Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Shawls Are More Than a Wrap - Part Two or What in My "Tool Box" Can I Use?

I have a habit of being interested in new techniques, taking a workshop, and after the workshop/class never having the time to play with what I've learned.  The cycle goes like this - excitement to use the new techniques, no time to play reinforcing the technique, months go by, fear sets in, memory fades, and there you have it. New technique, new supplies, sitting on the shelf or in the box never touched again. My "tool box" is full of these things! Any of you have this problem?

Well this time, I was thankful for an excuse to play with Color Hue dyes that I learned about at a weavers'  conference last summer, July 2014.

©Judy Connor Jones

It was a wonderful workshop and the dyes were so easy to use and the teacher was excellent. As it turned out, they were the perfect dyes for this project. You see they bond instantly to silk and because they do, they require no mordants (dyers nerdy talk) and very little washing of excess dye in the cloth. There is very little dye left that has not bonded to the cloth.  So why is this important?  Remember my dilemma, how to incorporate prayers in the shawl? One of the other items in my tool box is knowing how to ink jet print onto fabric. While the ink jet print is permanent, washing over and over again to remove dyes would cause the ink to fade. The Color Hue dyes would allow me to give color to the silk, which was white at the beginning, without the print fading. I would print prayers or statements of faith for each of the Abrahamic faiths onto silk, dye it, and cut it into ribbon using a Japanese technique for making long strips of ribbon, another tool box item!

©Judy Connor Jones

Issue resolved! BUTTTTTTT (UT OH, here goes another Judy brain storm!) - wouldn't it be cool if the prayers or statements were written in English, Hebrew, and Arabic! YES! 

Reality check - how to do that? I don't know Hebrew and I don't know Arabic. Just so happens that my husband works at a seminary (Andover Newton Theological School) where, you guessed it, there is an Interfaith Professor, a Hebrew Professor, and BINGO, an Islamic Professor!  I am most grateful to the help they provided by doing the translations I needed and their perseverance to get it into a format that I could use. Thank you Jenny, Greg and Celene.

So what was printed and woven into the piece? For Christianity, in English, I printed the first line of the Lord's Prayer, "Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name", for Judaism in Hebrew, part of the Shema, "Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.  And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.", and for Islam in Arabic, "There is no god but God".  Under each of these ribbons was another ribbon with the same phase for each, "Peace, Salaam, Shalom".  At the end of each silk ribbon row was an olive wood bead from my "stash of stuff" which I acquired from my mother-in-law's "stash of stuff".  Perfect! They were waiting for this moment!

©Judy Connor Jones

When the piece was completed and I took it off the loom, I was so moved by the colors and the incorporating of the prayers that it became a Holy moment.  My hands had created something I never dreamed I would do.  So many serendipitous things happened in the making of this piece that it is hard to believe that my hand was the only hand creating it. The Great Creator's Hand was definitely present.


The piece was shipped off and presented to the General Secretary of American Baptist Churches, USA at their Mission Summit, June, 2015. The Program presentation was called "Draping of the Mantle", a reference to an ancient tradition. PERFECT! I was honored to be a part of it.

So what's next? I don't know.  I do know that something new and creative is around the corner. The idea of working with the Interfaith concept is gnawing at me. I can't ignore it!

I leave you with a collage of pictures including the draping of the mantle and a blessing that you may be wrapped with the mantle of inspiration and creativity.

Please respect copyrights, ©Ritterbin.com and ©Judy Connor Jones

Monday, August 03, 2015

Shawls Are More Than A Wrap!

I recently was commissioned to create an Interfaith Prayer Shawl which was to be a retirement gift for the General Secretary of American Baptist Churches, USA. It was to be presented to him at the biennial Mission Summit held in Kansas City at the end of June.

After I'd agreed to the commission I began to wonder what I had gotten myself into! What was an interfaith prayer shawl?  What faiths to include? After all there are many all over the world. Had this been done before by someone? Could I find something on the internet to help?

The specifications were:

 1 -  represent the three Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity
 2 -  without specifically being a Tallit (Jewish Prayer Shawl), it could incorporate a few of the elements such as the Tzitzit
 3 -  Be a specially designed handwoven piece instead of a knitted shawl that the Prayer Shawl Ministry makes to give to people for whom they are praying.

This was to be a whole different thing made special for the occasion and the person for whom it was intended. Wow! Breathe! What a challenge! You can do this!

Where to start?

First I needed to discover if there was such thing as an Interfaith Prayer Shawl or if anyone had made one before. So I began my research. I found lots of Interfaith art work but nothing was wearable. After many hours of researching and not discovering anything, the question became "What was I going to do"? Panic, of course!!!

It occurred to me that I needed to remember what I, as a weaver, do best, Work With Color! (A "DUH" moment!)

Ok, got that! NOTE TO SELF: The colors will progress from the desert colors for the nomadic tribes of Judaism and Islam to the colors representing the majesty of God for all three faiths (Judaism, Islam, Christianity) to the blues and greens of Living Water representing Christianity. My palette was set after I looked to my shelves to see what yarns worked in the color way I wanted. Amazingly, I had all the colors I needed in my stock of Tencel. This would be a good weight for the shawl and when woven in a twill and plain weave structure allow the right amount of drape.  Here is the final palette, 12 colors in all including a gold metallic yarn.

You'll notice there are only 11 colors here.  I added one more to the dessert colors because I didn't think the colors were strong enough.  I had just ordered the color Sienna from my supplier. Turned out it was the perfect color addition. It is in the card wrapping below.

The next step was to figure out what else would make this a special prayer shawl. I wanted to somehow incorporate prayers into the weaving.  But how to do that? And what prayers? More research needed!

I'll leave it here for now and follow up with another blog post on what happened next. While you wait, here are a few pictures of putting the yarn on the loom to weave the sampler and choose the weft color.

Can't wait to show you what came next!