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  • Sara Nordling

Why Study Design?

Spaced warp weaving in off white, black background

You may be asking yourself, so what? Where is this going? What is the point?

You spend time and money weaving. Whether it is a hobby or a profession you invest in your work. Whether you have a rigid heddle loom or a jacquard loom doesn’t matter. Don’t you want to make what you weave the best it can be? Not just a towel, a really great towel? With these elements and principles you can create your own designs. Not feeling quite ready to make an entire design? You will have the tools to alter existing weaving recipes to make something wonderful!

When I started weaving I felt happy just to be able to get something on the loom and then weave it. You may be in the same place right now. Next I fell in love with structures. They fascinated me. I became a structure addict, trying one after the other. Finally in graduate school I got to work on a jacquard loom! I thought all my dreams had come true! With individual thread control at my disposal, what should I weave? I had finally mastered the technical aspects of weaving and was left with the question, “now what?”

Detail of networked double weave with painted warp

I came to the realization that complicated and fascinating structures were not enough. What I made had to have something more, something that attracted weavers and non-weavers alike. My textiles, had to become art. But how?

With all the techniques at my disposal I started looking at what attracted me to weaving and textiles to begin with. The answer was color, texture, and that little something extra in each hand woven item I saw that took it above the commercial textiles in the stores. That’s what I have returned to.

I also began to notice other hand woven items and what sets them apart from the every day. What sets one hand woven item apart from others in an exhibit, fashion show, or magazine? The answer is, they are not only well woven they are well designed. They have a focal point, or a sense of movement perhaps. They use color well or have a balance of elements that make it sing. Having gone through a degree in art I realize that those things don’t just happen, they can be taught and learned.

That is why I started this series.

For me it doesn’t matter if I am making a towel or a commissioned wall piece. I want it to be the best one I can make. I also found that I don’t need a jacquard loom to do this (although that would be nice as well). Good design can happen with any sort of loom at any sort of weaving level. Once you know the basic elements and principles you can apply them to your own work and set it apart from the everyday.

Double weave with pleats, gray to dark gray gradients.

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