Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Beaming (a Warp) with Pride

Today has been a good day: My loom is finally warped. It's a 12-yard warp, 1900-plus ends total, of 60/2 silk. It's actually two warps, since I painted 12 bouts in two different color ways and then beamed them all together to create alternating stripes. (An homage to the late Estelle Carlson, who gave a workshop to our guild on a similar technique.)

The tale is best told in pictures.

Winding the warp, with a cross at both ends:

I wound 12 warp bouts, about 160 threads each, so that the dyeing would go smoothly and the yarns were less likely to get tangled. (Emphasis on LESS likely.)

Next came the painting:

I wanted to paint two contrasting and simultaneously harmonizing color ways, inspired by the image of a Soleri bell that hangs in the Japanese maple tree in our garden. One color way moves from turquoise to teal to periwinkle to gold (the bronze bell, with a verdigris patina); the other travels from purple to burgundy to copper to olive to gold (like the autumn leaves on the Japanese maple). I want to see these colors play against each other, juxtaposed in narrow stripes on a fabric.

Next came beaming the warp, the biggest challenge of all. If it isn't beamed right, it won't weave right. And this is a very, very fussy warp.

So now it's all "on the beam," as they say. The view from the front:

It all looks so nice and neat, doesn't it? Well, it wasn't. Not at all. There are some tricks to make it easier, however. For starters, when you beam 60/2 silk, it's a good idea to forget about the lease sticks and just use a raddle -- then, when you're at the end of the warp (when the warp is nearly all on the warping beam), you insert your lease sticks, move them around behind the heddles, and start your threading. That way the silk won't get abraded or stuck in the lease sticks.

Another secret of working with very fine silk: Don't make any mistakes. I made mistakes. Long story short: I called my weaving guru, Joyce Robards, midway through the process to say some nasty things about silk. She made me feel better.

So now the warp is finally beamed, although I still have worries about how it all will weave. 

Tomorrow begins the threading....

One more image to share with you: the last honeysuckle blossom of the season, brought to you by Mother Nature, the greatest dyer of them all.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Samples from a Class on Shiva Artist Paintstiks

Last Friday at our Weaving and Fiber Arts Center (, I taught an introductory class on oil-based paint sticks, commercially named Shiva Artist Paintstiks. They're a wonderful way to add color and interest to any fabric, as they're essentially oil paint in solid form. Once the paints are set, which takes about two days, they'll stand up to unlimited washing (except for dry cleaning, which uses solvents).

Above, you see a sample by Dana Connell, a rubbing from an Indian print block. Here are a few more samples that students created.

Iridescent silver on black fabric, from a stencil.

More images from stencils, these made using several different iridescent colors.

Free-form drawing with Paintstiks on felt.

Paintstiks and their accompanying tools are available from Dharma Trading Company as well as from Cedar Canyon Textiles. Cedar Canyon also supplies instructional books and videos to help you maximize your work with these painterly tools.

To date, I've used them on some of my hand-dyed fabrics to provide a splash of color and interest.

Who knows? Maybe someday I'll use them to paint a warp. An idea worth pondering....

Friday, November 11, 2011

Buy the Book!

In celebration of its 65th anniversary, the Weavers' Guild of Rochester has published Weaving Lives at 65. It's a full-color book offering 33 weaving projects from the guild's 65th anniversary exhibit last May. The full-page photos accompany weaving drafts for every project, as well as close-ups of additional pieces from our exhibit. It's a masterful display of the diversity of this guild's accomplishments in the fiber arts.

Join in the celebration of the essential role that weaving guilds play in the handmade movement in America today.

Click the link below to order your copy, which supports the teaching efforts of the Weaving and Fiber Arts Center (part of the Weavers' Guild of Rochester). And thank you!

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