This weekend saw the end of another fantastic workshop in the studio here at Old Bar. It’s always a bit lonely going back to my empty studio after such a flurry of creative energy…but then I have all that yarn to get weaving with!
Deb is the co-chair for the Alice Springs Beanie Festival. A distinctly and uniquely Australian invention which has that wildfire effect on everyone who encounters it. So, of course, she wove a beanie and it was stitched with the new Saori bias technique. Such a versatile and easy sewing technique for all sorts of clothing and beanies. See mini workshop details for January.
Glenda’s completed weave
Yet another magical workshop came to a close too quickly over the weekend. Several of the participants were Sturtees and returnees.
Ordering and threading the buttons
Daisy came to work on a special buttony weave which incorporated her mother’s buttons in a bed runner. Rather than stitch them onto the two metre plus cloth after weaving it, we decided to have the buttons threaded onto a warp thread which could be woven with each row and the buttons positioned as she went.
The buttons could also be positioned with the weft but I think the warp idea went better. A large shuttle full of many large buttons were a bit of a ‘danger’ in that movement usually twisted them around each other, so Daisy used a paper sleeve to protect them and the shuttle was left on top of the shelf. The buttons were stopped from falling with a little peg and just bought down as needed. She did very well indeed. Read more
On the Japan textile tour we met many weavers of different cloth. This particular business in Kyoto was well established and were famed for their ‘cloth of light’. This cloth was filled with light which could be clearly seen when a flash light was directed at the cloth. Very beautiful indeed and the photos I have below don’t do them justice at all. Their weavers also wove with metal which was adhered to paper somehow.
Several generations of weavers have established the company products and Koho Tatsumura is well known for his work. His son Amane Tatsumura guided us through the studio and we were able to see many of the manual jacquard looms which are still used. These are used with specific punchcards to lift sheds for the patterning. You can closely see the initial development of computers with the punchcards being a foundation for binary code. I am old enough to remember the computer rooms housing punch cards and their operators, so punchcards are always a thing of great fascination for me, especially in weaving.
In the video you can see the weaver’s skill and watch his very delicate hand actions when preparing the metal threads for the weaving. Our touch and hold of objects in our craft is so mesmerizing to watch. Just slight actions make alot of difference in weaving and all other manual skills.
Another workshop in the weekend inspired fresh ideas in the studio. It’s like ‘there’s nothing new’- but there is, at least to me. Ruth and Anna came equipped with their own yarn ways and ready to re-purpose jewellery in their work. Diane wove a bag textile enhancing the jute textures throughout the cloth featuring pops of colours, and Sue began with a ‘ yarn dance’ for the wall but then seemed to be working towards wearable cloth as the weaving process and rhythm took over.
Just what our cloth is for is often separated from the actual weaving process in the Saori free style and sometimes accidental, serendipitous approach we take. We can’t help planning, but as we are ‘planning’ as we weave it can force us to let go of the strong desire to control the outcome. Read more
Seems silly but this is what yarn people do. We travel around to see this! Yarn in all its forms, even just lying around huddled in a simple basket (yet another form of enticing interlacing in itself). This was part of the magic at one of our workshops. Looks rather like my bunch of left over threads near my looms, but still – I photographed it with enthusiasm.
My brother once said that if he had knew about the wonders of volcanos he would have been the smartest kid at his school. Meaning… school didn’t trigger that stirring of passion about something. He had to wait until volcanos and their fascination came to him. It’s the same with weaving for me. It’s been a way of seeing the world and learning about the world around me. And as we are all involved in cloth in some from birth to death, it’s a good one for learning about culture and societies.
Ferry hopping to Naoshima Art Island
Along the way the thirst for cloth reveals other delights especially the natural world and this is what I like about Australia and anywhere I go. On our Japan tour we included all of the art projects at Naoshima Art Island in the Seto Inland Sea. Just getting there is a lovely adventure into a vastly different world to mine. As an Australian I am continually challenged by the people factor in other countries. The inland sea and ferry looked a little like the ferry to Bruny Island in Tasmania in some ways. There you have a feeling of being in a very natural and unpopulated environment. You don’t expect to see any industry, cities or infrastructure. The idea is just out of my understanding! In contrast, Naoshima Island has a small population of 3500 and although there are plenty of natural areas in the inland sea there’s also a lot of activity, industry, ships and towns. On the tour we travelled by ferry, plane, bus, train and foot but I think ferry hopping to islands is the most exhilarating. Islands have a mystique. Next I’d really like to discover more about the whole beautiful area in Seto, the inland sea. Read more
I wasn’t sure what I would learn at Saori no Mori on this stay. But, as usual, it exceeded my expectations. The small things here and there at every turn join up into one big joy of ‘what is cloth?’ and what is our role in bringing it to life.
This cloth here is bending the idea of width. It doesn’t have to stay the same thoughout the woven length but can ‘bend’ in and out, then back again. When you get weaving you eventually feel just how much yarn needs to be in the shed to prevent edges being uneven or pulling in. This amount varies greatly depending on what you are weaving with. For example, in tapestry and weft covered frame loom weaving it is quite pronounced. In cloth weaving it is less so. It’s nice when you get it and it just flows. Not that I’m worried about edges particularly but skill in this just happens as you experience and learn more.
Now take that amount of perfect weft amount for your next row and add a bit more…perhaps by making the angle of the yarn higher or the arc higher, just a bit. Weave a bit more like that then add just a bit more again. Continue as you need to increase the width of the fabric, then reverse the process to return gradually to the normal width. You can measure to prove the process if you’re inclined.
Well that really gets some life into the cloth.
The second photo is Hiromi’s top with a little ruffle. This is a mini ruffle added at the edge of the cloth while weaving. Just adding a handful of threads to the edge and weaving it with a much looser tension created a very different styling to the wider warp ruffles. Another little Saori touch.
Cotton planted by local school children
How exciting is this. Cotton plants welcoming visitors to a cotton Kasuri weaving studio. This studio is in Okayama prefecture which seemed to reveal more cultural and textile riches as we journeyed into it.
Reaching it after a short walk through the narrow streets of the town we come to a place which signals ‘textile’ with the cotton plants. This small studio was abuzz with inspiration and the obvious heartfelt devotion and enthusiasm of the lead weaver Mrs Hinagawa. With the support and encouragement of their local area government, this craft centre also teaches the area’s revived Kasuri weaving. The mission of the group is to continue the revival of this type of Kasuri cotton weaving, teaching it and passing it on, creating local specialty products from the workshop and to enhance activity and vibrance in the town.
As we enter there is a manual cotton ginning process shown to us as the basis for the cloth production. The studio is full of looms in action with various styles and levels of complexity of Kasuri in progress. Some of the travellers got to weave on the looms which are also produced in the Perfecture. In this way we encountered much localism and pride in local traditions in Japan. A sense of meaning in retaining skills and processes and support for it. This is something that is difficult in Australia and although there are pockets of it, such as in Tasmania and some industries, it is generally weaker possibly connected to our particular social and political history which values different things. Even so, it is very encouraging to see anywhere and if it’s in my line of interest, even better.
Down Under Textiles 25 is now on sale with lots of ideas and inspiration on textiles. My column is about the Human Touch and how textiles connect us and are for everyone.
Errata: The photo caption of Marie is incorrect. The photo is of Maria, a Saori weaver.