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 Post subject: Wa or Lawa skirt
PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2007 12:05 am 
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This is a skirt for the Wa or Lawa group in Burma. I am hoping Pamela can give me a clue of the technique used to create the "fingerprint pattern on the blue ikat portion.

Bill


Attachments:
Wa skirt full- low res.jpg
Wa skirt full- low res.jpg [ 97.23 KiB | Viewed 11922 times ]
Wa Skirt detail 1- low res.jpg
Wa Skirt detail 1- low res.jpg [ 109.21 KiB | Viewed 11922 times ]
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2007 4:45 am 
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Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Bill-
Many thanks for posting one of these beautiful skirts. I cannot answer your question, other to state the obvious: that as ikat there must be a particular way of tying off the threads with a resist to achieve that pattern. BTW, the Lawa are considered the original inhabitants of Chiang Mai and had a settlement at the base of Doi Suthep, near where the zoo is now located.

I visited a Lawa village four years ago on a trip along Thailand's border with Burma and photographed this Lawa lady who very kindly modelled her traditional dress and jewelry. Unfortunately the skirts of traditional design that they had for sale were very crude- thick cotton and rather stiff, unlike the best which are of fine cotton and are supple, with fine ikat. As I recall this village had been selected to participate in one of the Queen's weaving programs and the looms were producing pastel cotton blankets- not very traditional to me.


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Mail-LAWA-LADY.jpg
Mail-LAWA-LADY.jpg [ 56.31 KiB | Viewed 11929 times ]

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2007 2:04 pm 
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Bill, a beautiful skirt! Susan, thanks for posting the photo of the Lawa woman wearing a similar skirt. I do like to see textiles being worn. For me they are not just independent art items but an integral part of daily life of their culture.

I am not sure what I can say about the creation of the ikat for the 'fingerprint' design. The woman who tied the thread prior to dyeing would have threaded and stretched the thread around a frame before tying. She would then have wound and tied dye resist binding around groups of threads. Looking at the design I think I can visualise the threads with the bindings being applied where the design appears white now. See the blown up detail of the ikat that I have posted. Also see the photo from tying ikat on Lake Inle and the photogallery page that it came from http://www.tribaltextiles.info/Gallerie ... eaving.htm with various stages in tying ikat. This might help you to visualise the Lawa ikat tying.

I always admire when a weaver has taken relatively small groups of ikat warp thread and spread them in groups when she sets up the warp and then weaves. The result is so often much more dramatic that a solid ikat warp would be. It also means that the hard work invested in making the ikat warp thread goes further.

Thanks Bill and Susan for acting in concert to produce a good introduction to Lawa weaving. Makes me want to see some more....! I must dig in my library.


Attachments:
File comment: A woman checking her tying of the resists around the silk weft threads against a woven ikat strip which she is using as a pattern during tying before the first application of dye in the ikat process at a weaving mill at Innbawkon (Inpawkhon) on Lake Inle,
9809O35E.jpg
9809O35E.jpg [ 41.9 KiB | Viewed 11918 times ]
File comment: ikat detail
wa_skirt_det-ikat.jpg
wa_skirt_det-ikat.jpg [ 38.08 KiB | Viewed 11918 times ]

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Feb 22, 2007 1:09 am 
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Pamela-
The "fingerprint" pattern on the indigo ikat does not seem to be solely the result of the ikat process. in the fingerprint area there seem to be alot of knot as though the ikot was originally straight and then somehow manipulated by knotting to create the pattern by lifting threads and then knotting them. Every piece I have seen seems to have a rough texture in the "fingerprint" area, as if containing knots.

Bill


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Feb 22, 2007 3:24 pm 
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Bill

Are you able to send any detail shots to illustrate what you are saying. It is impossible to be able to comment without seeing the textile more closely and I do not have one that I can look at. I would be very interested to see more clearly what is going on. Details of both back and front if possible please.

Best wishs,

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 28, 2007 11:37 pm 
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Pamela and Susan-
Here are some closeups of the indigo ikat areas of the wa skirt. They are extremely knubby, where all other ikat on the skirt is completely flat. I also noticed the knubby nature of the indigo ikat on other Wa skirts, especially the rough cotton ones that both Susan and I have seen lately.

I think there are quite a few knots in the sections, but that doesn't completely answer the question of exactly what they are doing with the knots to create the pattern.


Attachments:
Wa Skirt-close-front A-low res.jpg
Wa Skirt-close-front A-low res.jpg [ 106.63 KiB | Viewed 11852 times ]
Wa Skirt-close-back A-low res.jpg
Wa Skirt-close-back A-low res.jpg [ 77.87 KiB | Viewed 11852 times ]
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2007 7:13 pm 
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Bill

Very interesting indeed! I have tried to enlarge further a detail which I attach.

