museumofexploration

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).

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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.

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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…

 

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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.

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

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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.

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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).

Yup. Still here.

In Edinburgh, Edinburgh College of Art, Interesting things, Weaving on January 17, 2015 at 10:10 pm

I just forget how to write sometimes.

A lot of the time.

Well. The good news is that I didn’t fail last semester. The bad news is this week started with a talk containing the sentence ‘THIS IS YOUR LAST SEMESTER OF FREEDOM’. That was terrifying. (But true, this time next year… let’s not go there).

So. Stuff happened.

I spent one evening a week from September to December learning how to weave. I had to buy a loom because I loved it so much. And now I pretty much just…weave. (Conceptual weaving, it’s a thing now).

Before all that though… Otto.

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The loom came in a very small box. For something that takes up most of a table, it’s a very small box. And even though it folds flat-ish it isn’t exactly small (it does however fit in the flat, there’s a gap between two bookshelves in the living room that is just the right size. Although we probably need to get a new bookshelf to go there).

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It took days and days to build. Because me and instructions that are almost entirely pictures and no text is not a brilliant combination. BUT IT WORKS.

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Although when I say it fits in the flat… it takes up the entirety of the coffee table and/or dining table.

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It’s 16″ wide, so I am quite limited by size. Which I guess is good. Although I’m already going ‘oh the things I could do if I had a 24″ loom…” (blankets! that aren’t patchwork!). The length is less of an issue. The warping frame I had made up goes from about 1.5m to 3.5ishm.

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I’ll save the rambling explanation for another time I think.

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