Next Stop: Art and Soul

The first annual celebration of fine craft presented by the Memphis Association of Craft Artists and Christian Brothers University was a great success! Over the three day period of the show, there were  approximately 900 visitors.  Of course, it would have been nice if we had more folks to crowd the arena, but this was the first year of the fair, and now we’ll know to step up the advertising end of the show production for 2010.  Without the hard work of the staff and faculty of Christian Brothers University and the many volunteers of MACA, we could not have pulled it off.  Thank you, everyone for your time and dedication for such a worthy project.  The silent auction of items donated by MACA artists and some community businesses was able to raise a very nice sum that will go toward the scholarship fund for students planning to major in the newly designed B.F.A. program in Fine Arts at the University.

Since weaving seems to be a stepchild of the craft community, the show provided a very nice opportunity to educate visitors about the weaving process and display the finished products.  Here is a photo of my booth at the Celebration of Fine Craft:

MemphisWeaver's booth of handwoven items

MemphisWeaver's booth of handwoven items

My handwoven items will be for sale at another craft fair this upcoming weekend, May 1, 2 and 3. This is the 38th annual Tennessee Craft Fair at Nashville’s Centennial Park. My work will be represented in the MACA booth which will be in the tent for TACA’s regional  chapters.  In addition to my handwovens, MACA artists represented in the chapter booth will include a potter, polymer clay artist, glass jeweler, and a wood turner.

Last weekend was also the “Lacy Summer Scarf” weaving workshop at the Memphis Botanic Garden.  It was a full class of 9 students, all beginning weavers, learning to weave a scarf on rigid heddle looms.  Here is a detail of the sample scarf that students wove:

Cotton/Rayon/Flax open weave scarf

Cotton/Rayon/Flax open weave scarf

There were many creative students in the class and several designed their own lace patterns.  I was so proud of this group, as many were master gardeners and more accustomed to burying their hands in a pile of mulch rather than a soft ball of cotton yarn! Great job everyone!

Students in rigid heddle weaving class

Students in rigid heddle weaving class

Now after several months of weaving for shows and fairs, and preparing class material for weaving classes, I am preparing to go on an art retreat.  For the next few days I will be at the Art and Soul Retreat in Hampton, VA.

Art and Soul 2009

Art and Soul 2009

I will be taking two workshops with Asheville, NC  based book artist, Daniel Essig.  One is  a two day workshop — “Book of  Mica” and the other is an evening workshop — “Mica Cover – Herring Bone Binding”.  I am really excited and looking forward to not only learning new techniques from a renowned sculptural book artist, but also to work with a new material.  This is an excerpt from the 2 day class description:  Mica or bookstone is a silicate mineral found throughout the world.  This workshop will push beyond using mica just as an element in book arts. The material will be so different from the handwoven fabric that I like to incorporate into my handbound books, and that is a very exciting prospect for me.

I will take this class with my friend, Theano, who will be coming down from the Baltimore area to meet me at the art retreat.  We had met at another workshop,  Shakerag, about 3 years ago.  That was my first introduction to book arts, and what an introduction!  The class was called “The Voluminous Page” and the instructor was none other than the brilliant book arts pioneer, Hedi Kyle. I came into the workshop not knowing anything about book arts, but Hedi helped me fall in love with the process and inspired me to think about how I can incorporate my handwoven textiles into a handbound book.    The possibilities are endless.

Upon my return from Art and Soul – this year’s theme is Rock and Roll –  I will hopefully have some handbound books to post and pictures of the workshop.  Stay tuned!


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Scarf Update

My last post had a  photo of the 5 warp chains that I managed to prepare during my week of being stranded.  I was able to warp my Leclerc 4 harness floor loom with the turquoise warp.  The weave structure is plain weave with warp floats of a bulky slubby cotton yarn.  The warp is a 16/2 cotton that was gifted to me.  I fell in love with the rich turquoise color of this yarn but while warping, several threads broke.  Clearly this yarn was not strong enough to withstand a long warp.  With a bit of tweaking and keeping a close eye on the brake while tensioning, I was able to wrestle control of this yarn. It was worth it.  I used Bambu 7 (there it is again, I love the stuff!) from Woodland Woolworks in the weft.  Bamboo yarn is a bit slippery especially when using it as both warp and weft, but combined with another non-slippery yarn, it weaves easily, and provides a  lovely drape.

cotton and bamboo scarf on the loom

cotton and bamboo scarf on the loom

The warp floats of the slub cotton gives the scarf added texture and color.  The bamboo weaves very quickly.  There is enough warp — 5 yards —  to weave two 72″ long scarves with about 4″ of fringe at each end.  These scarves will be the last projects I will complete before the “Celebration of Fine Craft”, a 3 day show and marketplace at Christian Brothers University in Memphis.  It takes place this Thursday, Friday and Saturday, April 17 – 19. The hours are 10 AM – 7:30 PM Friday including an opening reception beginning at 5:30, 9 AM – 6 PM Saturday, and 12 PM to 5 PM Sunday.  Memphis Association of Craft Artists is partnering with the University to sponsor the fair with the intention of it becoming an annual tradition.

MACA show and marketplace postcard

MACA show and marketplace postcard

There will be over 35 local craft artists showing and selling their products.  Media represented include pottery, jewelry, wood, fiber, clay and metal.  I will be the only weaver there!  The fine art students will be hosting a silent auction of fine craft items donated by the artists to benefit the Fine Art Department’s scholarship fund.

