Thursday, August 21, 2008


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

I have been focusing for some time now on one weave structure: crackle.  I fell in love with crackle during my first year of weaving, but did not take it up seriously until about three years ago.  I am focusing on this structure simply because I am fascinated with it. Not for its own sake however.  I am fascinated with how it can create complex color interactions. 


Managing these color interactions is not easy and I am not anywhere near that mastery.  To repeat yet again the statement I so love from my new knitting book:

"Beautifully made, considered sampling underpins contemporary textile practice, while informing the next step in the development process." (p. 123)

To deal with the challenge I have given myself, this is the way I must sample. I must sample not just because I like to.  Not just because it is fun, which it usually is.  I must sample thoughtfully and with purpose as well.  And the samples I make should themselves be as beautifully made as I am capable of.  I am in awe of British fiber artists whose samples are often themselves works of art. 


Also, though sampling is fun, there always comes a time when I get bored or tired of it and just want to get on with "real" weaving.  I always suspect that it is precisely at that point that I should keep on sampling.  That is the point when I have done all the obvious stuff, have covered the surface.  That is not enough.  I need to learn how to push myself through that point. 


This art piece series I am working on has been, I believe, an attempt to push myself through that point.  By turning my sampling into "real" weaving, I can continue the explorations.  Not a bad thing.  And not unlike weavers who weave samples that can be used as towels or scarves.

Many artists, whether painters, quilters, weavers, sculptors focus on one basic technique and/or genre:  oils, overshot, the nude, self-portraits, flowers, strip-quilting, for example.I was aware that artists often tend to focus on one basic technique, oils, pastels, quilting, for example.  And many artists work in a series. Picasso is one very well known example of this, with his various "periods."

Here is how one contemporary painter describes working in a series:

The idea is that you keep all variables the same. This includes the choice of pigments, the dimensions of the canvas, the method of applying pigment, and, of course, the subject. This forces you to focus on developing your vision and not on your tools. You can really grow as an artist this way.

These words describe quite well what I have been doing, though, as a weaver, some of the variables are different.  The one variable which I tried to abide by but found I did not, was that of size.  Only the width of the pieces has stayed the same, not the lengths.  But I can see how keeping the lengths the same would increase the challenge and further my own growth. You can go here to read the piece for yourself.


There is an interview with Catherine Ellis on the WeaveCast podcasts.  It is Episode 13 and is called Woven Shibori.  Go here to listen to it.  About 35 minutes into the interview, Catherine talks about the need for weavers to specialize.  She makes two basic points:

  1. It is impossible for a weaver to know everything about everything. There is just too much. 
  2. Specializing allows you to become creative and express yourself, to make your weaving YOUR weaving.  

Catherine says it all much better than I can and speaks with the authority of many years of experience.  Go listen.

Related Posts: 

Why Crackle?
A New Fiber Book Filled with Ideas

"Specializing" was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on August 21, 2008.    © 2008 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina 


Leigh said...

3 cheers for sampling! Peg, you always challenge me to think about my weaving at a deeper level, even sampling.

That said, I've decided to finally sign up for a CW study group. I haven't finished my overview of "everything weaving under the sun," but even so am going to focus on tied weaves for at least the next year. I'm really looking forward to it.

Peg in South Carolina said...

Leigh, your comment has made my day. To have that kind of impact on only one person is reason enough for me to blog. Thank you!
I'm glad you are giving a CW study group a chance. Keep us posted!