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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Plaiting Paper instead of Hair

Continuing the belated Spring 2013 Fiber Arts Degree posts:

Once upon a time I had very long dark brown curly (aka "naturally tangled") hair. When unsprung, it stretched well past my waist. The best way to keep it from attacking innocent bystanders was to braid or "plait" it.

When I heard "Plaiting" as the next project in the Mixed Media class, I thought about my unruly hair.
{Which is much shorter now and hasn't attacked anyone in years.}

We've all seen plaited purses and baskets but did we think about making them?
Ok, I kinda did, but that is just an example of why I'm on the Fiber Arts journey....
But I didn't consider plaiting them with Paper.

In the first class about plaiting, we were given some yardage of paper - brown and white. We were to go home and cut the paper into strips and fold it like double-fold bias tape.

I went home, spread the old cardboard cutting mat on the living room floor and started measuring and cutting. {See, I don't just use the cutting mat for Treadmill reading!}

Of course...I had some help making my bias paper plaits. {sigh/grin}
(As always, please click on the picture to enlarge.)
Please note - enlarging will not improve the blurry pictures. The cats are just too fast for camera focus some times. (most times)


The short or mis-cut paper strips littered the floor of the house for a few weeks
{but nooooo, my cats aren't spoiled...}
Gryphon {at rest and not blurry!}
A few days later, I was back to class carrying (and trying not to crush) long strips of paper.

Our instructor had us do some basic plaiting, a la plain weave,

and then we went a bit free form and tried some turns and folds....

The instructor gave us some patterns to emulate, and after a false start, I got the hang of it and plaited this:
Yep, we use T-Pins to position the strips and keep them from wandering off and we perform the plaiting.

We were then ready to plot our large plaiting projects.
I had a concept to use calendar pages with a spacer and did a little testing of my concept with construction paper and magazine pages:

I liked the effect so I thought I'd try it with a page from an old Laurel Burch calendar:

Kinda cool but...uh...how does this make a Large Plating project?
What would I do with it/make from it?

Stumped, and inspired by a comment from the instructor, I played with the painted Pellon Interfacing from the Surface Design Play day.

And I wasn't particularly thrilled. {Ugh}
Neither was the instructor. She suggested some yarn be added....
{sigh} {Ugh-er}
I didn't feel this would get me a decent grade so I went back to my calendar-paper plaiting plot, stared at pictures on the Internet, and I ended up plaiting two small baskets.
(The Square basket is approx. 3" x 3.25 & 2.75" tall. The round basket has a diameter of 2.5 and is 3" tall)
The paper is from an old cat poster/calendar.

Yep, this is the paper from the Laurel Burch plaits I practiced upon earlier; cut even smaller. 

These small baskets didn't seem like much of a "Large" project, but I was out of time and presented them at the next class.
And I believe the instructor was rather impressed.
These two small baskets got me the "A" in my plaiting large project!
The view of the bottom of the baskets.

There's the numbers from calendar page - and
some of my to-do scribbles. 
You are correct, there is no glue used in this,
just a lot of tucking.
I am most fond of this wee Laurel Burch-ish basket. 

Apparently sometimes the small things can equal a viable large project.
And yes, I would like to try plating with other materials.

Tom Knisely Presentation

By the way, at the beginning of our plaiting sojourn, our instructor allowed me to skip a class {Thank you!} so I could attend the Tucson Handweaver's and Spinner's Guild meeting where Tom Knisely spoke about Loom Maintenance.
Mr. Knisely is an instructor at The Mannings Handweaving School in Pennsylvania {yes it is a wishful dream of mine to attend The Mannings}. He is also known for some books and especially two videos: "The Loom Owner's Companion" and "Weave a Good Rug".
It was a very informative and engaging presentation and I found him to be a charming, fun, and very knowledgeable speaker. He complimented our guild on it's organization, communication, outreach and our many Study Groups. {Woot!}

He started from the back of the loom and worked forward discussing the applicable loom maintenance. He suggested Silicon Spray as a lubricant for the metal parts and he likes Whatco Danish Oil (which appears to be available locally at Lowes & Home Depot) but he also commented that Howard's Feed-n-Wax "smells wonderful". He also suggested we give our loom a birthday and give it a thorough cleaning on that date.  I took pages and pages of notes that I will not repeat here. {Bet you're a little glad I won't type it all in here...}

Many questions were asked about a wide variety of looms and he appeared to be intimately familiar with each loom. Pretty spiffy! I didn't take the workshop he taught that week - partially because of the financial diet and mostly because {grin} I'm pretty sure I'm currently too weaving ignorant to attempt it.

My weaving class in the Fall semester is progressing. We've been learning how to setup the warp and put it on the loom. There is so much to learn.
This warp is actually Royal Purple. I have
no idea why it looks blue in this picture. 


  1. I enjoy following your degree progress. You get to do so many interesting things!

  2. Paper plaits! They're so much fun! How I admire your patience, and the finished product. I'm also eager to see what the weaving project will look like. Love the blurred shot of Gryphon, looking like an outer space cat. Every time I look at this blog, I have to sit on my hands to keep from running out and starting several new art projects.