In June we asked our community to submit ideas of what they would weave on their Mirrix Loom if they were given some hand-painted silk. We then choose three people to get free silk with which they could try out their ideas. Here is the final project from one of the winners, Felicitas Sloves!
Here was her idea: “With the hand painted silk yarn, I would weave a tapestry using found materials. With the silk yarn being the primary yarn in the project, it will be interwoven with objects such as small pieces of mica, agate slices, bits of fused glass and whimsical items such as pieces of vinyl records and their labels, thin strips of cardboard packaging from beer cartons and cereal boxes, t-shirt strips and dried stalks/leaves from my garden. I know this sounds like one hot mess, but my goal would be a finished tapestry that would be a textural landscape woven with hand dyed silk and incorporated with found materials.”
While we weren’t sure what the final piece would look like, we looked forward to what Felicita would pull out of her bag of sundry tricks. She did NOT disappoint! The final weaving was a seamless combination of materials. From concept to execution, Felicita went on a fascinating journey which really spoke to her theme of “A Garden of Elvis.” We would love to see more of her fantastical creations! So slow down and really carefully examine every detail in her tapestry. She breaks a lot those strict tapestry rules and yet she does it with such skill and thoughtfulness that it completely works. I guess that’s what we loved best about this piece: it was imagined, it was very much off the beaten path and it totally worked!
Looking at fragments of tapestries online is frustrating at best. Anyone who loves fibers knows that there is nothing like seeing fiber art (whatever that entails) in person. Being able to touch it is even better. And being able to see the back, invaluable. Because I cannot see the many Coptic textile fragments in person (and there are many that have survived even from the very beginnings of the Coptic culture, way back in the first century A.D.) it took me quite some time to unravel the first mystery: why did it seem like so many of the tapestry fragments were attached to a linen even weave background? I would like to say I solved this mystery on my own, but in fact, I found the answer in a textile text book. I have discovered that sometimes the most comprehensive explanations for the origin and structure of textiles comes from textbooks. They talk about all the geeky details from whether the yarns are S or Z spun, how many plies, what kind of weave, etc. Answers that are not commonly found in history books.
Before I launch into a description of the Coptic period, I want to explain the nature of the above tapestry fragments, the likes of which are ubiquitous. The linen background is clothing, often in the form of a tunic. Linen was typically not dyed because it is really difficult to dye. Wool and silk, on the other hand, are easy to dye. Silk, which was initially both difficult to come by and too expensive became available during the 6th century when two monks who lived in China for a long time secretly brought silkworms to start the first sericulture in Europe. Fleece from sheep and goats and eventually silk was used to make the actual tapestries. To dye wool and silk requires some form of acid (an orange will do), something to provide the color (anything from madder root to moss) and some heat. This is how the whole thing worked. The linen for the garmet was woven in even weave (an equal number of warps and wefts). The tapestry insert was woven in wool using double strands of linen warp hence making a weft-faced weaving. Tapestries were also woven as stand alone pieces and most likely were woven on a linen warp using some linen weft where a natural color could be used. But any color would have come from the wool.
Tapestry served the highest religious purposes and were used in the most prestigious robes reflecting both piety and wealth.
Coptic art refers to the art produced once the Christians took control. The “Coptic period” is refers to late Antiquity in Egypt. This period saw a shift to Coptic Christianity from Roman religion and lasted until the Muslim conquest of Egypt. an era defined by the religious shifts in Egyptian culture to Coptic Christianity from Roman religion until the Muslim conquest of Egypt. Iit was greatly influenced by the cultures that came before such as the Greco-Romans, the Islamic nation and the Pharonic period . The influence of the past is very much apparent in the earlier Coptic tapestries. However, the Coptics introduced somack knotting to tapestry, breaking away from simple tabby weave. Coptic art blended and evolved over many centuries. It was not static. It was the art of change not dissimilar to the concepts of the resurrection.
This above tapestry fragment dates back to the Late Greco-Roman period. Designs were Hellenistic and pagan and geometric designs were also popular. The object is a (probably noble) woman with Roman female hair style and garments. The artistic technique is a rather similar to the mosaics found in the ruins of Pompeii. Use of graduating shadows add to the realism of the tapestry.
Textiles are the best known products of Coptic art. And since there was no distinction between art and crafts, textiles would have been considered their highest for of art.
There was a little blip in the Coptic history during the years 618 to 628 when the Sassanid Persia temporarily possessed Egypt. This influence of the Persian culture in the Coptic tapestries lead to the importation os such patterns as roundels in which animals were inscribed.
Egypt was conquered by the Arabs during the Islamic reign of the second Caliph Umar in 639 and almost continually ruled with the exception of 1799 when it was occupied by Napoleon’s French army. Egypt has been under the strong, consistent influence of Islam for more than eleven centuries and rang in the end of the Coptic period and Coptic art. The tapestry industry was hugely impacted by the Quran and Sharia Law. And although our discussion of the Coptic period in Egypt ends here you can still see the influence of the local Coptic traditions .
