A few years ago, Mirrix’s CEO Claudia Chase came up with a fun and easy way to combine beads and fiber on a Mirrix Loom. Using the shedding device, beading cord, 8/0 beads, silk and novelty yarn Claudia came up with the first Tapestry/Bead Cuff Bracelet.
The project took off almost immediately and has been featured in Beadwork Magazine, Beads, Baubles & Jewels and in our class on Craftsy.
Start thinking (How about next to your bed? Maybe over your desk?) because we are now offering a free ebook detailing how to make this beautiful and simple piece!
In this ebook you will learn:
- How to set-up and warp a Mirrix Loom for tapestry weaving
- The techniques needed to make an adorable heart tapestry
- How to finish a small tapestry piece
Use your own materials or get the kit here (for only $18)
Still need a loom? Consider our Heart Tapestry Loom Starter Package or click below for a free loom recommendation!
For #throwbackthursday we’re looking back at some old bracelet projects from around Claudia’s studio. Looking through these projects makes me want to take the rest of the day off and head to my loom! For more inspiration, visit our free projects page!
Above is my take on free-form crochet
Imagine this: You are taking a walk with some friends. You are kind of spread out, maybe one behind and a couple ahead of you. Being that you are not talking to anyone at the moment, you automatically start singing very quietly to yourself. It’s that Joni Mitchell song you got stuck in your head because you recently heard it and now it just won’t leave. But that feels good and you know it’s a good sign to be singing to yourself and you don’t even notice you are doing it. The person behind you says: “Gee, you have a nice voice.” You don’t say anything because it’s at this point that you realize you are singing quietly to yourself and you are a tad embarrassed that someone heard you. But you continue singing never-the-less and then maybe ten seconds later someone in front of you turns and says: “Don’t quit your day job.” And all you can think is: why would someone say that?
One of the biggest problems beginning tapestry weavers have is that, as they weave up, they begin to pull in the edges of their piece. In the language of tapestry we’d call this drawing in your selvedges. This can cause the piece to look sloppy and uneven.
While even a seasoned tapestry weaver is susceptible to pulling-in, there are a few tricks that can help you to weave with straight selvedges!
Being cognizant of whether or not you are pulling in is a good way to prevent it. Measure often (every inch and a half or so) and reweave if you notice you are pulling in.
2.) Don’t weave selvedge to selvedge for large sections
If you lay a straight line of tapestry weft into the shed the line of weft remains straight until you change the shed. Once you change the shed the weft becomes scalloped in every place there is a warp. If you’ve just laid in a straight weft, in order to produce enough weft to allow for those scallops, extra weft will be pulled from the selvedges of your tapestry. There just isn’t enough weft to go around. When using discontinuous wefts (not weaving straight across), compensation for this almost happens naturally. You’ve got the extra weft just because every start and ending creates a little more yarn in the joining places.
Bubbling (see the picture to the left) is important for making sure you are using plenty of weft thread so you don’t pull in on the sides. Here’s how:
Make sure the weft is wrapped tightly enough around the side warp to not have a baggy loop but not so tightly that it draws in at all. Lay the weft in to the warp in a curve and then take your finger and push down on that curve about every three or four inches so that the curve becomes a series of humps. Change the shed. Do this again. Change the shed. do this again. Then take your beater and beat it all together. If you’ve done this correctly there will be no loops of wefts at the selvedges, the selvedges will not pull in at all, and there will not be little extra blobs of weft sticking out anywhere in the weaving. What you will see is a smooth patch of flat weaving. The best way to test your skill at this is to weave simple stripes for a long distance. If you can accomplish that, you’ve mastered the art of straight selvedges. And seriously, accomplishing stripes that travel from selvedge to selvedge and don’t pull in is quite the feat!
This is where a good loom comes in! You need really good tension to weave tapestry. On a Mirrix Loom, you have the ability to get just that. If you are using a Mirrix Loom and your warp threads feel loose, simply tighten them up.
