Dani Ortman weaves by hand on a 4-shaft floor loom, in her Manitoulin Island studio. Her mastery of pattern, colour and texture is obviuos in her intricate designs in silk, organic cotton and linen. Her scarfs, shawls and throws are made with care and attention to every thread, and the designs are classic, traditional and modern all at the same time. Dani believes in handcrafted quality to withstand generations of use and enjoyment. Like so many artisans, she hopes for a future where we choose locally handmade, quality products infavour of mass-produced, machine-made and disposable products.
"Our planet can not sustain poorly made products that are only intended to last one season. And we’re nothing without a planet to live on. Seasonal trends are an outdated approach to fashion. Encouraging you to invest in our future through seeking products that have been crafted to last a lifetime. And, to ask questions: ...who made it, how was it made & will it last?”
Over the course of the coming year she plans on explaining, step by step, the construction of her textiles. Everything from what goes into designing the patterns and dyeing the colours, to the intricacies of setting up a loom. And of course, weaving! You can follow the process on her website. "I'm going to attempt to grow ALL of my dye plants. Wish me luck. It's still frozen here in Canada, so give me time, once spring begins to bud... so will I!!" She is busy growing indigo and collecting other wild flowers for dying.
Recently she created this beautiful piece using a "shadow weave" technique. Below, the threads are warped and ready to go on the loom. If you notice the alternating black and white thread for thread, this is how you warp to produce a shadow weave structure. This was her first shadow weave.
This is clearly not something you do carelessly or quickly, so how does she unwind and stay focused? She meditates of course! Three years ago she was introduced to something called Vipassana Meditation. It has had a tremendous impact on her life and her work. She says it helps her feel rejuvenated and enables her to focus on the intricacies of handwoven cloth. "Weaving requires immeasurable patience and Vipassana Meditation has proven to be very useful in my weaving practice."
Dani is also the editor for the Guild of Canadian Weavers (www.thegcw.ca) .
If you know other "Notable Artisans" for us to write about please let us know at admin@ArtisanOntario.ca