A workshop with firsts
Emily has been building up her skills and confidence in Saori weaving and after orienting herself to colours with a couple of samples she decided to weave cloth for a garment. The selected poncho style garment would require less sewing if the cloth was 50cms wide. Luckily I had a wide warp ready to go, which is unusual, and a first. She wove three metres in a great natural, rust and earth mix interspersed with rya fringing in wool. It is a magnificent, expressive cloth. And it’s enough to create a garment. Interestingly, it doesn’t take very much longer to weave a wide warp up to 60cms than the small 10cms warps, they just take more materials.
Jenni, quietly worked at what I would call a ‘journey’ cloth. I saw the intricate involvement and placement of many textures and wonderful colours as it was being woven but when we unrolled it for the final cut down, its colour and patterning style just yelled the western hinterlands of the Manning Valley near the Barringtons and the beach here where it was woven. It strikes me as a surprise that yarn can convey such imagery and landscape with so much force. It is very much the type of piece that I would like hanging in my home to remind me of the colours and feel of where I live. Much of the work was wool and Jenni plans to use her felting magic in the final finishing of the piece.
Most of the weavers travelled from out of the area to the workshop and Fiona had two plane trips to get to the studio. As she already had a Saori loom for over a year she worked on new techniques, ways of using the loom and seeing how all of this can fit into her own needs and textile work. Again, like Jenni, she used a rich mix of texture, technique and colour – and it so came together with a most enticing cloth. As a storm was over us when the photo was taken it doesn’t give a full idea of just how great the cloth was due to poorer lighting.
Fiona also used the additional in situ and supplementary warps in a nice way. Often we use a textured yarn to play with the extra warps and add them into the weft in interesting ways as we weave along. But the straight and dramatic line of a straight untextured thread in a very contrasty and bright colour worked very well as Fiona wove it into her piece. Every idea can be explored and played with in many ways. I find it very energising for the spirit and the hands.
Throughout each day we looked at yarn, discovered what can be done on the tensioned warp threads, and listened to the rhythm of the clacking shuttles as they glide through all of the looms from hand to hand of each weaver. In some places in Asia you know when you are nearing a village because of the bells on the beaters on the weavers’ looms. It’s a bit like that in Old Bar when the studio is full of weavers. I’d try bells but that might take it all over the top with the neighbours.
The ‘friend’ weaving which distorts the warp and consequently the weft was very popular. And as weaver Marilyn suggested the effect was like fingerprints in the weave. Noeleen wove this and just about every technique into a beautiful cloth of purples and bright green. Seen here is the ‘fingerprint’ weave and the random haystack lack weaving with a peek of the wave weaving. As purple is my favourite colour it got a prize for loveliness. Noeleen travelled over 10 hours to get here and I like to think that each hour in travel made the weaving and cloth making more significant. The fabric spoke of an adventure and of a discovery. You can’t get a better combo. Noeleen’s now off to explore more Saori weaving.
Marilyn is a very experienced textile artist and Saori weaver. In fact I’m honored that she has been to many workshops with me and inspired and encouraged me to be more creative over the years. She wove a very beautiful and interesting cloth with her usual and exquisite flair and also learnt another new Saori technique – the quick frill addition to the cloth. This is like another first in a workshop of firsts in many ways this weekend. Thank you to Marilyn, Noeleen, Jenni, Fiona and Emily for your creative generosity and attendance at the workshop.