Don’t have a loom and ready to get started? We’ll give you a personalized loom recommendation here!
Tapestry weaving has a lot of rules. These rules are very important and help to define the art. That said, sometimes you don’t want rules when you weave. Sometimes you want to just let the weft guide you. This is where Saori®-inspired weaving comes in.
Saori® Weaving is a type of free-form weaving done on Saori® looms. For more on Saori weaving, go here.
To learn more about weaving inspired by Saori® on a Mirrix, I asked Mirrix customer Marilou Johnstone a few questions about her experiences doing so!
How long have you been weaving?
Marilou: Off and on for 30 years. Longer if you count the wonderful pot holder loom of my childhood.
How long have you been weaving Saori®-inspired pieces on a Mirrix?
Marilou: months ago I stumbled upon a Ravelry Saori® group. It was love at first sight.
How would you explain Saori® weaving to someone who hasn’t woven it?
Marilou: For me it is weaving with my spirt instead of my brain. There are no should, must do, can’t do, never do rules. I weave free. What comes off the loom is what is supposed to come off the loom. My first piece was done on a peg loom. I wove for the shear joy of weaving.
Have you woven Saori®-inspired pieces on a loom other than the Mirrix? If so, what are the differences you have found? Why did you choose to weave on a Mirrix?
Marilou: I have used a floor loom and a peg loom. Using the Mirrix for Saori®-inspired weaving was one of those “what if…?” things. I liked using the Little Guy because its vertical and portable. I wove most of the piece en plein air. I discovered that I really like to weave standing. The outstanding feature of the Mirrix is the ability to add in beads so easily. The beauty of Saori®-inspired weaving was when the magatamas didn’t behave the way I wanted them to. Rather than fuss and fume I added more magatamas and let them dangle. Mirrix and Saori®-inspired weaving complement each other well.
Why do you like Saori®-inspired weaving?
Marilou: I will quote from the book, “Saori Self-Innovation Through Free Weaving”, by Misao Jo & Kenzo Jo to best speak to this.
1) CONSIDER THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN A MACHINE AND A HUMAN BEING.
2) BE BOLD AND ADVENTUROUS.
3) LOOK OUT THROUGH EYES THAT SHINE.
4) INSPIRE ONE ANOTHER, AND EVERYONE IN THE GROUP.
As soon as I read this I was hooked. I just knew Saori® was for me. I think it is what I have been searching for as I moved from craft to craft throughout my life. Saori is like coming home. Coming full circle in my fiber art journey.
Do you have any anecdotes about your experience with Saori®-inspired weaving on a Mirrix?
Marilou: A good friend had just passed away and I cleaned out her sewing room. I found a couple of quill stilettos. I thought one would make a nice hanger for the little piece I had planned. I wove the quill in first thing thinking that would be the top of the weaving. Throughout the entire weaving process I kept stabbing myself with the quill. To make matters worse the quill end looked more appealing at the bottom. I could have woven the quill in last.
Thanks agin to Marilou Johnstone for sharing!
Do you weave Saori® on a Saori® loom or do Saori®-inspired weaving on a Mirrix? Let us know what you have to add in the comments!
*Note: Some parts of this interview have been changed to note that, when woven on a Mirrix, this is Saori®-inspired weaving, not Saori® weaving. Saori® is a trademarked technique done on a Saori® Loom.
Last night I noticed that beads were a big part of many Oscar looks and I decided to take some notes to see what additional fashion trends might be able to be parlayed into bead or tapestry weaving projects on a Mirrix Loom!
Here are my top three!
- Black & White Colorblock
Patricia Arquette, winner of best supporting actress, wore a beautiful Rosetta Getty black and white colorblock dress last night. Reese Witherspoon stuck to the same palette, wearing an off-the-shoulder Tom Ford gown. They were both gorgeous and definitely provided me with some black and white weaving inspiration.
