THE WEAVING KIND / implant (october 2015)
I guess you could say I felt a bit of pressure when trying to decide on a weaving concept for my October submission. Considering that I was the one who came up with the challenge idea, I wanted to really push myself to try something out of my comfort zone.
I have had the idea floating around in my head for awhile that I would like to incorporate a dye modifier (or even a mordant) directly into the piece prior to dyeing the weaving. Mostly to see if the areas embedded with the modifier would affect the color there specifically. A previous coffee dye experiment yielded amazing results on the old nylon I used to hold the coffee grounds and at that moment, the idea hit. The stocking end of nylons would make great pouches in which to hold objects---more so dye modifiers. This way, the pouches could be part of the weave structure without the risk of any random objects falling out later.
I scoured thrift stores looking for neutral colored 100% nylon pantyhose. It took awhile, but soon I had amassed quite the array of nudes, tans, whites, off-whites, and I knew it would do. I had decided I would experiment with copper-coated steel BBs as the modifier. That way, both or either the copper or steel would react to the dye.
I warped a section of my largest frame loom (the Kingfisher made by Lost Pond Looms) and started experimenting. I took it apart a few times before I settled on the method of filling the stocking end with various amounts of BBs and weaving them to drape well. The drape was the most important thing aesthetically to the structure of the piece. The weight was another. OH MAN are those BBs heavy! I was afraid at times that it might fall off the loom somehow (don't ask) or that because of the stretch in the nylons as a weft, combined with the weight of the BBs, that the entire thing would fall apart in the dye bath, or worse yet-- the minute I took it off the loom. Let's just say, this weaving had me nervous!
Next step was to decide on a dyestuff. I wanted the brightest color I could manage (naturally) so that whatever oxidization or rusting that happened post-dyeing, would really stand out. I did dye samples for both turmeric and blackberries, wrapped them with copper and left them to oxidize outside. As gorgeous as the blackberry was, I decided to go with turmeric.
Dyeing the piece was scary considering I was afraid that it might fall apart or that the BBs would affect the color too much in the dye bath rather than after it was dyed. I was sorta right about the latter. While the piece was simmering away, I think some of the copper coating simmered off. Post-dyeing, the piece rusted more than oxidized. I am still really pleased with the results.
I definitely want to experiment more with this sort of weaving. As nerve-racking as it is to have no real control or idea what the final outcome will be, that's half the fun too.