A Quilt about Weaving

November 14, 2010 at 6:48 pm | Posted in Museums and Exhibitions, Patchwork, quilt, Weaving | 2 Comments

Almost a year after starting to think about this project, I can finally post about it. On the way home to my parents’ place just before Christmas last year, I came across an announcement for a challenge that immediately captivated me. It was about showcasing old samples of jacquard-woven fabrics in form of a textile object. As it happens, the museum is located quite near to my parents’ place, so I had a chance to go there during the holidays and have a look around. It’s an interesting place, combining two quite different subjects: Car and motorcycle racing on the ground floor with the history of textile production in Hohenstein-Ernstthal on the upper floors. So there’s something interesting there for everybody!

I had a good look around, admiring the working jacquard looms on display and taking quite a few pictures for inspiration. At the end, I asked about the challenge and was guided to the director of the museum, who took me to the backoffice where I was allowed to select my own selection of samples to work from. Better than getting them randomly in the mail, but given the pile of fabric and the few minutes I had to look, I think the result was still fairly random.

Back home, I started brewing ideas. What was clear from the beginning was that the technology of jacquard weaving should play a role in my quilt. After quite a bit of thought, I settled on the ring of punch cards that creates the pattern as the central topic of my work. Next was the challenge of finding a way to sew what was in my head, especially since the samples are as far from normal cotton patchwork fabric as you could imagine. Think heavy upholstery fabric instead. So anything small and exact was right out. Luckily I found a grey-brown fabric on sale that went well with the other fabrics, so things started to roll. A few false starts later, my ring of cards started to take shape:

In this state, what’s missing are the holes that create the pattern when weaving. Instead of finding a way to poke thousands of holes into my quilts, I used sequins and beads. Coming up with a pattern also took some time, since I wanted it to be something that could be woven, instead of just a random arrangement with no meaning. In the end, I drew up a very simplified picture of a weaving shuttle:

Putting all the sequins in the right places on the quilt was quite a bit of work, but I like the result. But even so, the quilt was still very abstract. The pattern that could be woven from those cards wasn’t visible anywhere, so crazy as I am, I got out my simple rigid heddle loom and proceded to weave the pattern by hand—twice.

I used those in a separate panel to be displayed above the ring of cards. A few details later, voilà, a finished wallhanging:

After the usual frantic quest for a good picture, and the waiting for the jury decision, I finally found out that my quilt was accepted for the exhibition. There was no way I would miss the opening, I was really curious what others had come up with! And I definitely wasn’t disappointed when I got there. Lots of creativity around, using those fabrics in all ways imaginable and then some. There’s now a website showing the quilts that got a special recognition from the jury, go check them out, they’re amazing! Yep, the last one on that list is mine. I guess nobody was more surprised about that than me, since it’s certainly not a pretty quilt in any sense of the word. The grand price: A copy of the catalog and a real wooden weaving shuttle. I’m currently trying to figure out how to include that one into a textile piece, otherwise it will get lost somewhere in the mountains of stuff around here.


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  1. A stunning quilt!

  2. I like it!

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