Tapestry Weaving on the Mirrix:
If you’ve ever tried to weave tapestry on a loom not intended for weaving tapestry, you understand how frustrating it is to not have the kind of tension necessary to weave a tapestry that will not look like something you imagine might have emerged from weaving day at summer camp. Tapestry is a demanding medium full of must have requirements. If you give her what she wants, she is as lovely as can be. But if you deny her the simple requirement of a dedicated and worthy tapestry loom, she can be quite the adversary. Forget even selvedges unless you are some kind of magician. Forget evenly spaced warps. And if you have an inferior shedding mechanism or none at all, forget your sanity. It’s bound to march off to the wistful world or potholder looms while slashing the warps on your inadequate loom with a sharp and deadly scissor.
Good tapestry looms are necessary for weaving tapestry. Period. Four harness jack looms don’t work. Rigid heddle looms don’t work. Flimsy portable wooden tapestry looms don’t work. Little home-made frames work for about two rows and then you might as well just stop because it goes downhill after that and you won’t be hanging that thing on anyone’s wall.
So what are the exacting requirement of a good or even great portable tapestry loom? (The same requirements apply mostly to a floor loom but since you won’t be hauling a floor loom around the house or to your next workshop which is necessary to be called a portable loom, we will leave them off this list. Okay, here comes the list.) We are talking portable looms here.
1) Provides great tension. No compromise on this. Shall I say that one more time? Okay, you get it.
2) Provides some kind of shedding device that is easily operated and keeps the shed open without you having to do a series of cartwheels first. Having to stick a stick (say that ten times fast) into the open shed to keep it in place isn’t so much fun.
3) Stands sturdily in place either on a table, in your lap or on some kind of stand.
4) Can provide the kind of length you need relative to the width you know you’ve got.
5) The option of a variety of reeds for various warp setts because not everyone wants to weave at six ends per inch.
6) The ability to add a foot treadle is a huge plus. And it’s rare, so if you are looking for that stop your search because you’ve just found it.
7) A guaranteed life time of use. Yeah, that’s important. Who wants to waste money on a piece of beautiful (that’s the last requirement) equipment that falls apart before you’ve abandoned it for other tapestry weaving lands?
8) Beautiful. Indeed it should be beautiful. Afterall, tapestry takes more time to weave than most of us are willing to sleep in a day, so if you’ve got to look at that loom for hours on end you sure want it to be beautiful. Remember that little saying of ours: Because the loom you weave on should be a work of art? We are sticking to it.
Other things to consider:
What size loom do I want and what can I get? Having a nice range of sizes is very helpful because some of us like to crawl into bed with our looms and others like to make a big spectacle of their creative moment with something huge and grand like the Zeus loom (okay, it’s not that huge, but as far as portable tapestry looms go, it’s pretty darn big as was the dog we named it for). Some people love a size so in between the two that they can even tell you exactly how many inches wide they require or would like. We might not have the exact size loom for everybody, but we come close. And no one is saying we won’t special order one for you if you just can’t live without a 23 and a half inch wide loom! We’ve done it before. That’s how the Zeus loom came into existence.
What do I want to get with this loom? You need to make or buy heddles. Easy to make and not so cheap to buy. But it’s your dime.
Are you weaving sewing thread at 22 ends per inch (a halo comes with that request)? If so, you might want to spring for that bottom spring kit. It helps keep all those thinner than thin threads orderly while you remind yourself why you have agreed to such a task. And speaking of springs, you need to know which warp sett you want. The tapestry looms all come with four different springs (8, 12, 14 and 18 dents per inch) which allows for quite a variety of weaving setts. We have filler springs (10 and 16) if you just have to march to your own drummer. And we’ve got those two tail end springs for those of you who can’t bare to weave with anything thicker than sewing thread and itty bitty spun silk threads.
What do you need? A Mirrix Loom, a ten dent spring (these do NOT come with the looms), warp, weft, beads, a cuff base, beading thread, glue (Or you can purchase our tapestry/bead cuff bracelet kit for 25% off if you’re taking part in the weave-along. Email [email protected] for discount code. Cannot be combined with any other offers.) **Update, for those in the contiguous united states the last day to buy a kit and have it arrive in time for the start of the weave-along is July 18th** You’ll also need basic supplies like a pair of scissors and a needle. (That said, if you want to participate and want to do a slightly different project, we can certainly accomodate you, just let us know what you plan to do.)
How does this work? From warping to finishing Claudia and I will walk you through the steps of completing this bracelet. Once a week we will all check-in on Facebook and via email thread, post pictures and discuss progress. Throughout the week questions and comments can be discussed via an email thread, comments on this blog, the Facebook page and our Ravelry page.
Please email [email protected] to express your official interest and receive updates!
Let’s get weaving!
Mostly, I weave alone. This is partly because I don’t have anyone to weave with (I know, why have I not yet joined the tapestry group in my weavers’ guild? Time, I guess) and partly because I get a lot of therapeutic pleasure from weaving alone. It’s a time when I can concentrate just on weaving and being creative. That said, I like the idea of collaboration when it comes to weaving. It’s nice to be able to ask someone, “How do you like these colors together?” or “What size beads should I use?”
In that same spirit of collaboration, we’ve decided to host a virtual weave-along this summer. We’ll choose a project (I’ve asked on Facebook what you guys would like to weave… consensus so far is tapestry/bead cuff bracelet), get together supplies (we can sell you kits or you can get stuff together yourself) and we’ll check in each day (via email, Facebook, Ravelry…) or each couple days to report our progress, ask questions and go over problems. Claudia and I will “host” and lead the discussion and time tables. We’ll also go through the warping process with you, so this is a great time to get out that still-unwarped loom and get a project going. I have not set a timetable yet but I will give you time to order a loom if you need one before we start. Tentative mid-July start date?
Comment and email me [email protected] to express interest and weigh in.
Progress on my split-bracelet… slowly, slowly… too much going on at once!
|Elena, happy we are finally set up although the next day we will have changed everything around.|
|Claudia also pleased to be done with set up|
The show was great. Lasted two and a half days and we sold everything we had brought. That was the goal. I hate having to pack stuff up and sending it back. Kathe was teaching the only tapestry class at the show. It was one of the most popular classes. She had a few half day classes and then one couple day class (I think). That one had 20 students. I don’t know how she does it. Plus, the treadle she brought wasn’t cooperating when she tried to attach it to the loom. What a fiasco. Finally, the plumber (that would be me) arrived and a half an hour later, a lot of sweat and a sore hand (I just slammed that thing onto the shedding device with my fist because I was lacking any tools) it was in fine working order.
The vendor across the way was selling gold. I kid you not. I had to buy a cone of it. Just had to. 14k Gold spun around a silk core. It doesn’t get any better than that. Our next kit will include this gold and silk threads and 24k plated beads. It’s going to be gorgeous. Probably “smartphone” size with a woven strap. I plan to get to work on it today. Would have last night but our power went out just when the light was getting dim so I read a book by flickering candle light which is really hard on your eyes.
|Don’t you just want to take this home!|
|I did take it home!|