TAC Book Club: Finishes in the Ethnic Tradition
As a weaver, I know all too well the onset of euphoria that comes at the end of a backbreaking project when its finally time to cut the warp off of the loom. However, I know the work doesn’t stop there. As much as I want to immediately hang a newly finished tapestry or send off an overshot coverlet to a friend expecting a new baby, I know that a weaver has to finish what they start – literally.
I’ll admit that for years I have finished the edges of my textiles in haste, falling back on a basic hemstitch time and time again. Chalk it up to exhaustion, impatience, or the impulse to seek out instant gratification after creating something so time consuming. Whatever the case, I’ve realized that this shortcut doesn’t give my woven pieces or my craft the credit it deserves.
One day while putting away books in our glorious library here at the Textile Arts Center, I came across a book entitled Finishes in the Ethnic Tradition written by Suzanne Baizerman and Karen Searle. Immediately I knew it was an older and more rare publication due to the worn edges, the stapled binding technique, and the simple instructions printed on heavy watercolor paper. As someone who learns best by being shown what do to in person, I usually tend to feel overwhelmed when looking at tutorial-heavy books. I see tiny font, lots of sequential pictures and corresponding footnotes, and I resort to thinking like a product of my generation: maybe a YouTube video would be easier. But for some reason while turning the pages of this particular book, I felt excited and capable. I felt like weaving a dozen new projects overnight just to try out and show off the mentioned techniques. I knew this book had something special to share and that is why I am sharing it here today as a part of the TAC Book Club.
Even though I didn’t have an unfinished project to work on, I decided to make a faux-warp and have a go at some of the examples in the book. I chose to try the Neolithic Edge, the Philippine Edge, and a simple wrapping technique, all which can be seen below in images scanned directly from the book. I have also included photographs of my own attempts.
Neolithic Edge, p. 9
Philippine Edge, p. 8
Wrapping, p. 24
I had the most fun trying out the last technique shown above. The wrapping reminded me of the hair wraps my friends and I would give each other on the playground in grade school using simple embroidery thread. It also occurred to me that some of these techniques would look nice incorporated into weavings themselves and not just at the finished edges.
What are some of your favorite finishing techniques?
Baizerman, Suzanne, and Karen Searle. Finishes in the Ethnic Tradition. St. Paul: Dos Tejedoras, 1978. Print.