Monday, October 09, 2006

Playing with new toys

This past week, I had an opportunity to play with AVL's new 24-inch, 24-shaft workshop dobby loom. This came about when the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles asked me to participate in a fundraising event. On the event day, 12 artists spent about 5 hours demonstrating various textile arts: Barbara Shapiro made one of her wonderful coiled baskets, Judith Content worked on paper that she embellished with dyes and paints, and then applied to the surface of gourds, several art-to-wear makers had garments in various states of construction, quilt makers and silk painters showed their processes, and I wove a scarf (well, part of a scarf...) on the AVL dobby loom.

Initially, the event sounded like a reasonably small investment of time and effort, but not surprisingly, it just grew. I told my museum contact that I'd be willing to participate if she could persuade AVL to lend a loom for the event, since my own loom is far too big to transport. I learned that at the museum's grand opening at their new location, AVL had lent one of the earlier models of workshop dobby loom and Sheila O'Hara had woven a piece on it, so a precedent for this type of arrangement was already established. Okay, now I was roped in.

First, I had to dye yarns and design a weaving draft. I chose 20/2 tencel in dark and light blue for the warp, and 30/2 tencel/silk blend in bright green for the weft. It is unusual for me to warp a loom for a single item, so a 3-yard warp was a real change of pace. The draft (which I will save and weave again on my big loom, in at least 5 variations) was an interleaved threading, in which two copies of the same networked curve are offset from one another, so when one curve is rising, the other is sinking. Here's a screenshot of part of the draft:

I expected to receive a demo loom, one which had already been used at the factory, but when it arrived it turned out to be a brand-new loom. DH, the resident engineer, helped me to assemble it, connect a spare laptop, and get the thing running. I then spent a day warping the loom and threading it, and then another day weaving off part of the scarf. I knew I'd never be able to finish weaving the whole thing at the event itself, and AVL needed to get the loom back a few days after the event for a workshop at the factory. Here are a couple of images of the loom, set up temporarily in the living room, and one close-up of the woven cloth.

At the event, the museum had two large rooms - one in which the daytime demonstrations were held, along with a silent auction, and another in which the gala benefit dinner was held. Works donated by each artist, as well as goodies such as dinners for 10 at Emile's, golfing weekends, cases of wine, and studio tours with famous artists, were sold at a live auction during the dinner.

I'd hoped that the loom would fit as-is in my Toyota minivan, but unfortunately it was just a couple of inches too tall, and we didn't want to transport it on its side. So we had to disassemble it partly (as it's designed to do) to get all the pieces in the van upright. That meant more time on arrival at the venue to reassemble the beast! Like I said, it just grew.

After I got set up at the daytime demo event but before spectators started to arrive, DH managed to get one shot of me weaving "in situ."

Naturally, after the daytime event but before the gala dinner, we had to again disassemble the loom to get it back in the van....... The next morning, I cut the warp off the loom and packed the loom up to ship back to the factory.

The next step is to ply the fringes and complete wet finishing. Once that is accomplished, I'll take some photos and post them here.

My thanks to the staff of the Museum of Quilts and Textiles and to Bob Kruger of AVL for giving me this chance to play with a new loom!


beryl said...

Let me be the first to congratulate you on your new blog. The pictures of the loom and scarf are great. It is also great news to have a multi shaft weaver doing a blog. Yeah!

MegWeaves said...

And this is where I start my holiday reading.