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Inspirational artists

Posted on by Janna Maria Vallee / Posted in Inspiration, Social Market for a Mirrix 2014, Tapestry Weaving, Uncategorized | Leave a comment


This week I’ve dyed some more yarn with natural dyes for my William Morris tapestry  (this time some finer yarn) which I’m doing as part of the current weave-along.  So, since I haven’t got any weaving progress to share I thought I’d share some inspiration today.  This week I received two late birthday gifts in the mail.  They were worth the wait: Sheila Hicks: 50 Years and Eva Hesse 1965.  I have long loved the work of both these artists but today they feel more pertinent to my practice than ever as I weave on my Mirrix and think about the installation work I’ll be spending more time doing in the city soon.  I saw a studio work retrospective on Eva Hesse in Toronto a few years back and the volume of work that she did in the studio was overwhelming; we’re talking only things she never deemed showable, this was just her studio research/play.  Ever since then I have never worried about the weird things that have come out of my own practice, knowing that every “meh” piece informs a future well-loved one.  How freeing.

Sheila Hicks is a textile art pioneer (I know I don’t have to tell you! – Mirrix people are so well informed), and this book is an unbelievable record of her work and therefore a great tool for weavers.  Today I thought I’d share one particular piece (well, two) that I thought those of you who are taking part in the current weave-along might enjoy.  Ever since my first design class in textile art school I have been a huge fan of white-on-white textured, well anything – textiles, architecture, ceramics… so naturally this is one that jumped out at me.


The piece on the right is titled White Letter woven by Sheila Hicks in 1962 (46.5″ X 38″), and features some weft faced areas (the finer woven areas) as well as some balanced woven areas where she has woven over three warps at a time using three weft strands.  The result is an unbelievably richly textured piece. This is an interesting technique to consider incorporating into a piece that is woven on a Mirrix using two shedding devices.  Below is a better detail.  Are you participating in the Double-shedding device weave-along?  I’m pretty excited about it.  Next week I’ll share my weaving progress.

On the left page is a similar approach using two colors.  Equally as stunning (I love the counterchange relationship they have with each other).  The diptych is titled Quadrado Obscuro-Menos Obsuro, 1961 (11 X 11 3/8″)

Until next week,

Janna Maria Vallee

(past posts by me)



Secret Project Reveal Time

Posted on by Christina Neit / Posted in Social Market for a Mirrix 2014 | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Hi everyone! I finally finished the project. It came with much learning as it went along. Let me show you first, then I will explain what I learned. Dave named it ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’. The name is used frequently by many, but I still liked it.

Midsummer Night's Dream-Lumiere Series Pt 1

Midsummer Night’s Dream-Lumiere Series Pt 1

One of the things I have been wondering about for a while now is why the loom work ‘crinkles’ when you take it off the loom. I don’t know if my answer is right or if there are other answers, but I did figure out how to fix that after you take it off the loom and maybe why it happens to start with. I used KO thread on this project, similar to C-Lon D. There is a stretch factor with this thread and when you tighten the warp threads, you are stretching the thread. I stretched it before I put it on the loom, perhaps I shouldn’t, so it can stretch the one time when you tighten the warp. In any case, before I weave ends in, tape or do anything to the bottoms of the work, I am from now on, am going to rub the work to flatten out. Kind of like rubbing out a bubble under a sticker.

The other ‘issue’ I had was how to make a 16 dent spring, you can see that on a previous blog post.

There are 4 panels on the lamp. Each of them took me 2-3 days, which felt like a lifetime with life happening all around me and no pause button :) I used 5 spools of KO and 9 Delica colors. I bought bulk in the Delicas, but I am going to wager there is close/around 300 grams of beads on there. The lamp measure 11 1/4″ in height and is 5″ square. I was going to do some fringe around the top, but by the time I finished assembly, I kind of just wanted to be done. I may add fringe at a later date. My ONLY regret about this whole project is that the length of the panels was only just right and not a few rows longer. So after all this work, I see the flaw and that upsets me. I measured several times for overlap, I suppose one more measure would have done the trick….next time that won’t happen. I vowed I would never make another, but, ultimately, I love the concept and the beauty, so one of these days, I will make another :)

Below is the video I made of the assembly process. I know I used the same ‘tune’ as the last time, but I kind of cherish it as my ‘theme’ song LOL

Weaving a hem

Posted on by Janna Maria Vallee / Posted in Social Market for a Mirrix 2014, Tapestry Weaving | Leave a comment

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Well I warped up again, and like every other time I’ve warped up my Mirrix I was so excited I couldn’t sleep.  It’s quite a phenomena, haha!  This time I’m using wool warp which I love.  It’s quite springy compared to linen or cotton which makes it is easier on my hands in general.

