Conversation with Jason Collingwood, Part 2

At Jason Collingwood’s Plain Weave Rug Workshop in Waco, Texas last week, I completed a technique sampler. I was not one of the fastest guns in the West, so I have a couple yards (or more…) of that linen warp still on my little loom. One piece of advice Jason gave in class was to use the intricacies of these techniques sparingly–to keep it simple when it comes to rug design. That is what I am aiming for as I finish off this warp, hoping to end up with some miniature rugs (the warp is only 11 1/4″ wide) as design samples.

Jason Collingwood Plain Weave Workshop Sampler

Finished sample of plain weave rug techniques. The sample begins with countered twining that extends past the selvedge with a four-strand braid. My favorite technique is the crossed weft combined with meet and separate, seen at the far end of the sample.

Jason was kind enough to converse with me on topics that would benefit you, my blog friends. You can catch the first part of that conversation, covering Jason’s perspective as a rug weaver and a teacher of rug weaving, here.

Now, enjoy Part 2 of our conversation.

Me: Once someone has mastered the technical aspects, and is producing quality handwoven goods, they may want to sell what they have produced. What advice do you have for someone just starting out?

Jason: You need to be very determined. You have to accept that it’s not going to happen instantly. And you have to be prepared to sacrifice certain things in life that a normal job may give you–be that security, spare income, or, possibly, medical insurance coverage.

Me: It’s challenging to get started, then?

Jason: I look back to my early years, and it’s interesting‚Ķ And Akiko, my wife, is a very successful ceramicist now, but when she started off, to save money, she would walk across London four or five miles, with a little dolly on wheels. She would buy her bags of clay, put them on the dolly, and wheel them back across London. And you know, there are all these early little sacrifices that you don’t see, when you see the person in the galleries successfully selling their work.

Me: Your father, Peter Collingwood, was well-known as an extraordinary rug weaver. But you still needed to put in a lot of hard work, yourself, for people to associate Jason Collingwood with high quality handwoven rugs. So, if someone aspires to succeed as a weaver, how can they make it work?

Jason: I think you need to have determination, and some amount of grit, and self-discipline. At the end of the day, there’s no one telling you to sit at that loom, and weave again the same things you did yesterday, and again, and again, and again. I think it’s just perseverance. As long as you are producing something of quality, eventually, if you persevere, it’ll pay off.

Me: Okay, that gives hope to someone willing to work hard. If we look beyond the present challenges, and work, with determination, we have something to look forward to.

Jason: You know, those barren early years are almost like an investment in your future life, your weaving life. I mean, I didn’t particularly enjoy those years, but I think they were almost a necessary test of whether I was going to stick it out. I think a lot of people would’ve folded in those early years, and said, Okay, this isn’t working. But, you know, it was kind of a test of my resolve that I carried on.

Me: Thank you for sharing your story! Your insights bring considerable value to weavers, but also to people in other fields interested in improving their craft. I appreciate the encouragement of your example of determination. Thanks again!

 

Please visit Jason Collingwood’s website, here, to see the stunning rugs he weaves and sells, as well as descriptions of his workshops. You can also enjoy the artistry of Jason’s wife, Akiko, at her website, here.

May your determination and perseverence pay off.

With some amount of grit,
Karen

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Conversation with Jason Collingwood, Part 1

Last week I had the privilege to sit down with Jason Collingwood, internationally acclaimed rug weaver, for an interesting conversation, covering several topics. This, the first of two parts, focuses on Jason’s experience as a rug weaver and a teacher of rug weaving. The second part, in my next post, focuses on Jason’s views of what it takes to become a successful artisan.

Jason Collingwood Plain Weave Rug Workshop

Jason Collingwood, at my little loom, demonstrates a selvedge technique used for plain weave rugs. I am watching every move.

Me: Your father, Peter Collingwood, wrote the comprehensive book, The Techniques of Rug Weaving. Just how important is technical skill for creating handwoven rugs?

Jason: I’m passionate about technical competence. That is number one, because if you don’t get that part right, what you are producing is not going to be satisfactory.

Me: Is it possible to look at a rug and tell if it was woven with technical competence?

Jason: One of the defining parts of a good rug is the selvedge. Always check out people’s selvedges. If they’ve got a neat selvedge, then it’s a sign of a good rug weaver.

Me: What is it that sets you apart from other rug weavers?

Jason: Well, there aren’t many rug weavers to set me apart from. I remember when I started weaving–and I did endless shows–there would be maybe five or six rug weavers in the same show. And for the past fifteen years, or so, when I’ve done shows in London, I am the only rug weaver. So, whether that’s survival of the fittest, or they went on and got proper jobs (with a grin)

Me: You have excelled in producing high quality handwoven rugs, even though few people have been able to do that. How do you account for your success?

Jason: I think what possibly sets me apart is that I’ve just done this one thing for twenty-six years now. Most weavers, be they rug weavers, or other, probably have other strings to their bow, and do other things. By just concentrating on one thing, your name perhaps becomes associated with that product, and that helps you in the long run.

Me: Have you considered weaving other items besides rugs–like scarves, for instance?

Jason: I don’t think there’d be any benefit for me, suddenly trying to weave scarves, and sell scarves. I don’t think I’d be adding anything to the world of weaving scarves.

Me: You teach in your studio in England; and you travel around the world teaching rug weaving. Is there any piece of advice that you want your students to grasp?

Jason: One overlooked bit of advice is that you have to accept that the technique that we’re weaving in, and the looms that we’re using, place limitations upon you. You need to work within those limitations. Do not try to make the loom or technique do things that it doesn’t want to do. I think too many people have preconceived ideas of what they want to produce from a workshop; and then they try and make the structure achieve these ideas. Sometimes it just technically doesn’t produce the design they want, and they get frustrated.

Me: How can a student get the best results, then?

Jason: I think you need to understand the structure, and work in harmony with the structure. And then you will be much happier with your finished product, because you are not fighting the structure.

…To be continued…

Please visit Jason Collingwood’s website to see the beautiful rugs he creates and sells, and descriptions of the classes he teaches. I was fortunate to take Jason’s Plain Weave workshop last week at Homestead Fiber Crafts in Waco, Texas, where my little Glim√•kra Ideal had her maiden voyage. It was an excellent class that I would recommend to anyone interested in learning basic rug weaving techniques.

May you find your one thing, and grow in expertise.

Still learning,

Karen

 

2 Comments

  • Doug Gagnon says:

    I have taken 2 classes with Jason. He covers a lot of material in his classes.
    One finishing technique he covered was a method to finishe without fringes. I believe he had a red sample. I am trying to use this technique but cannot remember how to do it nor can I find it in my notes.
    Is there someone that can explain the technique?

    Thanks

    Doug Gagnon

    • Karen says:

      Hi Doug,
      I do remember seeing Jason demonstrate a few finishing techniques. I’m not positive which one you are referring to, but I will go take a look in my notes from the workshop and see if I find something that answers your question.
      In the meantime, I have a short video on tapestry edging that is very similar to one of the edgings that Jason described. Besides the “braided” edge that I show in my video, Jason also showed us how to weave each of the ends back into the rug using a sacking needle.

      I hope this helps,
      Karen

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