Finding Woven Fish

As the students in my Frida Hansen wool open warp transparency workshop were diligently weaving, I often walked around with photos to illustrate various aspects of technique, or just to share more remarkable tapestries. I showed this photo to students for the unusual fringes and the beautiful flying bird border at the top. The portiere was designed and woven by Ingeborg Arbo in 1912 and described as, “Tapestry in transparent technique handwoven of wool yarn, partly handspun and plant-dyed, fringed, with partial fringes in macrame.”

Portiere. Ingeborg Arbo, 1912. Nasjonalmuseet. Photo: Andreas Harvik.

The bottom fringes are quite unusual, with some of the fringe woven all the way down as tabs, and some flowers woven with open warp around their circumference.

The top fringes are done in macrame, which is unusual.

The upper fringes are left plain on most transparencies designed by Frida Hansen and others, and often draped over a rod and visible on the front.

Frida Hansen. “Blue Roses,”

“It’s so beautiful! Oh look, there’s a fish. And fishing nets,” Sheila Oberreuter exclaimed when I showed her the photo. And here’s the true joy in looking at art with others – I had never noticed the fish — and there are several in the transparency.

I have been researching and trying Frida Hansen’s transparency technique since 2019; I’ve made a few larger pieces and many samples. In the class, it struck me: here are eight more experiments! Different warp colors, different image color choices, different patterns – it was all so fun to see. Preparing and teaching my workshop really added to my own knowledge.

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