Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Matter of Pressing

Pressing today was a bit of a marathon as I scrambled to get shawls ready and some more red scarves. (This photo was taken with my Blackberry, so a little issue with focus - sorry.)

At the recent sale in Seattle, I was introduced to a customer who had purchased one of my scarves last year as a gift for a friend, and had intended to buy her another this year. When her friend turned the proposed scarf down, the customer bought it for herself. As she was telling me the story, she was stroking the scarf. :)

As we talked, she shared the observation that she could tell my textiles blindfolded - "They feel finished."

One of the things that distinguishes my textiles from some others is that I generally give them a hard press. Not all - collapse effects by their very nature are not pressed or you'd lose the 3-D effect.

Pressing can take as long as the weaving. (Fringe twisting can take as long as the weaving, too, so the finishing - dry and wet - can take much longer than the actual shuttle throwing.)

Why do I press? I have no proof of this but I believe that compression adds stability to the cloth. (The fact that industry presses - in some form or another - the vast majority of commercially woven cloth speaks loudly to me.)

Think of what you are using to make a textile - 3 dimensional nearly round rods. If they are not compressed and forced to notch into and around their neighbours they would be tempted to roll within the cloth. (If you are having difficulty picturing this, think about a log house and how much stability it would have if the log rounds were not notched to sit down into each other at the corners.)

Pressing also flattens the surface, enhancing shine.

My minimum pressing is generally side A, side B, then side A again. When I feel the cloth, I don't want to feel individual threads but a fabric.

While I'm thinking about wet finishing, thought I'd let people know that I am offering a special on Magic in the Water until Nov. 26 (American Thanksgiving). Please pass the word that if someone purchases Magic they will receive CD Weaver III *plus* the supplemental sample set that goes with it. I will be lowering the US price on my Art Fire store today to reflect the somewhat stronger US dollar.....

Currently reading Dear Fatty by Dawn French (British comedic actress)


Delighted Hands said...

I have a steam press system that I will use on some previously woven shawls; thanks for the info about aggressive finishing. I think as a new weaver, I am too concerned about babying the fabric. BTW, the shawls look lovely hanging on their rack!

Laura said...

Generally the wet finishing process - if done repeatedly to clean the textile - would constitute abuse. Wet finishing is the one time process that brings the web to its finished state. Once that is done, every rule ever learned about how to clean the textile kicks into place. :)