Wednesday, 23 May 2012

What happened when I sat at a loom...

When I say that I used to work at Dovecot, the first question is always 'Are you a weaver?' and my answer is an instant, definitive 'No'. It takes years for a weaver to learn their craft and I have huge respect and admiration for their skill. I talk about weaving, read about it, write about it and ask questions about it, but had never done it. Until now.

Les Blessures (detail), Anna Ray
The French Institute in Edinburgh is currently hosting an exhibition of small tapestries, organised by STAR*: Vive la tapisserie! 3. STAR* brings together tapestry practitioners who graduated from the Edinburgh College of Art Tapestry course. The use of the institute for their exhibitions refers to the French Gobelins technique of weaving, on which tapestry weaving in Edinburgh was formed.

Portraits by exhibitors of STAR*

Running alongside the exhibition are workshops where you can weave a small portrait. All of these small portraits contribute to a large, communal workshop and will be cut-off at the end of the exhibition for each maker to take home. Workshops are still running up to 30 May so there is still time to take part! When I attended, Fiona Hutchison was taking the session. I decided to do a self-portrait:

I thought I did a good job... my mum thinks it looks like ET wearing a wig. But what did I learn?

I already had a good grip on the essentials of weaving, but I hadn't considered the more practical aspects: what to do with the ends? what if you finish at either side of the warps - what to do with the loose yarn? how do you handle weaving with different weight yarns side-by-side? It was a worthwhile and really enjoyable task. But as my mum pointed out, the weavers at Dovecot will hardly be quaking in their boots.

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