Weaving a Warp Ikat Tapestry

I weave lots of scarfs, mats, brooches and other smaller items, but weaving tapestry is the most enjoyable and creative process.Tapestries are generally woven by spinning and weaving techniques using a sketch of the motive. I, however, weave the warp ikat textile first and then embroider on top of it. In this post I will introduce how to fabricate warp ikat tapestries and show some of my own pieces.

This is the tapestry I made when I studied at Kawashima Textile School. I designed the tapestry imagining the pure and freezing air in the winter forest. It is the first work in which I tried to produce a stereoscopic effect through a combination of weaving and embroidery.

Warp ikat embroidery winter motive

Winter forest

Kyoko Nakahara, VÄV Magazine

VÄV 2018 article page

My next work captures autumn. When I was visiting Sweden, my friend’s father took us to his favorite forest. The sunset was glowing into the forest and the whole forest was shining in golden colors. This warp ikat tapestry expresses the scene.

Warp ikat embroidery forest golden light motive

Autumn light

The last warp ikat is a tapestry that a client had ordered. This work does not express a specific season, but shows the colorful light of the forest.

Warp ikat different colors

Sasso tapestry personal collection

Introduction to the weaving process:
“Ikat” is a technique for expressing patterns by specific dyeing techniques and then weaving warps / wefts. You can see the warps after the dyeing process in the picture below.

Warp ikat dyed warp

Dyed warps

Traditional warp ikat dyeing consists of dyeing only certain parts of the warp, while I dye my warps in different colours. I classify my tapestry as a warp ikat even though I slightly alter the dyeing technique.

Warp ikat in process

Bottom part of the warp with changing colors

Warp ikat in process

Top part ofthe warp with changing colors

Warp ikat embroidery

Embroidery on a warp ikat textile

Warp ikat embroidery forest winter motive

Winter forest motive, zoomed in

Warp ikat embroidery forest golden light motive

Autumn light motive, zoomed in

For the described tapestries, I had been dyeing with a chemical dye which tends to produce a clear and predefined colour. For future work, I would like to use naturally dyed colors as well. I’m looking forward to seeing what colors Swedish plants can create.


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