The tencel warp is drawing to a close – I’m guessing there’s only another yard or two that can be woven – and I am starting to think about what comes next.Â I want to do more work with the “Autumn Splendor” theme – developing the concept into something more concrete, something I can actually embody.Â Right now I have a vision of falling maple leaves, glimpses of gold glitter, and brocade over flowing silk.Â I have to figure out how to transform that into something I can actually make.
One of the ideas I have been playing with is the transient nature of autumn.Â As a child, I was fascinated by the leaf bookmarks that my parents would bring home from Taiwan – leaves treated with acid to burn away the soft parts, leaving only the spidery, skeletal veins.Â It reminded me a little of the decorations people put up around Halloween – except this was a skeleton leaf, not a skeleton person.Â Same thing: beauty in transience, delicacy in death’s remnants.
So I really liked the idea of “ghost leaves”, skeletal remnants of a woven design suggesting a leaf.
Skeletal remnants of a woven design, of course, leads directly to devorÃ©, a technique in which the cellulose components of a fabric are “burned out”, usually with sodium bisulfate, leaving only the protein/synthetic components.Â It’s frequently used with silk/rayon velvet, burning out the rayon pile in patterns while leaving the silk “backing” intact.Â Anne Field has written a book on devorÃ© for weavers and knitters, which was really helpful, and Holly Brackmann has done considerable work with devorÃ© in handweaving, plus written a book on surface design techniques.Â She was gracious enough to give me some advice.
Based on that I’ve decided to try using cotton-wrapped polyester thread to make my “skeletal leaves”.Â It’s apt to be stronger and finer once burned out than a blended yarn, and because the yarn stays intact, it won’t produce a ragged edge in the burnout areas.
The ideas that I am gradually developing, if I had to put them in words, would be:
- beauty in death/transformation
- the ghostly “veil” between worlds
- secrets revealed when covering is burned away
And here, plucked from my Evernote notebook, is what I am envisioning:
Something fancy using devore and double weave – for example, a rusty orange-and-metallic gold backing layer (in silk or another protein fiber), with a black layer on top of that. Â Weave the top layer (black) in a cotton-covered polyester yarn. Â Burn out the cellulose content to reveal the double weave layer underneath. Â Could get some interesting leaves that way!
I’ve spent some time the last few days contemplating how exactly I would achieve that, and came up with some more scribbled plans in Evernote:
I’ve since sketched out the ingredients needed for this witches’ brew in my notebook, and drawn up a list of the steps required.Â It will take considerable time to create and experiment with the samples, but I think the end results will be pleasing.
I won’t be able to get started on this, of course, until I actually get some polyester/cotton thread to work with.Â So this weekend will be a relatively quiet one – finish weaving off the tencel warp, sew the label into Kodachrome, write a promised article for Complex Weavers Journal, and review some DVDs from Interweave Press.Â And start designing the draft for the devorÃ© doubleweave, of course!