Sunday, November 27, 2016

Letting Your Yarn Write the Pattern Part 2: Embroidery Embellishment!

We had some wonderful crochet panels in the Weaving Stories Installation, due to the fact that crochet is very popular in Kuwait. I thought it might be fun to show you some of them up close!

I am starting off with one of the panels I made for the wall. In a previous post, I introduced this panel by talking about how I let the yarn write the pattern by changing the stitch type every time the variegated yarn changed color.

I was inspired by the Desert theme and I wanted to show that there actually is some green in the desert! I was so happy to find a variegated yarn that had the exact shades I was looking for. Since the wall tells stories of Kuwait, I decided to include the National Flower of Kuwait, Al Arfaj. It is like the dandelion of the desert and it is a cheerful reminder that there is color in the desert!

I crocheted the panel background before I knew where to place the flowers or how I would stitch them. I just let the yarn do the talking first!

I wanted them to look as much like they do in nature as I could so I went searching for photos of Al Arfaj, and I found the perfect image:

I printed it in the size I needed it to be for the panel and traced the main lines on to some thin paper and pinned it into place on the panel.

Then, I used some regular sewing thread to stitch all of the stems through the paper.

After it was all stitched, I tore off the paper so I could follow the thread stitching lines to stitch with the yarn.

The stitching lines appear very faint in the photo, but they were visible enough to stitch easily.

I chose the shades of green from the variegated yarn so they would show up well on the background, cutting the yarn and changing colors wherever necessary.

Once the stems were embroidered, I pulled out all of the sewing thread.

I used the photo as inspiration for where and how to stitch the flowers. I tried a few techniques for stitching the flowers, and decided on one that would give the most realistic look. It involved stitching a rather thick base of petals, then cutting some of the stitches and separating the strands of yarn to give a fuzzy appearance in the center of the flowers.

This method was a great way to stitch the flowers as realistically as possible!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Weaving Stories Art Installation: "Honoring Textile Traditions, Creating New Interpretations"

I have talked a little bit about the Weaving Stories exhibition, but I haven't shown you the focal point of the exhibition! We put together a 12 meter long panoramic woven wall installation that took us 425 collective hours to arrange and stitch, not to mention the 5 months of work to make all of the panels!]
Photo by Lesli Robertson
We began planning the exhibition last December, and we sent out a call for submissions last May, asking for panels in these six themes: Modern Interpretations of Sadu Weaving, Desert, Sea, Islamic Motifs, Traditional Kuwait, and Modern Kuwait. I made storyboards for each theme to inspire artists and makers. These storyboards were great conversation starters and led to many great creations! You will see many of these images translated in the wall.

The wall is made up of a total of 72 panels made by over 30 different artists and makers, and 10 of the panels were made by Fibers program students from the University of North Texas as part of a cultural exchange. They are students of our consultant to Weaving Stories, artist and professor Lesli Robertson. The wall took the team a little over a month to put together and was exhibited for one week at Al Shaheed Park.

We invited people to submit all types of techniques and we have a beautiful variety represented: crocheting, knitting, quilting, applique, macrame, fabric painting, and 3D printing.13 of the panels are crocheted! You can see each individual panel and its story on the blog for the Weaving Stories Project.

We spent a lot of time arranging and rearranging the panels to make the most harmonious array and deciding what should be woven in between the panels. I even printed out miniature paper mock ups of the panels to help decide the best arrangement! Once we had everything decided, we set to work stitching the panels to the frames and weaving in twill tape and roving. Each end of these had to be hand stitched to the back of the frame. We had a team of volunteer stitchers helping us with this job to get it done in time for the exhibition! 

Photo by Tammy Asad
We start off the tour of the wall with the Sadu section. We reserved the left for more traditional Sadu pieces, some with a modern twist, woven by Master Sadu Weaver Laila Yasser. For fun we also put the traditional old Kuwaiti Flag by Aiesha Khalid in this section to kick off this story of Kuwait! In the other half of the Sadu section, we included modern interpretations of Sadu weaving and designs. You will notice at the top right of each double frame, there is a macrame panel at the top right. We have a very talented macrame artist here in Kuwait, Marly Kamal Youssef, who created macrame interpretations of each theme! In the Modern Sadu section we also have 4 hand woven panels, 2 of which were created by University of North Texas students, and 1 that was created by a student of a Sadu Master Weaver. The panel of traditional tassels was a group collaboration!.We got together one Saturday morning at the Sadu House, and we were taught by a Master Weaver how to make the traditional tassels, then we set to work making as many as we could in the 3 hour session.

