Speaking of weaving, what comes to my mind are the rope ladder, bamboo raft, shelters, and other survival tools created by Bear Grylls, which has made from all kinds of wild plants. It can be seen that weaving is an essential craft technique with a long history and culture. Dating back to ancient times, mankind made woven cloth, daily necessities, and accessories with branches, leaves, and stems of plants by weaving-related tools or their hands. They even tied the knots to record and memorize all the things that matter. With the increasing development of the era, this skill has finally formed into one of the oldest handicrafts of human beings.
From now on, this craft technique is everywhere. Many woven handicrafts can be found in our daily life, especially in my grandmother’s home, or Xinchang Ancient Town, I think. Take straw sandals, vegetable basketry, fruit baskets, dustpan, bamboo storage bins, flowerpot cover, sleeping handmade mats, straw hats, etc. Meanwhile, weaving has helped modern home decoration take it up a notch. These woven handicrafts turn into some sort of handmade art decorations that bring nature to the home for their artistic characteristics filled with natural style in simplicity and naivety colors.
Except for weaving, knitting and felting are some of the common Textiles Arts as well. I used to interview a Japanese artist Terumi Ohta for her stunningly realistic handmade wool felt animals. Feel free to review my previous article if you are interested. In this article, I’d love to share some beautiful woven handicrafts made by Nancy Zheng, a weaving enthusiast. Her works are usually more of a modern style that based on characters or animals from films and animations, which woven into cute handmade dolls to meet the current personalized needs.
作为纺织艺术的其中之一，除了编织外，主要常见的还有针织和毛毡手工艺。此前，我曾采访过一位日本艺人Terumi Ohta，她的纯手工羊毛毡艺术可谓栩栩如生。感兴趣的童鞋欢迎回顾往期文章。那么在本期，我为大家带来了一位编织爱好者Nancy Zheng的手工编织工艺品，她的作品更多的为现代风格，即人物或动物卡通形象为主，编织成可爱的玩偶，以满足当下个性化的需求。
“As I was a child, I loved to knit sweaters like adults. My sisters and I each took two needles and a ball of wool to interlace it into shapes. In the university, I got the sparks from DIY Community, began by fooling around, and taught myself from basic-learning books to professional weaving videos. After that, I got on the non-stop journey of the master of weaving.” Nancy said, picking up a doll and handing it to me. “Weaving helps me unwind in my spare time after work. It’s very meditative that enables my thoughts and creative ideas to get into my mind. It wanders and follows my hearts till the work is born.” She continued.
Admiring her work, I continued, “What do you know about weaving? What are the difficulties and challenges?” Tracing the doll through her fingers, Nancy explained:” Weaving is a kind of recombination for three-dimensional elements, which’s beyond composition, I think. It turns the existing raw materials into simple ones and transforms the 2D into 3D. Such as sculpture and pottery, which create three-dimensional artworks. However, how to handmade a doll with milk cotton, and make it look like it has a soul, is really a killer. Especially the facial features of a doll. As for woven crafts, weaving needles and crochet hooks are the two main tools. The needle is used for making clothes and hats while the crochet hook is applied to create more detailed work, like a doll. The completion of a work is often a mixture of multiple stitches skills, including double cast-on, interlocking, double knits, purl knit, warp knit, I-cord, garter stitch, interloping, plain stitch, pick-up-and-knit, needle dropping, yarn over, etc.”
“For weaving a doll, I usually picked out a character I loved the most in a movie or animation at first. Then I put lots of thoughts into the early conception by fooling around with milk cotton to make shapes. Once the design plan was created, I’d go to the materials collecting part, including yarn color, yarn thickness, textures, and suitable weaving tools. After that, I started to weave with great patience and perseverance, because you had to take out the stitches you weaved again and again until the satisfying work was finally done.” Nancy continued.
“From prototype to completion, it normally takes pretty long enough to form into a handwoven artifact. It involves hours of hours thinking about the complexity of the color, size, tools, and what kind of skills will apply to the work. For starters, I suggest they learn various basic stitches first and then try to go for an easy target for practice, such as a doll with simple color and figure. Once the beginners get the hands-on basic woven handicrafts, they could move on to difficult ones to boost their skills.”, Nancy paused and added, “Weaving is a time-consuming creation process. Be calm and patient as well as be tender with work, you might weave something great, something will be delicate later.”
To my mind, weaving is a way of expression of art, which has a certain shared feature in design, photography, and painting. There’s a mixture of vision, touch, and feelings under a variety of dimensions that engages more senses into the artwork, which makes an artwork alive to boost the readers’ feelings. Or, weaving is a structural element that has beyond traditional composition. As the work is threaded on the needles, there’s variability in the tension that triggers distortion in the textile. It’s multifaceted.
Woven handicrafts by Nancy Zheng
Interview/Writings/Art Edited & Translated by BubbleSwan