With Cresside Collette at her intermediate workshop at the Australian Tapestry Workshop on 13 and 14 June:
I bit off a bit more than I could chew on this one – in my haste to get a full 20×15 cm done in two days I made a number of errors. There are several instances of jumped warps and I probably spent too much effort on the blue and green soumak ‘whip-lashes’. But overall I am pleased to have got some decent colour gradation going on, which was the focus of the workshop. Thanks, Cresside!
With Julie Mcenerny at her Watercolour Pencil Botanic Drawing workshop at the Cairns Botanic Gardens on 1 July:
Not quite A3 size, this drawing of jackfruit again a bit too large to let me get it to an adequate state in the five hours available – I had to skimp on the smaller fruit and the buds. Next time I’ve got to remember to keep the scale small.
Untutored life-drawing group meeting at James Cook University, 27 June:
Not really competition for Henry Moore!
Life-drawing group, 4 July:
Ok for a quickie.
A folded bean-stuffed heat bag – capturing the texture:
… with one eye on the TV!
A mixture of soumak (i-open, ii – alternate closed and open with staggered rows), half-hitches over the next warp (giving the knot to the front), vertical wraps on two warps (essentially a sort of climbing open soumak), and loops. These are standard loops – i.e. they are supported only by subsequent packing, and can be pulled out from the rear. I’ve since realised one can lock them in by looping back under the previous warp.
The plan is to have hems top and bottom, so no braids will show. Once off loom and all sewn down, the ideas is to cut the looped areas and have patches of tufted pile.
I had wanted to try some texture in a fairly simple yet bold piece. Fossicked through the old photo file and came up with this b/w version of a lost colour original:
However I had worked on the lost original and still had this cropped, chopped and colour-manipulated image:
And its reversal:
I thought I’d go with the middle image above – the red-green reduction.
I wanted to use my current large loom – the steel one from Warrnambool, open frame space: width 20.5” ( say 51 cm), height 28” (say 71cm). I didn’t want to work too close to the top of the frame as I usually have a lot of tension on the warps (it becomes very tight indeed as one moves up the loom), so I thought I’d work to a height of piece of about 17” (say 43 cm). Taking into account that the floor would be a little under 3” (about 7cm) above the base bar, that would mean working two-thirds up the loom. Should still be possible.
Further, looking at the lay of the verticals and horizontals, I’d need to weave the piece on its side:
This then dictated dimensions of, width 11” (27.5 cm) and height 17” (42.5 cm).
Looking at the occasional thin colour bands of reds and yellows, I reckoned I could manage them with an epi of 8 (13 in 4 cm). I think this was my major error, and instead of my newly arrived 3×4 (12 thread) Glenora warp at 8 epi, I should have used the Ashford, which, as far as I can pick it apart, seems to be 3×2 (6 threads), and on Archie Brennan’s test (number of wraps per centimetre gives warps per inch) would have given me an epi of 11 (17.5 in 4 cm:35 in 8 cm).
The reduced flexibility at 8 epi led me to oversimplify and exaggerate. The following is the current state of play – leaf 1 completed:
The little purplish patches in the blue are blobs of open soumak. The yellowish-gold leaf outlines and central rib can be seen either as half-hitches with the knot pulled frontwards or as closed soumak on two warps, and the red or bronze leaf outlines and central rib are closed soumak across three warps, returning on the alternate warps.
The leaf side-ribbing is half-hitched, and particularly on the top-side (the bronzed side) it has burst the banks, as it were, and is too blatant and bubbly. I attribute this to a combination of too thick thread (too much in the mix) and clumsy knotting, often inconsistent in direction round the warps.
Unless persuaded otherwise I will probably close this piece off at this point with a double row of half-hitches.
Currently it’s still sitting on the loom – seen here with the cartoon mounted:
I had begun measuring out the warp for my next project when, much to my surprise I got to the end of my 12/12 Glenora cotton warp, and not yet half-way through. A phone call to Christine at Glenora Weaving (02 4234 0422), and hopefully 750 metres will arrive in the next few days.
But meanwhile, there are all those leftover tidyings up that one never seems to get around to. For instance, the need for a haircut and braiding at the back of The Forest Below:
And after that I’ve got to ball up the third skein of rather lovely silk I got at one of the little places on Salamanca, Hobart, last year. Just balled up the first two over the last couple of days. There must be a kilometre of winding in those skeins – next time I’ll have to try and improvise a swift. And then, still more braiding and finishing of my two white monochrome bits.
As to my next project – once the warp arrives I’ll begin documenting it.
My next piece had been planned to be in monochrome with emphasis on textures. But what textures? I decided to do a sampler.
Texture can be added in four main ways (considering here only flat-weave):
- by warp wrapping – which is the basis for the Soumak technique,
- by the insertion of supplementary wefts,
- by looping, such as a continuous, uncut ‘rya’,
- by a combination of the above.
I wove 12 soumak variations, based on the examples in Mette Lise Rossing’s ‘The Threads Course in Tapestry’. The sampler is very small: width 15 cm (6”), height 10 cm (4”). In the list below the block type gives the corresponding paragraph number in Mette Lise Rossing.
Reading from the bottom up there is
- mlr 75 open soumak, one pass, ;
- mlr 77 closed soumak, one pass;
- mlr 78 open soumak, one pick, closed soumak one pick, open soumak one pick;
- mlr 82 double open soumak, one pass, notated as forward 3 back 2 or 1/3/2;
- mlr 84 double closed soumak, one pass, 1/3/2;
- variation on mlr 79-81 extended open soumak, one pass, 1/5/3, so with overlap;
- variation on mlr 79-81 extended closed soumak, one pass, 1/6/2, so no overlap;
- mlr 91 double closed soumak on alternate warps, 3 picks, each alternating with the last;
- mlr 93 as 8 but with the insertion of a supplementary weft;
- mlr 102 a ‘continuous rya’, one pass – can be seen as open and closed soumak on alternate warps, the second pick alternating with the first;
- mlr 103 as 10, but the second pick stacked on the first;
- mlr 90 3 triple half-hitches, knots to the front, one pick – essentially a triple closed soumak on 1 warp.
Items 1 and 2 show the basic soumak chevron. The doubled variations in 4 and 5 make the chevrons larger, more obvious.
Item 3 stacks one half only of the chevron.
Items 6 and 7 give elongations of the chevron, and convey a sort of lengthening, smooth effect.
Items 8 and 9 have an interesting pattern variation, quite different to the ‘bricky’ or chained appearance of items 10 and 11.
Item 12 gives the appearance of a strong raised welt.
There seem to be 4 basic patterns:
1 the chevron
2 the ‘fasces’ – items 8 and 9
3 the chain – items 10 and 11
4 the ‘welt’ or ridge – item 12.
There are clearly a large number of possible variations, depending on
1 the number of warps crossed forwards and backwards,
2 whether open or closed,
3 whether crossings are over or under, and
4 whether the following pick is stacked or staggered.
The notation I improvised above does not cover all the possibilities. A full notation system would be quite complicated, BUT when actually working it is essential to know exactly how the effect is being produced and to be consistent in its application.
If anyone knows of a notation method, I’d be interested to hear of it.
For this exercise I used this little ramshackle sampler loom, knocked up in a hurry and held together by string, a clamp and hope. The open frame dimensions are width 27 cm (10.8”), height 32 cm (12.8”).