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.
This is the twining on the top of the loom:
Here is a view from the boat:
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!).
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.
Have 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.
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It 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.
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
And another one . . . this one using tile beads and duos (the ones on the edge) plus some porcelain beads and a pewter button.
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.
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.
Ever have one of those evenings when you get home and know you should take the dog for a long walk and make dinner and you have 15 emails you need to reply to, but really you want to crawl into bed even though it’s only 7 pm? Last night, I did just that.
I turned on Netflix and brought my 12″ Little Guy into bed with me. Then, I wove. One thing I love about tapestry on a small loom is that you can really weave anywhere. All I needed was my loom, yarn and a pair of scissors (I also was using the weighted beater we sell on our site… once you go with a weighted on, you can never go back) to weave in bed.
I got into one of those meditative states where I had no idea what time it was and, for the first time that day, I wasn’t worried about work or weekend plans or anything else going on in my life.
That’s what weaving is all about. And that’s why we make these looms.
This year, “Loomy” (a 22″ Zach Loom) began a journey across the territories of Himalaya with Art Across Frontiers. Loomy has been meeting artists and weavers everywhere he goes and is helping to spread creative knowledge across and within these cultures. Check out some of the beautiful images from Loomy’s journey so far and the beautiful rugs these artisans have made.
Interested in learning more? Contact Art Across Frontiers and consider helping to fund this amazing journey.
The fun continues! I am using two shedding devices to create a textured weaving as I mentioned in a previous post when I started this adventure (click here to read the previous post). I had seared into my brain how I thought this would work and how it would look, but I am surprised that my vision is so close to reality. I don’t know about you, but I fail as much as I succeed. I guess that’s the result of taking risks. I am a devoted risk taker.
To recap: I warped the loom with two shedding devices at 14 ends per inch. The top shedding device raises two neighboring threads at a time. The bottom shedding device raises every other thread (i.e., the “normal” way to weave tapestry). I have been using two strands of a fairly thin tapestry yarn (please don’t ask what . . . I found a bunch of this beautiful stuff I purchased a thousand years ago in a basket . . . I know it’s not American) as well as Brown Sheep Waverly Yarn (the same yarn we include in our two tapestry kits: woven purse kit; smart phone kit to weave the double warps. And I’ve been using our hand-painted silk for the tabby weave (single warp threads). You will also note some of that wonderfuld the real gold thread near the top. The result is a combination of a lot of texture and a lot of possible detail. It reminds me of doing regular needle point and petit point on the same canvas. I have always loved that effect.
Some detailed photos of progress since my first post on this project:
View of the Loom with two shedding devices:
I have been anxious to try two shedding devices in a different way: attaching warp threads 1, 5, 9 etc. to one shed; attaching warp threads 2, 6, 10 etc. to the second shed; attaching warp threads 3, 7, 11 to the third shed; attaching warp threads 4, 8, 12 etc. to the final shed. Yes, this is a little confusing to do, but well worth the effort. That being said, I was in too much of a hurry to see what this would look like. I decided to hand pick the warp threads before taking time to set up a second loom with two shedding devices. I whipped out my Lani Loom without the shedding device (I also wanted to be able to play with her in my lap which cannot happen when a Mirrix Loom has two shedding devices attached because you really need to extend them fully and that goes beyond any size lap I know of!) and grabbed some of those cool (and new to our website) curved bamboo needles: I love these needles because that little curve on the end allows you to pick the shed easily. Plus the wood just feels good in your hand and the eyes are really large. They are really well made and worth adding to your accessory stash.
I put on a warp of 12 ends per inch. I tried my luck at a twill (under one, over three moving that pattern over so you are progressively going under one and over three put moving that pattern over one.) The visual below explains it a lot better. In tapestry, you do not see the warp threads but you see the texture of the pattern. It will be a lot easier to weave this using the shedding devices because I know at least for me I tend to get a bit confused trying to figure out how to move the pattern over correctly. I made a lot of mistakes. But hey, you can’t tell.
Let me show you some pictures of the Lani Loom project. The bottom right is the twill. The shiny stuff is tabby with silk. Tabby is when you go over one and under one, etc. It’s what is considered “normal” for tapestry. The gold wool pattern is twill and the rest of the wool patterns are under two, over two. I could do this forever.
My next goal is to design a weaving using the second shedding device. For now I am just playing. I am having a lot of fun with color (my addiction) and, of course, with all these amazing textures.
