Molly McLaughlin workshop

As planned, last week I took a 2-1/2 day workshop with Molly McLaughlin. Titled Painting with Fiber, this is obviously an area in which Molly is a total master. Again, here’s an image of one of her gallery pieces.

Molly McLaughlin's woven piece

In my earlier post about this workshop, you saw my Missouri loom set up with the handpainted warp Molly had sent. After a lecture and explanation of both process and color values, Molly sent us to our looms to weave some simple shapes using Theo Moorman inlay techniques.

Well. My squares were pretty good, and my triangles weren’t too bad. The circle? Um, NOT.

Molly McLaughlin workshop shapes

The warp is 20/2 cotton. The ground weft was 20/2 cotton throughout all pieces. The more solid shapes were inlaid with 5/2 cotton, the others with 20/2 cotton.

After the Thursday morning lecture, per Molly’s directions, I advanced my warp to the next section of painted primary colors. We were to inlay both the positive and negative spaces. I tried to inlay an oval, but instead got a…flying saucer? Then I was playing with a variegated 20/2 cotton and a ‘not woven’ section.

Molly McLaughlin workshop, more shapes

We had homework for Thursday night…to plan out a 6″x6″ design that would be mounted on a black ‘canvas’ frame Molly provided. We had to consider everything: use of positive and negative space, focal points, movement of the eye, and both color hue and value. I arrived Friday morning with my design, which I liked.

MM-6x6 plan #1

But I couldn’t plan out the colors until I had again advanced my warp, this time to the section of secondary colors. Plus I had to see what color thread was available to use.

Once I’d made those decisions, I began weaving. I’m a relatively fast weaver, but I couldn’t finish the piece before the day ended. I finished weaving at home on Saturday.

MM finished piece #1

While I was weaving that piece I decided I would do one more piece, this time with thicker yarn. I have very few colors of 5/2 cotton, so settled on using carpet warp since I had a variety of colors. I planned to use the same design and see how much my skill had improved, and I was pretty sure I’d like the thicker yarn much better.

As it turned out, I wasn’t thrilled with that design, so Saturday night I decided I’d modify that. Here’s the design for piece #2, complete with approximations of the colors I’d use for the inlays.

MM 6x6 plan 2

I spent a VERY long day on Sunday weaving this off. I inadvertently switched the colors of the light orange and lavender arcs and wish I hadn’t. I also lost the tip of the orange triangle. C’est la vie. FYI I don’t have black carpet warp, so the black is 8/2 cotton, doubled.

Have I mentioned yet that I don’t anticipate using this technique in the future? I don’t. Still, I’m glad I took the workshop.

This morning I secured the edges of the weaving with my sewing machine and then mounted the second piece on the provided canvas. Woven with carpet warp, the end result is tapestry-like. I’m about as happy as I can be with it – which means I think it’s marginally okay, given the newness of the technique to me and the amount of time I was willing to devote to it. Then I spent a while putting everything away and getting the Missouri loom back to the attic, where it will likely live for a few more years.

MM finished piece #2

Other overall info: Molly is an EXCELLENT teacher. Her work is OUTSTANDING. She put in TONS of time and effort, and provided LOTS of materials for us for this workshop. She generally uses 240/2 silk for her pieces, with a minimum sett of 180 ends/inch, twice that when she does doubleweave. Twice that. Get it? 360 ENDS PER INCH!!!! If you have a chance to study with her, for a day, a week, or more, jump on it, even if, like me, you will probably never use the technique.

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