Friday, December 14, 2012

James Koehler's weft interlock join...

Some of you have asked me recently about James Koehler's weft interlock join. He talks about it in his autobiography but doesn't really describe how to do it. He used this join for all the straight verticals in his tapestries which were primarily the darker frames he wove around his images. It is difficult to describe how to do techniques in words, so I am supplying some video below to make it clearer.

James finished his autobiography, Woven Color: The Tapestry Art of James Koehler less than a year before he died. It is a beautiful book that tells the story of his life and journey as an artist.

 In chapter 10 of the book he discusses his interlock technique which he started using early in his tapestry career while weaving a piece inspired by Rothko. Here is how James describes it:
I noticed that when I was weaving the interlock and moving over by one warp end, it affected the ridge that formed on the surface of the weaving as a result of that particular join. Sometimes, the ridge was on the front of the weaving. Other times it moved to the back--depending on the position of the warp end that I was wrapping around.
If the weft moved through a color block toward a lowered warp end, the ridge was forced to the side of the tapestry facing the weaver when the warp end was raised in the next shed. If the weft moved toward a raised warp end, then the ridge appeared on the opposite side of the tapestry facing away from the weaver. By weaving 11 feet with that in mind, I saw the subtle difference that took place depending upon whether or not the interlock was made around a lowered or a raised warp end.
 In the video I show you how to weave this interlock join from the back side of the tapestry. If you are weaving from the front, simply change the weft that you are wrapping against from a raised warp to a lowered warp and the ridge will move to the side away from you (watch the video, you'll get it).

 And I have been sad that James' website was taken down shortly after his death. But I did run across an older geocities website tonight that seems to be operating. It looks like it was last updated in 2009. So you can see some of his tapestries on that website here as well as in some of my old blog posts such as this one.


  1. Great video, Rebecca. And your tip at the end is really helpful, even for stitchers like me who aren't tapestry weavers. 'Tis the season for chronic cracking on my right thumb.

  2. Thank you, Rebecca, for sharing this with us!

  3. I enjoyed the video Rebecca, thanks.

  4. Thank you for the video, very informational!

  5. Many thanks for taking the time to make this video and demonstrate this technique, much appreciate!

  6. Your video will no doubt help many to create a straight line. Well done!

  7. Do you know if the book will be available again? I checked Amazon and and it's not available...

    1. The book is available from Blurb Publications. It was never offered on Amazon. It is a self-published book. If you go to and type in Woven Color, it will come up.

  8. I visited this post again today and it looks as fresh as when I saw it five years ago. Your video is splendid. Well Done! BTW, the Geocities links no longer work as they were taken down by Yahoo in Oct 2009.


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