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Welcome to Musings – The Loom Room Blog

12 February, 2014

nature in the making

There are just two weeks to go before an amazing trip of a lifetime – two months touring, teaching and exhibiting around the wonderful place that is New Zealand!

I thought I would post a few images of the frenzy (organised, of course!) of packing, last minute weaving, revisions of lectures and workshops, and collating of stuff.  So much stuff!!  Samples of seersucker, overshot, shibori, stitched double cloth, honeycomb, and large pieces – my growth forms in different sizes and structures from 4 feet right through to 12 feet tall!  Complete with dreadlocks!               

I love the jellyfish version!  In fact, I was wondering a while ago how best to weave jellyfish after a passing comment from a marine biologist student who saw jellyfish in one of the growth forms I had hung up to photograph!  That got me thinking and about a week or two later I had worked out how I could actually weave a jellyfish.  So, imagine my surprise when one popped up when I thought I was packing a case!!

The third image is actually of three panels of a Strata wall I’ve just taken off the loom prior to going to the Launderette for wet-finishing.  It’s one of those ‘gulp’ moments.  I have no idea how the stresses and frictions of the full wash process is going to impact on the 180″ panels, and then I put them in the commercial tumble-dryers to give them another going over!

This trip is doubly exciting because it is the first major exhibition I’ve ever done.  Agnes Hauptli, friend, fellow weaver, roadtrip companion, and general all-around good egg, is showing with me.  Agnes is a fabulous colourist and I’m really looking forward to seeing her stunning multi-panel jacquard hangings of the Antelope Canyon (Arizona)and the interior of the Luray Caverns (Virginia).  She has also woven some gorgeous silk shawls picking up on the contouring of the interior of the Antelope Canyon in the amazing colours that are there in the petrified sand dunes.  She has also contributed some stalactites to the growth form installation.  So far, I have 14 different forms to hang, and hope to have a couple more (time permitting).

The exhibition, entitled ‘nature in the making’, is going to be shown at the Earth House in Peria, and then at the Arts In Oxford Gallery.  Here’s the flyer for the show:      After it has visited its two venues in New Zealand, it is going across to the US Northwest Pacific Coast, to Tacoma and the B2 Fine Art Gallery where it will be up from 19th June to 25th July.  We’re very excited about this as the Complex Weavers Seminars are being held in Tacoma this summer, and it coincides with the exhibition.

The idea for the exhibition developed during one of our biennial roadtrips around certain areas of the US.  Agnes and I both attend Complex Weavers Seminars every two years and, as Agnes is from New Zealand, and I am from the UK, we plan a roadtrip around the same time so that we can catch up, and also indulge in our love of geology and natural history.  And let’s face it – there’s plenty to see in the US!!  So in 2010, we travelled to Arizona and Utah to visit the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon and Bryce Canyon as well as seeing the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest and Monument Valley.  Sounds like a wonderful child’s book, doesn’t it??  

Two years later, we ended up under the Shenandoah and Blue Ridge Mountain Ranges in the wonderful limestone caves of Virginia.  As we sat pondering what we had seen over a meal or two, lots of ideas for how to begin to capture some of the essence of what we had experienced came bubbling up, and then we thought it would be a good idea to put on a joint exhibition.  After all, that way things might actually be woven, mightn’t they?!  Well, the idea bore fruit, and we started working on a few ideas.  Agnes invited me to be the keynote speaker to the Professional Weavers Network conference in New Zealand, and suggested I might like to do a few workshops and lectures to make it a worthwhile trip, and suddenly we had a tour on our hands!!  

A few years before hand, I had been challenged, by weavers Richard and Christine Jeryan, to put on an exhibit of my work in the US within 7 years.  I had accepted, not really expecting that the opportunity would arise.  But then, things started to fall into place.  2014 would be the seventh year, so why not give it a go with this exhibition?  Thanks to Mimi Anderson, the convener of the 2014 Complex Weavers Seminars, contacts were made and conversations were had.  Before we knew where we were, it was a goer!!

So – an amazing opportunity to travel, spend time with other weavers, see the geology of New Zealand and the US, and have a ball!!

