Wari-inspired textiles on the runway in Cleveland, Ohio.

 

Tracy's cousins on the Project Tunic runway. Haley (L) wearing the sprang tunic and Theresa (R) modeling the bobbin lace scarf. Photo courtesy of Doug Piontkowski.

Tracy used bobbin lace to create her Wari-inspired piece. Photos courtesy of Tracy Jackson.
Carol has developed a charting method for her sprang design work. Visit her website to learn more. Photos courtesy of Carol James.

In the fall of 2012, the Cleveland Museum of Art opened an exhibit entitled Wari: Lords of the Ancient Andes. The ancient Wari (Huari) civilization produced breathtaking textiles, ceramics, sculptures, and more in pre-Incan Peru. The museum has included a slide show of Wari artifacts on its website. Evidence shows that the Wari traveled widely, and the influences of other contemporary cultures can be seen in Wari art. To learn about a specific example of this cultural exchange, check out this ceramic Wari bowl in the collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In the spirit of cultural exchange, the Cleveland Museum of Art created an event called Project Tunic to involve the local textile community in the Wari exhibit. Fiber artists of all walks were asked to incorporate Wari motifs and aesthetic into a tunic for a runway show at the museum. Carol James, a sprang instructor from Canada, was in Cleveland when the exhibit's curator, Susan Bergh, gave a presentation about Project Tunic. Carol attended the talk with Tracy Jackson of the Western Reserve Spinners and Weavers Guild and Victoria Johnson-Parratt of the Cuyahoga Weavers Guild. Tracy said that after she saw the Wari textiles, she started sketching before she had even left the meeting. Tracy describes herself as a longtime weaver and lacemaker, and is now teaching bobbin lace. For Project Tunic, she created a bobbin lace Wari-inspired scarf. She shared a bit of the process: "The designs in the Wari tie-dyed tunic were perfect to translate into lace—big diamonds surrounded by smaller diamonds. Instead of changing the colors as in the tunic, I outlined the smaller diamonds in red and black. I was quite taken with the shell inlay warrior figurine and put him on both ends of the scarf. Of course, the fringe on the ends had to be fashioned after a quipu—braided, wrapped, twisted, and colored." Tracy used Cascade Heritage sock yarn for the body of the scarf with a bamboo yarn for the figure. For highlights, she added cotton floss and crewel yarn.

Meanwhile, Carol began working on a sprang design for Project Tunic. "I sketched out the design as a line drawing and then translated it into a sprang pattern. I have developed a method for mapping out sprang patterns on graph paper, one square for each thread. The method serves me well for this type of work. This pattern would go on the front of my tunic. Plan the work, then work the plan." Carol made her tunic with a fine Swedish wool called Möbelatta, by Bockens. Interested in learning more about sprang? You can see Carol at work on her tunic in this video.

After false starts, snowstorms, and lost emails, Tracy, Carol, and Victoria got their pieces to the runway finale for Project Tunic. In the end, Tracy took first place, Carol had second, and Victoria third. Well done!

The exhibit in Cleveland has now moved to the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and will then move to the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, on June 16, 2013.  

 

 

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