Keirene Canavan : “Constructed Textiles”

Today we had a lecture by Dr. Keirene Canavan about different types of constructed textiles. I will discuss each technique.

Barkcloth – Barkcloth is the oldest known type of textiles and began being created in Baganda Kingdom in Uganda. It is a prehistoric technique and seem to have the resemblance of leather. Barkcloth is created when bark from the Moraceae tree is harvested during the wet season, it is then beaten with wooden instruments which makes the bark more pliable. This fabric is worn during occasions such as births, deaths and weddings but is also used for interiors. For royalty, the fabric is dyed black or white and worn differently to show their importance.

Sprang – Sprang is an ancient method which gives an appearance like knitted fabric, however it is more elasticated, it is created solely from warp threads. It dates back to the 14th century. Keirene told us about a book by Peter Collingswood which goes into more detail about this technique.

Knitting – This is a technique which I found interesting to learn about as I have previously learnt how to knit and how started experimenting with it again. The first ever piece of knitting was found in Egypt in the 1st millennium. Keirene explained that the fleece from sheep is especially good for knitting wool as it is a combination of loads of hairs (staples) which cup together. We also looked at fair isle knitting, which is the technique of creating a pattern using different coloured yarns in the same row. We were shown images of contemporary knit artists including Susie Freeman and Freddie Robbins.

Intarsia – Intarsia is a type of knitting where any number of colours can be combined on the same row however it is different to fair isle as the colours are not carried across and therefore the fabric is not thick and chunky. Kaffe Fassett is an artist who uses this technique, designers such as Missoni and Alexander McQueen also use this in their designs. This technique seemed very tricky however when we watched a video on YouTube it began to make more sense and is something I would deffinetly like to experiment with.

Crochet – Crochet like knitting consists of pulling loops through other loops. It is a technique I have not tried before but something I have always wanted to. Keirene showed us an artist called Marsha Richards who creates pieces of crochet using recycled materials such as plastic bags and film from cassette tapes.

Weaving – We looked at the difference between traditional and modern techniques of weaving. Modern weaving techniques is all mechanised now however the more traditional ways are done by hand using a back and breast beam. Weaving looms have been used for over 4000 years and during the industrial revolution hundreds of mechanised jacquard looms were burnt as a revolt because they were replacing hand weavers. Woven fabrics are the most commonly used fabrics for fashion and interiors.

Ikat – Ikat is a type of dyed patterned weave which is very complex. It is not known where Ikat originated but it was known to be produced in pre-Columbian central and south American countries. They are very hard to come by as the textiles pieces are made one per life, the piece is with the individual throughout their life from birth, during marriage, a first haircut etc and burnt with the person when they die. I love the idea of something that is so cherished and solely for one person to have throughout their life.

Bedouin Al Sadu Weaving:Muteira – This is a technique I have touched on previously after a lecture from Keirene, it combines a simple loom and patterns which creates beautiful designs and colours in a textile piece.

Though the textile course does not include constructed textiles, all of these techniques are extremely interesting to me and I may incorporate them at some point in my course.


One Comment on “Keirene Canavan : “Constructed Textiles””

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