It almost looks as if the ikat threads have been needle-woven in on top of the basic warp-faced weaving. Many of the ikat threads across the warp seem thicker. It may be that the threads are thicker and have been woven - in the ikat sections - in a balanced weave rather than a warp-faced weave. The white threads seem thicker than the light blue.

I am going to email a weaving expert as see if the photos are enough to shed light.

Thanks, Bill, for setting this conundrum!


Attachments:
wa_skirt_ikat_weave.jpg
wa_skirt_ikat_weave.jpg [ 49.22 KiB | Viewed 11817 times ]

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2007 10:15 pm 
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I contacted forum member Marla Mallett about our weaving question. Marla got back to me very quickly and shared her weaving expertise via the following helpful explanation.

Quote:
The interesting effect in these bands is actually created very simply. It's all plain weave, but in the blue/white ikat stripes, the yarns are irregular, heavier, more loosely spun and plied and possibly hand-spun, while the broad plain stripes and red ikat stripes are finer, very regular, and most likely machine-spun and plied, cotton. The different weave balance, i.e. the combination of a thicker, irregular warp and wider warp spacing in the ikat stripe areas, leaves more of the weft visible in those sections. The white parts of the ikat yarns (which were wrapped and thus resisted the dye) appear to just be a little "fluffier" than the blue areas which were subject to both the chemical action of the dye and also a little stretching as the wet yarn skeins were handled during repeated dipping in the indigo pots.

Handspun yarns are of course not always irregular; a "slubby" yarn can be the spinner's choice, however, and irregularity can even be produced by uneven plying. Likewise, irregular machine-spun yarns can be made in various ways, and so the blue/white ikat yarns in this skirt may be either a hand-spun or commercial product.


Very many thanks, Marla for this insight and many thanks Bill for setting us off on this interesting exploration.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2007 6:25 am 
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Many thanks to Marla for weighing in on this; her explanation of the weaving techniques and types of thread are very helpful.

This weekend I had the good fortune to attend a Lan Na cultural fair and to see some more Lawa people, and acquire a Lawa skirt. On examination, it appears that the back of the ikat areas in question are full of loops, not knots. I will enclose two photos that hopefully will be of adequate resolution to show this (note that the one with the most obvious loops depicts the end of the run of ikat pattern). The conundrum here, for me, has been how do they create the curved lines in the ikat: I can think of no other examples with this effect; curves are often achieved with 'steps' of color, but not as clear lines. I think that indeed the ikat threads are manipulated and the loops are the result. One other aspect of this was finding porcupine quills for sale: these are locally often used as picks in weaving, and could have been used to pick the threads to form the curves. Unfortunately, there was no weaving being done by the Lawa at this event and I could not see the process.

Thanks again to Bill for bringing this fascinating idiosyncracy to our attention. Hope this helps!


Attachments:
File comment: middle of ikat pattern run
Mail-Lawa-skirt-inside2.jpg
Mail-Lawa-skirt-inside2.jpg [ 56.48 KiB | Viewed 11770 times ]
File comment: end of ikat pattern run
Mail-Lawa-skirt-inside3.jpg
Mail-Lawa-skirt-inside3.jpg [ 53.69 KiB | Viewed 11770 times ]

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2007 6:56 pm 
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Susan

Fantastic to see the reverse of the textile! So informative!

I have been in touch with Marla Mallet and asked her to look at Susan's post and the new photos. She has kindly said that I can share her response with you all:

Quote:
This back-side photo shows the WARP SHIFTING that the weaver used to create small offsets in her pattern. In other words, she initially tied groups of warps to resist the dye, unwrapped the groups and set up the loom, then as the weaving progressed, she pulled individual warps out of the groups to shift small individual parts of the pattern. It's a variation on a more common way to do ikat: Normally with warp shifting the full pattern in a circular warp is shifted when the loom is warped. (I can't see the red/white ikat stripes very well in these photos, but I believe they were shifted in this more usual way, for their full length, when the loom was set up.) The blue and white warp stripe yarn sections had to be weighted separately on the loom, under SEPARATE TENSION, so that they could be manipulated during the weaving. These warp sections also had to be LONGER, to allow for pulling up the pattern parts as desired, as the weaving proceeded.

In WEFT ikat, you will frequently see weft loops at the selvages. These irregularities occurred as the weaver positioned her pattern parts to precisely articulate the design. You can see this in Thai and Lao silk weft ikat tube skirts, for example.