I’ll post images and update my blog, and my facebook pages during the trip.  But in the meantime, a lot of the backstory in photos and comments are to be found on our dedicated facebook page for the exhibition, www.facebook.com/natureinthemaking  So if you are a facebook user, then please pop in and like the page and follow the story.  If not, I promise not to leave you out in the cold!!  :^))  In the meantime, we’d like to take the work to other venues, so if you have any ideas, or would like to have our exhibit at your gallery/museum, do please get in touch….  We’re hoping to take it to many different sorts of venue – geological, natural history, sealife, arboretums (?) – over a period of a few years, so we look forward to hearing from you with your suggestions.

Till next time, Happy Weaving!

 

 

23 September, 2012

Complex Weavers Seminars – Washington DC

Well, what can I say?  As ever, this was a fabulous conference held in a very stimulating city with lots of things to see and do.  And if that wasn’t enough, the Shenandoah, Blue Ridge and Appalacian Mountains are just 1 1/2 hours awayby car in northern Virginia with their stunning skyline drives, richly forested slopes, and wildlife that freely roamed, and, hidden beneath, the most amazing limestone caverns!

My imperturbable travelling companion (aka Agnes) and I were hosted by two fellow weavers, and our warmest thanks and appreciation go to Janet and Chris for having us to stay and putting up with us!  We had a wonderful road trip, albeit a bit too short for what we would have liked to have done, exploring caverns and examining rocks, as well as enjoying wonderful views over the valleys and mountain ranges in the borderlands of Virginia and West Virginia.

The results of this immersion into nature will doubtless come out in our joint exhibition in 2014 which we hope will tour three continents!  Planning got underway and we are very excited about the next year and a half.  We are going to start a separate blog devoted to the exhibition, background information and stuff nearer the time and once a few more venues have been firmed up, but for now I will say that it will be based on our excursions together in the various wilds of the US occasioned by the venues of the CW Seminars.  Our shared love for natural history is the foundation and it will be different from anything anyone has ever seen us do before, although with some input from current skills, of course!

But for now, back to CW Seminars.  What makes it so special?  Well, probably the atmosphere for starters.  Here we are, weaving enthusiasts with a high level of curiosity about many different aspects of the huge field that is weaving.  By no means is it all about shaft envy!!  In fact, CW covers the widest range of topics possible, from inkle loom weaving to jacquard weaving, from a historical perspective to the widest ranging topic of weaving around the world.  Some lectures focussed on specific structures and techniques, others on a broader scale.  The collective level of expertise is awesome, but as Carla said to me, “we may be serious about our weaving, but we don’t take ourselves seriously.”  And she’s right. So much laughter, so much sharing, and so much collective friendship!

Some of my weaving friends from the UK came for the first time, and they told me that the warmth of welcome was wonderful.  At meal times everyone eats together, and very rarely do you find yourself sitting at a table with the same people.  In fact, I try to ensure that at each meal time I sit with at least one person I’ve never met before so that I can find out about them.  I met so many first timers and it was wonderful to hear their weaving experiences and life experiences.  Some are very highly respected in the weaving world and I felt nervous about introducing myself to them.  Other people had less experience in weaving, and were curious to know more, being like absorbent sponges in this hotbed of ideas and skills.  All in all, this isthe most stimulating conference I ever get to go to because of the huge range of knowledge, skills, and experiences of the participants.

Why is this?  Well, partially I think due to the fact that all the class lecturers are from within the membership of the organisation.  And this leads to a wonderful synergy of sharing and appreciation of the knowledge and skills of others.  We are all participants in the conference – not brought in as ‘outside experts’ which I think brings its own hierarchy.  We can, and do, all learn from each other.  We may not necessarily want to use the techniques being shown to us, but we can pick up nuggets that may relate to what we do from an apparently unrelated topic.  This is where the ‘aha’ moments come in – the sideways connection from an approach we hadn’t considered.

This, to me, is one of the incredible assets from attending CW Seminars.  Sometimes, I think CW more effectively stands for Curious Weavers, because that is what we are.  Curiousity leads to new understandings and developments.  Curiousity leads to explorations and play.  Curiousity leads to greater breadth and creativity.

