Sunday, 31 October 2010

I have been attending a three day course in Creative Development at the Cotswold Conference Centre . This birch grove is just outside the window of our room - and it is a very tree-y place.  The Center tumbles down the steep hill which is the Cotswold Escarpment above Broadway. All the buildings are honey-coloured Cotswold stone (illegal to build in anything else around there).

The facilities are excellent, including the food. What more could you want? Well I could want to be better at colour.

The tutor alternately lectures to us and lets us get on with our chosen project. I thought that I might be the oddity among a lot of painters but not so. There is an Art Quilter (who does know about colour), a fabulous very young photographer, two people who have not picked up a paint brush for 15 years and some one who is designing a book.

The tutor, Samantha Field, is providing us with questions, like 'Why are you doing this? Who are you doing it for? and other equally perplexing questions. We have also done some role playing. As far as my project was concerned, She started me off by suggesting I should try every medium she brought with her to find one that suited me and the project. So I worked my way through oil pastels, watercolours, paintstix, crayons etc etc  and ended up with choosing to use though the crayons were pretty good as well. The example above was done with pastels on two sheets of paper, then each sheet was sliced, every second slice was inverted and the two sheets interleaved.  What I am trying to do is design a colour scheme for a warp which I can dye and my current idea is to wind two or possibly three multisection warps, space dye each and then reassemble them. Now the above looks okay. 

But when I tried doing it full size, it looks terrible - purple bricks on end. I think there are too many colours (8) and cut it down to 5 before I finished up last night. Today I have to get through four variants before lunch. We do critiques after lunch.

It has all been a bit of an eye-opener. One practical point is that doing one of these collages/maquettes/whatever takes maybe an hour and that is a lot less time than it would take to wind the warps, dye them, warp up and try. But it is clear that the stripes need blending.

The other thing is the answer to Why am I doing this? And in particular, why do I suddenly want to  weave fabrics which are so much more complex? I think I know now - or at least I have a plausible explanation.

All my working life, I have been an engineer. I started out as a physicist doing astrophysical research but found I was only interested in making the equipment work, I didn't care a damn about the Origins of the Universe. Still don't. So I went into industry and turned into an engineer. What I liked was solving problems. When it (whatever it was) worked, it could be turned over to the customer and I never saw it again. I never liked doing production because that was boring and again it's the same thing, no problems to be solved. About three years, I suddenly got very bored with work and looking back I realise now that it was because there were precious few problems left to be solved. It was mostly a case of digging out an old design and adapting it to the new specifications.

So my theory is that I have found something in weaving plus dyeing which is a real difficult problem and am enjoying myself immensely. Witness the fact that I have had lots of ideas of how to make the warp up and dye it. Also my current ideas are going to restrict me to short warps of say 5 yards max. And in teh long term that is not going to be acceptable. And I have not yet got a design I would spend time dyeing. Interesting that the warp on the Megado at the moment was done, seats of the pants, and I think has worked. But then the variation across the warp is much greater than along the warp. Whereas my pastel+paper attempts have got equal amounts of variation in both directions. Is this telling something?

More tomorrow when we have finished the course and had the round up.


  1. This course looks fun, though role play sounds rather scary! Love the idea of the separate then re-assembled warps-have you tried warp ikat? I haven't but sounds like it may work.

  2. Yes I have done a bit of warp ikat and that is certainly one method but I was thinking in terms of space dyeing with acid dyes so that I could use three or four colours along the warp length.



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About Me

I am weaver and - -. I dye my yarns with acid dyes, I paint my warps, put fabric collages and stencils on my weaving. I have three looms, a 12 inch wide, 12 shaft Meyer for demos and courses, a 30 inch Louet Kombo which is nominally portable but has a stand, two extra beams and a home-made device containing a fan reed. And last a 32 shaft Louet Megado which is computer controlled, has a sectional warp and a second warp beam and I am the proud owner of an AVL warping wheel which I love to bits and started by drilling holes in. I inserted a device for putting a cross in. I have just acquired an inkle loom and had a lesson from an expert so I can watch TV and weave at the same time. I am interested in weaving with silk mostly 60/2 although I do quite a bit with 90/2 silk. I also count myself as a bookbinder with a special interest in Coptic binding.