Weaving Before Your Eyes

There was a documentary project made long ago that sent a videographer to record us working. He talked about doing stop-motion photography for the project, and wouldn’t it be fun to do that with our work. He tried to explain how it would work, with a camera mounted on the loom and shooting frames on a regular basis, but I really didn’t think it was realistic thing for me to try to do. Since then I have learned some rudimentary video editing skills and have thought often about how stop-motion photography could work for me.

I had been scheduled to teach a couple of different weaving workshops since the pandemic began. Of course they were cancelled because my workshops require some pretty close interactions, including inspection of what’s going on on a bunch of looms. This was clearly not going to be something I could do in a pandemic-safe manner. But I was called by one of the two that cancelled, and asked if I were willing to think about doing it on Zoom. At first this seemed like a massive stretch to me, but over time, I decided it could be done, but it had to be very different than what I do normally. I decided to make it more project based, where each student wove the same thing. This was a big departure for me, as I really want to ask people to be pretty “freeform” about their design process. Reluctantly, I committed to doing it.

The Zoom workshop posed a lot of challenges for me, but I knew that my weaving of the class project would need to be really well documented, so my mind went back to the stop-motion idea as a solution. I wove the sampler, stopping after every move to shoot a frame. I put it all together into the video that you see here.

I did some more detailed videos for the students, explaining every detail of what was going on. Each stripe and each tapestry design builds to more advanced weaving skills. The piece below is by Ellen LaBruce who was one of the students in the online workshop.

The students enjoyed the detailed video instructions and the new found ability to got through videos frame by frame. (On YouTube you use the comma <,> and period <.> keys) I personally find that it’s really mesmerizing to watch a weaving happening without my standing at the loom and working. One day I’ll revisit the stop motion animation thing again to show the progress of a weaving. I think it can give great insights into the logic of our weavings, which are always different for each piece. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the video.

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