Concept: Inferring a fictive world from a tapestry

In my quest to design and make an appropriate header for this blog, I finished off my last post by musing about what pattern would be depicted by the weaver in the image. The tapestry should represent the inner world of the weaver, and also serve to flag a few things about the world to the viewer. So in this post I’ll plot out a few thoughts I had in this process.

What is it that I want the viewer to infer about the world?

  • It is a world that was conquered, has a complex cultural coalescence happening.

The main reason why I began world building was to build a fictive space in order to explore stories of cultural contact under certain circumstances, namely of conquest and being conquered. So the first question that came to mind was “How does the weaver feel about the conquest?” but the answer actually depends more “Who is the weaver?” Is she from the conquering side, or the conquered side? How does she personally view the historical conquest? This might seem like some indulgent naval gazing, but is actually fundamental because… what does the viewer herself look like? What does her dress tell us about who she is? Is she from the conquering side, or the conquered side? (since the two groups historically dressed differently.)

But I as the artist also want to communicate a specific image of the world to the viewer, I decided to have my wants limit who the weaver might be. I want the image of the world to be exiting, vivid, and complex, with evidence of cultural mixture. Working from that starting point, it could be inferred that the weaver is probably, at a minimum, philosophical about the conquest; not completely hostile towards the conquerors, but perhaps weary of depicting it as something completely glorious and amazing.

High chance she’s a person of mixed heritage (both conqueror and conquered), a közluqi. They dress a certain way, so the outfit of the weaver should reflect that. I also decided that the tapestry should have visual elements from both the conqueror and conquered cultures. This naturally led to the decision that the tapestry should be an intricate and colourful one with various symbols, motifs, and patterns.

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Progress shot. I kind of like these colours, but maybe a bit dull for a header?

Of course, this ground work is all invisible to the viewer who knows nothing about the world, or it’s component parts. But this is what I love about world building: the opportunity to think about how a world is made up socially and environmentally, but also how to weave in those elements into a visual piece to create the image of a world that feels real enough that it may exist. Whether I’ve succeeded int his case is, well, up for debate but…

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The more-or-less finished piece. Opted for flashier colours because a header should grab people’s attention, or something.

I’ve still got to tweak things before this picture is more complete, but here we have the bulk of the tapestry. In the next post I’m going to share the basic premise of the world, and begin introducing the two civilisations that are represented in this tapestry.

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Concept: Pattern and Weaving

Step one in my quest to art a blog header! (The post that got me going on this process.)

It may sound superficial to some, but I honestly feel that objects of beauty are one way of having your interest piqued re: foreign cultures. For me, textiles and wearable art (head gear, masks, jewellry) are that thing. Music and food are also good, but my personal tastes interfere on this front; I’m much more drawn to certain parts of the world than others. But textiles and wearable art, I find all forms fascinating and exquisite.

What makes textiles particularly special in my eyes is that there is ample space to play with colour and patterns. Being a 2D art kind of person, I find patterns a fascinating glimpse into the worldview of a different culture. You get a sense of what’s important to a culture, and also their sensibilities.

So for my header I want to have some patterns. But just having abstract patterns by itself is a bit contextless… I want the fictive world to feel as real, so there has to be a character in the image.

So I started searching for images of people weaving. There are many different ways of weaving, but I decided to go for the very dramatic looking vertical loom-based techniques like those used in the Turkic world. So off I went to Google Images (bless this tech), and started sketching.  Some thoughts I jotted down while doing research:

  • Just hands is mysterious and nice, plus getting up close and personal with the textile is kind of appealing. But just a hand is a bit too devoid. So more mystery, like a full figure weaving would be good.
  • A one-point perspective pic that has the tapestry at a slight angle might be nice, makes a more interesting composition, but I want the tapestry to take centre stage. So no skewing.
  • Checked out vertical looms from Turkey, Australia, Navajo, India, and they more or less have the same basic structure. Probably don’t need to spend too much detail on the loom itself for the picture.

So at the moment the rough looks something like this (pretty anticlimactic, actually):

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So now the tricky (but fun) part! What pattern is the weaver weaving? Is it a pattern? If so what kind of symbolism will it display? Or is it a depiction of a scene? How does the weaver feel about the subject matter? This will have to go on to another post where I nut out my thought process of how to infer a world via the tapestry and its weaver.

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Images that are not mine are licensed under  Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication or are in the public domain.