I love to embellish my small cases with braids and thin woven bands as well as beads. It’s one of those “slow craft” things. I enjoy the finishing and making all the seams and edges perfect. Back in the day when I produced and sold many woven tapestry purses, I didn’t take this approach. But now that I make them to give away or to design new products to inspire you, I have slowed way down. And now I enjoy the weaving and the finishing just as much.
In this post I want to introduce you to weaving a thin silk band and making a braid.
Let’s start with the woven band. I don’t even use a shedding device, but you can. Mine is ten warps wide. I have used the Maysville Carpet Warp at 18 ends per inch. I am going to weave as much as I can, which looks like it will be 28 inches. I am not sure even how I will use it. I imagine I will end up cutting it up into smaller strips. But I will have to wait for the purse weaving to be finished. I am also going to be making another smart phone case with silk sari strips, and I hope to have some left over woven band for that, but if not I will make some more.
The top middle is an example of pick and pick technique (alternating two colors) on top. Below that I have woven over double warps also using pick and pick.
To there right and below is an example of weaving sumak (wrapping around each warp).
Below is an example of how I used s woven strip like this in a previous weaving (one that was all Soumak technique using silk sari strips, which is the project I will tackle after I finish weaving the silk purse . . . although maybe I will start it before I finish the purse!)
As for braiding . . . I love it. And I especially love the portable kumihimo disks or plates that are really cheap and you can take anywhere. I used the square plate and wove a flat braid. There are two options with this plate: a ten strand or an eight strand braid. I will show you examples of both. The Kumihimo plate comes with instructions for both. It also comes with four bobbins of silk and eight bobbins on which to wind the silk. If you are using ten bobbins you will need to purchase some more. I use the braids for straps as well as trim.
Here is the ten strand braid:
This is an example of an eight strand braid:
A braid used as trim.
So next time you find yourself waiting somewhere, why not bring along a very portable kumihimo plate or disk to make those embellishment braids for your next Smart Phone purse.
I am going to start off this post the way I originally planned to start it which is: Looking for a quick and easy project to give away as a gift, something you can make in an hour or two and make a whole bunch of? Well, then this project is NOT for you . . .
That’s the way this post was supposed to begin, but now I am forced to digress madly. Recently, my job at Mirrix has been to make things. Elena thinks I should be designing projects every waking moment (in between the basic stuff of running Mirrix). If she had her way I’d be designing a new kit every other day! But am I complaining? I wrote down a bunch of our ideas and then while stewing about them I randomly decided to weave a long strip of hand-painted silk just because I wanted to. In fact, it will be two strips because I wanted to weave it on the eight inch loom, I wanted it in my lap sometimes and I didn’t want to use the loom extenders with the 12 or 16 inch loom because I wanted that “in your lap intimate” experience. Even before I started weaving the strip I realized I could use it for a strap for this “failed” tapestry that became a purse but whose strap had gone missing. I don’t think it was a very good strap but the purse . . . well, as I said, it was a failed tapestry but it was one intricate piece of tapestry. Not the kind of thing you would ever weave to make a purse. Oh, darn, now I have to photograph it. Wait a minute while I do that.
Okay, just took a couple pictures of the purse (and please pardon my photographs . . . my photo tent is officially dead and I am waiting for the new one to arrive. . . so it’s hard to get the light correct but I am too impatient to wait for the ten to post this blog post!) . . .
This is the front. I think the tapestry was going to be a garden of sorts. It was a very long time ago that I wove it and I only just discovered the purse hiding underneath a pile of tapestries that hadn’t met their goal.
This is the back.
Don’t want to lose my thread here. So while contemplating new kits I, as I said, decided to weave this strip which I then realized I could use as a strap for above purse. Let me show you the strip:
I didn’t use the shedding device. It’s not done yet, so I should put that in the present tense. In any case, I needle weaving it because I wanted to feel that very rhythmic movement of under and over with a needle. There is something very primal about that. But I had promised Elena I would come up with a Christmas ornament, which leads me to another digression because she asked if I had every made one before and I replied: “Yes, I made one for the White House Christmas tree when Clinton was president.” I think she was a little surprised by that answer. The deal was, members of the NH League of Craftsmen were asked that year to make an ornament for the White House Christmas tree, so I did. I have no photographs of it and I can’t even remember what it looked like. But I do know I made it and I do know it hung on the White House Christmas tree for at least one season and now is probably buried in a box somewhere.
After we spoke I warped an eight inch loom with shedding device. The warp spanned about two and a half inches. The idea was to weave a five inch strip and then fold it over. Elena wanted me to weave in some standard Christmas image, which I knew I would not do and she knew I would not do! I loved weaving this piece, but before I even show you the pictures, I need to return to my original theme: Slow art/craft. After I wove the ornament I said to Elena: there should be something called “slow craft.” I thought I had just made up a new trend and then this morning I found out courtesy of the internet that indeed someone got there before me. Well, in reality it is an old theme. It’s the theme of tapestry weaving essentially. I mean, you just can’t rush a tapestry and if yo are sitting there counting your hours while you weave because you want to actually make money by selling it someday . . . forget it. Tapestry isn’t like that.
I think there are two ways to approach craft/art, whatever you want to call it. There is the quick easy approach. The “I want to make a dozen of these things to give to friends and family at Christmas or to sell at the local craft fair or even in some high end gallery . . . the point being, the final object becomes almost more important than the journey. Sure, you may still have fun making it, but that is not the entire goal. With my strip though the goal was to enjoy making it. The goal was not to rush. The goal was the experience itself. Hence the thought “slow craft,” came to mind and clearly it came to other minds as well!
I decided the Christmas tree ornament was going to be a slow craft too. I wanted to play with my hand painted silk. I wanted to see how it would weave up in a wider strip.
Before I folded the piece together, I embellished each side.
I then sewed up the sides, embellished with beads, added a braid to hang it . . . eight hours later I had my “slow craft” Christmas Ornament. I imagine I will only make one because my next project is to make a “slow craft” eyeglass case, again out of hand painted silk.
In short, I am on a slow craft adventure. I have done my time making work to sell in galleries. I know I owe several wrap bracelets to one gallery and even though I love making them, I don’t know if I am in the mood. I am in the mood to slowly and patiently weave row upon row of hand painted silk and then turn it into something that can be used or seen. I want the experience itself. And when you want that, you often don’t even want it to end. I always mourned the finishing of a large tapestry. What would be next? My life had been somewhat regulated by this constant theme of a large tapestry in progress and then when it was done I had to find something to replace it.
So . . . slow craft, slow art. Even if I didn’t make it up, I am going to be talking about it a lot. Next post is going to be about my “slow scarf”.