Thursday, July 23, 2015

Weaving the New Mexico Landscape- Taos Mountain and the Rio Grande Gorge

In tapestry weaving, one can paint pictures and weave landscapes.
In inkle weaving, well...... can you?
When my customer asked me to weave  him a guitar strap inspired by the below photo, I told him that I could evoke a mood, but not paint a picture. As it turns out, I was able to create something that made both of us happy.

Thanks to Geraint Smith for his stunning photo as inspiration and for allowing me to use it here. Please visit his website to see more of his work. You'll be glad you did!  

This photo's view of  Taos Mountain is from the rim of the Rio Grande Gorge. I especially like how Mr. Smith captured the light on the brush in the foreground and along the top edge of the gorge.
I wanted to select colors that accented those features as well as the layers of blue in the sky and the deep shadowy browns. After a while, I narrowed it down to 7 colors.

I got a happy message from my customer today when it arrived along with the photo below showing how it looks with his guitar.   "Annie, your wonderful strap arrived today; it is delightful.  Thank you for your precise hand work and exquisite design eye..... 
Here it is against the back of my Michael Bashkin ziricote guitar..... most lovely...the colors of the mountains and plain are perfectly echoed in the wood grain :)))"

To see a previous New Mexico landscape strap which I made for a mandolin, click here
Maybe this could be a series. There are a lot of inspirational landscapes here in my home state.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Lanyard Project

Every year in July, artisans come from countries around the world to participate in the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I attended for the first time in 2013 and I'm hooked. It is the largest craft fair that you can imagine. Last year there were 173 artists from 59 countries in attendance. I don't know the exact count for this year. Many of the ones who come represent a larger family group or cooperative back home. It is a huge collaborative event between many organizations, but primarily the International Folk Art Alliance. I love visiting their website and reading stories of individual artists and how the market has impacted their lives.

Click on any of the photos to enlarge them and get a better look at the details! 

Last week, I was fortunate to have been invited to participate in a pre-market gathering of fiber artists at the Espanola Valley Fiber Arts Center. It included artists from New Mexico and 10 artists from other countries who were here for the Folk Art Market. In my excitement about the event, I volunteered to make 50 lanyards (see above photo) to be used as name tags for the event.
It was fun to do, even though I had to push at the end to finish. I used some pearle cottons and finer crochet cottons which I don't normally use on my straps. I set up my looms to weave 2 or 3 at a time on one warp. Sharing my craft in this way was very rewarding. 

Isabel Gonzalez, from Jemez Pueblo (New Mexico, Native American), showed her ceremonial garments decorated in traditional embroidery designs. The Pueblo designs incorporate a lot of black, green and red, so I was happy to see that she found a lanyard in those colors. You can read more about her HERE

Nilda Callanaupa Alvarez of Peru is known to many weavers around the world as the director of The Center for Traditional Textiles, in Cuzco, Peru. See more about that on their website HERE.
When I saw her at the market over the weekend, she was wearing my lanyard with her artist's ID tag and it just added a bit more color to her outfit, which was in splendid color already. 

Aurelia Gomes, Deputy Director of the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico was proudly wearing a lilac summer sweater which she had knit herself. 

Olimpia Newman is the Director of Development at the Espanola Valley Fiber Arts Center.
She has helped me greatly as a business consultant over the last few years.

It is thanks to these two ladies above, that the "Local to Global" meeting of artists took place. 

Most of the artists in attendance at our gathering spoke English and we had some great discussions among ourselves and some fun and teasing, too. We had many things in common. Much of the discussion was focused on our businesses and the role which a local fiber arts center plays in this. We are very lucky to be where we are in New Mexico and have EVFAC! 

I attended the market on Saturday and Sunday. One of the first things that caught my eye was the fact that all of the event volunteers were wearing name tags on handwoven lanyards. This is amazing, since there are about 1,600 volunteers which work the weekend. Upon inquiry, I learned that the artists from Timor-Leste had brought them. I found their booth and looked at the woven textiles. Then I bought some samples of the narrow woven bands which were made into lanyards.

