Handwoven faux postage #3

handwoven letter collectionOver the last couple of days, I have been weaving yet more postcards.  Why? I hear you wondering…  Well, partly to try out some different yarns, partly to try out some alternative woven postage ideas, and partly for…another reason.  Where are the postcards going?  What are they for?  Well, this time I’m not sending them to myself, but I won’t say more than that for now – look out for updates!

handwoven postage 1My postcard from a couple of weeks ago (right) was woven with an aran weight knitting yarn.  The ‘stamp’ was a very basic surface needle-weave which hid the background weaving nicely.  The more recent postcards, however, were woven with a less bulky (dk) yarn – largely because I simply could not find the blues I was looking for in a heavier weight.  (I always find it surprising that despite the vast array of yarns out there, sometimes it’s impossible to find one that matches the colour in my mind’s eye…)

woven faux postage comparisonI soon discovered that the same simple needleweaving came nowhere close to covering the background.  I got around this by weaving diagonally (both directions) across the grid that was formed, and this did the trick.

For the sake of experimentation, I also tried weaving the ‘stamp’ as part of the main body of the postcard weaving, rather than as an embroidered addition on top.  I instantly liked the way the splicing together of the envelope & stamp colours gave the appearance of a serrated edge (well, at top & bottom, at least) and will most probably use this method again.

I still also want to experiment further with the matchbox loom, though, and applique a tiny weaving onto the postcard, instead.  Another day, though…!

The Handwoven Postcard Project

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Handwoven faux postage!

Well, it could be.  I’ve been meaning to make a matchbox weaving loom ever since writing my Borrowers zine, and today, I finally got around to it, and I even remembered to scan each step of the way:

Cut down to basics, all you need to do is:

  • Snip notches at approx. 3mm intervals along the short edges of a 32ct matchbox tray.  (My advice: mark it out first!  I ended up with 7 notches, but an even number will work better when it comes to ‘finishing’/removing from loom.)
  • Warp loom.  I warped all the way from one end to the other, around the back of the loom and back to starting point.  See finishing tips below for how the way you warp will affect your options.
  • Use matches woven under and over alternate threads to adjust tension, as required.  I removed the matchsticks as the weaving grew, so that I could weave all the way to the top of the loom.
  • Weave!  I used a (hand-dyed) variegated perle 5 cotton to get a stripy effect without having to change threads too often.  Using a needle will help you when weaving.  I used the needle I use for bookbinding, because it happened to be to-hand; but the book-binding needle is a sharp, and a blunt-ended tapestry needle would be far better advised!  Visit my weaving freebies page for basic/additional weaving instructions.
  • Removing your weaving from the loom will depend on how you have warped:
  1. If you have an even number of warps and warped all around the outside of the matchbox tray, snip across the threads in the centre of the matchbox reverse.  Tie off warp threads in pairs, and trim to preferred length of fringe.
  2. If you warped your loom back and forth around notches (across front of loom only), carefully nudge loops off notches and thread onto matchsticks for a miniature wall-hanging.

Well, it entertained me, so hope you will enjoy this little (no pun intended 😉 ) project, too.  Let me know if you try this out – would love to see pictures!

What’s everyone up to?

I’ve had some great updates in the last week! And it’s always cool to see what other people are working on, so if you’ve been inspired to try something by one of my kits or zines, do let me know so that I can share 🙂

wall hangingFirst up today is Sharon Schmeidel – back in January, she bought one of my ATC weaving kits and has been weaving away ever since. In her own words, tapestry weaving has become “another passion I should probably have done without”! The scale has increased somewhat since her ATC-sized beginnings – I’m sure you’ll agree with me that this wall-hanging is pretty awesome! Sharon is a member of the Iowa Art Quilters Group, and this piece has been on display in Grenell, Iowa, over the summer, at a show in conjunction with an area weaving conference. Cool!

doodle stitchI was also really happy to see Robin O. Mayberry’s post on her Alchemy Studio blog, about the bookmark she doodle-stitched, after I sent her a copy of my new ‘Contours’ zine, less than a month ago! The zine is all about doodles, and at the very last minute, I decide to include a bookmark as an extra. I didn’t have time to trial the concept first, so I just hoped that it would work – and it looks like it did – hurrah! Huge thanks to Robin for being my guinea pig & actually trying it out :-). If you would like to try it yourself, every bookmark that comes with the Contours zine is hand-doodled, and will be similar but different to Robin’s, so your doodle-stitching is guaranteed to be unique.

