Basket Case

I hit the wall this summer.  I was in a desert of creative ideas.  I played around with lots of media: book arts, silk fusion, beading, needle weaving and sadly spent little time at my looms.  My Macomber and Baby Wolf sat mostly empty. Only my Leclerc saw a little weaving action.  I managed to finish these few things which are now in my etsy store, MemphisWeaver.

"White Stripes" handwoven cotton scarf with warp floats

"White Stripes" handwoven cotton scarf with warp floats

"Pretty in Pink" handwoven bamboo/cotton/metallic scarf with warp floats

"Pretty in Pink" handwoven bamboo/cotton/metallic scarf with warp floats

"Purple Passion" handwoven bamboo/cotton/metallic scarf with warp floats

"Purple Passion" handwoven bamboo/cotton/metallic scarf with warp floats

"Luscious Lavender" handwoven shawl in twill weave, cotton/flax/rayon/metallic yarn

"Luscious Lavender" handwoven shawl in twill weave, cotton/flax/rayon/metallic yarn

All my weaving years I had been struggling with commercial vs. art. I wove scarves and purses in limited production to sell to those who appreciate a fine handmade object.  Though always keeping in mind price points that the market could bear. And so the time and expertise involved in the production  had to be largely ignored.  Mama, don’t let your babies grow up to be weavers. (Thanks, Willie!) Doing what you love only to be under-appreciated is frustrating indeed.

Then there it was. I was reaching for yet another medium, this time my knitting, when I noticed what my unfinished projects were sitting in:

Handwoven Papago basket

Handwoven Papago basket

Handwoven Papago basket

Handwoven Papago basket

Papago Indians live mostly in the northern desert of Sonora and Arizona.  They are known for their narrowly coiled baskets made from yucca splints. More of their baskets can be seen here. One of my best friends in college is originally from Tucson, and over the years, her family has given us these beautiful baskets.

The simple yet striking designs of these baskets reminded me of a weave structure that I favored in many of my wall hangings, but that had given way to the demands of the fashion accessories market. The weave is of Swedish origin, known as ripsmatta and often referred to as rep weave by American weavers. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed weaving this structure as the actual weaving takes very little time.  It is the designing and dressing of the loom that is most time consuming – but that is the weaving component that appeals to me most.  A few of my earlier wall hangings done in rep weave:

"Turkish Kilim" handwoven wall rug woven in rep weave

"Turkish Kilim" handwoven wall rug woven in rep weave

"Night Crawlers" handwoven wall rug woven in rep weave

"Night Crawlers" handwoven wall rug woven in rep weave

Untitled handwoven wall rug, woven in rep weave

Untitled handwoven wall rug, woven in rep weave

"Moonshadow" handwoven wall rug woven in rep weave

"Moonshadow" handwoven wall rug woven in rep weave

"Nesting" handwoven wall rug woven in rep weave

"Nesting" handwoven wall rug woven in rep weave

The Papago basket designs in their simple beauty will inspire me to weave more of these rep weave wall rugs. After revisiting my handwoven pieces, I see how much fun I had designing and weaving them.  My three looms are empty now, but not for long.  Rep weave wall rugs will be the next sensation!

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3 Responses

  1. Nice post. I totally empathize with the frustration but fwiw, your work is beautiful and the rep weave looks like a good direction. Keep on keepin’ on — as Willie might have said : )

  2. […] able to benefit from my donations.  It’s a win-win situation. This past year, I donated two rep weave wall hangings to one of these  non-profits.  Total value was for $300. No one assumed that that would be the […]

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