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Áine Kelly : Adapting Materials + Practice Micro Commission – 3. Natural Materials

Like many people this year, I’ve been outdoors enjoying nature much more than I have before. On my walks I found myself asking could this be a weave-able material? Seaweed seemed like a good contender…

I collected what I think is bladder wrack, egg wrack and dulse. The flat seaweeds like dulse were easily cut into straight strips and it wove quite well. The more ropey seaweed like egg wrack was harder to work with, especially with trying to fit in the bubble like sacks. The lighting isn’t great in the photos but you can see how much the seaweed shrank and separated when it dried after several days. It became brittle and I’m not sure how well it would hold up over time. If I tried using seaweed as the warp instead of yarn then maybe the entire weave would shrink in together and it could make it more stable.

Woven seaweed test
Woven seaweed shrunk and separated after drying out
Woven seaweed shrunk and separated after drying out

I love the idea of making a seaweed weave that could be presented in water or the sea. I found a couple of egg sacks embedded in the seaweed and I was amazed at the amount of little insects I inadvertently brought home with me. The handful of seaweed that I took from the shore was teeming with life and I’m not sure how I feel about interfering with it like this. Next time I will need to be a bit more careful and clean off the seaweed before taking it away to ensure that all little critters are left alone. I also like the idea of weaving in situ and leaving the woven seaweed in the sea which could become a sort of living tapestry.

Woven tiny pebble test

I also collected a few stones that were relatively flat to weave around. I started off weaving a patch on one side of a tiny pebble. I tried again with a larger rock and this time I encased it in wool to follow the form of the rock. Weaving in general is a slow process but this felt particularly slow going as I was using the rock as a loom and had to make more of an effort to keep the warp in line and evenly spaced. Not to mention fraying each individual strand like I did in my previous Scraps post. The act of making this felt nurturing, like I was making a protective layer for the rock. By using a tapestry needle to weave, this added to the feeling of mending it. And now when I look at it, the white wool has the appearance of a bandage.

Setting the warp on a larger rock
Work in progress of weaving around rock

I also like this idea of using another material as the loom. I intend to experiment more with making structures that act as a loom whilst also allowing me to present the weavings as free standing structures.