faux stampedAnd last but not least, I received a great piece of post from Kristina Howells in France. I’ve been taking part in some faux postage projects, lately (although Kristina was very quick off the mark with this one, & I haven’t created, let alone sent my response, yet!). The envelope I received from Kristina had 2 ‘real’ stamps at the top, which had been duly postmarked, but also a faux postage stamp just beneath – and what tickled me was that the faux stamp had also been postmarked! I hadn’t got too far yet with my ideas for the faux postage project, but receiving this really prompted me to give it some thought & I’m itching to get started, now…

Woven postcard update

arteth postcard beforeArteth's woven postcardArteth Gray has just posted the ‘before’ (pre-mail!) picture of the woven postcard I received, on her blog, so I thought I should do a before and after update here.

I feel kind of bad, because the ‘before’ picture is so lovely (look how straight those edges are!), and you can see just how much damage the journey did to it.  On the other hand, the whole point of mail art is that the journeyis a part of both the process and the artwork, so I’m still exceedingly happy to have received it, & I still think it’s brilliant.  Thanks again, so much, Arteth!

If you’re inspired by this, check out the Handwoven Postcard Project – more info to come soon!

Weaving ATCs

ATCs (Artist Trading Cards, to the uninitiated!) are something that have intrigued me for a while.  The concept is simple: an artist decorates a card (specifically sized 2.5″ x 3.5″), adds their contact details and any other information they want to, to the reverse, and then trades (never sells) this card with other artists.  It’s a highly personalised business card, in a way, building a community feeling among artists.  But also a huge online community has sprung up, creating and trading ATCs – and just in case I’ve given the wrong impression, this is a world open to any crafter/artist, not just ‘professionals’.

I think ATCs are a wonderful creative outlet.  They allow you to try out different techniques on a small scale, and the mixed-media cards I’ve seen can be quite stunning.  It’s one of those all-encompassing ideas that means whatever background you have, or medium you work with, you can play, too!  But I guess it’s the fact of communication, and the fact that it’s a personal, not mass-produced/commercial thing that makes it feel like a little oasis.

Although not commercial in the sense of trading rather than selling the cards, an industry has sprung up selling related materials to decorate and store your ATCs, and cool stuff like labels and rubber stamps to add your details to the reverse.  Being me, of course, I just look at the labels and then make my own.  I had the idea for a woven ATC, and while working on a design for the reverse, came up with a way to make a loom directly out of your ATC blank.  As I speak, I’m having rubber stamps custom made.  At the craft fair, I will have funky little (alterable) tins containing an ATC kit, with ATC blanks,  2 different ATC backs, needle, ‘shed stick’, instructions, etc.  You may have noticed, I’m really pleased with this idea.  I just want to get people weaving (another post will be coming shortly with more DIY ideas), and ATCs are a brilliant, sample-sized way to get people hooked!

This was my prottype ATC. I also have a slicker image as an option for the reverse, eradicating the tape measures.
This was my prototype ATC. I also have a slicker image as an option for the reverse, eradicating the tape measures; and a far simpler, more meditative weaving, currently half-complete.

In addition to the ATC kit, I will be (literally) giving away an ATC loom as my business card – the front has all my contact details, the back has instructions to turn the card into a loom.  The weaver, of course, is not obliged to mke an ATC, if they don’t want to; they also have the option of just slipping the weaving from the (re-usable) card once complete, and framing/mounting as they choose.

I can’t claim that weaving an ATC is an incredibly original idea, but it’s certainly not common.  Putting the concept out there in the hands of a wider audience of creative types, though, opens up all sorts of possibilities for combining weaving with ther media.  I think it’s just something that hasn’t really crossed people’s minds, but once the idea is there, it’s a very viable, adaptable option.  I’ll leave it up to the ATC community to explore further…!

The only person I currently know who is experimenting with woven ATCs is artist/tapestry weaver Laurie o’ Neill.  You can see her processes and some completed cards here.  I love this idea for using ‘thrums’ Jazzcat Thrums as an ATC background.  I’ve been using thrums to stuff the little Oddballs I’ve woven for the fair.  I think this is a far more decorative use for them, though, and you can still be just as creative with exploring colour combinations.

