Most textile techniques are ancient. What is it like to work with a completely new type of craft tool to make a three-dimensional textile structure? What kind of questions arise in the meeting between the body, the mind and the tool?
MultiWeave is a textile tool, technique and research project. The textiles that can be made with the tool are characterized by the potential to make sculptural objects.
For us, it started with three different forms, all laser cut in wood, with the size of an arm in length. Only by looking at these wooden objects, it’s not straightforward how to use them or even that they are specifically made for textile craft making. But then most likely, if for the first time standing in front of a weaving loom, without ever having used or seen one before, it would probably be equally mysterious.
Tools for MultiWeaving. Photo: Lea Norrman Firus
As textile craft professionals, we sometimes come across tools that are new to us, perhaps a type of loom that has been used in cultures in the past. But a textile tool that is a new innovation, and that opens up to create new types of structures, is something else. A tool like that is almost hard to grasp, as the textile field is so deep into its historical references. Almost every textile tool and object has something to fall back onto, a history of some sort.
MultiWeave is of course not a tool that has been invented from nothing, it too has references and influences from both ancient and more modern tools for craft making. The development of the tool has drawn inspiration from the peg loom, a basic and very old weaving tool, as well as the logic behind how a 3D printer works to build up layers of materials into a three-dimensional object.
MultiWeave workshop with students at Textile – Body – Space, HDK-Valand Campus Steneby, November 2021. Photo: Matilda Dominique
At a first glance, the tool and the samples that take form during the MultiWeave process might not directly lead the thoughts to ‘weaving’. There is no obvious grid as in most other types of weaving techniques, with one horizontal and one vertical group of threads that connect to one another. Warping the MultiWeave tool is also different in comparison to preparing and setting the warp on a table loom, floor loom or back strap loom. Once the warp has been threaded around the pegs on the MultiWeave tool, the weft thread can be woven into the warp similar to regular weaving. But in MultiWeaving the weft may also move in different directions, to connect layers of warp rows, as well as upwards to create volume. This is where we can imagine the weft thread moving in a similar way as a 3D printer that moves along a predestined path in order for the material to form a sculptural object.
The MultiWeave opens up for possibilities to create soft, three-dimensional objects in a quite free manner. The specific tools that we are using, the laser cut forms, are made for sampling the technique, but it is not the particular tool in itself that is the innovation. Rather, it is the way in which the threads are connected to one another to build a three-dimensional textile structure. MultiWeave is a research project – initiated by Kadi Pajupuu – and we – the users, scholars and textile artists – are allowed, even encouraged, to alter the tool to our needs.
Perhaps another type of fibre or thickness of thread would need the pegs to be thinner and longer? One of the students that participated in the project is interested in working with scaling up the tool to be able to make objects that are in relation to the body and the space. Another student who is using the MultiWeave technique to create a specific shape finds the pegs to be too long and makes a new set of tools where the pegs are just the length they need. Examples of MultiWoven objects shown to us by Kadi Pajupuu also opens up for making a simple tool out of cardboard and wooden sticks, or out of plastic tubes that can be placed in a more irregular pattern than the laser cut tools we are working with.
The MultiWeave tool is mobile and easy to work with from home.
Photo: Josefine Lundgren
As the MultiWeave tool is easy to handle, mobile and inexpensive to manufacture, it enables a wider range of users than the traditional loom. In this way, MultiWeave can challenge and develop the textile craft field and enable multiple development both in relation to tool making, textile production and the bodies and spaces that create textile craft. In this project we will continue to discuss the possible significance of mobile tools from geographical, social, and socio-economic perspectives where MultiWeave has the potential to engage with users that might not otherwise come in contact with weaving and textile craft.
The MultiWeave Research Project was initiated by Kadi Pajupuu, professor of textiles at Pallas University of Applied Science in Tartu, Estonia. The authors, Matilda Dominique, lecturer and Maja Gunn, professor of craft at HDK-Valand were invited to work with the MultuWeave project in 2021. Together with their students at the craft programme Textile – Body – Space they have been exploring the MultuWeave tool through a joint workshop where the students started to develop their individual projects and ideas of how to work with the tool. In March 2022 the research project with the students’ works will be exhibited at Pallas Gallery in Tartu, Estonia.
Matilda Dominique is a textile artist and former lecturer at the crafts programme Textile – Body – Space at HDK-Valand, University of Gothenburg. Her works expand on weaving techniques often associated with domestic objects that she explores through thread manipulations, scale and spatial installations.
Maja Gunn is Professor of Craft with specialization Textiles at HDK-Valand, University of Gothenburg. Her works include the development of textile and clothing in relation to norm critical perspectives, collective processes and democratization.
Textile – Body – Space is a crafts programme at HDK-Valand situated in Campus Steneby at the University of Gothenburg. In the programme, the students are encouraged to explore textile materials and techniques and at the same time challenged to reflect on their relationship to the problematics of craft and design.
The project is covered in an article on the HDK-Valand website: