Wednesday, August 31, 2011

P2P2: Mine

Bung arm prevented me from weaving a piece this year, so I'd like to show you some hypothetical projects, and reflect on what I got out of P2P2 this year, which was considerable. Here are the pictures I received from Amanda, and I worked primarily with the canoe and Grand Canyon photos.

Hypothetical Projects
I'm still reluctant to go down the ornamental/non-utilitarian track, but this has been a fun mental exercise, perhaps because I know I don't have to weave them if I don't want to.

Rotating Postcard - Mini
Either in tapestry or inlay, probably in wool, woven on its side with start and finish stitched together to create a loop. If inlay, the color background will be in blocks of some sort, and the black outlines in inlay.  Both sides will be postcard size, but the cloth can be rotated/spun so viewers can crop the picture as they please, or flip it to view the B side.
Proportion is paramount; not only the width and height of the the postcard you can see at one point, but also the circumference of the supports at both sides and the width of the black outline requires scrutiny. The design continuity at the seam is also important. If I can think of a way to work inlay in the "bottom" layer while weaving a tube on the loom, that would be a handy technique in controlling the color-background area with ease, but I can't envisage this at this point.

Rotating Postcard - Grande
Same idea, but a larger form on the floor, possibly with three or four posts/faces.  How to hold it standing upright is a technical challenge. Proportion is paramount, and not having any experience with big pieces, but just in my head, I'd like the bottom of the piece to be around 70-90cm off the floor, and the top of the piece to be around, say, 180-200cm from the floor.

From here, sky is the limit; indoor and/or public space partitions/enclosures, backs of chairs, tubular table clothes, elastic waist skirts, etc., etc., etc., in various suitable materials.

Same idea, but taller and hung, and viewers can change perspectives and get different (or "moving) pictures they walk around it.  There can also be multiple tubes hung close together to create a bigger picture.

A Mural in Pieces
Small units of uniform or diverse sizes and shapes to make up a big picture. I envisage tapestry technique, but it can be anything. Here I kept the units in their original rows, but swapped the horizontal positions somewhat.

I come back to this: I like where I arrived in manipulating the images, even though I can see it can also be abstracted or cropped further, and I can see this as a long mural in tapestry or rug technique in a public space.  Because I've seen Melbourne (Australia) Airport's tapestries, I first thought of an airport in Arizona somewhere, but any municipal/civic building would do; courthouse, libraries, schools.  Would anyone like to get started?
(I can't find the pictures of the Melbourne Airport tapestries; can anyone suggest a good link?  This is the organization that worked on it, and you can visit them; Mom spent a lovely day in 2000.)

Don't like it hanging from a thread, nor poking out of a stick. To me this is where it becomes about the thing and not about the cloth.

And Then...
This is the image I can imagine me working on to to turn into utilitarian cloth, with much more abstraction/simplification. I can't see what kind of a "design" I want to extract from it, but I imagine using very fine silk or mercerized cotton, in really finicky tied weaves, possibly in combination with inlay or other hand-manipulated technique.  I might even need a loom with gazillion shafts.  Or Pat might turn it into a tapestry for me.
And we can see this idea popping up in my Rococo-inspired series, yes?

What I Learned
I love design studies, and enjoy experiments.  More so now, because I don't feel as disgruntled that collage and other paper play can be time-consuming.  I used to think between hours battling paper, scissors and glue, and experimenting on the loom, my time was better spent on the loom, but now I see these experimentations are different beasts and I should use whichever meets my purpose at the time.

I've always enjoyed design studies but never really saw the connection between what I do here and what I weave.  I now have some clues:

1) This is not rare among cloth weavers; from time to time we discover gaps in our process or are told we move onto materials and structures too early, by teachers who are sometimes not art practitioners or cloth weavers.  Loom weaving entail structure and pattern/repetition. and we can't avoid having these concerns at the backs of our minds, but I'm going to try to delay thinking about specifics.

2) I like to show the cloth I make, and not express opinions/concepts/shapes/pictures using cloth and certainly not "put myself out there."  This precludes some viable ideas early on; again, I'll try to keep an open mind for a bit longer.

In others' work, I love when ideas are developed far enough so the resultant work doesn't resemble the original images/ideas; it's like a secret or an inside joke.  With my own, this distance feels bad if viewers can no longer identify the original picture/idea, so I've always subconsciously stopped before an idea became visually remote.

With this round of P2P2, I feel I've managed to be a bit more adventurous than before, but I also see possibilities of taking what I've done further, in the first instance cropping and/or simplifying the overlapping printed strips, (which I call "cuffs",) further.  I was mindful of stopping midway, but only because I really liked the delicate outlines superimposed on blotchy bold colors, and I was not-so-secretly pleased with myself I pushed myself even this far.

Relating to 2) above, I may be more interested in technical possibilities and in the actual making than making "art", in which case I don't have to worry about the prescribed design processes.  This view is becoming more attractive as a) I can spend the rest of my life catching up with someone else's definition of art (as opposed to craft, I guess,) but it's forever going to be a moving target, and b) when my time comes and I have to leave this world, it's the body of work, the cloth, I want to leave behind and not the notes/processes/thoughts. In fact, leaving someone to ponder how I came to make a certain piece has always been one of my... goal.  While I'll never stop studying, I need to decide what concerns I'm willing to shed, and what goals I hold dear. 

Thank you, Amanda, for your delicious Arizona photos.  Thank you, participants, for joining me in the journey.  And thank you, readers, for sticking with us and cheering us on.


  1. I am in love with these colours. If I had yardage like your mural image, I would just wrap myself in it. It's a shame you couldn't weave something, but you've really done wonders in the design department. You could keep yourself busy at the loom for a year working through the ideas.

  2. Hi, Cally. I can honestly say that I feel satisfied with how much I did do in the design department. It was fun. The canoe photo had so many different colors in it, it was a joy. I could have gone dark purple, and one can even plan an uneven indigo-dyed piece based on it, too. Fun!

  3. Gorgeous, Meg. I still think it should be quilted!

  4. I see Freedom. Your heart is singing :)

  5. Connie, yes, these render more easily to dyeing and quilting. Would you like to try?

    Dianne, freedom knowing I won't have to weave them, I think. :-0

  6. Meg, I just LOVED following your ideas with this project. You have done wonderfully well with your designs. You are an inspiration, Thanks Xxx

  7. Shirley, here's an idea: P2P with a twist - what if we didn't have to weave it/them! That gives the same flexibility I had to everybody!

  8. This design process in a shot of what i need at the moment! You dont't seem to have become bogged down with a direction, as i feel i do sometimes, and the process of thinking - what if- without constraints is helpful. Great post and great project. Thanks for your hard work and inspiration.

  9. Pleasure, Kaz. But I am becoming increasingly OK with delaying thinking about yarns, structures and other technicalities. And if I can do that, seriously, anyone can!


I love comments. Thank you for taking the time!