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.


July 2018: Convergence and Complex Weavers Seminars.

August 2, 2018

It was the gathering of the international weaving clan. Weavers came from around the world to attend Convergence organised by Hand weavers Guild of America (HGA) and then for a very focussed group of weavers, Complex Weavers Seminars at Reno, Nevada, USA. This was the first year they had been run at the same time for a number of years. It was great that I could again attend both easily as now it just took one return airfare.

Both were held at the Peppermill Resort, a very large casino and convention centre.

I arrived a few days before CW was due to start primarily so that I could check out Convergence and in particular the vendor hall and the exhibits. Here are some highlights from those first few days.

I came in the doors and saw all the traders. One did get used to the carpet. Large bold designs were typical of the over the top décor.

As well as ethnic collections, yarn, books, looms and all things textiles, there were two new pieces of equipment that took my eye and that I will mention.

TempoTreadle is a very neat electronic device and provides amongst other features a way of keeping track of shaft lifts for weaving sequences for a table loom. http://tempotreadle.com.

There’s a new loom out by AVL. It looks totally different to their past looms and functions like a countermarche.

Next door there were several exhibitions. I was in particular interested in those chosen for the fashion parade and the yardage exhibit and of course those that were hand woven. Congratulations go to all those who exhibited here and in outside venues. It is always interesting to see other’s textiles. Here’s a list of exhibitions listed in the gallery guide. I got to see them all.

City Lights, Festive Nights, the wearable art exhibit that was put up following the fashion parade. These are some of the winning entries. Each entry was accompanied by a handling piece.

First place: Mimi Anderson. Friday Night Fever:  4 colour double weave.

Second Place: Inge Dam with Manon Pelletier, Band of Northern Lights, Tablet bands integrated and woven with a 32 shaft twill.

Third Place and the Seattle Weavers Guild- Virginia Harvey Award for Color: Lillian Whipple with Sharon Bell, Red to Blue and Green All Over Jacket.

Here’s a general view of some of the exhibits showing how they were displayed.

 

 

Trukee River, the yardage exhibition was very accessible this time. In the past the exhibits had been hung above the heads of attendees often from a balcony. It was great being up close to the full length. Here are some selected pieces.

 

First place: Slip streams by Kathryn Arnoldin turned taquete.

Second place: Secrets in the Water, Dottie Weir, handwoven shibori on ice dyed warp fibre reactive dyes, discharge, overdyed with vat dyes.

Third place: Water is Life, Nancy Peterson, Handwoven crimped tencel with polyester sewing thread.

Complex Weavers Award: Tablet Woven Triptych John Mullarkey.

While this piece did not win an award, I was very excited and delighted to see that Joan Namkoong represented by two pieces. Both were delightful. However it was this piece that really made me stand still and think “Wow”.   Tapa (Hawaiian stamped bark cloth)  was woven in a 6 shaft satin on a drawloom. Joan had worked in my studio and it was there that she discovered drawloom weaving. She became hooked and went home and acquired her drawloom. No wonder I was excited to see this piece.

It was announced that Convergence in 2020 will be in Knoxville, Tennessee in the last part of July.

And then finally Complex Weavers Seminars began. It started with the exhibition opening of Complexity 2018: Innovations in Weaving. It was a great way to provide a very focused start.  I was honored to have been asked to jury it along with Janice Lessman-Moss (USA) and Jette Vandermeiden (Canada); a very international jury. The initial jurying was done on line using a five-foil Likert Scale in the Submittable format. It was a tough job as there were many fabulous entries. We scored them blind and from this score, the gallery staff selected the 27 works from 23 artists. Jette and I had the difficult though rewarding job of selecting the awards prior to the opening as we were both there. We also consider ourselves very fortunate as we could handle and check what was on the back of the pieces: a very decided benefit! Complexity was hung in Metro Gallery in the City Hall. Many people got to see it purely because of its location. This is what it looked like with an early crowd at the Opening.

For a Gallery guide and the list of awards and winners go to http://www.complex-weavers.org/gallery/complexity-2018/  This will provide a much better way of viewing the exhibit than I could ever provide here.

One of the wonderful benefits of Seminars is that there are many opportunities to meet other like- minded weavers and to catch up with fiends from around the world. Meals are held together. There are a wide range of events: an informal fashion parade, traders, the silent auction, meetings of study groups and of course, the seminars.

