Thursday, January 15, 2009

WTF? Don’t know much about woven cloth…

Now, I realize there are many people who know fundamentally, what exactly is woven cloth; however, what really struck me is how many people do not…

This age of instant gratification and consumerism that we live in has made many of the handicrafts that were once a necessity, something of nostalgic hobby. Whether it is spinning fibers into thread or yarn, and weaving this homespun into cloth to make clothing, blankets and towels… or countless other functional items such as handmade soap, candles, paper, glass, metal pots and pans, wooden bowls. (And let's not forget another homemade specialty that has been popular and essential for generations in my Appalachian backwoods mountain home…moonshine/alcohol.)

Many people, and I would even venture to say that includes many crafters, seem to be ignorant (or perhaps indifferent is a better word) to the amount of time, energy, and skill our ancestors needed to produce a single garment or piece of clothing.

Just this week I have been teaching my son and daughter, they are eleven and ten years old by the way, how to warp and weave an Inkle Loom. It is wonderful to see the excitement and joy of accomplishment by weaving all on their own. My kids understand the degree of complex knowledge and skill involved in producing cloth from raw fiber. They appreciate the time and energy that goes into making that handwoven textile.

Many in my little covert circle of rouge weavers have discussed this very subject.

So…I urge all those who acknowledge this indifferent and ambivalent attitude toward producing handwoven goods:

"Hey get your thoughts together, stop Googling the porn...join in on this discussion and leave a comment dammit!"

What observations have you made about the a lack of understanding within the general public regarding handwoven goods and the amount of skill and effort that goes into creating that wonderful scarf or warm blanket?

Education seems a key component in demonstrating respect and recognition of our particular handcrafted art form…weaving. Let's discuss ways to make a difference and get young people excited and genuinely interested in learning the process of producing textiles.

Any ideas on how we can get these texted crazed youths, working and manipulating threads with those amazingly fast speed fingers?

Cause I sure as hell don't see a new Nintendo Wii game called "Warp Drive Mario: Sley the Dent" being released anytime soon…

-Wefty Woman

One Warped Bitch


PB::JJ::WW said...

Now, if you got some fabulous ideas on getting people interested in handcrafts (not just weaving, cause I don't want to be some weave snob, or anti-handycaftdite...think Seinfeld) Post a damn comment...Geez!

skiingweaver said...

Hey hey JJ! (Thanks for the comment, BTW) (Gah, I'm rhyming, somebody stop me, quick.) Anywho, my studio building has open studios every first Saturday of the month and I yak my head off about weaving - but the really successful educational thing I did this year was for the big Lowell-city-wide open studios - I timed projects right so that my little loom was empty, set it up with a play warp of cotton/linen yarn, and let my visitors weave! The kids loved it (had two little girls weave for *hours* on Saturday afternoon - I cut off their fabric and gave it to them). The kids were absolutely gung-ho!

memphisweaver said...

Hi JJ--I found that connecting to art teachers is the way to get kids excited about weaving. A group of art teachers had asked me to do a weaving for recyclers workshop so they could teach their students. I knew that as teachers, they wouldn't be able to afford the rigid heddle looms I usually use in my workshops, so I also showed them how to build looms out of wooden stretcher frames and add a shedding device made out of string heddles. Then we used plastic bags and old t-shirts as weft for weaving. Kids really liked the idea of recycling, and teachers liked the idea of saving money!

Orbie/\;;/\ said...

Twice now at the middle school I presently work for I organized a card weaving club. We do an all school unit each year and when they did the Renaissance unit I struggled to figure out some fiber related project that I could turn into a club. Tablet weaving was the result. We wove wristlets or book marks and the kids had a great time. Interestingly enough it was the boys who enjoyed it the most.

they always say that if you want to develop someone into a weaver start them weaving and once they are hooked then show them all the labor of warping up the loom, slaying, tensioning and the rest.

I used to haul my spinning wheel to art fairs just to have something to do, but it ended up just confusing people as to what my rag rugs were woven of so I finally had to stop. I spent all my time having to explain myself when I needed to be selling :)

PB::JJ::WW said...

I think many kids at that age (same age as my own) seem to be fascinated with handmade things. I wonder what happens when the munchkins start to get older...any ideas about getting those early and late teens interested in weaving?

PB::JJ::WW said...

That is a very good point Orbie, It is a lot of work to weave something, but I like that idea of getting them hooked on it first. The tablet weaving that JDStar did was real neat.
It is also funny you say that the boys were more into the weaving, same way with my son. My daughter likes to do macrame more than weave...

SleyTheDent said...

