Reveal and conceal, Stage 2, Workshop 4, Woven structures

5 March 2016

The course notes suggested that I should be using fairly firm material for my warps because I would be weaving loose and spaced out wefts. However, I wanted to be more unconventional and break away from the use of traditional weaving with a tapestry frame. So with that in mind, here are the results of my sampling!

SAMPLE WS1 – Wire warp

I was inspired by the uneven negative space of these stakes on the beach at West Wittering

Instead of a tapestry frame, I used a plastic basket to form my weft which was made from 100% 0.8mm copper wire.

I could have tried to straightened the wire more, but I liked this effect.

I gathered together a sumptuous collection of weaving materials (above), and just tried lots of different techniques which I thought might produce interesting results:

  • Fabric strips of chiffon, woven soumack style and conventionally
  • I interlaced woven chiffon strips with some very fine boucle yarn to give contrast of texture and thickness.
  • I used handspun, hand-dyed thick and thin (single) which was matt and hairy
  • I used thread made from reclaimed sari silk which was very smooth and lustrous
  • I wove neatly and tightly and contrasted this with loose, untidy sections 
  • I wove with the wire at each end of the piece to secure the loose thread section
Above is my finished sample. I was not intending at the outset for it to have the appearance of a finished piece – maybe I should have concentrated on making a single sample for each technique? When I’d finished, I cut the ends of wire and let them curl and twist. It was a pleasingly ‘wild’ effect which complemented the free loose weaving. 
I particularly like the areas of weaving which I have detailed below:
Above: I wrapped the pink chiffon around 2 strands of copper warp at a time. This gives and attractive ‘stepped’ or ‘zig-zag’ effect. I like the way that the wire is visible through the fabric.
Above: This illustrates the pink chiffon conventionally woven which has been over-laced with a loose strand of very fine boucle.
Above: more wrapping than weaving – I used a ‘buttonhole stitch‘ to wrap the sari silk around adjacent alternate strands of warp. I really like how the threads accentuate areas of the warp, and connect adjacent warp threads. I would like to develop and extend its technique to a larger piece of weaving.
SAMPLE WS2: Slashed canvas
Again, using the posts at West Wittering beach as an inspiration, I slashed a canvas with a Stanley knife to produce a ‘fabric’ warp. I then painted the canvas for extra interest. 
I chose a series of orange-red threads and fibres for my weft. I wanted to make a strong contrast of thread thicknesses and texture, and my aim was to pay particular attention to how they filled the negative spaces between the fabric warp. 
I used:
  • Commercially dyed merino
  • Rowan kidsilk haze
  • Handspun Southdown (a long staple coarse fibre)
  • Hand-dyed fleecewool
  • Beads – to disrupt the linearity of the warp and weft
  • I wove some diagonal threads as well as horizontal ones
I’m not entirely content with the result which I feel is rather ‘busy’. I think the two colours work well, but maybe there’s actually too much orange-red and it needs to be used more sparingly or with an accent colour?
When held up to the light, the shapes, not the orange colour starts to dominate. I think that when I photograph this piece properly I should get some drastic results, including shadows from the slashed warp.
I also decided to sketch this weaving (see sketchbook 2, pages 19 and 20)
SAMPLE WS3: Garden grid
For this sample, I wanted to the weaving to be strictly controlled. I intended for the warp and weft to appear interchangeable. This weaving builds on success of the button-hole stitch approach in sample WS1
I used just two colours of yarn – handspan purple merino and recycled yellow sari silk. I wanted to keep the weaving simple and clean to explore the possibilities of a very open weave. Below is my finished result:
I love the effect of contrast which is achieved the different spacings of the woven sections (some appearing more concentrated in colour and heavier and some so less so). 
This sample very much reminded me of some of the photographs of buildings with blinds which I had used for assignment 2 (screen printing). I used my sketchbook to explore variations of this theme (see sketchbook 1, pages24-31).
It was one of the samples where shadow was very important in creating an overall effect (see below)
The shadows appear like a third colour of weaving thread held in the 3D space behind the grid. There is effective interplay between the yellow and purple threads and their shadow, because the shadows occupy the negative spaces where there are no threads on the grid. The shadows also form a facsimile of the weaving, by repeating it’s shape and structure, which is like repeating the weaving as a displaced grid (see sketchbook 1, pages 33-34). This only works because the weaving threads are so sparse and the negative spaces large enough that the shadows can be viewed and appreciated.
SAMPLE WS4: Cling-film warp
I really wanted to try using clingfilm was a warp because It is wide and semi-transparent (with dense creased areas where it folds back on itself appearing more opaque). Because the clingfilm is not firm, the weaving has to be supported by a frame, which remains a permanent feature.
For the warp, I used the following materials (chosen to give contrast of opacity, texture and thickness):
  • Strips of cotton sheeting
  • Silver machine embroidery thread, strung with beads
  • Rowan Kidsilk haze knitting yarn
  • Strips of silver mesh fabric
  • Crochet cotton
  • Strips of polyester organza
  • Hand-spun white merino yarn (used as is and also crocheted into a chain)
  • Paper raffia
Below is the finished sample. I chose white/cream because I wanted the focus to be entirely on the opacity and textures without the added complication of colour.
These lighting conditions, however do not show it at it’s best. A close-up (lit from behind, and with the weaving placed on it’s side) gives an indication of how the different opacities of warp and weft interact.
In the example above there are some interesting tonal variation when the threads pass behind the warp.I also like the fact that you get a ‘peep’ of the what’s behind the weaving (but not too much) though the gaps.

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