Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Phase 4? Phase 5? Removing color run on a Navajo Germantown (Chief?) Blanket

Chief Blankets are characterized by their design elements--alternating bands of brown and white--but also by their dimension: The width of the warping on the loom is greater than the length of those warps. These dimensions are seen in Chief Blankets and also in the smaller Pueblo and Navajo mantas and Women's Shoulder Blankets. Serapes and later most rugs were woven longer than the width of the warped loom.

The Germantown weaving shown below would not generally be called a Chief Blanket, but it was woven on a loom set up for Chief Blankets. It was woven at a time when a weaving's intended use as a blanket was fading, and the influence of the rug trade was increasing (it shows elements of the rug designs placed on the walls of the Hubbell Trading Post--a modern influence in the 1890s). To me it speaks to the process of innovation that weavers of the time engaged in; her last weaving on the same loom may have been a traditional Chief Blanket. Her next weaving on the loom might have combined the newer and older styles.

Our color-run removal process helps us appreciate the weaver's original intent:

after treatment

before treatment

after treatment

before treatment

Friday, June 4, 2010

Navajo blanket de-bleeding, half done

One of today's projects, an unusually small Third-Phase Chief's Blanket (3ft x 4ft). It came to us deeply pink from washing; David is halfway through getting the pink out of the white stripes. While it's wet, you can see the various colors of warp material that are typically obscured. Certainly worth restoring.

Monday, May 3, 2010

"Yo Mama" Navajo Art

Our friend Norty sent us a link to his friend Chip's blog, and here it is for you:

"an exploration of life with the navajo through images, words + wheat paste"

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Governor's New Rug, installed

The new official gubernatorial rug, re-drafted by Joan Weissman, installed 3/23/10. And soon, a new governor...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Navajo Rug Restoration, before and after

A Teec Nos Pos/Two-Grey Hills type rug, before and after re-weaving.

Visiting with Marian Rodee

Among the many pleasures of this business is the company of accomplished scholars and experts in the field. We've recently enjoyed visiting with Marian Rodee here at Textival, and getting to absorb a small amount of her vast knowledge and experience with old Navajo rugs. Her books "Weaving of the Southwest" ( Schiffer Publishing Ltd), "Old Navajo Rugs" (UNM Press) and others are vital texts in the history of Navajo weaving scholarship. Marian almost single-handedly provided the bridge between earlier scholars (Amsden, Lummis...) and the current generation of writers and researchers (Wheat, Hedlund, Whitaker...), and helped make the Maxwell Museum at UNM an important institution in the study of Southwestern weaving. Hats off to Marian Rodee for all of her work promoting the Navajo weavers' art!

Monday, February 15, 2010

In the (Blue) State of Dogon

Like many of my colleagues I love to make pilgrimages to the other corners of the earth where textile traditions are alive and well. Mali is a blue state in more ways than one...Our search for indigo cloth eventually took us to Dogon Country along the rocky escarpments near the Burkina Faso border.

The Dogon region of Mali is noteworthy in almost every respect, including weaving and dying. The long, narrow, warp-faced cloth they weave is one of the oldest forms of textile production on earth, and is still practiced throughout Dogon. The cotton strips are sewn together into broad blankets then dyed in indigo vats, and are either used as-is or cut for garments.

Navajo Rug Restoration, before and after

Sometimes the biggest challenge (after color matching) is in hiding the broken warp ends. Success on both fronts here: