Books: Warp & Weft

Warp & Weft: Woven Textiles in Fashion, Art and Interiors by Jessica Hemmings looks at textiles across a range of applications. Hemmings splits the application of textiles into six broad themes:

  1. Threads
  2. Light
  3. Motion
  4. Sound
  5. Emotion
  6. Commmunity

1. Threads

Threads are the foundation of the vast majority of textiles. The following artists work predominantly with threads (rather than woven textiles):

  • Gabriel Dawe – polyester thread installations with ‘Plexus’ series held under tension
  • Ball-Nogues Studio – Gravity’s Loom works with gravity to create shapes from ink-dyed nylon twine.
  • Susie MacMurray – cotton thread installation to form a giant warping board Kedleston Hall (National Trust) MacMurray also creates garment sculptures from a variety of objects.
  • Laura Thomas – casts unwoven threads in resin. Used triaxial weaving to create Three x Five which was incredibly time consuming (60 ends per inch)
  • Sue Lawty– uses materials such as stones and lead. Creates thread from lead and structure is made by hammering. Held a residency at the V&A and encouraged public participation.
  • Lauren Moriarty – takes structure of textiles and reduces 3D to 2D in process of deconstruction eg line drawings of woven textiles, scanned into CAD to create new 3D objects. Uses laser cutting techniques frequently.
  • Elana Herzog – deconstructs woven cloth. Staples samples to wall and removes threads leaving a weaving of staples, Plaid.

2. Light

Many artists utilise the effect of light in their work. Examples include:

  • Tamar Frank – Uses LED lights including nylon monofilaments to channel light to look like natural light travelling through cracks in the roof etc.
  • Marianne Kemp – is ‘not interested in weaving patterns, but in texture’ and uses florescent tubes to highlight the weave.
  • Dashing Tweeds (Kirsty McDougall and Guy Hills) – on quest to reinvigorate tweed by including highly reflective fibres.
  • Hiroko Takeda – weaves contrasting surfaces and describes her design aesthetic as ‘expressing incongruous harmonies’.
  • Christine Keller – weaves images into her textiles that can only be seen when light is shone onto it by the viewer.
  • Hilde Hauan Johnsen – uses fibre optics connected to white light sources. The light sources change depending on a sound input.
  • Sarah Taylor – also works with fibre optics but investigates ‘novel, time-based aesthetics within cloth’. Encases the fibres in paper-based yarn and distresses using sandpaper and incisions. One of the OCA textiles tutors.
  • Astrid Krough – ‘Ikat I-III’ woven with fibre optics and paper yarn, programmed to emit a changing combination of colours. Krough uses simple weave to highlight the thread.
  • Priti Veja – creates transformable textiles from cellophane, phosphorescent lurex, polyester yarn and electroluminescent light cable therefore using electroluminescent light from electricity, UV light from phosphorescent yarn and the natural colour/reflective properties of the weave.
  • Salt (June Swindell) – focuses on how light filters through fabrics.
  • Ainsley Hilare – plays with light and shadow by weaving knitted viscose and monofilament for work based on photographs she takes.

3. Motion

Woven textiles move and change.

  • Philip Beesley – architect with interest in geo textiles and netting creates an environment which uses sensors and microprocessors to react to the audience. Hylozoic Soil
  • Maria Blaisse – uses bamboo to create flexible forms. Works with professional dancers to animate the forms
  • Barbara Layne – makes use of LEDs, microcomputers and sensors to make textiles that respond including clothing. This reminds me of the brand cyberdog
  • Zane Berzina – E-static Shadows uses static electricity built up by viewers to create a light show.
  • Maggie Orth – works with double weave structures and thermochromatic ink. Orth uses electronics to send electrical currents to heat the fabric which highlights the textile’s structure.
  • Elaine Ng Yan Ling – uses humidity and proximity sensors combined with metal yarns to create movement
  • Lucy McMullen – uses pleating, folding and bending to create a woven structure.
  • Philippa Brock – ‘woven textile design engineer’ with emphasis on 3D Jacquard weave structure and yarn interaction. Focuses on the potential of on loom techniques eg engineering pleats on the loom.
  • Grethe Sørensen – moves between analogue and digital techniques including weaving on a digital Jacquard loom after hand-weaving samples.

