Thursday, September 28, 2006

Breaking the Monotone Barrier

Next week, I'm going to a five-day weaving workshop by Randall Darwall, in Paraparaumu, just north of Wellington. It's going to be a highlight of my weaving life.

Randall Darwall is easily one of the most respected and sought-after weavers of our time, and since he doesn't write books, the quickest way to learn his style is to attend his workshops. So I signed up for this one way back in February. In May or June we received instructions on what to bring to the workshop, and I've been stuck ever since.

Randall Darwall's view on color is "more is better." His motto: "Why use five colors when fifty will do nicely." He wants us to prepare a warp using dynamic proportions of colors, where we select a base color, and then add smaller and smaller amounts of different colors. I have no problems with the way he does it; have a look at his site, his works shimmer and dance and laugh and seduce. But have you seen mine?

I love to weave textiles with subtle color or textual nuances, but on the whole, look monotone. I don't often mix hues too far apart on the color wheel. In fact, most of the yarns I own are on the blue half of the wheel: blue, navy, purple and red, plus black and white and natural.

Liking colorful textile is one thing, but trying to create colorful textile (that is, mix and match hues) is another, and I'm having to take a sledgehammer to an old mental barrier.

I've only three more days to prepare, and am still at a loss as to what I'm going to do, but at least I decided on a simple twill threading today, so I've two and a half days to think about the colors.



  1. My philosophy is everything matches. My best jewelry are the pieces in which I deliberately put two colors in one bead which I think will clash. It's become almost a compulsion with me. I'm betting your review of the workshop will be that you've found your own color aesthetic.
    By the way, your work is so beautifully even which is an exercise in restraint in itself and probably one of the most difficult things to learn about weaving, so see that as a point of departure and a necessary task.

  2. Phegmfatale, I met a rug restorer who knows a hobby jeweler. The jewelry lady gave the rug lady a necklace, but it was very long, and the rug lady wanted it to wear short, so she rethreaded it, and she didn't like the result. So she rang up the jewelry lady, who said; "Always put a disruptive piece somewhere." I think you as a jeweler have a similar policy (but that's not the word I want to use... aesthetic?).

    Re. my textile, thank you for your compliments. I like what I do. But what I learned from Randy will enrich and diversify my work. In short, I'm thinking, I have worked with one or two hues in different values and textures forever; what I found most attractive about Randy's textiles is when he works in many hues but in a very narrow range of values. Both makes elegant cloth, but I bet the many hue one is easier to match with many things, ergo eye-catching and versatile as a shawl/scarf. This is what I'm thinking five days after the workshop ended; I'll let you know where I'm at in another five days!


I love comments. Thank you for taking the time! But do please leave your real or blog name.