Sunday, 8 March 2015

the fabric of Stave Hill (part 2) - Shane's story

‘Nature is an active component of art, not a setting for it’ – Ben Tufnell

Pictured here are the results my weaving endeavours with Jess last weekend. Both of us scouted around to find a site at Stave Hill for making a loom - see loom weaving and willow heddles post. We decided on the location above as both of us were interested in how the loom would intersect with the existing path and in the time it took to set up the warp and weave the fabric, we trod our own desire line at one end of the loom. 

We took pictures of each other as we weaved and thought it would be a good idea to swap each others  snaps and both write about the process here. This is my version of events, the next post will be Jess’s account, my first guest writer on the blog. 

Having been much inspired by Eric Boudry’s Book of Looms and the description in it of a two-bar loom dating back as early as 6000 B.C., I suggested not using our specially made willow heddle for this job; a ridiculous idea in many ways after all our talk about these handmade heddles - see previous post. We used gardening twine for the warp and reeds for the weft.

This type of loom requires a shed stick and heddle rod placed between a breast and warp beam; in our case two trees. The action of creating shed and counter shed to allow the weaving of the weft is performed by each of us standing on either side of the warp, alternatively pushing and pulling the shed stick and heddle rod. Five hours later, and after much exertion, we produced almost two meters of fabric which we are completely thrilled about. The physicality of the whole process (stretching the warp, repeatedly pushing the reeds through it, manipulating the heddle and shed stick) reminded me of Ron Arad’s following definition of design as ‘an act of one imposing one’s will onto materials to perform a function’. 

I don’t really agree with this however. It seems unfair on the materials, and the whole process was more of a dance than a battle of will. I like to think of art or design as a collaboration between the materials and the maker. Using materials readily available onsite (apart from the gardening twine of course) as well as the setting for the piece, I think we did achieve this.

Over to you Jess…

photos: Jessica Smulders-Cohen

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