Thursday, May 22, 2008


Constance Rose recently posted a picture of one of her water color paintings.  Go here to see it. In that post she explains that this is the kind of things she wants to use with her woven textiles.    She explains:  

" I am aiming to do similar work, soon, on fabric I have woven. I'm hoping to raise the bar on art cloth by weaving my own textiles to paint, dye, print on, bead and sew on, distress, whatever."

I have had similar thoughts on many past occasions.  The problem for me, I decided, is that I cannot figure out how to integrate the woven cloth into the painting, printing, distressing or whatever.  It is not that I regard my weaving as somehow too "precious."  It is that I cannot answer the question as to why use a handwoven fabric to apply these processes to. What does the handwoven fabric add to the final piece that could not be accomplished with purchased fabric?


Woven shibori* is a technique which does integrate the weaving with the dyeing and the painting.  But, limited as my imagination is, I cannot imagine any other way of integrating the usual surface technique processes with the weaving process.  What quality does a handwoven fabric possess that both enhances and is itself enhanced by any given surface design technique?  And what weaving structure would I use and why?


Cally has come up with something interesting relative to all this, as I posted quite recently.  Go here to read her post, which is extremely clear and well done. 

The kind of weave structure that was used to create interesting effects with printing was a weave structure which went back and forth between warp-face and weft-face. Though what she saw in the exhibit was apparently digital printing, there is no reason non-digital printing and screen-printing techniques could not work just as well.

*For a good description of woven shibori, with lots of images, go here  And you can see some of Constance Rose's woven shibori work here and here and to see her process go here and here

Related Post: Loom Imposed Order

© 2008


Jane said...

Hi Miss Peg,

One thing that is cool to do for surface design with handwovens, is to paint the warp right on the loom using fabric paints and/or paint on fabric dyes. Dharma Trading Co carries a good assortment.


The very cool thing, is that the weaver can do this at any point in the warp. You can paint designs, streaks of color, whatever strikes your fancy.

Just take a piece of cardboard -- cover it with plastic wrap, (great way to reuse those plastic grocery bags) and then paint away. Let it dry -- and then keep on weaving. Before wet finishing -- press with an iron to heatset the colors.

It is so freeing -- as it takes the weaver off of the "grid."

Also, a very neat thing is to use the fabric paint to highlight certain stitch patterns, etc.

Happy creating!

Peg in South Carolina said...

Oh Jane....... Paints would probably work but not dyes. Well, of course dyes would work but there is a great big huge BUT. The BUT is safety. If you paint the fiber on the loom with dyes and 1)do not set the dyes (MX let sit for 48 hours; acid dyes steam) or 2)do not rinse the residue from the yarn (the auxiliaries you used and any dye that did not get set)you will be breathing in all sorts of stuff every time you beat the warp. It makes me cry because i would love to do just what you suggest, but I value my lungs too much....

Jane said...


You’re absolutely correct. I should have put a disclaimer saying to always read the instructions/warnings when using dye products — studio safety procedures should always be followed.

I ammended my post.

The paints are all that I use, and they work wonderfully. You can mix any color under the sun.

Thanks for looking out for safety in the studio.


Leigh said...

I haven't done anything much with dyes since I moved to a place with a small kitchen and no back yard or garage. Peg, I've been aware of problems with dye powders, but you are saying unset residue in fabrics is a danger too? Just trying to clarify.

Peg in South Carolina said...

Leigh, dye that has not been fixed or set into the fiber, when put in motion, placed against friction, will release the unfixed powder into the air. Dye powder is extremely light and easily breathed in. Dangers of breathing in dye powder have been proven. Also any of the auxiliaries used which were in powder form can be released. Two of the reasons for careful washing is 1) to get rid of any unset dye; and 2) to get rid of the auxiliaries used. The latter, i think, is more dangerous to the cloth than to the human being if left in, but I cannot vouch for that.