GUATEMALAN SUPPLEMENTARY WEFT PATTERNING.
I suggest you follow the beginner tutorial on supplementary weft patterning here before attempting this second more advanced one.
This tutorial was first presented over two weeks within blog posts so there are two parts. I have extracted the information from the two blog posts for this tutorial page. It shows the kind of supplementary weft patterning that I learned in one particular town in Guatemala.
I wove a tree design at left using the various warp wrapping and inlay techniques that my Guatemalan teacher employs and this was fun as I hadn’t done any of this since 2008 immmediately after my return from my first visit there.
I learned these techniques with my teacher Martine and her daughter Carmen in Santa Catarina Palopo on the shores of Lake Atitlan. I met Martine in Panajachel where she sells textiles in the street market. She took me to her home and spent one morning setting up the loom and then her daughter took over weaving and teaching me for the next week or so. She was a good teacher. Each motif was repeated six or seven times across the cloth. Carmen would show me five times what to do and then would let me weave the last one or two motifs to practice what she had shown.
The weavers set up their looms with great care. Martine was obviously more skilled at doing this and Carmen only took over when everything was set to go. The warp is wound with two crosses. The second cross helps hold the shed rod in place.
In the first part of this tutorial you will see a series of step-by-step pictures showing how the warp is prepared for this kind of supplementary weft patterning. A plain-weave ground cloth is woven onto which the supplementary weft motifs are woven. Certain warps are raised in each shed under which the supplementary wefts are passed.
As the same warps for the supplementary weft patterning are raised every time, they can easily be picked and stored on pattern sticks so that the weaver does not have to continually pick them up by hand for every weft pass.
In the above picture you can see four passes of yellow supplementary wefts under the warps which form the two pattern sheds.. All the motifs that my teachers showed me were created by passing supplementary wefts under the warps in these pattern sheds.
Two pattern sticks are used. One stick is inserted under the selected pattern warps in the shed-rod shed and another holds the selected pattern warps in the heddle shed.
I show the process of picking and inserting the pattern sticks first in step-by-step pictures and then in a video.
In order to create the patterns, two extra patterning sticks need to be inserted. These are stored up beyond the shed rod. One is stored on top of the warp and the other underneath.
Now the warp has been prepared with its two patterning sticks ready to create patterns with supplementary wefts.
Watch the process again in the following video. I am using very thick yarn and only a few warps in the video just to demonstrate the basic process. The video is in two parts.
The second part of the video shows how to use the pattern sticks to raise the warps and lay in weft for some basic patterning. This is also explained in the photos below. I am using thick warp and weft in the video just so everything is easy to see. The photos show the types of yarn that should be used for this technique.
Here concludes Part One of this tutorial on Guatemalan single face supplementary weft patterning. So far we have looked at how to pick the two patterning sheds and store them on sticks up beyond the shed rod, how to open the patterning sheds and how to weave the basic brick design which separates the motifs on a piece. We also looked at the weaving sequence, that is, first passing the supplementary weft and then the main weft.
In Part Two, I will show you how to create the outlines of shapes by wrapping the supplementary weft around warps and fill them in by laying in supplementary wefts. The Guatemalan weavers create all kinds of bird, plant and human figures.
END OF PART ONE
In this part of the tutorial I show you how to create the motifs using the supplementary wefts. I am using a tree motif as the example. You will see how to create:
- a horizontal line for the base of a tree,
- a vertical line to form a stem,
- filled-in shapes for leaves,
- diagonal lines to outline the tree top, and
- spots for buds.
This is a fun technique with little or no counting involved which allows you to play freely with shapes and colors.
The resulting weaving looks like a piece of embroidered cloth except that the “stitches” only appear on one side of the fabric.
Last week when I started the tutorial on this technique, I was using acrylic threads that I had brought back from Guatemala to create bright mutlicolored trees on a green background, pictured at left.
I decided to buy some embroidery floss to work with and it took some time to get just the right thickness to go with my chosen ground weave warp. The ground weave is a 50 wpi cotton and I used 4 strands of embroidery floss to do the patterning. (one piece of embroidery floss has 6 strands so you need to remove 2).
The 50 wpi warp produces a wonderfully thin cloth just right for bookmarks although the pattern wefts do add some bulk.
So, let’s continue with the tutorial.
All the colored wefts that form the patterns pass under or wrap around the warps in the two patterning sheds. This green piece has 86 ends between the dark green border stripes. we will start with the horizontal line that forms the base of the tree motif.
FORMING A HORIZONTAL LINE
This completes the base of the tree. Now I am ready to start creating the stem….a vertical line.
FORMING A VERTICAL LINE
Open the next shed, which is, in my case, the shed rod shed and pass the main weft.
Patterning shed 2 contains my central warp.
Every time I raise the warps in patterning shed 2, I will wrap my green tree base weft around the central warp to form a stem. The drawing at left shows the very simple vertical wrapping method.
The stem, therefore, is woven only in every second shed.
In this shed I will also lay in the wefts to form the first pair of leaves.
FORMING A SOLID SHAPE – A LEAF
Cut two lengths of weft around 24cm/9 1/2” long for the two leaves.
Thelittle Guatemalan tree has three pairs of leaves and the stem continues growing until it eventually widens out into the tree top.
Once you have woven your six leaves, I am sure that it will be very easy for you to see how the tree top is formed.
You are weaving your stem with two strands of weft – one will start traveling to the right and one to the left while filling in the tree top in the same way that you filled in the leaves.
Finally there are the little spots that the Guatemalan weavers like to use to fill in blank spaces between motifs. I used them in my bookmarks as flower buds. You can see two yellow spots in the photo above.
To make a spot, you use two adjacent patterning warps as shown in the drawing above left. Use a strand of weft half the thickness that you would normally use. Around 12cm/5″ length should be plenty. First pass the weft behind the warp on the right as shown. Then join the two ends together and go wrapping them back and forth in the same shed about six times. Pass the ends through the main shed and out the back of the weaving.
The drawing above right shows how to make a diagonal line for a branch.
It is very easy to improvise with this technique. Have fun with it!