Posts tagged ‘Weaving’

January 21, 2011

Field Trip Friday::Oasis @ The Textile Museum

by heatherkp

Colors of the Oasis: Central Asian Ikats (image copyright The Textile Museum)

I went to check this show out last week with a friend.  We had also intended to go to the Phillips Collection which was FREE to the public last weekend to celebrate their 90th, but alas the line was insanely long so that didn’t happen!  It was okay because I’d had this exhibit on my to-see list for way too long.  I admit that sometimes I take the Textile Museum for granted and don’t get as excited about some of the more traditional exhibits, boy was I wrong about this one!  I just thought it would be another nice Ikat exhibit (right~ you know I’m a textile designer when I say that) but it was so much better than I had anticipated!  Look at the COLORS, wow!  No wonder they called it Colors of the Oasis.

Colors of the Oasis: Central Asian Ikats (image copyright The Textile Museum)

This exhibit showcases 19th century Ikats from central Asia.  The collection (of over 200 Ikats but not all are on view was donated to the Textile Museum by collector  Murad Megalli.  This is the first time this collection has been on view for the public and many of the pieces were beautifully restored.

Colors of the Oasis: Central Asian Ikats (image copyright The Textile Museum)

They chose such a fantastic color for the walls to offset this collection.  I can’t say I’ve ever really noticed the walls at an art exhibit but this color really does the collection justice.  These warp ikat designs are characterized by vibrant colors (with a lot of primary’s used) and bold, rather large scale motif’s with quite a bit of contrast.

Colors of The Oasis: Central Asian Ikats (copyright The Textile Museum)

I would love to really be able to study the motifs and color combination’s used more closely, it was so inspiring.  It’s no wonder these magnificent textiles were a sign of prestige and status in the Oasis towns of Central Asia.  Colors of the Oasis: Central Asian Ikats (copyright The Textile Museum)The exhibit also featured a small display and video explaining the technique and process used to create warp Ikat designs.  These were contributed by students at MICA’s Fibers department.  The exhibit is also accompanied by an in depth exhibit catalog (that I would LOVE to have!).  I’ve been a member of The Textile Museum for the past 5 years and I’d greatly encourage you to donate or join if you are inclined to value the research and exhibitions in textiles that this world class museum provides.

January 6, 2011

Threads::One World One Cloth

by heatherkp

Back in 2001 shortly after 9-11 The Thread Project’s founder, Terry Helwig had the vision to collect and weave together threads for panels representing the 7diverse continents of the world,.  Her vision was quickly turned into reality when a weaver friend offered to weave one of the first panels and help her to get the word out to find other weavers.  I was lucky enough to be invited in 2002 to be one of the weavers for this fantastic global peace keeping project.  The first cloth woven “Hope Materializing”  consists of 7 purple warp panels (each woven by a different weaver) and the weft threads came from across the globe.  I also worked as a “thread ambassador” and along with a local social studies teacher we collected threads from his students and the project was used as a teaching aide for Dave’s class.  I then wove these together with other threads collected from around the world.

Each of the 7 cloths is a different color, has a different title and represents a different message all signifying the overall message that there can be unity in diversity.  “This fabric of humanity, woven from the bits and pieces of people’s lives, offers a rich and textured experience. The cloths, imbued with a resonance analogous to the great tapestry of life, identify the common thread running through humanity: All people love, hope, dream and hurt.”-Terry Helwig, Founder

I am sharing this now because this year marks the 10 year anniversary of 9-11 and I hope that this project can be a symbol of how such a global world can be united in diversity.  A new Facebook page has been created for the project in hopes of connecting with those many people who were weavers, thread ambassadors, contributors or viewers of this powerful project.  Please share this project with others and help us to connect the threads.

The Thread Project: One World One Cloth still needs a permanent home, if you know of an agency or organization that might be a good match please get in touch through the website, the Facebook page or here in the comments.

 

December 21, 2010

Spotlight::Our American Textile Heritage~Churchill Weavers

by heatherkp

Advertisement showing the front exterior of the Churchill Weavers loomhouse.

Before weaving begins, a warp or vertical the threads of the loom must be made. Weft threads are woven through the warp threads using the loom and shuttle. ca. 1928

 

Churchill Weaver’s stereocard advertisement, style 15319R.

I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to work for some US textile manufacturing facilities my career, some of which are no longer in existence and some that no longer manufacture in the US.  Starting right out of college I landed a job at one of the oldest and finest Hand weaving mills in the US.  I’m speaking of the late Churchill Weavers of Berea, KY.  Once so valued for their products that the US military spared wool rations so they could weave woolen undergarments for our military men.  It greatly depresses me to see their beautifully woven products now being sold as “rare” on Ebay!  There were a number of factors that went into the final outcome of Churchill’s doors being closed forever but they didn’t go down without a long battle.  Historical textiles from their archives were salvaged and donated to the Kentucky Historical Society.  They have compiled quite an amazing online Archive, accessible to anyone!

Churchill Weaver’s stereocard advertisement, style 15451.

Woven Panel made by Churchill Weavers and Designed by Gerhardt Knodel ca. 1978

One of the valuable lessons I learned working at Churchill is that there is no substitution for learning about business and technical data at a facility that manufactures rather than being miles and oceans away from the products you design.  If you’d like more information on the fascinating history of Churchill, please check out this blog.  A limited selection of baby blankets with original Churchill designs are available here.  I’m proud to share below a few of the items I had a part in designing!

I knew when I graduated from college in 1998 with a degree in Fibers (textile design) that it would not be an easy career choice.  I headed ambitiously into the profession knowing that the beginning of the end (as I had come to understand it) was already in sight.  Shortly after graduating I started seeing the full effects of the “global”market’s influence on the industry.  First the mills began to run shorter shifts, sell off machinery and start to outsource manufacturing to foreign mills.   Within the first 5 years of my career I had gone from designing for high end luxury goods manufactured in the USA to designing mass produced goods being imported.  I had a hard time with the ethics of this but I needed to stay employed and by then I was beginning to see my friends design jobs being eliminated as their companies not only shut down manufacturing facilities but started to hire off site designers and design studios in other countries.  I started to see another trend that was quite maddening.  Before I say more this observation is not singularly in regards to the textile industry.  It is the mis-informed “American way” to throw something way when it’s broken (or just worn out)! So often we don’t er trying to fix it because it seems far easier and cheaper to just start all over.  This is so maddening!  Can’t we learn from those around us who have invested so much time and energy to make something special?  Okay, sometimes new life needs to be blown in but there is often so much we can learn from these establishments.

It was also about this time (early 21st cent) I really became aware of the “Indy craft” movement.  I started seeing all sorts of crafters, makers and designers pop up on the http://www.  In response to this I also saw a few new kinds of manufacturing facilities in the US who were responding to the needs of these independent makers.  I’m speaking of textile print on demand (such as Spoonflower and others) and weaving mills in particular but I’m sure there are lots of other examples by now.  This was very encouraging to me on the one hand but also frustrating because we had already begun to loose so many older manufacturers.  I often think that if the two generations had found a way to communicate with one another some very unique solutions could have come about and kept some companies afloat.  I do think that there are some companies in the industry who did respond in this manner and I see them now as established and valued but also aware of new and upcoming trends.  My request to you is this; if you are a maker, manufacturer, lover of all things handmade and you are working in the US please consider the source of your purchase and support our US heritage of manufacturing. We can’t bring back these historic and iconic facilities but we can learn so much from them by informing ourselves and making the most of our purchases now.