… so to the completion of Sprit of Damselfly. In late autumn last year I put aside time and settled into my weaving. Conversations with my client and a deeper sense of understanding of the essence of the weave had helped me know the structure and sett of the piece. The warp was to be random using fibonacci sequence as I painted the colours on. It was a joy to make. I also decided to weave the weft with blue bamboo over the ‘painted’ warp to give a consistent yet random feel. World it work? Knowing that a settled and clear stretch of days was needed for rhythm and form to be consistent I began. Winding the warps, threading from the back of the loom and then into steady days of weaving. Into December and I was finished in time to send it for a surprise Christmas present. I know it was received well and I am delighted.
© sue orton 2018
A request for a commission came to me last Autumn from the partner of a gifted poet who had admired my South Downs Tweed. My creative ideas had unconsciously started when she sent me a poem ‘Damselfly’ which I had been pondering. ….The process of designing started with a conversation and a wondering … and my notes record ideas and snippets …”damselfly, water, sea, rivers” ….”Spring summer, appreciate the lift of energy,”…”strong rich colours teal, lighter blue, olive greens..” … colours that expand into the bright edge of themselves… ” So my exploring, experimentation and mood board began … and as I looked and pondered my yarn palette grew too. A mix of merino wool and bamboo perhaps…? After a few weeks I decided a point threading would be fun to explore and so using fibonacci numbers to help randomise the warp I painted a warp and went ahead with an experimental cloth to send to my client for her perusal…..
© sue orton 2018
In 2017 I was asked if I took commissions and I was unsure so. Here is my response…
A commission …… the process of weaving for me, is to walk, to be outside, to find some inspiration photographs, pictures, writing or some thing that intrigues me, moves me, to ponder and to wonder….… then to sketch, to explore shapes and ideas without knowing the form, colour or structure of a piece, until it ‘emerges’ out of my sketch books over time. Once I settle on the feel of a piece, I play with colour, with yarn and with weave structure, make a short warp and sample some ideas on my small loom to see if it works.
Then, when I’m happy I design a warp, wind it and then put it onto my loom before weaving and then finishing it. Sounds simple but it’s a bit more complex than that. The stages I go through are: sketching and designing; developing a colour pallet; selecting yarn; exploring and finalising a weave structure; winding a warp of 500-600 threads, dressing the loom – taking the warp from the carousel to the back beam; threading and treadle setting; weaving, washing and finishing a test section usually 20 cm; adjusting the set as needed or not: weaving full length of about 2 m, and then finishing. This usually takes me a couple of months. The summer and winter are good weaving times as I’m not doing so much learning coaching. In the autumn and spring, weaving is punctuated with coaching during each term.
In December I finished a commission; post to follow this.
© sue orton
I took Peru #1 off the loom yesterday: I have named this scarf Lucia after the Peruvian woman who led the rescue horse on our trek. Her colourful clothes and hat standing out in contrast to the tree-less rocky environment. She walked and skipped easily up the 5,000m passes as I climbed steadily and slowly. Thankfully her services were not needed!
Technically I have sorted out many things through this weave, not least the complexity of tie-ing up 10 shafts to 10 pedals. My biggest learning has been around the actual weaving, throwing the shuttle; the last bit really. Ideally I need quiet steady hours at the loom interspersed with exercise and calm! If I miss a day or two or get tangled in other ‘stuff’ then my weaving is not so even.
© sue orton
Colour and weaving explorations for Peru1. These pictures are from a sample made on my Louet Kombo 40 loom using just 5 of the 8 shafts. The whole process of winding a warp, threading and sleying onto the loom has been a refresher too. It feels like I’m gathering up the learnings from my Diploma again and bedding them in. I’ve been working on designing in the tie-up too which is difficult. I have rethreaded all 8 shafts now and will be looking at new designs.
© sue orton
The winter was a fallow time for weaving for me. Now inspired by a long planned trip to Peru, I am back designing again. Creative confidence is for me a transient thing.. getting it back has been mixture of dogged persistence, encouragement from an experienced weaving buddy and just getting in my studio. I’ve spent last week wandering through Peru shapes pictures, journal entries and poetry; making potato cuts of hats, Inca shapes; browsing patterns and designs to translate into cloth. I have extended my colour palette too from Knoll Yarns.
© sue orton
After a busy summer term mentoring, weaving is now centre stage. Phew I have missed it. Yesterday I finished 612 #2 at last. I have realised that taking weaving in short burst of a day here or an hour or two there plays havoc with my weaving rhythm and confidence. The last few days have been all about settling into the weave and relaxing. I’m really noticing the stress fall away. After a great day with a weaving pal I am now excited about further designs and colour explorations. So here are the results:
@ sue orton 2016