Thursday, September 24, 2009

the goods

A few photos of the fun equipment and materials that I have been playing with.  I'm kind of obsessed with the bobbin winder ;)

Quick post

Busy day, but I couldn't resist posting what grew on my loom yesterday!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

New Experiment(s)

I am pleased to me making progress on the next piece, which includes industrial twine and a large heavy gauge plastic bag I sliced up into one continuous strand and loaded onto my shuttle, as my weft materials.  I also used a technique of the two weft materials jointing at randomly locations across the warp, something I saw in On Weaving by Anni Albers.  I find this intriguing, but I wish it was more apparent.  As the plastic is transparent, it is visible as a regular weft strand, but when it approaches the joint with the twine, it loses something.  Any thoughts?  However, positives exist: not having working with either of the two weft materials, I wasn't sure how they were going to lay within the warp.  I didn't design this out on paper beforehand, as I am sticking with my laboratory of experimentation.  Interesting enough, the plastic happily folded in half without much work on my part and made an even spacing for the twine to follow, both without much beating.  It is better we let the material speak than we speak ourselves. 

Additionally, in Manual: The Architecture of Kieran Timberlake, they talk of the craft of weaving itself and the presence of weaving in architecture:

The building block, or cell, of a woven surface is the joint between overlapping materials.  Weaving in essence is a continuous joint.  In closely spaced weaving, the pattern of intersections becomes both visually and practically subservient to the plane or volume.  Although the joint is normally an event of each physical consequence that it dominates our perception, in a densely woven form, the joint is transformed into a recessive contributor to the overall appearance of surface and shape. 

In addition to the entire work being a continuous joint, I feel the internal joint which I created with the two weft materials begins to add another dimension, still identifying with their description, but perhaps not in such a recessive way.  This joint, an additional form of structural organization, is one of my doing which I imposed on the material and process, not mechanically imposed by my tools.  Should it be a recessive or begin to organize the entire piece?  As I am thinking about moving into three-dimensions by next adding some thin gauge wire to the next experiment on this warp, perhaps that could express the internal joint spatially, in addition to its visual distinction. 

Monday, September 21, 2009

An Architecture of WHAT?!

As this is an architectural thesis, sadly I cannot just keep playing and experimenting forever on the loom...there has got to be a method to this madness, even if it does change on a weekly basis.  As a result of oodles of research this past week, I have been able to draw some initial qualitative design assumptions.  I am newly intrigued with the popularity and effectiveness of architectural installations seen at such venues as P.S. 1 MOMA and the Storefront for Art and Architecture.  As these constructions are temporary and small in scale, they provide a high level of sensorial experience of the space/place without all of the practicalities of an actual building, kind of like a solution for the senses. Priority is placed however on their actual method of construction, due to time restraints, space, and the direct and immediate connection of the designer to the materials and production--which I find to be the most challenging and intriguing element of all.  To restore the designer the experience of direct experience of a medium is the task of today, the words of Anni Albers.  The process of forming has been disturbed by divorcing the planning from the making, since a product today is in the hands of many, no longer in the hands of one.  Most importantly Albers states that the craftsman gives meaning to material beyond itself.  This is quite an empowering statement. 

Below are my qualitative thoughts on program. 

Design Criteria:
  • An ephemeral built environment  based on the literal and conceptual construct of weaving
  • Constructed as an outdoor architectural installation for gathering, connection and learning
  •  Links to maternal thinking and the prehistoric tent suggest a means to remake the world without replacing it
  •  Product is not a building, but an architecture of experimenting in and on the real world
  •  Reveals the process of making, seeing, and knowing
  •  Not permanently sited, relocated and reassembled as required
  •  Conceived as an "Architecture" in residence (derived from artist in residence programs for creative nomadic studies)
  •  Celebrates interactions with it through sensation, demonstration and physical connection
Design Qualities:
  •  Structure dissolves into surface
  •  Never quite interior or exterior, enclosed or open
  •  Organizes simple materials into a thoughtfully constructed visual artifact
  •  Utilizes repetition and placement in design and construction
  •  Omni directional and flexible

