I have been meaning to write this post since last Sunday but time and internet issues (yes, little biting animals finally made their way through our Comcast cable and suddenly no internet!) stood in my way. Here goes . . .
My stepson and his girlfriend (Amanda) visited us last weekend. Didge (stepson) and Rick (husband) were going to work on revamping the sailboat cushions. Oh what fun (thank goodness for Didge!). I realized immediately that if I didn’t do something quickly, Amanda would get sucked into this fun task. Amanda is a fan of my jewelry. It’s become a standard gift item for her and she’s always appreciated it. So I thought: hmmmmm, since I am going to be working on weaving kit designs today might as well ask Amanda if she would like to try her hand at bead weaving.
Smart girl. She didn’t hesitate. “Sure!”
One never knows what to expect. Amanda has never expressed interest in weaving before and I’ve never seen her do anything similar. Like she doesn’t haul around a bag of knitting or needlepoint or bead crochet, etc. (as I do). It turns out she’s never explored any of those things. So this new experience could be a total bust, somewhat successful or wildly successful. I had no idea. All I knew was: 1) I like Amanda’s company so in any case it would fun; 2) I was exempting her from holding foam while my husband sliced through it with an electric carving knife.
Meet Amanda. See that look on her face. She had that look all day. That absorbed, nothing else exists in this world, I am loving this, I don’t even mind making mistakes, I am not leaving this seat unless I absolutely have to . . . .look.
I started Amanda off with something hard: a strip of 11/0 Delica beads. This was the subject of my last post: a strip of beadwork to be attached to a leather cuff. That was what I had Amanda weave. I gave her a selection of about fifty colors from which to choose. And then I gave her some ideas for geometric shapes. I showed her how to weave beads. I did set up her loom (with the no warps kit) and got her first row going. But other than that, I sat across the table, chatted with her and did my own thing.
We has started fairly late in the day, so she just got to finish weaving the piece. More pictures:
And that’s the finished piece! Amazing. Total success. I didn’t think Amanda even stood up once before completing this piece.
The next day we attached the beadwork to the cuff. I don’t know why I don’t have any photos of that! “So Amanda, want to weave something else today?”
Surprise, surprise! She did. Next piece was the crystal and bead wrap bracelet. Well guess what? It’s a lot easier than the first piece to weave. She just zoomed through that like a pro. You can see her finished cuff in the foreground (not a great picture, sorry).
And here is the finished piece. Please excuse my lousy photography. It was a very grey day and I was just being sloppy. Never-the-less, the piece was gorgeous.
And guess what Amanda wants for her birthday? More Claudia-made jewelry? Of course not. You know what Amanda wants!
My latest addiction is returning to size 11 Delica beads and either using or not using the kit to eliminate warp ends. The piece is then attached to a leather cuff. I just glue it on. I have been putting these to the test, and the glue does hold. I have done some off-loom work to make the ends pointy (prettier, I think). Let me show you some pictures on the loom.
Now some on the cuff and off the loom (obviously!):
And yes, this will become a kit. I have been endlessly looking at bead colors to figure out what that kit might include. I have some pretty good ideas, but need to do some more tests.
Ever since we had some amazing kids take part in a bead weaving class back in December, we have been thinking a lot about weaving and kids. We believe that when it comes to art, high quality tools and materials are key and this certainly applies to weaving. Plastic beads and a loom with bad tension just can’t produce the same quality work that a good loom and nice beads can.
We are working on some fun and easy kits targeted towards beginners and even young (12 and up) weavers. We are focusing on bright colors, larger beads and simple patterns.
Do you weave with yours kids or grandkids? Do you have any advice for the kits we are developing? Let us know in the comments!
I finished the thin piece but didn’t like it enough to make into a purse. I was anxious to get started on a bigger piece. For the thinner piece I had used “test” colors. Just everything I had purchased but mostly the colors I was not thrilled with. It was a process of elimination. The color at the very top was one I thought I would not like (and so ordered only one skein . . . I have since ordered a bunch more) because it looked dull on the website. Turns out it’s just a very subtle blend of beige and pink. What I did like about this piece is the texture. I loved the whole process.
The next piece is being woven on a 16 inch loom. After weaving the smaller piece on an 8 inch loom, the 16 inch loom seemed enormous. I didn’t warp the entire width, but close to it. Again, I used C-Lon cord, which I think is the best warp for this kind of piece. The warps get rubbed a lot when you wrap around them with the silk material weft and the C-Lon cord is strong enough to withstand the rubbing. My first piece (there was one before the one above) is in the trash because I used hand-painted silk warp and it broke! Lesson learned! I then started searching all around my studio for something that would work. Suddenly it occurred to me that the C-Lon (fine weight . . . could also be heavier) would work great. Besides being strong, it’s very smooth and allows the silk weft to settle correctly.
So this is where I am at with the second piece (actually, the third piece, but the second one you are going to get to see). I love these colors and they will be the ones we will be selling. I haven’t used all of them yet.
