Archive for April, 2009

2009 Weave of the week #17: Indigo mood
April 26, 2009

Japanese pieced textile

Japanese patchwork

This week’s weave, a 12″ square patchwork piece, is a skillful composite of five understated, handwoven, Japanese textiles.

All of the textiles are fine slightly textured cotton woven in tabby at approximately 60 epi x 50 ppi. The light stripes in the upper left corner design are outlined with the same golden brown that bisects the square (detail below). The chambray-like light blue patch in the lower right is a white warp crossed by a light blue weft. And the strips on either side of the center piece are woven with three shades of blue plus white in the warp, and have dark indigo wefts.

Indigo detail

Indigo detail

All the blue yarns seem to be shades of indigo, and I suspect that the golden brown comes from a natural dye too, although I don’t know for sure. But Japanese country weavers have traditionally woven indigo-striped cotton textiles like these for everyday clothing and for futon covers.

But this is a work of art. The artist chose — and maybe dyed and wove — the fabrics, arranged them harmoniously, and pieced them together almost invisibly to make a perfectly proportioned whole that I love looking at. It is another textile treasure from Old Japan.

Liza Lou
April 22, 2009

Liza Lou - "Born again"

Liza Lou - "Born again"

Several months ago, in response to a reader’s comment, I posted a couple of my photos of Liza Lou’s artwork on my gallery page, and ever since then I have been surprised by the number of hits that my blog gets searching for “Liza Lou,” so I figured that for those of you looking for Liza Lou here, I might as well provide an actual article.



I became a fan of Liza Lou’s artwork when I saw her “Beaded Kitchen” at the New Museum, NYC, in 1996.

It was an actual-size kitchen, fully furnished with table, chairs, cabinets, sink, detergent boxes, food, etc.; an ordinary kitchen except that every surface — and every undersurface — was completely covered with sparkling colored beads.

It was an audaciously original idea, brilliantly (literally) executed, and I was smitten. Besides, anyone whose ambition is to “bead the world” has my vote, and she certainly deserves the MacArthur “genius” grant that was awarded to her in 2002.

The next Liza Lou exhibition that I saw was the beaded interior of a full-size trailer (detail below) that was parked inside the dimly lit, cavernous Deitch Projects gallery in 2003.

Liza Lou trailer detail

Liza Lou - Trailer detail

I read online that the outside of the trailer was beaded, too, but I didn’t see it. That isn’t as weird as it sounds, because it was actually a subtly-beaded trailer (!) in a poorly-lit space. You can see the trailer — inside and out — and more of Liza Lou’s early work here.

If I followed the art scene more closely, I might not have been so surprised by some of the new work in her show last winter at L&M Arts in New York. There was a beaded, full-size chain-link fence enclosure (complete with razor wire), and huge coils of beaded cable, but what I didn’t expect were the beautiful wall pieces with sophisticated, complex imagery and beaded/dimensional/textured surfaces.  A detail from one piece is shown below and L&M Arts has an excellent slideshow of images from the exhibition on its website.


Liza Lou - "Offensive/Defensive" 2008, detail


Last I read, Liza Lou is working with Zulu beaders in Durban, South Africa, so here’s an example from an exhibition of Zulu glass beadwork in 2003, and click on the link to see more.

Zulu beaded stripes

Zulu beaded stripes

She must feel right at home.

Update: for more about Liza Lou, see
my latest article

2009 Weave of the week #16: Waves
April 19, 2009

Silk wave

Silk wave

The last of my silk wave scarves was returned to me when the gallery that had been selling them closed its doors.  I miss the gallery and regret that it closed, but the wave design is one of my favorites, so I’m oddly glad to have the scarf back — and I’m glad to have the opportunity to photograph it.

It took me a while to arrive at this design. I have always loved undulating twill weaves and previously designed a group of jewel-tone silk undulating twill scarves that looked sensational but had long floats that snagged, so I came up with the idea of combining an undulating twill with tabby tie-downs to shorten the floats.

That worked, so I designed rayon chenille scarves and throws using that structure. Again, they looked great (Claire Danes wore one of my “paprika wave” scarves in an episode of “My So-Called Life”), but, alas the floats were still not short enough, at least not for rayon chenille, and they “wormed” (a nightmarish mess caused by masses of threads that twist and form wormy loops on the surface of the fabric).

Finally I came up with a wave construction in silk that worked: two different sizes of silk yarn, 2/12 for the motif ends and picks, and 2/20 for the tie-downs.

Celadon silk wave

Celadon silk wave scarf

I’m finding the subtle pastel colors difficult to photograph (to prove it, see the celadon scarf above), so my scanner came in handy for the blue swatch below and for the swatch at the top of this article.

Blue silk wave

Blue silk wave

I have one wave scarf left and can’t decide whether to offer it for sale or wear it myself, so for now, I’m just procrastinating and writing about it.