Vila Cox - Handweaver
I am just one handweaver, exploring the vast possibilities of what can be accomplished with a loom. The more I learn about weaving, the more excited I get. I have been weaving since 1997 and weaving will keep me thinking and learning for the rest of my life. I love to weave and would like to share the handwoven treasures I create with people who appreciate the art of weaving. I do my best to create quality pieces that will last for years.
The aspect that amazes me most about weaving, is the variety. There are so many weave structures and materials to try, the possibilities are endless. I enjoy putting a long warp on the loom and changing the tie-up between items to create a new pattern for each one. Add a new color and it is amazing how different they can be. When you change the color of the weft or the type of yarn along with the pattern it can be hard to tell some things were woven one right after the other on the loom.
Many of the fabrics we see today are plain weave material with patterns stamped on the surface. I prefer learning about and weaving types of fabric that are uncommon. As a handweaver, I can create fabric that is not practical for the commercial textile mills of today to produce. For example, I have learned how to weave "leno" which involves twisting the warp threads and holding them out of the straight line that we usually see in with the weft. I have woven corduroy and velvet. Diversified plain weave is a delight, with its thick and thin threads adding texture to the patterns. Oh, I can't forget "huck lace", a favorite of mine from the first time I wove it. Check out the cotton kitchen towels I have made using huck lace patterns. Here is a bit more information on huck lace.
Lately I have been exploring patterns found in old weaving manuscripts. These patterns from long ago have been a great inspiration to me when I am looking for "new" designs. I am humbled thinking about the weavers centuries ago developing the weave structures modern weavers are still using. It is so easy for me to open my computer weaving program and enter the elements of my design. The computer quickly shows me the structure of the cloth and color choices I have made. A few clicks of the mouse and I can have a whole new pattern. Early weavers did not have that kind of help and they designed complex cloth to be woven on 40 harness looms. My largest loom has 24 harnesses and is computer assisted.
Vila Cox - Certificate of Excellence in HandweavingIn 2008, I passed the Certificate of Excellence in Handweaving so I can be called a Master Weaver. The following comes from the Handweavers Guild of America's web site:
Level I in Handweaving
Part 1: Design Elements and Principles requires written material and construction of 7 examples of proportion, 1 color wheel, 10 examples of color schemes, and 2 sets of examples of color interaction.
Part 2: Equipment requires written work demonstrating an applicant's understanding of typical handweaving mechanisms and specialized tools.Part 3: Handweaving Techniques requires written work and 40 woven samples.
Level II - Specialized Study
For my in-depth study I chose Diversified Plain Weave. Work for the specialized study must demonstrate research in considerable depth. Requirements for the specialized study include written materials, illustrations where pertinent, and samples culminating in major works.
It is a substantial undertaking to complete each Level of the COE and I am glad I chose to do it. I have learned a lot from weaving the samples and the design section is very helpful. I strongly recommend it as a study guide for weavers of all experience levels. Even if you never submit your work for judging, you will learn a lot.
Vila Cox - Weaving Organizations
I am a member of the Handweavers Guild of Boise Valley which was founded in 1971. The Guild supports weavers and spinners in the area around Boise, Idaho. The Guild maintains a great library for members to use. It offers monthly programs and an annual workshop to expand our knowledge. The best part of belonging to a Guild is the great people who share a common interest. I have served as President, Vice-President, and Treasurer for the Guild, as well as a volunteer to help with projects that come along each year.
Another benefit the Weaving Guild provides, is the educational aspect. During the last weekend of September each year, the guild participates in a program called, "Museum Comes to Life," at the local history museum in Boise, Idaho. We show visitors what used to be involved for people to have cloth made to make their clothing and other household items. It is fun to remind the children that clothing just doesn't come from the store. The process starts with the cloth being made, and long ago it was done by hand at home, not in a large factory. I also like the idea of keeping the art of handweaving alive. I have started a photo gallery of pictures taken at "Museum Comes to Life" over the past few years.
Another organization to which I belong is Complex Weavers. Complex Weavers is an international group. There are several great study groups exploring specific areas of weaving or weaving related topics. Currently I am a member of the "Early Weaving Books And Manuscripts Study Group." It is a great resource when looking for old patterns and information about weavers of the past. The merino wool scarves are examples of old patterns I am using today.
Recently I was mentioned in an article in the Home & Garden section of the New York Times. It was just a link to the website and a mention of me, but it was an honor for my work to be included. The article was published October 19, 2011. It can be found at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/20/garden/camp-blankets-and-throws-shopping-with-tyler-hays.html?_r=2