Chance. How we doubt its authority. It really is about how to choose. This Aeon essay portrays choosing as a way of moving forward and as humans do, we crave validation that we are going in the right direction. The Kantu’ of Borneo use a bird to determine the new season’s optimum planting ground in poor soils but as the anthropologist Michael Dove discovered, the authority given to the bird made more sense than his determination to scientifically determine the bird’s methods.
The essayist Michael Schulston points out that a method of choosing using a trusted tailsman has the bonus of taking away blame and giving reasons for the choice. The bird chose – the decision is made.
I think we can learn alot from this approach as we are more inclined to mistrust our intuition or tailsmans. We need solid proven, logical, scientific and mob approved reasoning for everything. And if we get it wrong we FAIL, FAil, FaiL, fail. Read more
Filming cloth making
I know all of my posts are about cloth and this one won’t be any different. I’ve written before about my luck in the humans coming to my studio, and what I learn from them. Here Mark is filming the weaving process and I’m grateful to him for sharing his expertise and skills.
Here you’ll see two videos which show how a weaver works when they come to the studio. Although it is a time lapse it shows the very organic nature of how we work with the warp threads and how we just ‘paint’ or way to the creation of cloth.
Sometimes photographing textiles is more fun than weaving them! In the second video you’ll also see some white paper sitting underneath the reed within the beater. This helps if the black warp threads are playing tricks on the eyes and makes some types of weaving difficult. I also put white paper on the floor which helps sometimes too.
Meet Taira Toshiko san. A national treasure of Japan in Okinawa. She is responsible for reviving the bashofu processing and weaving in Okinawa after the war. Now 98 years old she continues to manage the processing and weaving workshop which produces bashofu. This is a rare textile indeed. Bashofu fibre is from a plantain banana like tree and produces cloth which is light and almost transparent.
Okinawa comprises 150 islands in the East China Sea. In is a prefecture of Japan and the largest island, Okinawa, is where we will visit on our Japan Textile Tour in September. Also historically known as the Ryukyu Islands it is well known today for the healthy longevity of its citizens. Read more
Ciara’s handspuns into Saori inspired cloth
Off and away again at Sturt Winter School just keeps getting better. This year we were in a larger room within the Frensham Girls school rather than the traditional, once was a, weavers studio in the Craft centre. It seems a long time since I’ve posted up new pics but I seem to have been almost too busy getting around with the loom-mobile. Read more
The Hobart workshop was hosted Joy (and John) Rees of Nandroya Vineyard. They make Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc wines which really go well with weaving! Again I couldn’t have dreamed up the hospitality I received and can’t thank everyone enough. As the workshop was held in Joy’s weaving studio it enhanced our connection to the long tradition of handweaving, being in the space of a very skilled weaver. The warm room had nice light and a huge weavers bookshelf. I could have been there for years. We had a mix of looms including a total of five Saori looms. Rigid heddle and other floor looms were also there. But mostly I encountered the beautiful Lotas looms which were made in Tasmania previously. They are Jack style 4-8 shaft looms and some are very compact and can fold up to some degree.
The Saori looms are certainly very productive as far as time to weave longer lengths and Mieke wove her hanspuns into a very long length which had to be caught to relieve the bulk build up on the cloth beam. So handy because you can wear your cloth while you are weaving it!
The range of experience of the weavers were very beginners to very experienced. They all experimented with the opportunity to work freely and unfettered by constrictions. To create a cloth in their own way without a formulated pattern. Weaving is the greatest craft in the history of humans (not an overstatement I’m sure) and all styles and approaches are curious and absorbing paths to cloth.
Woven at the Hobart Workshop
Over the last few weeks I have been travelling and teaching workshops in Tasmania. Every single workshop I do, is a privilege. To be with others as they encounter weaving for the first time, or how participants share their skills and experience of weaving with me, thinking up ways of creating in amongst the warp. But Tasmania, its landscape and inhabitants, thankfully defies my usual overuse of cliche. My first photo speaks of the diversity of Tasmania’s landscape. A fairly new weaver wove this in Hobart. Handspun yarn was a feature in both Tasmanian workshops due to the high amount of spinners and fibre lovers there. This piece of cloth on the loom kept emerging with detailed work which I think reflected the sum of what I experienced.
View from Poatina
The first workshop was at the old Hydro village of Poatina. You’ll see the views here one way across the valley from the high vantage point. The other direction was the high Great Western Tiers. What a perfect location to weave in. There were a large number of participants here, much more than I usually have. But it was so well organised and even with a variety of looms, it worked exceptionally well.
Up into the Central Highlands at Miena we were fortunate to receive a good cover of snow overnight.
Snow is quite the occasion for us as it is rare for us to see.
