As the Covid-19 pandemic really started impacting our lives and the stay at home order was given, another one of my ‘fiber-brained’ ideas hit. I’ve been working on this project for about 6 weeks or so and I’m probably about 3/4 done with the 2nd part. This has become a very involved project, so I’m going to be posting about it in stages. Much of this first post was written at the beginning of April when I had the loom set up and had just started weaving.
So, what am I doing?
I’m weaving an art piece that combines tablet weaving into a loom woven cloth. The goal / plan is to start with the fabric set up one way and then gradually restructure the cloth.
The Covid-19 pandemic is clearly showing, to anyone paying attention, the many things in our human world that do not work. It is also showing us how we are all connected. Wealth and power are concentrated in the hands of the few. Huge numbers of people, especially people of color and folks who don’t fit the dominant culture’s norms, have been marginalized. The result is a threadbare society where it is far too easy for people to fall through the cracks. This fabric is not very functional or sustainable.
It is time to weave a new cloth.
How do we do this? The simplest thing is to start over. Cut the old warp off the loom and put on a new one, simple, yet totally disruptive. Do we really want to throw out everything about our current society, and try and start over from scratch? It would mean massive sudden change, and could cause chaos, revolutions, and wars.
I am attempting a different process.
I have set up my loom with a foundational warp that is very sparse – 1/2 the number of warp threads per inch than usual for the size of the yarn. Added to this are 3 tablet woven bands. In the center is a green and yellow/gold one. On each side is a grey and tan band. the same yarn as the background warp. The center band will have a $ sign and the word “POWER” then “TIME TO SHARE”. One of the edge bands will say “FEAR – LACK” ➔ “ABUNDANCE”. The other will say “OPPRESSION” ➔ “LIBERATION”. This beginning represents our current society.
Weaving both traditional cloth and tablet weaving (two completely different structures and techniques) is going to be challenging enough. Then comes the really tricky part. My plan is to gradually spread out the threads from the bands across the warp. Eventually they will be removed from the tablets and incorporated into the background cloth. (I left heddles spread between the background threads.) I cut a nine yard warp, so after the transition is complete, there should be enough warp to weave nine hand towels, sturdy functional cloth, to represent the society we want to create.
I think this is going to work, though I’m not entirely sure how. Normally the warp is set up on a loom and you don’t change it. If the weaver wants to change the look of the cloth, they can easily change the weft or possibly the treadling, but the warp, the underlying structure of the cloth, doesn’t change.
The underlying structures of society need to change so everyone’s basic needs are met and they have the opportunity to learn, grow, and become the best version of their true self. How do we get there? I am sure there are a myriad number of answers out there. Some may be simple and / or quick. Others will be complex, and many will certainly take time. And I expect shifting the 272 warp threads (68% of the total) into new positions will be all of the above. My goal is to get the 1st section woven by the beginning of Passover. (I finished this part on 4/9 the first day of Passover.)
I’m probably crazy to be attempting this project. I am also feeling very compelled to do it. It is time to share, it is time to weave a new cloth of society. Wish me luck and wish us all success in weaving a better world.
5 colors of warp x 80 ends each = 400 ends
160 Dark green and Yellow/gold – 8/2 tencel – shiny – Represents wealth / money / power
240 Gray & tan – cottolin & white cotton – humanity
Weft – olive green cottolin – represents life / earth / spirit – connects everyone
10 dent reed – beginning background cloth 10 epi, when restructuring done, it will be 20 epi.