dent and then offset. One image is just woven while the other is after washing. Note how much the denting space has closed up.

The next class on Linen and Lace is from 19-23rd . There’s still 1 place left. Perhaps my students and I will have time to do some more play with leno.