Earlier this year we had a little contest where we asked customers to come up with ideas for Mirrix-woven pieces incorporating our hand-painted silk. We then chose two people to whom we gave free silk to go forward with their ideas. We were blown away by the incredible pieces our winners Julie and Debbie made and we’ve decided to run the same contest again.
Here are the pieces from last time (click here to learn a little more about each one):
Here are the details: On June 10th we will choose two Mirrix customers to give free hand-painted silk (6 skeins) t0. In exchange, we ask those customers to share with us what they make with the silk so we can share their work with the rest of you!
We are looking for fun, creative projects. You may use any other materials in your project (whatever you want!) and techniques other than weaving, as long the majority of the project is woven.
Email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with a few sentences describing what you’d like to make with the silk. Also note which size loom you’ll be using and give your full name and mailing address.
On Wednesday June 10th, 2015 we will choose two people to send the silk to, based on your plans to use the silk. We will then send those people silk.
Sometime in the next two months, we will feature the projects that each customer makes with their silk on our blog!
The Fine Print (that you should really read):
By entering, you agree to make a project using the silk you are given before July 18th, 2015. You also agree to send us (high quality) pictures and information about the project. You agree to let us use those photographs on our blog, website and social media sites. We will, of course, attribute your work to you.
Start thinking (How about next to your bed? Maybe over your desk?) because we are now offering a free ebook detailing how to make this beautiful and simple piece!
In this ebook you will learn:
- How to set-up and warp a Mirrix Loom for tapestry weaving
- The techniques needed to make an adorable heart tapestry
- How to finish a small tapestry piece
Use your own materials or get the kit here (for only $18)
Still need a loom? Consider our Heart Tapestry Loom Starter Package or click below for a free loom recommendation!
I’m not sure if being a tapestry weaver makes you interested in fiber or if being interested in fiber makes you interested in tapestry; but my tapestry weaving mother instilled in me a love for and snobbery about fibers from an early age.
When I was a kid, we would go shopping and she would have to touch everything. “That’s acrylic!” she would say, and I’d have to put the sweater back on the rack.
I remember her telling me where silk comes from. It was definitely the fiber with the best story. Wool from sheep? Old news. Silk from the larvae of insects going through metamorphosis? That’s pretty neat.
Today a customer asked what the difference between Mulberry Silk (which is what our hand-painted silk is) and other types of silk is. I thought this was a great question and wanted to share the answer with all of you.
Mulberry Silk is widely considered the best silk you can buy and is the most common silk available commercially. It is made by the domesticated Bombyx Mori Moth. The silkworms are raised completely indoors and are fed only Mulberry Leaves. Bombyx mori is actually Latin for “silkworm of the Mulberry Tree”. The process to make this silk was developed in China.
There are several other types of silk from both wild and domesticated silkworms including Tasar Silk, Eri Silk and Muga Silk.
Not all silk is made by insects, though. An example is Sea Silk. This silk is made with the long filaments (called byssus) that come from a gland of large saltwater clams (specifically the Pinna nobilis). This silk is very fine, light and warm. Some spiders also produce silk, but this is not used for textiles.
Differences in silk also come from how the silk is processed. The cocoon that produces Mulberry Silk is one long fiber that is very shiny and strong. When you put that cocoon in hot water, you remove some of the sericin (which basically keeps the fibers glued together) and release the strands of silk.
There are two main ways of processing the silk after this. One is simply to reel it (or unwrap it). This reeled silk can then be plied or twisted, but it does not need to be twisted to hold together because the fiber are so long.
Silk can also be spun. In that case, the silk is combed out and cut into shorter length before being spun.
Isn’t fiber cool?
A while back we asked the Mirrix community to submit ideas for projects using Mirrix’s hand-painted silk. We chose two people to whom we gave free silk. We are excited to share their projects here today!
Today we are excited to share the final projects!
Do you want to make your own pieces with this gorgeous silk? Get some here!
Did you get the new iPhone 6 this weekend? Does your current phone needs a little non-virtual upgrade?
Why not warp up your loom and weave a gorgeous silk and bead phone case? Simply use the techniques from our Tapestry/Bead Cuff Bracelet!
Make your piece a little more than twice the width of your phone and a little longer than it. When you’re done weaving, line with fabric (we love using silk), use beads to embellish around the edges and finish off with a silk Kumihimo strap.
What you’ll need:
-A Mirrix Loom with a shedding device (make sure it is wide enough to weave a piece more than twice the width of your phone)
-Directions for our Tapestry/Bead Cuff Bracelet (to learn how to combine beads and fiber). Get the free ebook here!
-8/0 Beads (this is a great mix)
–Hand-painted silk (or other fiber)
–A Kumihimo braiding kit (This one comes with silk!)
-Silk or fabric to line the piece
-Warp. C-Lon Cord works well for this piece.
Need help choosing a loom for this project? Fill out our Choose a Loom form for a personalized recommendation!