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Showcase/ Tie Weavings by Marianne Blackmar

Though Sparrowpost did a brief feature on Marianne Blackmar’s recycled tie weavings last August, we’re revisiting these projects in greater depth this month in the artist showcase.

Just as knitting has been the craft of the hour in the early 21st century, so was weaving the hit craft fad of the late seventies and early eighties. Perhaps one of the biggest differences between the two is that while knitting requires very little in the way of tools and accoutrements, weaving necessitates a loom; an often expensive and sizeable barrier to entry. Part of the reason for the success of the 70s weaving craze had to do with the popularization of smaller looms that were cheaper and demanded less space than the multi-peddled floor looms on which large carpets and blankets are made. Most of these small looms are defined by the fact that they have a single “rigid” heddle, which switches the fibers of the warp (instead of a variety of heddles and peddles, as on a larger floor loom.) Rigid heddle looms can very basic; the backstrap loom, for example, is made by attaching one side of the warp to a tree or pole, and then bringing the strings taut by literally wearing them, belt like, around the hips. Frame rigid heddle looms offer an advantage over backstrap looms because the warp can be rolled up, up one side of the loom, which makes it possible to weave longer projects. Though even small looms are not as portable as a pair of knitting needles, the end products have a somewhat more refined quality conducive to the production of wall hangings, blankets and table runners.

Marianne Blackmar’s recent tie weavings demonstrate an additional advantage of woven textile production; which is that a variety of non-yarn objects can be readily incorporated into the weaving. In the case of the weavings shown here the inspiration came from Ms. Blackmar’s late father, who was a great wearer (and collector) of ties. When he passed on, he left behind literally hundreds of beautiful ties. Blackmar wanted to find a meaningful way to keep all of these beautiful ties in the world, but realized that they would have to undergo a state change, as many of the size styles and sizes that her father wore had passed their fashion expiration date. Her solution were these beautiful weavings, which she has subsequently made for all of her siblings in memory of their father, Dr. Joseph F. Ross.



Rigid Heddle Frame Loom (above)
Heddle (below)