The backstory on 50 Shades of Gray warp

While trolling around on Pinterest for inspiration, I came across this image. I found it attractive, and classic at the same time. Foolish me, I took note of the image, associated it with other Bauhaus artists that inspire me and got to work thinking about how I could translate this into a woven piece suitable for one of my traveling handlooms. For the next two weeks. I could not make that image come into my feed again.

Little did I know what I had stumbled upon. This was a work of one of the big artists in my era – Sol LeWitt, he was based in New York City , my childhood cultural mecca during the 1960’s and 1970’s. Mom brought us children to the city at least monthly for cultural events, music, art, etc. I grew up thinking everyone went to the Met, MoMA, Carnegie Hall and Radio City Music Hall on a regular basis. It’s what you do when school’s out or on a weekend; take a train, walk the city, come home excited but exhausted.

Turns out Mr. LeWitt and I might have crossed paths as Wikipedia says of him that:

He had an entry-level job as a night receptionist and clerk he took in 1960 at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.

Paragraphs on Conceptual Art LeWitt asserted that Conceptual Art was neither mathematical nor intellectual but intuitive, given that the complexity inherent to transforming an idea into a work of art was fraught with contingencies.[43] LeWitt’s art is not about the singular hand of the artist; it is the idea behind each work that surpass the work itself.

Also come to find out he was also influenced by Josef Albers, a Bauhaus alumni:

Sol LeWitt: Wall Drawing

Seven Basic Colours and all their Combinations in a Square Within a Square

Sol LeWitt dedicated his wall drawing to Josef Albers, whose colour theory and practice was a significant influence on his own development.

Even if LeWitt and Albers are separated by a fundamentally different understanding of their work, what is valid for both artists is their avoidance of any emphatic idea of authorship, their surmounting of any hierarchic model of composition and the way they, in general, objectify the work concept in which a single piece is always part of a long term serial study.

I saw this piece, and instantly set about figuring how a warp like this could be created. I drew a simple draft.

Note, my draft is backwards as the orientation of the work was not most critical in my mind, but the mechanics behind the pattern was. Sol LeWitt increased the black lines by 1 in every block and began his work with a minimum of two blocks. The grid used, was very similar to the one he used for his cubes. Which explains the two black lines around the outside.

From there I decided to build on this pattern principle, I wanted a draft with 200 threads, 10 blocks of 20 threads each and I was home free! Next step was to wind this warp, each set of blocks would require a different number of threads in black and white.

I fashioned my own sectional warping system from a reel that was donated to me by a weaving friend. I used a velvet cantra frame to hold the AVL tension box, and a LeClerc spool rack for the 30 bobbins needed.

Yes, I am an engineer and I think of these types of things often.

I then transferred the warp from the reel to the Ashford Katie loom I was going to weave it on.

I threaded the 8 shafts in a straight threading keeping my options open for structure changes.

The reed in the loom is a 10 dpi read and I sleyed it at two threads per dent. Warp was composed of 10/2 cotton in black and white. One of the first things that I noticed, if the sleying/threading was not correct, all of the black threads would not rise to the top at the same time. This was a clue to go back and double check my work. I found the warp quick to proof in this way.

Interweave Store

My first sample was woven in a plain weave with a sett of 20 ends per inch,  half the threads up on each throw of the shuttle. It was easy to start with the white on the left and know which lever to throw with each pass, until you began to add the black. Then I needed to check what the last throw was to determine the next. In my zeal to finish the sample, Ihad abandoned the draft, and resorted to looking and counting. In some ways it was slow going, the piece took about 4 hours to weave only because I made mistakes and had to undo and redo my work. What did I gain from this approach, more of a reliance on what my eyes saw in the cloth versus what the draft said to do. Some of the first steps in design on the loom.

From the photo of the loom you can see I wove this piece outside while camping.

What troubled me about the piece was that it was not square, each block was taller than long, the sett was quite loose for the thread. The loom is only 12 inches wide, lowering the sett was not a practical solution for this loom.

For the second sample I chose to switch to a twill structure which allowed the threads to collapse down on each other a bit more. I measured the block and I was very close to square, I felt it was close enough to continue.

During this weaving I made note that if I was not careful with the levers, and picked a 2&7 combination instead of 2&5, I began to see a log cabin or shadow weave variation appear in the warp. Twice, I needed to unweave large sections of the warp to remove this undesirable optical effect.

