reading the Chorus

reading the Chorus

In conjunction with her CCBC gallery show, artist Joanna Rogers shares how to ‘read’ her weavings.

The exhibition will be on view in our gallery from february 23 – april 20, 2023

After weaving Save Our Souls and Each Slow Dusk I realized that the morse code messages they contained were extremely well hidden and I decided to weave the next piece, Fade Far Away, as a cipher.

For the warp, each word has a different background colour; Fade = weld/eastern brazilwood dipped in an iron afterbath to create a lovely browny beige. Far = pomegranate dipped in an iron afterbath for a rich olive green. Away = myrobalan dipped in an iron afterbath to give a dark charcoal.

I used cochineal, quebracho and a madder/cochineal mix for the dots and dashes. Each letter is a different colour. Fade reads; F = cochineal, A = quebracho, D = madder/cochineal, E = cochineal. I dipped almost all the warp morse code threads in an iron afterbath to “sadden” the colours but I kept out enough threads so that the first warp thread of each dot and dash is the original, bright colour.

If you are reading across, you can see the vertical stripes creating the message Fade Far Away or ..-. .- -.. .  ..-. .- .-.  .- .– .- -.–

The same message is also woven five times echoing the original phrase. It is much harder to see this because it is all woven in the three background colours. However, the individual words can be seen as the weft threads change colour to match the words. This translates to a block of beige, a block of olive and a block of charcoal being repeated down the length of the warp.

“Oh No No No has a wonderfully lilting pattern created by the repetition of the letter ‘O’ :
—…. -. — -. — -. —


Continuing with the idea of making the weavings more readable, I wove the fourth piece to be legible both horizontally and vertically. The message Oh No No No was woven in wool dyed with eastern brazilwood on a background of warps and tabby wefts dyed with four variations of madder. The contrast between the pattern and the background makes the pattern really stand out.

Reading across, you are looking for rectangles versus squares of dark red for the dashes and dots. Reading down, you are looking for sets of three rectangles or squares for a dash or just one for a dot. And, once again, the message is woven five times down the length of the warp.

Oh No No No has a wonderfully lilting pattern created by the repetition of the letter ‘O’:

— ….  -. —  -. —  -. —

Happy decoding!