Exercise 3.4 Weaving

Right from the beginning I will happily admit I enjoyed this exercise considerably more than the previous one!  I discovered a love of weaving in A Creative Approach and spent some considerable time making a rough but effective A-frame tapestry style loom but then promptly discovered the easiest way of weaving for me is a simple cardboard loom – easy to make in different sizes and cheap as chips too!

For these samples the idea was to explore a range of experimental samples as before with an emphasis on experimentation, innovation and imagination.  Unlike in the crochet/knitting samples this time I paid close attention to the course notes and worked with yarns and materials that fitted in with my theme and colour palette – due to the weaving projects from ACA I have several yarns that fitted well within my theme happily and was able to purchase some additional paper yarn and plastic string in appropriate colours.

The first sample I tried was moving on from an idea in Exercise 3.2 when I crocheted a small sample using green garden wire – I took this one stage further and added strips of a floral plastic bag woven through the sample before securing opposite corners together.

What I do find appealing is the shapes the plastic bag strips make as they are randomly woven through the wire – they create new patterns and the indication of fencing or stronger branches with foliage sprouting in spring.  I have done 3 relatively simple sketches concentrating on the curling nature of the wire as it was crocheted combined with the individual shapes of the plastic strips.  At present I am not sure where this sample could go with regards to my theme or even if I will use it at a later date but knowing that this garden wire does work up in crochet is useful due to its flexibility – it may not be firm but it does give a base that could also be woven with yarns or other materials potentially.

The  next sample I tried using rug canvas as a base – I cut a rough 4 petal shape rather than using it as a flat square/oblong and then woven through strips of lilac voile and also yarn which had been twisted into the voile. After weaving I folded the petals over into the centre before securing with an iridescent voile strip.  I do like this sample when I put it into a setting within my garden …. on its own I find it less inspiring but when it is in the contest of the place which inspired it it works well I feel.

The only difficulty I found was with ensuring the voile did not catch on the roughly cut edges – I purposefully kept the edges unfinished to give more texture and because I feel that I have chosen my garden as my place of inspiration because it is a part of my identity and life does have a tendency of throwing rough times at a person but the beautiful of life is captured with the use of voile as its contrast.  The rough edges are also a throwback to 15 months ago when this garden was nothing more than a lawn and hedges – rough and spiky with little attraction.

The next sample is one I started and immediately scrapped!  I wanted to try using some garden netting but found it too fiddly and flimsy for any real use …. I am not sure whether it was due to the ‘yarns’ I started to weave through or whether it was just never going to work.  Some experiments work well and some you just give up on …. worth trying but maybe the netting will have a use elsewhere!

At this point I was not overly happy with what I had tried and wanted to start working on things that were going to be more successful so I had a good dig through my fabrics to find some hessian.

I decided to weave muted coloured yarns in purple, pink and pale blue hues through the hessian – ok this looked like running stitch but I guess that ultimately is a woven stitch in itself!  I also removed some of the horizontal threads in order for dried lavender heads to be woven between the rows of stitches before finally adding a rough stem stitch which was woven through the lavender stalks.

The sketches are basic in their execution but still give me a rough idea of what this looks like for the future if I decided to incorporate a similar woven piece into a design …. yes I now understand why I am doing these sketches to record the samples!

I find this sample again has echoes of the beginning of this garden – lavender was one of the first plants that I wanted due to its scent and ease of growing and it is very much woven into the very structure and framework of the garden design.

I decided to try a more conventional woven sample using a dark green yarn as the warp and a combination of fabric strips, plastic string and plastic bags as the weft.

I find this sample is reflective of the varying layers of the garden – it effectively started from scrap and does encompass a mixture of purchased ‘posh’ tubs and also plastic tubs used to hold fat balls as well as tyres and old boots so the plastic bag strips are a reminder of that recycled nature that forms the foundations.  The pinks and purples are our favoured colours regarding flowers but I now realise that what is missing from my theme palette is the golden oranges and yellows of some of the nasturtiums that form a vital part of the summer for us but I also do not want to extend my colour palette either …. I like the restrained palette I have chosen.

