Tuesday, February 16, 2010
A friend sent me an URL for a website with an article about developing a Slow Cloth movement.
(as per Elaine's request and with my deepest apologies for not including this in the first place:
I was all set to embrace the concept until I read this:
If efficiency and sameness are the primary goals, it's not Slow Cloth.
Let's think a little about this.
A loom with shafts and treadles was developed in order to create fabric more efficiently than without. This was the primary goal of developing this equipment, and why most people use such a tool. According to the statement above, a loom with shafts and treadles could disqualify the cloth made on such a loom from the Slow Cloth philosophy.
We won't even discuss drawlooms or Jacquards whose primary goal was to create complex patterns more efficiently than by using a pick up stick. We'd also have to rule out an AVL or similar loom with auto-cloth advance, dobby and fly shuttle - all options for weaving more efficiently.
Okay - so let's say a floor loom like my Fanny with four shafts and treadles might be allowed to create Slow Cloth. Let's look at the other tools in my studio.
Boat shuttle. Primarily created to be more efficient than a stick shuttle.
Electric bobbin winder. Heck - a bobbin winder, period. The only purpose these tools have is to more efficiently wind a bobbin.
Swift. Nope - primary goal is to unwind a skein more efficiently than draped over the knees, or the arms of a willing assistant.
Scissors. Much more efficient than a sharp rock.
Threading and sleying hook. More efficient (to me) than using my fingers.
And so on. We won't even talk about the processes I've learned whose very purpose is to work more efficiently, allowing me to quickly get a warp onto and off the loom so that I can go on to the next, and the next and the next, delighting in the laying in of each pick, smoothly, rhythmically, watching the inches roll by.
Let's take the second part of that statement. My goal when weaving a set of placemats is to make them as similar as possible. The goal is sameness. Ergo, they might not qualify for the Slow Cloth movement according to the above statement.
Ditto towels, or a set of table runners.
Such a pity when I am so completely in tune with the other tenets of the movement. To paraphrase:
1 Joy in the process
2 Contemplative while working
3 Work with skill
4 Honouring diversity and history of textiles
5 Honouring teachers and lineage of skill practitioners
6 Use of sustainable materials
But underlaying all of the above is that I want to make cloth as efficiently as possible. Partly because I want to make so much more cloth than I have time to execute, partly because I want to work ergonomically (which has the side benefit of efficiency) to cause the least amount of harm to my body, partly because to me being skilled means being efficient, partly because I want to experience as much joy as possible which manifests itself in the creation of another fabric, another textile, another design concept to bring into material form.
My desire to work efficiently never excludes any of those other tenets, but is thoroughly woven into and through them. It cannot be separated from them. I want to make cloth that will perform it's function as beautifully as possible, and I want to make it as efficiently as possible. If that means that sometimes I make repeats (i.e. placemats) I am willing to do that, too.
For 35 years I have hand woven cloth - functional fabrics - and tried to sell them to earn my income. The Slow Cloth movement may grow or not. It may embrace efficiency or not. I'll still be sitting at my loom, weaving - as efficiently as possible - making fabric as well as I know how.