4. Sound

Artists use the noise of industrial production as the basis of woven work:

  • Christy Matson – Mill Sounds one minute audio clip of industrial loop stretched over an hour to make the audio more meditative before converting into a weaving.
  • Lars Preisser – Weaving With the Sound of Its Own Making a black cloth woven containing a stereo cable transmitting the sound of the cloth being woven.
  • Hanne Raffnsøe and Lise Frølund – collaborated to create music and weaving based on the same binary information.
  • Elin Igland – hand wove fabric containing LEDs and connected one light to each key on a piano. Different pianists create different patterns and light shows.
  • Alyce Santoro – uses discarded cassette tape to make panels for dress
  • Drahomira Hampl – uses cassette tape for a weft
  • Nadia-Anne Ricketts – weaves music into fabric using a programme to convert any MP3 into a binary code for a Jacquard loom. This sort of thing could be an interesting application of my programming background.
  • Eleanor Pritchard – double-cloth blankets with the pattern based on the number of scanning lines needed to transmit black and white or colour tv.
  • Aleksandra Gaca – designs ‘self-engineered and 3D weaves’ that provide effective acoustic properties
  • Gary Allson and Ismini Samanidou – 2008 set challenge of using digital as platform and combining respective interests in weaving cloth and milling wood.

5. Emotion

Textiles have physical connection due to proximity to our skin giving an emotional response.

  • Louise Bourgeois – did not weave but familiarity with repair of woven cloth due to family connections allowed her to use stitching to convey emotion. Links to sexuality, conflict and pain. Made Maman the giant spider like form that was exhibited in the Tate Modern. I remember seeing it as a teenager and it still makes me shudder so Bourgeois is highly skilled at conveying emotions.
  • Ane Henriksen – weaves massive abstract tapestries which viewed closely reveal weft is made up of numerous colours and textures.
  • Shane Waltener – Large scale knit and crochet projects that involve the public.
  • Jeroen Vinken – Jacquard weaving of large scale images of bouquets containing body parts
  • Liz Williamson – wearable art
  • Lucy Brown – woven installations including garments
  • Janine Antoni – records sleep using EEG and weaves results
  • Lia Cook – Maps brain activity when viewing textiles and weaves Jacquard textile portraits.

6. Community

Creation of woven textiles can bring communities together in large scale projects.

  • Petter Hellsing – trained as sculptor. Contemporary Patterns installation of woven black and white stage curtain. Sewn together as a patchwork to treat it like a collage. Images were sourced from the internet
  • Runa Carlsen – installed The New Hotspot on scaffolding of construction site. Weaving of plastic fencing (blue) and netting (red) to produce large scale purple fabric when viewed from a distance.
  • Wallace & Sewell – known for producing the most recent ‘moquette’ of the London Underground. Further information about moquettes can be found in a post from my previous course here.
  • Ptolemy Mann – focuses on products that translate woven textile into printed pattern and colour application.
  • Hotel Missoni – created Missoni kilts for male staff. The companies have since split as can be seen from this article.
  • ao for Gainsborough – uses waste weft and warp from Gainsborough industrial mill in Suffolk. Coming natural dyes with synthetic colours.
  • NUNO – blends high and low tech approaches varying from techniques used to “chrome” door handles in the automotive industry to using water-soluble backing to create lace fabrics from stitching.
  • Norwegian Rain – Uses two woven fabrics (made from 100% recycled plastic bottles) to make waterproof coats.
  • Soukaina Aziz Idrissi – ‘poly-bond’ project focuses on finding alternative uses for plastic waste. Monofilament and recycled polypropylene ribbon wefts on a polyester warp to create Jacquard weaves.
  • Suzanne Tick – ‘Salvage’ series hand-woven from dry cleaning packaging.
  • Travis Meinolf – collaborative weaving within community groups
  • Anne Wilson – almost performance pieces to show audiences the work that goes into production such as setting up 36m warp on a giant frame in a gallery window using 9 assistants.

Hemmings, J. (2012) Warp & Weft: Woven Textiles in Fashion, Art and Interiors, London: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

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