Looking at this sample it does all feel reflective of the differing layers of my personality – some of the layers are clear and straightforward whilst others are mixed up and intertwined so I question whether this was a part of my subconscious as I worked this piece.

With regards to the sketches to record this sample I instinctively decided on the soft pastels as I felt they would reflect the soft colours and the soft pliable nature in the way that I wanted to.  I also tried a simple crayon sketch with a watercolour wash and finally a simple diagrammatic sketch using Sharpie pens …. both of these sketches could be used in different ways in design work.

I decided to raid the garden for some twigs to see if I could use as the warp ‘threads’ when combined with a variety of fabric strips, yarn and those beloved plastic bags – this was one of the most difficult pieces to work up initially due to the fact I could only hold the twigs in my hand until the yarns secured them together.

Once I had got the weaving going the piece became considerably easier to work and the result was a piece that could be bent into a narrow tube … obviously more twigs would have created a wider tube or even a spiral but I am not sure how I would be able to hold them successfully -thinking about it now a simple solution would be to push the sticks into some thick polystyrene.

As before I kept my initial sketches relatively simple but I also felt this sample was an appropriate one with which to try strips of colour paper in a collage style – this worked really successfully and I feel that this would enable me to play with different combinations of colours in the future.  I also used Inktense sticks to create a diagrammatic sketch that although it does not show the textures or the knots and loose ends of the fabric strips and yarns it does enable me to see how I can work out possible designs and ideas clearly and simply.

During the course of developing my final project design for ACA for a quilt show I built a small wooden loom to attempt a different style of weaving and felt this would be a good time to experiment with different yarns and fabrics.

This style of weaving is done by working 4 layers – the first 3 lay on top of each other and the final is woven through them.  I used a combination of yarn, plastic string, paper yarn and fabric strips – the paper yarn was the final layer and woven through with the help of a large plastic needle.

I really like the effect of this type of weaving and it would be easy to make a larger loom to create larger pieces.  My original sample for my earlier work using just yarn had a lacy effect but this combination created a new fabric which I can see being used in some capacity or developed using different combinations of yarn and fabric.  I can also see how I could make up a number of these squares which could then be sewn together to create a larger piece or if I made a combination of different sizes of loom and squares how they could be combined.

The one thing I am really not happy about is my sketches – they are too basic and too loose and really not capturing the textures of the piece – I have added a small pencil sketch just to the right of this sample as an extra to try and rectify this but feel I need to work on my sketches of my samples generally.

As I reflect on my sketches for the whole of this assignment so far I feel I need to go back to basics and practice my textural marks with a concentration on fabric textures so that I can more accurately record samples.  However I am also finding that a diagrammatic format is also working for me in terms of how I can work with design ideas in the future – I am aware I have touched on this above but this style is something I can develop or play with in terms of working out colour combinations without the distraction of the textures or materials initially before moving on to the more detailed textural sketches.

The final sample was an extra and a play with an idea – not a terribly successful one but worth recording nonetheless. At some point I had cut out a cardboard circular weaving template and decided to see how it work up with a combination of yarns …. mmm do I like it? not really but do I see possibilities? yes if I worked outward in sections rather than in a spiral format.  I am unsure of my combination of yarns due to the fact it seemed to throw the circular nature of the piece into an oval and question whether a simpler material palette may have been more effective.

September 2017:  As I prepare for assessment I have taken another look at all my samples and in particular this one – for me this was one of my most hated and unsuccessful perhaps of the whole course at the time.  However having taking the weaving of the circular cardboard loom I can see how it could be either part of a much larger piece of work or as a  stand alone piece which could perhaps take on the form of a dream catcher or mandala – my fiance suggested the mandala idea and if this was developed further or different yarns were considered I could certainly see this working.  I can also see the possibilities of smaller versions of this circular weaving being used as parts of a larger piece – these small woven ‘nuggets’ for want of a better word could range in size and from from a Dorset button, (which is woven in almost a spider web style using a circular plastic or metal ring as a support), to something more substantial with possibilities for the warp threads being worked not just in yarn but perhaps in varying thicknesses of wire to create three-dimensional forms which could become a stand-alone work.   Due to the work that followed in assignments 4 and 5 I can also now see that the sample is reminiscent of some of the fungi I have discovered, either through research or through my own explorations, with the rings of growth being clear – this gives me something to take forward in terms of design ideas and where or how this sample or concept could be used.

Overall I have found this exercise really interesting and enjoyable and am certainly happy with some of the resulting samples – in particular the one using sticks as the warp, the one done on the cardboard loom and also the one done on the square wooden loom and certainly feel I can these forward although they almost feel too conventional in their foundations.  I also love the hessian sample with the lavender woven through it and question whether this could be done with dried grasses once some are collected – is this an excuse to add a grass collection to my garden in time? or I just have a valid excuse to collect grasses I really love on trips!

The one aspect I am really not happy about and this also goes for the crochet/knitting samples is my sketching of the sample pieces – I feel they are too loose and not capturing the textures or colours of the pieces accurately enough.  I have experimented with a more loose style with less concentration on detail but merely trying to capture the idea and the essence in order to give me a the impression of the samples when doing future design work – a loose style could certainly work in the initial stages so this experimentation does have its place but I also feel I need to develop my more detailed sketches and as stated above go  back to basics and practice sketching textures and fabrics.  The more detailed sketches are needed in my sketchbook work in order to accurately record the samples and also to be able to accurately sketch possible ideas in the aforesaid design work – I am aware that over the coming weeks I can and without question will come back to some of these samples and do further sketches to try to improve this aspect which I consider a weak point.

As I think now about designers and artists – throughout this exercise I have been well aware of my love of the work of Martina Celerin who does wonderful dimensional woven pieces.

Martina Celerin. Low Tide. Pinterest

I love the way she incorporates a variety of objects into her work and how the woven pictures have a simplicity in design with a wonderful use of colour but also have that three dimensional aspect.

Laura Ellen Bacon. Photograph taking at Royal Derby Hospital

Maryanne Moody. Pinterest

Mig Holder. Derbyshire Open Arts.

I realise now too with my use of wooden sticks how one of my favourite artists has also influenced me – the work of Laura Ellen Bacon I know personally through the large scale willow sculptures at Derby Royal Hospital and a former installation at our local museum.  Laura weaves organic sculptures using willow with the forms taken on the appearance of nests or cocoons – there is an immediate impression of safety or wanting to be enclosed within these forms.  At the hospital the works have become overgrown and part of the gardens in which they are placed and as I now think about this I feel this could become something I can develop further in my own work.  Finally I have discovered the work of Maryanne Moodie and I like the appearance of some of her more muted wall-hangings which are really full of texture – colour places a lesser palette and lets the light and shadow play together with the textures in much the same way as a piece I have seen by Mig Holder which can be seen here and also in my blog:  https://janemurdockmytextilesjourney.wordpress.com/2017/05/28/derbyshire-open-arts-may-2017/ .

I am fully aware of my love of weaving but as I reflect I also love the crochet pieces of the previous exercises and do wonder how at this stage they might develop with regards to my final project for this course – there is no doubt I am favouring certain samples that have possibilities but at the same time I am not yet dismissing the samples that have not worked quite so well as ideas may yet arise from them.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Ideaform Inc. 2017.  Format magazine – 5 Textile Artists That Make Weaving Cool Again [online].  [Date accessed:  30 May 2017].  Available from:  https://www.format.com/magazine/galleries/art/contemporary-artists-weavers

Martina Cellerin. 2014.  Gallery [online].  [Date accessed:  30 May 2017].  Available from:  http://www.martinacelerin.com/index.php/gallery.html

Maryanne Moodie. (date unknown).  Commissions [online].  [Date accessed:  30 May 2017].  Available from: https://maryannemoodie.com/commissions

Pinterest.  (date unknown).  Pinterest [online].  [Date accessed:  May 2017].  Available from:  https://www.pinterest.co.uk/

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