The Hydro projects in Tasmania are fantastic and are a real tribute to the families who worked on them. These towns housed families and created communities which would be very rare today. The landscape is punctuated with transmission towers which I think influenced some of our weaving there. Warps and wefts can create the spidery lines of the electrical wires. It would be an amazing place to do a project with and no doubt many have. In the same way I always think that the highway construction teams, who don’t have communities to be housed in aside from temporary metal boxes, would be a rewarding place to be an artist in residence. Capturing the work being done and a snippet of the lives of the people doing it. Alas, I haven’t heard of the RMS suggesting such a thing. Thank you to the weavers in Poatina and to Di Kearney for organising and liaising with me to make this possible. Also thank you to the staff at Poatina Chalet. The workshops were hosted and supported by the Handweavers, Spinners and Dyers Guild of Tasmania. See more Poatina Workshop photos here.
As a prompt for weaves based on transmission towers see here.
Weaving transmission towers?
A couple of big ticks last week. I’ve actually and finally been to Brisbane. It’s shameful to admit that I’d never been there. Just skirting around it over my lifetime. But now it’s done! and I’ll be back.
I had the most glorious week weaving everyday under the extraordinary tutelage of Kay Faulkner in her weaving school. I learnt so much. Firstly, that I always know more than I think and being with another weaver helps my confidence…as a good teacher does. Secondly, Kay was supportive in my quest to free myself from the bondage of notation. In fact she expected it!
The five day block course was ‘East meets West‘. It was a good exploration of weaves from Asia, and particularly East Timor, within the context of design on a western shaft loom rather than the backstrap. This was great because as I’m supporting the East Timor Heart Fund in 2016 , getting some imaginary ‘travel’ to East Timor via their textiles was a more meaningful experience. Here is a lovely East Timorese dance by children dressed in traditional cloth posted by East Timor Heart Fund. The cloth is called Sotis.
Weaver – Kay Faulkner
This type of weaving is warp faced. You don’t really see the weft and it is a relatively small contributor to the colouring in the cloth. In a little miracle I didn’t make any threading errors in a cloth with 960 ends. There is nothing like doing and learning and the pick up imagery in the Sotis work is the one that took me the longest to get the ‘feel’ for.
You can see some picture of the progress here. I am particularly fond of the type of weft wrapping you see here. Although I’ve done some of this before, it all seemed to come together. Then Kay showed me a Burmese cloth that just floored me. Such beauty and vitality. Such secrets it held. Yes cloth can hold many secrets and this is something that bonds weavers together. The pattern on the discontinuous weft patterning isn’t as easy to achieve on a western and limited shaft loom. The looms with pattern storage systems used in Asia have far more versatility to create complex patterning and patterns that are more fluid. The cloth from Burma was truly beautiful. Kay’s vast technical knowledge and her generous teaching and personal style made every minute at the loom a joy. Read more
Somehow I’m not really a wool weaver. Never have been. I’ve always enjoyed cotton, silk and cellulose and bast fibres generally. Don’t get me wrong, I love wool and like to spin with it and am into the history of wool and its success in Australia. It’s just that I didn’t have early success with it in the beginning.
So I really need a BIG push to weave in wool, especially with a wool warp. What better push than an ignorant mistake on my part. I had two beautiful blue pre-wound warps from previous releases and I hurriedly started threading one on the loom in the dim light of my lounge room one night. “This yarn is a fuzzy, funny type of cotton” I thought to myself. Some cottons are a bit fuzzy so I just continued threading away until realising, in the light of day, that I now had a lovely six metres of woollen warp on the loom – just in time for the hot summer!
Weaving circles in progress
Weaving in wool was a bit difficult in the heat but the gods had declared I must. As the blue warp was an indigo shade I knew I had to pop with hot pink, then bright mustard yellow. I used inlay to weave in circles in silk and they worked out beautifully. The main reason to weave with wool, and especially a wool warp, is the felty magic that happens to the cloth on finishing. So snuggly and warp – now just in time for winter. So maybe weaving wool in summer does make some sense after all.
Saori woven coat
The main advantage of using pre-wound warps for me, aside from hurried unplanned mistakes, is the physiological effect it has on my perception of time. With some experience a 200 thread pre-wound takes about one hour tops to thread and start weaving. Winding a warp myself doesn’t take too much longer but it feels like it does. A pre-wound warp doesn’t limit creativity because every person weaves them differently and the cloths are different looking. There is something empowering about having a couple of pre-wounds in the wings waiting for the moment to be woven. When we just want to thread and go.
I stitched up the fabric into a coat from the Fuku no Katachi ni Suru clothing book. Design number 28. The great thing about these types of simple clothing patterns is they are all so different depending on the cloth created. To modify for size, measure your back between your where you would like your armholes to be cut. To make this larger than the given size make sure the central panel for the back is wide enough and if not you can always slice some fabric lengthwise to add another panel to make it right for you. You may need to add a corresponding panel for the front and back wrap too. If you wear the coat upside down, as I have here, it looks more like a coat/tunic. Either way it’s great to wear! I love the cloth so much that I might even purposely thread a wool warp onto the loom next summer. I especially like how you can leave chopped fringing here and there with wool because the light felting/finishing process locks it in and it looks good.