Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina


Janice Zindel (of Shuttleworks Studio) and I have been having an all-too-brief discussion in the comments section of her recent post called “Simple Towels. The discussion started with my comment on her artist statement. To read her statement, check out the sidebar on her blog.

To my recollection, this is the first weaving blog I have seen that contains an artist statement. I was impressed by it. And I have now begun to think about writing one for my blog.

Though this was not the reason behind its creation, she explained that she has found this statement very helpful because writing it caused her to “…define the kind of weaving I enjoy doing most….” Having there up front “….helps keep me focused on that.”


What happens without focus? In Janice’s words,

It's so easy to be "all over the map," trying everything that catches our eye.

Anyone who has read my blog for any length of time knows that I have a very definite focus: crackle. Crackle for me offers what seems to be endless possibility for playing with color and with the combining of color with other elements of design. I have worked with crackle for perhaps two years now, and I still feel as though I am only scratching the surface.

At the same time, I feel that my weaving has become greatly enriched by this focus and that is so rewarding that how can I not continue this study?


Crackle is a structure. There are all sorts of structures one could choose from. Crackle chose me a long time ago in the first workshop I ever took as a beginning weaver. I didn’t have a clue about what was going on when I wove on that crackle sample in the workshop. What I did sense was the possibilities it held for the exploration of color. And what I did know is that, when I had learned more about the craft of weaving in general, I would come back to crackle.


There are all sorts of interesting structures one could focus on. Sara Lamb and Bonnie Tarses have focused on plain weave. At the opposite extreme, Alice Schlein focuses on jacquard weaving. Investigating the learning opportunities that Complex Weavers offer shows groups studying double weave, crackle, lace weave, jacquard, tied weaves, and group that picks a particular structure each year for study.


But the kind of focus that Janice (and I) are talking about does not have to be a focus on structure. Janice is focusing on something which I would define as elegant simplicity. The structure can be anything. It is the final outcome of elegant simplicity that is desired. And often elegant simplicity does require complex means.

Again, turning to the Complex Weavers website, I find some of the following areas of focus: weaving with beads, weaving fabric for garments, collapse weave, ecclesiastical weaving, weaving with fine threads, gauze weaving. I learned recently that there had been a group, now defunct, on mathematics in weaving. I wish that group would start up again!


Also, anyone who has read my blog for any length of time also knows that I do weave in structures other than crackle. Usually that structure is a simple twill, but sometimes it is a lace weave, as in the current canvas weaving samples. And I have just recently been playing with shadow weave. And you would also know that I move away from the fine threads I use with crackle. Doing this gives me much needed refreshment. It is not that I tire of crackle; it is that I recognize that I am a person who does have to give a little to that urge to try everything that catches my eye, to paraphrase Janice’s words from above. For me, that is as much of a necessity as the need to focus.

And this seems to be true of other weavers with an intense focus also. Sara sometimes weaves twills. Bonnie, for example, has recently woven an elegantly neutral scarf. Alice, that most complex of complex weavers, also weaves on a rigid heddle loom.


I notice now that another weaver/blogger appears to be thinking about focus. Check out Dorothy’s latest post: Plain Weaves with Quality Threads. I can hardly wait to see where she is going!


I don’t know that I will ever get an artist’s statement written. It’s probably one of those things that I would like to do, that I think is a good idea, but will somehow just not find the time.

Related Post:
Why Crackle?
I Learn (a Little) about Crackle
Focus: A Postscript

"Focus" was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on January 27, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina


Amelia, belle of The Bellwether said...

Interesting things to think about ... I'd been thinking along the same lines, but am letting myself remain a dilettante at present as I'm still finding out about weaves and weaving -- throwing paint on the canvas of my mind to see which one sticks :) I thought it would be twill, now lace has me in its grip. Time will tell!

Peg in South Carolina said...

Amelia, that is how I began, If you read one of the posts I linked to, you will see that though crackle caught me right at the beginning of my weaving life, it was quite awhile (years!)before I had enough weaving experience to come back to it. If you think about it, you actually have a focus right now: to learn about all kinds of weaving.

Bonnie said...

I've been working on my artist statement for 30 years. I expect to have it just the way I want it any year now. It's never too soon to begin :)

Peg in South Carolina said...

Bonnie, I can always count on you for a sense of humor! Somehow I do not think you need an artist statement. Your artist statement is your work.

Leigh said...

It's funny you should be blogging about focus because I've been thinking about exploring something different one of these months. I admit that I waffle a bit on where my focus is taking me. I seem to have two things that both reside in the back of my mind, but neither one seems to predominate. In the meantime, I weave right down the middle, and never seem to make it to either side.

Peg in South Carolina said...

Leigh, maybe weaving right down the middle is exactly what you are supposed to be doing right now? You are certainly doing some wonderful weaving.