Math and Flowers and the Frida Hansen Wool Transparency Technique: An Experiment

A Baby Wolf floor loom occupied the end of our dining room this summer. I borrowed it to experiment weaving a small Frida Hansen wool transparent tapestry on a horizontal floor loom. Would it work well for the technique normally done on an upright tapestry loom? Some students in my upcoming workshops might opt for that type of loom, so I at least wanted to have an opinion. As I expected, it worked fine.

I finished one piece based on some flowers in an early Frida Hansen transparency. (See: “Finding Frida Hansen in the Nasjonalmuseet Archives.” As usual, I overestimated the amount of warp I needed, so rather than waste the beautiful wool warp remaining on the loom, I looked for an image to weave up quickly, in which I could use several types of wool weft — a good sample to show the varying effects of thicker/thinner/fuzzier/fluffier yarns.

That day my five-year-old grandson Fitz sketched a beautiful abstract design; these days he is obsessed with math. “Ask me an equation!” is his constant refrain. “I can do subtraction, too.” This is what he drew, shapes I am sure are influenced by patterns and math. I thought it would make a nice yarn variation sample, with simple shapes to weave in different colors and yarn weights. And it sort of looked like two rows of flowers with stems.

The shapes needed to be revised to weave in Frida Hansen’s open warp technique, to avoid overly long open warps. And what sort of border could be used? Here is my quick-revision-sketch on tissue paper to size, to use as a cartoon under the warps threads on the loom.

As I wove, I needed to make more adjustments to the pattern, to avoid overly long floats. But it was fun to weave. I chose bright colors for the “flowers,” sometimes doubled yarns, sometimes single strands, all in the quest to find which I liked using most.

Another experiment was to weave in a dowel for hanging. Here is the sample off the loom, before finishing.

This is the final sample, 13″ wide and 16″ long (with fringe). I accomplished my goal of weaving a small piece to experiment with a variety of weft yarns. I ended up with a sample, with all its shortcomings, that illustrates so many aspects of weaving in this technique. I look forward to discussion with my students in the workshop next week!

Leave a Reply