I just wanted to know that some people don’t consider anything other than weft-faced tabby weaving (the warp doesn’t show, and it actually doesn’t in my examples, but there are “tapestry” weavers who weave in tabby and do let some of their warp show). But I think that’s a bit silly. Have you ever seen Helena Hernmarck’s work? Check out her website: http://www.hernmarck.com/.
Do you want to weave with two shedding devices? You can purchase a second one for your Mirrix here.
Marcel Marois is a tapestry weaver whose work I’ve admired for years. I just love the fact that they begin as watercolor paintings, and every time I think about his work I try to work out in my head how he blends his colors. With my amateur knowledge I’ve determined there must be a lot of color blending on the bobbin. What do you think? Isn’t this fantastic? Do you have any insight into his technique?
On my end, this week I’ve been making natural dye print samples for a workshop I’m giving which begins this Tuesday. I’ve always wanted to create a watercolor effect with dyes on fabric and I’m close to achieving what has been in my imagination all these years. I can see myself weaving a tapestry based on these prints too. Below are logwood and brazilwood stenciled onto charmeuse. For more photos and technical detail go here to see my blog post about it.
Janna Maria Vallee
Marcel Marois photos via http://www.paperblog.fr
So, it’s not the ugliest or the prettiest object, but nice aesthetics were not the driving force behind my making this bracelet. Let me explain…
Today while Sam had his morning nap I wanted to try something new: make something ugly (in 90 minutes). As haughty as this may sound, it is surprisingly hard to intentionally make an unattractive object, especially when using Mirrix’s silk and crystals for goodness sake. How ugly could it end up, right?! I’ve just been feeling uninspired lately, so I really needed to make something new and different to get out of my creative slump. When I told my friend, Ana Isabel, about this she told me that one of her colleagues suggests temporarily trying another medium. Apparently, she tried working with ceramics and it helped her get her creative juices flowing in general. So, the theory is that once those juices are flowing you can apply them anywhere? Sure, makes sense to me. I think I had a similar idea with going with Kim Werker’s suggestion to make something ugly (or an ugly something) which I think basically suggests that if you feel you have freedom to make things that are not beautiful you can potentially unlock creativity that is being held captive by routine and predictability. What do you think?
As a side note I thought I should share that in the end I kind of love this piece. So, when my husband arrived home I handed him the bracelet while saying, “look, I was trying to make something ugly, but….”. He just matter-of-factly stated, “um, well it is ugly”. I guess ugly is in the eye of the beholder, too. LOL.
I plan on finishing the ends by braiding a nine-strand braid on both sides. Stay tuned on my Instagram to see the finished bracelet.
Our “Your Work” Gallery is an amazing place to see all kinds of work done on Mirrix Looms. From beginner pieces to work done by professionals, there’s a wide range of beautiful work on display. Check out the gallery here.
That said, the gallery tends to have a few more advanced pieces than beginner ones.
After talking with a customer yesterday (thanks for the inspiration, Alison!) I realized that it would be really nice to have a place for people to share their first projects made on their Mirrix Looms. It would be fun for people considering a Mirrix to see what kind of projects others were making as they start out and would be also be a great place to simply share and inspire.
We will launch our new gallery soon, and need your help to fill it with first projects! Email a picture of your project to firstname.lastname@example.org with the title and your name as you want it posted.
I just received some softflex wire samples to play with. I have been meaning to jump into this activity for a long time but was recently inspired by the rest of the “toys” for which I am waiting. I ordered a bunch of Czech beads: duos, cute little flat squares with two holes, beads half that size with two holes, weird triangles . . . all with finishes to die for. Or at least they looked that way on my monitor.
Oh . . . a blog without pictures. Sorry. The beads are on a FedEx truck somewhere and although the wire has arrived I think I will wait until the whole pile of fun stuff is here for me to explore.
My ideas: Using the softflex wire with the no warps to weave in kit and then mixing the Czech beads with seed beads what kind of wonderful loomed piece can I create? The idea is to explore the realm of off-loom looks with on-loom technique. This is different from making a piece on the loom and then embellishing it off the loom (which is another thing I love and HINT HINT there will be blogs about that, not from me, in the future). I want to bend the on-loom rules and get those beads going in a some fascinating and new directions. I might even consider stringing some beads on the warp. I am thinking that the wire will lend itself to be molded a bit and that I will be able to break out of the straight lines that is the tropism of loomed work. In other words, the default is a grid and I am wondering how much we can break out of that grid working with a loom.
I also want to play with hand-painted silk and the new beads and maybe with the softflex wire as well. The theme is to let the warp show. And the goal is to create a piece that is beautiful and solid. Or a bunch of pieces.
I’ll be back when that package arrives.