Even though my first introduction to weaving was in 2009, there were many absences from the loom – life and medical issues intervened. So in 2014 one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to “become a weaver”, there were going to be no more excuses, I was committing (yes, committing – not committed – yarn – no white coats with many buckles).
In January 2014 I received an e-mail from another local weaver asking me if I would be interested in doing some weaving for her. It was as if the weaving God’s had heard my resolution, and I said yes.
Now this weaver teaches weaving and some of the weaving is taught through the ANU, so, my first and only thought was that the weaving required was for a local arts movie. What could go wrong with that.
No more information was given, even though I asked, because it was “secret”.
Come the end of January 2014 my questions were answered – this other weaver (no names, because I have not asked her consent) advised me that she had been contracted to weave several articles for a major movie “Gods of Egypt” and she wanted me to weave the cloth for Ra’s cloak – Ra to be played by Mr Geoffrey Rush.
Say What !!!!
What happened to the little “arts” movie for the local Uni?
There was no turning back, however the excitement I felt at weaving turned very quickly into dread. Could I do it? Was I really up to weaving exactly what was required? What if I made a mistake? Suddenly I was weaving for a God (okay – I know it was only a movie God – but it was a God).
Early February 2014 the warp arrived – it was linen, silk and wool singles. Fabulous – never woven with wool singles before …. and will never weave with wool singles again, they have a lot of attitude for yarn.
The day the warp arrived, the other weaver had to leave the country for a month. YES !!! She left the country. No problem, remember my mantra “I am a weaver”, and be thankful that there is such a thing as the internet. I can send her progress reports and photos – it will all be good.
I started threading the loom …
Finally, nearly 5 days later …
I had very clear instructions on picks per inch and was weaving with two shuttles. One with wool singles and the other with linen. I very quickly learned to appreciate linen and had a spray bottle filled with water beside me at all times. To help the linen coming off the bobbins to “lay flat and behave” I put them into zip lock plastic bags with a couple of sprays of water and let them sit in the sun. The linen soaked up the water and became very well behaved. It was a pleasure to work with the linen.
Even though the warp was put on very carefully, and with good tension, it became apparent very quickly that there is a different “take up” between linen, wool and silk. I had a problem at the back of the loom with the linen. I ended up having to put more wooden slats between the linen threads and the silk and wool threads. Necessity is the mother of invention …. thank goodness for wooden slats.
The weaving was done on 8 shafts, and I managed to get 123 cm weave width out of a 120 weave width loom, courtesy of a longer reed. Once in a rhythm, the cloth wove quite quickly and I was well within the deadline time.
It was rather sad when I came to the last of the warp. By this stage there was no way to keep the wooden slats in place, so I opted for fishing weights, and, when they ran out, a pair of scissors came in very handy.
Note to self, and to any other weavers out there who are thinking of using fishing weights. They are fabulous and brilliant to use, however, if you own a cat and have a dog who has brain damage, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, use fishing weights that glow in the dark. Yes dear readers, I used glow in the dark weights and woke at some ungodly hour one morning because I could hear funny noises coming from the loom room. On entering, there was one cat, caught with his not so little paws, patting at the weights watching them swing back and forth, with a 41 kg dog trying to push the weights back in the other direction.
I then spent 40 minutes trying to work out a way to keep them out of the loom room before I gave in and sat down to weave. During all this, Leonard continued to snore, blissfully unaware.
So I sat and wove as the sun came up, still in PJ’s, bopping along to music and enjoying the throwing of the shuttle.
It is here I should mention that our house sides onto a golf course, which has a side walk running parallel to it. I had the windows open to enjoy the sunrise and to try and get some cooler air into the room. Not long after the sun had come up, I had the distinct impression that someone was watching me. I turned around to see not only golfers, but some early morning walkers standing with their faces pressed up against the fence watching what I was doing.
Hummmm – do I quickly close the windows and try to make a graceful escape – not possible – so I did the next best thing, I smiled and waved. They all waved back and one lady asked if she could take a photo and what was I doing. There I stood, in the widow, still in PJ’s, bed hair, trying to explain “weaving” to people who had not a single clue.
It was not a good look people !!! All this because I used glow in the dark fish weights – so you have been warned.
Cloth finished …. it was a sad moment, but I was thrilled that the brief had been met. I tried so hard to squeeze 14 metres out of the warp, but the singles had given up the ghost, and were pulling apart. I would fix one, and another 6 would go, fix those six only to find that a dozen more had pulled apart.
The finished cloth was handed over to the other weaver who had returned from overseas and she took the cloth away. It was painted with a resist and then felted to create “movement” in the cloth.
Personally, I think it looks rather like the cellulite on my legs …
Now, I know that my DNA is all over this piece of cloth, however, because it was being worn by Mr Geoffrey Rush, I did weave in a strand of my hair. It was the only way a part of me was going to make it to the big screen, and the only time a part of me would be rubbing shoulders with a movie star :0)
This whole experience was fabulous. I gained confidence as a weaver, and I feel truly humbled to have been approached in the first place with this offer. Seeing it on the big screen was breathtaking, even if Ra threw it on the ground several times and then dragged up the stairs. If only he knew how much blood, sweat and tears went into this creation – but who am I to argue with a God.
For those who see the movie, the jacquard tunic worn by Mr Rush under this cloak is simply stunning, and it was woven by the other Canberra weaver on a T2 loom, plus the sash worn around Bek’s waist.
It has been so nice sharing this with you and I hope you enjoyed it.
Respect the warp and Happy Weaving y’all