Sunday, April 29, 2012

What am I really doing again?

You may have seen these "What we do" posters on Facebook recently. This was the one I had to pass on (thanks Mirrix!). I think it is funny, but not quite accurate.

What my spouse thinks I do (this one is pretty accurate):

That is me stuck in the back of my car after the hatch slammed down as I was trying to move a loom out of it--the hydrolic hatch holders failed and I was trapped. Emily took a photo before she let me out.
What Society thinks I do:

What my kids think I do:

What my friends think I do:

What I think I do:

What I actually do:
Emergence VI, 15 x 49 inches, hand-dyed wool tapestry
Emergence II, 45 x 45 inches, hand-dyed wool tapestry

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Draw Loom

I had the opportunity to go to a "loom gazing" yesterday. I wasn't entirely sure what a loom gazing was, but pretty quickly realized it was just as it sounds--a gathering of weavers looking at looms.  Jacque Hart lives near me and she has been a weaver and artist her whole life. Her house/studio was a fascinating collection of looms. The Pueblo weavers guild drove over the mountain for a studio tour and I was allowed to tag along.

The Other Looms

Jacque has a house stuffed with looms.  I counted 5 looms that were at least 45 inches weaving width and a large assortment of small looms tucked in corners under piles of wool and weaving. I missed the demonstration of the AVL, but it looks to me like this is where Jacque does her "production" type weaving.

I thought everyone had moved on to computerized AVL looms, but Jacque still uses these pegs and I adore her for it. This was really the first computer after all, was it not?

This loom is a 32 harness Macomber which is definitely an old dinosaur! It was one of the first looms people called "computerized". All the shaft changes were entered one at a time on this little key pad and stored on a memory key. Jacque said it takes forever to put them in. She had a hilarious accounting of using the loom, what with the solenoids switching the shafts and the clatter of the air compressor which is the mechanical assist for lifting those metal shafts, the noise was too much. She would love to sell this loom if anyone is interested! It is definitely a little slice of history.  And you'd get very strong lifting those shafts since the air compressor has been disconnected. The loom looked like a 72 inch width one to me!

The drawloom

The most interesting of the looms to me was the drawloom.  I had never seen one before and Jacque spent quite a bit of time explaining how it works.
I have done some pick up work in the past and so the concept of this loom seemed fairly straightforward as Jacque explained it. Basically the pattern for the fabric goes on the front 10 pattern shafts (the regular countermarch shafts of the loom) and the "pick up" threads are on the back 60 drawloom shafts. Jacque treadles whatever ground fabric she is working (satin, etc) and then also pulls the shafts for the pattern she wants raised before putting in her shot.

 These are the pulls that control the drawloom shafts on the back of which there are 60 on this particular loom.

 You can see in this photo how the standard Glimakra countermarche loom is to the left and the drawloom extension is hooked on the back of it. This loom takes a lot of floor space!

These U-shaped weights have a name, but I can't remember what it is. Please comment on this post if you know!
 This loom looks particularly challenging to set up.

There is a very interesting article with pictures HERE about how to set up a drawloom and how it works.
Glimakra also has a page of information about drawlooms.

The Fabric

Jacque had some fine examples of her work for me to look at. Can you guess which pieces were done on which kind of loom? All photos are of work done by Jacque Hart. You can contact her through her website if you are interested. She has some gorgeous throws and coverlets and also does other functional textiles as well as wall pieces. Here website is HERE.

The Animals

And of course I took a quick tour of the animals on my way back to my car. The sheep were adorable and I just wanted to brush the angora bunnies! Dangerously, Jacque mentioned that she has baby bunnies who need homes. I beat it to my car at that point lest a bunny cage find its way onto my back porch and I find myself learning to spin angora.

I had a great time thinking about complex weaves again and learning about the drawloom.
 Isn't weaving grand?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Rhythm and Rhyme, Fuller Lodge

I drove down to Los Alamos, NM to see my pieces in the Rhythm and Rhyme show at Fuller Lodge on Monday. I was pleased to meet the directors of the art gallery and to see the current show.

