I Don’t Do Yardage

Normally I don’t weave yardage which is then used to make other items. I generally don’t make garments (any more). I’ve never even considered entering a yardage exhibition at a conference, much less a juried fashion show. Until this year.

My yardage submission for Convergence

A month or so ago, when I was cleaning off my desk, I came across the CD of the exhibitions at Convergence ’08 in Tampa. As I flipped through it, I got this harebrained idea that I could enter all four of the juried exhibitions at Convergence ’10.
I already had a fashion show entry, my head piece from my collaboration with Regina Vorgang for last year’s conference in Riverside. I already had two coiled pieces for the Small Works entry, and another one in progress that I will now attempt to finish for next Monday’s deadline. I had a project on the loom that I thought I could make into a piece or pieces for the Eye Dazzlers exhibit. What I didn’t have was yardage, because I don’t do yardage. So I set out to make some.
The last time I blogged about it, the piece above was a half-formed idea going no where. At the time I had two challenges, the warp and the weft; which in weaving pretty much means nothing was working right.
The challenge of the warp involved trying to buy weaving design software, which I have since aquired, but haven’t really started using, so it actually remains a challenge.
Solving the challenge of the weft was a whole process of experimentation and discovery. I fused plastic bags into sheets using an iron. In my first attempts, I just used the iron naked on some bags and the results were very unsatisfactory. Then I thought, if there’s a way to do this, there must be a video about it on YouTube. I found a couple videos where the people were using wax paper between the iron and the bags, and they were saying you must use 8 layers of bags.
I questioned the need to make it eight layers thick. I started to experiment with the wax paper to see how few layers of plastic I could use to get something I could cut into strips and weave. I soon discovered I wasn’t going to be able to use the same piece of wax paper for very long. The wax seemed to come off on the clear dry cleaner bags and left a white haze, and at points the paper stuck to the fused plastic.
One morning I woke up thinking about the OffCenter in Albuquerque. Its a wonderful community art center I visited when I was in Abq last June. They do a lot of artwork there with reused materials. They make these increadible bags by fusing plastic with an iron. They use all kinds and colors of plastic to make a sheeting that can be sewn to make all kinds of tote bags and purses. they call them Offbags.
So I knew that what I wanted to do with the plastic was possible, and I continued to experiment. I decided to try parchment paper between the iron and the plasic and that was it. I could fuse as few or as many layers as I wanted to, and I used the same two pieces of parchment paper to fuse many, many yards of plastic at 24″ wide.
There it is on the loom. I finished weaving the yardage Monday morning at 1:00 am. I hemmed the ends and went to bed. When I got up again at 7:00, I still needed to wash and dry the piece, photograph it, prepare the 8″ x 8″ swatch, format the photos, and burn the CD for the submission package.
I’ve talked before about my adventures in photography, and I have improved. I still use my back porch, which is on the north side of the house, and doesn’t get direct sunlight until late in the afternoon. Every time I go out there with my work, backdrop fabric, camera and tripod, I am thankful I live in California.
To do my submission photos, I had to move the patio furniture. I laid out some medium grey felt I bought at Michael Levine’s downtown, arranged the yardage, and got up on a ladder to shoot. Thank you to Nicki Bair for telling me she shot her yardage from a ladder, with is laying on the floor.

1 comment so far

  1. Daryl Lancaster on

    Julie, you did a fabulous job, and I’m really hoping this yardage gets accepted because I want to see it in person! Congratulations on finishing the piece, and for having the tenacity to enter all four exhibits. Good luck!

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