Monday, September 14, 2009

Starting off right

After coming off of non-weaving week, I have started my second piece and have successfully measured the yarn, sleyed the reed and threaded the heddles and its only halfway through Monday! (Sigh of relief) I realize that despite other commitments and work this is the most important part of my study and I need to make it a priority...daily. In planning the new piece, I wanted to stay mainly with the methods explored in the first piece to one, not get too far over my head initially and two because its the most basic and most ancient form. I kept two alternating colors, however, based off of some accidental snapped yarn creating interesting voids in the first piece, I decided to sley one, two, or no threads in the reed dents to hopefully create a randomized shed, repeated as the color changes. I still threaded the heddles using a straight draw, 1, then 2, 3, and 4, then repeat, so I am unsure of the outcome. I am also going to use a plastic bag that I shredded into a "yarn" and perhaps some rough twine that I purchased at a hardware store as an interesting weft. Ironically the new piece is a blue and yellow warp again. I was drawn to this fluorescent yellow yarn and the blue randomly followed.

I did however have some breakthroughs last week: I met with local weaver and USF Collaborator Judi Jetson. Lets just say she is exactly what I need as a beginning weaver to have on my side. During our talk she brought up several good points on weaving design and production, first being how natural the act of weaving comes to her. The precise and intricate movements of the set-up along with the rhythmic dance and syncopation of throwing the shuttle and depressing the treaddles. I completely agree with her description and satisfaction derived from weaving. It felt completely natural for me as well, like something inherent. Although being new, the language of weaving somehow feels familiar and not foreign.

She also commented how weaving is a solitary act, unlike other fiber arts like quilting, knitting, or spinning. This isn't necessarily a negative and creates a different experience than your typical Monday night knitting group. Weaving isn't done to pass the time, its a conscious and deliberate act. I have found that it allows you be alone with your hands, the material, and your thoughts. You are completely present with your movements and what happens is under your direct control. Under a strict set of repetitious process and guidelines, infinite possibilities reveal themselves.

Judi and I were also discussing the first piece I created and the unified strength of the under and over members. She suggested I write this comment I made down, so here it is: The piece was so flexible and so rigid at the same time. I can't pull it apart, but I can manipulate it in so many ways. Although this is significant observation, its relevance is yet unknown...not for too much longer though.

Finally, Judi and I discussed that weaving is much more about process than product. At this point, I have spent much more time setting up rather than actually weaving, but I feel nothing is lost as I have learned so much over the past few weeks. I have a sense of pride in hanging up my recent product for all to see, its a beautiful experiment, but is it a true representative of the time, energy, and thought embodied to make it? Are our efforts ever completely understood in our creations? Is it supposed to only be a personal triumph? Is the product really important or is it our learning and growing that makes the process worthwhile? This is something to be explored as weaving is approximately 70% process and 30% product. Does creating beautiful architecture follow the same course? I would say yes.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Somewhat new abstract

Towards a Tactile Sustainability: Women, Architecture and Weaving

Weaving and architecture, conceived simultaneously with cave paintings, are two ancient forms of craft used to enclose space and provide shelter harmoniously with nature. Like that of architecture, a useable textile in its basic composition is the interlacing of two groups, the warp and weft, at right angles to create surface and structure. Textile artist Anni Albers of the Bauhaus attributes the organization of weaving to the skills of an ancient goddess. Her understanding of prehistoric cultures further links women closer to the overall creation of structure, though perceived as a masculine endeavor. Consequently early advancements in architecture, the structural organization of shelter, are a result of feminine inventions.

Moreover, it has been the female who has been entrusted with emotional and sensual elements of shelter since prehistory. Through the creation of a home, women’s mastery of the domestic realm strengthened and led to gender-defining ideologies. Suburban typologies of the post-war United States heightened the feminine domestic role through social and environmental isolation of the gender. The suburbs ironically conditioned an alternative sentiment of the built environment featuring ideals of tradition, sustenance, and continuity with nature.

In the modern era, weaving and architecture have devolved to be similarly designed and chosen for aesthetic qualities only. Textiles are produced for an indoor existence with weaving traditions unchanged and innovation only seen in synthetic fibers. Modern homes are chosen and constructed using inefficient practices popularized in the 1950s, with advancements only in materiality. Both disciplines overlook their feminine link and mutual advantages of protection, flexibility, connection with users, tactile engagement, and environmental impact.

