Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Convergence 2016 in Milwaukee: A Sneak Peek at the Classes I Will Be Teaching

Sample scarf for "One Warp, Three Fabrics: Weaving with 60/2 Silk"


For a workshop on "Sawdust, Leaves, and Bugs," shibori-dyed silk 
in osage orange, cochineal, and indigo

A Dorset button, subject of a 3-hour super seminar, "How to Make Dorset Buttons"

There is still time to register for upcoming workshops and seminars at Convergence 2016 in Milwaukee. Weavers come from all over the world to meet and study at this bi-annual conference sponsored by the Handweavers' Guild of America.

Yes, I will be there! I'm teaching a 3-day workshop, "One Warp, Three Fabrics: Weaving with 60/2 Silk," that focuses on how to weave with fine threads to achieve three very distinct samples. The first is a structure of twill blocks, using a 60/2 silk weft -- suitable for light garments and scarves with wonderful drape. Here's a student sample from the workshop I taught at MAFA in 2013.


Beautiful, I agree! The second sample we will weave uses a plain-weave structure and a silk-ribbon weft to achieve a fabric similar to that of rag rugs -- but in this case, far more elegant. I recommend people use this kind of fabric for jackets and vests.


The hand is lofty, almost spongy, which is part of its appeal. The last fabric is great fun: a collapse weave using an overtwist weft woven in twill blocks. The fabric looks like gauze on the loom but shrinks and collapses after washing. This type of weaving works for garments and scarves and can add immensely to the texture of any piece when combined with a 60/2 silk weft woven in plain weave, as shown in the photo below.


Here's a closer look at another fabric, woven with a similar weft.


There are 18 students signed up for the workshop to date, so I have been VERY busy winding warps. I will hand-paint them -- color just adds to the fun, even though this workshop focuses on texture and structure.

The second course I'm teaching is completely different from the first: It's a one-day studio class focusing on shibori techniques with natural dyes, appropriately named "Sawdust, Leaves, and Bugs." We will use some basic shibori-resist techniques as we work with osage orange (sawdust), indigo (leaves), and bugs (cochineal). The silk wrap below was dyed using these dyes and techniques, in a 6-step process. I began by immersing the silk in a vat of osage orange, then I clamped it and immersed in in a vat of cochineal (creating an orange color), then I folded it and immersed it in indigo (which produced green when added to the yellow and orange). Next -- and I believe that I did this twice, once on each end of the fabric -- I rolled the piece on a thick rope, scrunched it up, and immersed it in indigo. Finally, I dipped one end of the fabric in indigo. 

I find that the best results come with multiple clamping, folding, dipping, winding, etc. The takeaway from all of this is that more work produces better results!


A detail of the natural-dyed silk garment

And then, on Friday, I will be teaching a 3-hour "Super Seminar" on "How to Make Dorset Buttons." The technique, which was developed in Dorset, England, in the 17th century, is still useful for fiber artists today, as we can make custom buttons to match our creations or custom pieces to wear as brooches or clasps. While there are many modifications in making these buttons, I will be teaching a basic technique known as the Wagon Wheel.


Above, embellishment with beads adds to the whimsy of the piece.

So far, I have my class list for the 3-day workshop -- and I'm delighted to see that it includes folks from 10 states and Canada. So excited to meet everyone and watch the creativity unfold!

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