Thursday, February 18, 2010

slow cloth



I have not had a consistently disciplined weaving practice for the last year and a half, a habit which I am now trying to re-instill. Being the intuitive artistic type (!) I am of course following the path that the inner muse is telling me to follow, which involves images and processes which are highly meditative and slow to achieve. As opposed to, say, images like the barn series of 2-3 years ago, when a weaving would take a record short time to achieve because of the extremely simple subject matter (whoa -- before you call that "easy" remember that the simpler it is, the more it needs to be dead-on in color or composition. You can't hide misjudgments in a flurry of detail in weavings like those!) I am working on landscape images which are amorphous but require a level of detail and suspended attention that shaping form, as in the more image-oriented work, does not.

I set off inspired to weave a line of trees I had seen in Washington state, lovely and serene, and also a waterline in my head. As I often do I merged the subjects in a way that one warp will serve both. Warp winding can be a highly creative time: it is when decisions about color and thread, which are unchangeable, are made, which set the tone of the work to be woven. I felt optimistic that day and reached for curly mohair -- I always use smooth 2/18s worsted for my warps but I felt courageous and thought this mohair would change the surface of the work in a positive way and add to the content immeasurably. I also used a random striping method rather than the measured, counted stripes I usually employ, which meant dropping and picking up fine color threads as I wound, and paying total attention rather than letting my mind wander while merely keeping count.

Then over to the loom. Here you go, experienced weavers, you can roll your eyes now, as I warp front to back and let the reed comb out the warp, dispensing with the fuss of lease sticks & raddles. It is a slow and painstaking process but it is what I do. But those of you with experience would shriek at the idea of working with CURLY mohair this way. It took me four days to wind on -- days when I employed every yogic meditative zone I could to keep focus without freaking out. I also used an aerosol shine spray for hair to reduce tangling, clever me!

So, like all difficult patches in life, the memory of the pain is receding and I am weaving away at last -- though I ran out of the linen floss I was using and now have to wait for more to arrive -- and I have precious little to post in the way of photos, just one poor shot of the mess as I wound it on without any real details to show you my fabulous patience. But when these 2 pieces are done I will be very happy and perhaps they will be worth the effort expended.

3 comments:

Jennifer said...

I'm sure it will be beautiful and I hope you will love it for all this effort!

J. Austin - said...

WOW! I thought I was the only one who warped like this! I've always been embarassed to admit that I don't make a cross. Before taking up tapestry, I wove shawls and scarves, and I always liked to use a handful of different yarns, and not in a repeating order. The untangling at the reed can be soothing, but sometimes it's brutal, as I can imagine with your mohair. It looks really great.

LFN Textiles said...

no cross??? wow, that is impressive. I don't think I could dare work w/o that -- but I find that if you make bundles of each color (cross included) and then randomly thread your way across the reed with each color, one at a time, it is a rapid way to to work spontaneously.