It’s been cold around here – not quite cold enough to make ice, at least where I am (this is the Bay Area after all), but cold enough to be setting some record lows. And it has been quite chilly weaving in an unheated garage, so I am very pleased to have some fire to show you:
This one is woven with 30/2 silk. First I pre-wove a loose “fabric” with a superfine silk weft, then stenciled the “cloth” with black dye. Then I removed the temporary weft, re-wound the warp onto the warp beam, and wove it off in 3-1 broken twill. Finally, I overdyed it using low-water immersion dye techniques to give the phoenix some fire.
There are quite a few technical issues with this version, so it is definitely not a show piece. However, I learned a lot while making it, and am pretty certain that The Final Version is no more than two or three iterations away. I may even finish it on this warp!
The big question in my mind is still the heat waves. I feel that the plain 3-1 broken twill background is a bit dull, even with the fiery overdyeing. I would like to put a bit more motion into the background, without being overwhelming. But will the “heat waves” I was designing in my last post do the trick?
Well, I still don’t know. Here’s what the heat-wave swatch looks like:
It’s surprisingly subtle – a thin line of 2-2 broken twill against a background of 3-1 broken twill.
And here’s what it looks like up against the full-sized sample (click for the big version, it’s barely visible in the small version):
For those too lazy to click, here’s a closeup:
I alternate between liking and not liking the heat waves, so I’ve hung up the piece (and the swatch) next to my computer desk so I can “live with” both versions for awhile. Every couple of minutes I glance over to take it in, think about it, and then go back to what I’m doing. I’ve got a couple of days before I need to make a decision, so I can waffle for awhile.
Tomorrow morning I’m going back into the studio to weave another two yards of pseudo-cloth and prepare it for another round of stenciling. The stenciling process takes three days to complete: one day to apply the soda ash solution and let it dry, one day to apply the dyes and let them cure, and one day to rinse out and dry the warp. Then I have to remove the temporary weft and roll it back onto the beam before I can weave it. So it really takes about four or five days to weave two yards of cloth! Very slow work, but I’m really enjoying it.
Because there are built-in pauses between periods of activity, I’m also planning on doing two long-put-off projects: reorganizing my website, and working on the book. I had felt burned out on the book, so set it aside for several months, but I’m feeling enthusiastic about it again for the first time since July. I’m currently taking stock, and will probably resume work on converting blog posts to chapters. I may also move the book blog back into my personal website, consolidating the two sites into one. Lots to consider and work through!
Finally, if you’re wondering why it’s been five days since the last blog post, well, it’s because most of the time, my computer looks like this:
And when it doesn’t, the chair in front of it looks like this:
So what’s a girl to do? I just smile, pat them on the head, and head for the loom.