At long last – and almost exactly two months after starting! – the Fire warp is tied on:
Due to a miscalculation on my part, I was 16 threads short at the right edge. No real problem; at 90 threads to the inch, that’s only about 1/6 of an inch. I’ll just leave those heddles out of the design. Somehow, I think 2,624 threads will be enough. 😉
Now it’s time to start weaving, right?
Not so fast. Now all 2,624 knots have to be pulled through the heddles. This is a slow and tedious process (since when was any jacquard process ever fast?), because, while you can’t really see it in the photo above, the tied-on threads look rather like a rat’s nest, all jumbled together. At a density of 90 threads per inch, pulled through teeny tiny heddle eyes, that poses quite a daunting tangle.
As a result, all 2,624 threads need to be pulled through, one by one. Yes, I said one by one. I’d love to do them all at once, as I gather you can do with thicker threads and bigger heddle eyes, but at 90 ends per inch and with my tiny heddle eyes, I’ve never been able to do it successfully without doing every thread separately. Cue another 8-10 hours of sitting there, pulling each thread individually.
And then! You get to do it AGAIN, because even after all that the threads aren’t perfectly aligned. They catch on each other as they go through, and wind on each other, and generally misbehave. So even after you’ve done it once, you have to go back and do it again to catch the strays. Again, a tedious process and I’d love to find shortcuts, but I haven’t found any yet. Slow weaving. You can see why I put on very long warps!
Here’s where I am now, after about two hours of work yesterday:
I forgot to mention that some knots will come undone partway through the process, and occasionally a thread will break. After tying a couple thousand knots, I’ve gotten VERY good at tying them, but I’ve had two or three give way or thread breaks so far. These will have to be found and fixed later.
This whole process, by the way, is MUCH faster on Grace, because she is threaded at only 60 ends per inch, and the threads are much thicker. Much of this pain is self-inflicted, by threading with fine yarns at 90 epi rather than 60. But, the results are beautiful and (hopefully) worth it.
Anyway, after both iterations of pulling through are done, I’ll have to sley the reed, and then it’ll be time to tie on, weave a short header, and begin debugging. Which means I am still a good 15-20 hours away from actual weaving. However, considering that I’m at least 30 hours into the process, being this close is a HUGE milestone! Super excited.
I’m also SUPER excited because being this close means I can start planning my project in earnest. I think I’ve decided on a theme for the project: the cycle of the California seasons and how the wildfires are getting worse in response to global climate change. And I’ve decided on an overall interpretation in cloth: cloth that changes color, going from green with orange flecks (poppies) to yellow to flaming orange to black ash and back to green again, in a cycle. The cycle repeats itself, with the green areas gradually getting smaller and yellower, and the orange and black areas getting bigger. And the format will be three-dimensional, I think, some sort of book format.
What that format is, I don’t yet know. I spent part of this morning paging through the book Making Handmade Books: 100+ Bindings, Structures, & Forms by Alisa Golden, looking for inspiration, and madly sticking in Post-Its wherever I found something interesting. I’m also thinking a kinetic origami sculpture has possibilities.
I’ve talked a bit about my theme. Here are my practical constraints for the format:
- It needs to be easy for a conference to display. That means not overly large, especially if three-dimensional.
- It needs to be shippable and not take up too much space for me to store afterwards. Collapsible would be really nice.
- It needs to be static, since people won’t be able to touch it while it’s being displayed. So, they won’t be able to appreciate moving parts, or be able to flip the pages of a book (for example).
- It needs to be describable in one photograph, two at most, since that’s all I get for the entry for a juried show.
- The piece needs to stand on its own with just the title to explain. Not all fiber arts shows include artist’s statements – and most importantly, if I recall correctly, Convergence doesn’t.
These constraints mean I can’t do something like a bound book, because people can’t pick it up and flip the pages. I can’t make a long, skinny accordion book, because those read horizontally and are hard to display. (I can make a long scroll, because hanging vertically is easier than displaying horizontally.) I can make a pop-up book but I can’t make one where opening and closing the book is important to appreciating the pop-up.
In addition, I need to be careful about things where the front and back are both important, because it’s difficult to display those on a wall (where most items are hung in a show) and if you only get one photograph for a show entry, how are you going to show both front AND back in a single photo? (You can do a composite, sure, but most shows don’t allow any Photoshop work on the entry, so you’re dancing on thin ice there.)
But even within those constraints, there’s plenty of room for creativity. I’m planning to spend today exploring some of the possibilities. While pulling through another 600 threads or so.
Off to breakfast! Gotta pull threads while the sun shines.