Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Woven Shibori

The table from Ikea is turning out to be a bigger PITA than we thought. It was completely disassembled and also unfinished. You need to oil the wood every year which I totally understand, having owned a sailboat with teak trim. But you’d think for $89 plus taxes that you could have it assembled and at least oiled for the first year. It doesn’t take up hardly any more space in a box that way. But then I guess it would cost twice as much. Oh well. T-Man already put it together yesterday and I get to slather some ancient teak oil (left over from said sailboat) on it later today.

Right now I’m threading my table loom with the warp for my shibori workshop next week. I got the warp all wound yesterday — despite a gazillion distractions, all of my own making. I’m threading it in a 3-step 12-shaft extended twill which I hope will give me some scope for interesting shibori effects. The twill is threaded: 1/2/3, 2/3/4, 3/4/5, 4/5/6, 5/6/7, 6/7/8, 7/8/9, 8/9/10, 9/10/11, 10/11/12, 11/12/1, 12/1/2 and repeat. If you weave it as a normal twill structure as drawn in (aka “following the way it was threaded”), you get a fuzzy diagonal line:

Of course I just used one possible tie-up out of gazillions of choices. But you get the idea. When weaving for shibori, the main structure is plain weave. A supplementary weft of stronger thread is woven in using various patterns to become the ties that we’ll use to draw up the fabric into pleats. There are so many options it’s hard to choose a few for sampling, but here’s an example using a different twill tie-up:

I coloured the ties green so you can see them (though they’d probably be white to prevent any colour from rubbing off where you don’t want it) and I’ve changed the purple wefts to match the undyed warp. Of course you don’t have to use the ties in straight twill order:

You can mess about as much as you like! I’ve changed the tie-up yet again to show how there are many different ways to weave this structure. The cool thing about using a table loom is that you don’t have to get down under the loom to re-tie any time you want to change which shafts to lift. And you don’t always have to use the same weft that is in your warp. You can get some interesting effects with different weft such as overtwisted or elastic threads, using cotton on a wool warp or using polyester on a cotton warp. The real fun is in what you do with it next.

After you’ve woven the fabric and pulled up and knotted the ties, you’re still only halfway to your shibori. And as usual there are many choices for finishing. With the wool warp that I’m using, I can full it as well as dye it. If I use a cotton weft, I can dye the wool and not the cotton using dyes specifically for protein and then dye the cotton and not the wool with a dye that works better on cellulose. You can paint thickened dye on one side of the pleats and a different colour on the other side. If you use polyester in the warp you can steam it to set the pleats permanently. Ah, so many options, so little time! I have no idea how many things we’ll be able to cover in the two-day workshop, but I’m looking forward to playing. Maybe a real project will come out of this eventually. Back to my threading…

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