One of the great things about being with Laverne for a few days was that we got to talk about weaving, ALL the TIME. We hardly stopped looking at textiles and discussing them - textiles we make, textiles we own or get to visit and touch, and those we only see in video. The conversation was constant and wide-ranging, as endless as our fascination for how woven things are made. I pulled out so many things to show her that I kept seeing enticing new arrangements and juxtapositions among my own collection, as above. The textiles always want to converse with each other, too.
Luckily, a beautiful exhibition of pieces from the collection of Leslie Grace was still up at the Aljoya Thornton Place. This is where Leslie lives, and they hung gems from her collection throughout the lobby and hallways very nicely, with variable amounts of information. I don't know where to start or how to order things, so I will just follow our trail through the exhibit, more or less. Each piece was exquisite quality, drawing me in with its fine detail and workmanship. Some were familiar techniques and traditions, others completely unknown to me, like the North African headscarf resist-dyed with indigo and intricately embroidered. It is woven from handspun wool. How I would love to see the weaving method for this!
The image reminded my husband of Zanskari lingste, the dyed handwoven capes I collected in Ladakh, and there is a distinct resemblance.
This bow-loom-like triangular loom, made from a single bent stick, was familiar to Laverne, because she had seen a similar piece in another collection (Ravelry link). The looms are used to weave plant fiber into wristlets that have something to do with archery (the information is thin on the ground in these collections.) The patterning sticks control which warp threads will be raised in each pick, and the weft is carried on a tiny shuttle. The weaving is a bit more than two inches wide. When finished, the fringe passes through the loops at the beginning, making an adjustable cuff.
Another lowland Peru group (name and place unknown) was represented in the collection by beautiful, naturally colored cotton warp-faced plainweave with striped patterns. A photo showed them wearing long tunics, and on display were a bag and a flat cloth with incised bone decoration. We were both enthralled by the simple beauty of the stripes.
Below is another warp-faced plainweave garment, a tube skirt from Burma (Myanmar), embellished with supplementary weft patterning. I'd seen examples of this when I worked at an import store years ago.
Our favorite display was the one used in the promotional photos for this exhibition: a sarong and jacket from Sumatra. It's also warp-faced, surely backstrap woven, and embroidered with extreme intricacy. The mirrors in the blue field are less than 1/4" across. The color combination is stunning, indigo against a deep, glowing gold.
It was striking to me how many of these pieces, from all over the world, were warp-faced backstrap weavings. Laverne and I could look at them and envision creating that structure ourselves, because it's the way we weave. I may not achieve the refinement of skill necessary in this lifetime, but I can relate to the weavings, and see how they've been made. These are all extreme detail shots, and I apologize for not showing the entire piece, but in this way you are looking the way we looked, as closely as possible.
Finally, an extremely fine sarong from the Li people of Hainan Province, China, which is way out of my league for many lives to come. And yet, I'm familiar with the weaving technique. The Li weavers use foot-tensioned backstrap looms, similar to the Katu weavers in Laos. So we know this is also backstrap-woven, and it's made up of several narrow strips, less than 10" wide. The intricacy of the ikat and supplementary warp patterning is mind-boggling. A shot of the whole thing would have erased the detail, since this piece was not well lighted, so I took photos along the more visible edge. The colors are subtle, probably natural dye and probably faded. It's a wonderful work, as are all of the items in this collection. I'm so happy I got to see it, especially with a fellow weaver.
Going around with Laverne was fun because neither of us had to explain the basics in order to convey our awe and admiration, as we might have with lay people who don't weave. We could simply say, "Wow, look at that ikat! Look at that twining!" etc. There was plenty to discuss, but we could start at a point of shared knowledge, and we both reveled in the presence of truly great textile work.