Today I thought I’d share a weaving prep tip.  So, we’re talking hems. Unless you are planning on sporting an exposed warp on your finished piece (like this one by Maryanne Moodie), a weaver often includes a bottom hem.  There are a couple of reasons why you would create a hem, the obvious being for easy finishing, ie. you can easily fold and sew your top and bottom hem behind your finished piece (as opposed to hiding part of your actual woven design).  The not so obvious function of a hem is to establish good tension.  I learned that when weaving a bottom hem one should weave it in sections using the stepping technique, creating parallelograms along your hem.  This involves decreasing on one side of your shape (by one warp thread every two passes) and increasing in the same manner on the other (except for the shapes that are at each edge of your weaving which of course only decrease/increase on one side).  Because, according to my former tapestry weaving instructor Anthea Mallinson, their are multiple turn around points in a tapestry (at each color) it is important, for tensions’ sake, to include such points in the selvedge too.  It’s also just more practical to weave in small sections, since a weaver’s hands can only do so much between two sheds, especially when the weaver is not using a shedding device.  Anthea says that this practice is especially common for larger pieces which, don’t forget are sometimes (especially historically) woven by multiple people – which makes the practicality of it all the more obvious.  Below I’ve included a picture with the shaped sections outlined to illustrate the parallelograms.


Above is my current project which measures 10 inches across.  The hem is woven in three (no so even) parts.  For this picture I left part of the last third unwoven to help illustrate how it’s done separately.

Janna Maria Vallee

September Share-Sponsor for Social Market for a Mirrix: VC Artisan Originals

Posted on by mirrixlooms / Posted in Social Market for a Mirrix 2014 | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

valorie clifton
We asked Valorie of VC Artisan Originals  a few questions about her company as part of VC Artisan Originals’ September share-sponsorship of Social Market for a Mirrix 2014!

Be sure to check out www.VCArtisanOriginals.com  for more about Valorie and her work as well as her Etsy and ArtFire pages where you can purchase some of her amazing tutorials. 

Read on!

About VC Artisan Originals: VC Artisan Originals is a great place to find off-loom beadweaving instruction tutorials. Whether you’re a beginner level or an advanced level beader, there are over 40 original design tutorials available in my Etsy and ArtFire online shops. Many of the tutorials feature the new, popular, 2-hole Czech beads. If you love Super Duos and Preciosa seed beads, this is the shop for you!

Poppy by Valorie Clifton

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How did your business get started and how has it developed? I created Valorie Clifton’s Artisan Originals (a.k.a. VC Artisan Originals) as a small Etsy business to sell my beaded and metalsmithed jewelry. It was really popular amongst my co-workers when I worked in an office setting. I gradually added metalwork and wire work to my repertoire. After 3 years of selling jewelry online and 2 years of showing in a local juried art gallery, I decided to completely revamp my business. I had been teaching jewelry making at the art gallery and discovered a love of teaching. I decided to stop selling finished jewelry and to focus solely on teaching others. I now design, write and publish my own beaded jewelry tutorials for sale in my Etsy and ArtFire shops. I teach off-loom beadweaving classes featuring my original designs every month at local venues, and many of my designs are taught in shops throughout the northern US and even in New Zealand! Very soon, I will have some wire working/light metalsmithing tutorials available. It’s very rewarding to bring the art of beadweaving to others and I’m so very happy I made the change.

20140706_214616wm20140216_001639wmDo you have any classes coming up? I teach several classes per month at the Danish Princess Beads and Jewelry store in Milton, FL. Ialso teach a class on the 3rd Saturday of every month at the Santa Rosa Arts and Culture Foundation’s Dragonfly Gallery, also in Milton, FL. I’m also a very proud member of the Wubbers University faculty, where many of my classes are published online.

Anything else you’d like to share? My website acts as a “hub” and as a portfolio. You can see some of my designs in beadweaving, metalworking and wire-working; you can also find download links to free tutorials I’ve made available, free Super Duo graph papers I’ve created, and even links to my online shops.

