Antique Loom Yields Innovative Fabric Sculpture
by Brittany Wittman
This small piece of experimental fiber art is one in a series
of works exploring the effects of multi-layer woven structures
in collaboration with chemical after-treatments. A flat cloth
is transformed into a dimensional surface of interest. The juxtaposition
of materials and qualities play an integral part in the complexity
of this work. The natural linen cloth contrasts the synthetic
nylon monofilament cloth. One has a transparent, the other an
opaque quality. The dichotomy of materials natural/synthetic;
transparent/opaque evokes intrigue. The linen layer remains consist
as the synthetic monofilament undulates from front to back.
An 1884 handloom, retrofitted with a computer input system, was
used to create this work. It is an original piece of equipment
to the Philadelphia Textile Institute (now Philadelphia University)
that continues to be a viable tool for narrow-width weave design
experimentation with the CAD upgrade.
Structurally, this cloth is not complex. It was woven flat as
two layers of plain fabric interchanged every six inches. Plain
weave is defined as the most common of the fundamental weaves.
Each filling yarn passes successively over and under each warp
yarn, alternating each row. This piece incorporates two layers
of plain woven fabric. Once transformed from its flat 'loom state',
this cloth becomes a surface plane of dimension.
As my work continues to evolve, my primary objective is the
unification of art and science. Woven structures and the behavior
of materials are integral in this pursuit, but I seek to transcend
mere structural configuration and create art. Utilizing the qualities
of this work, I envision large scale installations, textiles as
architectural elements defining and creating space, planar panels
of dimensional cloth, textiles as monumental sculpture.