You can see that I took a totally different path with this one. I have woven shapes, instead of just stripes. The fun thing about Soumak versus tapestry weaving is you don’t have to worry about being in the right shed because there is not shed. You can begin a new piece of weft anywhere and go anywhere with it. In a few spots I have woven the weft. You can see where the blue and purple meet there is a little bit of weaving. How can you see that? Well, there is a little bit of “dotting” which comes from weaving a weft of one color followed by a weft of another color followed by a weft of the first color.
I have a long way to go. However, because the weft is so thick, even though Soumak technically takes longer to accomplish than weaving, it didn’t take me that much time to weave this much. I wasn’t actually keeping track, but I did do it in one sitting and I don’t sit for very long. So at most a couple of hours.
A little more information: the ends of the weft do stick out the back of the piece. So this will not be a two-sided piece. I imagine it will make a great larger purse or even a pillow. If I were to weave a larger piece to use as a rug, I would have to line the back. Or, I guess if I wove the beginning of each new weft for an inch or so before doing the soumak that would eliminate the tails on the back. Hmmmm . . . . think I’ll give that a try.
There’s always that time right after the holidays where it really hits me that it’s winter. I start getting sick of chapped lips and cold nights and longing for spring (which seems oh-so-far-away). If you’re fighting the winter blues, there’s nothing better than some quality time with your loom to cheer you up! Get started with some fantastic January deals!
I have returned from Seattle refreshed and overwhelmed with ideas and work. White in Seattle Elena and I did a lot of brainstorming (my head feels ready to fall off) and now it’s our job to make these ideas become reality.
We stumbled upon this wonderful company that sells and dyes recycled sari silk. This is not the spun version (although they do that too), rather this is comprised of strips of sari fabric that have been sewn together to create essentially ribbons of silk. Of course, we ordered every color to see what we like best and we liked them all, of course.
My job upon returning to NH was to figure out how to best use these ribbons on a Mirrix loom. I was thrilled to return home to my box of silk which quickly found its way into balls and into a basket.
See what I mean about the colors!
I decided to set up a rather thin warp and just weave the strips back and forth. I used C-Lon cord for the warp. Confession: I don’t particularly like rag rug weaving. Sure I’ve done it, but mostly because I wanted the final product. Something about it just does not flow for me. Turns out that weaving with this silk material/ribbon is very similar to weaving cotton rags. I wasn’t having any fun, and for me weaving is all about having fun and getting lost in the process. I wasn’t getting lost. I was getting annoyed. At some point I thought: let’s try a little soumak weaving here. It’s not really weaving actually; it’s really wrapping. This is what Soumak looks like:
Here’s the piece off the loom. Pretty ugly because most of it was just weaving and you can’t see from this photo the detail of the Soumak.
This is a close up of the plain weave part.
And this is a close up of the soumak . . . .what a difference! I was in love.
So I warped my loom again for a wider piece (4 1/2 inches) that would be long enough to be folded into a small purse. I did not need the shedding device because even though I did a few rows of plain weave here and there, there were not enough to require using a shedding device. Warping was quick and simple and I was able to embark on this new almost all soumak piece right away. Bliss!
A third to go still. The edges are perfectly straight and lovely. The texture is amazing and really shows off the beauty of the silk. I can imagine a whole bunch of things one could make from this. And yes, the next step is to go bigger with shapes (one on a 16 inch loom) and then even bigger (one on a 32 inch loom!). I can see making this a habit. It is so calming and the results so perfect. I have just discovered my new obsession for 2014.
I have ordered more of the silk and we will be selling it soon so you won’t have to miss out on all the fun. I will also be dyeing some gorgeous silk ribbon in 2mm and 4mm widths. We’ve been using that to wrap the edges of bead woven bracelets . . . but that’s another post altogether.
Tomorrow I will post the finished product of this weaving and maybe the beginnings of the 16 inch loom project. It’s getting too dark to take anymore pictures.
Happy New Year!
In this blog series, we are going through some old Mirrix posts, instructions and information that may have been lost along the way, editing it, and re-posting it here.
Pull and Pray or Tape and Tug
Start pulling from the middle out, which means choose a pair of warp threads and pull it until the opposite end is snug against the beads. Then go to the other end of the weaving and pull on that thread so it’s snug against the beads. Your warp is going to get longer and longer and you might want to stop after an inch or so and sew in those ends.
This year, Claudia (aka mom) spent the holidays in Seattle with me (aka Elena). It has been a lovely few weeks full of work and some much-needed relaxation after a crazy holiday season. We have several VERY exciting announcements to make in the next few months (some sooner, don’t worty) regarding new products (!!) and events… but I can’t say anything quite yet!
In the meantime, here are a few pictures from Claudia’s trip:
We wish all of you a happy new year filled with love, happiness and lots of time to weave and thank each and every one of you for being a part of the Mirrix community!