Looking at fragments of tapestries online is frustrating at best. Any one who loves fibers knows that there is nothing like seeing fiberart (whatever that entails) in person. Being able to touch it is even better. And being able to see the back, invaluable. Because I cannot see the many Coptic textile fragments in person (and there are many that have survived even from the very beginnings of the Coptic culture, way back in the first century A.D.) it took me qute some time to unravel the first mystery: why did it seem like so many of the tapestry fragments were attached to a linen even weave background? I would like to say I solved this mystery on my own, but in fact I found the answer in a textile text book. I have discovered that some times the most comrehensive explanations for the orgin and structure of textiles comes from text books. They talk about all the geeky details from whether the yarns are S or Z spun, how many plies, what kind of weave, etc. Answers that are not commonly found in history books.
By Mirrix CEO Claudia Chase
I cannot stop making these.
Two were made on an eight inch loom and one was made on a Mini Mirrix. Because of the way I wove it, it didn’t much matter whether or not I used a shedding device. When you are weaving across two or three warps, which was of ten the case, it doesn’t make much sense to reach up and change the shed. I did have the shedding device on the eight inch loom for occasions when I wove from selvedge to selvedge.
I never thought I would end up in Hawaii, but I did. I decided since I was already going to Seattle for Elena’s graduation from Graduate School and Hawaii is only a fairly long hop and a skip away and after all that hard work she really did deserve a fitting present . . . all to say, we rather spontaneously ended up in Hawaii. Added to our great fortune to be able to go there was the fact that we have lovely friends who live there and we were able to bask in their hospitality for our short four day visit.And Paradise provided tons of color inspiration. The light there is amazing as is the sky, the ocean, the flowers, the beaches.
I call it weaving-lite. It’s what I do when I want to weave but don’t really want to think. My go-to material is hand-painted silk because of its no-fail qualities. If you want to just play with fiber on your Mirrix, use great materials and you probably will create something that is pleasing if not out-right amazing. And it will get you through the moments when your creativity light is not shining at its brightest. After all, creating art is really 95% doing it and 5% true creativity. Often we are repeating something we’ve already done with slight alterations. These baby steps keep us moving toward the rare but wonderful huge insights. And if you are like me, you can’t help but make things constantly.
Let me begin with the beginning which wasn’t weaving, but was actually turning an already woven silk strip into a wearable item. I was inspired by the below findings that I had just received in the mail. I thought they would be perfect for making a silk bracelet, and I was right.
I am away from my studio/office for a while. A much needed break to both have a bit of a vacation as well as to get the kind of work done Elena and I have a hard time accomplishing on FaceTime (ie., making a whole new slew of ebooks and, of course, doing our tapestry/bead cuff weave-along). We also have the great fortune of having good friends who live in Hawaii (Elena is in Seattle) so it was only a hop, skip and a jump to get to them. My first time; Elena’s second. Heavenly friends and paradise. Who could ask for more.
But the point of this post is to talk about hand-painted silk. I am analyzing the colors of Hawaii, of course, because they are amazing. And when I do return to NH (I am now in Seattle) I will paint many, many kilos of silk.
That picture of my hand painted silk yarn you see above . . . well, it was taken in the sand at a beach in Hawaii. Oh my gosh, the colors are exactly replicated in that photo. I always thought that taking photos in direct sunlight would wash out the image. But in this case it just made it so real. Want to see some more?
Last night I noticed that beads were a big part of many Oscar looks and I decided to take some notes to see what additional fashion trends might be able to be parlayed into bead or tapestry weaving projects on a Mirrix Loom!
Here are my top three!
- Black & White Colorblock
Patricia Arquette, winner of best supporting actress, wore a beautiful Rosetta Getty black and white colorblock dress last night. Reese Witherspoon stuck to the same palette, wearing an off-the-shoulder Tom Ford gown. They were both gorgeous and definitely provided me with some black and white weaving inspiration.
Pearls are in, and I can’t wait to add some to my next beaded bracelet! Last year’s best supporting actress winner, Lupita Nyong’o, wore a stunning Calvin Klein gown covered in pearls and Best Actress nominee Felicity Jones donned pearls on the bodice of her Alexander McQueen gown.
- Beads, Beads, Beads
The Oscars are all about sparkle, and this year beads were in. Naomi Watts sported beads in her Armani Privé gown and best supporting actress nominee Emma Stone dazzled in a custom beaded Elie Saab gown.
If you don’t have a Mirrix yet and are inspired to start weaving (who knows, maybe your jewelry design will make it to the red carpet next year) you can get a free loom recommendation here.
If you want to make the beautiful black and white silk and bead cuffs shown here? Learn how by following the instructions in this throwback weave-along.
By Mirrix President Claudia A. Chase
What is your favorite color? I don’t have one. When I was a child the answer would have been a combination of pink and red. I was told early on though that pink and red do NOT go together. Since pink is born of red, I always found that notion rather silly. I still do. What I should have been told was: fire engine red does not go well with pale pink but there are other reds that do! So I painted my room green and blue. Green trim, blue walls. The green was soft like leaves before they fall in autumn. The blue was like a deep sky just after a rain. I could live with it.
I live with favorite color combinations which have a tendency to grow and mutate over time. But the themes do not change. They are my personal themes. I believe everyone who works in color has within them certain color themes. It takes a lot of looking back into our heads to find out just what they are. I do have favorite bead colors (which is a combination of finishes and colors, since beads do not any longer exist in the realm of just opaque color) that I rely on as the base of most of my work. You can tell which bead colors I love the most by the fact that they live in 100 gram packs. The accent beads live in bead tubes. By buying large quantities of the beads I love most I allow myself to freely use them. Since I have a tendency to not want to use up what I love most, this trick is imperative for me to freely create.
The worse decision to make when trying to pick what color bead to use in a piece is the one based on: gee I’ve got a lot of these beads I really should use. I don’t think I’ve ever successfully produced a piece on that decision and I can tell you about a whole lot of pieces I’ve cut up and returned to the bead box after having done so.
I have returned from Seattle refreshed and overwhelmed with ideas and work. White in Seattle Elena and I did a lot of brainstorming (my head feels ready to fall off) and now it’s our job to make these ideas become reality.
We stumbled upon this wonderful company that sells and dyes recycled sari silk. This is not the spun version (although they do that too), rather this is comprised of strips of sari fabric that have been sewn together to create essentially ribbons of silk. Of course, we ordered every color to see what we like best and we liked them all, of course.
My job upon returning to NH was to figure out how to best use these ribbons on a Mirrix loom. I was thrilled to return home to my box of silk which quickly found its way into balls and into a basket.
See what I mean about the colors!
I decided to set up a rather thin warp and just weave the strips back and forth. I used C-Lon cord for the warp. Confession: I don’t particularly like rag rug weaving. Sure I’ve done it, but mostly because I wanted the final product. Something about it just does not flow for me. Turns out that weaving with this silk material/ribbon is very similar to weaving cotton rags. I wasn’t having any fun, and for me weaving is all about having fun and getting lost in the process. I wasn’t getting lost. I was getting annoyed. At some point I thought: let’s try a little soumak weaving here. It’s not really weaving actually; it’s really wrapping. This is what Soumak looks like:
Here’s the piece off the loom. Pretty ugly because most of it was just weaving and you can’t see from this photo the detail of the Soumak.
This is a close up of the plain weave part.
And this is a close up of the soumak . . . .what a difference! I was in love.
So I warped my loom again for a wider piece (4 1/2 inches) that would be long enough to be folded into a small purse. I did not need the shedding device because even though I did a few rows of plain weave here and there, there were not enough to require using a shedding device. Warping was quick and simple and I was able to embark on this new almost all soumak piece right away. Bliss!
A third to go still. The edges are perfectly straight and lovely. The texture is amazing and really shows off the beauty of the silk. I can imagine a whole bunch of things one could make from this. And yes, the next step is to go bigger with shapes (one on a 16 inch loom) and then even bigger (one on a 32 inch loom!). I can see making this a habit. It is so calming and the results so perfect. I have just discovered my new obsession for 2014.
I have ordered more of the silk and we will be selling it soon so you won’t have to miss out on all the fun. I will also be dyeing some gorgeous silk ribbon in 2mm and 4mm widths. We’ve been using that to wrap the edges of bead woven bracelets . . . but that’s another post altogether.
Tomorrow I will post the finished product of this weaving and maybe the beginnings of the 16 inch loom project. It’s getting too dark to take anymore pictures.
Happy New Year!
I have been playing (slowly) with hand painted silk. The eyeglass case, which is still on the loom, is now not wanting to be an eyeglass case. More about that tomorrow when I take it off the loom.
To find the silk go to: http://www.mirrixlooms.com/store/silkandgoldkit24.html That’s the big pack and best deal if you want to make a larger piece.
The first strip of silk is done. The other, almost done, is still on the loom. It’s hard to fail. Use any color of our hand painted silk in any order and it will be just right. I added a few rows of beads here and there. The sett was 14 ends per inch, so I used size 11/0 beads.
I crocheted this purse. It was actually a piece I made many months ago. I had made a bunch of these, but is the only one I kept. I added a row of magnatama beads and finished it with a braided strap. Number of hours to make? Who knows, but quite a lot. I wasn’t counting.
Now for the embroidery. This one you might have seen before. It probably took about sixty hours to make and my hands did get sore doing it so I had to take many breaks to do other things. I think the creation time spanned about eight months.
What follows are details of another embroidery I just finished. This one took even longer. But at some point I knew I was finished. I have two more that are almost completed.
And then there is the knitted scarf (a Christmas present). Whenever I joined two colors, I tied an overhand knot and strung crystals or porcelain beads on the thread ends. It was a great way to nicely hide those ends and add some interesting accents.
Now back to finished the “not going to be an eyeglass case!”