Theo Moorman (1907-1990) was a British weaver who studied art in the UK in the 1920s and traveled and taught extensively in the United States during the 1970s. She shows us how far she had advanced from the concept of weaving as purely utilitarian cloth.
Her book, Weaving as an Art Form: A Personal Statement, was published in 1975 and says on its back cover, “Nowadays weaving and the allied processes of manipulating thread and fiber are generally accepted as an art form, but this has only recently been so. The weaving class Theo Moorman attended as an art student in the 1920s taught three subjects: yardage weaving for dress and furnishing fabrics, rug weaving, and tapestry weaving. Wall hangings had not been “invented” and weaving was strictly flat and two-dimensional. The emergence of the artist-designer-weaver, emphatically one person, is a major breakthrough in the history of the craft of weaving. Weavers have joined the ranks of artists of all time; they are no longer backwater but in the mainstream.”
Theo Moorman created monumental commissioned works by using a technique that she created as an easier alternative to traditional tapestry weaving. Using a 2 warp system on a floor loom, the Moorman Technique is a method of inlaying weft yarns using a tie down system of warp yarns. The tie-down yarns are twice as fine as the ground warp, and given the selection of color, can be nearly invisible.
This post about my experience with this method is years in the making. Weaving is a slow process. And weaving as an art form takes on a whole new meaning through this structure and experience.
The Moorman Technique
For the examples illustrated here, the the ground warp is 10/2 natural cotton, and the tie-down warp is 20/2 black cotton. It is available from Supreme Corporation in North Carolina, USA.
Using swatches of cardboard, I wrapped yarns in a variety of colors and textures to use as my palette.
Weaving the Samples
Exercise 1 Plain Weave
Exercise 2 Plain Weave with Ground Weft
Exercise 2 Variation – Plain Weave with 2 Ground Wefts
Isolated Shapes Inlaid
Inlaid Areas Adjacent
Overlapping Areas of Transparent Color or Value
Varied Inlaid Yarns, Thick and Thin
The woven sampler
Art Work in the Making
This experimental warp is finally off of the loom. These are a few of the compositions created during the process. Now the next phase is to finish these works and have them ready for exhibit.
See more inspiration on instagram