Now I will take you on a mini tour of the wall. Can you spot which pieces are crocheted?

Photo by Tammy Asad

Next we move onto the desert, with 3 crocheted, 2 quilted, 1 knitted, 1 needlepoint & cross stitch, 1 applique, 1 hand painted with natural dyes, 1 tapestry weaving, and 1 macrame panel. I created the green panel with the national flower of Kuwait, Arfaj, embroidered on it. I am planning a future blog post with more details about this panel. 

Photo by Tammy Asad
This frame tells the story of the Kuwaiti Sea, with textural pieces representing water, sea life, a traditional boat (a dhow), and a macrame fish net. There are 3 crocheted, 2 knitted, 5 quilted, 1 woven, and 1 macrame panel. The freeform crochet sea life panel was also a group project! We gathered in 2 sessions to crochet shells and things under the sea, and then I assembled them all into one panel. The texture is wonderful, and I love that so many people worked on it together!

Photo by Tammy Asad
The Islamic panel was interesting to put together as we had many different interpretations of the them. We started out asking for motifs, but some artists wanted the theme to extend into architecture, and phases of the moon. In this section we have 3 quilted, 2 applique, 4 crocheted, 1 Sashiko embroidery, 2 woven, and 1 macrame panel.

I think this panel a lot of fun! It illustrates traditional dress, architecture, music, dishes, camel trappings, baskets and henna. There are 3 quilted, 3 crochet, 2 knitted, 2 applique, 1 henna painting with embroidery, one leather work with buttons, and 1 macrame panel.

Photo by Tammy Asad

The Modern Kuwait wall makes bold statements about the landmarks and architecture in Kuwait, with many tributes to our beloved Kuwait Towers as well as the Constitution Monument at Al Shaheed Park, and a piece depicting the precious oil underground! In this frame there are 2 crocheted, 4 quilted, 1 woven, 1 applique, 1 3D printed, and 1 macrame panel.

I love how the entire woven story looks from afar as well! I am so proud to have been in charge of this project, and can't wait until it finds its permanent home so that it can be enjoyed by visitors for years to come!

Read the Full Article here

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Weaving Stories Opening!

In honor of Kuwait being chosen an International Cultural Capital in 2016, the Sadu House/ Beit AlSadu was invited to do something special to honor the occasion. Inspired by the traditional Bedouin tent divider, we created a 12 meter long panoramic woven wall, based on 6 themes: Sadu, Desert, Sea, Islamic, Traditional Kuwait, and Modern Kuwait. More than 30 international artists contributed a total of 72 panels. 10 of these panels were made by students of Lesli Robertson, our consulting textile professor from the US as part of a cultural exchange. The techniques used to make the panels ranged from weaving to crochet, knitting, quilting, hand and machine embroidery, needlepoint, fabric painting, macramé, and 3-D printing. The panels were joined together to create a sculpture telling the artists’ stories of Kuwait.

After a year of solid work on this project, we were so thrilled for the opening night to arrive! This past Monday, November 7th, we had the great pleasure to open the exhibition in the Multi-Purpose Hall at the beautiful Al Shaheed Park. The Secretary General of the National Council of Arts and Letters, Mr. Ali Al Youha, and Ambassadors from the US, UK, and Lebanon, in addition to close to 400 guests attended the opening night of the Weaving Stories exhibition. 

It was a great celebration of Textiles and it has inspired the public to see the beauty of a combined collection of diverse artwork. In future posts, I will talk about the wall in more depth, as well as what went into making the individual panels. 

I was especially proud of my daughter (you can see her in the photo above) who was in charge of teaching weaving to the guests on our specially designed interactive community loom, that was made by my husband Emad Allaho, (@eWood_q8). She got to teach the ambassadors and their wives how to weave, and even convinced one of them to come to our Woven Paintings modern weaving workshop last night. Our goal is to get everyone in Kuwait Weaving!

 Close-ups of details from some of the panels in the woven sculpture

Friday, November 4, 2016

Textile Collaboration and Weaving Stories!

I have been a little quiet this past year as I have undertaken a new challenge- managing and being the textile collaborator of the Weaving Stories project for AlSadu House in Kuwait.

Kuwait was chosen to be an Islamic Cultural Capital in 2016 and the Minister of Information and head of the National Council for Arts and Letters asked the AlSadu House to do a special project to honor this.

The opening will be at Al Shaheed Park on November 7th. I can't wait to be able to share photos of our collaborative work of art! Stay tuned!