The 12th and 13th of September, 2020 found 15 people from various parts of Georgia, Tennessee, and Ohio gathered together in a Zoom room with Weaving instructor, Deb Essen, who was located in Montana and Chris Hitchcock (Workshops Chair) in California. This gathering presented the first online workshop presented by both Chattahoochee Weavers Guild and Deb Essen. Everyone was excited to get started, having already selected an inspirational image or object and warp and weft yarns, and warped looms. Over the two-day workshop, students learned about color wheels, color theory, and what happens when we mix colors in weaving. Saturday morning started with introductions among the group, in which we shared our inspiration photos and/or objects, and shared the yarns that we had decided to work with for our samples. We then moved on to learning about definitions of terms (e.g., primary, secondary and tertiary hues, value, tints, tones, and shades etc.). After a brief break for lunch, we moved on to examining the effects of black, gray and white on colors. We also looked at the impact of value. Any CHG members who attended the last program that Deb gave at the guild in April 2019 might recall that she shared strategies for how to assess the value of colors, and how color values work together. (At this point, I began to wish I had recalled more from her previous presentation, and wondered about my color choices!) To close the day, everyone moved onto weaving their color samplers, with promises of more to come on Sunday.
On the second day of the workshop, Deb discussed proportion and planning, and how the Fibonacci series and Golden Ratio could be incorporated into designing with color. Throughout the workshop, Deb shared numerous samples from her work, and shared her views on both what worked, as well as experiments that did not transpire as planned. We also learned about great resources from Deb and other members of the class. Not surprisingly, the lesson for all of us was to “sample, sample, sample” when trying something new. We then split up to complete our samplers before we reconvened on Zoom in the afternoon. Deb was available for individuals’ questions throughout the afternoon as well. Late Sunday, everyone shared their samplers, lessons learned, and perceptions about what worked well, and what we would rather avoid in future. Educators often say that people learn by doing… and it was not until we each saw how the colors interacted in our samples that Deb’s lessons really sank in. There are some color experiments that I don’t intend to repeat any time soon!
Deb Essen’s workshop on color and weaving, like the program that she presented to the Guild members at the general meeting on Friday evening on her experiences earning the Certificate of Excellence from the Handweavers Guild of America, was energetic, informed, and most of all, inspirational to anyone wanting to learn more about weaving. Claude Monet is quoted as saying, “Color is my obsession, joy and torment.” Hopefully after Deb Essen’s workshop, we will all experience more joy, and less torment in our use of color in weaving. As one member of the class, I came away excited to do more sampling (yes!) experiments with color, and thinking about how I could design fabrics in ways that take advantage of the colors that I love. Moving to obsession perhaps?
The workshop was a great success, with few technical hitches. Yes, a few of us had issues in sharing our screens and images with one another, or pointing our cameras in the right direction, but overall these were minimal. This was in large part due to the preparatory work that Chris Hitchcock and Lauren Seidl had done with us to facilitate the workshop in Zoom. Thanks to Chris and Lauren for their work facilitating the workshop. I have no doubt that participants in the next class that Deb Essen is due to teach at the end of September will have lots of fun.