I have been making movies!
Last fall I was in the USA and filmed one with Taproot Video founders Marilyn and Rainer Romatka. We had done some trial filming earlier in July but I won’t let anyone see that! I think that probably everyone’s first time in front of a camera is bound to be awful. Of course, you can’t be sitting there grinning the whole time but you don’t want to look like you are suffering with nerves either! I learned a lot with that trial experience and got back in front of the camera feeling much more comfortable last fall. In fact, it was a whole lot of fun.
When I returned to Bolivia, I was feeling so good about filming that I got together and made a short film with a local videographer. I loved being able to use local Guaraní textiles to decorate the room in which we worked. We hung them on the wall and used them on the table. It gives the movie a nice ”lowland Bolivia” flavor. My best friend was there to help out, documenting the takes, handing me props etc. One of his other tasks was being ”chief mosquito-swatter”…yep that’s lowland Bolivia for you. Without professional studio lighting, it wasn’t the slickest set-up, but I feel that natural light has its own beauty. We had a good time and I am really pleased with the result.
I have made lots of little instructional videos and placed them on this blog but they have often been ridiculously short and shot in my bedroom in less than ideal conditions. Back in the days when I was using Flickr to host my videos, they had to be limited to just 90 seconds which meant really having to work fast! or splitting tutorials into several segments. Later, when I started using WordPress as the host, I still couldn’t enjoy making long videos because my internet connection simply couldn’t handle uploading large files. I would often leave them uploading all night only to be disappointed to find in the morning that everything had crashed at some point. Fortunately, Syne Mitchell uploaded the heavy videos that appear in the WeaveZine article.
So, I am pleased that this video I made in Bolivia is a luxurious 30 minutes long and has allowed to me include a lot of detail. I have a friend who has a slower but more stable internet connection than I do which made uploading much easier.
In the movie I show two basic and very useful warping methods, one of which is the one that I use for Andean Pebble Weave and other kinds of complementary-warp pick-up structures. I show this technique in my first book as an optional advanced warping technique in the Appendix because, as you can imagine, it is quite difficult to portray something like this in just images and text.
Here’s the video! I am including it in this blog post but its permanent home on this blog is on a separate page here. May I suggest bookmarking the page so you will always be able to easily find it.:-)
As for the movie we made last fall… it’s is called Operating a Backstrap Loom and is the perfect follow-up to the warping movie. You can stream it or buy the dvd.
I made it to address the questions that I am frequently asked online when people are taking their first steps in backstrap weaving…little doubts about uneven heddle length, fluff and fuzz collecting on heddles, sticky sheds, wonky edges, sheds that won’t open, fixing heddle errors, sticks and techniques for wider warps etc…And, I wanted everyone to have one resource that contained all these answers. I show some things that I have never covered on this blog and, best of all, you get to see it all in action. I am so excited to be able to show you all how to use your bodies to operate the loom so you can all be the loom…much more than someone sitting at a piece of equipment.
One of my students told me that when she learned how to use her body to operate the loom she suddenly felt like she had become the ”shed whisperer”. I love that expression! Let’s all be shed whisperers!
Of course, you are all still welcome to write to me any time you like with questions or just to say hi. You know where to find me! In fact, I insist. Show me what you are weaving and tell me how it is going, please! (For all of you who have ever rolled your eyes and sighed when I have told you to ”just keep practicing” when you have written to me about uneven heddle length, I have a great tip for you in this movie!.. something that needs to be seen in action :-)).
I had this really great experience last year. Mary posted online about having some problems getting set-up for backstrap weaving. The heddles just weren’t working for her. She posted pictures but it was still really hard to see what exactly was going on. I did my best to help, sending her messages with explanations, links to tutorials and diagrams. I wanted so badly to be able to jump through the computer screen and sit beside her and help. I knew that I could have her up and happily weaving in moments.
I found out that she lived in San Jose and suggested we get together as I was going to be there in my travels. A little voice inside was saying…San Jose is a big city! What are the chances of being able to get this together in the brief time you are there? You don’t drive, maybe she works, she probably lives a long way from your friend, imagine the traffic etc etc.
It turned out that she lived within four blocks of the friend with whom I was staying. It was meant to be! I spent some time with her and we sorted out the heddle problem…..
…and then she wove! I was able to show her how to use her body movements to operate the loom and give her some tips for creating even selvedges. There’s Mary, the shed whisperer.
You have no idea how much I would love to be able to do that with everyone who writes to me with questions. Making this movie is my attempt to sit right next to all of you who need a little guidance. Of course, many people take my written answers, solve their problem and move on to happy weaving while many just slip comfortably into it and have no questions at all. I have been lucky to have been able to meet many of you who have supported me and my blog over these years in my travels. It’s always wonderful to see what you have been quietly creating at home on your backstrap looms.
The movie is available for streaming or as a dvd from Taproot Video.
You can watch a short preview here.
As for Taproot Video…working with founders Marilyn and Rainer Romatka was a wonderful experience. Rainer, who was behind the camera, has a keen eye for detail and came up with so many interesting ideas and suggestions.
Marilyn is the most resourceful person I have ever met. I started calling her ”MacGyver Marilyn”. She wore many hats… in charge of audio, clap board, continuity, set re-arrangement etc. She and Rainer are an amazing team. She also managed to take these pictures during the filming and her suggestions during editing were invaluable.
Marilyn has her own set of folkart classes on the site including the extremely popular Bow Loom Weaving class that she taught at BRAIDS last year.Kris Leet has classes on tablet weaving techniques and Linda Hendrickson teaches ply-split braiding techniques. Joan Ruane has two movies on cotton spinning. She was my roommate at the Mannings a few years ago and it is nice to be sharing space with her in the new Taproot Video community.
In the meantime, between some fun writing projects, I have been at my loom very slowly moving along with my silk weaving. It is funny how this slower-than-usual pace with the more complicated three-color pick-up can soon start to feel ”normal”.
I might be 1/6 of the way along now.
I do hope you enjoy my free warping video and hope that you will consider following it up with Operating a Backstrap Loom.
Thank you so much for all your support. I am really excited about and pleased with these movie projects. It’s been a long time since I released my last book and it feels good to have something new out there I am happy to have jumped over the nervous hump of filming! There will surely be more movies to come (and books).