I finished the thin piece but didn’t like it enough to make into a purse. I was anxious to get started on a bigger piece. For the thinner piece I had used “test” colors. Just everything I had purchased but mostly the colors I was not thrilled with. It was a process of elimination. The color at the very top was one I thought I would not like (and so ordered only one skein . . . I have since ordered a bunch more) because it looked dull on the website. Turns out it’s just a very subtle blend of beige and pink. What I did like about this piece is the texture. I loved the whole process.
The next piece is being woven on a 16 inch loom. After weaving the smaller piece on an 8 inch loom, the 16 inch loom seemed enormous. I didn’t warp the entire width, but close to it. Again, I used C-Lon cord, which I think is the best warp for this kind of piece. The warps get rubbed a lot when you wrap around them with the silk material weft and the C-Lon cord is strong enough to withstand the rubbing. My first piece (there was one before the one above) is in the trash because I used hand-painted silk warp and it broke! Lesson learned! I then started searching all around my studio for something that would work. Suddenly it occurred to me that the C-Lon (fine weight . . . could also be heavier) would work great. Besides being strong, it’s very smooth and allows the silk weft to settle correctly.
So this is where I am at with the second piece (actually, the third piece, but the second one you are going to get to see). I love these colors and they will be the ones we will be selling. I haven’t used all of them yet.
You can see that I took a totally different path with this one. I have woven shapes, instead of just stripes. The fun thing about Soumak versus tapestry weaving is you don’t have to worry about being in the right shed because there is not shed. You can begin a new piece of weft anywhere and go anywhere with it. In a few spots I have woven the weft. You can see where the blue and purple meet there is a little bit of weaving. How can you see that? Well, there is a little bit of “dotting” which comes from weaving a weft of one color followed by a weft of another color followed by a weft of the first color.
I have a long way to go. However, because the weft is so thick, even though Soumak technically takes longer to accomplish than weaving, it didn’t take me that much time to weave this much. I wasn’t actually keeping track, but I did do it in one sitting and I don’t sit for very long. So at most a couple of hours.
A little more information: the ends of the weft do stick out the back of the piece. So this will not be a two-sided piece. I imagine it will make a great larger purse or even a pillow. If I were to weave a larger piece to use as a rug, I would have to line the back. Or, I guess if I wove the beginning of each new weft for an inch or so before doing the soumak that would eliminate the tails on the back. Hmmmm . . . . think I’ll give that a try.
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!