Oh wow. As my weaving studio is called "Sley The Dent" and my son develops computer games for a living, I'll have to ask him when "Warp Drive Mario: Sley the Dent" is being released! What a hoot!
I can see the potential, can't you weavers?! For me "sley the dent" brings to mind my inner-Athena defending my loom from warp tangling goblins. Syne must have had similar thoughts for her pod-cast-drama "Buffy the Reed Sleyer".
Oh, I can see a fun (and educational!) weaving game. Go-go-weaving-gadget? Eliminate warp tangling goblins while you make your way through the game levels, wrong answers result in broken warp threads: (1) pick colors for your warp, from the 2000+ pantone possibilities, see how the colors interact when placed beside one another in a virtual warp wrapping. (2) learn about sheep, goats, pineapple, rabbit, bamboo, silk worms, cotton, yak, bison, rayon, nylon, tencel, possum, llama, alpaca, linen, hemp, ramie, and plarn as you pick out fibers for your warp and weft.
(3) Learn about being "green". What does it mean to be an organic cotton or organic wool? What are good fiber growing and dyeing practices vs un-healthy or non-ecofriendly ones? (4)Exercise your mathematical brain bits while you learn about epi, ppi, take-up, tex, shrinkage, yards/pound, meters/kg, and the mystifying 20/2 vs 2/20. (5)???
I think I've run off the silly end of this discussion.
When I've done weaving demonstrations in classrooms, museums, or at fairs, it's always the children who are ready to sit down and give the loom a try. Most adults are hesitant.
If you love what you are doing, your enthusiasm is contagious, and others will become inspired by your passion.
Dawn ~~ Sley the Dent

Lynnette said...

Hi there,
Glad your saying it. It is truly difficult to get the general public to not compare a handmade item to one made by machine. I'm sure we have all had someone say something to the effect "I saw the same for $10.00 at Walmart". Other than weaving truly quality items and presenting them well and with professionalism, we have to value our time, price accordingly and encourage people to respect the time and effort we put into our fiber art.

ASpinnerWeaver said...

I am a long time inkle weaver. Whenever I do a craft fair or other public event I have my loom right there and happily explain how it works. Sometimes I have an extra loom and invite others to try. I consider this a public service to help educate folks. I can't tell you how many times parents approach, telling their kids to watch the lady spinning yarn, or looming, or whatever. I love giving them the right words to talk about weaving and let them see and understand such a mysterious process. Sounds like there are a lot of others out there who are doing the same thing. Weave on!

PB::JJ::WW said...

Dawn, Dang woman...I really think you are on to something, get that boy of yours crackin' so that game can be launched before the 2009 holiday season!

I love all the comments everyone is leaving!!!!! Keep it up, and tell your friends to stop by and post a comment.

PB::JJ::WW said...

Lynnette, you make a valid comment about the mass produced vs handmade:

"I've seen the same thing at walmart for 10 bucks." We all have heard this, my mother tells me this all the time! (Naw, I am teasing...she is real supportive.Her comments usually run along the line of "Hey JJ...look at what they got in Urban Outfitters, it looks like the shit you make.")

However, I do think that when people see what is involved in producing handwoven items it really sinks in. Like inkle weaver has said in the comment above, it is like a public service to give some education about weaving (or any handmade craft for that matter) We need to do our part in passing down a tradition of respect for those who take the time to learn their craft.

I have an idea, that I posted on another part of this blog, but I will post it here because it should be repeated:

Hey, get off your ass and promote handmade, teach a young "hoodlum" how to do something creative. Get those kids off the Wii and text messages and "learn" them something else they can do with those industrious fingers!

Even if it means they give you the finger for teaching them something they think they already know.

The Ebon Swan said...

Coming in way late to this discussion, but still...

As a living historian, I see every day how modern living has totally divorced the general public from the origins of most things in their daily lives, whether that's food or clothing or whatever else under the sun. People and most especially children are fascinated with how things are/were made, but I get a little crestfallen when I hear that all too often uttered phrase: "well what's the point of doing that now?" All too often demonstrations of any type of traditional craft or trade turns into entertainment much like a TV program for a moment or two - but nothing more. Fortunately there are those whose curiosity drives them to explore further.

My daughter is currently fascinated with spinning and weaving, though she has the common problem I see in many children: they expect to pick something up and be perfect at it the first time around. But she is very patient and attentive when she finds an opportunity for someone to show her *anything*. I am deeply grateful to those spinners and weavers who take the time to sit and explain, repeat and demonstrate how their craft is done. My daughter now wants a parlor wheel for next Christmas...I'm starting her off on a drop spindle. LOL