I am relatively new to weaving. About two months new. To be truthful, I am new to fiber arts, having only declared my major last spring after really discovering the medium in the fall. There is no doubt in my mind that I need to be making fiber art right now, but I have to say it’s both frustrating and interesting being in this line of work on a student’s budget with limited space and only a random menagerie of resources with which to work.
When I was primarily painter, it was easy to spend a few hundred dollars over a short period of time; new brushes, stretcher bars, rolls of canvas- it all adds up, and quickly. I remember my drawing teacher last year showing us her $75 or $100 dollar brushes for her watercolor work, and while those kinds of tools are great if you have the money to spare, a $20 brush, or even a well made $10 brush goes a long way. Hell, I use the brushes that come in a $5 multi-pack for my acrylic and watercolor work and I do just fine for myself (though I may spend some unnecessary time picking hairs off of masonite board).
But let’s talk about fiber equipment. Here, not only do we look at spending hundreds- or thousands- of dollars on equipment and machinery, but it’s not a gradual buildup of material inventory; it’s a whole lotta money all at once. When I went to the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival, I figured that the prices were inflated for the festival going crowd and that I would be able to find much better deals on the internet. Maybe I’m looking in the wrong places, but I’ve found that this isn’t so. I find it interesting that a craft that has such a beautiful history for women, for cultures, that used to be so common place and so expected, has become relatively inaccessible for the everyday person. I look at other artists and crafters and I marvel at the tools they have to work with, but I’m a firm believer that it isn’t the tools or materials that make an artist great, it’s what they do with what they have.
That being said, I am in college, and while I can’t afford my own equipment ($75 for a pair of hand carders- are they serious?) I do have access to an excellent fiber department (ahem- one of the best in the country I do believe) with almost everything I could ever need. However, I know I’m not going to have that forever, and I know that once I get out of college there is no way I’m going to be able to access those kinds of things on my budget. I’ll have to do things the creative way so I might as well start now.
I spent a good portion of last night cutting apart and de-tangling my heddles, bumping my head on my concrete ceiling, and doing calculations for how to make the dent reed, which is fixed on the loom, work for my super fine perle cotton warp.
Then I was really, really itching to get my warp started, but not having a warping mill, pegs, or board I had to consider my options. There was the old turn a chair upside down trick that I used to make sekins for my Ikat project, but I reasoned that it would be a headache trying to keep the tension seeing as I would need several chairs lined up to make the process most efficient, thereby not being efficient in the least. Then I remembered I had some left over plywood from my infamous box project (the only project I completed in Intro to Sculpture before I dropped out after seeing all the sparks fly at the plasma cutter- seriously, how does one NOT catch on fire?!) and I dug some nails out of my supply drawer…et…voila!
Homemade peg board, I can add or remove nails whenever I want, and it’s a great portable size and stores nicely away against a wall for whenever I’m feeling that dorm room claustrophobia and need more space. Not only that, but it cost me nothing to make and totally gets the job done.
The green you see is the warp for my first project on my first loom, which I’m starting today. Just some basic dishtowels; getting a head start on Christmas presents for everyone. I have a sewing circle meeting today, so perhaps I’ll post some embroidery later in the afternoon.
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