Akoites and Melampos, part 2

The Akoites and Melampos Project, part 2 Where'd I leave off, anyhow? I'm writing this offline, don't have access to what I wrote before. Also slightly under the influence of both dark cherry hard cider and books set in the Florida Keys, and between the two, I am regressing to my Southernness. So do please pardon me. I imagine I already posted the materials and the beginnings of weaving. So I'll pick up about there. The body of Akoites, ready to be cut off the loom. Sounds painful, eh? He don't seem to mind it though. To get the dolls to stand upright, you turn the middle of the strip into a flat-bottomed pocket, and put flat river stones in. Then you stitch up the sides and stuff the tube with more wool, and a layer of lavender to keep the moths away. Looks a little wonky, doesn't he? It'll be ok. Needs some more shaping is all. I foolishly tied together the warp ends at the top and stitched the shoulders closed. Foolishly, because I hadn't made the arms yet. I had to unpick it. And here are both bodies without arms, waiting. And waiting for me to do the dying of their head-wool. In the mean time, while I figure out what on earth to do now that the tea dyeing and the coffee dyeing haven't worked, I'd do some of their accoutrements. A tricorn pirate's hat for Akoites, a cloak for Melampos, and a tiny thyrsos for one or the other of them. Finally, I got the colors for the heads sorted, although not really to my satisfaction, and made the two sets of arms merely by twining lengths of yarn together. Here's Akoites, more or less finished, just needing dolphin and thyrsos, front and back. Here's Melampos, who's so dark he doesn't photograph well in my living room, but who still needs his braids finished, plus a staff and his sneks. And here's the pair of them, finished. Materials: Akoites: Plymouth Select DK Merino Superwash, white brown merino black merino red merino raw wool (hair and stuffing) lavender (stuffing) brackberry bramble, thorns removed (thyrsos) tiny pinecone (thyrsos) Dolphin: white merino silver-grey kid mohair Melampos: Plymouth Select DK Merino Superwash, black red merino (cloak, snake) white merino (cloak, snake) dark brown merino raw wool (stuffing) lavender (stuffing) no 12 crochet thread, black (hair) metallic charcoal Angelina (hair ties) blackberry bramble, thorns removed (staff)...

Akoites and Melampos, part 1

A friend has commissioned me to make dolls of two Starry Bull heroes, Akoites and Melampos. Akoites was the captain of the pirate ship that kidnapped the young Dionysos and planned to sell him as a slave. Akoites was the only one who thought this was a bad idea, because he sensed the god's divinity, but his mutinous sailors did it anyway. When Dionysos awoke, he trapped the ship in vines and turned all the sailors into dolphins -- except Akoites himself. Akoites later went on to serve as herald for Dionysos when he returned to his mother's home, Thebes, warning King Pentheus that Dionysos was a god and not to be trifled with. Melampos came upon a nest of snakes as a young man, and, killing the adults, took two of the young ones and raised them by hand. They slept on his shoulders and cleaned out his ears with their tongues, giving him the power to understand the speech of birds, beast, even insects. He went on to be a great seer and had a number of adventures, including acquiring the cattle of Phylakos, a bride, and a lot of land -- which he gave to his brother. When the Argosian women were driven mad by Dionysos, it was Melampos who healed them by correctly divining the source of the god's anger and addressing it. So. Both dolls will have the white-red-black thematic colors of the Starry Bull. Akoites will wear white, with a black tricorn pirate's hat (by request) and a red cape of cloak. His hair will be made from brown-black raw wool with sun-bleached tips. He will be accompanied by a dolphin, and possibly wear vines. Melampos will have a darker face, braided silk-thread hair in black, and wear black, with a white-and-red cloak, one red and one white snake, and possibly a thyrsos. Some pictures! Wool and yarn, almost all of the materials for the dolls. Warping! I usually hate warping, but this time it felt good. I haven't touched this loom in months. And the weaving has begun!...

