This is a guest post by Rebecca Mezoff
If you’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed that I teach a lot of things about tapestry. There are times when I want to weave something insanely complicated. If I actually let this wish get the better of me, I might end up feeling like this.
When this happens, I go back to some old tried and true tricks. My favorite is regular hatching. If you’ve had a class from me, you’ve probably tried this technique. I used it in the spirals in many of my Emergence pieces and sometimes I just weave it on a sampler to calm down a little bit, dork dedicated practitioner that I am.
Did you ever watch Reading Rainbow? It was a PBS kid’s show that started in the 80s about the wonder of books and reading. At the end of every show there was a segment of book reviews by kids. LeVar Burton, the host, would start off the segment by saying, “But you don’t have to take my word for it!” And then the kids would launch into their reviews. This phrase came to mind when I started planning this post.
We love our new Spencer Power Treadle and have become addicted to using it pretty fast (seriously, it saves so much time!) but we know that hearing that from the manufacturer doesn’t mean quite as much as hearing it from impartial sources. We asked three famous tapestry weavers (full-disclosure, Rebecca and Kathe did help us with beta-testing of the treadle) to write up a little review of the treadle.
We love the Spencer Power Treadle, but you don’t have to take our word for it!
“First of all I love treadles on my Mirrixes. Treadles increase my weaving speed. The Spencer treadle is an incredible addition so much more versatile then my older treadles. It is very easy to affix to the loom. It travels well because of its small size, light weight, and ease of assemblage. Physically it takes less effort to use. Because of the way it is designed it gives a deeper shed and holds the shed open until I change it. It is very easy on hands, because of the the way the shed is held open until it is shifted. The Spencer can be operated with a very small movement of the foot or either foot making it ideal for people with limited motion and/or strength or for those of us who weave long hours each day on the Mirrix. ”
-Kathe Todd-Hooker. Professional tapestry weaver, teacher, author.
Visit her blog here.
“The new Spencer Treadle from Mirrix looms was waiting for me when I returned home from the American Tapestry Alliance Retreat and I was able to put it to good use at a show I was doing the following weekend. I usually take along a 16 inch loom, treadle and easel to demonstrate when I do shows with my Mirrix Looms and tapestry supplies. The first thing I noticed is that the smaller footprint and lighter weight of the Spencer Treadle is going to make my life much easier. Not only is it easier to pack but it is also easier to detach and attach the treadle to the loom which makes it much nicer to travel with. The action of the treadle is so fast and easy that it is much more convenient for changing sheds, weaving and talking at the same time. In a very short time it was becoming an automatic movement for me which should speed up my weaving when I am not demonstrating. There were many watching who had seen me demonstrate before who were impressed with the smooth and effortless action to open the sheds. I was even filmed and interviewed by a local channel 6 special report team about people following their passion while demonstrating at the show. In short, it took less than a weekend for me to become quite spoiled by my new Spencer Treadle!”
-Janette Meetze. Professional weaver/artist and teacher. Visit her blog here.
“I love my Mirrix looms unabashedly. I have a small fleet at this point and I love to use them for my tapestry workshops. They are sturdy, reliable, and they meet my high demands for tension. So it is not surprising that I had great expectations for the Spencer electric treadle by Mirrix. Tapestry weaving is slow and shifting the shed the normal way works well enough (and I can’t even talk about picking sheds—I don’t know how some tapestry weavers do it). Frankly, I wasn’t sure the treadle would make that much difference. I have to say I was horribly, irrevocably, undeniably wrong. This treadle is wonderful. I have really enjoyed being able to shift the shed with my foot instead of reaching for the shedding mechanism. I have tested it on my 12, 16, and 22 inch Mirrix looms and it works well on all of them. I’m afraid I might need a second treadle pretty soon! I love the added speed, I love that I don’t have to reach up to shift the shed all the time, I love that it is quiet and only switches when my foot tells it to, and I love how small it is. My only fear is that the power will go out and I’ll have to go back to the handle. Maybe I should get a generator.”
-Rebecca Mezoff. Professional tapestry weaver and teacher. Visit her website here.
Want to get started with the first ever (we think) electric treadle for a portable tapestry loom? You can get your very own Spencer Power Treadle here!
Last year I was headed to an important workshop in Washington. Due to a serious miscalculation in suitcase size along with a good dose of procrastination, I needed a loom in a matter of days in Seattle. No matter how I tried, I couldn’t marry my 22-inch Mirrix with the raggedy bunch of suitcases living in my garage in a way that would get me on a plane without strip searches by TSA. Claudia and Elena pulled me through that with so much grace (it was Gay Pride weekend on Capitol Hill and I can’t even begin to tell you the crazy of that). I had a 16-inch Mirrix ready to go for the workshop and none of my colleagues were any the wiser. That was the start of my fleet of Mirrix looms. My students ask for them when they come to take workshops in my studio and I use them constantly for small format work and teaching tapestry online.
Tapestry weaving is something I love passionately. I am also a natural teacher. And when the two meet, great things happen! I have just released my first beginning online tapestry class. I am so excited about this new adventure. And the demonstrations are woven almost entirely on Mirrix looms.
The class is called Warp and Weft: Learning the Structure of Tapestry. I started working on it over a year ago when I realized how many requests I was getting for online classes. Taking workshops in person is great fun and an excellent way to learn, but the potential for a longer-term focused learning situation in a format you can access from home is the way to go for some people.
I learned to weave fabric from that old standard, Learning to Weave by Deborah Chandler. I am from the American Southwest and a lot of the inspiration for my work comes from the feelings I get wandering around this area of the country. I wanted to capture that in my fiber art and with regret and thanks to Deborah, I quickly moved from fabric weaving to tapestry. I was an apprentice for James Koehler for several years before his death and now I run my own studio in Santa Fe, NM where I do a lot of dreaming and playing with yarn, teach workshops, and meet students online.
My online class is kind of like hanging around my studio for a month, but you get to wear your pajamas if you want to and no one will ever know. The class is highly video-based and contains many handouts and practice exercises. The best part is that you get to learn from me and your fellow students in a format that is flexible to your schedule. The class has three parts and you can sign up for one at a time or all three at once. There are many more details on my website at www.rebeccamezoff.com/online-learning/.
If you’ve read my blog (http://rebeccamezoff.blogspot.com) for any amount of time, you’ll know I’m a big Mirrix fan. Claudia and Elena don’t even pay me to stay this stuff! I think their looms are excellent pieces of equipment and I believe that beautiful tapestry starts with good craftsmanship which starts with good equipment. So another big thanks to Mirrix for designing and selling these looms and for your awesome customer service. I promise that next time I am in Seattle, I will have a Mirrix that fits in my suitcase.