Suzi Ballenger is an endorsed participant in the Arts in Education program of the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA). Private instruction is recommended through Saunderstown Weaving School in Saunderstown, RI and Slater Mill Museum Community Guild Studios in Pawtucket, RI.
Weaving cloth is magic! I hope to inspire a sense of wonder and excitement of the Handweaving process through individually designed programs. Computer aided technology; Pattern and structure; unusual materials; Special needs and high risk populations; Professional development; Consultation; Loom repair and restoration.
The Fluid Grid – Innovations and Loom Hacks
Understanding the equipment we use, as weavers, is the first step to changing the way we use it. We will identify opportunities for warp and weft manipulation through understanding loom workings. Then, “hack” our tools and equipment to achieve the desired effects. Contemporary tools such as RailReed, Open Reed, and Supplementary Beater will be analyzed and explored as simple alternatives we can use and create to transform the expected outcome of our cloth.
Renegade Treadlings on Traditional Threadings
Ms and Os, Huck-a-Back, and Swedish Point : These three traditional weave structures offer weavers the opportunity to explore myriad possibilities for towels, clothing, and accessories. Once we learn what distinguishes these threadings from others, we can expand our treadling vocabulary to create our own voice in creating innovative designs for our cloth.
For the Love of Linen
Linen is an honest fiber. Many weavers think it is finicky. I think it has personality. Linen has imperceptible elasticity, incredible strength, and a finish that will last generations. . Linen will tell you exactly what it wants and what you have “done to it” if it doesn’t like the way you handle it.
This presentation is our story of how we handle the production of wide cloth, how we finish it, and some of our special stories about being hand weavers in an automated society. We use no sectional warp beam, no automatic fly shuttle, no dobby. We beam 38 yard runs onto a 48” wide loom from front to back. There are a few “tricks” but all of these methods can be used with any fiber and any length warp.
Paper. Book. Art.
I am a weaver who is fascinated with paper making and book making. Every aspect of making paper allows for repetition, concentration, discovery and opportunity – just like weaving. Drawing on my experiences in Hawaii and with traditional Japanese papermakers, this presentation will share the various methods of making paper and Hawaiian bark cloth. You will have many samples to handle, explore and question. In a workshop, we will use beautiful papers to explore basic ways to make a treasured book. One with a folded binding suitable to slip in fabric swatches or post cards; the second binding is a Japanese Stab binding technique – very simple but practical. Guaranteed, you will be giving books all year long after this!
eTextile Basics for Beginners Part I
(Teen to Adult)
OK — we have all heard or read about Katie Perry’s Twitter Dress, Lady Gaga’s fiber optic wig, sports helmets that record the impact of a crash, and clothing that can respond to sound and movement. This hands-on class will give us one of the fundamental aspects of electronic textiles — understanding a simple, parallel circuit. We will use conductive thread, sewable LED lights, and small batteries to lay the foundation for further explorations into this incredibly diverse and growing field of textiles.
eTextile Basics for Beginners Part II
(Teen to Adult)
Building on the skills learned in Part I, we will work with programmable units to create a slightly more complex series circuit that include sensors for their fashions and accessories.
Textiles: Fashion Smart to Fashion Savvy
(Teen to Adult)
In this project oriented program, we explore the science of Fashion – from fibers to fusing to felting to making and beyond. This program will incorporate new technologies and materials/fibers into textiles using LEDs, conductive thread, insulating and recycled materials, and some programmable units to make our wearables shine with brilliance!
Starting with an introduction into the world of textiles, we will follow through on the concept of fabri-“cation”, e-textiles and fashionable technology while studying the roles of form/function/fun/aesthetics/beauty. Each student will have their own electronic “kits” to work with to demonstrate their understanding of the basic tenants of our textile fashion explorations.
Community Weaving Project
This activity involves the use of large wooden frame looms (typically 4’x6’) that the students help build. These frame looms are free standing and two-sided allowing participants to work from both sides as they weave wide cloth strips through the holes to weave their design.
This project is most successful when students produce designs that have been inspired through earlier classroom discussions on color, pattern, texture, and symbolism. We discuss finger-manipulation techniques, woven joins, embellishments, color choices and finishing.
The Community weaving process takes 8 – 20 hours from start to finish. It is amazing to watch this process! Just when you think it is done, it becomes clear that the weaving could use a bit more fabric here or a touch of color there. It is a wonderful lesson in group dynamics and offers students a chance to interact directly with their peers – they are the leaders in this.
Portable Weaving Studio
Contemporary thinkers will enjoy the correlation between past and present as they experience “works in progress” from the Portable Weaving Studio. This includes a 22” wide 8 H loom warped with beautiful colors and traditional patterns. My inspiration will be nearby for the students to realize. There are notebooks with samples, color swatches, patterns, notes and bobbins for winding. As students participate in the design with the computer aided program, they are able to experience the various steps involved with this process learning all the tools, formulas, and techniques necessary to produce “good cloth.” Suitable for small groups.