Here we are asked to prepare a rigid frame. I chose some dried branches I had trimmed out of a twisted willow because I thought the twirly shapes would be interesting to work with. I was afraid it would be difficult to fasten into a stable shape but I found that raffia is excellent for binding corners – it seems to hold even before the knot is completed. I suspect this is why it became a common material for weaving, making baskets etc. When I read the brief my first thought was that it sounded like a dream catcher, which usually have some sort of central motif, so I made two frames to fit one inside the other.
This photo, along with a nice history of the dream catcher can be found on this website. As it is offered there for information and interest, rather than for any commercial reason, I believe the author would not consider me doing the same as a copyright violation.
We were asked to consider the effect of light and space between the yarns, and with this in mind I chose very fine wools in a variety of natural colours to create a lacy effect and to contrast with the fairly chunky frame.
I took a picture with the ‘dream catcher’ hanging in the window, but I thought the garden behind it was distracting, so I took some more with it held up to the translucent roof of my conservatory, which involved considerable contortions and not being able to see the image in the screen on the camera!
The close up on the left illustrates that when the light is behind the structure everything shows in silhouette, whereas in the one on the right, taken against a dark tiled floor, shows the colours better. In real life the sheen on some of the yarns showed to good effect in the light.
To make the rigid grid for this exercise I used the dried grass stems that had proved too stiff for weaving. I had hoped their springiness would hold them as I expanded the grid, but it didn’t. I ended up having to tie each intersection together temporarily, removing the tie after a decorative weaving was done in its place.
I decided to work with shiny metallic threads and wire, as contrast to the rustic grasses, and in an effort to move away from natural materials, which seems to be my default setting. I enjoyed working with the fine wire; I liked the way it stayed put and was relatively easy to fasten off by winding it around the grid. In contrast the light weight metallic threads were all over the place and very fiddly to work with.
By way of experimentation I tried a freer wrapping with the metallic thread and a couple of complete failures, where I tried to melt Tyvek and some gift wrapping ribbon onto the frame. I didn’t do anything with the Tyvek when I bought some for the previous project, so I thought I’d try it here. Perhaps if it was sewn to the frame first so that it couldn’t just shrivel up and disappear I’d have had more success!
What have you Achieved?
Did you enjoy inventing constructed surfaces? Were you surprised at the results? Can you see a connection between your choice of materials and the types of structures you made; for example regular, irregular, small or large scale? Which samples worked best? I enjoyed this project very much – there is a great satisfaction in building something from scratch. I’m not sure I was surprised at the results, I think I had a fairly clear picture in my mind of what I was trying to achieve. There is most definitely a connection between the type of material and the finished object – every medium has its own properties and limitations. I worked with wood and wood-like materials which were dry and not very flexible, so the finished sample was quite two dimensional. I would like to work with metal or wire that could be bent into three dimensional shapes. I think the dream catcher worked best; it has a simplicity that allows the materials to work together naturally. Some of the fine weaving on the grid is a bit fussy.
How accurate were you in matching all the colours in your postcard:
a) with paints?
b) with yarns / other materials?
I think my colour matching was pretty good in both instances. It is obviously more difficult to find an exact colour match in the right texture with yarns but it is very satisfying when you do find just the right thing.