Tapestry Topics Online
A Quarterly Review of Tapestry Art Today

page 5
Fall 2006, Vol 32 No 3

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Tradition and Change

by Bhakti Ziek

– TT p.10-12

I will try  to detail some of the excitement I have found from using digital methods of weaving. First I should mention that I am a very fast typist and was one of the first people in this country employed using word processing. . . When I discovered software for weaving in the mid-1980s it was like a marriage of two interests.

below: Bhakti Ziek, Washer Woman Revelation, triptych, 70" x 118", 1988. Hand-picked compound triple warp pick-up (pseudo-jacquard)
below: Bhakti Ziek, Postcard, 23"h x 26"w, 2005, silk, cotton, rayon chenille, boucle, natural dye extracts; painted warp, brocaded lampas jacquard weaving contains the artist's favorite book list for 2005

. . . A few years later, I was in the right place at the right time. The industrial textile program where I was teaching replaced their 19th century jacquard looms with two state-of-the-art fully electronic jacquard looms. Over the next 8 years I learned more than half a dozen specialized software programs for designing jacquard and dobby fabrics. . . I had access to quicker methods of evaluation and change in design than ever before possible in the history of weaving. . . [My] "History of Fabrics" series not only allowed me to weave my handwriting, I was also able to produce large-scale two-sided weavings that looked different on the two faces. Although I could have produced multiples of my work, I chose to produce one-of-a-kind weavings. The only limitation on my designing was the fact that the loom had four repeats of approximately 12.5 inches in width across the cloth. Mostly I worked within that constraint; though sometimes I cut the fabric up and reassembled it to defy the repeat.

below: Bhakti Ziek, History of Fabrics: Barbara's Song, Side A,  87"h x 54"w, 1996, cotton, jacquard weft-back weaving woven on a fully automated loom
below: Bhakti Ziek, detail of History of Fabrics: Barbara’s Song, Side A,  87"h x 54"w, 1996, cotton, jacquard weft-back weaving woven on a fully automated loom
below: Bhakti Ziek, History of Fabrics: Barbara's Song, Side B,  87"h x 54"w, 1996, cotton, jacquard weft-back weaving woven on a fully automated loom
below: Bhakti Ziek, detail, History of Fabrics: Barbara's Song, Side B,  87"h x 54"w, 1996, cotton, jacquard weft-back weaving woven on a fully automated loom
below: Bhakti Ziek, History of Fabrics: Notebook Pages (1), 80"h x 49"w, 1996, Cut and reassembled, cotton, jacquard damask weaving woven on a fully automated jacquard loom
below: Bhakti Ziek, History of Fabrics: Notebook Pages—Blue Borders, 77.5"h x 50"w, 1996, cotton, jacquard damask weaving woven on a fully automated jacquard loom
below: Bhakti Ziek, History of Fabrics: Harvest, 77.5"h x 50"w, 1996, cotton, jacquard damask weaving woven on a fully automated jacquard loom

Weaving by an individual is such an anachronism in our society that no matter what form you use for your work, you are still part of a relatively small group. . . Surely digital technology will not be the last modification to come along and change our perceptions of what it means to be a weaver. The spectrum of possibilities as a weaver is vast -- truly the most important thing is to find methods and materials that capture your imagination and get you to work.

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