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Orienting your tapestry cartoon

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

strawberry thieves cartoon


So, here is the bottom half of my tapestry cartoon (haven’t made the top yet).  Since it is a vertical mirror image I only traced half of it from the original William Morris image and then scanned it and flipped my image over to make it perfectly symmetrical.  Sounds easy right?!  Well, that’s only if you have drawn it and scanned perfectly strait!  I ended up fiddling with the rotation function on photoshop so much that I wondered if I should have just traced it all after all.   No biggy though, it’s done now :)

I have few tips to share with you beginner tapestry weavers on how to to orient your tapestry image.  Some of you might be wondering why to even consider it, it might just seem intuitive to orient your image right side up.  One rather obvious reason you might not do that is to make it the desirable size.  Mine is a backwards example since it happens to work best right side up, but on my 16″ Big Sister my finished Strawberry Thief tapestry (which is actually twice the height of the my tracing of it shown – the full color image is here) would be only 13″ inches high if I turned it on it’s side as opposed to 16″ when it’s right side up (for me bigger taps are always better, hehe).  The next thing you want to consider is the directions of the lines on you image, you will want to consider not only the areas that are going to be woven shapes but also (and especially) thin lines, like the outline of a shape, say.  Do the majority of your lines run a certain way, horizontally or vertically?  If so you may want to orient your tapestry in a way which accommodates for ease in weaving those lines, and therefore orient them so that they are running perpendicular to you warp threads. It’s a little hard to tell at first glance since my image is so busy and it’s not clear what will be outlines, but my piece will contain more horizontal lines than vertical ones, especially in the birds.  I considered weaving it sideways to accommodate the many lines that run vertically up the center of the image but I had to make a call.  In the end that’s what it comes down to, your call as the weaver.

Here’s the thing: It is easier to weave any line or long shape when it is perpendicular to your warp threads as opposed to parallel with them.  When you are creating lines that are parallel with your warp threads you will either have slits or need to interlock the adjacent color (By the way, Rebecca Mezoff has a great tutorial on interlocking here).  These are not bad things (in fact they very characteristic of tapestry), but are things to consider when planning you project.

Okay, now let me show you some examples.  I like to use these principles to test myself when looking at other people’s weavings to determine which way they were woven.  I look for two main give-aways, 1) which direction the warp grooves run (if you can see them) and 2) which direction the hatching runs.

Below is a photo I took of one of the Unicorn Tapestries at the Cloisters, NYC.  Can you see how the reflection of light is depicted in the hunters’ tights with the use of hatching, particularly in the tight’s of the man at the left?  The hatching (the alternation of red and cream lines) is running vertically which tells us that the warp thread must be running horizontally and therefore that this weaving was woven on it’s side.



this tapestry was woven on it’s side.


This next tapestry example is by Ruth Jones it’s titled Ode to Ezra Pound (click here to see it) and I think it illustrates lines well, particularly with the vertical pillars and the foliage shoots.  Those might be good indicators that the tapestry was woven on it’s side.  I also see hatching that is turned to be vertical too, so it’s pretty much settled.

Like I said, it’s the weaver’s prerogative and there is no wrong way to do it.  My hope is that these tips will help you have the best possible tapestry weaving experience.

Janna Maria Vallee

PS  I encourage you to grab that cartoon image and print it for coloring :)

One Idea for finishing beadwork

Posted on by mirrixlooms / Posted in Bead Weaving, Bead/Fiber Combination | Tagged | Leave a comment

There has been a lot of discussion lately about how to finish beadwork to hang on a wall. Anyone who knows me, knows I hate to weave in warp ends and hence refuse to do it.  Okay, I am stubborn, but I also have the hardest time threading needles so to have to do that a zillion times to finish a piece . . . I just won’t do it.  Plus, my version of “patience” doesn’t cover that activity (which is amusing considering all the things I do that others believe take patients . . . all a matter of perspective).

I found two pieces in my stash that represent one way of finishing a piece.  Since they are already finished, I can’t show you how I did it, but I can tell you how.

I wove both pieces on a Twelve inch wide Mirrix Loom.  The could have also been woven on the Eight inch Mirrix Loom or any loom larger.

The below piece is a bead weaving mounted on tapestry weaving and then embellished with beads.  To finish the bead piece, I tied off pairs of warp threads and buried them behind the piece.  I then sewed it to the wool tapestry.  The wool tapestry was finished by tying off warp ends and folding the header and footer to the back and sewing them down.  I then sewed the final piece to silk . After I sewed it on the cloth I centered the piece on a wooden frame designed for stretching canvas.  I tacked the silk to the back with large head but short nails.

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The back of the piece.  Since I thought the tacked silk would look awful on the back, I decided to cover the back with silk tacking it down with the same nails.  But since the raw edges were sandwiched on the back, the piece looks a lot more finished. I then embroidery my initials in beads.  I added a wire hanger.  Done.

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The second piece lacks the woolen tapestry.  I used the exact same method but really went to town with bead embroidery on the silk.  Notice how I’ve used bugle beads to embroider all around the piece once on the silk to hide the edges  The other beads are just crazy freeform.  It was a while back. I must have been in one of those moods.

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With this piece I also felt a need to cover the back.  I tied the warps in pairs and folded to the back. Sewed to the silk, embroidered the heck out of it and then attached to the wooden frame.

Here’s the back:

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And how do you finish your pieces?


Bead Weaving with SoftFlex Wire

Posted on by mirrixlooms / Posted in Projects | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

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Recently I found a roll of orange SoftFlex wire in my stash. Maybe it’s the hint of autumn in the air, but I was really in the mood for orange. I warped up my loom using the No Warp-Ends Kit with the SoftFlex as warp.

I had some pretty orange crystals that I wove up with green beads in between for five rows and then I switched to green crystals and orange beads. I will keep alternating in this pattern.

Because of the thickness of the warp and the size of the beads, you can still see the orange SoftFlex between the beads, which I really love. The green C-Lon D I used to string up the beads also peeks through if you look really closely. It gives the piece an almost deconstructed look which I really love.

The reason the No Warp-Ends Kit is so great for weaving with wire is because you don’t have many warp ends to finish (yay!). That said, there are still two knots at the bottom of this piece that will need to be taken care of. I got some end crimps and a cute little pair of crimping pliers from SoftFlex to secure those ends without having bulky wire knots.

I’ll update you all on the finishing process soon! I have a beautiful blown glass button I plan to use as a clasp and will weave the buttonhole into the piece.

What beading projects are you working on this fall? Answer in the comments!

Want to weave wire, too? Our No Warp-Ends Kit will make it so easy! 

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Get a Free Bead Pattern & Tell a Friend!

Posted on by mirrixlooms / Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

free patternsThrough Friday, get any one of our bead patterns emailed to you for free!

Just choose a pattern (any one here) and email us elena@mirrixlooms.com with your pattern choice and the subject line “Free Bead Pattern”. We will respond within 24 hours with a .pdf of the pattern you chose attached to the email.

What’s the catch? There isn’t one! But we’d love for you to share this promotion with your friends.

Share this page via email, on Facebook, on Twitter or just by word of mouth!

*Limit one per customer. Expires midnight PT 9/12/2014. 

Inspirational artists

Posted on by Janna Maria Vallee / Posted in Inspiration, Social Market for a Mirrix 2014, Tapestry Weaving, Uncategorized | 1 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

Fullscreen capture 912014 90813 AM


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

fairy flower pics 9-17-12 017

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