Pearls are in, and I can’t wait to add some to my next beaded bracelet! Last year’s best supporting actress winner, Lupita Nyong’o, wore a stunning Calvin Klein gown covered in pearls and Best Actress nominee Felicity Jones donned pearls on the bodice of her Alexander McQueen gown.
- Beads, Beads, Beads
The Oscars are all about sparkle, and this year beads were in. Naomi Watts sported beads in her Armani Privé gown and best supporting actress nominee Emma Stone dazzled in a custom beaded Elie Saab gown.
If you don’t have a Mirrix yet and are inspired to start weaving (who knows, maybe your jewelry design will make it to the red carpet next year) you can get a free loom recommendation here.
If you want to make the beautiful black and white silk and bead cuffs shown here? Learn how by following the instructions in this throwback weave-along.
Claudia was here in Seattle with me for the last couple of weeks and last week we had the pleasure of getting coffee with Mary Lane of The American Tapestry Alliance. After, we all stopped by the monthly tapestry group meeting of the Seattle Weavers’ Guild.
It got me thinking about the benefits of joining weaving or beading guilds and associations. In high school and college I had friends who went to a different group meeting every day of the week. I was never one of those people. It’s partly because I’m not very good at being a little bit involved in things; it’s either all or nothing with me. It’s also because I am painfully shy and walking into a new group is always a little scary.
That noted, I believe that every weaver can benefit from being a member of some kind of weaving group if not for the camaraderie (I don’t know what it is, but weavers have a tendency to be pretty awesome people), for the resources. The first Seattle Weavers’ Guild meeting I attended a few years ago impressed me immensely and their tapestry group is the best source of inspiration I can think of.
The American Tapestry Alliance is a national (international, actually) tapestry organization that does everything from putting on exhibitions to workshops and member retreats. It’s a fabulous organization and it isn’t just for professional weavers. In fact, new tapestry weavers can really benefit from membership. From their tapestry mentoring program to educational articles and a chance to rub shoulders with some tapestry celebrities, it’s a group I wholeheartedly encourage all level of tapestry weavers to join!
You can learn more about joining the American Tapestry Alliance here.
You can learn more about joining the Seattle Weavers’ Guild here. I just noticed the picture on that page is of the tapestry group. Recognize those looms?
I encourage you to look up your local weavers’ guild or bead society!
My favorite part of working at Mirrix is seeing what everyone creates. From the work of professionals to your first pieces, seeing customer work always puts a smile on my face.
In this spirit of sharing, creativity and inspiration, we are planning to give free hand-painted silk (6 skeins) to two Mirrix customers this week. In exchange, we ask those customers to share with us what they make with the silk so we can share their work with the rest of you!
We are looking for fun, creative projects. You may use any other materials in your project (whatever you want!) and techniques other than weaving, as long the majority of the project is woven.
Here’s the deal:
Email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with a few sentences describing what you’d like to make with the silk. Also note which size loom you’ll be using and give your full name and mailing address.
On Friday (1/9/2015) we will choose two people to send the silk to, based on your plans to use the silk. We will then send those people silk.
Sometime in the next two months, we will feature the projects that each customer makes with their silk on our blog!
The Fine Print (that you should really read):
By entering, you agree to make a project using the silk you are given before February 28th, 2015. You also agree to send us (high quality) pictures and information about the project. You agree to let us use those photographs on our blog, website and social media sites. We will, of course, attribute your work to you.
It seems like New Year’s Resolutions usually focus on doing more of what you don’t necessarily want to be doing (like spending more time at the gym, ) or less of what you do want to be doing (like watching television).
This year, my resolutions focus on doing more things I love. Not necessarily “eat more chocolate” (although I’m pretty sure I would keep that one), but more like giving myself more time to pursuit doing things I love to do. Like yoga. And weaving. I find myself so many times not allowing myself a break, and I’m sure many of you have the same problem.
Do you have a resolution this year to spend more time at your loom? What other weaving-related goals do you have this year? Maybe keeping a tapestry (or bead) diary? Learning a new skill? Let us know in the comments!