My pieces looked great and I received a Juror's pick award for Emergence I.

Emergence I, 48 x 48 inches, hand-dyed wool tapestry

Emergence III and Emergence IV were also accepted to the show.

Photos of the work in the show can be seen on the Fuller Lodge website for at least this month.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Warping the LeClerc Gobelin loom

I have never before used an upright tapestry loom except for small frame looms and my Mirrix. My grandmother Marian gave me her beloved tapestry loom when she moved across the country a few years ago. I was so enamored of the loom my grandfather gave me, the Harrisville rug loom, that I had neglected this beautiful LeClerc.  But when I moved to Alamosa and was faced with which loom I could most easily liberate from the storage locker in Taos, the LeClerc won easily. So I brought it home and my father put it back together for me and now I am ready to have a whack at using it.

It needed some cleaning up first however.
The linen warp that my grandmother had last put on the loom was still rolled on the top beam. I loved the curtain of linen it made when I pulled it down... but eventually I had to cut it off.

But not before examining how it was warped!
Clearly the loops from the cross end of the warp were at the top indicating to me that a warping board was the best way to warp this loom as opposed to some modified Navajo warping technique. As I knew Tommye Scanlin used to have a loom just like this, I consulted her for advice and she was exceedingly helpful.

I found when I unwound the old warp that water had dripped onto the top beam at some point when this warp was sitting in my grandmother's dining room waiting for a Maurice Sendak tapestry (see blog post HERE) to be woven and the two iron bars were rusted. Upon the trusty advice of my Uncle Carl, I used plain old vinegar to get the rust off the bars. I made a sort of tub with plastic sheeting and the widest crack in our back deck. It worked perfectly and only took a couple cups of vinegar. After a little scrubbing with steel wool, I had perfectly clean bars again.

There was also an issue with mold on the apron. The new version of this loom which LeClerc still makes doesn't have the canvas apron. The rod attaches directly to the beam in a slot. But this loom is an old one and the apron molded where it was wet. I opted, in this dry climate, to wait to replace it and rolled the mold right back up. I will need to replace the apron sometime soon.

I wound a warp on my warping board.  Here are the warp sections hanging ready to be put through the reed.

I then threaded each loop into every other dent in an 8 dent reed (warping for 8 e.p.i.). I held the reed vertically with two clamps as I did this and slid the loops onto the bar which would hold the warp loops at the top of the loom tied to the bar that goes through the apron rod.

The entire warp was put through the reed.  Unfortunately I don't currently own a 60 inch 8 dent reed and ended up using two shorter reeds to accomplish this. Because this piece has several sections, the break between the reeds didn't matter. If I was doing a piece without sections, this would not have worked.

With Emily's help, I tied the reed onto the frame, leash sticks below.

The warp was slowly rolled around the top beam and then tied at the bottom like you would a floor loom... ready to weave.

My grandmother loved to mark things and much of my weaving equipment like these leash sticks are covered with her writing.
Another helpful resource for warping and for this project was Kathe Todd-Hooker's warping book, So Warped. It is available from her business, Fine Fiber Press. She specifically mentions a wide variety of looms and how to warp them and I recommend all tapestry weavers, especially ones like me who like to play with a wide variety of looms, have this book on their shelves.

One of my favorite bumper stickers, also from Kathe Todd-Hooker
After the warp is on, you still have to tie leashes. This loom comes with a 1 1/2 inch leash bar which has adjustable height via chains on each side of the loom. 

The leashes are tied one at a time to pull forward the second shed. I learned this method of tying leashes from Archie Brennan and Susan Martin Maffei in their tapestry course, Woven Tapestry Techniques. I have never tied leashes like this before as I usually use a loom with harnesses and treadles. Archie's description in his DVD course is helpful and clear.

I used a long copper bar to hold the open shed in place. The leashes are used to pull the back threads forward to make the other shed.

And the loom is tied up, the tension extremely even if I do say so myself!

Now all that remains is to turn this:

into a finished work of art.