Looking around the weave studio here, I noticed a loom set up for plain weave with a warp of neutral coloured linen and cotton warp yarns, crammed and spaced in the reed. It soon became apparent that it had been left behind by a previous artist weaver. Another ‘leaving’.
The warp was crying out to be used, otherwise it would just end up being cut off and left in one of the boxes that occupy all corners.
I searched around and gathered up anything in neutral colours, all the bobbins, warp ends, and left over yarns that had been left behind.
I have woven them into a length, using each quantity as it came to hand, I introduced cut ends of lengths that were not long enough to make a complete pick to add texture and the result is quite pleasing.
I shall take this length home with me but leave behind some weaving for someone else to continue.
Looped basket –handmade cordage using gathered grass and felt made from raw wool.
Jóhanna Erlu Pálmadóttir of the Textile Centre arranged visits to the wool washery factory ístex in Blönduós and the Tannery at Sauðárkrókur.
The whole process of cleaning the fleeces delivered from all over Iceland could be seen at the Washery. The grades of the wool obtained from the fleeces was explained and the subtle range of colours in the bales of raw wool, from the intense blacks and mottled greys through the browns and soft creamy whites, could be easily seen. We felt the different quality of the raw wool and were shown how the higher quality lambs’ wool could be identified. The coarser outer protective layer of the fleece might be used for carpets and the inner, softer insulating layer of the fleece is used for finer textiles and clothing. 80% of their production is exported to the UK.
The skins of cod, salmon, wolf fish and perch are processed at the Tannery at Sauðárkrókur to make distinctive and multi-coloured leathers used in the fashion industry. They also process primarily sheep skins and cattle hides.
Icelandic wool, horsehair, raw wool and fish skins.
After visiting the Tannery in Sauðárkrókur and the Washery in Blönduós I continue to increase my knowledge about the range of materials available in northern Iceland. Exploring and experimenting with these new materials takes time, but this process slows down my making and is subtly changing how I perceive the boundaries between basketry and other textile practices and techniques.
Although I have been enjoying creating response pieces to the basalt columns, I have discovered using purely visual inspiration is not enough. My work is normally concept led so I had anticipated using the landscape and scenery would be a challenge,
Ever since we arrived in Iceland, I have had an overwhelming feeling of space from the vast endless landscape. I have been having thoughts for a while on how I could incorporate this into my work but nothing had been forthcoming.
Yesterday we went on trip to a beautiful beach not far from the Textile Centre on the north coast. While the others collected things, made artwork and photographed their work, I found myself wandering up and down the water’s edge, sitting on a rock staring out to sea and feeling a little lost. The sea magnified these feelings of space but I was still unsure how to proceed. All night I contemplated, knowing I needed to make something that expressed a continuous feeling. I started to think about wrapping. This maybe a default reaction, a technique I have used several times before but it somehow felt appropriate.
I decided to make an incredibly long and continuous length incorporating all the colours of the landscape. I will use natural Icelandic materials from the land and sea like wool, sheep fleece, horse hair, fish leather and kelp, binding them together into 1 piece. It will then be placed in piles and draped along the ground. Taking it to the coast and photographing it on the long stretch of black sand could also be an idea to enhance the concept. Watch this space!
Beginnings of the continuous length
The uncomfortable spine twisting, back and shoulder straining work required to set the looms up are leaving their trace on me, so appropriate to theme of my work. After all that I have set up a loom and managed to get an acceptable shed and started weaving pockets to contain objects that represented the things we were discovering in Iceland.
A lot of the items have been gathered on our walks around the shore, like the husks of the lupin seed from last years flowers to the empty mussel shell from the beach, some are from visits to places of interest, the tanned fish skin, and some from the leavings in the studios. I have arranged them in a contrived manner to make the work visually pleasing. At this stage, the first is nearly finished, but it requires some terracotta pebbles that occasionally appear on the beaches and as the sun is shining it’s time to go out and collect some.
On our ramblings around the coast, there has been many opportunities to take textural photographs. The black sand at the mouth of the river Blanda where its turquoise water pours into the Arctic Ocean, is particularly interesting. The sand is very soft and easily moved by the tides, waves and outflow of the river, I noticed that there are different traces of leavings as the waves deposit fine ephemeral lines in the sand each time the tide recedes.
In addition to texture there are lots of opportunities to collect images for colour reference for future work
Progressing with my columnar forms inspired by the basalt rocks they continue to evolve. Motivated by the sensations from the colours and textures I experienced walking amongst the rocks I made some knitted samples. I decided the reverse side seemed to suit the surface I was after. Due to the old and missing parts of the knitting machine I was unable to knit circular knitting. Therefore, knitted squares had to be hand stitched together instead. I used Icelandic wool with a rough texture in several grey shades. Some have holes and jagged hems to accentuate the aged sense and some have lime green embroidery inspired by the lichen stains and providing a great contrast to the dark grey.
I continued to experiment with a few more techniques. and created some larger samples with ridges and different tones of grey.
How I position these finished columnar pieces will be an important part of the work, creating stacks of angled forms as if they have been organically assembled. I want to express the diverse formations constructed from these solidified lava flows millions of years ago. There will be several little piles expressed in different Icelandic materials, with a view to making many more to add to each pile. This will add an expression of the vast quantity of such stunning formations.