Paper Murmuration

Rachel was commissioned by Platform Thirty One to create an art installation for this years Alfreton Festival, Derbyshire which took place on the 28th & 29th September.

The installation in St Martins Church was created from over 1000 individually woven paper units using the five stranded spiral corn dollie weave.

Over 1000 individually woven corn dollies create this paper installation

Over 1000 individually woven corn dollies create this paper installation

Spirit of Mayflower: Ancient Techniques & Digital

Over the last year I have been working with NTU (Nottingham Trent University) within their Enabling Innovation program to embrace digital technologies within my practice. At first I was a little sceptical about the possibilities of this new burgeoning technology to try and capture the delicate details of something hand woven, but I think we are beginning to see some positive results.

The first items I gave them were some spiral forms made using the corn dollie 5 stranded spiral weave, which they digitally mapped and then printed with the new 3d clay printer. The results were very interesting and I shall share these with you in a later post.

After experimenting with clay, we moved on to a 3d printer with a synthetic polymer, and the test piece was a length of macrame knots woven in a 4mm thick cotton cord. The piece was worked over a wire core to enable the technicians to suspend the weaving and capture a 360° view of the work. The scan was sent to print and the results are very promising. The printed work has captured the threads of the cotton well and the movement of the weave is visible in every twist and turn.

What next? The scans of handwoven work could be further manipulated and produced at differing scales which could lend itself to large scale works. Now I need to see if a scan can capture something much more delicate than a chunky series of Crown Knots, and scan a panel of macrame.

Spiralled Celtic Braid.jpg

Scan of the Crown Knots

Weaving onto plaster. Part 2

After looking at the experiments no’s 53,54 & 55, I thought I would try a different shape and created Woven Experiment No.56.
Firstly the wider hole has worked well in allowing me to be able to pass the weave through the plaster more successfully. The convex shape is giving a snug fit to the weave, but the weave is not working over the pointed ends of the plaster shape so this would be lost in the casting. Does the loss of the points matter?

The smooth and texture of the plaster and weaving is looking good but the plaster won’t be in the new work and will leave a void. Could a multi textured sculpture be achievable? Could a smooth was be applied to areas of the plaster form and then a textural woven wax applied over the top?
Maybe a very simple convex shape would work for a basis for an application of smooth wax then pattern and shapes added with a texture.
This would make an interesting combination of rough and smooth, combing the two textures that visitors have enjoyed experiencing.

Results of weaving onto plaster forms

Weaving Experiment No.53 - the opening is very small in the centre and very difficult to get my hand into the form to apply the weaving. Also the small gap in the centre could be an area that an air bubble could become trapped when the work becomes invested ready for casting. I think I should discuss this further with the foundry.

Weaving Experiment No.54 - This is not working, the weave is not sitting into the concave areas of he plaster carving. I could potentially drill a series of fine holes through the plaster and pass fine cotton through as a way to pull the weave into the concave areas and hold it tight against the plaster surface. The tiny holes, however could allow air to be trapped and this may cause explosions in the casting process.

Weaving Experiment No.55 - Success! The shape has worked very well with the weaving applied over the surface and a taught weave was achieved. Thick areas could be created, fine open areas could also be applied that fits snugly against the plaster surface.

Moving forward, if a hole is within the design it should be large enough to allow the weaving to easily pass through the and also to allow fingers to be able to work in the void.
Shapes should be convex and not concave as the weave will not pick this up, unless I can find another method of weaving wax onto a concave area.

Live Weaving Installation

At the end of March I was asked to create a woven installation within the oldest dwelling in the market town of Bakewell in the heart of the Derbyshire Peak District, the Old House Museum.

The room I was to use is around 500 years old and features wattle and daube walls and beamed low ceilings. I wanted to make reference to the many types of hand weaving that the occupants of the house may have used over the half century, and take inspiration from the the use of loom weights in textile weaving.

Local textile weaving mill John Smedley who’s  historic mill is situated near Matlock, Derbyshire generously invited me to visit their archives prior to the live installation. John Smedley are known for high quality knitwear and a rich manufacturing heritage, a luxury brand with roots in the Derbyshire countryside and garments regularly featured in some of the world’s most prestigious fashion magazines. They kindly donated three large spools of antique threads from their archive for me to weave with.

Using a simple wooden frame attached to the ceiling, I began with a single chain stitch on the frame and began adding more stitches, each stitch working their way down towards the floor forming drops.

About the Museum

The building was built In the time of Henry VIII the southern four rooms were built as a tax collector’s house.  Ralph Gell of Hopton, near Wirksworth, had taken over the collection of tithes, the tenth of all produce due to the church, and needed a house for his steward, Christopher Plant.  The produce, such as oats and wool, was stored in nearby barns before being sold.
In the time of Elizabeth I the house was made much bigger as a gentleman’s residence, with the luxury of an internal toilet or garderobe.  The central room has a big fireplace where  the cooking was done.
In 1777 Richard Arkwright, the founder of the factory system, built his third cotton mill at Bakewell and divided this house into 5 cottages for workers at the mill.  Another was built on.
They were good for their time but by the 1950s the cottages were condemned as unfit for human habitation.  They would have been demolished but the Bakewell & District Historical Society was formed to protect the Old House and to use it as a museum.

Within the museum visitors can explore their fascinating social history collection which offers a wealth of learning opportunities and reflects the impact of pivotal events on Bakewell and the surrounding area from Anglo-Saxons onwards.  Stepping into the past you can experience how we used to live by exploring the rooms of this original Tudor building.