Wednesday, May 08, 2013

A Different Vision

For the last 8 months I've had the pleasure of working on an exhibit called "A Different Vision".  It is sponsored by the Plymouth Art Guild in Plymouth, MA, The guild sponsored this exhibit in 2010 and then decided to do it again in 2013. A Different Vision is a tactile, innovative, and exciting art exhibit where the blind and the visually impaired as well as the sighted can enjoy the art.  Everything is touchable. Really, it's all touchable!  No please do not touch the art signs here, only Please Touch!

So my job was to help publicize this event by starting A Different Vision Face Book page.  You can find it at  It's been fun to connect with a whole new group of people on the page.  As administrator I am trying to get the word out to people who might not have heard of this event, artists and folks who would enjoy the show.  My goal is to have 100 Likes on the page by the opening which is May 11 at 7pm.  So stop by the page and give us a "Thumbs Up".

As an artist I was challenged by this exhibit to make something in my medium.  My normal wearables, while they feel very soft to the touch, were not going to be the thing that got them accepted into the show.  So I looked at the yarn on my shelves, put my weaver's thinking cap on, and decided to do something totally different than what I normally do. I knew I was going to create a scarf but it had to have a lot of texture and something special about it that a visually impaired person could see with their hands.

Yarns used to sample

I remembered taking a workshop one year at Convergence (Handweavers' Guild of America's biennial conference) on Shibori.  Normally Shibori is used as a resist dying technique.  But this workshop used it as a resist technique for texturizing cloth!  (find out more about Shibori at So when I was thinking about ways to texturize my woven piece for the exhibit, I thought about creating bubbles in handwoven wool cloth by using the Shibori technique. Wool shrinks and fulls (felts) so the resist would cause the bubbles to form. Then my mind took it one step further.  What if I made the bubbles spell out the colors of the scarf in Braille!  Oh sometimes the creative mind gets us into all kinds of trouble!  After trying several methods (round marbles, flat marbles, thread) for creating the bubbles, I settled on a method which used very tight elasticized bands. This proved to be the best tool to use. 

After much sampling (several 1 yard samplers) I realized that making the bubbles spell out the Braille words was just not going to work effectively in a scarf.  It was hard to scrunch up the fabric in the correct line that it needed to be in order to be read. Each time I applied the band to one area it threw the cloth out of line and I couldn't see if the next bubble was going to be in the right place. So scratch that!  Back to the drawing board.  I thought I had a good idea using the Braille but how was I going to make it happen?

Ah Ha! BEADS! Oh those wonderful glorious beads that come in all sorts of colors! That would do it.  So I wove beads into the scarf at the beginning and end to spell out the main color of the scarf.  It worked beautifully.  I was able to line the beads up in the correct place for each letter. One scarf was Blue and the other was Purple.  I decided to put the Shibori bubbles throughout the scarf which gave it a funky very textural feel.

Drawing up a pattern guide for placement of the beads. This spells purple.

Weaving the beads in place.

I added beads to the fringe and twisted the ends together to form a loop scarf.

I have to say creating these scarves took me out of my "box" and comfort zone but I love the chunky, funky look of these scarves!  

"Bubble Wrap" - blue

If you live near Plymouth, make sure you stop by the Plymouth Center for the Arts and visit the show.  Let me know what you think of my "Bubble Wrap" Scarves. 

"Bubble Wrap" - purple