August 1, 2013

What is Weaving?

Weaving is the textile art in which two distinct sets of yarns or threads - called the warp and weft - are interlaced with each other at right angles to form a fabric or cloth.

The warp threads run length-ways on the piece of cloth, while the weft runs horizontally.   Cloth is woven on a loom, a device for holding the warp threads in place while the weft threads are woven through them, back and forth. Weft is an old English word meaning "that which is woven". Woven cloth can be plain (in one color or a simple pattern), or it can be woven in decorative or artistic designs.

More complex designs require more complicated looms with more heddles.  Heddle refers to the piece of the loom that the warp threads go through and assists in keeping the warp threads in line.  The heddles also have the ability to move up and down which creates the interlaced effect.

As recently as about 40 years ago, there were still many weaving villages in Turkey.

Homes had a loom which sat in a hole dug into the main room.  The cavity was coated in a special white clay to help collect the dust.  The weaver was usually the woman of the family, and she sat within the cavity to weave basic textiles for the family.  She would have also borne the responsibility of teaching her children how to weave.  Sons would become commercial weavers and daughters would weave for the family, teaching future generations.

Today, few of these looms still exist.  Below is an example of a loom dug into the floor of the sitting room.  We were very lucky to meet the woman who was the proud owner of this loom before she passed away fall 2014. Even at 79, she was still weaving pieces for her home.

Commercial male weavers never use this style of loom and it is almost impossible to take this loom and place it somewhere else that will be of use; therefore the fate of the loom will be like all the thousands of home looms before - its parts dismantled and sent to the scrap yard; the hole in the sitting room filled in and the memory of its click-clacking during evening tea forgotten.

The consequences of these changes? None of the children are learning to weave. Thus, no boys grow up to become commercial weavers and no girls grow up learning to weave for their own family or teach their own children.

A more typical old-style-shuttled loom of today is above ground, but even these looms are disappearing.  In just one more generation, the art of weaving in Turkey - hundreds of years of accumulated knowledge - could be lost, unless steps are taken to help save it.

Already, 95 percent or more of the items bought by consumers in Turkey and around the world are made on factory machines.  Most us of have no concept about what has been lost in terms of product quality and durability.

At Jennifer's Hamam, our objective is to help preserve the art of weaving and to support local artisans by promoting their products and the exceptional quality they create on the old-style-shuttled looms.   The more people who  understands the difference and benefits found in textiles made by artisans in this old way, the closer we come to reaching our ultimate goal of opening a school of weaving and see that weaving continues permanently into the future.

Full article available here

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