Huge thanks and appreciation go to the Seminars team.  Unsung heroes, who give unselfishly of their time and efforts, for over two years, but without whom the event would not happen.  May you enjoy getting back your weaving time, and also, once you have recovered from the herculean emotional and physical effort of ensuring that everything ran smoothly, appreciating what you also gained from both the working together and the incredible energy you generated to make this conference a wonderful experience for us all.  Perhaps you might also enjoy a certain amount of smugness, knowing that you did such a good job and have now passed the baton on to the organising committee for CW Seminars 2014.  I have certainly started saving for Seattle!!!

Thank you, guys!!

24 June, 2012

Reiko Sudo and Japanese Style: Sustaining Design

This week I squeezed in a visit to Ruthin, North Wales, to see the Reiko Sudo and Japanese Style: Sustaining Design exhibition before it comes down this weekend.  As with all Reiko Sudo’s work, the style is clean, interestingly hung, and descriptive.

The sight, as you walked into the gallery (which is a lovely open space with light from large windows and gallery lighting) was an abundance of elegant forms suspended from the ceiling.  The lengths of fabric had been draped over hangers in a way remeniscent of kimono draped around the neck, and fastened together at the front by a simple fabric-covered clip which allowed the fullness of the cloth to move gently in the air flow of passing people.  You were able to wander around the pieces at will, choosing your own path, to explore the work as took your fancy.

Each piece was documented with a handling piece overhanging a description of its conception or broad technical information as to method, and enlarging on this were presentations of different yarns, fibres, and concepts simply pinned directly to the gallery wall and covered in front with a sheet of perspex.  The shadows cast by the swirling yarns and fibres gave extra depth and quality to the presentation.  Simple numbers stuck to the floor under each of the fabric forms related to the technical information and handling pieces which were gathered into related groups around the walls.  Simple, clean, effective, and totally entrancing.

I went with a fellow student on my MA course who is a mixed-media sculptor, and she was as clearly engaged as I.  The larger-than-life size of the exhibit induced a feeling of openness to contemplation, an unhurried absorption of the tactility of the fabrics, the unity of the concept behind the exhibit, the attention to detail.

Alongside the textile exhibition was also an exhibition of Japanese style incorporating ceramics, Kagure, Urban Research, and architecture exploring sustainable design.  There was also a fascinating video of papermaking which I would have loved to have been able to buy as a DVD.  The ceramics featured the Hale Collection of Tohoku Ceramics, traditional ceramics from the Tohoku region collected by David and Anne Hale. They were exquisite and exuded that quintessential essence of simplicity, elegance, fitness for purpose and sheer beauty in simplicity that is what I associate with the best of Japanese design.

There were also modern-day Japanese potters showing here – Takahiro Kondo, and Shinsuke Iwami – and their work was available for sale.  Kagure, Urban Research is a Japanese ethical design initiative that specialises in working with crafts people whose practice has a strong commitment to sustainable development, and whose work reflects the traditions of the medium in which they work.  Items on display included textiles, ceramics, iron and wood, bamboo and baskets by members of the group.  Their philosophy is ‘to lead a local, sustainable life style, and a connection with the earth, even in the city’. (Taken from the exhibition programme).

In several studios within the Ruthin Craft Centre were examples of Japanese architecture from Kazuya Morita, Tono Mirai, and Studio Archi Farm.  These were very interesting and thoughtful displays of models, video and images and gave me food for thought.

My only regret is that I didn’t go earlier and participate in some of the wonderful workshops that had been held – in papermaking (Gill Wilson), shibori (Michelle Griffiths), sashiko (Michele Walker), 3D Construction and Print (Mai Thomas), and a dance performance (Sioned Huws and Reina Kimura).

However, for those of you unable to attend, at least you can buy the exhibition catalogue – ZokuZoku – to add to the growing collection of inspirational fabrics that Reiko Sudo and Nuno Fabrics have created and illustrated in their books.

17 June, 2012

The New TC2

I’ve had the most wonderful time this week in Norway with Vibeke Vestby trialling the new TC2 and looking at the looms which are going to be heading out to Convergence.  I wish I was going with them!!  These new looms are so much more elegant in appearance than the TC1 and work really well!

