On April 23, I attended the in-gallery demonstration at the Hammer Museum in the “Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1937-1957” exhibition. During the in-gallery demonstration, Cameron Taylor-Brown set up her looming station and demonstrated the process. I watched as she performed what seemed to be a very complicated procedure. As she worked, Cameron described the process, which involves the warp bean, heddles, and harness. There are three principal motions involved in weaving - shedding, picking, and battening. During shedding, the yarn is raised and then the filling shuttle is inserted. Cameron explained that some machines do this part automatically for you, while other older machines do not. The Picking is when the harness raises and the shed is created. Lastly, during the battening, the yarn is placed down and the weaver uses the reed to press down each filling of the yarn.
After gaining an understanding the looming process and watching Cameron do it in person, I was stimulated to recall the class lecture in which we learned about two other important processes - the printing press and the assembly line. In particular, the loom reminded me of the printing press because they both have their origins long ago. Today, many clothes are not woven or created by hand; they are produced by machines on an assembly line. No human hands (or hearts) generate them. The looming process requires knowledge, skill and care. But today, in so many instances, clothes are the result of heartless machines who do not know nor can they care what they produce. In contrast, I know if Cameron Taylor-Brown made me a garment, it would be made with real care, and that adds great value to it for me.