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The Work of Weaver Teresa Kennard

Oct 10, 2011
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I’m sure you’ve seen, as have I, garments made from one-of-a-kind fabrics.  They’re often fairly simple in shape – ponchos come to mind – so it was a huge treat to see some of the work of my student Teresa Kennard the other day at a class in Denver.  Her garments are detailed, well thought-out, and beautifully put together.

Teresa’s an award-winning weaver – her work has been featured countless times in Handwoven Magazine and in juried exhibitions.  Her list of awards is long, and most recently, her work was chosen for a very prestigious exhibit in Sweden.  Clearly, she’s awfully good at what she does.

During the class, she worked on a dress woven from this fabric….the fiber content is wool and stainless steel, amazingly enough.  It was beautifully light and pretty cooperative – we backed it with silk organza to lend a little bit of gentle stability behind-the-scenes.  All I can tell you about the design is that it was beautifully draped….and I’d show you the dress, but it’s being entered in a competition, so that will have to wait!

 

Here’s another beautiful fabric she’s woven.

Teresa often works with stencils.  The first two pictured below were hand-carved using an ancient Japanese tehcnique that was taught to Teresa by Elda Kohls of Ft. Collins, CO.  As you can see, this technique allows for very intricate and detailed designs.

Here’s Teresa’s explanation of the process:

“The Japanese stencil-making process involves first curing numerous thin sheets of hand-made mulberry paper called shibugami with persimmon tannin; it’s then smoked. This process acts as a preservative, and gives the paper a wonderful smokey aroma. Unfortunately, I’m told that the making of this hand-made paper is coming to an end and it will shortly not be available.  The pattern is drawn on the surface of the cured paper and then cut with a sharp blade. Next, a woven silk gauze called sha is attached to the front side with a process called lacquering.  The end result is a stencil of unparalleled sharpness, supported by a fine silk grid that neither impedes the application of rice paste nor thickens dyes.
 
The fabric is first cut out and then stenciled. The stencils, which have been soaked in water for about twenty minutes, are placed over each garment section to be dyed.  The soaking of the stencils makes them maleable and prevents the dye from soaking into the paper.  For this garment, I used thickened ‘silk’ dyes. The dyes are set by steam, and then each garment section is very gently washed to remove the thickening agent.”

This antique stencil is from Teresa’s collection.

Here’s one of her ensembles – a nightgown and a matching robe.  The handwoven fabric is wool and cashmere (and beautifully soft, I might add).  The technique is a combination of woven shibori which is done on a loom, and then felt-resisted off the loom to give the fabric an open-lacey appearance.  The fabric was then stenciled using a hand-carved stencil.

I asked Terea about the outfit – and here’s what she had to say:

“I inherited my love for beautiful nightgowns and robes from my mother.  This garment was constructed with the thought of minimal care.  All the seams and hems are sewn so that they will not require ironing after cleaning.  The ribbons for the straps and robe ties are made of hand-dyed silk ribbons.”

The edges have been zig-zagged with pale green thread on the outside and ivory on the inside.

 

Rows of undulating stitches hold the seam allowances in place:

Teresa describes what she’s currently working on:

“I am in the process of weaving yardage for a knee-length coat. The yarn is silk in the warp and for the weft I’m using the same silk as well as a copper thread and a high-twist crepe.  I’m actually attempting to weave it in such a way that it will collapse at the waist and at the shoulders for shaping. The fabric for a slip dress to go with it is still undecided – I keep changing my mind. I also want to weave a fabric to go with my stainless steel dress for a ‘shrug’ or a jacket. Haven’t decided on that yet, either!”

If you’d like to learn more about Teresa’s lovely work, you can contact her at tkennard@juno.com.

 

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  1. SusanKhalje October 13th

    I know - the thought of sleeping in something so lovely! But, I have to say, the fabric - which combined wool with cashmere - was very, very soft.
    And the Denver class was one of my Couture Sewing School sessions - it wasn't a class for weaving or dyeing. Teresa just happened to be in the class, using a fabric she'd woven (and occasionally I get students who have done that). I was so fascinated with the wool and stainless steel fabric that I asked her to show me more of her work....so that's how it all came about. And interestingly, another student happened to have a stash of antique kimono fabrics and antique Japanese stencils...so that added to the experience, too. Very synergistic!!!

  2. Carly_Sue October 12th

    What talent! I love her ideas and her work is so beautiful.

  3. User avater saifonanaya October 12th

    It's very nice and lovely I like the print thanks for shering.

  4. User avater damselfly_ca October 12th

    So nice to see a weaver get some attention from sewers! The paste resist technique is called "katazome" in Japan. For more details, the delightful John Marshall is the expert in the US - http://www.johnmarshall.to/

  5. FabricEnabler October 12th

    The stencils interested me the most. I am adept at cutting stencils, but had not thought of doing large ones. These stencil would make a definite eye catching design element.

  6. User avater Snikwas October 12th

    The whole thing is quite wonderful - the attention to detail great.
    I just can't imagine actually sleeping in such a garment for two reasons:-
    a) Not wanting to spoil it!
    b) Even THAT fine wool next to the skin must be very uncomfortable!

  7. kathis October 11th

    Wow! What beautiful work! Many years ago I took a weaving class in college so I have a little understanding of just how much talent and work goes into weaving such fine cloth.

  8. KRINGLE0207 October 11th

    Ditto re question on classes in Denver -- I cant' find anything of this quality.

  9. Carolebarrel October 11th

    Beautiful but can you imagine sleeping in such a beautiful garment? Made for a honeymoon perhaps?

  10. User avater RStaff49 October 11th

    The Fabric and the designs are beautiful. This is an interesting introduction to the technique and the artist. You mentioned a class in Denver. May I ask where the class was presented?

  11. sbsford October 11th

    Lovely stuff. Interesting techniques and a joy to look at.

  12. User avater copperwoman October 11th

    Lovely! Is the stencil method that for Okinawan Bingata, or is it something else?

  13. User avater MandiB October 11th

    Thank you for sharing such beautiful and unique work.

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