Please take some time to visit www.VCArtisanOriginals.com 

When you leave everything you thought you needed home

Posted on by mirrixlooms / Posted in Inspiration, Tapestry Weaving | Tagged , | Leave a comment

I thought I was doing a really good job of packing for a few days on the boat (turned out to be six days and I am now at a friend’s house, so I am still not “home.”).  I did manage to pack enough underwear (always bring twice as much as you think you need).  I got the clothes part down pretty well.  I even managed to remember all electronic devices necessary for running Mirrix, all power cords, my phone, etc.  I have that down to a science.  Then I packed two baskets:  one full of silk and wool and one full of tools and a loom.  It’s a Laniloom and it had a sumac piece on it I was planning to finish and remove right away so I could start a silk and wool tapestry . . . .a very little one.

What I forgot:  a shedding device and a spring.

Okay, so have to live without those two things.  I was okay about the shedding device because even though I always use it for tapestry weaving and lately always use the electric treadle as well, I figured the slow pace of the boat and with all that rocking, I would be fine just picking the shed with my bamboo needles.  But what to do about that missing spring?  I wasn’t so happy about that because even if I had the wrong size spring I could have squished in a bit or stretched it out a bit to make it work.  Springs are really nice for separating those warp threads.  I did come up with a solution.  Hoping I don’ t have to repeat it because it took forever and wasn’t so much fun, but it did work.  I twined at the top and the bottom of the loom as follows.  This is the twining on the bottom followed by a few rows of weaving.

photo 1


This is the twining on the top of the loom:

photo 1-1


Here is a view from  the boat:

photo 1-2


I didn’t get to weave a whole lot.  I was experimenting with weaving double and single warps as one does with two shedding devices (and our upcoming weave-along, but this time I will use shedding devices and springs!).

photo 2


I actually got farther than that, but am now back at home and am going to return to weaving with the electric treadle and start getting ready for our upcoming weave along.


What’s your Mirrix Story?

Posted on by mirrixlooms / Posted in Inspiration | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

mirrixstoryHave you started a business selling work you made on a Mirrix? Has your Mirrix allowed you to weave when other looms couldn’t due to an injury or disability? Did you realize your artistic talent for the first time when weaving on your Mirrix? Did you teach a young person in your life to weave and ignite a new passion?

We are looking for inspirational Mirrix stories for a blog and email series. If you have a story to share, we’d love to hear it.

Email elena@mirrixlooms.com to learn more!

Off the loom: silk tapestry cuff

Posted on by Janna Maria Vallee / Posted in Social Market for a Mirrix 2014, Tapestry Weaving | Leave a comment

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Just a wee update on my silk cuff.  I’m not exactly sure how I’ll finish it yet (on a brass cuff or with clasp hardware?), but I knew I had to get it off the loom before my flight back to NYC from Vancouver Canada since the dressed loom wouldn’t fit in my bag.  It was the most relaxing (beach-filled!) summer in my home town and now I really feel like we’ve left our poosaster in the past (if you’re not into reading my long poosaster post, the gist is that we moved three times and endured many other stresses while moving to the USA from Canada with our infant, Sam, last year).  With lots of help from my parents I was able to pull off teaching some natural dye and print workshops this summer too!  Here is a really nice post about one by my student, Heather Apple.

Janna Maria Vallee



Here I am the night before we fly, madly trying to finish my tapestry ends before Sam wakes up.


And here it is off the loom




What happens when you’re given a Mirrix Loom?

Posted on by mirrixlooms / Posted in Social Market for a Mirrix 2014 | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

This spring,  three lovely ladies received Mirrix Looms in exchange for blogging about their experiences with it. Following is a list of their amazing blog posts (so far!) following their Mirrix journeys.

We can’t wait to see what they each do next!

Enjoy and thank you to Janna, Christina and Julia! 