I was there to try some of my more loom-taxing dimension-creating weave structures on the looms to see how they would cope with non-traditional methods.  There were occasional heddles that stayed either up or down, but so few and I learnt a really cool way to allow for those.  The engineers at Tronrud Engineering are really helpful and listen to thoughts and suggestions, coming up with elegant solutions in a very short time.  I am really impressed with the set up and the willingness of the staff to improve, trial and adopt new ideas or suggestions.  It is so lovely to feel that the weaver’s experience of weaving on the loom is really valued and the user definitely comes first!

One of the issues I originally had with the TC1 was the slowness of the shed change.  The TC2 is a much faster loom and even with a single shuttle, although not up to the speeds I can achieve on my dobby loom, the weaving rhythm was smooth and swift enough for my impatience!!  When you have two or more shuttles to juggle, that speed is certainly not an issue.

I tested two looms whilst I was there – one with a mercerized cotton warp 20/2 sett at 60 epi with 2640 warp ends over a weaving width of 48″ (I think), 3 modules in the width, and 4 modules deep; and a 90 epi, 1320 hook loom (again mercerized cotton 20/2) with a weaving width of about 14″(?) approx, with 2 modules in the width, and 6 deep.  The loom action was smooth and responsive on both.

I also helped a little with the threading of a 12 module deep narrow warp sett at 180 epi.  It’s fun to watch weavers work out tips and tricks to get around a new experience, and the lateral thinking of Vibeke, Katya and Aino-Maria created a neat way to thread a loom this deep.

Vibeke will be taking 4 looms to Convergence this time, with setts varying from 30 – 180 epi, featuring 6 – 12 modules and weaving widths from 18″ – 56″.  Do go and try them out if you are at Long Beach.  I can guarantee you will find the experience enjoyable.  This is jacquard at its most friendly and approachable!  One day I plan to have my own but in the meantime, I will take any opportunity I get to weave on one!!

And did I mention that the TC2 is more affordable than the TC1??  How many more reasons do you need to try it for yourself!!

Oh – and go and check out the TC2 and TC1 facebook page which has recently been set up, and if you like what you see, click ‘Like’!  Help to spread the word about this fab new loom!!

http://www.facebook.com/ThreadControllerDWN

Happy weaving!

10 June, 2012

Graduate Textile show – Derby – Caroline Goellner

Filed under: Art,Education,Jacquard weaving,textiles,Weaving — Tags: , , — admin @ 1:00 pm

It’s the time of year for graduate shows, and I went to the University of Derby shows this week.  I was particularly interested in one weaver, Caroline Goellner, an Austrian who has only been weaving since September.

When visiting the weaving sheds to discuss getting some jacquard work woven, I wander round the looms to see what’s on and what people are doing.  Caroline’s work appealed to me right from the start.  She has used a limited colour palette of soft gold, white/monofilament, black and occasional brights.  She was using monofilament, polyamide, video tape, and silk, and was creating interesting textural and subtle structural pieces.  In her jacquard work she was looking to create dimensional movement in work that reminded me of Andela Lukanovic and using a subdued palette of greys, creams and white.

With her permission, I have included images.  I love this work and think Caroline shows great promise.  She is hoping to go on to study for a masters looking into weaving sound.  I hope she does!

http://carolaline-laline.blogspot.co.uk/ is where you can see her interactive video and read more about her.

Enjoy.

8 January, 2012

Labcraft: Digital Adventures in Contemporary Craft

This week I went on a little trip.  Around 150 miles in total.  In retrospect, I would have gone a lot further.  This exhibition is most definitely worth it!

Labcraft is a touring exhibition under the auspices of the Crafts Council. Currently, it is showing at The Civic, Barnsley.  The participants are makers from various disciplines from woodwork through textiles to jewellery and sculpture.  What they all have in common is the use of digital media to assist in the creation or design of their artifacts.  Obviously, seeing as I am a weaver, I was drawn to the woven pieces, most especially that by Philippa Brock.  I am delving in the same field as her with dimensional fabrics and her Self-Folding #1 and #2 were based on paper-folding ideas and realised through her knowledge of weave structure and a computer jacquard power-loom with the assistance of elastomeric yarn in addition to silk, organzine, paper and silver lurex.  Wonderful!

