Sunday, July 04, 2010

One Medium is Not Like Another

Last heard from on the weaving front, I was using Ruth Kennedy's Blocks and Stripes quilt as color inspiration for a project for my HGA COE (Handweavers Guild of America Cartificate of Excellence. Truly, a mouthful.)

This is the most humbling of experiences. You know that saying about not realizing what you don't know until you start to think that you know something? (And if that's not the saying, it's what I'm goin' with.) Point taken: I Know Nothing.

Before we even get to lessons learned: I knew, when I opened the box of yarn, that I was already off in the weeds. All of my Sesame Street memories came back, and as I looked at the gray-green that was not the chartreuse I'd thought that I was ordering, or the orange-yellow, which on second look at the quilt, looks much softer and more toward a pure color than an analagous mix. In my mind, I kept hearing "One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn't belong."


Now, a few of the lessons.

Lesson Number One: What is a solid block of color in a quilt will not be a solid block of color in a weaving. In other words, very tricky to translate this quilt - which is blocks of solid-colored fabric, predominantly acid-green - into a weaving which communicates that loud note of yellow-green. Because why? 'Cause the medium of weaving, which is based on the interlacements of threads at right angle, presents variables of more texture,  variables of color mixing.

Lesson Number Two: What is the occasional interruption, or note, of analagous and complementary colors (we'll come back to that in a future post - analagous colors are adjacent and complementary colors are on opposite sides of the color wheel, and yes, I had to look up the terminology) in the quilt - those momentary, almost lightning-strikes of blue or burgandy - are difficult to replicate in the twill sampler that I'm working on. Perhaps in a tapestry piece, where I'd keep colors separate and have the ability to insert small shapes of other colors. But not in a twill sampler, where every weft - the horizontal thead -  goes over and under two warp ends - the vertical threads moving from back to front of the loom - pure, clean colors are not happening.

Here's a view of the raddle, at the back of the loom, spacing the 4"-wide stripes of five different colors into 1-inch groups, in preparation for winding the warp onto the back beam. See: not all one color with a little stripe here or there, but large, even, wide stripes of one color. Five colors, yes, but of equal amounts: not one grand swatch of green, with little spots of other colors.
And threading the loom - another view of equality and balance (not the dramatic gesture of a quilt - almost all one color - take that!)

I'm not giving up on the idea of being inspired by Gee's Bend quilts and colors. But clearly, I need to take a little more time (may I say arggh again at this point? where are the blogs and books that support the product-hungry amongst us who have no time for process?) for considering how to transfer one medium into another, without giving up on the qualities - audacious color selection, strength of statement, simplicty and a somehow grounded quality - of the original, the quilt.

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