Ossuary Skulls Block Prints

So I'm a dabbler, a dilettante. I do a bit of this and a bit of that, as the whim takes me. And I enjoy it. I pick up new hobbies, do them for a while, drop them, come back around later. Once every several years, block printmaking seems to be a thing I come back to. Last time was probably six or seven years ago. I bought linoleum blocks, a carving tool, a brayer, and some ink. I carved one block with a winged cog (because STEAMPUNK), printed it repeatedly in silver and once in gold all over a big sheet of purple paper, and was done again. (I should really try to find that paper. I liked it.) A couple of months ago, I was struck with the idea to do a block print of a bunch of skulls, like in an ossuary. Then I sat on the idea for a while, because it meant actually going and finding tools and materials in the chaos of my house. I finally got around to it last week. This is an artist's carving block for printing. It's not actually linoleum, but something softer and easier to carve. It still tends to be referred to as lino block printing. This is a carving tool with five bits, which go inside the handle when they're not being used. First I started penciling a border on the block, using the hole on a ruler to do a scalloped pattern, and divided the space inside the border into six sections. I went and found this tutorial on how to draw a skull to get me started, but it got a little confusing since I wanted them to have no lower jaw. (Jawbones are often stored separately from skulls in ossuaries.) I'm not great at it, but they're recognizably skulls. To keep myself from getting frustrated, I went back and forth between cutting the border, cutting the skulls, and drawing. I probably could've stood to leave the first one alone until I finished, then gone back and fixed it up some, but honestly, I'm not sure my skull-drawing got all that much better. At least I can comfort myself with the knowledge that skulls actually do look weird without their jaws. The finished block. It was at this point that I discovered I couldn't find my ink or brayer (not that the ink would've been the right color, but I couldn't even test it). And I didn't have money to buy them. But a very kind person was interested enough to buy four cards based solely on the block, giving me enough money to buy supplies. Printing ink, brayer, calligraphy ink, and a new pen handle, since I'm doing a verse from the Litany on the back of each card. Oh, and the other thing you need is a pane of glass for the palette. You want a nice, smooth surface to spread the ink on, so it's even. Turned out the only pane of glass I had lying around was this one. Remember those gold-marbled mirrors from the 70s? I found this weird green-marbled one someplace or other, and meant to break it up to use in a mosaic. Never happened, but it means I had this cool palette. Spreading out the ink with the brayer. Then I rolled it onto the block as evenly as I could. Aaaaaand the first print! Not too shabby for my first time doing this in years. I made ten prints that night, and I have ten more cards to play with, either for this print or another... since I just happened to find two more uncarved blocks while hunting for ink. Both of them, plus this one, are thick enough that both sides can be carved. Woohoo, project for the break! Here are four of the prints, so you can get an idea of what good ones look like (on the bottom) and less good ones. That top right one is objectively a failure of what I was trying to do, but I like the ghostly quality of it, and I'm keeping it for sure....

Greek Key Belt

112 inches, including the braids, Greek key design in red, white and black. I had to weave it in two sections to get the length I wanted. It's meant to be a belt for my ritual chiton. I'd've liked to have it wider, but it wasn't practical for various reasons. Perhaps sometime I'll have a better loom to hold it, that will allow for both more length and more width. Also, preferably, with the design running in the same direction the whole way. The reason it changes direction every four repeats is that the threads twist with each turn of the cards, and the only ways to release the twist is to turn the cards the other way or to untie the threads and untwist them that way. I'd also like to weave one using six-sided cards, which would allow me to make a more convoluted pattern -- more like the key design we usually think of, and a true meander pattern. Like so: If I'm understanding the mechanics correctly -- and I think I am -- then the hex cards would allow me to do that. For something like this one, I'd need 8-sided ones, which I'd have to make myself, I think....

