November 13, 2004
The New York Guild of Handweavers was privileged to welcome Takako Ueki, founder of the Habu Textiles, studio and showroom for handwoven textiles, to its November 13th Saturday meeting. Takako delighted us with her personal story about how she came to America as a teenager and became interested in weaving, fascinated us with her talk on unique and unusual fibers and textiles, educated us on various dying, weaving and spinning techniques and wooed us with the numerous samples of yarns and fabric she brought with her.
Takako came to the US when she was 16 years old, needing to get away from home. She was sent to boarding school in Chicago and was interested in the arts in high school. She studied painting, drawing and printmaking, and although she could not speak English that well at the time she felt she was able to communicate through her art. An art school in New York was suggested to her and she spent 4 years there, majoring in printmaking, yet always loving textiles. While working for a gallery in the early 90's she took a formal weaving class at FIT and found her calling. Takako started collecting equipment and yarns, got her first loom and took 2 years to learn to weave. Her training was from other weavers, customers and guilds. In 1999 she started a weaving studio and in 2001 started selling yarns.
Takako's unique style of creating textiles of unusual lengths and widths using rare or difficult to find materials sets her apart in the fiber and weaving world. She has been weaving for 10 years and says she lets her yarn do the work. Her first 5 years she used heavier yarns but about 6 years ago the yarns she wove with started getting thinner and thinner as she was inspired by 12th and 13th century paintings of women with shear covering on their heads. She says it's like weaving with air.
Takako's story continued with a presentation of various textiles she has woven, fibers she has collected, some of which she has traveled back to Japan to obtain, and slides of techniques of spinning, dying and weaving in Japan that are becoming more and more obsolete. We were treated to slides of silk making, weaving with backstrap looms as well as shown samples of cocoons, kuzu fiber, various rare silks, paper yarn and gold leaf, to name a few.
All of Takako's fabrics are created from natural materials and are one-of-a-kind, never to be duplicated. They can be used to make clothing, drapery or decorative art, or appreciated simply for fine craftsmanship.
We came away from this presentation feeling richly inspired, not only from the beautiful and unusual fabrics and raw materials we had the pleasure of viewing and handling but inspired as well by the journey and story of this young artist.