Ever since I have heard of textiles being referred to as 'soft engineering' it has given me a lovely new perspective of how I view my own thinking, making and material process. I was awarded an artist bursary from a-n The Artist Information Company. This bursary is toward a project which I have named 'Thinking...Construction'. Involving skills sharing and collaborative discussion with craftspeople who are working with form, and materials relating to woven construction. My aim is to immerse myself in further experiences of ‘making by hand’ and various construction techniques which may sow seeds for new ideas and inform my own on-loom woven textile practice. This is not about deeply learning new specialisms but playful experimentation of making processes and ideas which are ‘new to me’. Along the way I hope to experience some thoughtful discussion around haptic making, material sensitivity and more. So here goes…
A little inspiration
Two specific pieces from my Tate Modern: Anni Albers commission sparked my thoughts for this journey. The inspiration was due to weaving with two particular materials which were new to me. One was Waxed Linen which is used by bookbinders, and the second was a Natural Raffia. Both were a very different sensory experience, within my making, which I gain alot from..
The waxed Linen made for quite a different weaving experience; it is strong, particularly waxy yet flexible. With this medium I used space woven structures to create grid like designs loosely inspired by Albers's room dividers. The outcome; a cloth which was staunch yet pliable, sparking my thoughts about form.
The Rafia; apart from the enjoyment of its straw like smell and my studio floor beginning to resemble that of a barn, what attracted me to this medium came from my interest in paper and paper-like yarns. Raffia I had always seen as something you use for bows on gift boxes. I worked with this material in reasonably short lengths as it was not a continuous yarn. I like the irregularity, imperfection and texture. I explored a backed cloth to highlight the raffia sitting on the cloths surface.
Thinking Construction - NETTING
I came across an old booklet on Netting techniques and decided to give the basics go. Theres something lovely about a simple knotting technique to create a very basic net structure. I'm also trying out fishing net techniques which are a little more complex, simple yet interesting construction. A mindful process with potential for much further experimental development.
In relation to weaving this makes me think about double and triple netting, a bit like double and triple cloth weaving, also consideration to knotting warp threads on or after weaving on-loom. Makes my mind begin to whiz with ideas and I've only just started.
Thinking Construction - KNITTING DOLLY (French Knitter)
I must be honest I had not heard of a knitting dolly until I was recently given one. I think it is a great little no-fuss, simple, tool. Mine reminds me of a smily chess piece. I began a little exploration using various yarns including linen, paper, and cotton. As these materials have little elasticity the process was a little slower. The more open, imperfect outcomes have potential .
There are possibilites to create a "yarn" using this process which I could then weave with.....? The idea is clearly possible however the knack would be in getting the two processes to complement each other well, and the French knitted yarn not looking like an out of place add-on to the weaving.
Thinking Construction - Twining (Basketry Technique)
My first attempts at the 'twining' basketry technique where two 'weavers' are crossed over eachother (twisted) as they are woven through the 'spokes' (if I have the correct term!). I can't help but think of them as warp and weft; the warp being the material in which you weave the weft to then build your structure. Here I am working with white paper yarn which has a lovely stiff yet pliable substance to it.
These tests are mini as I only have so much space in my studio. However saying that I do hope to construct some full sized baskets. As I do love a basket.
Thinking... Garment CONSTRUCTION
Many moons ago I studied Fashion Design and worked within the industry. When it comes fashion I most enjoyed; the technical construction of garments. Beginning with the lovely brown pattern making card where I would mark out and draft my patterns. Such an interesting thought working in '2D' on paper to create garments for the 3D form of our bodies. Now that I work within textile construction I wanted to explore a project to engineer hand-woven, 'Loom Woven' garments. I didn't want to weave cloth then cut and sew cloth into garments but to weave the garment so that it is fully constructed on the loom. This is not a new concept however the thought this puzzle felt rather exciting. I applied to, and was awarded, a grant from the Theo Moorman Trust for Weavers to begin a research project into 'Loom Woven Garments'. https://www.theomoormantrust.org.uk/
Rather than jumping straight into the construction of entire garments I had fond memories of my garment construction classes where we would learn to cut and sew samples of various parts of a garment. For example various pocket designs, cuffs, collars and so on.
This felt like a logical starting point and I wanted to first explore and create effective elements.
Image Copyright © Louise Renae Anderson. All rights reserved