museumofexploration

Insert suitably punny comment about looms here

In Collections, Edinburgh, Edinburgh College of Art, Interesting things, Rambling, Weaving on March 7, 2015 at 1:10 pm

So I got…some looms. Three. I wasn’t expecting three, but that’s the joy of eBay. They came yesterday, very impressively all fitting into one box. A huge box.

I thought I’d got a slighter bigger table loom (although with less shafts) and an inkle loom (for weaving bands), turns out there was a rigid heddle loom in there too (it looked like a pile of sticks). It was a job lot of stuff, so there’s some random bits of crap (most of which came in two cat food boxes), some acrylic yarn that I probably won’t use and a lot of diy-ed stick shuttles (I don’t much like stick shuttles), and two pieces of fabric woven on the table loom. And the inkle loom came with the most rickety table, it’s more annoying than useful really. Think it’s just going to be easier to have it on an actual table.

Not many pictures because I was too busy a) going oh dear me what have I done and b) figuring out what belonged to what and c) cackling at the stack of knitting magazines that I didn’t ask for but got anyway. They’re brilliant. I’ll have to do something with them.

This is most of it.

IMG_2996

Also note the new warping frame – it goes up to 11m long! The rigid heddle is off at the side somewhere.

Both the inkle and table loom came with warps on, I tried using the warps on the inkle loom but the tension was so knackered it was pointless (so I very quickly strung it up and did a tiny little band, IT’S GREAT). With the table loom it looked like someone had just wrapped some thread around it in the hopes of making it look like it was working, what actually happened was the back apron (which is literally an apron on this, a piece of canvas and a stick that the warp is attached to before threading) had been cut off for some reason, and everything wound to the front apron. Untangle it all and you find a piece of weaving, I have plans for it. Again, it was acrylic and not worth saving to use again because it’s just not very nice to weave with.  (The pink thing on top is what I did on the inkle loom.)

IMG_2998

 

It looks like/was sold as a Dryad loom, but there’s no label thing anywhere that I can see – so who knows, and goodness knows how old it is. If it is a Dryad one that’s…freaky – Dryad was based in Leicester, that’s where I’m from innit.

I have absolutely no idea why someone thought screwing two bits of mismatched wood to the base was a good idea, wasn’t even level! The amount of dust and crud that came out when I took it off… There is absolutely no reason why you’d do that, it’s not like it was holding it together or anything, it was just holding crap in. The reed was pretty grim – in fact all of it was pretty grim, it still needs a bit of love. That yarn must have been on there a long time. But now it’s cleaned up it looks to be fine (which is good, I didn’t fancy trying to find a reed that’d fit). The shafts are a little on the rusty side, and the threads could probably do with being replaced, but they’re functional for now. I’ll need to diy something to stop one of them popping out of it’s track though. I’m going to need to get more heddles – but that can wait a while, simply because putting heddles on is going to be a nightmare (I’m going to have to unscrew the castle where the shafts sit and then somehow unscrew each shaft to get the heddles on). It doesn’t fold up like the first loom, but I should be able to unscrew it into two pieces.

IMG_3001

 

Theoretically it might be possible to have an extra four shafts made up to make it an eight shaft loom – there isn’t much space at the back, so it’d probably have to be two in front and two behind the existing four. It’d just make it a lot more flexible, and I could do more complex patterns on a bigger scale. It’s about 21″ across (instead of 16″ on the other one), so not a whole lot bigger, but noticeable. I really don’t have the sort of brain to figure it out (3d things aahhh!) but it should be possible…

I’ve come up with a solution for the missing back apron using a stick, a ring binder clip and lots of string. It’ll be fine.

IMG_2999

And this is the rigid heddle loom which is, in principle, very similar to the inkle loom (although INKLE what a word). It’s an old Spears one as far as I can tell (furious googling last night). Although you can use inkle looms for card/tablet weaving, which means text is possible! I can make labels! How nice would it be to weave title labels for bits of work…? Just me?

