Thursday, January 10, 2008

Heidi Lichterman, Silk Weaver

Last week I ran across an interesting weaver, born in the United States but now living in England. Her name is Heidi Lichterman. She weaves both clothing and large wall hangings, using hand dyed silk yarns. In 2002 she began experimenting on using wire to weave in her large silk hangings.

Many of her pieces can be viewed on her website gallery. She also has a page where she briefly explains a bit about her dyeing techniques. Go here and click on the link in the left column called "About Me."

I was especially interested in her work when I learned that her hangings are based on ikat and dip dyeing. She does not explain her weaving process, but if I understand correctly what she is doing, her hangings seem to be either warp dominant or warp faced, probably warp faced. This is a quick summary of what I understand her to be saying: when you see the dip-dyed warps stretched out on the loom, you see her design. For her design then to be visible in the woven fabric, that warp would have to be at least dominant.

I have occasionally thought about setting up a crackle warp so that it is warp dominant (not warp faced). Looking at the pieces on her website have brought these thoughts back to the surface. If I turned the draft so that the warp became the weft and vice versa, I could uses a larger yarn for the warp and a fine yarn for the weft. That way I could achieve the kind of thing I had thought about achieving when I talked about ikat dyed wefts. And the process would seem to be easier.

I would have no problem turning the current draft I am using. I say this, having never actually turned a draft myself. I have only read how to turn drafts. From what I remember and perhaps understand, since my current crackle draft uses six treadles, that is how many shafts the turned draft would require. And since I actually have eight shafts, the number of shafts should not be a problem. But, as I have never actually gone through the turning process, I have no idea what hidden, sneaky problems there might be lying in wait!

Zielinski talks about turning crackle drafts in the Master Weaver volume (8) that I am using. So I will read that first. He is not talking then about the kind of thing I am weaving now, but about normal crackle drafts. Nevertheless he may have some tips.

I find it interesting that Lichterman generally does not use ikat ties. She prefers the blurred effect that dip dyeing yields. I really enjoyed going through her web pages. They have given me much to think about.

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