Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Cloth of memory

That's what this cloth is becoming... why didn't I realize that before?  Of course it's a memory cloth -- it is holding a record of every weaver who's making it.  But it also holds the record of the winders of the bobbins. I realized that today when I wove 13 one-half inch passages that used bobbins wound by students in an art foundations class from the University of Tennessee who came to visit the exhibit.  The room filled with young people at 10 a.m. and their teacher described what they should do with the winding.  She pointed me out at the back of the gallery along with the loom and said that later they might want to see what I was doing.  She asked me if I would mind that and I said that of course I wouldn't and that I would be glad to describe what I was doing to use bobbins like those they were winding.

The students wound for 15 or 20 minutes.  I got to a point when I needed to advance the warp so I walked up to the teacher to mention what was about to happen and that it might be a good time for some of the students to take a look at the cloth, if she wanted them to.    All of them came around the loom while I moved more warp forward and rolled up what I'd woven.  I showed them how a bobbin was placed in the shuttle and then thrown through the open shed.  I talked a bit about Anne Wilson's concept for the piece and the weft-way stripes or bands that the sixty or so weavers are doing, each woven part having a transition by made by the new weaver in response to the previous weaver's work.  Their teacher had mentioned the Exquisite Corpse to them--seems they'd done something like that in class--so they seemed to related easily to a response to a small known area.  I asked if one of them would like to contribute a bobbin that they'd wound--I needed a new one at that point so thought that might be a good way to involve them in the cloth in a direct way.  A bobbin was quickly provided--by an eager young man--and I wove a 1/2" with it.  Another person had another bobbin and I move to it next.  As the rest of the hour progressed the students moved back to the winding stations and continued to wind.  I overheard one girl tell her teacher that she was really enjoying the process--that it was very meditative.  As they wound, I walked around and picked up a bobbin from the bins in front of the winders and collected thirteen to use.  I wove 1/2" with each, separated by a very thin stripe of black. 

Their bobbins were used in the thirteen bands that are bordered by the dark blue and white/gray blend.  Almost everyone of the group chose to blend at least two strands together for their winding.  Some of the winding was a bit over-eager and resulted in bobbins that exploded in use:

(some were actually much worse than this poor guy!)

A long and full day with the public coming in to see the exhibit.  Here's what I saw as I cleaned up my work area and got ready to put the weaver's tool box back in the closet as I was leaving for the day:

These are the stripes that I will meet at the loom tomorrow morning and begin the process all over again.  Will I use up the UT students' bobbins?  Will I choose from the almost finished bobbins box left by past weavers?  Will I go to the beautiful yarn wall and select a new palette for the day?  Tomorrow will tell.


  1. What a wonderful post! That cloth has pieces of LOTS of people!

  2. Indeed it does! Anne Wilson's concept for the exhibit is brilliant.

  3. Tommye
    I weave with the Tuesday Weavers in Norris. I'm so excited about the project, and love following the progress. You can scroll through our blog at: http://tuesdayweavers.blogspot.com
    Our group has really enjoyed being part of this.

  4. Thanks for the link to your blog and record of your progress. I'll put that link at the side bar on mine.

  5. How many more days will you get to weave, Tommye? What a memorable day, for you and the students! You are clearly a gifted teacher, too.

  6. Hi Kathy,
    I'll be here weaving this week until Thursday. I'll be back in the last week of the exhibit--late April--to weave again. I really wanted to be here to see it come off the loom. Can you imagine 50 yards of weft-faced bands of color?!?!?! I can't so have to see it for myself.

    The UT students weren't mine--although they were ones I'd love to have had. But one of my former students has already been here to weave and another couple should be able to make it before the semester ends. Dahlonega is about 4 hours away from Knoxville so it's a commitment of time to get here. I'm staying at a great small, old hotel downtown and within about 1/2 mile from the museum--walked every day, so far, even through the blinding snow today (--like a few flakes). Parked the car on Sunday at a municipal lot nearby and won't touch it again until I leave on Thursday. What a good weaving retreat!

  7. I'm jealous. Knoxville is a nice town and a respite from day to day is always a delight and to be doing that wonderful weaving too has to be a great break. Thanks for sharing with all of us.

  8. This was wonderful. Those students were fortunate you were weaving yesterday.

  9. Oh gosh I am just so impressed by the concept, the commitment the weavers put in and the cloth!
    I can't imagine what the 50 yards will unfold like either but it's bound to be wonderful.

  10. This is a beautiful entry! And a great way to capture the memories. Your own and theirs!