About Me

My photo
Francestown, New Hampshire, United States
I am the owner of Mirrix Tapestry & Bead Looms ( and an avid tapestry and bead weaver, among other things. Needless to say, I love my job!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tapestry weaving looms and why you want a Mirrix

Tapestry Weaving on the Mirrix:
If you've ever tried to weave tapestry on a loom not intended for weaving tapestry, you understand how frustrating it is to not have the kind of tension necessary to weave a tapestry that will not look like something you imagine might have emerged from weaving day at summer camp.  Tapestry is a demanding medium full of must have requirements.  If you give her what she wants, she is as lovely as can be.  But if you deny her the simple requirement of a dedicated and worthy tapestry loom, she can be quite the adversary.  Forget even selvedges unless you are some kind of magician.  Forget evenly spaced warps.  And if you have an inferior shedding mechanism or none at all, forget your sanity.  It's bound to march off to the wistful world or potholder looms while slashing the warps on your inadequate loom with a sharp and deadly scissor.
Good tapestry looms are necessary for weaving tapestry.  Period.  Four harness jack looms don't work.  Rigid heddle looms don't work.  Flimsy portable wooden tapestry looms don't work.  Little home-made frames work for about two rows and then you might as well just stop because it goes downhill after that and you won't be hanging that thing on anyone's wall.
So what are the exacting requirement of a good or even great portable tapestry loom? (The same requirements apply mostly to a floor loom but since you won't be hauling a floor loom around the house or to your next workshop which is necessary to be called a portable loom, we will leave them off this list.  Okay, here comes the list.)  We are talking portable looms here.
1) Provides great tension.  No compromise on this.  Shall I say that one more time?  Okay, you get it.
2) Provides some kind of shedding device that is easily operated and keeps the shed open without you having to do a series of cartwheels first.  Having to stick a stick (say that ten times fast) into the open shed to keep it in place isn't so much fun. 
3) Stands sturdily in place either on a table, in your lap or on some kind of stand.
4) Can provide the kind of length you need relative to the width you know you've got.  
5)  The option of a variety of reeds for various warp setts because not everyone wants to weave at six ends per inch.  
6) The ability to add a foot treadle is a huge plus.  And it's rare, so if you are looking for that stop your search because you've just found it.
7) A guaranteed life time of use.  Yeah, that's important.  Who wants to waste money on a piece of beautiful (that's the last requirement) equipment that falls apart before you've abandoned it for other tapestry weaving lands?
8) Beautiful.  Indeed it should be beautiful.  Afterall, tapestry takes more time to weave than most of us are willing to sleep in a day, so if you've got to look at that loom for hours on end you sure want it to be beautiful.  Remember that little saying of ours:  Because the loom you weave on should be a work of art?  We are sticking to it.

Other things to consider:

What size loom do I want and what can I get?  Having a nice range of sizes is very helpful because some of us like to crawl into bed with our looms and others like to make a big spectacle of their creative moment with something huge and grand like the Zeus loom (okay, it's not that huge, but as far as portable tapestry looms go, it's pretty darn big as was the dog we named it for).  Some people love a size so in between the two that they can even tell you exactly how many inches wide they require or would like.  We might not have the exact size loom for everybody, but we come close.  And no one is saying we won't special order one for you if you just can't live without a 23 and a half inch wide loom!  We've done it before.  That's how the Zeus loom came into existence.
What do I want to get with this loom?  You need to make or buy heddles.  Easy to make and not so cheap to buy.  But it's your dime. 
Are you weaving sewing thread at 22 ends per inch (a halo comes with that request)?  If so, you might want to spring for that bottom spring kit.  It helps keep all those thinner than thin threads orderly while you remind yourself why you have agreed to such a task.  And speaking of springs, you need to know which warp sett you want.  The tapestry looms all come with four different springs (8, 12, 14 and 18 dents per inch) which allows for quite a variety of weaving setts.  We have filler springs (10 and 16) if you just have to march to your own drummer.  And we've got those two tail end springs for those of you who can't bare to weave with anything thicker than sewing thread and itty bitty spun silk threads.  

Now you can decide which size is best for you!

Blog Post on Craftsy

We were featured on the Craftsy blog post!  Check out the blog:  Soon we will be running classes through that site.  Stay tuned!

Friday, June 10, 2011

The West Coat!

Returned home a couple of days ago after spending twelve days on the West Coast.  Our main goal was to have a booth at the Northwest Weaver's show.  And indeed we did.  What fun.  First of all we got to hang up our cool banner that Elena designed.  That wasn't so easy. We arrived an hour before the vendor hall opened.  We were missing some essential tools for both hanging up the banner and setting up our booth.  Who knew?  This was our first show.  After balancing on folding chairs and getting slightly sweaty, we finally managed to get the banner hung.  Oh, but since it took us at least ten minutes to find our spot, we were not going to get opened on time.  Our customers didn't care.  They came anyway.  Turns out that the biggest flow of customers was in the morning, at lunch time, and just before closing.  The rest of time we spent bonding with other vendors and our looms.  

Elena, happy we are finally set up although the next day we will have changed everything around.

Claudia also pleased to be done with set up

And that is Kathe Todd-Hooker, the big bonus of the whole event because we finally got to spend time with her.  What a great lady she is and how happy to count her as a friend.  Looks like she's autographing a book but in fact she is taking notes about her upcoming workshop to be held at the New Hampshire Mirrix Studio in October.

The show was great.  Lasted two and a half days and we sold everything we had brought.  That was the goal.  I hate having to pack stuff up and sending it back.  Kathe was teaching the only tapestry class at the show.  It was one of the most popular classes.  She had a few half day classes and then one couple day class (I think).  That one had 20 students.  I don't know how she does it.  Plus, the treadle she brought wasn't cooperating when she tried to attach it to the loom.  What a fiasco.  Finally, the plumber (that would be me) arrived and a half an hour later, a lot of sweat and a sore hand (I just slammed that thing onto the shedding device with my fist because I was lacking any tools) it was in fine working order.

The vendor across the way was selling gold.  I kid you not.  I had to buy a cone of it.  Just had to.  14k Gold spun around a silk core.  It doesn't get any better than that.  Our next kit will include this gold and silk threads and 24k plated beads.  It's going to be gorgeous.  Probably "smartphone" size with a woven strap.  I plan to get to work on it today.  Would have last night but our power went out just when the light was getting dim so I read a book by flickering candle light which is really hard on your eyes.

Don't you just want to take this home!

I did take it home!