I went back to Stitches West this morning, this time to check out the vendor hall and help some friends do some shopping. I rapidly wound up back at John Marshall’s booth and, after a lengthy video conference with my friend Alison, bought a bunch of fine silk yarn for her. (I’m not sure remote shopping was what Apple had in mind when they invented FaceTime, but it sure worked!) And I spent some time chatting with John about Japanese textiles and materials. I showed him my phoenix samples, which were woven using his yarn, and he showed me some truly exquisite handwoven fabric: a turned taquete with insanely fine threads.
Here’s a photo of the fabric:
John said the structure was taquete, but looking at it more closely, I thought it might be turned taquete because of the many mixed colors in the warp. Regardless, it was astoundingly beautiful and the yarns extremely fine. Here is a photo of the fringe at the bottom, with my fingers in the photo to give you a sense of scale:
This alone would have been worth the price of admission, but John had another intriguing fabric to show me:
This piece is interesting not because of the brocade, but because of the green and gold background. That’s not surface design – it’s a piece of paper, covered with lacquer, sliced uber-thinly, and then woven into cloth. A close look at the selvage will give a little more insight:
Here you can actually make out the individual strips of paper.
And here is the lacquered paper itself:
This is traditionally woven using a hook. You remove one thin strip of paper, and run a thin wooden hook through the shed. You grab the paper with the hook, pull it through the shed, and carefully arrange it so it is lacquered side up (and not twisted). Beat GENTLY, then add one or two picks of a binding weft, and then put in another strip.
The resulting piece, as you can see from John’s example, is beautiful. However, it can’t be washed, so is best used for wall hangings and other uses where it won’t see a great deal of wear. I really really really want to try out this technique! If I can figure out how to manufacture the paper (laser cutter perhaps?) then all sorts of interesting phoenix-ly possibilities open.
I wound up coming home with one sheet of the lacquered paper – in fact, the one photographed above. John Marshall very generously gifted it to me, saying that he liked my work and wanted to see what I’d do with it. I was ecstatic, of course – and will definitely send him photos once it’s complete!
So yay! I have to try this technique out, perhaps after I finish weaving off this warp. Any information on how to weave with lacquered paper, or suggestions for tools for doing so, would be most welcome.