Monday, June 6, 2022

Exploring Together

stone art on beach
Each year the Exploring More group picks a topic that will guide their shared studies.  This past year the group decided to consider "designing from inspiration" rather than working on weave structure.  After much discussion the concept of "traces" was chosen as the inspiration.

Traces are those remainders or distrubances of the natural environment that signify that something or someone existed in a place and time but is now gone.  The memory of their passage can be found in deliberate modifications (a stone grouping) or the incidental change in the environment (a broken twig).

This was a difficult challenge at first. It took some time to move from the general concept of "traces" to a concrete concept that could be translated into purpose, materials and weave structure.  It helped to have a group to share ideas with.  In spite of the sharing the final results are quite different interpretations of the same theme.

Kus-Kus-Sum fish trap

The inspiration for this scarf, in a mixture of yarns, was the remains of an aboriginal fish trap in the Kus-Kus-Sum watershed.  The undulating twill pattern mimics the outline of the fish trap.  The weaver had visited the site during its restoration. 

bird's nest
A second member of the group was inspired by an old bird's nest.  The nest was made out of bits of vegitation so the weaver decided to use a mix of textured cellulose fibres that she dyed with natural materials.  She wove two scarves in neutral shades.

bird's nest scarves

receding fence posts

fence &tumbleweed
A scene with a set of old fence posts receding into the distance became the basis for a set of stripes in a tea towel design.  The cotton tea towels were done in crackle. 

 But the weaver had also seen some tumbleweed caught on the fence and that inspired a silk shawl in a tied weaver (Bergman).  The surface has a fine diamond pattern characteritic of a Begman piece.


digging for clams

disappearing crow tracks

The next piece was inspired by a walk on the beach during low tide.
The exposed sand carries traces of many creatures that roam the intertidal area including people and pets.

Some of the most fascinating characters are the crows that scavenge and dig for clams.  But soon the tide turns and the creeping water slowly obliterates all traces of activity.

The photo inspired a long runner in summer and winter.  The tracks gradually fade towards the end of the piece.

Some traces are more permanent than foot prints in the sand.  They may only be a hint of the original source but they remain as stories, cultural influences, a hint of likeness or even the stuff of life itself, DNA.
The next series of pieces evolved from an interest in family origins and genetic testing.  The weaver was curious about her forebearers and had learned that her DNA profile included links to England, Scotland and Ireland.  She decided to weave a series of heirloom linen table mats using a modified satin threading.  She chose white, blue and green to represent the mixing of genes. 

The Scottish linen towel in blue

silver trails
Sometimes we see beauty in things that wouldn't normally be viewed as a positive thing.  Take for example the next scarf with silver white in-lay.  This item was inspired by the sun glinting off a slug slime trail across a black garden mat.  We might be too busy hunting down the pest to stop and admire the shiney silver stripe it left behind.

The final piece represents something of world wide concern, the melting of polar glaciers.  Glaciers once covered much of this earth where only traces of their existance can be seen as a morain, scour marks on bedrock and submerged land bridges.  The rate of melting is increased in the presence of snow algae that create red rings or water melon ice.  This prompted the colours in a huck lace tea towel, dark blue for the ocean, red for the algae and white for the remaing ice.  The white/blue mix represents the melting water moving into the ocean.

watermelon ice detail

The Exploring More study group has turned its attention to a new topic.  What can you weave when you combine the effects of a weave structure with yarns that have different elasticity, energy or shrinkage???  Look forward to seeing, puckers, bumps, pleats and more surface effects.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Intrepid Beginners


beginner's mug rugs
After a brief hiatus due to Covid our beginner harness loom weaving classes have returned.  We keep the class size small so that each student has their own loom and plenty of one on one instruction.  The beginner program covers the very basics.  

making their first warps

They learn to turn a cone of yarn into an ordered set of threads (the warp) then to dress the loom with that warp.

Once the mystery of tying knots, sleying heddles and rolling on has been demystified they get to stomp on treadles and throw shuttles.

mug rugs

Then the magic happens.  They make cloth, their own unique cloth.  Well, they make mug rugs.  But the size of the piece doesn't matter.  It's the thrill of exploring combinations of yarns and colours to create a fabric that is your personal expression of textile art.  That is why we weave.  Mug rugs can be thick and colourful, subdued with stuble patterning or natural and textured.  

more mug rugs

Our beginner groups have been so keen this year that we offered a beginner level 2 that allows students to build on their knowledge and explore pattern and different designs.  They learned to create more complex warps, work on designs for stripes and even look at different weave structures.
stripes in warp & weft

After the instructional part of the workshop students have time to work on their individual pieces.  Normally there is plenty of time to weave but recently work was interupted by a massive power failure.  Our keen class decided to weave on by the light coming through the doorway and windows and with the help of a useful accessory.  Note the warm clothing.  It was cold as well as dark.

Weaving accessories, head lamp and mitts

twill & waffle weave

But now a different beginner group has taken over the studio.  Knitters!   

beginning to knit

not a mug rug