Looming Art

Humans have been making fabrics for thousands of years, and members of a local weaving club are still doing it the old-fashioned way. Contrary to what many of us might imagine when we hear “hand weaving,” it’s not an outdated niche art form with no practical contemporary relevance.

Rasa Fournier
Wednesday - June 01, 2011
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At a table loom, Mary Macmillian works the levers to raise the shafts or harnesses

rug that demands an abundance of knots and can take more than an hour to complete half an inch.

The Hui brings in guest teachers throughout the year so its members can get a taste of distinct types of fiber art. Through a grant from the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, a Mainland expert conducted a workshop earlier this year on dyeing and weaving with Tencel (wood pulp) and bamboo fibers.

Members also enjoy the dyeing and spinning processes. Some don’t weave at all and solely enjoy spinning. Many do additional fiber arts like a favorite of Train’s: nuno felting.

“When you combine wool from Merino sheep with water and soap and pressure, the wool bonds together,” explains Train. “There’s little barbs on the wool that cause it to shrink, and that’s what we call felt.”

This is no craft store felt. All of the pounding, scrubbing and washing cause the wool to shrink and toughen into material that Mongolians still use to make hefty stuff like yurts, rugs and shoes.

The Hui’s talents and tools can be viewed at various fairs, special events and galleries throughout the year.

To keep up with their latest activities, visit hawaiihandweavers.org.

Exhibit visitors will have a chance to try their hand at weaving on demonstration looms.

Viewing hours are 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday. Additionally, the exhibit will be open until 9 p.m. for First Friday, June 3. The public also is invited to a lecture by juror Emily DuBois tonight (June 1) at 6:30 p.m. at the UH Art Department, Room 101 and to the show’s opening reception at the Academy Art Center June 2 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m, with a walk-through lecture by DuBois, explaining her display choices.

“Artworks should convey a sense of presence that commands attention and convincingly draws me outside of myself into another world,” says the internationally renowned textile artist.

“My preference is for work that is not too literal, but poetically conveys meaning and allows room for viewers to bring their own interpretation.”

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