Other items that particularly caught my eye were Zachary Eastwood-Blooms’ “Information Ate My Table”,  table of beech with chunks ‘eaten’ from one corner.  I loved the humour!  I also loved seeing Gareth Neal’s “Louis” table – I remember seeing an article in Crafts on him and loved his approach to construction of furniture. Daniel O’Riordan’s “Ripple Tank Table” was also a covetable piece.

In the metalwork area, I fell for Drummond Masterton’s “Terrain Cup” which holds a topographical formation within it, and his “Decagon” which reminded me of relief maps and Chinese rice fields ranked in rows up a steep hill.  Lynne MacLachlan’s Bubble Jewellery was very topical as I’ve just read a book on the science behind soap bubbles and films!

In glass, I really loved the concept behind Geoffrey Mann’s “Cross-Fire Wine Glass, Teapot and Knife, with the shaping influenced by sound waves caused in an argument.  Who would have thought that the sounds of an argument could lead to such funky pieces?!  And Shelley Doolan’s “Iteration 512″ appealed to my love of sand dunes.  With the rippled effects happening dramatically on the back of the work, I was drawn in to see the close-up effects on the surface.  Very engaging.

Also interesting were Michael Eden’s “The Babel Vessel #1″ although I preferred another piece of his I saw at the Ceramics Biennale two years ago, and Daniel Widrig’s “Cloudlike” sculpture in polystyrene.

It’s really good to see the marriage of hi-tech digital technology with traditionally based craftsin a quality exhibition such as this.  It’s a marriage I think is particularly exciting and one that brings crafts’ contemporary relevance to a technology-savvy audience.  I was converted years ago, but this may be an exhibition that brings new people in and raises the profile of contemporary crafts.

16 October, 2011

Deep Thinking

Weavers who go beyond recipe weaving tend to be quite deep thinkers, I’ve noticed.  They are not content with following what someone else has done, but they want to tweak the threading here, and alter the treadling there, or completely revamp the tie-up.  And from there, it’s a small step to designing your own weaving drafts.

For me, that is where the excitement in weaving lies.  I have an idea, and I want to work out a way to weave it, whether that’s on a shaft loom, or a jacquard loom.

I am currently studying for a masters in weave and that is encouraging me into thinking about the reasons behind my decisions – all my decisions – not just the weaving ones.  I am having to examine why I am drawn to certain things, why weave, what underlies my desire to produce unusual or textured fabrics.  And the harder part – how to articulate that to a non-weaving audience.

This is by far the deepest thinking I’ve done on my weaving.  Before, it was enough just to want to weave volcanoes, or sand-dunes.  Now I have to delve into what is it (am I) saying?  Why do I want it to be art and not generally fabric for use?  Where should it be shown?  How should it be shown?  What context does it require in order to give the interpretation I want it to have?  What is the interpretation I want it to have?  Should this be spelt out to an audience, or inferred?  What does the viewer bring to the interpretation of the piece?  Does that have a bearing on how I would i) present the piece, ii) weave the piece, iii) design the piece?

All these questions!  At first, I resisted even trying to answer them, but I gradually realised that delving beneath the surface of things is what I do in my weaving, so I should try to apply the same principles to my reasoning.  After my first presentation to the masters group, I realised that I was speaking to a non-textile audience for the first time, and that shifted my thinking about presentations drastically.  I had to find a way of talking about weaving without being too weaverly.

I am currently working on a contextual paper, basically trying to find where I fit in the world.  How does my output and thinking fit in with an art perspective, a craft perspective, a textiles perspective and a weaving perspective.  What is my philosophy?  Whose work strikes a chord with me?  Why?  What does their work bring to my understanding?  I have to debate thoughts, not just state them.  I have to analyse why I think something, and question whether that is a valid way of looking at something.  In other words, I have to think about and question everything.

This may seem like a lot of hard work and something that you wouldn’t want to do.  However, I am learning so much through this process – about my ways of thinking, about my instincts, about relating my weaving to the wider world, about my place in the wider world.  It is making me re-evaluate and confirm or change how I feel about art in general, about crafts and their position in our lives, about what I do and how I do it.

Food for thought, indeed ….