There were a wide variety of topics presented. I was honored to have been selected and I presented Ties: Decorative, Practical and Unconventional and absolutely delighted with the buzz after the presentation.

 

I must admit I don’t have too many images to share. I was just too busy having a great time.

There is an exciting publication that will soon be available. It celebrates the 40th anniversary of CW. After the fashion parade, those weavers who had a piece in the forthcoming book took the floor. There were many interesting pieces. I can’t wait to see it. It is now available for pre-sale on the website. http://www.complex-weavers.org

Here’s some of the weavers with work in the book.

One of the results that I will share here came from the meeting of the Double Harness Study Group.. I had co-chaired the meeting with Jette Vandermeiden. I’ll also mention that the Double Harness Study Group is the oldest study group in CW. It was the first one formed. It was very satisfying to see a very enthusiastic gathering and is encouraging for the future.

From the meeting came the request to share two loom modifications. That has already happened and I thought that this was also an opportunity to share those here. They had happened over a number of years. The first I did in 2011 and my original article was presented in the International Damask Newsletter in Winter, 2011. A simple conversion for a Glimakra loom with an Opphampta attachment.     Jette wrote up her development, a variation of mine for the same publication in Autumn 2012. However the modification didn’t end there. The final modification for both Jette and I came about when her engineering husband became interested. The result was Medusa. I’ll put both a separate page on my blog under “Looms and loom modifications” for future reference.

Good times, great learning were had by all. I’ll look forward to the next Seminars in 2020. The last hurrah: a celebration great times at CW Seminars 2018.

Forthcoming classes in my studio

3-7 September Double weave and friends

1-5 October Colour in weaving: colour and weave effects, shadow weave, echo weave and optical colour blending.

12-16 November Woven shibori

10- 14 December Special also includes beginning weaving

Forth Monday September – November inclusive. BYO Loom: work on your own project with a review on the following month.

Full details under Kay’s Weaving School on my blog.


June 2018: My studio and other events.

July 3, 2018

This will be a short blog after the mammoth job of writing up the series from my textile tour to the Lesser Sunda Islands. However life has been busy.

Soon after arriving home I was off to Canberra for the weekend to teach for the guild there. There were a great group of weavers who were enthusiastic about learning Summer and Winter. Great results were achieved but unfortunately, I forgot to take photos. Twelve students had at work.

And then it was home for a 5 day “Special”. The three students had the opportunity to weave whatever project they wanted. Rochelle and Jan had both missed out on the twill class so decided that this was an ideal opportunity to expand their knowledge.

Jan took delight in weaving a set technique and then threw caution to the wind and developed some exiting variations.

Rochelle completed variations on a theme by exploring treadling sequences for her 3 scarves. They are all quite different.

Katie, from the USA had been travelling in S. E. Asia and stopped off for the class. Her project was to weave fabric for a tunic in weft ikat and silk. Here’s the fabric just off the loom.

A close up view of one of the sections. 3 dye baths were required to achieve this ikat. There’s a hint of olive or pink at either edge of the black.

I have finally got this piece of weaving off the loom. It’s taken a while but then again, I guess you have to be home to weave. And it was at about this stage that I wondered why I did weft shibori. Warp shibori would have taken way fewer threads to pull up.

 

 

And then some indigo. After my trip, there was a definite pull towards indigo as a preference.

And the great undoing. I’m very happy with the result.

I have been asked by several weavers about running a one day a month studio class at my studio. So on a Monday from September to November inclusive the studio will be open. I’m calling this a BYO loom class. Students will be required to bring their own loom. They may do any project according to their personal requirements. It may be to learn to weave or brush up on some skills for a beginner or something more advanced for the more experienced or even designing and planning a series. My intention is to provide the framework that allows students to decide on a project, have the month to weave and then bring it back for evaluation before starting a second one.

Other forthcoming classes include:

3-7 September Double weave and friends

1-5 October Colour in weaving: colour and weave effects, shadow weave, echo weave and optical colour blending.

12-16 November Woven shibori

10- 14 December Special also includes beginning weaving

 

All the details are on this blog under “Kay’s Weaving School” at the top of this blog.

I’m enjoying my Textile Wall. It is certainly bringing back great memories and it was certainly way too early to put away those wonderful textiles from my last trip.