Ideas, continued (expanded, modified, added to etc)

Since my last post about ideas for the craft fair, Gossamer Bookmarks have fallen by the wayside.  They did, however, lay the groundwork for idea number 3:

3.  Patch Pouch.  I have found a good supplier of plain cotton canvas

Just big enough for mobile phone, keys & loose change - perfect!
Just big enough for mobile phone, keys & loose change - perfect!

pouches, which I have bought up stock of, for packaging kits and artworks.  It occurred to me that some of the smaller pouches could be decorated with a simple patch of weaving.  The weaving area is smaller and therefore less time-consuming to produce than the bookmarks (I increased the weaving time marginally by weaving an additional square directly onto the first patch).  I used a lower gauge canvas (13ct) and a thicker yarn, resulting in a nice, sturdy little patch which was then ironed onto a canvas pouch.

Jazz weaving - a whole new concept in synaesthesia!
Jazz weaving - a whole new concept in synaesthesia!

4.  Swirl Pouch.  Although this funky little pouch (just big enough for a mobile phone) will be available to buy at the fair, it is NOT something I will be going into mass production of!  My husband is a jazz musician, and I wove this during a gig he played with Arun Ghosh a couple of weeks ago.  Despite the curvy edges, I’m really pleased with how it turned out.  I know I am supposed to strive for even edges in tapestry, but in this case I really think the curves enhance the design.  Although I can’t say I was weaving in response to the music, it is an entirely freeform design (slightly different on both sides) that created itself.  Although I do think people would like these pouches, I don’t think I could charge enough for one to justify the time it took to weave.  Shame, though.

Seems that I can only manage a couple of ideas at a time.  Watch this space – more to follow, shortly…

Awesome easy quick (no-sew!) tapestry finishing technique!

Okay, perhaps everybody else has already come across this idea and I’m just behind the times (wouldn’t be the first time!); or perhaps it’s just because I work on a smaller scale than the majority of tapestry weavers and it wouldn’t work for larger pieces.  Anyway, I had this idea, tried it out, and was SO impressed that it worked brilliantly!

Anyway, once you have finished weaving, here’s what you do:

1.  Tie off all the warp threads into tassles.  It doesn’t matter if they’re looped or not.

2.  Take a piece of hessian AT LEAST the same size as your weaving.  If using a larger piece, centre your weaving aginst it, so that there is an even border (or as you prefer).

3.  Once you have lined up your weaving, use a needle to prod or thread the top left  tassle through the hole in the hessian ‘grid’ that aligns with the top left corner of your weaving (before tassles begin).

4.  Pull the tassle so that the knot pops through to the reverse side of the hessian.

5.  Re-align your weaving, laying it flat against the hessian, and working along the row where your first tassle is pushed through, use your needle to prod/thread the next tassle through the hessian (and the next, etc).

That’s it.

The hessian needs to be pulled taut against a picture frame back, or weighted with a dowel rod to keep it straight. A you can see from the picture, I have not done this, yet!
The hessian needs to be pulled taut against a picture frame back, or weighted with a dowel rod to keep it straight. As you can see from the picture, I have not done this, yet!

The knots from the tassles provide sufficient resistance that they will not slide back through the holes in the hessian.  Of course, it my take trial and error to ascertain what thickness of warp thread can work with what gauge hessian.  If unsure, try knotting different thicknesses of warp thread and push them through different gauges of hessian until you find the right match.  (Do this before warping your loom!)

Depending on the weight of your weaving and/or your preference re appearance  of the finished piece, you may want to push the bottom row of tassles through the hessian, also.  This will alleviate pressure on the top row, and prevent gradual slippage.  If you prod in the lower tassles, make sure your weaving is lain flat against the hessian as you ascertain which row to prod through.  The weaving will bow forward if you prod the lower row in too high.  The hessian will rumple and not lie flat if too low.

You may want to add a few discrete stitches down the reverse of the sides of your weaving, giving the hessian greater support, and preventing bowing.  This is also an alternative way to prevent gradual slippage of the top row of prodded tassles, and would facilitate use of the technique for larger pieces.

Once tassles are prodded through, your weaving will have a lovely rustic border/backing, and can be mounted on rod or in frame as preferred.

Although I have lots of background in embroidery, actual practical sewing terrifies me.  I also get put off working pieces if I know the finishing processes will be slow and tedious.  In addition, I don’t really want all of my work bordered with tassles.  All in all, I’m very pleased to have discovered hessian backing!