Posted by: lavernewaddington | September 13, 2012

Backstrap Weaving – Looking Ahead

I don’t think that I can ever quite get used to the fact that I need to be looking so far ahead…often well over a year….when planning my trips away and the workshops and presentations that I will be making.

Now that Braids 2012 is over and is just a wonderful memory, I think back to the time when I was first approached about teaching there and the first mentions of it that I heard back at Convergence 2010. It was most likely already being planned straight after the first ever international braiding conference in Japan in 2007 long before I ever discovered the existence of online weaving groups and the enthusiasm of their members for backstrap weaving. I am wondering when next I might make a trip to the UK and realize that I shall probably have to look ahead now to 2014 to plan that.

Then it seemed ridiculously early when ANWG 2013 started calling last year for teaching proposals for their conference in Bellingham Washington next June and now here it is  already looming near with the recent  announcement of their line-up of teachers, workshops, one-day classes and seminars.

Little did I know back in 1992 when I was climbing about and camping in the Cascade mountains near Bellingham that I would return 21 years later (21 years…yikes!) to teach an Andean pebble weave workshop and one-day classes on tubular bands and embellishments. It almost seems that I have been reincarnated and am living another life all together!

And I wonder what new things I will have learned in the meantime. That is the really exciting part.

And so, here I find myself after having just finished my workshop in Holland, as a guest of artist and weaver Marijke van Epen, looking ahead to the very near future and wondering what wonderful things I am going to learn and experience at the Encuentro de Tejedores de las Americas 2012 in Cusco which is on next month. I will arrive home after my European trip with just over a week to spare before heading off to Cusco!


I wasn’t supposed to be going as it had been proving too difficult and expensive to get there but, as I celebrated a milestone birthday last month, I decided to give myself the gift of this trip to Cusco. I will fly to La Paz and then take the bus to Cusco from there…a longish trip, but well worth it with some spectacular mountain views along the way. I did a similar trip by train back in 1997.

More good news is that I heard from Navajo weaver DY Begay that she has been invited to attend and I will get to hang out with her again. We became good buddies at the Tinkuy in Urubamba in 2010. Below you can see DY demonstrating tapestry techniques on an upright Navajo-style loom at the Tinkuy event. Weavers in the Cusco area also create tapestries on their backstrap looms so it was wonderful for weavers from both sides of the world to be able to meet and share this weaving style which they have in common.

I hope to take the workshop on discontinuous warp technique and am looking forward to seeing and meeting weavers from all over Peru from both the highlands and lowlands as well as from other countries throughout the Americas.

The Encuentro (ETAM) organizers have started a Facebook page with pictures of some of the weaving communities that will be represented and I am happy to see in their latest post that Tinkipaya weavers from Bolivia will be there as I have recently become particularly interested in their textiles and designs. (see blog posts here and here)

 Charts for some of their patterns, seen below, are included in my new book.

It’s a five-day conference…imagine! This time I will make a list of all the questions I want to ask and things I want to explore so that I won’t come home smacking my forehead about things that I have forgotten to have clarified. That’s what happened after the three-day Tinkuy in 2010. There was so much to see, it became quite overwhelming.

After the Encuentro I will have about ten days at home to recover before heading to the US for an east coast tour.

I will be teaching at The Mannings in Pennsylvania over two weekends in late October. You can see Joan at left at her loom during a Backstrap Basics class in The Mannings’s large weaving workshop room.

Then I will be at Firewatch Weavers in Massachusetts in early to mid November. Along the way I will be working with some private groups and individuals.

While the Backstrap Basics class at The Mannings is full, there is still room in the three-day pebble weave class.

Three days will give us time to learn how to manage and operate the loom and get acquainted with the pick-up patterning structure commonly known as pebble weave.

We will also have time for an introduction to other complementary-warp weave structures that are used in Bolivia and Peru.

At Firewatch Weavers I will give a weekend  Backstrap Basics class which will include some patterning techniques using supplementary wefts on day one. On day two we will use the warps themselves to create patterns. Inspiration for the supplementary weft patterns can come from many sources including Bolivia, Guatemala, the hilltribes of Vietnam and Bhutan as seen below.

The warp-float structure we study is used by many weavers with whom I have studied including the Montagnard weavers of Vietnam and cotton weavers of coastal Ecuador.

Along the way we will get comfortable with warping, setting up the backstrap loom and learn the various skills involved with opening the sheds and creating cloth. Below you can see a group at Firewatch Weavers making their first warps.

The Backstrap Basics weekend at Firewatch Weavers will be followed by a weekend workshop on the pick-up patterning structure practiced by the Guaraní weavers of lowland Bolivia. The Guarani weavers call this Moisy.

These are some of the plant and leaf designs that often appear on the Guaraní textiles along with the birds, butterflies and flowers which abound in the tropical lowland areas. Inspiration for the patterns we will study comes from simpler motifs of Bhutan and Mexico.

