Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bonnie Inouye Revisited

I listened to three WeaveCast episodes while weaving today. The first one I listened to was Bonnie Inouye's interview. I found my laptop causes a strange echo, so with the washing machine running, and me banging away on my 4-shaft, I couldn't hear the finer points of the interview, and intend to go back to it in a quiet room soon, but still, what a treat!! There was all of Nice Bonnie there: the enthusiasm, the sharing, the mathematical/analytical approach to weaving, all combined to produce non-prosaic, (Hi, Cally), flowing, organic designs. And she makes them sound so easy.

But don't let her fool you; there is also the Scary Bonnie. Bonnie has an immense knowledge of weave structures and world textiles, which pop up all over her conversations; and her mind works quickly and some of the things that were self-evident to her, I didn't understand. I had woven two warps of twill on 4 shafts before I went to her workshop in 2002 to make up the number so the workshop would go ahead, so I was a pre-schooler somehow ending up in a high school science class. She appeared to me like a weaving monster in a petite disguise, but I was so relieved that today, I understood most of what she said, though as always with Bonnie, I need to try a few things in PCW before I fully understand all her meanings.

I'm glad Syne added the outtakes at the end. Turned Taqueté, for one, is one of Bonnie's favorites, and we had fun saying the words out loud. And I don't think she'd mind if I shared another thing she said repeatedly: play with the tie-up, play with the lift plan.

About her book: though the title includes the words, Bonnie's book is not about multi-shaft looms, not really about weaving on them, and not strictly about designs. It's more about how to design what you envision, about how to put more of yourself into the cloth. Of course you'd want, say, eight shafts to realize your drafts, and you would probably want a weaving software for speed, but the book guides you through various possibilities in making something distinctly yours. It's the kind of book you can never graduate from, (though I am exceptionally slow in working my way through it - 6 years and I think I'worked the first four chapters) and if it isn't already, it should be on every weaving software's recommended reading list.

I've pondered a few times about the difference between weavers who learned weaving structures the conventional way, vs. someone like me who jumped from two warps on four shafts to weavign software and 16 shafts. From very early on in my weaving life, I've had an immense freedom and luxury of being able to transfer what's in my head onto the loom comparatively easily. This is probably why I take my weaving so personally. Life has forever changed Post-Bonnie, and there is not a lot I do on my 16-wheeler that is divorced from Bonnie's influences, and my weaving life is all the better because of her.

Hall of Fame stuff.

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