Fiber artist Betsy Meyer has embraced the technique of free-form weaving and its serendipitous outcomes. Enjoy her work and find more by visiting her website.
It’s the mystery of creativity that fascinates me.
My adventures in weaving caught me by surprise when, after retiring, I was drawn into a Saori Weaving Studio and was invited to choose some fiber and try out a floor loom. As I pushed the shuttle back and forth, sending bursts of color across the black warp threads, I soaked up the philosophy of Japanese weaving—there are no mistakes, only happy accidents.
This was heresy! Weaving as I knew it, revolved around the practice of dutifully reproducing error-free, complicated patterns that involved more patience and math skills than I possessed. Instead, this was fun! I immediately signed up for a four-day intensive workshop and learned everything I needed in order to strike out and explore the unlimited world of free-form weaving. My brand new Saori loom was on the moving van when I relocated to Asheville, North Carolina, two weeks later.
Curiosity led me to abandon typical weaving techniques with each of my own “happy weaving accidents.”
Inspired by an exhibition of quilts made by the women of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, I became fearless as I shredded silk garments and combined those strips with my hand spun art yarn and bits and pieces of novelty yarns to develop techniques that totally ignored the concept of weaving in an orderly, horizontal manner.
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Working in vertical chunks with interrupted starts and stops, I abandoned my shuttle and bobbins and substituted long, flat wooden needles and blunt-tipped tapestry needles to capture the gut wrenching, primitive quality of the quilts these women made from their loved ones worn out work clothes.
I went on to enjoy the freedom and joy of weaving in the abstract. My creative muse nudges me on as I delve into my fiber stash to choose colors and textures, not knowing how they contribute to the composition until a piece is finished and I unwind it from the loom.
Imagine my surprise when I removed “Visit from Afar…Osaka, Japan” from my loom to find it evoked memories of my trip to Japan, many years ago. The colors reminded me of a bus ride through the countryside where I saw an untamed garden filled with fuchsia and vermillion bougainvillea growing rampant in the front yard of an ancient, tumbled down wooden house along the side of the road.
The blue of my hand-dyed silk sparked my memory of sitting in the waiting area at Kansai Airport, surrounded by the rising blue water of Osaka Bay during a typhoon.
I invite you to find your own memories as you enjoy my work.
Artist Betsy Meyer invites you to follow her on Instagram.
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