The capacity of the planet suffers due to outdated and unsustainable residential building practices, while quality of life degrades due to the inabilities of built spaces to nurture and engage inhabitants effectively. Based on eco-feminist philosophies within architecture and the structural, spatial, and tactile qualities of weaving, these crafts will again interlock into a modern, efficient construct. The time has come to rethink building design and the feminine integration of weaver and architect provides a foundation for the discovery of an appropriate assembly for the next generation.

Argh, its Thursday

I had anticipated starting a new woven work this week but now its Thursday and I've been only successful with the consuming the tasks of tightening up my thesis abstract, the creation of a thesis "movie poster", and research on relevant case studies which will guide/inform me in what the heck I am gonna make.  Here is the final poster, don't you want to come see my "movie"?  I've also supplied my new and improved abstract in the next post, which differs from the one on the poster. 

Monday, September 7, 2009

Reviewing Black Mountain College

I'll presenting my thesis adventures up until midterm at Black Mountain College in North Carolina during an international conference.  Its exciting to see my name on the event schedule for Sunday October, 11!!  whoo hoo!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I must be doing something right

Just like I randomly stumbled upon the sole inspiration for this study, Anni Albers, while doing research for an alternate class over the summer, I have done it again by happening upon an additional vital source for my thesis committee.  I've been thinking a lot about the members of my committee and was hoping to find a local weaver/textile artist, preferably with some interdisciplinary study.  Preliminary searches were frustrating and unsuccessful.  However while just investigating a magazine called Handwoven by Interweave Press, I found a listing of weaving classes and teachers organized by state.  To my surprise there was a listing in Lutz, Florida, which is very near Tampa, by textile artist and weaver Judi Jetson.  I immediately emailed her with my abstract and link to this blog.  I think it took her all of 10 minutes to email back and her response was more unbelievable than I could have ever asked for (or searched for!)  She is actually employed by the university, knows several members of the architecture faculty, and is a part of the Pinellas Weavers Guild --which I was going to contact any day now. She said it was shocking we had not met before and I completely agree.  A face-to-face meeting over coffee, a trip to the Pinellas Weavers meeting, and the missing piece to the committee puzzle into place.  Namaste!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

First Study

The yarn hunt

After starting the first piece, I was fortunate to have a weaving visitor (thanks to them!) stop by my studio and give me a few pointers.  Yes, the yarn was definitely wrong and this first piece was going to be the most difficult because of that.  It was relieving to learn that the next piece would be easier, but sadly none of the 30+ cones of yarn that came with my loom are appropriate for weaving!!  Argh.  They were thrown in as a late bonus, so no worries.  After hitting up my local chain craft stores, I learned that weaving yarn was not as readily available as I had hoped.  Thank goodness for the web because I would have never known about an amazing yarn store in South Tampa, Knit and Knibble.  Stopping by on Saturday afternoon, I found them swamped with knitting classes and many browsers.  Welcome to the cult of knitting!! I acquired the help of a great sales lady and was amazed at their selection of all types of yarn actually appropriate for knitting and weaving--anything from 24-26 stitches per inch and of minimum 1600 yards/pound. Please note for Christmas  I decided on wool and picked colors that appealed to me.  At this point, color is not a concern but rather an accent, as seen in the selection of fluorescent yellow. 

Warp + Weft = Weave

Last Thursday I became a weaver in the actual sense.  Setting up for three days culminated into a truly crazy creation of experimentation. I started out doing a simple basket weave and then moved to a twill using the same yarn I had used for the warp.  This yarn proved to not be a good selection as it was difficult pulling the beater after each throw of the shuttle.  I also had a lot of trouble keeping the selvedges (the edges of the piece) even and not pulling in too much.  Controlling this is something I'm sure is acquired with more exposure.  Sadly, I also snapped three blue lines due to a snag behind the reed.  So you live and learn.  It was a really fun experience however because I soon moved on to investigating different patterns, yarn, and beating strengths.  See my latest creation below.  I feel pretty successful right now and look forward to more.  I'm really looking forward to possibly designing and/or conceiving my next piece on paper beforehand, as Anni Albers did.  From this first study I am also interested in further using other items besides yarn as the weft and just seeing what happens.  Channeling happy accidents is what I am going for.