September 7, 2021 to January 9, 2022
“How long did it take you to make this?” is the most common question weavers hear. The short answer is, “as long as a piece of string.”
Slow Cloth is an exhibition that attempts to provide a better answer to that question by illustrating the process of and telling the story of what goes into making handwoven scarves. A team of sixteen artists ranging from weavers with many years of experience to those just starting out were challenged to design and weave a scarf drawing from the colour inspiration from one of a set of five images.
While creating their scarves, the weavers kept careful track of the amount of time taken for each step of the process. Steps include calculating and planning the design of the scarf, preparing the threads by spinning, dyeing, and winding them in order. Then the vertical threads are put onto the loom and prepared for weaving (warping), the weaver throws the horizontal threads (weaving), and finally washing and finishing as desired. Each artist has a different process and allocates their time to the different steps according to their own preferences and skills, yielding a different blend for each scarf. After logging each stage and step, the long answer to the popular question, “how long” was answered. Results vary due to the individual design choices by each artist but on average it takes, an astonishing, 41.5 hours to weave a single handwoven scarf.
Image Credit: Margaret Jane Wallace, Butterfly Wing, Hand woven silk textile, 14 x 78.5”, 2020