My next projects are just waiting in the wings.  The UPS truck just delivered this:

11 cones of cotton/rayon flax yarn for my next project

11 cones of cotton/rayon/flax yarn for my next project

And, look at this  fine bottle of wine waiting for me.  Love the graphics on the label!

Luchador, a 2006 shiraz

Luchador, a 2006 shiraz from South Australia

Cheers!

Chains of Woe

When my Volvo died some time ago, I inherited an ancient Ford Taurus from a family member.  It was gold, and I dubbed it “the old man’s car”.  So it was not a surprise that the Taurus took a vacation away from me and spent last week in the repair shop. Being marooned in my home based weaving studio allowed me to prepare a number of warps in anticipation of weaving lightweight summer scarves.

I was able to wind 5 warp chains of 5 yards each so that I could weave 2 scarves from each warp.

5 warp chains for scarves

5 warp chains for scarves

I use a warping reel to wind my warps.  I find that it goes a lot quicker than using a warping board, and there is less of a chance for error.  I also use “pony poppers” to wrap around the entire bundle of yarn before taking the warp off of the reel and before chaining.  Pony poppers are hair accessories that look like elastic bands with 2 beads attached.  They are used for holding pony tails for little girls.  Pony poppers are a lot easier to use for securing a warp than cutting and tying a bunch of choke ties out of junk yarn.  Definitely a time saver.

The scarves are wound from cotton, rayon or bambu yarns with a heavier cotton knitting yarn inserted every 1/2 inch in the warp. Those of you familiar with my previous posts, know that I am a fan of Bambu 7 yarn from Woodland Woolworks. It is soft, lustrous and drapes beautifully.  It is also available in different weights.

These warp chains will eventually make their way to one of my multi-harness floor looms.  My plan is to weave lightweight  scarves with the heavier knitting yarn providing some contrast in both color and texture.  The bright turquoise cotton and bambu warp will be the first to go on my loom. Stay tuned to follow the weaving progress of  these scarves and possibly other tales of woe about the old man’s car!

Leno vs. Mock Leno

The weave structure ” leno” shares its name with a popular late night tv talk show host. Of course, there’s the difference in pronunciation, and the fact that woven leno (LEE-no) has been around much longer. Though in my 30 years of weaving, I’ve known few weavers who have actually woven leno.  It probably has to do with the time consuming set up on the loom.  Leno, to those who aren’t familiar with the weave, is an open, lacy weave structure that is produced from two or more warp threads that are twisted around each other. There is a very thorough article in the Winter 2008 issue of  weavezine.com that describes the loom set up for leno by using “doups” or yarn loops to wrap around the warp threads and twist them during weaving.

Leno can also be woven on a rigid heddle loom. The leno scarf below was woven on a Schacht rigid  heddle loom.

Leno scarf woven on rigid heddle loom

Leno scarf woven on rigid heddle loom

The warp consisted of two yarns:  a smooth bamboo, Bambu 7 from Woodland Woolworks, and a nubby rayon yarn from my stash.  The weft was the rayon by itself.  I followed Rowena Hart’s instructions in The Ashford Book of Rigid Heddle Weaving to set up the rigid heddle loom for leno lace weaving.  The rigid heddle itself is not used to create the sheds, it is only used to space the warp threads and for beating.  Instead, the sheds are created by using a pick up stick behind the heddle,  and  string heddles  attached to a dowel are used for the alternating shed. The twisting together of the warp threads occur behind the rigid heddle. In this way, the weaving goes a bit slowly, but I really love the open weave and texture of the end result.

Rowena Hart's The Ashford Book of Rigid Heddle Weaving

Rowena Hart's The Ashford Book of Rigid Heddle Weaving

Now I wanted to weave a leno lace on my four harness floor loom, but I didn’t have the time nor patience to try the doup or bead leno technique to twist the warp yarns together.  I saw that in Marguerite Davison’s A Handweaver’s Pattern Book, there was such a thing called “mock leno”.  It is considered a “canvas weave” because the open weave of the fabric resembles needlepoint canvas.  The lacy effect is produced by a combination of treadling sequence and grouped warp threads alternating with empty dents in the reed.

My ancient copy of Davison's A Handweavers Pattern Book

My ancient copy of Davison's A Handweavers Pattern Book

I adapted Davison’s pattern for “Canvas Weave Spots” by grouping three warp threads in one dent in the reed, and threading them through separate heddles in harnesses 2-1-2, then 4-3-4.  There was one empty dent between each group of 3 warp threads.  The tabby structure between the leno “stripes” was threaded in harnesses 2-4.  As for treadling, I followed Davison’s short and sweet pattern of raising these harness in the following sequence:   1-4, 1-2, 1-4 then 2-3, 3-4, 2-3. Easy to remember and made for quick weaving! This is the result — still on my loom!

Mock leno woven on a 4 harness loom

Mock leno woven on a 4 harness loom

The warp here is the same bamboo as the leno scarf, and the weft is the same nubby rayon yarn used in the first scarf. The open areas of the lace are not as open as the true leno woven scarf, but they look more stable.  I also added the tabby sections, because I was afraid that the tension on leno lace stripes would be compromised and become too loose.  I’m almost done weaving this 5 yard warp, and I have had no tension problems at all. The next time I try mock leno I might weave wider leno lace stripes so that the fabric would be more similar to that of the first scarf.

The lacy effect of the mock leno, though not exactly resembling a true leno weave,  does have a comparable look.  The weaving on the 4 harness loom goes very quickly and other than the usual warping process, there is no additional set up while threading the loom.  So for a lacy open weave look, mock leno on a four harness loom is definitely a fast and effective alternative to the more traditional doup or bead leno.