So, that is a look at what is happening for me in the very near future. Once the US trip is over, I will be back in Bolivia for a longer spell and back at my loom. I miss my loom! I will make sure that I take some on-the-road projects with me to the US so that I can weave between workshops. And then it will be time to make plans for the more distant future.

But let’s back pedal a little now and take a look at what happened over here in Europe this last week. I have enough material for two full blogs posts based on my trip to the Netherlands and I am going to save it all for another time and just give you a brief outline here.

I was hosted by artist and weaver Marijke van Epen in the  home that she shares with her artist  husband in a small village on the eastern edge of the country….a beautiful rural setting and a lovely old house that used to be the village bakery.

There I gave a workshop on Backstrap Basics (you can see the supplementary- weft-patterned bands some of the students created at left) and got to spend a whole week with Marijke in her home and studio and see all the products of her curious mind as she studies ancient tablet weaving structures and ethnic textiles from around the world.

It was amazing to see how closely each of the paths of our textile interests have traveled from South America to Central America and on to Central Asia and the Middle East.

We exchanged techniques, tips, projects and ideas, pondered patterns and structures in her large collection of textile books and finally sat together to figure out how to create a patterned tubular band that we found in one of them.

During my stay, an online backstrap weaving buddy from way back in the early days of Weavolution and its backstrap weaving group came to visit.

Jeannine, who lives in Belgium, dropped by on her way home from a vacation in Germany and we finally got to meet face to face.

Jeannine was one of the people who took the time to test the instructions in my first book Andean Pebble Weave and she was always an active member of the group.

I got to see the beautiful band she made with her own design in simple warp floats that I have always admired in the pictures she posted online. Those of you who follow this blog may remember my having showed it here several times in the past.

There’s Jeannine above with her band. In the background you can catch a glimpse of some of Marijke’s work. There will be much more about all that in my next post.

Marijke and I went together to visit Mirja Wark, author of  a beautiful book about the si’ira belts woven  by the Wayuu people of northern Colombia and Venezuela. I have written a few  blog posts about this wonderful book and what it has inspired in my own weaving if you would like to catch up on that. (see here and here.)

Mirja’s home lies in a remote village in the northern part of the country where she has a studio full of looms and pieces that she has collected from the years she lived in Venezuela, Libya and Syria and traveled to neighboring Oman and other Middle Eastern countries…Bedouin camel bags, the crocheted mochilas of  the Wayuu people, wedding shawls of Libya and camel adornments of Oman.

As you can imagine, I was in heaven. Above you can see Mirja next to a small sampling of the si’ira belts that she collected from the Wayuu people. Mirja described it all with never-ending enthusiasm. And then we were invited upstairs to enjoy her extensive book collection. I have plenty to show and tell you about this visit in my next post.

And for the present, I am back in the UK with Sue and husband Robert on their farm in Perry Green. What  glorious end-of-summer days we have been having both here and in The Netherlands…cool and sunny with soft marvelous sunsets throwing golden light over the fields. I tried to soak it all in and imprint it in my memory as we walked the three lively dogs this evening. Tomorrow I shall be heading off to quite a change of scene, I imagine, in the city where I will stay with Norma who was at the Braids conference. Norma contacted me when I was in Bolivia with the kind invitation to come and stay with her when in London. I am sure we will spend some fun times weaving and braiding together and I hope to see a couple of the main sights and museums in London too.

It’s hard to imagine Bolivia on the other side of the world rolling over into spring and summer with the heat and humidity of Santa Cruz as the first nip of the fall is felt over here. Yet I am very much ready to head home and reorganize  as I know that hectic times are ahead in Cusco and the US with much workshop preparation to be squeezed in between! Here is a nice video I found on Facebook to get me back into “Bolivia mode”…it nice to see beautiful images of the lowlands and Santa Cruz included. Maybe I will be have some of the lovely people I have met on this trip as my guests in Bolivia one day in the future.

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Responses

  1. hi Laverne,
    sometimes dreams come true! I had never thought that one day i was going to meet you in person. I enjoyed the little time we had together . It was a joy to see your weaving and to be abble to touch it. Marijke is such a lovely lady and her artwork is great too. I am so grateful that she invited me in her home to visite you.I will buy one of her instructionsheet, I just could not decide which one ,yet.
    thank you so much.
    Greetings
    Jeannine

  2. Oh, that post makes me miss both Bolivia and the Netherlands at once! Hope one day I can join a weaving conference somewhere! Looking forward to your next post about Mirja and Marijke’s work.
    Like in Santa Cruz, spring has sprung here, the magpies are swooping, everybody is once again absorbed in the footy final and the sun is back. Have a good last while in Europe and then S.C and Cusco. You’re a wonderful busy bee!

  3. It is so much fun to read about all the places you go, the people you meet, and the amazing textiles that you see. It makes my head spin with the possibilities. Now you’ve got me thinking about signing up for classes in Washington…..
    I’m really excited for you to go to the Encuentro and think that would be so awesome!
    Happy travels, Annie


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