There is lots of encouragement here for me to keep on weaving bright color combinations!!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Design Elements - Asymmetrical

Typically the bands I weave have designs which are symmetrical. Most often designs which I see from other weavers are also. Every once in a while, I like to mix it up and do something asymmetrical, although it seems that I must find some sort of balance in the unbalance. It sure makes setup easy as I don't have to take care when warping the loom to be sure that the second half mirrors the first half. It's kind of freeing. I have not done this enough to develop any kind of style or idea of what makes a good design when symmetry is not a concern. It's one of the things I look forward to exploring more.
What do you think of the following examples?
Have you had any success in creating great designs which are not symmetrical?

inkle weaving, inkle patterns, asymmetrical

In the design above, I really liked the skinny red stripe along one border. 

inkle weaving

inkle weaving, inkle band design

inkle weaving, inkle band design, inkle pattern

In the center of this design, the sari silk yarn creates a great effect and the coordinating colors of mustard yellow and berry red really worked well.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Inkle Weaving Books, New and Old

Since I am working on writing my own inkle weaving ebook, I decided to review my collection 
of inkle books and see what has already been said and done.  I started weaving in the 1970's and 
still have a number of my books from that era. Surprisingly, there were a lot published  in that decade and not many new ones until this decade. It was SO  much fun to thumb through all of these! Each one has some wonderful stuff in it. As I looked, I noted the different terminology and types of drafts used by the authors. Now I know why I call things by the names that I do. Some patterns were named by the authors of these vintage books and those names have stuck with me although other terminology  is in common use nowadays.The method of pickup which is known by many names like: Sami,  Baltic, European, Basketweave and Supplementary Warp, has always been known to me as "Speckled Background" thanks to Evelyn Neher. 

Inkle Loom Weaving

This was my very first inkle book and the one which provided the plans used by my dad and I to build my very first loom back in 1976. Unfortunately, the tensioner on this loom was not the best. The book, published in 1973, is easy to find for sale online at about the same price as it was new. It is full of project ideas, many of which reflect the time period, but some of which would be timely still.
Just look at the photo below of that dapper gentleman in a handwoven necktie!
Don't you just want to make one for a man in your life? 

Helene Bress's book, originally published in 1975,was updated in 1990. 
If you can only buy one book, buy this one!  It is still available! 
It has plans for building looms and I have a large floor standing inkle loom built from the plans. 
Very sturdy! The how-to section is great for those starting out. It has good directions
 for pickup techniques, brocades, finishes and many project ideas. 
Also, a handy chart is included with specific yarn types and approximate warps per inch. 

"Band Weaving", published in 1974, demonstrates so many techniques: Weaving on an inkle loom, soda straw loom, Hungarian loom, twining loom, as well as finger weaving, backstrap weaving with a rigid heddle and card weaving.  It provides an interesting comparison of techniques! 

Mary Meigs Atwater, a weaving legend, did much to promote the craft in the USA in the first decades of the 20th century. She is credited for importing the first inkle loom to this country from England and encouraging it's manufacture here. This book, "Byways in Handweaving", first printed in 1954, is fascinating. Not only does she discuss various methods of weaving narrow wares, but gives patterns and instructions for weaving bands from Estonia, Peru, Guatemala, Africa, Scandanavia, Bolivia, Egypt, and several Native American tribes. 
I only wish that they were in color!

Published in 1982, this book has a bit of everything from building a loom, warping, pickups and project ideas. My favorite project is making your own "Moccasin Slippers", although I confess that I haven't tried it. It is the place where I first learned to weave letters even though I have since discovered a method which I prefer over this one. 

Evelyn Neher's book, "Inkle", published in 1974, includes a segment on tapestry weave, not usually discussed in inkle weaving  books. The section on looms, historical and modern, is wonderful!! Check out that picture below of a Polish weaver. She has her warp tensioned between one knee and the opposite foot. (If you click on the photo, it becomes larger.)

Although there are a few other books in my band weaving library, the above ones have been the most influential in my inkle weaving career. 

Susan Foulkes is best known for her book "Sami Band Weaving",  which I also have. 
This little book, "The Art of Simple Band Weaving", published in 2013,specifically illustrates the designing of plain weave bands, and is one of the best books currently in print for that purpose,
 in my opinion. 
Susan is an excellent teacher and has several nice YouTube videos, including one which was  made as a companion to this book. 
In this video, she demonstrates how to weave a band using 5 different loom types.