CNCHnet . . . The Textile Arts Webzine of the Conference of Northern California Handweavers

Alice Schlein and her Merry Band of Weaver/Movie Makers

For the past 14 months Alice Schlein has played the role of Pied Piper to an international group of weavers, twelve total, three of whom are from Northern California.  The goal for the participants was to collectively generate a short movie to be presented at Complex Weavers Seminar in Albuquerque in July.  It all started when Alice took a video of her grandson reading a book and then selected several frames to translate into woven pictures (Alice uses a TC-1Jacqard loom).  Once woven, she photographed each woven frame and then put them into a movie format and voila! a woven animation of her grandson reading!  Could this technique be translated to dobby looms?  Never shrinking from a challenge, Alice demonstrated that as few as 8 shafts are needed to use this technique.

A Yahoo group was formed, folks introduced themselves and started to talk about how to go about this rather unusual approach.  The idea of what to animate was, of course, the first topic.  The images needed to be simple, yet needed to convey movement.  Many ideas were tossed because it would require the weaver to weave dozens of frames.  This was to be kept simple and doable!  As the number of frames to convey the moving image was discussed it became necessary to think about how fast the frames would be viewed, i.e. 6 per second or 6 per minute etc.,  as this would also affect how many frames would need to be woven to convey the movement.  What structure to use was also an option, and in the end, many different structures were used, including but not limited to summer and winter, double two tie, twills and satins.

How to make the work of many weavers seem as one collaborative piece was important.  Alice issued a list of guidelines.  Each series was to be at least ten frames and each woven frame would have a small incremental change from the previous one.  The images were to be woven in black and white, approximately 10 inches by 10 inches.  The material to be used was 10/2 cotton sett at 24 epi for 240 ends and woven so that the final block was square.

The weavings were sent to Alice who then became director and producer of the film.  She photographed each frame and then put them in movie format.  While this is easy to say, it is not as easy to do.  The movie needed to work across all formats, i.e. Internet Explorer,  Safari, Firefox etc.  because, in the end, it was hoped the film would be viewable on YouTube.  Nothing, if not a challenge.   The final touch to make this a masterpiece was the addition of original music.

Some months ago, the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles sent out an invitation to submit work for a new “signature” event, the ITAB or International TECHstyle Art Biennial.   This seemed the perfect place to show the work to the public.  The movie was submitted and accepted by the jurors and will be shown at the museum, along with some of the weaving, August 17 to October 31.  The opening will be August 22.  Please visit the internet site for further information about the show.

The designers and weavers that appear in the Alice Schlein video are: Ruth Blau, Margaret Coe, Matt Eardley, Sue Farley, Bonnie Inouye, Penny Peters, Neki Rivera, Sandra Rude, Alice Schlein, Pat Stewart, Janet Stollnitz, and Margaret Thorson.  The music was composed by Hank Childers.

Hmm, maybe I’d rather review the basics! Click here for the newest weaving book.