Monday, May 24, 2010


painted warp
This morning I finished transcribing WeaveCast 50 with James Koehler, tapestry artist.
One of the things he talked about was developing finesse.
How does one achieve finesse?
One must work purposefully, analytically, constantly assessing what one is doing and the results being achieved. And then asking yourself if you are happy with those results.
If yes, nothing needs to be changed.
If no, then begins a process of trying different things to see if results can be improved.
What sort of improvement? It could be an improvement in quality. Figuring out how to do some part of the process that gives a better quality textile. Better design, better wearability, etc.
It could be an improvement in ergonomics. How can this process be changed so that it proves less stressful to the body?
It could be an improvement in efficiency. How can this process be changed so that it takes less time to do it?
All of these things can be considered developing finesse. How one gets to that place will depend on where one is starting.
For example, I have very good manual dexterity. I also have a very keen awareness of how my body works and what feels comfortable - or uncomfortable. It is very easy for me to listen to my body when it protests.
If something in the process feels awkward, think how it can be changed. Learn to listen to your body.
I have watched people tie a slip knot using many more hand motions than I employ. Now this may seem like a silly thing but if you are threading a 60 inch wide warp and tieing off groups of threads in, for example 8 end groups, that's a lot of slip knots. If you can change how you tie a slip knot so that it takes less than a second instead of two seconds, that's a considerable savings in time. Not to mention fatigue in your hands/wrists.
In terms of developing finesse, improving ergonomics and efficiency, it may seem like an emphasis on saving a second here and half a second there is pointless. But all those seconds and half seconds add up. All those savings in motion mean less wear and tear on your body.
Like James Koehler says, there are many ways to do any portion of the process. Learning lots of different ways means that you have lots of tools in your toolbox. You can then choose the appropriate tool for the job.

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