Friday, February 6, 2015

simply weaving





 














-17º this morning, and I'm in love with winter, day and night.  It's a wonderful time to weave,  when there is fresh snow and sun, the shop is bright and warm, and there is a faint scent of my geranium, if the sun is shining on the plants. I love to weave paper flowers on spaced linen warps,  on my old barn loom. Why I love to weave on this loom, though it is very rustic, a counterbalance, with just two shafts, is that it is very good for weaving plain weave and linen warps.  Simple weaves.

The loom was built by Norwegian immigrants to Coon Valley, Wisconsin, in the late 19th c. It was taller once, but its legs have been sawed. There are signs of a bench  that used to be bolted to the front, but it has never had a bench since I've owned it. I taught myself to weave on this loom, standing up, weaving rag rugs, and I am strongly, affectionately, attached to its mass and homely beauty. It's called a barn loom, because it looks like it belongs in a barn, like a large, steady draft horse, ready to work.

The solid warp beam, a tree trunk, grown on a Coon Valley hill over 100 years ago, and shaped into an octagon, has a 28" girth.  The distance from the back beam to the front is long, and there is a lot of room to keep the tension on the linen just right.  The overhanging beater, as it swings to beat the fell, makes  a satisfying thump. While I needle in the paper yarn rya knots, the soft crinkling rustle of white paper sounds like gifts being unwrapped.  A cup of cool water sits next to me on the breast beam, with a soft brush in it, to open the paper yarn petals. I feel like a gardener working in a winter flower garden. The lightness, and ephemeral appearance of the linen and paper garden is an unlikely product of the overbuilt loom that created it.

The flower petals in this are made of strong, Finnish paper yarn, I ordered from Tampere, Finland.  The paper yarn is threaded on a  blunt tapestry needle, and tied into the weave as it progresses.  I  also used Japanese paper chenille, mohair yarn, unraveled plastic tarps, and white linen in the knotting.

There is a story here, of course; but one I think I'll tell some other day. Traditional Finnish transparency weaving is what these come from, as well as Japanese suspended panel weaving that I have always noticed, and admired.

 When I weave paper and linen, in a grid like this, I think of windows, of air and light moving back and forth through the weaving,  past and future, memory and forgetting. The blooming is imagination, and possibility.  Sometimes the "blooms" are just 8 petaled flowers, but sometimes they  are more like explosions.  When I first started to make them, a few years ago, I wondered what I was making.  I thought they might be the frost covered windows in the coldest corners of our house.  But I change my mind, and find they hold many more meanings than that for me.  Weaving them carries me away. 

(I plan to enter this piece, Memory and Forgetting, in a Scandinavian art fiber exhibit, which features an exchange exhibit with a handicraft museum in Finland.  If accepted, it could fly to Finland next summer!)

22 comments:

Tracey Broome said...

As I read this I was reminded of your posts about your writing class. Your writing is most beautiful when you reflect on your weaving and your time at the loom. I always enjoy a visit here and still love my weaving of yours I gifted myself a few Christmases ago. I walk past it each day and smile.

Debbie said...

I love your work and this is just beautiful the delicate weaving the spacing and the flowers.

Alice said...

This piece takes my breath away. It is gorgeous, breathtaking in its apparent simplicity, selection of appropriate materials, attention to the small details. I love the story of your loom, too.

barbindell said...

Simply beautiful

Susan said...

Tracey, Thank you! Despite my resistance to learn anything new, some of that writing class must have rubbed off! Anyway, writing this post was a little like going into a trance, and afterwards,I had to hike up to the quarry, in a stiff, cold breeze, to get back to reality

Debbie, and Alice, thank you for reading so diligently. I always appreciate your close attention.

Barb, You Are!

amanda said...

I agree whole-heartedly with the above comment that your writing is at its most beautiful when you are writing about your weaving. Writing about your work is so hard for so many people - but you do a wonderful job leading people along, showing instead of telling, allowing for wandering and fancy.

Along with meringues, I was thinking more about these snow flowers... and then I thought about The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, when Lucy first walks into Narnia - I can just imagine finding one of these, or being given one by the White Witch. (It's a bit of a silly thought)

I wish you the most luck in your entry to the textile exhibition - I hope your flowers get in! If they do, perhaps you should fly to Finland with them!

msvos said...

I have long admired these beautiful pieces, and especially love this latest in your series. I do hope that this work is accepted. I enjoyed your writing, and thank you for reminding me of the beauty to be found in our winter surroundings. It was a wake up call to snap out of my winter doldrums. There is so much goodness and beauty that is missed if not fully present. Laurie

onesmallstitch said...

like individual snowflakes - simply,perfectly beautiful,good luck with the exhibition.

Hilary said...

I absolutely adore what you've done with the paper flowers. And I can see why you love that big, old loom. I hope you win!!!

Susan said...

Amanda, I love that you saw fancy meringues. Proof of the imagination at work. Through the back of the closet, in Lion,Witch & Wardrobe is an image and metaphor that has stayed with me long after I forgot the rest of the books. These flower windows are that for me, an opening, an entrance, into another place, of imagined memory, that sometimes opens, if I'm lucky. Thanks for reading!
Susan

Laurie, ha,ha. Winter can get me down, too. I eat vitamin D, take saunas, and make myself get outside to walk in the woods. Thanks for liking these paper weaves of mine.
Susan

Hilary, Hey, thanks! You would love this loom, but it's well known that it's hard for you to say no to any loom! Susan

Velma Bolyard said...

this essay was only pictures and i wanted words, then only words and i wanted pictures. i love how you kept me on the edge of my seat. and, you do know how much i love these paper flowers. and the bit of rebel in that plastic (unraveled how?) it's nifty that you love this old workhorse.

Susan said...

Velma, I usually don't know what I'm going to write about here until I open the blogger page. Then I see what is on my mind. I always hope it's going to interest someone who takes some of their precious time to read it. This post was going to be about all the stuff
frozen in the yard, and to our back porch, showing up as the snow melts. Maybe you know what I'm talking about here, & it's not pretty!

Susan

Jenny M said...

Your description of your loom & of your piece of work is beautiful. I don't weave, but find it so interesting to read of the different yarns you use. Good luck with having this stunning work accepted!

Mirjam said...

Fingers crossed your fluffy fairy flowers will get accepted and fly to Europe. I feel very strongly that these delicate creatures would benefit from your guidance and protection on such a long trip, don't you?
In other words: let's meet in Finland! :)

Dawn of LaTouchables said...

I hope you are accepted and get to fly, but in my mind's eye you are flying already.

Beautiful! And when the sun shines here we have nearly the same light.

Susan said...

Dawn, Mirjam, I'd love to follow my weavings wherever they go in the world. I do, in my imagination. If I don't get my entry in pretty quick, the paper flowers are going nowhere!

Jenny, thanks for reading, and your encouraging words!

Angela Feltes said...

Such beautiful possibilities. I hope they travel far.

Charlotte said...

This piece is absolutely beautiful! I keep fingers crossed that you will be able to travel to Finland!

Anita Thomhave Simonsen said...

very beautiful...

Avalanche Looms / Susan Johnson said...

Thank you, Anita, Charlotte, and Angie.
Susan

Moorthy Parameshwaran said...

Very nice

Anonymous said...

Wow it's beautiful. And I'm not normally into floral tapestries, however I do love varying textures and fabric manipulation into 3D forms. This piece is inspiring. Kudos