25 September, 2011

Friends and journeys

One of the lovely things about weaving is the friends you gather from all corners of the globe.  Well, strictly speaking, there are no corners of course, but you know what I mean…

I have been focussing on my first contextual essay in my masters studies this week, and enjoying the research, but lots of hours in front of the computer is never good for you in the long run, so it was lovely to have two weaving friends from Detroit, Richard and Chris, to stop over on their way down to Cambridge and London.  We first met through Complex Weavers in 2006, and then Chris and Richard came for a jacquard course with me here in the UK prior to renovating the jacquard loom at the Henry Ford Museum in Greenfield Village, Deerfield, Michigan.  They did a superb job with the renovations and cutting cards for a coverlet which they weave in the weaving shop at the museum – well worth a visit if you’re in the vicinity of Detroit.

They also popped in to see a mutual weaving friend, Neil Warburton of Context Weavers, at his mill in Helmshore.  One of Neil’s pet projects has been the restoration of a carriage lace loom (known as coach lace in the US).  These looms have a jacquard head but weave quite narrow fabric, utilising many different techniques including cut pile weaves and loops.  These are based on the principles of weaving velvet, which I learned on my course at the Lisio Foundation in 2004 in Florence, Italy.  US weaver Barbara Setsu Pickett has devised a way of setting up a velvet creel which can be made from easily available diy hardware and put on the back of most table and floor looms, so enabling the non-jacquard weaver to weave these methods.  Richard and Chris are also really interested in carriage lace, and have an old loom in need of restoration at the Henry Ford Museum, so this visit was of mutual interest to them all.

They also visited Dan Coughlan at the Paisley Museum and Art Gallery, whom I talked about in a previous post last year.  Like me, they were bowled over by the wonderful paisley patterns and the transparent gauze weaves that Paisley mills specialised in.

It was great to catch up with them and to pour over some historic documents they have pertaining to the carriage lace loom in Michigan.  I’d love to be able to analyse the bands to see just what techniques were used.

Anyway, having waved them off, I now have to travel myself – back up to Aberdeen to collect my work from the exhibition, Fabric of the Land, which has now finished.  The exhibition may have finished, but I am basing my contextual essay on issues which came to mind whilst reading the brief, preparing work for the exhibition, and the work that was on show in the exhibition.

I love that the masters is stretching my mind in more ways than I had anticipated, and challenges me at every level, and that art throws up more questions than it answers, keeping our minds active and questioning, not allowing us to sit on our laurels or relax in assumptions.

9 May, 2011

Wonderful Weaving Worlds

A seminar day, organised by Laura Thomas, introduced by Lizzi Walton under the auspices of the Stroud International Textiles Festival is one not to be missed and I’m so glad I was there!  Laura had gathered together 5 disparate weavers, each with a fascinating story of their creative paths and output.  To start off with, Laura talked about her work, especially the acrylic resin work she is probably best known for.  Maybe not so well known, but very appropriate, is the double cloth ‘blanket’ work that she designs for Melin Tregwynt, possibly the best known weaving mill in Wales, and the work that she is doing as Artist in Residence at the Ruthin Craft Centre.  Laura is an ambassador not only for weaving, but also for Wales!

Her first invited speaker was Asha Peta Thompson.  Asha is my sort of woman – bubbly, whacky, with a lovely depracating sense of humour, and obvious enjoyment, understanding and imagination in her work.  What started out as a masters project developing multi-sensorial pieces for special educational needs in line with the National Curriculum, has now grown in many diverse ways, and Asha is now co-founder of Intelligent Textiles, a company that has developed soft switching for electronics and data management which now works closely with several military departments both in the UK and beyond, looking to reduce the burden of weight and ease of equipment usage for on-the-ground soldiers in the field of battle.  As the mother of a young man just about to go into the forces, I felt such a range of emotions seeing Asha talk about and demonstrate the amazing technology that they have managed to integrate into the very fabric of the soldier’s kit.  I just hope the British military hurries up and incorporates this into the uniforms of our soldiers quickly.  It is cheaper and much more efficient than much of the heavy kit and wiring the soldiers have to deal with currently (pun intended!)

Laura (centre) and Asha (right)

Laura (centre) and Asha (right)

After Asha’s presentation, we were all incredibly buzzed and lunch was a time to marvel and meet up with new people, and catch up with old friends.  Weavers from all spectrums were there – industrial designers, university lecturers and students, practising weavers, and enthusiasts alike – all absorbing and being inspired by the presentations.

