Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Out of the Box

Ok, so what's this about?  I got a call for entry card from Piedmont Craftsmen a few weeks ago for an exhibit to be held October 3-31 at the PCI Gallery in Winston-Salem.  The title of the show is "Out of the Box" and, since I don't work in three dimensional media I immediately dismissed this as a show I could enter.  BUT I didn't throw the card away...and as days went by I began to muse about how could I adapt my medium to something that would be acceptable to this exhibit.  In fact, the more I read and reread the comment on the card, the more I got intrigued:
A box is defined as a container typically constructed with four sides perpendicular to the base and often having a lid or cover.  However, Piedmont Craftsmen are anything but typical.  We invite/challenge you to push the concept of what a box is.  As craftsmen you are rooted in tradition but not limited by any traditional constraints.  This show is open to all media, however, the piece must have been made within the last 2 years.

My solution was to do a weft-faced double weave, basing the shape on a small square cardboard box. I added a small area of slit tapestry at the bottom of the wool box below. I also needle felted over the turned back warp ends to hide them, then fulled the whole box to raise the fibers of the whole thing. This one I call "Jack(s) in the Box" but instead of a jack that jumps out, there are jacks (jackstones) that spill out, some old ones I've had for a long time.

The second box, same size as the first and woven on the same warp (2.5" x 2.5" x 2.5") is woven from left-over ribbons that were dangling from a mass of balloons given to my husband after surgery in January. This box holds children's plastic letters that I covered on the back with prints of the letters scanned and repeated over and over--didn't want the raw, open backs to show up and felt I should manipulate them in some way, anyway. I bought three $1 each tubes of letters at a local dollar store, pulled out the letters to read "OUT OF THE BOX" --stuffed them back into the box, with the intent that it will be displayed tipped over with the letters spilling out in any old way. I just lined them up in a legible fashion to take the photo below.

This out of the box experience for me has been great fun! OK, so it's kept me from the fiddlehead tapestry for a day or so. In all, I guess I've spent maybe four days with the whole challenge, from warping, threading my floor loom, weaving the first box, fiddling with it for a day or so to find the finishing solution, completing it to my liking, moving on to the second box, weaving it, getting the "inspiration" of the children's letters as I wandered through the toy section of the store looking for likely things to be spilling out of a fun box...almost a toy box, if you thought of it that way!

Along the way I solved the box shape to my satisfaction, reverting back to a four-shaft floor loom to do it in double weave.  But I've realized how I can do a similar three-dimensional object on one of my tapestry frame looms.  I may try that for another small box and do more tapestry on the surface than I did on this one.  I've also learned a bit about needle felting, which I've avoided doing because I thought I might like it too much!  Well, I don't believe I'll be a converted needle felter now but I have discovered that this is nifty way to hide the warp tail ends under a felted covering.  Now I'm thinking about how it will work with a wool warp and how the whole surface of the tapestry can be manipulated...or only parts of the surface...and on and on it goes!!!  

I'd like to be able to see the show in October...I'm sure it will be quite an interesting one as everyone who enters meets the challenge in her/his own way. Sure got me thinking differently for a change!  


  1. I have needle felted on my tapestry. I subscribe to 'Handwoven', and there was an article by Nancy Harvey, where she incorporated needlefelting into a tapestry piece. I tried it and loved it. may have to try more. My question is how well it will hold up in the long haul. It certainly was fun. Find a weaver friend and look in the (i think) Spring issue of Handwoven.


  2. Hi Sue,
    Thanks for the hint about the Handwoven article. I'll look it up. Kathe Todd-Hooker also mentions needle felting in one of her books. Her business partner, Pat Spark, has done much to promote needle felting over the past few years, including writing one or more books about it!

  3. What fun! I'm so glad you didn't throw out that card!

  4. I did several double-woven boxes a number of years ago. I stuffed the parts (sides, top, and bottom) while still on the looms so they were padded. The tops were coverlet patterns, but tapestry would be cool, too. I had forgotten how much fun they were to do! I made them for gifts, and have inherited one back from my grandmother and I still like it. Yours are great!

  5. Hi Peg and Kathy,
    Thanks for your comments. Yep, Peg, I'm also glad I didn't throw the card out. Kathy, I'd love to see your boxes. You said coverlet patterns for the tops. Did you use an 8-shaft loom so you could thread those??
    So wonderful to "inherit back" one you gave to your grandmother. I also inherited back a few weavings I'd given my mother over the years when she passed away. They were special to her, she used them well and proudly, and I'm also loving having them around to use now.