Here are the two finished samples side by side:

There was much more I want to weave and try on this warp. But time is short, and I will have to leave it to some of my students to complete.

I am pleased that Sol LeWitt’s work translated so well into weaving. It provides a great study for practicing design principles while on the loom.

I can now see the difference the structure will make in both the range of values, and the size of the pixel.

 

Click here to purchase draft package of the 50 Shades of Grey Challenge. Package includes computerized draft for weaving software .wif file, and non-computerized draft in PDF format, as well as a PDF with pictures detailing the project.

 

 

Testing of the “50 Shades of Grey” warp

I was first inspired by a pen in and ink drawing I saw on Pinterest but in my excitement, I did not capture it and now I can’t get it back in my feed to credit it properly. It was a museum piece from the Bauhaus era, which is why it spoke to me.

I decided to see if I could weave it on a loom, specifically on a 4 or 8 shaft loom.

Turns out it was very possible. I did the sample twice on the warp you see here, once in plain weave and again using a straight twill. The twill I think most closely matches the look I was going for.

There are many more experiments to try. Clasped weft (black and white), color substitution in weft, Solid color in weft. It goes on and on, and no two will be alike.

 

Two Tie Unit Weave – Variation 3

The latest work on the loom. Variation 3 of my two tie unit weave.  I am working with a “olive/avacado” green cotton thread for the pattern weft. The design deign is a new one I have recently completed. I was looking for a contemporary feel and I believe that I have achieved that. The weaving is pleasant and easy to follow.

This is just one of the 10 items in my production run on the AVL loom this Spring. Look for it to appear for sale online – on this website sometime this summer.

Using Perler beads to design a tie-up

I have been working on a warp that will include 10 different designs on my AVL loom. This warp has been set up to be a two tie unit weave. The warp will handle 16 shaft patterns in a point twill layout. Because I have a standard threading and a standard treadling, all I need to change will be by tie-ups and the color of my pattern threads.  Pretty simple weaving.

I made the designing easier by using Perler beads to lay out the tie ups and tested the symmetry using a pair of quilting mirrors.  I have labeled this tie-up variation 6.  There are four more designs in the series to go.

Jennifer’s Draft Number #2

Jennifer wrote to me and asked me about this draft she had found in a file. She was not familiar with this particular draft and wanted to learn more about it. My first step was to look at the blocks – the areas separated by the long lines. Most of the sections have 4 lines in them in two rows. It appears that this draft is on four shafts. Likely it is an overshot draft.

I looked at the sequence of the blocks, reading from the right to the left,  A block has lines on shaft 2 and shaft 4, B block has lines on shaft 2 and 3, C block has lines on shaft 1 and 3, D block has lines on shaft 1 and shaft 4. Looking through the rest of the draft the are no other combinations of lines. Our Draft has 4 blocks. I then could label the blocks on a piece of paper

I then wrote the draft out in my notebook, matching the lines and the threads by the block I identified.

I then translated this into a profile draft by substituting  the A Block for shaft 1, the B Block for shaft 2, the C Block for Shaft 3 and the D Block for shaft 4. Because some of the blocks had 4 threads and some only 2. I decided to use two threads to represent the four thread blocks, and one thread for the half block. I treated the 3 thread block as a two thread block for the profile.

I set the tie up to ABCD, to match the blocks.

I then selected tromp as writ, and colored the warp a contrasting color to make the design appear.

While I was entering the draft into the iWeaveit program, I noticed that some of the draft was not even (balanced) I adjusted the draft to make it even.

I had found one place where the draft did not move sequentially through the blocks. Usually overshot moves in a circular fashion through the blocks, jumping blocks can cause long floats to appear. You can see the area on the on the bottom line towards the left edge the block moved from D to B and back to D again. This is in one of the short blocks. This is not the way the other side of the block is, and so I adjusted it to match the beginning of the block sequence.

At this point you can not weave the pattern, but you have a fairly good idea of what the design will look like when woven.

The blocks in the threading move gracefully from left to right and the designed when woven will have that characteristic of a 45 degree diagonal line from bottom right to top left.

When this design is woven it will need to have a border and a number of repeats to match the size of the fabric desired. To repeat the design you would start from the top right of the threading and enter that sequence after the last thread on shaft 4 in the draft.

