Thanks to my wonderful, probably the best, weave supply tutor, my merry band of weavers caught the train from Devon and visited the Anni Albers exhibition in January. What a fabulous day! First we had the treat of a lecture that helped us to understand her work, inspiration and influence. Then we had two hours in the exhibition and like excited children, we were walking from room to room – “Oh look! Have you seen this? How did she do that?” and “I just want to see the back!”, “So is that really just yellow, black and white?”. Such was our enthusiasm that other visitors got caught up in our discussions. And I feel I ought to publicly apologise to the Tate for setting off the alarms so often – we just really wanted to see the detail. (And I include myself in that too.) And yet I could have so easily missed the exhibition.
I’ve always been concerned about the way that I weave affects the environment, in particular the way that I dye yarn. I even wrote my thesis about it at college! I was taught to use acid and reactive dyes at college and I’ve always been happy with the way that I calculated the amount of chemical I needed down to the last 000.1%. There’s no casual shaking of the dye stuff over my dye bath! I usually end up with a clear dyebath, which is very satisfying. Well, I do for acid dyes on wool, reactive dyes on hemp is quite another matter. So much colour can’t be absorbed by the yarn and ends up being washed down the drain. Not very pleasing at all. So I have re-visited my research into plant dyes and found that I’m quite out of date. I’ve attended a couple of excellent natural dye workshops with Jane Deane on Dartmoor and I’m bravely having a go myself!
I thought I’d share with you this picture of some of the weavers that attend my course at Coldharbour Mill. On the last week of term we discussed the work of the Bauhaus weavers. I thought it would be a great opportunity for us to pay homage to the weavers and recreate the very famous picture of the weavers in the stairwell at Dessau. I might have got a little excited!
For Somerset Art Week I will be in residence at the new ACE Arts gallery in Somerton. My work will be exhibited from the 17th September until the 2nd October as will my ‘pop up’ weaving studio. I will be moving my beautiful floor loom for the event and will be demonstrating on the 18th, 19th, 21st, part of 24th, 25th, 28th September, 1st and 2nd October. Do pop in and meet my loom! I will also be running a workshop on the 24th September and we will be celebrating my ‘Cutting off Ceremony’ on the 2nd October from 2pm when I’ll cut my woven cloth from the loom.
“I think I’ve been mulling over having a ‘proper’ website for too many years to mention, so I’m so pleased to say that I’m almost at the point of going live with www.louisecotteytextiles.co.uk! I have to confess that I still find writing about me hard, so each page took far longer that intended as I agonised over every paragraph, but I’m really pleased with the result. Do let me know what you think. You’ll find a list of my forthcoming shows on the About Me page, so do come and say hello and I have a really exciting list of weaving workshops for this year, so there’s plenty of opportunity to find out more about the craft of hand weaving and why I find it so fulfilling. ‘
It’s a funny time of year. I’ve produced all the work I’m going to before Christmas. Weaving takes such a long time, that if I’m not ready by September at the latest, I’m in big trouble! So now I’m thinking about Spring. It feels a little bizarre as Christmas lights are being switched on and I’m being offered Mulled wine outside Tesco. (Legitimately, it was part of Ilminster’s Victorian evening celebrations!)
Another year has passed between blog posts and it’s sad to reflect back on my last post about our Wessex Weavers workshop in Bridport. Sad, because we had to close at the beginning of November. We were just beginning to feel at home and generate interest in weaving and wool workshops, then for reasons beyond our control we had to move. But we just couldn’t find a space big enough at the right price, which I think is a common story among weaving groups – we have a lot of kit! So the dream of a Home for Handweavers hasn’t died; I have my eyes open to opportunities, while the looms are in storage. I am still teaching at Coldharbour Mill, and who knows what is around the corner!
Well, so much for my New Years’ resolution to write a blog post every month!
As usual my working life is involving spinning lots of different plates; the biggest one recently has been the launch of the Wessex Weavers Workshop in Bridport with fellow weavers Andrea Cunningham and Sally Parker. Through a friend of a friend we heard of an industrial unit available in Bridport, so we made the leap of faith and we just have to make it work now! Sally and I have been hoarding looms for a while now, so it’s great to have them all in one place and now being used by my first Dorset weaving group.
It always surprises me how quickly my year can fill after just a few weeks into a New Year. First I decide which shows to apply for, hope that I am accepted – wonderfully I’m back at The Contemporary Craft Festival in Bovey Tracey this year, now fingers crossed for a Christmas show. I’d also like to do an open studio event this year, so watch this space. So once my show dates are set, I can set term dates for my weaving classes at Coldharbour Mill and consider when I can run weekend workshops during the holidays. Then there are exhibition dates that I hope to meet through the Devon Guild of Craftsmen and a showcase at the Totnes Fashion and Textile Museum in the Summer. Then suddenly the diary looks a whole lot fuller and I start wondering when I can take a holiday!