Sunday, May 16, 2010

New Weaving, New Group, New Pots

Code Weaving being woven on TC-1 loom

With all the talk about an open source loom, I hope you didn't get the wrong impression--my TC-1 is still my first love (not counting my family of course). I have been standing at it this week, weaving the code I discussed previously on my blog. I am still deeply immersed in reading about code, and working on my own website. I even dreamed code the other night. But don't think I have any fluency yet--I just think I do, but I don't. I realized that making a website using xhtml and css is very similar to the process of weaving--there is structure and there is style. xhtml is equal to the weave structure that makes up a weaving and css is equal to the yarn, color, and distribution of color in a weaving. I wonder if coders split themselves into structuralist and colorists, like some people like to divide up the weaving community?

Detail showing white weft working alone in box on left and with a supplementary weft added to the white weft on right (brocading)

My current weaving not only has code in it, it also is brocaded. I wanted to use a white weft on the white warp, and hoped the two versions of white (a warp-faced structure versus a weft-faced structure) would result in the popping of the image that is found in damask. Sometimes I let the white weft images remain that way, but sometimes I increased their visibility by adding a supplementary weft, as seen in the words in the image above, bottom right corner. When the piece is off the loom and I can see it hanging on a wall, then I will decide whether I should increase the visibility even more by embroidering the letters. Over the years I have often noticed that I will spend a lot of time on elements of a weaving that end up being invisible. Even aware of this happening as I am working, still I continue, because it seems important. In a discussion this weekend with a new group of weavers, I learned that other people also experience this sense of weaving the emperor's new clothes.

Explanation for cardboard box--Mali

The TC-1 loom does not come with a used cardboard box wrapped around the bottom springs--a rather ugly addition, in fact. But the picture above clearly shows one half of the reason that I have one on my loom. I don't really know whether Mali or Dylan was the culprit that had fun clawing the springs--but now I am very careful to protect my loom.

Electronic Weavers Get-together
(left to right, back: Sara, Dini, Tom, Sandy, Kate, Ruby, Julie, Ruth, Sandy, Ginny; left to right, front: Barbara, Deb, Trudy; not shown Georgia, Bhakti)

The new group I mentioned is a group of electronic weavers that gathered yesterday in Craftsbury, Vermont. Laurie Autio (who sadly had to miss the gathering) and Dini Cameron thought it would be a good idea to get together with some weavers who work on electronically driven looms and talk about the experience. Fifteen weavers gathered, from Canada, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Dini, well-known as the developer of ProWeave software for weave design, is an amazing weaver. Everyone showed samples of work they have done on dobby or jacquard looms, a wide-range of explorations in weaving, but I was most surprised by Dini's beautiful work. I wonder why I didn't realize what a fine weaver she is--and that her knowledge is the basis for why her software program is so good. Anyway, I was very glad I participated yesterday--we discussed work, design, loom issues--and enjoyed a delicious meal together too. The gathering took place at The Craftsbury Inn, owned by Kathy and Bill Maire, and now I know a wonderful place to suggest that visitors to Vermont spend a night, and eat a good meal. Also, they can watch Kathy spin on a spinning wheel. This was a self-selecting group, more people were invited and could have attended, and I am sure it would still have been good, but I do think that the size of the group as it turned out allowed everyone to have a chance to ask questions, talk, and learn about and from each other.

Finished pots, left to right: Bhakti's, Liz's (2), Holly's

Another small group that I have been part of, maybe we should be called pinchers, gathered this week to see the results of our actions. My pot is on the left, above, and now at home it is full of wooden spoons and large utensils. Liz did the middle pots, and an older piece by Holly, head pincher, is on the right. This experience really gave Liz and I, both weavers, insight into the process Holly employs, and respect for her master skill at what she does.

Gathering in small groups and learning from a teacher and from each other is one of the shared experiences most weavers have experienced. Learning a process that is different from the one you are really familiar with can bring new insights to what you know so well. This summer, through the Vermont Surface Design Summer Workshop, run by Pippa Drew, in Post Mills, Vermont, Akemi Nakano Cohn will be teaching Katazome (rice paste resist technique) to a small group of students. Akemi is a gifted teacher, and anyone working with her comes away with a renewed sense about the kindness and generosity possible between people. Here is an opportunity not only to study with a master, and learn a new process, but also to make friends with a new group of people, and to enjoy the beauty of Vermont. This sounds like a winning combination to me! I think there still is an opportunity to join this group, so contact Pippa for details.

I will get to meet my own new group of people in Chicago in two weeks. As I prepare, I really feel the excitement of possibilities. Learning from each other is a superb reason for groups to gather.

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