At this point, you are missing the threads for the ground cloth. The tabby weave.

To weave this pattern I will need to decide what structure it is, and then change the draft to have that threading arrangement.  I will show you how I do this in the next blog update.

 

This is a quick look at the profile draft as it is repeated.

There are tables (the big blocks) and smaller blocks in the middle. The pattern will look like the checkerboard you see, to prevent long floats.

I am sure this pattern can have variations. This is a sample of what it would look like if it remained symmetrical.

 

 

 

Vision Board for Angstadt 164

Today was a fun sick day. I woke up not feeling well (cough,cough) and knew that going out was not going to happen. My next stop was the computer where I decided to play with the design that I shared with you last week.

My goal, to turn the draft into a welsh tapestry design. I think I did pretty well. My best news of the day, it is possible for you to order this design as a throw in a few weeks. I have made contact with a company that allows me to create a design and they will weave it on their Jacquard loom. I am in wonderment!

It has taken me a couple of tries to get the hang of how to set up the files so their system will run them.  I can’t wait to order my first samples and see how they turn out.

The website is WOVNS.  Brand new — only six months old.

I completed a whole vision board today. You might want to take a look — it is a pdf file. Vision Board – Angstadt 164 Should you be interested in these designs for some of your projects please let me know by email.

 

Save

Update to the Replacement Dish Towel Project

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After a long time, almost a year. I finally had the time to get to this project. As I did, I discovered that I had set up my loom incorrectly and was not able to weave until I fixed the installation of the friction brake, and the clutch for the cloth advance. Thank you to wonderful people on the Weaver’s Tech list.

During this process I did decide on an initial draft of the first towels. It is based on two different Jacob Angstadt designs, both are 12 shaft pointed twills blocks. I wanted to get a checkerboard effect without needing to use two shuttles. This was made possible by reversing the tie-up blocks.  Now to the real work, weaving!

The Replacement Dish Towel Project

The replacement dish towel project began when I discovered that my old towels had become stained, and a bit dingy as the result of a man being around the house. He seemed to forget they were handwoven and used them to mop stains on the floor, clean up snow mixed with granite gravel and asphalt, and of course, wiping the stove top off after cooking a spaghetti dinner. Like all men, he just wants to be forgiven, and like all women I just want my pretty dish towels back.

My first steps were to look around the kitchen and discover the colors I wanted to use. I happened to have purchased some beautiful denim blue 16/2 cotton, and have some yellow and white cones of thread. My first thoughts were to make the towels mostly blue in an effort to hide future dirt. I  began wrapping thread on to cardboard strips to see what stripes I was most interested in. I found the wrapping task to be a bit tedious. Of course, I made the mistake of letting someone else in on the project, only to discover that they are not so interested in the blue background. They really like the yellow which matches the kitchen walls.

I then scurry around on the internet and search for blue and yellow striped towels to get some ideas. In the process I discovered a few great design tools. A Stripe Generator, a Tartan Designer and a Color Picker. All are awesome diversions – yet none of them output to weaving software and thus none directly suited my needs. Back to the old fashioned way of doing things for now.

I then made some sketches of the stripes that I found  on the Internet for my purposes, I found my stripes by Googling for blue and yellow striped towels and selected the entry that displayed images, it looks a lot like Pinterest and I could just flip through the pictures looking for my favorites. I eventually decided that there were so many I wanted to try to make, that I should make my design using an all white warp so that I can change stripes whenever I like.

Me being me, I can not weave in a plain weave when I have a loom that has 24 shafts! So I selected to use a 16 shaft point twill as a base structure. I learned during my stay in Italy, that I am happiest with twill and damask weaving and it seems to come naturally to me. I will use as my inspiration for the structure, Angstadt 16 shaft twill profiles.

So far I have determined that I will be using white 10/2 perle cotton in the warp, 8/2 unmercerized cotton in the weft, and various colors and widths for the colored stripes.

I have selected a beginning sett of 20 epi based on my previous experiences with this structure. I have chosen to weave this on my AVL loom using the compu-dobby to help me pick the pattern and I will have to concentrate on the weft color changes manually.

I have decided that I will be weaving 18 towels in all and therefore will be winding a warp 15 yards long on the sectional beam.