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Applied Arts: Bead Weaving workshop October 19, 2010

Posted by claralieu in Applied Arts.
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Bead Weaving workshop

This past Saturday we hosted an Applied Arts workshop on Bead Weaving with artist Jennifer Maestre ’81, who is known nationally for her unusual pencil sculptures and jewelry pieces which are assembled with bead weaving techniques.


(above) One of Jennifer Maestre‘s pencil sculptures.

We started out the workshop with the flat peyote stitch, the most simple stitch, starting with two colors so that we could see the weave more clearly.  Jennifer had simple charts for us to follow which explained the sequence of beads to create the woven structure. One aspect that I was surprised by was just how tiny the beads were; we used special beading needles to pull the thread through each bead. Jennifer explained that the size of the beads was traditional for bead weaving, and that in the past, she’s gone as far as to sand each individual bead to control the size of the beads more.

Bead Weaving workshop

Once we had mastered the flat peyote stitch, Jennifer demonstrated several techniques for making the weaving more sculpture: “decreasing”, “increasing”, and the tubular technique. Amazing to see what people were able to accomplish in just four hours; several people were able to create bracelets and even rings with the various stitches.

Bead Weaving workshop

Bead Weaving workshop

(above) the “increasing” and “decreasing” technique
Bead Weaving workshop

Bead Weaving workshop
(above) woven rings

Bead Weaving workshop

(above) the “tubular” stitch

Bead Weaving workshop

Video: Nathalie Miebach April 10, 2010

Posted by claralieu in artists, sculpture, video.
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View this video of Nathalie Miebach speaking about her work in the current “Transformations” exhibition. The video was shot and edited by Paul Falcone from WCAC-TV.

Applied Arts: Sculptural Weaving Workshop March 15, 2010

Posted by claralieu in Applied Arts, sculpture.
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This past weekend we hosted the Sculptural Weaving workshop with Boston artist Nathalie Miebach, who is also one of the artists featured in the “Transformations” exhibition, currently on view at the Jewett Art Gallery through April 10. Miebach got the workshop started by providing everyone with a foundation to understand the materials, process, and history of weaving by examining woven objects she had brought in herself, images workshop participants brought with them, and also a slideshow which demonstrated these ideas in more depth.

Sculptural Weaving Workshop

Miebach explained that the weaves have not changed throughout history, but that the materials for weaving have. An example she brought with her to demonstrate this was a small woven bowl, created by the Zulu tribe using telephone wire to weave.  She also talked about how in contemporary woven works that both the materials and forms have departed from being purely functional.

Sculptural Weaving Workshop

Miebach displays a woven form she created which is based on a calendar of daylight and nightlight hours in Boston.

Referencing her examples, Miebach talked about the four kinds of weaves:
1) Coiling: a process where a material is wrapped around the reed. An  inner structure is created with other forms.
2) Twining: in this process there are “spokes” which are vertical, and are made of a thicker material, and the “weavers” which are horizontal.
3) Plating: in this process, every element of the weave has the same voice.  Together, these same elements create a form. Plating often begins flat and is very geometric. Hexagonal plating is a common shape seen in many woven forms.
4) Random weave: a weaving process which is based on a bird’s nest.  Miebach explained that the bird is the most incredible weaver because it creates the entire nest with only it’s beak.  The random weave is probably the most playful of the weaves and has a wide range of possibilities in that the weave can be either very dense or very open. The random weave is surprisingly solid and strong as well.

Sculptural Weaving Workshop

Miebach discussed materials in great depth during the workshop. She talked about reed as being a natural material which has a lot of pliability when worked with wet.  Hot water makes the reed pliable faster, but cold water is also effective. Listening to her slide show, it was amazing to hear the incredible range of materials weavers have used throughout history: wax linen, pandan leaves (from a coconut tree), watercolor paper, reed, wire, gimp, bamboo, wood, garden hoses, plastic cable ties, etc. The contextualization she provided by all of her examples from history and contemporary artists provided the perfect launching pad for everyone to start to create their own weaves. I will admit that my own knowledge and perspective on weaving was vastly limited, and it was wonderful to hear about the incredible range of possibilities in this process.

Sculptural Weaving Workshop

Miebach talked in depth about the process of weaving, and how in weaving you have to use your entire body. There are many ways to achieve the form: you can start from a solid object (like a box) and weave around the box to create the corm, and many baskets are woven on molds and even created in layers.  Tension of the material is a major concern in weaving, a lot of the weaving process has to do with learning about the tension of the material. Combining multiple weaving techniques together is common as well.

Sculptural Weaving Workshop

One aspect Miebach pointed out was that every woven form will reveal to you how it was make, once you know what to look for you can figure it out.  She explained that the sign of a weaver is a person who will pick up a woven form and look at the bottom, since the bottom of the form is where the weave begins. Miebach also stressed that a lot of weaving is learned by making mistakes, since that’s how things get discovered and understood. She was also very encouraging about embracing mistakes, since they can sometimes have wonderful results.

Sculptural Weaving Workshop Sculptural Weaving Workshop Sculptural Weaving Workshop Sculptural Weaving Workshop Sculptural Weaving Workshop

Miebach gave a thorough demonstration on how to begin a woven sculpture with the reed.  This involved creating a round opening with the reed which would serve as the beginning point of the sculpture. From there, the random weave technique allows for tremendous flexibility in terms of process and form. I found working on my own piece during the workshop that the process was consuming and meditative at the same time.  The physicality involved with weaving was also exhilarating as well, Miebach described earlier in the day that you “weave with your entire body”.

Sculptural Weaving Workshop

Pieces created by workshop participants.  We were able to send everyone home with extra materials so the pieces could be finished at a later time.  Miebach explained that one of the most challenging aspects of the learning process is that weaving is highly demanding of your time.

Spring 2010 Exhibitions & Workshops December 15, 2009

Posted by claralieu in Applied Arts, book arts, ceramics, photography, Student Exhibitions.
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The semester is practically over at Wellesley College, which means that the gallery will close until the spring semester starts up in the last week of January.  Over the break, we’re having the gallery re-painted which will get us off to a great start for the second half of the gallery season.  We’ll be back in January with the student photography exhibition “Look at Me”. The show will be curated, selected and designed by Christine Rogers’ Fall 2009 Photography ARTS208 class. The various projects in this diverse class create an exhibition that is divided into three related categories: “People”, “Changing Perspectives” and “Reality vs. Pretense”.

Julie Aguilera
Photo by Julie Aguilera

At the same time, the spring semester will also feature a terrific line up of free Applied Arts Workshops: Digital Photography with Judith Black, Ceramic Mosaics with Kate Oggel, Japanese Bento Boxes with Anna The Red, Storyboards with Alex Hart, Sculptural Weaving with Nathalie Miebach, Photoshop: Photo Retouching with Alex Hart, and Coptic Bookbing with Katherine McCanless Ruffin.

Upcoming Applied Arts Workshop Japanese Bento Boxes with Anna The Red

“Transformations”: Nathalie Miebach November 13, 2009

Posted by claralieu in artists, sculpture.
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Transformations“, an exhibition scheduled for March 2010, will examine artists who work between 2-D and 3-D media. Below is a preview of Nathalie Miebach’s visually arresting sculptures based on two-dimensional musical scores.  Read her artist statement to gain more insight on her multi-faceted process.   Miebach will also be offering an Applied Arts Workshop in Sculptural Weaving in conjunction with this exhibition.

Nathalie Miebach

My work focuses on the intersection of art and science and the visual articulation of scientific observations. Using the methodologies and processes of both disciplines, I translate scientific data related to ecology, climate change and meteorology into three-dimensional structures. My method of translation is principally that of weaving – in particular basket weaving – as it provides me with a simple yet highly effective grid through which to interpret data in three-dimensional space. The data I use is a combination of my own, which I gather on a daily basis using low-tech data-collecting devices, as well as regional or global data from the internet. By staying true to the numbers, these woven pieces tread an uneasy divide between functioning both as sculptures in space as well as instruments that could be used in the actual environment from which the data originates.

Nathalie Miebach

Central to this work is my desire to explore the role visual aesthetics play in the translation and understanding of scientific information. By utilizing artistic processes and everyday materials, I am questioning and expanding the traditional boundaries through which science data has been visually translated (ex: graphs, diagrams), while at the same time provoking expectations of what kind of visual vocabulary is considered to be in the domain of ‘science’ or ‘art’.

Nathalie Miebach

For the past three years, I have been working on a project called “Recording and Translating Climate Change”. The purpose of this project is to gain a better understanding of weather and what it means to live in an age of human-induced climate change. Using my own data-collecting devices, I gather weather observations from specific ecosystems, which are then compared to historical and global meteorological trends. All of these pieces look at the complexity of behavioral interactions of living/non-living systems that make up, or are influenced by, weather. The latest development in this project includes data translation into musical scores. I choose several elements from my data and “map” the numbers (in pictorial form) on score sheets. Musicians then interpret the “score” as musical compositions and I interpret the score as three-dimensional sculptures. My aim is twofold: to convey a nuance or level of emotionality surrounding my research that thus far has been absent from my visual work and to reveal patterns in the data musicians might identify which I have failed to see.