Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Braids, Bands and Beyond 2016, Tacoma USA

The Conference proceedings has articles by every tutor. My article: Craft, Individuality and Design was used during my workshop to show examples of bands from the Baltic region.

The Conference Proceedings are available to purchase from the Braid Society. 

The International Conference in Tacoma was inspiring. The campus at the University of Puget Sound was so beautiful and peaceful and manicured!

Some participants came to take one type of craft, others tried new crafts.
The University of Puget Sound: Reach for the heights!

The week started with a WOW factor.  The first lecture by Carol James outlined her love of the sprang technique and how she came to reproduce the military sash of George Washington.

Carol showing us some of the samples she has made. 

Patterned band weaving workshop

I taught for two days about weaving patterned bands using the double slotted heddle. I had an enthusiastic class of 15 who showed considerable ability in learning to weave using a back strap. What is so enjoyable about teaching is that I always learn so much from my class.
One class member, Karen, had a brilliant idea for the band width checker which I show here.

Band width checkers can be made different widths to suit the band you are weaving.
Use graph paper and draw coloured lines.  Cut out the widths that you want and lay them onto laminating film.

Put the film through the laminator and then you have a selection of checkers to use.

The transparent nature of the film makes them particularly useful.

Thank you Karen.

Pam brought in her box loom which was lovely.  Wood is so warm and smooth to the touch,

Pam's box loom

Here is a close up of some patterns.

I demonstrated weaving and also a quick way of making full tassels and whipping the ends. West Country whipping, from the Ashley Book of Knots, is going to become very popular.

I had brought a number of samples of belts from different countries around the Baltic for everyone to see and touch.  I even wore one of my Leilvardes belts to the evening meal at the end of the week.

I showed them a picture of the wonderful band woven by Barbro Wallin, author of the book, Moraband.  I had visited her when I was last in Sweden and she sent me this picture of a 4 metre band she had woven with no pattern repeats.  A work of art! The class were very impressed.

Band woven by Barbro Wallin

At the end of two days the class had woven a considerable length of band.  Each band is the story of their weaving journey.

An amazing display of work.

On Wednesday, the conference went on visits to various museums.  If you look on the Facebook site for Braids and Bands you will see a lovely short video of the Burke museum.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/BRAIDSandBANDS/

This museum had some amazing artefacts and had arranged for a student to show and talk about a selection of braided and woven items.
The Burke Museum

The outside of the museum had the legend  Discover, Examine, Uncover Celebrate which seemed a good description of what we were doing at the conference. I was very interested in the North West Coast Indian Art.  I first came across this in the wonderful early book by Frank Boas called Primitive Art. I treated myself to another book from the museum by Bill Holm on Northwest Coast Indian Art: and analysis of form. Something to savour now that I am home.

I was thrilled to find that there were two programmes on the BBC about this in August. Called: Masters of the Pacific Coast: The Tribes of the American NorthWest, it covered the history of the Tribes and their treatment by the authorities in the 20th Century.  Dr Jago Cooper from the British Museum was an authoritative and interesting presenter. Here is the link:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07m771x

You can view some clips from the programmes.

Indian Cultural Center

We had lunch at the Indian Cultural Center which had stunning views over the bay. It was a perfect place to have out lunch.

Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Centre

 A wonderful place to have our lunch.

The Seattle Art museum

The Seattle Art museum was our afternoon stop.

Seattle Art Museum an art deco building
One of the elegant art deco features in the building

There was a special exhibition of indigo and of gold so we were treated to some fabulous textiles.  I am very interested in the Ainu robes so I was particularly pleased to find two on display. When I visit Japan in three years time, I want to travel to the Ainu area so that I can see these wonderful robes in greater detail. they are all different and the patterns relate to the person for whom it is made.

Ainu robe in museum

I took two classes on Thursday and Friday.

The first was Modern Macrame bands - which I soon thought of as macho macrame. Carol Wang was a lively and accomplished teacher and I thoroughly enjoyed being a learner for a change.

I made a bracelet and learned to tie a Chinese knot.  I was very pleased as I had been trying to learn how to tie this knot from a book and failed. Carol made it all very clear.

My first Chinese knot!

The final day, I learned about Sanado-himo bands from Tamaki which was shown in my previous blog.

The whole week was inspirational.  There were two lectures by Roderick Owen; one about Peruvian Headband braids and the second the story of his interest in braiding.

Tadashi Uozumi talked about Kunihimo composite materials.

Anna Sparr showed us how hair braiding was important to the Swedish economy of one village in Sweden.

A fascinating trip was undertaken by Katia Johansen,through the braids on costumes in the Royal Danish Collection. This well illustrated talk showed some of the many expensive braided adornments on these outstanding costumes. This showed us details which would not usually be available for members of the public.

Kim Davis explained the intricacies of early bobbin lace.
Even if the topic was outside of your field of interest it was still worth while attending. I found that there were surprising facts in some of the talks which related to my own area of interest which were highly significant.

If you want to see  more about the conference go to the Facebook page for Braids and Bands. here is the link. https://www.facebook.com/groups/BRAIDSandBANDS/

Finally, here is a pattern for weaving a backstrap. If you like to use a backstrap, it is fun to weave your own.

Weaving a backstrap in linen.

Sunna heddle, backstrap and Gepha shuttleWeaving a backstrap.

This backstrap is made of linen.

Warp Yarn: Finnish linen 4 in blue.  16/2 Swedish linen in red and white used double for each warp end.   Two strands of this yarn is thicker than the Finnish 4 linen.

Weft yarn: Finnish 4 linen in blue.
85 warp ends                          Ends per inch:  36                          
Width = approx. 2.25 inches    9 reed with 4 ends per dent
I woven this backstrap on my loom but they could also be woven using a rigid heddle or on an inkle loom. With linen you will need to beat firmly.

drawdown for backstrap.

Weaving tips for weaving on a four shaft loom.

  • When making the warp be very careful to eliminate and knots in the yarn.  The warp ends are packed closely together.  If there is a knot in the yarn, it will abrade whilst weaving.  
  • Weave at a reasonably high tension.
  • The warp ends are threaded for plain weave.  Use as many shafts as you can.  If you use four shafts the warp ends can stick together.  I have woven on 4 and 8 shafts and 8 shafts is preferable.
  • When weaving, take the shuttle into the shed and beat with the side of the shuttle.  Take the shuttle through   Beat very firmly.

Weaving a tag for the backstrap.

I also made a tag for the backstrap on my standard heddle.

drawdown for woven tag. 

32 warp ends in total.           Yarn: 6/2 cotton.              Weft: blue

Blue       8                                             8
Red             4      1      1      1      1
White              1      1      1     1      4

Happy Weaving.

Susan J Foulkes  August 2016

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