Monday, March 8, 2010

Final thoughts about the cloth--and where it's taking me

On my last day in Knoxville the museum was alive with the sounds of preparation for the weekend's big fundraising event--metal poles would drop on cement outside as the rest of the tent preparation continued; vacuum cleaner busily sucked at the red carpet in the lobby; and many other unidentified activity noises filled the day outside of the Local Industry gallery space.

Inside the Local Industry gallery was the sound of the shuttle being thrown and the weft being packed into place on the every-growing cloth; the gentle whirring of bobbin winders as visitors filled more quills; the voice of Nick DeFord discussing a future project with his students as they sat to wind bobbins.  Calm.  The rhythm again of the work of winding and weaving being done.

I'm back at home now and it's several days after my last session at KMA.  It's been hard to find time to post my final thoughts of this experience but my mind is still filled with the images of the spectrum of colors hanging and pooling at the yarn wall.  I'm still amazed at the cloth that's being created on the loom--how many ways bands of color can be made.  Each band beautiful in its own way and even more so as it interacts with what came before and what will come after.

So... here are some final photos taken on my fourth day of weaving at KMA this session--more to come in late April near the end of the exhibit.

the prototype cloth woven last summer by Anne Wilson and her graduate students

one combination of the ever-changing video display of three areas of striped or banded fabric that was playing in a continuous loop outside the Local Industry gallery

the video display above the reception desk at the entrance of the museum

stacks of threads for winders to choose from for their quills

pools of quills at the base of the yarn wall

quills I selected from those wound by visitors on this day

and my contributions as I ended last day of weaving on March 4, 2010.

I mentioned in an earlier post that this experience has caused me to reconsider the place of the work of the weavers in our world... the work of those who are still connected with weaving as a way to earn part or all of their livelihood.   I've known about organizations that work to assist with fair wages and decent working conditions, and to help find markets for textiles produced by handweavers but I haven't yet made contributions to any of those.  This experience at KMA with Anne Wilson's exhibit has caused me rethink this and to do a web search for one I've know about--Weave a Real Peace (WARP) --to learn more.  As it so happened, I also was listening to WeaveCast today as I wove and happened upon a past episode about WARP.  After listening to Syne Mitchell's interviews and also visiting the WARP website I made the decision to become a contributor.   

What a wonderful few days.  I don't use the word "magical" often or easily.  But I guess that would just about sum it up.  I'm grateful to have taken part in this cloth.


  1. Tommye, thank you so much for bloggin this project for us! For such a simple idea, it has lead you to many, many interesting thoughts and observations. I am being inundated by all sorts of analogies - as it takes a village to raise a child, so it takes a town to weave a cloth! I am in love with the wall of yarn, with the participation-by-winding, with so much of this. It has brightened up a few of my days, and will continue to do so in memory, I am sure. :)

  2. Hi Tommye,

    Thank you for sharing the Wind/Rewind/Weave/Respond blog with me & for sharing your own hands on experiences at the exhibit. Your observations about industrial textile mills really struck a chord in me as I have been reminiscing a lot lately about a job I had in my mid-20s: I worked for 3 years as a seamstress in an industrial sewing mill of a well-known retailer (Vanity Fair) where I lived in Florida. It was a lingerie mill & I sewed side seams on underwear & gowns, lace on camisoles & teddies, hems, & attached merchandise tags. I didn't even know how to sew when I got the job, but had two weeks worth worth of training & then had to start trying to meet production levels immediately. Let's just say the supervisors did not see "newness" as an excuse for not meeting the 75 dozen a day production requirement I was supposed to sew on the underwear. In the end I was able to sew 120 dozen a day & got paid for each piece I sewed over production. It was back breaking, tedious work & there were no OSHA regulations to make sure we had eye & respiratory protection which we didn't; many girls had needles break off & fly into their eyes & all of us inhaled the synthetic dust created by the trimming knifes cutting the synthetic fabrics as they were seamed. Now, as I think back on that time I realize I had an experience not too many Americans will ever have & rarely consider.

  3. I also thank you for sharing all of this. It is wonderful to be a part of something so much bigger than oneself - and your blogs let us even be a little part of it. It certainly will make me appreciate all the more the fabrics in my life!