Marla is the author of 'Woven Structures: A Guide to Oriental Rug and Textile Analysis'. Although this book is more geared to rugs than the weavings that we tend to look at there is a great deal of weaving information which is still relevant for us. See http://www.marlamallett.com/book.htm Marla is hugely experienced at analysing woven structures and I am very grateful to her for responding to my requests to share her expertise with us.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2007 2:15 am 
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Thanks everybody for your help in evolving an answer to my conundrum. The "warp shifting" explanation in Marla's kind response seems to be the answer, although I am not sure I can actually wrap my mind around the actual step-by-step technique.

Thanks to all, especially Marla.

Bill Hornaday


Last edited by Bill Hornaday on Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2007 5:29 am 
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I, too, would like to thank Marla for her explanation. I hope to be able to actually see the weaving of these textiles next month when there will be another cultural fair and they are supposed to have some looms set up. Stay tuned!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2007 10:30 am 
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Bill, Susan

I received a email from Marla overnight which I can share with you. Hopefully it may help all of us to get our minds around the warp shifting of the ikat. I (and Marla) are looking forward to seeing the Lawa looms set up to see just what method they use for dealing with the longer ikat warp threads if Susan is fortunate enough to see this next month. Watch this space....!

Quote:
Maybe the attached drawings will clarify just how warp shifting works in its most elemental form. It's a clever short-cut to some effective kinds of ikat designing. I'll show how just ONE tied section can be shifted:

A. The warp yarns are tied tightly with a fiber to resist the dye.

B. The tie is removed to leave a white area in the center, and the warp is spread.

C. Portions of the warp are pulled out of line to create steps in the design.

If desired, the weaver can tie this now uneven warp onto the front and back beams of the loom, with the ties evening everything out. OR if the warp is made in a continuous circular manner, and two loom beams are inserted in the large loop as in my diagram D, the warp can be shifted by just pulling sections around the beams.

You can imagine how this method can be used with just a little more complex tying of the yarns before dyeing, or by shifting smaller units as in the red/white stripes of the Lawa skirt, instead of so many warps together.

Now...to shift individual warp yarns, as in the blue/white Lawa skirt stripes, the warp yarns must be LONGER than the rest of the warp, and to be manipulated separately and unevenly, they must be held under tension separately in some way. The method would depend upon the kind of loom used, but could very well just involve tying weights to the ikat warps and hanging them over the back beam. But weavers can be ingenious, and sometimes delight in devising their own quirky solutions and techniques. It would be interesting indeed to see how these weavers managed. When pulled forward, the blue/white yarns would have had to be secured temporarily at the fell of the cloth (the last inserted wefts) to maintain the necessary tension, and the quills that Susan mentioned could well have been inserted to hold the warp loops in place.


Many thanks, Marla, for taking us through this so carefully.


Attachments:
File comment: Marla Mallett's diagram of ikat yarns which are warp shifted
Warp Shifting.jpg
Warp Shifting.jpg [ 71.67 KiB | Viewed 11724 times ]

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2007 7:07 pm 
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Thanks to Marla, and thanks in advance to Susan for her research to be.

Bill


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 9:18 am 
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I was looking for information on Wa textiles and came across this old post. These skirt designs are very attractive.

Here is another way of producing patterns of this general type, the method we use in my weaving workshop. I attach a picture of a test piece of pile rug to illustrate. This is about 20cm x 40cm and is woven with wool from two different skeins.

To make this effect I dyed wool in skeins, wound to about 40cm diameter and dipped by hand in the dye vat, dyeing about 3/4 and leaving the ends white. Then handed the wool to rug weavers and told them to weave the rug as if it was a plain, unpatterned piece (skipping the yarn-blending steps that are generally done to smooth out "irregularities" in dyeing like this).

The result is a pattern of diagonal lines, the pitch and spacing of which depends on the relationship between the weft spacing and width (in this case) and the diameter of the skein. The smaller the skein the closer the lines are together. In principle, if the skein is wound to an even diameter then you should get regular, evenly spaced diagonal lines, but in practice the diameter of the skein gets wider the more wool is wound on it, so the pitch of the lines varies gradually and you get curved lines like a fingerprint.

In this case it's a rug, but the effect will be similar for a flatweave, and can be done on the weft or the warp. Doing it with the warp would give a more predictable result I think since the warp spacing and length is usually more consistent than with weft or pile knots.

This method doesn't require any extra steps on the loom or use of resists.

Generally we don't weave rugs exactly like this since the effect is bit strong, usually soften and combine with other dyeing effects. You can sometimes see these patterns in old rugs, where it's usually accidental (or serendipitous).


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File comment: pile rug test piece
moiresample.jpg
moiresample.jpg [ 93.14 KiB | Viewed 8297 times ]
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