21 and 22 October 2017
Creative Weaving Workshop with Susie Gillespie
Autumn half term and a chance to take some ‘time out’ from the essential day-to-day preparation and teaching of textiles for adult education that I do find rewarding and that puts ‘food-on-the-table’, but that also leaves no time or energy for the development of my personal creative practice.
a-n have been very generous and have awarded me a professional bursary that will allow me to attend a creative weaving workshop with weave artist Susie Gillespie, and then spend six whole luxurious dedicated days in my studio continuing to develop and build upon the work undertaken during the workshop.
On the first morning of the workshop I am one of six students who are all eager and ready to get started with some weaving. It was so lovely just to sit at a loom again and begin to work with the linen yarns. I was particularly looking forward to trying out some of the twisting, warp manipulated leno weave techniques that I had seen in Susie’s work but I also wanted to introduce an Agnes Martin inspired grid into my work, and, as Susie had already warped up the looms for us with a bleached linen yarn, I started by spending some time setting up a grey linen supplementary warp at approximately 2.5cm spacing across half of the warp on my loom. As I wove I then inserted a grey linen yarn with the weft thread across half of the warp in order to create the squares of a grid.
As I wove I explored a warp wrapping technique on the other half of the warp and worked three rows inserting different thicknesses of yarn between rows of weft threads. Susie then introduced a knotting technique that holds the weft threads in place before weaving a ‘twisted warp’ section and, on my sample, I ‘knotted-off’ a small section above the warp wrapped rows. I continued to weave several rows on either side of this section before weaving a weft thread across the ‘knotted-off block’ twisting small bundles of warp threads as I wove.
At the same time I began adding some tapestry weave sections into the ‘grid’ on the other half of the sample.
A new day and a new problem to overcome – how to ‘knot-off’ the top of the ‘twisted warp’ section. After several attempts and then undoing the results because they didn’t quite work, I finally managed to ‘knot-off’ so that the twisted warp section worked as I wanted it. I then used a hand embroidery technique to create ‘woven bars’ above the twists of warp at each end of the twisted warp section and I used a woven insertion technique to introduce a colour into the block above the twisted warp section.
I was now Working with six shuttles, two tapestry needles and two bundles and trying not to tie them all in knots.
When I had completed the tapestry sections within the grid I used an insertion stitch to close up the tapestry slits that had formed on either side of each tapestry block.
I completed the top of the colour block of woven insertion with another row of ‘knotting-off’ and then wove several plain rows so that I could take the sample off the loom.
It was so lovely to be weaving and experimenting with weave again and I am looking forward to using some of the techniques again as I spend time sampling during my dedicated studio days. I am particularly keen to further explore the incorporation of supplementary warps and twisted warp techniques and, through the time spent at the workshop, have established that I need to spend some more time sampling to explore process.