After lunch, Kirsty McDougal, the weaving half of Dashing Tweeds, presented the story of Dashing Tweeds, the company that gives a contemporary twist to bespoke men’s tweeds with amazing colourways, unusual yanrs (including reflective) and a sense of fun.  Kirsty originally came from the Outer Hebrides and tried to move away from her tweed heritage after university (Duncan of Jordanstone), working as a jacquard designer for the likes of Louis Vuitton, Biba, and Jaegar, but it seems she was destined to come back to it in order to revamp and revolutionize it!  Kirsty has always been interested in science and maths, and is working on a project called Seismic Shifts – structural health monitoring systems for earthquake zones – in collaboration with architecture and Nanoforce.  I would have loved to have heard more about that, but she can’t say much at the moment…..  Ah – tantalising!

Kirsty was then followed by Melissa French – one of the Puff & Flock collective created by the members of Central St Martin’s Textiles Future MA programme.  Melissa talked about her MA project – partial upholstering of outdoor furniture, using cotton warps with silver, iron and copper wefts – which was intriguing, and then about the creation and development of Puff & Flock.

After a short break, the final speaker was Ptolemy Mann.  Ptolemy is well known for her ikat-woven pieces with their jewel colour fields, and she has recently been working on a series of Monoliths.  But she was there, hotfoot from Collect, to talk about the colour consultancy work she does with architects and how that is closely related to her weaving.  I found her whole approach fascinating and logical, and it gives me hope that our public buildings can be transformed by imaginative use of colour right from the start, with integrated thinking between the teams responsible for external cladding and internal decoration.  It was clear from the very professional appearance of all the design work that Ptolemy is an expert in putting her ideas across and she speaks the language of the architects, which is the only way that such strides are made in public works.

After the seminars, there was just time to squeeze in two open studio visits to Tim Parry-Williams and Matthew Harris, both of whom live in Stroud and had kept their studios open late for us to get the chance to see them.

Tim at loom

Tim at loom

Matthew's studio

Matthew's studio

A really stimulating day…..

20 March, 2011

Accumulated Stash

Filed under: Jacquard weaving,Life,Psychology,Weaving — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 1:00 pm

I was doing a little tidying of my workshop, just clearing out the area under the stairs today.  Wow.  Isn’t it amazing just how much stuff we accumulate?!

It got me seriously alarmed as I pulled things out and took them outside so i could sort them into piles of keep, recycle, sell, and throw.  The more I worked through the pile, the more stuff found itself on the throw pile.  It just kept coming!!

I stopped for a cup of tea and started looking round my studio, wondering if I ever had to relocate, what would I do with everything?

It’s a known truism (not sure that it’s a fact) that we accumulate stuff to fill all the available space.  Well, in my case, that is so true!  And what a worry…

My Dad is in the throes of clearing out the house that he shared with my mum for over 35 years, in preparation for moving north to be with his second wife.  Both Mum and Dad were hoarders – a product of being brought up in the war years when you grabbed anything that came on the market quickly before it disappeared.  That I understand. The job is going to take him the best part of a year at least.

I had never thought of myself as a hoarder – not an dyed-in-the-wool hoarder, anyway – until today when I looked around and really looked at my stuff. Most of us fibrey people collect things and are given things, and we are so hesitant to pass them on or get rid of them.  Having been weaving for 20 years this year, I have a 20-year hoard!  Yikes.

So right now, I am contemplating what I really need.  What do my students really need?  Can I simplify things and pare my stuff down over the next few months?  I like to use stash anyway, so that’s not really a problem until I go somewhere like the Handweavers’ Studio!!  Like many of you, I probably have enough yarn to stock a small shop!

I find this kind of scenario can be very stimulating.  It gets you to focus on what’s important in your life and to clear away the excess baggage that seems to pile up so easily.  For instance, I have a cold mangle that I bought ages ago and have used once!  Why am I hanging on to it?  Does anyone in the UK want a good old-fashioned cold mangle?

Oh yes, and there’s an industrial jacquard power-loom too…..  Buyer collects!! (And bring a low-loader!) LOL

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