Saturday, 15 November 2014

Travels around the Baltic: Oslo to Mora, Sweden

This summer, I spent nine weeks travelling around the Baltic region to study patterned band weaving in different countries. I had booked visits to several museums in three countries to examine their collections behind the scenes and talk to curators.

Our first textile stop was Oslo. I wanted to visit the Norsk Folkemuseum of cultural history. It is part of a large open air museum which has an impressive range of medieval buildings.  Unfortunately, the costume gallery had problems with the lighting so I was unable to see any traditional Norwegian folk costumes.  The S├ími  gallery was open and had a lovely collection of artifacts.  I will be recreating one of the woven bands that I saw there for the online workshop I will be running early next year.

Here is  a lovely Norwegian costume with a lovely woven waist band.

The Historisk Museum in the centre of town was well worth a visit.  It shows Norwegian history over 9000 years. There were a few recreated Viking costumes.  One cloak was particularly splendid. because around the edges was a tablet woven border.  Tablet weaving and the warp weighted loom are related technologies.  The patterns woven with tablets may well have influenced subsequent patterns on woven belts.  This S motif is a variation of designs seen on later woven patterned bands.
motif from table woven border
There is a saying: If you are tired of Oslo you have been there for three days.
It is not true. There was not enough time for us to do everything that we wanted, so a return trip is planned.  The Opera House is particularly impressive so our next trip will have to be built around the opera programme. And, of course, a return visit to the Norsk Folkmuseum.

We then drove to Mora in central Sweden on the northern shore of Lake Siljan. This area has been a holiday destination since the 19th century.  It became a place where many artists had their summer homes.  One such artist was Anders Zorn.

After he died, his wife ensured that his work could be appreciated by displaying it in a purpose built art gallery, the Zornmuseet.  A nearby open air museum contains examples of local buildings and an impressive display of costumes collected by Anders Zorn, including many woven bands.

I had arranged to meet Barbro Wallin.  She is the author of a beautifully illustrated book about traditional band weaving from the Mora area, Moraband. (See Books from Sweden and Estonia on the blog).
She demonstrated how she weaves the bands on her loom using different heddles to lift and lower the pattern threads.  The heddles are in different colours. When the loom is warped, she attaches the heddles to the warp in the correct order for the lifts. Once this is done, weaving becomes easier as the correct pattern threads can be selected for each pick.   She was very quick.  She kindly allowed me to have a go.   My attempt was slow and I made quite a few mistakes. My mind knew the theory but my fingers seemed to be all thumbs! Barbro  was very patient!
Barbro's band loom
Here is a close up of the band on the loom.

Close up of the band on the loom

Bands from this area are usually woven with three background threads in between each pattern thread.

Barbro was very generous with her time and we visited the Zorn Textile museum together.  I wish that I had allowed longer for our stay in Mora. There is so much to see and do and Barbro was excellent company.

In the textile museum, there are many examples of beautiful local bands displayed in a way that showed off the length of the bands and the variety of the motifs. I found it fascinating that some of the older bands were in the 'Baltic threading' that is two background threads in between each pattern thread, where the background weave structure is half basket weave.
The band weave structure changed when women started to use the type of band loom used by Barbro because it made weaving patterned bands easier and quicker for them.

The beater that Barbro uses is a heavy weight!  I bought one at the local craft centre. I have used it and it beats very firmly indeed.
Band knife from Mora.

Museums in Sweden have an abundance of beautiful woven bands.  They range from narrow simple bands to wide complex patterned bands.  The bands that I find most intriguing are ones that have no pattern repeats. This is not easy as the weaver would have to remember which patterns had been used as the woven part of the band is rolled up onto the cloth beam of the band loom. It did make the weaving more challenging and interesting! For the weaver, it was a way of showing off her skill, but also, this band was her possession for life. They were not made to be sold.  One band in the Zorn Textile collection appeared to have the date 1848 on one end. .

I have examined many bands over the years and a few years ago, I decided to weave my own example.  I analysed 100 different patterns as I am not skilled enough to be able to weave them without being written down. I could assemble the patterns into the order that I wanted before I started to weave.

The white background threads are in fine linen.  The 13 pattern threads are in thick red and green wool. The pattern threads are more than twice as thick as the background and weft threads. This makes the pattern stand out. The centre pattern thread is green. In Sweden, this is known as the heart of the band. This is a useful guide when weaving.

My 100 motif band.
As you can see, at one end I wove my initials and the date.  This is very common in early bands.

Here is a close up of one of the motifs. Go to Band weaving with 13 pattern threads on my blog for the pattern draft.
One motif from the woven band.

Here is the reverse side of the motif.

Reverse side of motif.
In the museum in Leksand, which is further around Lake Siljan, they have a portion of a marriage band in their collection.  There are two sets of initials and the date of 1850. I wove my own copy. Here it is. I love the way the intials are bounded by a heart pattern.

Portion of a marriage band with two sets of initials and a date of 1850.

Next month I will post about Falun and the Dalarnas Museum.

Happy weaving

Susan J Foulkes

November 2014

Durham Weaver

Monday, 3 November 2014

Inspired by Malevich

A couple of weeks ago, we had a day trip to London to the Tate Modern to see the Malevich exhibition.  Kazimir Malevich was born in Kiev in 1879. His parents were Polish. His progress as a painter led to a revolution in art.

In a famous exhibition of his work in St Petersburg in 1915, The Last Futurist Exhibition 0.10, the first version of his iconic painting Black Square was exhibited.  The Tate exhibition displayed nine out of the twelve paintings in the same layout as the original exhibition.  The Black Square was placed in the corner of the room in the place which, in Russian orthodox homes, was reserved for icons, traditionally known as the red corner.

The exhibition was amazing.

I decided to make a cushion cover - inspired by Malevich .

I started by choosing colours and cutting coloured paper into strips. Black, red, blue, grey and yellow seemed appropriate.  I placed them on a sheet of paper the same size as the front of the cushion and moved them around until I had a design that I liked.  This was an interesting exercise.  I tried strips of different widths and lengths until I was satisfied.

Once I was happy with the arrangement, I wove coloured bands using cottolin.

woven bands, coloured strips and paper design.
I used iron on  bondaweb.  This ensured that when the bands were cut to size they would not fray. Also, I could iron the bands onto the material for the cushion cover so that they were fixed in place.
Ironing the bondaweb onto the bands..


After applying the bondaweb, I cut the bands to size and placed them on the material. Ironing the bands, stuck them onto the cloth.

   Rather than weave a wide blue band, I used two narrow bands together to get the width I needed.  I carefully sewed the bands around the edges.
This is a close up of the blue band where it crosses the grey band.  Once it was sewn in place the join was invisible.

The cushion is now in place under the poster of a painting by Malevich, Supremus No. 38 (1915 - 1916).

My cushion design inspired by Malevich.
After we had seen the Malevich exhibition, we went to the Gallery for Russian Art and Design. In their current exhibition about the First World War, there were also some illustrations by Malevich.

Happy weaving

Susan J Foulkes

November 2014