Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Jacquard Questions

In a comment on an earlier post, Teresa asked:

"Could you talk about the previous hook arrangement and the new one. Has this made a difference in what you weave, in details or refined detail in the new hooks. Is this what you expected to happen. Would you add more hooks/modules sometime? Why?"

I figured some of the other blog readers might be interested in my answers, so here goes:

The old (original) setup was 8 modules of 120 threads each, or 960 total. With a warp of 20/2 cotton sett at 51, the weaving width after wet finishing was about 16.5 inches. Keep in mind that 960 threads is equal to 960 pixels of image, unless you're weaving double-weave; in that case, you've got only half the number of pixels to work with, because each layer uses half the available threads/pixels in both warp and weft direction. In single cloth, a pixel on the face of the cloth is the intersection of 1 warp and 1 weft; in double-weave, a pixel on the face of the cloth uses up the intersections of 2 warps and 2 wefts. Maybe that's why I've always used the shaded satin variations - I get to keep my hands on all those pixels!

Since the upgrade, I've had 12 modules, for a total of 1,440 threads or pixels. I've been working on a 30-yard warp of 16/2 cotton since then, sett at 45 for a width after finishing of about 28.5 inches. At the rate I'm going, that warp will last me the rest of this year.

In general, I'm weaving the same sort of images - trees and flowers mostly, but also the wider width lends itself to more landscapes as well and I've really enjoyed those. That could be more the result of my own preferences than any other factor. Rather than a question of detail, it's more a question of how many pixels you've got to work with, and that depends on both number of hooks and size/type of warp yarn. Bamboo and other rayons shrink more than cotton, which shrinks more than tencel, for example, so the finished size is always an approximate number.

As to whether I'd add more modules - probably not, but more because of the limitations of the loom frame than anything else. I always have enjoyed designing within some limitations - there are fewer limitations with jacquard textiles, to be sure, but there are still enough to make designing a visually effective piece a challenge.

I've been asked if I will ever use more different wefts, and again the answer is probably not, because if you throw the kitchen sink in there, the visuals get too muddled. I firmly believe that a limited palette is a good thing, not a hindrance.

Another point about more modules is, it's nice to be able to rotate the modules to make threading easier (although I usually tie a new warp onto the old one anyway, instead of rethreading). Rotating the modules to widen the space in between them means it's easier for DH to get his hands in there to fix or replace things, too, like solenoids, hooks, or the other teeny little pieces which are the things we most often have to replace.

Maybe I could squeeze in 2 more modules, but it's another $7000(ish) and I haven't sold enough pieces to pay for that yet. Although I did sell one big piece and three smaller ones at Complex Weavers... not $7000 though.

Here's a link to a Dropbox folder, which has some 960-hook pieces (mostly the unframed ones, although a few of the smaller ones are framed) and some 1,440-hook pieces (the framed ones). You can see there's not much difference in imagery, just in mounting method. The extra hooks give me room for a plain border for the framed pieces on which I don't want to waste any of the image wrapping around the edges of a canvas stretcher; however, often an image has the important stuff near the center, so the border isn't always a requirement. And sometimes, I just want the finished, framed piece to be a little smaller than 28 inches in the longest direction, because shipping has gotten much more expensive for the framed pieces. I used to ship everything rolled in a mailing tube, but no more!

If anybody has more questions, please feel free to ask! Questions and comments are always welcome. (Teresa, I'll see you at Contemporary Craft Market in Santa Monica in November - we can talk more then.)


Deanna said...

I love to look at your jacquard loom projects. I will never be able to have that kind of loom, but I love looking at your work and hearing about the mechanics of it. And congratulations on the sales in DC.

DebbieB said...

Thanks for the explanation, Sandra - very cool!