Greek Key 1

I found a simple Greek key pattern for tablet weaving, and decided to give it a try. It came out pretty well. I did end up having to alternate directions, because of the twist the cards put unto the threads. I'll have to take a shot of that on the next project so you can see what I'm talking about. Switching back and forth gave it an interesting wavy quality edge-on. It's almost, but not quite, double-faced. A double-faced weave has exactly the reverse pattern on the back side, but as you can see, instead of white space between changeovers, this has partial patterns. Oh, well. Still looks pretty snazzy. The one things I was disappointed in was that the blue was barely distinguishable from the black. Too dark. The finished band was 43.5" in length. Next up, two bands in black, white and red, to be sewn together to make a girdle for my ritual chiton....

Pattern Sampler

Project notes for miscellaneous patterns Tarot of the Tailors card: The Tool: Good fortune with tools, especially mechanized ones. Materials: Background: 14/2 Euroflax linen in Emerald Pattern: 3/2 pearl cotton in Silver Border accent: Stash pearl cotton scraps, probably 10/2, dusty blue Long-path warp on the inklette, one HEX.INK bracelet, plus assorted pattern tests. Pictures! Meant for a bracelet. May or may not be a good length for that. A thunderbolt for a Zeus band. Full band would have these on either side of his name. Eye and crown for a Hera band. Full band would have one of each of these on either side of her name. Double A, bow and arrow, and tripod for the Artemis and Apollo band. Full band would have either the AA or the tripod centered, with the other and another bow on either side. Haven't decided yet. And since I had some warp left, I tried weaving a tube for the first time. This is done by simply always passing the shuttle in the same direction, e.g. left to right, and then pulling the loose warp behind the web tight later, to pull it into a tube. I like it....

Alphabelt Part II

I've gotten behind on documenting this, so here's a bunch of pictures. Work on the Alphabelt continues! Quite swiftly, even. I can get three or four letters done a day, as long as I take breaks so I don't get those damned headaches. Notes: Letters with diagonals are going to be really wide, and there's really nothing to be done about that. You're not going to be happy with that, but really, it's ok. Wherever possible, use two threads for a horizontal. Wherever possible, only use 4 pick floats. For letters with 2 thread horizontals and 5 pick floats, swap off single pick breaks in the float. When adding a second horizontal to a center horizontal, add it above the center line....

The Alphabelt Begins!

Since I want to do woven bands with Greek lettering, I need a reliable pattern for those letters. To work that out, I'm doing a band with the entire Greek alphabet, which will then be turned into a belt for a friend who's a Classics major. Working this way means that each letter has to be undone and redone repeatedly, to correct mistakes and to refine the pattern. The alpha alone had to be woven six or seven times, and I had a splitting headache by the time it was done. I hope the rest isn't quite that difficult. Project notes: The waist the belt is for measures 36". I estimate the pattern will take up about 32-33", and am aiming for an overall length of 42-45". The beginning of the belt has 1.5" of unpatterned weaving for the hem around the buckle, a 3-pick slit to accommodate the buckle tongue, and an additional 3" of unpatterned weaving before the lettering begins. The draft is a basketweave pickup with 11 pattern threads in silver grey 3/2 pearl cotton, background of black in 5/2 pearl cotton. There's a border of 4 threads of black, 4 threads of blue 5/2 cotton, and another 2 threads of black before the 2 black threads that are the beginning of the pattern's ground. This gives an overall band width of 1". Each letter will be separated by 2 picks of background-only, 2 picks of unpatterned weaving, and 2 more picks of background. I hope that the unpatterned picks will help with the tension problems I've had with pattern threads before. Tension, my old enemy. We meet again. This time, I shall defeat you....

Project Notes: Rainbow Blanket 2

I may not have been blogging this week, but I have been weaving. LOTS of little triangles. That's thirty, but there are more now, that haven't been stitched into the chain. I (obviously) haven't started stitching the edges together, although I will soon. Although I didn't get into the developers' academy I was hoping to, I'm studying programming again on my own, and am poking at the project I started last time I did this, a script to generate all the figures to plug into a geomancy chart. I've got another project planned for it, too, eventually, when I learn enough....