After a week of slow and steady work, probably another 6-8 hours of threading, I have made significant progress. I have gone from 10% done to 29.3% done, according to my calculations! (Hey, that .3% is important! Every bit counts.)
I have now tied on 8.5 of 29″ worth of threads. At the current rate, it will take 2-3 weeks to finish tying on, at which point I can sley and then pull through the threads. So it will be a month at least before I can start weaving.
Actually it will be more than a month. Lurking in the background, after all, is Grace and the Gradients warp that will go onto her. I haven’t done anything with it because Grace needs some major parts upgrades (four new heddle kits) and I’ve been waiting for those to arrive. DHL says they’ll arrive on Wednesday, at which point I’ll have 13.5 yards of warp to beam and 1,760 heddles to thread before I can start weaving THAT warp. Which, unlike the Fire warp, actually has a deadline – I’m teaching a class on gradients starting at the beginning of August, so there is very clearly no time to lose. So as soon as Grace’s parts arrive, I’m going to start working on the Gradients warp as well as the Fire warp. Time to find more verses to those threading songs!
Excitingly, however, I think I have found some fabulous things to create with Maryam and the Fire warp. A new format to explore. To explain, waaaaaaay back when, in 2010, I took a class in two-dimensional design, and as part of that class, I created a book out of fabric, telling the story of my transformation from a mathematician to an artist. It was an accordion book, and here are the panels of the book:
Here’s the full book, opened up completely, minus the last two pages with the pop-up girl:
Obviously, it’s not a technical masterpiece (I had only a few days to make it), but I was intrigued both by the accordion-folded format and by the idea of telling a story with fabric. Collage wasn’t a medium I could take to weaving shows, though, and I didn’t really have a loom that could weave a story back then, so I let the idea drop.
Of course, now I DO have a loom that can weave a story. And I’m still intrigued by the book format. Accordion books are intriguingly three dimensional, and I have a long standing interest in origami that dates aaaaalllll the way back to my college days. Back when I was in the mental hospital at the end of my year of graduate school (being blunt, I was about to kill myself in a bout of bipolar depression; I’m glad I didn’t, but it was touch and go for awhile), there wasn’t much you could do in the acute care unit, aka the locked ward – for obvious reasons they wouldn’t let you have yarn, knitting needles or crochet hooks, but paper was perfectly fine, so I spent a week diving into my other interest, origami. So sculptural paper intrigues me, and always has. It is one VERY small step from paper to cloth…
Of course, accordion books are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to books. I was intrigued by Alice Schlein’s jacquard-woven cloth-bound books, but bound books weren’t what I wanted to do. Accordion books were interesting, but didn’t seem sculpturally interesting enough to bring to a show.
And then I stumbled on Charlotte Rivers’ Little Book of Book Making. It’s an amazing book, about 65% inspiration and 35% tutorials. The tutorials aren’t terribly in-depth, but that’s okay: it was inspiration I was after, and I found tons of insipration in this book! It turns out that there are a TON of creatively folded sculptural formats for books: dragon books, accordion books, flag-fold books – all of which have wonderful possibilities for working with cloth. The advantage of all these formats is that they (a) open up to three dimensions and (b) fold flat, which is important for storage. I don’t have the space for a lot of big three-dimensional pieces!
So I am HUGELY excited now about weaving cloth books. I already have an idea for a cloth book titled Genesis, with a design that evolves from very simple, black and white, to a much more complex and rich design over the space of seven panels. Of course that is just a starting-point for an idea; the actual finished piece will likely be very different.
I’ve ordered a couple more books on bookmaking (really excited about Hedi Kyle and Ulla Warchol’s The Art of the Fold, which arrives today!), and will order some bookmaking materials for building design prototypes as soon as the books arrive and I know what I need to order.
Meanwhile, of course, there is the endless tying-on of threads to occupy me…