Next Steps

Often I'm asked what inspires my weaving designs. Inspiration can be found anywhere and everywhere, but there are main themes that keep popping up for me. At the top of my list are nature and mathematics, particularly where the two intersect. I think it's amazing that we can express the patterns of nature in equations and graphs. But perhaps even more fascinating is that some of the most basic, "pure math" concepts can be found in nature as well.

Probably the best known example is the golden ratio (a+b/a = a/b), an ancient and important idea first described by the Greek mathematician Euclid. Studied for centuries as a purely academic pursuit, it also occurs all over the place in nature, such as plant branching patterns, spirals of seashells and in human anatomy, as shown in DaVinci's Vitruvian Man. So when we use this formula in design, we are mimicking the proportions that nature uses in its creations, and the result is usually quite pleasing. No need to analyze, it just looks "right".

I've incorporated a few mathematical concepts in my textiles to some extent, but as I follow those themes, I often run into the limits of my loom's capabilities, and need to scale back my designs. But that's about to change.

I'm thrilled to announce that I have received a 2012 Next Step Fund grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council to help me break through that barrier. The Next Step grant will allow me to upgrade my loom to a computerized dobby system and sectional warping set-up, giving me much more flexibility and efficiency in my weaving. For my grant project I will be exploring a variety of mathematical ideas in my weaving to convey, sometimes overtly but mostly subliminally, the patterns found in nature. This will often involve long, flowing lines, or irregular or even non-repeating sequences. The loom upgrade will make weaving these kinds of patterns possible, or at least much more feasible.

Coming soon will be new textile designs based on various number series, geometries and oscillations derived from natural phenomena. The objective is to satisfy my inner geek as well as produce interesting and beautiful cloth. No quizzes involved, I promise.

Hei hei and happy treadlings!


This activity is made possible, in part, by funds provided by the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (MRAC) through a grant from The McKnight Foundation.

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