Archive for March, 2013

On the Easel – Fri 29th March 2013

Friday, March 29th, 2013

Spinning - 1st Painting

This is the latest progress on ‘“Spinning“, it’s oil on canvas, 40 x 30 inches. It’s about halfway to completion. The objective is to create a series of paintings capturing the heritage processes used in the creation of Harris Tweed.  – Work in Progress.

This painting will be part of my next solo exhibition titled “Harris Tweed Heritage” at the Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh (June 1st to June 8th 2013).

Background Info

Once the wool has been dyed and carded, the next stage in the process is to make the wool into yarn which will then be ready for warping (warp yarn) and weaving (weft yarn). The spinning is a long process taking up nearly half of the time for producing the tweed from the dye pot to the finishing (waulking) but much easier then the hand carding process (painting in progress) The spinner has to work the treadle in a steady rhythm putting a twist into the carded wool and creating yarn on to a bobbin.

Warp and weft yarn used to be spun with different tensions, strong for the warp and much softer for the weft. It took on average a day to spin one lb of yarn. One lb would weave just over a weavers yard (eight feet).

The spinning wheel shown here is a common “cocked up” Saxony wheel. This was Marion Campbell’s mother’s spinning wheel on which she produced both warp and weft yarn for her tweeds. Thanks to Catherine Campbell for allowing the use of her aunt Marion’s artefacts, you can find out more about Marion here http://harristweedandknitwear.co.uk/family.html and there is a lovely little book about her life written by Gisela Vogler called “A Harris Way of Life”.

The backdrop for the painting is the Gearrannan Blackhouse Village at Carloway, Isle of Lewis. A beautiful and fascinating place to stay and visit, many thanks to Mairi and all the staff there. (You can find more information about this unique place here;
http://www.gearrannan.com/)

The models are Amy and Kirsten. Costume design is by Nicola Ellis.

Thanks to Kathy and the staff at the Carloway Mills for supplying Tweed and Wool.

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At the Loom

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

At the Loom

This is the third completed painting in my Harris Tweed Heritage project. It’s titled “At the Loom“, oil on canvas, 20 x 16 inches. The objective is to create a series of paintings capturing the heritage processes used in the creation of Harris Tweed.

This painting will be part on my next solo exhibition at the Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh (June 1st to June 8th 2013).

Background Info

This painting depicts the weaver at the loom. After the Warping is completed the tweed is set up in the loom and the weft is woven into the cloth in the desired pattern. All Harris Tweed is hand woven on a treadle loom at each weaver’s home. The weaver will arrange hundreds of “heddles” to a specified pattern before the beam of warp yarn is “tied in” to the loom by hand. The weaver then sets up the weft threads, pulling bobbins of yarn through a series of guides to be woven into the warp threads by a flashing “rapier”. Once ready the weaver begins to weave, always observing, correcting, mending and amending their creation until complete.

The loom depicted here is a Hattersley loom. The first thirty Hattersley looms were sent to the Outer Hebrides in 1919. In 1924 the first six shuttle, 40 inch reed space looms arrived in Stornoway and this type of loom became the most commonly used loom in the islands’ Harris Tweed Industry. It is still used by some of the weavers to this day. The history of the loom innovations and developments is very interesting. There is a good overview here on the Harris Tweed Authority website: http://www.harristweed.org/blog/theweaversshed/

The backdrop for the painting is the Loom Shed at the Gearrannan Blackhouse Village at Carloway, Isle of Lewis. A beautiful and fascinating place to stay and visit, many thanks to Mairi and all the staff there. (You can find more information about this unique place here;
http://www.gearrannan.com/)

The model is Kim. Costume research and design is by Nicola Ellis.

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Dyeing the Wool

Friday, March 15th, 2013

Dyeing the Wool

This is the second completed painting in my Harris Tweed Heritage project. It’s titled “Dyeing the Wool“, oil on canvas, 28 x 22 inches. The objective is to create a series of paintings capturing the heritage processes used in the creation of Harris Tweed.

This painting will be part on my next solo exhibition at the Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh (June 1st to June 8th 2013).

Background Info

Once the sheep had been sheared, the first process in producing Harris Tweed was to dye the wool. The fleeces were dyed using a variety of natural materials from the surrounding land depending on what colour was sought. Flowers and roots such as Iris, Water Lilly, Nettles, Heather and Ferns;  Yellow, Black and White Crotal (course Lichen) scrapped from the rocks, Old Man’s Beard, Seaweed, Peat Soot kept from the chimneys in the croft. The wool would be dyed in a big cast iron pot over a peat fire kept boiling continuously until the desired colour was achieved. Some of the old recipes are fascinating and the dyes truly put the colour of the land into the wool.

The backdrop for the painting is Loch Plockropool on the Isle of Harris. This is the same spot where Marion Campbell used to do her dyeing and in fact that is Marion’s old dye pot in the painting. Thanks to Catherine Campbell for allowing the use of her aunt Marion’s artefacts, you can find out more about Marion here http://harristweedandknitwear.co.uk/family.html and there is a lovely little book about her life written by Gisela Vogler called “A Harris Way of Life”.

The models is Kim. Costume is by Nicola Ellis.

Thanks to Kathy and the staff at the Carloway Mills for supplying Tweed and Wool.

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The Waulking

Friday, March 8th, 2013

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This is the first completed painting in my Harris Tweed Heritage project. It’s titled “The Waulking“, oil on canvas, 48 x 36 inches. The objective is to create a series of paintings capturing the heritage processes used in the creation of Harris Tweed.

This painting will be part on my next solo exhibition at the Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh (June 1st to June 8th 2013).

Background Info

Waulking was the final stage in the production of a Harris Tweed. When the weaving was completed the web taken from the loom was greasy, tough and hard, so it had to be softened and thickened by “waulking” (working the cloth). During this process the tweed tightens and shrinks by several inches. The girls of the village would help each other with the job and although the work was arduous, it was a great social event. The tweed would be cleaned in warm soapy water and the door of a house would often be used as a waulking board with the girls seated on either side working the cloth back and forward. Waulking songs were used to maintain a rhythmic process and as a measure of time. A leader would sing songs in Gaelic with the chorus sung by the waulking team. It would normally take a couple of hours to get the required shrinkage and thickening of the cloth.

The backdrop for the painting is the Gearrannan Blackhouse Village at Carloway, Isle of Lewis. A beautiful and fascinating place to stay and visit, many thanks to Mairi and all the staff there. (You can find more information about this unique place here;
http://www.gearrannan.com/)

The models are; the Harris Girls (Shona, Kayleigh, Nanan & Kirsten), the amazing Amy from Lewis who orchestrated the girls waulking and singing and Tracey & Kim. Costume research and design is by Nicola Ellis.

Thanks to Kathy and the staff at the Carloway Mills for supplying Tweed, Wool and access to the mill and Lorna from the Harris Tweed Authority for her help and support.

Thanks also to Catherine Campbell for all her help and support with the project and access to her aunt Marion Campbell’s artefacts, such as dye pot, spinning wheel etc, you can find out more about Marion here http://harristweedandknitwear.co.uk/family.html and there is a lovely little book about her life written by Gisela Vogler called “A Harris Way of Life”.

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On the Easel – Mon 4th March 2013

Monday, March 4th, 2013

Warping - Frottee

A lovely Spring day here in Edinburgh and the start of another painting in my Harris Tweed Heritage series. This one is called “Warping“, it’s oil on canvas, 28 x 22 inches. The objective is to create a series of paintings capturing the heritage processes used in the creation of Harris Tweed.  – Work in Progress.

This painting will be part of my next solo exhibition at the Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh (June 1st to June 8th 2013).

Background Info

Once the yarn had been created on the spinning wheel from the carded wool, the next process was to warp the yarn to get it ready for the loom and for the weaving process. The warp is the lengthwise yarn held in tension in the loom. This is an important part in the design and creation of the tweed. It is at this stage the pattern and colours are decided.

Hand warping is a process that is still performed today. In earlier times pegs would have been inserted into a wall or fixed into the earth and the warp created. When warping the threads are stretched evenly without twisting in the right order for the basic colour pattern and design of the tweed. The basic operation was to wind the individual threads from a bank of bobbins onto the warping frame for the full length of the tweed required. The warper would walk up and down along the framework until all the threads were stretched. The number of threads across the warp is dependent on the loom being used. For a single width loom this is about 700 threads and for double width loom 1400.

Once the warping is finished, the yarn is removed in the form of a running chain, ready to go in the loom. The warp is wound onto a beam and tied into the loom to hold the threads under tension. The weft yarn is then woven across and into the fixed warp yarns according to the desired pattern during the weaving process.

The model is Kim. Costume design is by Nicola Ellis.

Thanks to Kathy and the staff at the Carloway Mills for supplying tweed, wool and access to the Mill.

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