by Mika with a help of Suri and Yuma
As a part of the focus group project, I (mika) have worked on a eTextile sample book that is inspired by the pattern sample textile Atayal weavers inherit from mother to daughter. Also I fell in love with the Atayal traditional loom, so I decided to learn how to weave this loom and make a project with this technique.
Atayal traditional loom is a back strap loom. The unique thing is that the warp is made in circular loop. Wooden box used to keep the tension. Some pattern requires 3-4 shafts, that are made with bamboo stick. Also, complicated patterns are achieved by pick-up techniques.
Atayal is one of the 16 original tribes of Taiwan. Taiwan was occupied by Japan from 1895 to 1945, and they have prohibited the tribes to practice their traditional culture including weaving, beside all the other oppression such as prohibiting their language. So, many of the weaving culture and knowledge was lost in these occupation time. Some tribe woman (weaving was a job of women) sneaked out to hilltops to secretly practice their weaving, and that is how some of this weaving knowledge survived. Also some woven artifacts were taken to outside of the country as souvenirs and ended up in museums now. Yuma from Lihang studio has been studying these textiles and restoring the pattern construction knowledge and traditional weaving techniques. She has published a quite comprehensive book on traditional loom weaving techniques.
Atayal weaving is very rich in patterns, and each of these patterns has meanings such as how many mountains you have traveled, eyes to protect hunters… so on. And some of these patterns are unique to each families. Atayal did not have written language. To inherit the pattern technique between the family, they will inherit a textile pattern sample book (often a long textile with multiple patterns).
So, I have to first learn how to weave with this loom. Suri has made a very nice demonstration on how to weave with the traditional loom and let us try it. The nice thing about this loom is that when you weave, it makes very nice beating sound from the wooden box. It is almost like an musical instrument. It looks easy when Suri does it, but for us, it is even difficult to sit in this position.
Later on the off-day, I went to Lihang studio to further practice it. Yuma was very nice to give me a private lesson on how to weave with the loom. I got a bit better, but still not making the correct beating sound…
In the mean time, with a help of Suri, we made an experiment on embedding conductive thread in traditional weaving. The loom is set up in plain weave warp, and she is inserting 2 lines on warp. The textile on these traditional loom is warp faced.
Here is the woven fabric. We embedded copper KarlGrimm thread.
Now, to test how well it is embedded, I added LEDs.
and here is the test with SMD LED
and here is another test. This is a clip-able LED Wei had. It is nice that you do not have to solder when using with conductive thread.
Embedding conductive thread in weaving process to make a soft circuitry works well with the loom. Now, I thought embedding in patterns that have floating thread would allow easier connection with electric components. So we started to make a new warp that has patterns with floats. In these traditional weaving, all the patterns are planned in warp settings.
As planning these patterns on warping process is very advanced skill, Suri is setting a warp for me. Even for her, she hand to stop and think several times to finish the warping.
Once the warp is set, lay the warping frame, transfer it to shaft sticks and insert the wooden box.
This loom has 2 shaft sticks and has 3 positions for the sward.
Suri told me it is 1-2-3-1-2-3-1-3-2-1-3-2 .. yes, it is a secret code.
When you repeat this code, you get this pattern.