Weaving Lab

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Loom # 3 Meditation Mats This loom was warped with natural cotton and woven with denim and muslin that had been made into strips. We collected the denim from the visitors to the Weaving Lab and the muslin from the Fashion Design program on the UW-Madison campus. We asked weavers  on this loom  to press the  2 treadles and let their mind focus or wander in relationship with their experience of weaving the cloth.  

Loom # 3 Meditation Mats

This loom was warped with natural cotton and woven with denim and muslin that had been made into strips. We collected the denim from the visitors to the Weaving Lab and the muslin from the Fashion Design program on the UW-Madison campus. We asked weavers  on this loom  to press the  2 treadles and let their mind focus or wander in relationship with their experience of weaving the cloth.  

 Points of inquiry:

1.     How many yards of plain weave cotton cloth can be woven on a floor loom?

2.     How long does it take to weave a yard of simple cloth for an amateur or expert?

3.     What meditational value does the act of weaving provide when not tied to production but just as an act of creation?

4.     How can we explore and invent weave patterns based in math structures?

5.     Can simple garments be woven that need little sewing and create little waste? 

Weavers were present and produced cloth in the lab and held a demonstration at 1pm each day on floor loom #4, the learning loom. Community members signed up for hour-long sessions to learn to weave on the floor loom or dropped in as a to weave for whatever time they had to take a break.   Visitors were invited to take away small laser-cut tapestry looms so that they can continue producing cloth in their own homes.

History:

 In the early 1883, William Goodell Frost, President of Berea College in Madison County, Kentucky created a program called “Fireside Industries.”  This initiative was inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement and sought to encourage handweaving and to create a fashionable marketplace for the crafted goods.  The program provided women with a place to sell the goods woven on their looms, inspired many other craft programs, and served as a model for other weaving cooperatives in the Appalachian Mountains.

Floor looms were used for years in a cottage production of cloth but after the civil war, many families put away their looms as more industrially produced woven fabrics became commercially available.  Inspired by “Fireside Industries” Weaving Lab: Plain Cloth Productions will be a site of experimental textile fabrication exploring production concerns beyond labor and value into less concrete inquiries into time, process, materiality and meditation.

References:

Alvic, Phillis. Weavers of the Southern Highlands, University Press of Kentucky, 2003

https://www.berea.edu/student-crafts/history/

 

Process of preparing 40 yards of 10/2 cotton to be woven into a bolt of plain weave cloth.