A detail of Bhutanese kushutara weaving
Luckily, for those of us who love textiles, we can travel the world without leaving our homes. Last week at the new Weaving and Fiber Arts Center (more on that later), Australian Wendy Garrity took us to Bhutan.
Her presentation focused on the gorgeous fabrics known as kushutara, woven on backstrap looms by Bhutanese women in their homes. Pictured above: Garrity at the start of her presentation -- before we remembered to turn the lights out! Her blog is called "Textile Trails."
Kushutara (supplementary weft brocades, also spelled kushuthara and kishutara) resemble embroidery but are hand woven -- often on looms that are built into the walls of the weaver's home. They have a discontinuous weft, as you see in the details below (front and back of the same fabric, respectively).
And they are gorgeous! Weavers use continuous weft-pattern designs called sapma and discontinuous weft-pattern designs called tingma. Garrity explains tingma this way: "The discontinuous supplementary weft patterning consists of sapma (inlay) and thrima (twining)." These techniques are all woven in brilliantly-colored silk in seemingly random color palettes. The results are what Garrity refers to as "eye candy."
So here, for your viewing pleasure, is some of the eye candy she brought along to show us.
As so often with textiles, photos don't do justice to the real pieces. The work in this last photo, for instance, has an eloquence and complexity that is hard to convey secondhand -- mainly because the full yardage in all its glory has a tremendous variety of colors and patterns. For this reason, Garrity urged us to view all of her fabrics from a distance as well as up close.
And I have yet to mention the new, larger home for the Weaving and Fiber Arts Center. What an expansive, bright, loom-filled site! Here are a few photos, to give you an idea.
The new location, just around the corner from the old one
Looms to the left of you...
Looms to the right...
And table looms at just the right height!
This fall, at the new location, I will be teaching beginning weaving and advanced beginning weaving (kind of a contradiction in terms, but you get the idea) as well as a natural-dyeing workshop. For more information, you can check out the courses as soon as the new listings are posted, which should be by mid-August.
Thanks for reading!
Beautiful post. The pictures don't capture the texture of the fabric or its density. Some may wonder where Bhutan is. Nestled in the Himalayas bounded by India and China, much of Bhutan is not accessible except on foot.
Thank you Debbie! I agree that the photos give us only a vague sense of the real beauty of these weavings.
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