Head, Heart, Hand . . . Heart, Head, Hand . . . Hand, Heart, Head . . .
“I am seeking. I am striving. I am in it with all my heart.” Vincent van Gogh
In an (recently) unprecedented period of calm, I have been able to get 5 of my looms warped, and a couple of blankets woven. One of the warps is a stash busting experiment with 8-shaft double weave using a very fine silk noil, and a very fat brushed alpaca, one of the warps is a 18-shaft deflected doubleweave, one is a 4-shaft, mohair throw in plain weave, and one is a transparency on the rigid-heddle and finally a pick-up dog collar on my inkle loom. When I look at the projects I am working on, I am reminded of something (I may have mentioned before) that David Johnson of the Rocky Mountain Weavers’ Guild said to me while I was teaching there. He said, “you have to have your head, heart and hands balanced in everything you create.” My interpretation of this is that you need to balance your aesthetic/creative impulse (heart) by both honing your skill (hand), and applying knowledge (head). When they are out of balance in weaving you get a deadened, complexity (too much head), a wild mess (not enough hand/head) or a technically perfect blah (hand without head/heart) and many other possible permutations I’d imagine. But what I find interesting when looking at the projects I’m currently working on is that each one of them is either tilting in a head, heart or hand direction. I would characterize the doubleweave as a head/hand production with too little heart . . . see below:
I wanted to do a double weave using 2 very different densities/setts, and it is working-ish, but the block arrangement is dull and it is taking me forever to make progress because both yarns are super sticky and cling to each other making it necessary to clear each shed by hand. Now that I have seen that I can make one layer 6x the density of the other, my head is satisfied, my heart is sad (boring) and my hands are frustrated.
The next warp is the 18-shaft def dw. I would characterize this one (in its conception) as fairly balanced – a little low on heart. The motif in the center was supposed to be “Z” in morse code, which is dash dash dot dot . . . I wanted Z z z z z as a nap throw, but didn’t have enough room. The funniest thing is that I messed up and only put dash dot dot or dot dot dash depending on which end you’re starting from which are “D” or “U” . So I now like to think of it my Du(h)! throw. I like it okay, but want a little more pizazz . . . (see below).
The next project is pure heart (some might not think so because it is hard to photograph, but it has a beautiful subtle color combo of gray browns that I love). It is the 4-shaft plain weave, so simple, but does take a bit of technique to weave because of the mohair’s crazy clinginess.
The next is a possible balance (yet to be realized) It is a rigid heddle transparency that I warped up to take to a weavers’ retreat. I wanted a project that was small enough to transport, open enough for the retreatees to create their own designs and something of a weaving challenge. The warp is 16/2 linen which is a little difficult on the RH (tip is to tie on with the heddle in the up or down position so the difference between the moving and stationary threads is taken into account at tie-on). I am hoping we get a good array of ideas that balance the elements. Right now it just has a little bubble fest test segment for me to practice getting ROUND circles (a little head/hand combo!).
And finally a head/hand directly from Inkle Pattern Directory, the only bit of my heart (creativity) in this one is that it is for a collar for Fiona?.
I just noticed that there are only neutrals in all these projects. Funny – summer is over, fall is around the corner, and I have drained color out of my weaving life . . . Dr. Freud? Any insight?
I love your interpretation of head/heart/hand but I’m thinking that when you’re sampling for something your not going to get all three…..probably two at the most. Then when you’ve learned what you need to know for the finished piece all three combine for the “magnum opus”.
Love the colors in the mohair throw…but ugh, sticky warps!
Great to hear from you. You’re right, of course, that balancing all three is kinda the holy grail, and hard to achieve without a lot of previous experimentation. Sigh – I guess that’s what makes it so rare and so desirable.
Hi, Lisa. I’m curious. Were you not thinking along the lines of head, heart, hands before these projects went on the loom? Did they seem to go off track at a particular point or points? The first project seems to be about a need to sample before commitment? The second distraction, maybe? How did the morse code come to get “Duh”ed? Did the urge to get weaving overcome your heart’s need for fulfillment? Creativity is such a delicate beast, isn’t it?
Lovely colors and if you don’t mind my saying, great bravery for showing what is not to your satisfaction as well as what is. Beginning weavers often think those more experienced produce projects that are just right all the time. I think, maybe, it is the best gift to let them know it just ain’t so…
Hey Deb (Dr. Freud:),
All good questions (perhaps ones I should have asked myself first:) The overarching answer, I believe, is an uneasy relationship with planning, and a secret commitment to seat-of-the-pants weaving (if there is such a thing). I always seem to be pressed for time, and deep planning is what I sacrifice – preferring to get the looms dressed (usually with fiber I have around), and something/anything going. Sometimes it works out – usually it “sort of” works out. “Duh” is a product of distraction for sure, which seems odd when a person spends so many hours executing something, but skips the couple of minutes it would take to double check the morse code alphabet (could no internet in my studio really be the reason??? – shame emoji!) . . . Your penetrating questions make me uneasy too because this all seems like something I keep senselessly/indulgently mulling over when the answer/solution is obvious: THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU”RE DOING – THEN – THINK HARDER. Ewwwww.