Anyway. It’s far less flexible than the table looms – there are only two options, up and down. For the inkle loom heddles are made from string and attached one by one as you wind the warp on, on this loom it’s just that white thing which also acts as the reed. There’s dents as in table loom reeds, but also holes, so lifting it up or pushing it down when it’s threaded changes the shed/gap you weave into. But you know what that means? Dot dot dash. I have no idea if threading it using morse code would work, but worth a shot. I can’t use the software I have to write drafts for the inkle or rigid heddle loom, so it’s going to be interesting…

I’ll leave you with a kitten.

IMG_2992

 

more weaving/craft is not a dirty word

In Edinburgh College of Art, Stanley Mills, Weaving on February 1, 2015 at 10:29 am

I’m doing a research presentation on Tuesday, the last one was terrible. And ended up being ‘what you’re doing is hobby, not art. Craft, not art. Why are you here?’, which kind of… sucked. So this one is angry. Well, not much. But it starts with Keith Arnatt.

It is slightly better than the last presentation – because last time I forgot to make my notes big enough to see in the dark. DUH. I just really do not like talking to people at all. My solution to ‘are you even an artist though’ is an ‘I don’t know’ disguised as INTERMEDIA. Think it’s safe to say I’m working in the space between disciplines here – blurring the boundaries between art and life, art and craft, craft and life. If it goes even worse than before, never mind.

Enough. More weaving.

finally got the full version of the weaving software I use – I can save files now. I’ve lost so many things in the last five months because I couldn’t save. So that’s pretty great. I’ve had a mad spree of making up drafts from anything and everything, and actually titling them (which is novel, since when do I title things?). It’s more I’ve been at home ill (our studio is very cold) and making drafts makes me feel like I’ve done something productive. Although I did go and weave a sample of one of them yesterday.

The intermedia micro-residency this year is at Stanley Mills – I wasn’t going to do it again because Cultybraggan was so stressful, and so much extra to do and there’s more to do this year. But it’s at a cotton mill. How could I not?! So I’m weaving the fabric of the building. I really love threads/fabric/textiles in language (my essay last semester was an object biography of a blanket – called A Stitch In Time. I was so proud. No, you’re not reading it), and the fabric of the building is a weird one. And it makes me so happy that I can actually do that.

I’m using all the key years in the history of the mil – opening, closing, take overs, fires etc. The fabric I wove yesterday was all the dates, but I’m probably going to do several variations using the same warp threading (all the years) and then just picking out one or two to use for the weft.

The warp is just grey wool I have a lot of (the spool is the size of my head), the orange and pink are cotton because y’know… cotton mill. And the blues are wool, just because I can’t not put blue in things. The fabric I’ll weave for the exhibition will probably be coloured cotton warps with a white cotton weft, and probably won’t be much wider than the sample (or even the same size). The mill wove thin bands of fabric – that’s the width of one pattern repeat (56 threads).

IMG_2734

IMG_2735

 

Turns out my favourite sketchbooks come in A4. So I have scaled up (as I’m told to do very often…I like small…).

I’ve kind of run out of time, we’re meant to be leaving to go to work now but my flatmate is being slow as usual. So I should probably stop and do the other drafts this evening – my current favourite is called Fuck You Hermes. It’s the tracking number of a parcel they failed to deliver. I got angry and made a draft.

Data weaving/why weaving can be art

In Edinburgh, Edinburgh College of Art, Rambling on January 18, 2015 at 6:33 pm

If art school has taught me anything, it’s what I like.

Data, numbers, information
Recording and visualising mundane/useless information
Graph paper
Cats (…nah, I knew that already)
Making things for a very specific audience (usually one or two people)
Making ‘ambient’ work/things not intended for a gallery/white cube – things to be worn/used/lived in and with
India ink pens
Lines.
Threads.
Things that fit together perfectly. More so if they’re not made for each other.
Colour coding
Mindless/mindful pattern making

Weaving is all of those things (except cats) in one way or another. It’s perfect. Too perfect. The best bit is that weaving is a series of numbers that describe the way threads/lines fit together perfectly to become a surface. I MEAN WOW. Lines. Fitting together. Because of numbers! Aaaahhhh!

I use an eight shaft loom (you can get sixteen!). Weaving drafts are just a series of numbers. The threading pattern describes which shaft each warp thread belongs to, the lift plan is which shaft(s) to raise to make a gap in the warp threads to pass the weft thread through. Changing the gap (shed) over and over produces fabric. Lines squished together into something solid.

