This morning the people who own this piece came to visit us. They were happy to talk to me about it, telling me about where it lives and what good care they are taking with it. Clearly it means a lot to them, in part because of the connection it makes between my family and theirs. They remembered that I had told them that I had woven it when I was pregnant with my daughter Emily, and they have a daughter Emma who is a bit older than my Emily. The similarities of our daughters’ names and, I’m assuming here, the fact that our daughters mean so much to us, has made this piece something worth revisiting today. Actually, there’s a lot to be said about this piece.
The background of the piece, as well as the blue patterned diamonds in the border design, are made with ikat-dyed yarn. Ikat is a very specific technique that plays a small part in the Rio Grande tradition but is something that a variety of different weaving traditions around the world use. Here’s the Wikipedia entry on ikat, in case you have an interest. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ikat I’m sure that one day we’ll write something more about ikat here on the blog.
In our tradition, ikat was used in Rio Grande stripes. Over the years, Irvin and I have done more ikat in the context of tapestry. We have yet to find any other weaving tradition that combines ikat and tapestry, but now know of another tapestry weaver who is combining these techniques. We usually have done ikat with an indigo dye which has the advantage of being easy to sort of reproduce the same color. So the diamonds in the border and center design were all dyed for an earlier piece called Hyperactive. I did the background ikat especially for this piece. It is simply an evenly spaced resist, so that during the weaving process I could line up the resisted areas as I pleased. And it worked! But it meant I had to come up with a sort of randomly blended area towards the white of the border. I still remember that being an ongoing challenge during the piece, but it certainly looks fine to me with a couple of decades having passed since doing it.
The really important part of this piece is that it was woven while I was going through that huge transformational event in life – pregnancy. It did not occur to me when I started in on the two-pieces-seamed weaving that my pregnancy would impact the piece, but it did. As it turned out, my growing belly made it hard to tension the warp the same as I progressed through the piece. So one side is a bit longer than the other. I must have figured out how to get the center seam to work out, but clearly didn’t figure out how to make it all square. Although I would’ve liked to have woven a perfectly flat and rectangular piece, I think it’s a fitting reality that my weaving turned out to be so accommodating to that major life change it happened to coincide with. I think that the shapes I used look a bit pregnant too. I named it “Bubbles” more for the background design than anything else, but it turned out to be an adjective that I think many would apply to my daughter, as her spirited, light-hearted personality is perhaps her most prominent feature. I think she might have earned “Bubbles” as a nickname at one time.
This piece is an important reminder that my work is not separate from the rest of life, but an integral part.