Collapse weave book by Ann Richards reviewed by Anna Champeney
This collapse weave manual is a comprehensive companion to Lotte Dalgaard´s new Magical Materials To Weave (Trafalgar), also a new publication for 2012. Both authors are experienced, experimental professional weavers with a passion for using active (elastic, overtwisted) yarns. It is a real pleasure to read a book based on serious research, with a wealth of authoritative information, and quality photographs of inspiring woven textiles. A suppliers list, bibliography and cross-referenced index are especially valuable, enabling readers to get the most out of the subject and learn more. Both books understandably focus on the properties of yarn, an understanding of which is fundamental for designing and weaving collapse textiles. Richards´ book is particularly good on explaining about type of spin and the phenomenon of tracking and is comprehensive in its coverage of sett and structure including double weave. Another strength of Richards´ book is her inclusion of stunning work by other prominent weavers worldwide, including Deirdre Wood, Junichi Arai, Reiko Sudo (Nuno). The reversable bag by Junichi Arai (woven in four layers which is completely self-forming) is a good example of the way this Japanese designer relishes technical challenges in weaving.
Weaving Textiles That Shape Themselves starts and finishes with the theme of woven textile design. Too often weave books are based on formulas or drafts and cloth swatches which inevitably encourage one to copy rather than innovate. This goes hand-in-hand with another problem in the weaving world which is the lack of opportunitites to learn design skills (I see this in non-English speaking countries like Spain and Latin America, for example).
Personally, I was lucky in learning about the importance of sampling from Francisca Pellisca, the Catalan weave artist, who gave me my first introduction to cloth drafting, and so right from the beginning I just assumed that whenever I started a new weave project I would incorporate a section of warp for experimenting, the results of which would lead onto a final, more worked, design. Twelves years on from then and the baskets of samples have become an important reference collection for my own work – it is never enough to have comprehensive written records to refer back to.
As Richards comments, this approach of sampling is by no means standard amongst weavers but if the world of constructed textiles is to move on it needs to nurture and promote the idea of weave design as a core skill that all weavers learn – whether as professionals or home weavers. Otherwise standards will drop, the collective body of knowledge will shrink, the sector will lose prestige and visibility and weave be consigned to the status of formula-based hobbycraft rather than as a serious, constantly evolving profession. The chapter “Designing as a Conversation” contains useful pointers for all weavers interested in designing themselves, with straight-forward and practical information, alongside images of Richards´ own work, including her signature pieces – highly sculptural neckpieces. In view of the philosophy behind the book it comes as no surprise that Richards´ book does not contain projects or fabric recipes, but it is clearly aiming at creating a readership that is more interested in acquiring the fundamental knowledge behind collapse weave to empower themselves to develop their own designs.
It almost goes without saying that this is not a book for beginners but it is essential reading for those weavers of intermediate to advanced level who are fascinated by the properties of yarn and the incredibly complex interaction with woven structure. This is a book which will inspire and raise standards and should be standard reading on constructed textile courses.
Exhibition of collapse textiles in Handweavers´ Studio, London 18 May – 13 June 2012
“Minstrel II” Scarf
This exhibition features work by Ann Richards and Lotte Dalgaard as well as other artists featured in Weaving Textiles That Shape Themselves. The show isorganised to coincide with the double book launch.
Here you can see one of the exhibits, new work by Anna Champeney Estudio Textil, together with interesting background information about how the piece was designed and woven. This piece is available for sale. Price.
- 200cm x 16cm
- Cord weave with reversed weave structure
- Natural dyed angora, alpaca, wool (indigo, copper, cochineal), corneta transparent yarn and high twist wool
Weave Tuition / Weave retreats at Anna Champeney Estudio Textil, Spain
Anna Champeney Estudio Textil offers residential weave tuition at the studio itself, set in a picturesque village amidst stunning mountain scenery in northwest Spain (nearest airports: Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña). 8-shaft table looms and yarns (linen, angora, wool) are also available for hire for those wishing to combine a holiday with a weave retreat. Self-catering accommodation is available in Casa dos Artesans, the simple but comfy cottage adjacent to the weave studio (2 – 5 people). The area offers good walking, thermal spas and historic monasteries and castles, plus local bars serving simple, home-cooked fresh food and local wine. To contact the studio directly click here.
Just off the loom – Natural dyed silk scarves in waffle weave – available to buy now
Limited series with unique colourways on each scarf, hand-woven from 50% sillk, 50% wool, with other similar versions with angora, cashmere. Prices range between 95€ – 185€. Information on request.