Friday, November 26, 2010

Sky Weavings

Detail of "West" by Bhakti Ziek

I am weaving a pair of sky weavings: "East" and "West". Two wefts alternate, a blue tencel and a silver gimp, in structures that bring one to the front and the other to the back ((weft-backed structures). When you combine structures in one weaving, you have to be sure that one is not significantly tighter than the other, or you will have take-up problems. In theory my five structures were compatible, but in fact they weren't. I created an image file that was pixelated, and the switching between structures happened so often in some areas that the wefts could not pack down evenly. You can see what happens in the two images below: the fell line of the cloth becomes uneven and the reed cannot hit the cloth evenly.

Fell of the cloth is uneven

Reed hits one edge before the other

Thinking of what I could do to solve the problem before it became so exaggerated that I would not be able to complete the weaving, I came up with the idea of hand-picking the weft in the tight areas. I often say that I love the TC-1 loom because it allows me to use all the knowledge I have acquired over the years as a weaver. This was one of those times that I used a process that I thought I would never have to do again on a jacquard loom. The pictures below show what I did. The first image shows the blue weft going across the cloth in the normal shed. As you can see, the cloth curves up where the weave structures are tighter than the other structures.

Weft following normal shed

Not on every pick, but often, I would take the shuttle and bring the weft to the back of the cloth in the tight areas.

Blue weft going to the back in center area

This enabled the next pick of silver to pack down tighter, making the fell of the cloth more even. It seemed to work fine, and 6420 picks later, the first weaving, "West" is woven. No turkey for us on Thanksgiving, but plenty of gratitude at the loom.

Silver weft packs into space more evenly now.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Draw Like a Weaver

5 Wefts Used to Create This Weaving

Do you want to know how to draw like a weaver? I'll use a recent weaving built with five wefts as an example. Take 6 crayons or pencils or inks and arrange them so you will use them in the same sequence, over and over and over. In this case, weft one (color 1) is salmon, weft/color 2 is black, weft/color 3 is dark green, weft/color 4 is white, and weft/color 5 is light green. The sixth color represents the warp--red in this case. It might help if you have a page with horizontal lines on it, or under it as a guide, or just go freehand--weavings tend to be wobbly even though they follow a grid.

How a Weaving Builds

Now make a series of horizontal dashes, on the same line, with the red color that represents where you want that color in your image. Follow this with some dashes on the same line with the black color where black should go. Put the black down and pick up the light green and draw your light green dashes on the same line. Then put that color down and pick up the white color--and draw your horizontal dashes on the same line, followed by some horizontal dashes of the dark green. Depending on your image, you might have filled in the complete horizontal row, if not, fill in the spaces with the red color, which represents the warp. Now move to the next line and continue building color by color, line by line. Some lines might not show any of one color. You get a break here drawing on paper, but as a weaver, that weft is still thrown, working at the back of the cloth rather than the front.

Most of my recent weavings are composed of series of four or five weft colors. I am averaging 140 picks per inch--sometimes more, sometimes less. If using four wefts, that means they pack down to look like 35 horizontal rows composed of four colors, plus warp color. To be fair, I don't actually draw my images line by line but use Photoshop to make compositions and insert weave structure. The book Alice Schlein and I wrote, The Woven Pixel: Designing for Jacquard and Dobby Looms Using Photoshop®, is a great resource if you want to learn how to do this. When I want to weave a design though, I do have to build it, pick by pick, and in this example that would mean five picks (wefts) create one horizontal row in the cloth. It is not unusual for my weavings to exceed 5000 picks. I am standing at the loom most of the time, though recently I obtained a stool that I can use too. 300-400 picks per hour adds up to alot of hours at the loom. What would be excruciating for some people turns out to be sanity for me.

Sea Glass formation on Bear Island

Sea Glass by Bhakti Ziek, handwoven jacquard 2010

Night Cap

Sometimes though I want things to move a bit faster. Sea Glass was woven in a new structure for me, a lampas that used a plain weave ground against a three shaft patterning twill. I dropped my wefts to three systems in the center, but created 15 structures with them. The sides of the weaving are a damask structure using just one weft. When I saw this bottle of wine at the store I had to buy it. I didn't know sea glass existed until the summer vacation in Maine, but the wine and wikipedia showed me it is a well-known phenomena.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Two New Weavings

Continuum by Bhakti Ziek

The weaving shown in the last post is finished. I am calling it Continuum, which is also the name of my upcoming show that opens at Chandler Gallery on January 8th. The image above does not do justice to the actual piece. Maybe you can come to the exhibit and see what I mean.

56 Blossoms by Bhakti Ziek

56 Blossoms will also be in the exhibition. I was thinking about this weaving today as I worked at the loom, and this came to me: When you are in dispair, you have to come up for air. Also: Often the solution is found in the problem. Do you think I can sell these platitudes to a fortune cookie company?