“Caora an Iarthair” – Sheep of the West.

Ethical Making

Heritage

Storytelling

Sustainable

Traditional

This piece was hand-woven using 8 shafts on an ARM Touch60 loom. The warp and weft of these pieces are made from 100% authentic Irish wool from Galway. The Galway sheep are the last native Irish breed of sheep. The colours seen in this sample have been naturally dyed with plant based dyes, Indigo. The colour symbolises the spray painted tags seen on the bums of sheep all over the west of Ireland.

Material

Fiber
Pigments and glazes

Craft

Textiles

General Technique

Combining
Constructing
Surface modifying

Specific Technique

This sample was created using an ARM Touch60 loom using 8 out of 24 shafts. The draft used for this weave was a straight draft at a width of 14” and 28epi. The woven structure used was called the Brighton honeycomb which gave similar textures to the sheep’s wool. The colour seen was naturally dyed using plant based dyes. Indigo was used to create the bright blue and log-wood was used to create the rustic orange. The technique used to create the sheep bum element of this sampan involved cutting stands of plain un-dyed wool and strands of the dyed wool and then tying and knotting these strands to the warp when the shafts have been lifted. Once tied they were further secured with the weft yarn. Once all the weaving was complete the samples were removed from the loom and the edges were sewn and secured. Once the pieces have been framed to create the super fluffy and puffy texture the 2ply wool used was unravelled leaving the yarn crinkled and curled just like the bodies of sheep.

Properties & Qualities

Application

Sample Making Art

Qualities

Textured

Colour

Blue Orange White

Sample Information

Date of creation

October 2022

Dimensions

Width 12” Height 12” (excluding frame)

Weight

1178g

Culture & Context

After spending 2 weeks in Letterfrack in Connemara, Co. Galway I fell in love with the sheep of the west and their little wooly bums. The spray painted tags of all colours inspired me to create a series of woven pieces made from 100% Irish wool from the last native breed of Irish sheep, the Galway Sheep. Using natural dyes I tried to recreate these wool colourful bums through a series of contemporary weaves. These pieces are a celebration of the heritage and culture of Ireland focusing on authentic Irish fibres – the wool and slow sustainable and ethical making. All pieces are named as Gaelige (in the native Irish language) to further celebrate traditional Irish culture and language.

Process & Production

The process of this material was firstly sourcing the natural dye materials and then hand-dying the Irish wool yarn using Indigo and Log-wood. I then set up the loom using 8 shafts and a straight draft on an ARM Touch 60 loom. The width of the warp is  14” and it has 28epi. I used a 1ply yarn from Galway wool for the warp and the weft used a 2ply yarn from Galway wool. The textured sheep bums were created by tying  and knotting strands of the 2ply yarn to the warp threads when certain shafts were lifted and were secured by a weft yarn in between each row. Once the weaving was complete the samples were cut off the loom and stitched to secure the edges before being mounted to the canvas. Once framed the 2ply wool strands of the sheep bum element were unravelled to create the fluffy, crinkled texture just like the bodies of the sheep.

Recipe Details

1ply Galway wool used for the warp at 14” and 28epi.
8 shafts were used and the threading plan was a straight draft.
Each sample were a length of 14” (leaving 2’’ of waste edges to secure to the canvas).
The colours seen were naturally dyed using Indigo and Logwood. Recipes for the
dying were sourced form Apple Oak Fibres Works (an Irish company based in Co. Clare).
The textured bums were added organically by tying and knotting cut strands of wool
using a combination of a 2ply plain un-dyed wool and naturally dyed wool.
After framing the strands were individually unravelled leaving a crinkled fluffy texture
bouncing up from the surface of the weave.

Credits

Craft Maker

Amy Kerr (AK Textiles)

Library Contributor

National College of Art & Design Ireland

Photographer

Amy Kerr

Practitioner