Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

Those of you who have followed this blog know how I like to make decisions and change my mind about things when I am actually sitting at the loom weaving. I’m not talking about samples. I’m talking about weaving actual things. The series of art pieces I did, for example. Even if I had a very specific idea of what I wanted to do when I began a particular piece, I made alterations and changes in the original idea, depending on what I saw happening.

Then I read this in a recent post of Nigel’s:

“…the great Bauhaus weaver Anni Albers encouraged her students to improvise at the loom. She felt that until you actually worked the material with your hands you couldn’t fix a design.”

So nice to be validated by a truly great weaver from the past!

Now Anni may well have been talking about the importance of sampling; I have no idea what the context was. It doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that I can do color wrappings like mad, I can refine and refine the drawdown (either by hand or on the computer), I can struggle to get the exact colors in the drawdown. But none of this really tells me what the weaving is actually going to look like.

Colors interact differently in threads. The size of the threads affects the color interactions and the way the design looks. The kind of fiber being used has a tremendous affect on the outcome. Different setts are going to produce different results.

What does help me to predict, however, is my growing experience with actual yarns, with actual weaving. And I think that Anni would have agreed with that as well. Experienced weavers understand this. As a beginning weaving not too many years ago, I thought I understood this. But I didn’t, not really. It has taken experience to begin to understand this.

I must get out and reread my Anni Albers: On Weaving. And I must read my as-of-yet unread Anni Albers and Ancient American Textiles: From Bauhaus to Black Mountain by Virginia Gardner Troy. I bought this when it was first published. I lived in Georgia at the time, in the same town that Troy lived. The book is autographed. It now sells for $120 (gasp!! I certainly did not pay that!) at Amazon.com.

Related Posts:
Designing as You Go
Art Piece 4: I’ve Changed My Mind Again
Art Piece 2: Weaving Continues

"Improvising at the Loom" was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on February 3, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

No comments: