Thursday, October 23, 2014

Visiting Margery Blackman

Yesterday I had a very interesting visit with Margery Blackman. Mrs Blackman wrote a chapter in the book 'Whatu Kakahu', a wonderful book about Maori cloaks. In it she deals with the construction of cloaks which she has discovered from an in-depth study of old cloaks kept in museums and collections around the world.
 She has focused primarily on taniko and I was astounded at the craftsmanship of these old cloaks and the detail that would go unnoticed by many.  She described reverse-faced taaniko, fine-line recessed taaniko which are variations of black on black areas where raised or recessed areas create a three-dimensional look to what might ordinarily be flat. I am glad that I have the book at home so I can work on these interesting possibilities new to me. 
In this photo you can see the black on black lines 
There were other interesting features she showed me like the reversing of the taaniko twist so that smooth lines are produced going at two different angles. 

Another construction feature that fascinated me was the two or three layers of taaniko on some cloaks. 
This is not one very wide taaniko but three layers of taaniko on their own extra piece of weaving. 
Another one with two layers. 
This picture shows the way the side panels are incorporated. 
In the very early cloaks feathers weren't used. However if they were they were put in upside down in groups. This cloak was worked from the top down. 
Such a fascinating woman and study. 

Then today Robyn Ashton and I went to teach weaving to a small group of PPTA members in Dunedin at a conference. 
We started with them making feather bundles. Then they learnt the basic whatu stitch on trial pieces. After they had mastered one row they tried another putting in the feathers they had made. They seemed to enjoy their time and some bought starter kits to continue in their own time. 

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