Any series of numbers can be altered to fit within the 1-8 range (yes, ideally it wouldn’t have to be altered. But I can’t really afford a sixteen shaft loom..). You just use multiple threads to make up the number. So, dates, coordinates, phone numbers, temperature, monetary values, ANYTHING NUMERIC can become a pattern. Anything. Isn’t that amazing? I could weave the fluctuations in the currency markets if I really wanted. And the best part – the fabric doesn’t look like the input.

I can’t reliably draw drafts by hand. It’s complicated and I can’t visualise that sort of thing very well. But there is software. And it’s amazing. I can only get a trial version of the one I love, because it’s a decade or so old and seemingly impossible to get ahold of the full version. Doing the drafts digitally (whilst quite removed from the whole handmade-ness of the rest of it) is really really really useful. Takes no time at all to come up with a useable, stable pattern.

I say stable, until recently I hadn’t figured a way around using drafts that repeat the same number consecutively. Turns out that was already a thing – overshot weaving. Between each line of the pattern you weave plain weave (under/over) so you’re making a piece of fabric and a pattern on top of the fabric. So you have two shuttles going at once, which got a bit tangly. But it means I can do even more things, and more textured things…

This is the draft of what I’m weaving at the moment – it’s mine & Steph’s birthdays 14219942071994 (but then reflected back to make a longer pattern). I tried it with other people and this was the nicest looking, clearly we were meant to be. Each little square is a thread. In the warp that I wound there were just under 200 threads (it was quite thick yarn) in 6″ or so. It’ll be a scarf for me, seeing as I haven’t made one for myself. And I’m using pretty much every colour and type of yarn that I have – so merino wool, wool, wool blends, cotton, recycled cotton, recycled sari silk, recycled linen and mulberry silk. Because the yarn is quite thick the finer details of the draft aren’t quite so visible.

Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 20.06.51

 

16116120900_6f425d606c_o

16117649757_09fde9225b_o

16117653157_54bb5b4e6d_o

 

I got a bobbin winder for Christmas (AMAZING), so it no longer takes half an hour to wind a very loose bobbin. Always a good thing. It came with a load of bobbins and another shuttle (the wooden thing the bobbin sits in), so I can actually do overshot. Which is good. I bought a raddle too – I’d made a really shit one. But it was just too shit. And now the raddle matches the rest of the loom and will be pretty much indestructible.

More weaving…

A scarf for Em made from her date of birth…

 

16117650667_2af66318df_o

16302635552_78419608af_o

 

P1030968

P1030963

 

That was the longest (and probably the best) thing I’ve done so far. And the most recent finished thing.

Before Christmas I wove this…thing. I’m going to sew it into something eventually. That draft is based on the molecular structure of dopamine (long story, lets not go there…). Things have people have said about it: it looks like a tea towel, it looks unloved. I’m going to come back to the pattern I think. Different yarn.

IMG_2217

 

And the piece of fabric I made on the course… mindless pattern!

P1030853

 

I started an Etsy shop selling data scarves (you give me numbers, choose your dimensions and yarn and I weave you a scarf), I’m waiting on the yarn to arrive for my first order (eeeeekkkkk!). If I get a spare day at some point I’ll probably do a pre-made one to sell too (either more traditional weaving patterns, because I do love that zig zag, or something I’ve written myself. Or both.).

I got given a lot of merino yarn (factory seconds) and it’s so beautiful and soft. And came in skeins. Approximately 1kg skeins. To be wound by hand. I still haven’t finished winding the last one. I’m using the grey as the warp for my scarf, so far there’s only been one thread that likes breaking (it’s done it twice, the same one!). It doesn’t look too weird either, because it’s space dyed I was a bit worried it’d look odd in something that it wasn’t made for.

IMG_2531

 

I think that’ll probably do. Once the yarn comes for the next scarf I might do a more detailed ‘here’s how I do a thing’ thing. There’s reading to be done (three quarters through Wolf Hall, started 2015 with a bit of a Tudor theme. Two books into the Shardlake series).

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 237 other followers

%d bloggers like this: