My second design, also inspired by an African textile, was much less difficult to plan and execute but, in a way, I found the simplicity and balance to be much more pleasing. Here is the big picture of this Kasai "Velvet" Prestige Raffia Panel from the Democratic Republic of the Congo:
I was also inspired by the squares in this design. It's country cloth made by the Mende or Vai people of Sierra Leone. This one is actually a piece of weaving, with a cotton warp and weft and indigo dye:
I love the idea of a square turned on its corner, so I played around with a bunch of different options:
And, after referring back to the source (see first picture) I finally hit on this:
For the actual weaving, there was no way I could have a warp 21 strips wide without using 1/4" strips. I love the look of the 1/2" strips, which are also much easier to work with, but 21 half-inch strips won't fit in my sketchbook! Here's the piece half-way through. I love how balanced it is. The bottom half will be the inverse of the top.
And here's the final piece. This paper weaving technique I've hit upon has its own aesthetic and I love the texture created by unwoven strips of warp (up and down) in this piece. It's even better in person -- when you touch it, the mat has a lovely texture, almost braille-like. You can 'read' it with your fingers as well as your eyes.
My exploration of paper weaving is continuing and ongoing. It started out as mostly mathematical exploration a month ago. Since I started to analyze the African motifs and reproduce them in the paper weaving realm, I feel like I am using the mathematical part of my brain less, at least consciously. I'm thinking less about the 'rule' (or pattern, or algorithm) and its inverse, and more about making the weaving match my sketch. That's totally okay! The thing I've learned about these wonderful kinds of art/math blends is that this is what happens. Sometimes you're on the math side, sometimes you're heavy on the art side and, at some point, you come up for air and realize you can't figure out where the line between them is any more!
p.s. Oh, and we're having so much fun over at the new Math in Your Feet Facebook page! It's worth a look just to find the link I found to string games (like cat's cradle) and mathematics.
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