Sunday, July 22, 2012

Convergence 2012 - Beautiful Endings

Another Convergence has come and gone.  What a great time I had, seeing friends and meeting new people, viewing exciting art work and getting some great new ideas, learning some new techniques and reinforcing previous ones.

The final workshop I took was two days studying krokbragd rug weaving.  Judy Ness is a wonderful teacher who led an organized yet relaxed and calm class, complete with mini yoga and stretching sessions.  Krokbragd is a traditional Norwegian rug pattern threading. Here is the patterning I did on my sample.  I stuck to mostly traditional patterns, but some of the other students did some really creative variations.

But the most beautiful thing I learned to make this entire wonderful, busy, stimulating week was this finish, a double Maori edge.  Instructions for the Maori edge is given in Peter Collingwood's Techniques of Rug Weaving.  Here the braid is done along the edge, and then back the other direction.  Isn't it lovely?  I want to weave another rug just so I can make this edge again.

Of course, this is the only bit of the rug sample that looks this neat.  Look at all the ends I still have to needle in!  This should be a good after-work down-time activity.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Ply-Split Basket: Convergence 2012 Continues

Thursday I spent in a class taught by Linda Hendrickson.  I enjoy taking her workshops and the ply-splitting process and product, but haven't explored this technique further on my own.  She mentioned that she won't be traveling to teach any longer though she will continue to produce videos etc., so I was grateful to have experienced one of her classes one last time.  Each time I seem to be able to take in a little more of the knowledge she has to impart.

Here's my little basket, completed the next morning (didn't quite get it done in class).  If inverted, this would make a darling hat, wouldn't it?

Convergence and all the associated exhibits and events are almost too much to take in all in one week.  Last night on my way home I stopped by the three pop-up galleries on Pine Street and said hello to my local friends and aquaintances who were showing there: Susan McGehee had a one-woman show with her spectacular woven-wire pieces; six tapestry weavers from the Seaside guild had a wonderful whimsical group project of twenty tapestry illustrations of a delightful story by Nicki Bair about a sand crab; and the Designing Weavers had a show with lots of their great work.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sprang Class at Convergence

It was workshop number two for me today, a sprang class I enrolled in simply because I felt I should take the opportunity to take a class from one of the few people who are teaching this technique.  And am I glad I did!  There is always more to learn.  Carol James is a good teacher and I learned so much from her today:  little bits of technique and better ways to put together a pouch, other ways of using the two halves of cloth that are formed, history, some concepts I hadn't thought of before about the fabric and its construction, and why things happen the way they do while one makes this structure.

Here are the two pouches I completed in class.  Not much to show for six hours in class, but as usual in these classes, the product isn't the prize sought but rather the knowledge imparted and the interaction with instructor and other students.

My "Dead Reckoning" piece was awarded second place in the yardage exhibit!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

More Natural Dyeing - Japanese Style

Today I just finished taking my first workshop of the week at Convergence: a fabulous 2-day with John Marshall on kyoukechi Japanese clamp-resist dyeing.  Here's a link to an article by John in Turkey Red Journal that describes the process.  The most exciting thing I think I got out of the class is what a wonder substance soy milk is.  It has several characteristics that are really useful in dealing with textiles and dyeing that I plan to explore.

Here are the samples I completed in class.  They are all the kyoukechi except the one on the lower left which is just normal fold-and-clamp resist.  The one in the upper left is made with a block I carved myself in class using a router.  The others are all blocks borrowed in class that John had carved.  My favorite is the middle-left piece.  The greenish one just to the right of it was supposed to be an image of a footprint, but as I stared at it as it was drying, they looked more like sheep to me, so I gave them eyes, ears, nose, tail and hooves with a brush, using a mixture of soy milk and indigo bloom.  Maybe if you zoom in you can see the details.  All the samples have indigo dips as the final dye step.

Here are the two halves of the block I carved, approximate mirror images of one another.  It is made from redwood that John brought as part of the provided materials.  This was the first time I'd used a router that you have to push down as well as "drive around", and it was hard to remember to keep pushing it down constantly while trying to control the side-to side movement.  You can see my hollows aren't very neat, but the dye still seemed to flow just fine in those areas.

Even the rags I brought the samples home in are kind of interesting.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Natural Direct Dyeing

A few years ago, Estelle Carlson (who has sadly since passed away) gave our guild a workshop in dyeing fabric in Mason jars for a random-resist look that I really like.  I took a bunch of oversize T-shirts and did the same for some fun weekend wear. Those T-shirts have now gotten pretty shabby and need to go to the rag bin to become rugs or something.  I've been experimenting with a similar effect, but with natural dyestuffs.  I got the idea from the book Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles by India Flint.  Instead of extracting the natural dye into water and then dyeing your fabric a nice even color, why not just put the dyestuff directly onto the fabric?  Ms. Flint gives the name "eco-printing" to the imprints done with leaves in this way, but I like to think of this more as just "direct contact dyeing" or some such term.  Her book is beautifully laid out and inspirational, but does not have much step-by-step how-to or recipes, so I just read and re-read the sections that seemed pertinent and took it from there.

The T-shirts pictured here are (left to right) madder root, onion skin, magnolia leaf, eucalyptus leaf (my favorite from this batch!) and liquidambar leaf.  The left four I did recently all together, steamed them in the same pot, and left them sitting afterwards near each other.  The madder and eucalyptus bled onto the other two a bit, but I think that's okay.  The liquidambar was from last fall, but I had the new ones drying out in the moving air and they looked so pretty that I brought it out to join the others for the photo.

How fun is that!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Some off-loom (sort of) sprang work

The current project (a plain-weave-with-sprang piece) is off the loom, only to be put onto another loom.  Here's a picture of the setup I'm using to accomplish the sprang in the center section.  I took the pegs out of the top beam of this Swedish tapestry loom (which incidentally I have not yet used for Swedish tapestry).  The piece is draped over and clamped to this beam with the help of a stick shuttle.  See the unwoven warp yarns between the two woven sections.

I'm working the sprang with a new-to-me tool I picked up at CNCH in May, called a locker needle hook.  It's used for hooking rugs somehow (a fiber art I have not tried - yet?).  When I started doing these sprang pieces on the loom, I developed a method of working where I'd work a section using a crochet hook, and then slip a long weaving needle through alongside the hook to pull a cord through to save the twists.  I thought that it would be great if somehow I could combine the two tools, either by drilling a hole through the end of a hook, or forming a hook at the tip of a needle.  Alas, metal is not my medium!  So imagine my delight in the vendor hall when I realized someone had already done it.  The tip of the hook itself seems more pointy than a normal crochet hook, which works really well in this application.