weaving with homemade ondule reedLast weekend, I warped up my Baby Mac loom using my test ondulé reed.  I also attached my supplemental breast beam and began weaving.  I'm still not fully convinced that it will work well with wooden dents... they are bending a lot, but that could be due to the set and the way I arranged the dents in the reed.  I'm going to find time to weave more with this setup this weekend so that I can decide better what changes I can/should make.  I did assemble the reed in such a way that I can disassemble it and try it differently.  This way I can make modifications without spending more money. More pictures can be found here.

ondule reed in loom








 reed with tape to secure spacer yarn

West Side Park Map - 1998-99I've been thinking a lot of my path from art student to professional geographer.  It doesn't seem like a straight forward path but there were a few key things that helped to direct my path:

  • Miracle Under the Oaks: The Revival of Nature in America by William K. Stevens
  • A homesickness for trees that led me to identify and map the trees in city park closest to my apartment
  • The digital/computer skills that I had started to build through learning about and minoring in 'cyber' art for my BFA
  • Encouragement from a brother who knew it would be a good fit for me

After finishing my BFA in photography, I moved from NW Ohio to central Illinois to pursue a MFA in photography. I was incredibly homesick while living in central Illinois.  The academic program was not a good fit for me and the foreign (to me) landscape of the region was every bit the metaphor for the misplaced feel I had in most aspects of my existence that year.  One of the photographic works that I made that year was a small, claustrophobic room where I tiled the walls with images of farm fields and sky to create a large, enclosed landscape showing the expanse of endless row-crop fields.  I missed the tree rows and forests of NW Ohio and especially the oak savannas of the Oak Openings region.  At the time, however, I didn't really know that oak savannas are a fairly unique ecosystem.  I learned more about oak savannas by reading Miracle Under the Oaks.  It is a book about the discovery and restoration of this type of ecosystem in the greater Chicago area.  In reading the book, I drew connections to the Oak Openings of NW Ohio (and SE Michigan) - my home.  Ultimately, reading this book encouraged me to pursue a Master degree in Geography and Planning - focusing my studies on GIS (geographic information systems), remote sensing, and environmental planning.  The geographic focus of my thesis was the Oak Openings of NW Ohio and SE Michigan.

Growing up in a yard with a lot of trees, I could differentiate some trees easily in my early adult years (maples, oaks, crabapples, elm, etc.) but I had never really studied tree identification.  Armed with a couple of dichotomous keys to try to determine what trees were growing there, I headed to the closest city park.  At home, I had a computer, scanner, and graphics software.  Ultimately, I ended up scanning sample leaves from new-to-me trees, plotting the tree locations on a map of the park borrowed from an art fair layout in the local paper (base map), and making my very first digital map by drawing and coding the tree locations in Adobe PageMaker.  I kept a digital and print version of the leaf book and map that I was building.

The tree identification, map making, and documentation were my way of learning about my surroundings and finding my place in them.  Without that experience, I may not have found my way into a geography program nor into a geographic career.

This week, I attended the first 2 of 4 sessions to become a 'certified' tree steward with the Land Conservancy's Reforest Our City program, and I was reminded of how important urban trees are to me.

ondule reedI have been figuring out how to make my own ondulé reed.  I think it would be great if I can make one with different sized fan areas... and it would be great to be able to make one that costs less than the retail price.

My first attempt is small as I am just testing to see if it will work.  I have used basswood from an art supply store, but ultimately, I think I want to find or cut metal to use for the dents.

Materials for this:

  • 24 pieces of 1/32" x 1/8" x 24" basswood
  • 4 pieces of 1/8" x 1/2" x 24" basswood
  • 20/2 cotton
  • Woodglue
  • Fine grit sandpaper

I sanded down all of the wood to make sure it was as smooth as possible.  Initially, I cut the narrow wood into 6" pieces... but later realized that 5 1/4" lengths were better as they wouldn't need to be cut again after assembly.

For this sample reed, at the wide part of the fans, I wrapped the 20/2 cotton around the crosspieces 6 times to create the spaces while I wrapped it around just once between each dent in the narrow part of the fans.  I began and ended this sample fan with 1/2 fans so that I could have straight selvedges on the samples I weave with this.

My next step is the get the reed trimmed up a bit and tape over the yarn wrapping.  I will then attempt to use the reed to see how it performs.  In addition to seeing if I can effectively modify my Baby Mac to weave with the reed, I will also be testing to see if the wood dents hold up under weaving; if the fans are a functional size; and if the dents stay in place properly as I weave.

Stay tuned... I'll post more as I make progress.

ondule sampleMany more photos can be found here.

The 'Craft School Experience' is a phrase and an education/advertising initiative launched by a handful of the residential craft schools in the United States.  I have had the joy over the last 5 years to spend some time at Penland and just last week I experienced Peters Valley School of Craft for the first time.  This time, I was taking a class to learn the technique of Ondule weaving from Amy Putansu.  I have taken two other courses from Amy in the last 4 years, so I knew that educationally, the class would be exceptional.  Amy has also become a friend over this time, so I knew the company would be great.

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