Finishing Loom Woven Beadwork Jewelry

Posted on by mirrixlooms / Posted in Inspiration, Mirrix Accessories, Projects | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

checkerboard braceletIt was suggested to me that this is a topic of interest to many bead weavers.  I have to confess, I am writing this from the cockpit of a sailboat boat (husband’s midlife crisis was to fix up a salvage /wrecked sailboat . . .I think he had fantasies of us selling our house and sailing the world on it, or some such notion, forgetting that I can’t fit Mirrix on a boat despite the three little cabinets he reserved for that purpose.  What a hoot!  In any case, I am putting in my three days.)  I only mention this tidbit of personal information because the only loom I have with me (and of course I have a loom with me!) has a tapestry on it which needs another four hours or so to finish and I have no bead supplies here so, in short, I can’t take pictures of finishing bead work because I don’t have any.  I am hoping I can troll the Mirrix website, my photos on this computer and the internet to find some suitable pictures to accompany this piece.

I am the perfect person to talk about finishing bead work because I have spent years figuring out how not to, at least how not to in the usual sense.  The method where you cut your piece off the loom and weave in ten thousand warp ends . . . well, for someone who hates to thread a needle because she just can’t seem to do it well or fast or without screaming a few choice words, the idea of threading and rethreading a needle in order to sew those ends back into the beads of a woven piece . . . I have to confess, I have never done it and I never will.  I can’t imagine with a wide piece how it is even possible to find beads after a point in which to shove all that thread.  I know, I know, there are plenty of people who do it, and the more power to them, but I am not one of them.  It’s like when people see one of my tapestries or bead pieces and say:  “Oh my gosh, you must have so much patience to do that!”  Which is a little strange, if you think about it, because if it required “patience” to create art I am not sure I would create art.  Patience sounds like work and creating art is anything but work (most of the time . . . except when sewing in a bunch of warp threads!).  But I imagine there are people who find sewing in warp ends cathartic, just like I find spinning cathartic and that certainly is not for everyone.  In conclusion:  I am not going to address sewing in warp ends as an option because I am the last person to steer you correctly on that subject.  Rather, I will present to you all the many ways I have found to NOT sew in warp threads.

No Warp-Ends Kit

I am going to start with the most relevant way.  On Tuesday last Elena and I had the pleasure of teaching a webinar for Interweave Press.  It took a lot of prep work, but the actual presenting was a lot of fun.  Jennifer  of Beading Daily fame was our mentor in this project and although it would have been beter to get to see her live and in person, it was still nice to hear her voice live!  The webinar was about using the Mirrix No-Warp Ends Kit to weave a checkerboard cuff bracelet a kit we sell exclusively through Interweave Press.

There were 16 warp threads which would have meant 32 warps threads to sew in.  We were left with only two.  While I am at it, I am going to give you a link to that webinar.

How does this magic work?  With the help of a could of thin  bars, some S-hooks and not a whole lot of patience you warp the loom such that you put on exactly the length of warp you need.  When you are done there is only the beginning and end of the warp thread to weave in. The rest exists as loops which kindly slide between the end beads.  We’ve trimmed this piece with pico stitch (which I like doing).  The clasp is a button because while we wove the piece we created a button hole.

Here is another example of a bracelet made with that kit:  Mirrix No Warps to Weave in Bracelet kit.

Method one for not having to weave in warp ends:  don’t create any!

Method two for not having to weave in warp ends:  make the warp part of the design.  I really love doing this.  Use a thicker and pretty warp thread and allow it to show both around the beads and at the ends.  This makes a funkier kind of piece, but I love them. We call them wrap bracelets because you can make them one, two, three, four or more wraps.  (By the way, we just passed under one of those cool bridges that lifts in the air so our mast doesn’t get knocked off when we go under.)

Below is not that particular kit, but an example of a wrap bracelet using those very cool two hole beads (a bunch of different kinds) on a hand painted silk warp

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And another one . . . this one using tile beads and duos (the ones on the edge) plus some porcelain beads and a pewter button.

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Above piece still on the loom.


If those two options don’t appeal to you, there is always the tried and true third method which allows you to warp the Mirrix loom in the normal fashion, but eliminates the need to sew in warp ends by simply tying them off, sticking them behind the piece and sticking the piece on some kind of cuff.  For example, a piece on a leather cuff.


Some other examples of beaded work attached to a brass cuff.

gold crystal cuff


In conclusion, if you are like me and refuse to sew in a bunch of warp ends when you find yourself at the end of your piece, there are a bunch of creative ways to either eliminating warp ends completely or bury them underneath your piece and incorporate them in to the piece as a design element.  I am sure that we will all discover more and interesting ways to avoid the warp end dilemma.  If you have ideas of your own, please tell us about it in the comments section.

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