Inspiration: Pre-Columbian Textiles
This is a piece I’ve just finished. I’ve been working on it for a few months. It’s inspired by Pre-Columbian textiles and uses one of their embroidery techniques, but kind of in reverse of the way they employed it, so the visual effect is quite different. I let the ends go wild on the back, which those artists never would have done, reflecting my surrealist-inspired love of the random in art. If I were hanging it in a gallery I would suspend it from the ceiling to make both sides visible. Since I need to walk through my residence without bumping my head, however, I’ll have to be satisfied with turning it around from time to time on the wall.
I’ve been interested in Andean weaving for a long time, using colors and patterns frequently as references for my knitting. But in my reading about the Bauhaus, I was led to Josef and Anni Albers and then to Black Mountain College, where Anni became acquainted with Pre-Columbian art and grew to love the intricacy of what they produced with simple tools. I have owned a book for many years that discussed in detail the structures of these textiles, but I had only ever looked at the reproductions of the work, never at the way they were made. What I discovered surprised me: all of what I thought was knitting and a lot of what I thought was woven was actually embroidered. I don’t weave now, but I love to embroider. So I had to try it.
This piece does not use the “knitted” embroidery stitch, although I did try it on burlap, and want to use it for some future project. But the wrapped-warp embroidery stitch especially intrigued me. These ancient artists used a fine cotton warp and wrapped it with wool so the base fabric was completely covered–that’s why it looks woven. I reversed the materials, purchasing a woven wool piece from a local weaver, Matthew Yanchuk, on Etsy (https://www.etsy.com/shop/Jackpie), and wrapping the wool warp with 3 strands of cotton embroidery floss. I like the shadow effect. The weavers and embroiderers of the Andes worked equally with the weft and warp and I did too.
Another of my labor-intensive fiber projects, but one I definitely want to explore further.
You can read about the books I used as references on Goodreads: