Saturday, November 24, 2007

Changing Viewpoint

Yesterday at the Red Gallery, I came upon an old-ish Ornament magazine (Vol 30 No 3), which had two pages on Shibori dye artist Carter Smith, and his exhibition earlier this year at the Fuller Craft Museum in Massachusetts. Though I love seeing how others dye, I've never been big on doing it myself, but I was curious I was so taken by the works.

Smith's cloths are stunning, so it's no surprise I stared at the pictures from all angles for quite a while. Previously, when I saw interesting textile works, e.g. screen print and surface painting, beading and embroidery, jewelry, millinery, even good sewing, I not only wanted to learn the techniques, but after I picked up the very basics (of just some of what's mentioned above, of course,) I wanted to pursue the latest one instead of weaving. Only lately, in the last few months, I've come to examine these other techniques not to replace weaving, but to enhance it.

I can't remember if it was a conscious effort. At first, I tried to see ornamentation co-existing with my woven cloth, but the cloth was always in the background, at times invisible. In May, when I was sitting at the Expo twiddling my thumb, I started envisioning integrating beading/embroidery with the woven cloth, so there was an apparent relationship between the surface design and the background cloth.

Yesterday, while admiring the photos of the stunning Shibori, and Randy's voice from the Craft in America video reminding me I should be able to tell a story in one scarf, I was watching a slide show in my head of woven and dyed shawls, where the weave structure and the dye patterns enhanced each other. (And here, I'm not talking about techniques like woven shibori, but the final design.)

Lucky for me, the slide show is still running this morning. I'm not sure where I want to take this; I know for certain I have to learn a little more than 5th grade Home Ec shibori and wax resist. But it must be possible to create something where Weave+Shibori=More.

This is a marked shift in how I see/think, and I came to it painlessly, but executing the ideas, that's going to hurt a bit. I am relieved I've come to see weaving as the base of most everything I want to do.

From Carter Smith's web page, here are some photos from the exhibit.

PS. I'm not sure if it sounds strange to you, but in my school in Japan, we did shibori and wax resist as part of the home economics curriculum in elementary school and possibly again in junior high school, not in art. It was probably seen as something all good housewives should know.

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