About Me

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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!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Gold Bracelet Collection Notes from the Plane

Golden bracelet: By today some of you will have received the gold thread bracelet collection. We didn't include instructions, which might be an issue for some of you, so I've decided to use my time on the plane wisely (well, after having watched "The Help", which Elena directed me to download from iTunes . . . a first). Now I shall be wise and talk you through a weaving with gold thread. First of all, let it be known: it is fun to weave and there are all sorts of possibilities. I have as of yet just explored straight lines but I have curves and leaves and patterns zooming through my brain ten thousand feet above the ground. The process of weaving straight lines is simple so do not panic. First, set your loom up for the no warps weaving. I am leaving about six and a half inches between the bars. Measure your wrist and see what you get. You want a little area in between the two ends of the bracelet for your clasp. I have woven one and three quarters bracelets thus far. The second one is on a mini-Mirrix buried in my luggage somewhere below me right now. I had planned to take it on the plane, but decided most likely I would not use it and my backpack is so filled with computers and beads and cords that even the mini was not going to fit. Also, this is a night flight and the thought of trying to wrangle with beads and gold thread in this light was a bit more than my imagined patience could handle. The first bracelet is only about an inch wide. The second one is about half again as wide. I think I prefer the wider format. First thing: weave in a couple of rows of seed beads. Or even just one. This is your design. Next prepare your gold thread. I used three strands which I then threaded into a tapestry needle and then doubled. I found it helpful to knot the end to keep things tidy before weaving. I took the needle and wove it under the first warp, over the second, under the third, etc. Before heading back in the opposite direction, catch the thread from the beads under your gold thread so that it runs up the side of the piece. That way, once you weave the beads again the bead thread will not show. The wonderful thing about wire which I am now discovering is that it does not pull in when you weave fiber over it. So this is a great piece for those of you who are still learning the ropes of fiber weaving. Weave a few rows of the gold (or however many you want to weave) and be awe struck but how much the gold section looks like gold. Well, it is gold. But I am still amazed by the shine and brilliance of it all. When you are done weaving the gold, thread some more beads on the bead thread and catch the thread behind the gold, again so that the gold thread travels up the side of the piece and doesn't loosely hang on the side. Keep weaving in this fashion until you get to the end, which should be just beads. I like to end with a few rows of beads. Remove your piece and sew in the two warp ends or use them to create a clasp. After I finish the piece that is in my suitcase I plan to create a piece that has shapes. In my mind these shapes look like leaves. I think I have figured out how this can be accomplished. I am hoping Elena gives me time tomorrow to play with these ideas. I she has lots of plans for making videos tomorrow, so I might have to survive the videos before I can follow my golden heart's desire. I also plan to take many photos of Sam-I-Am, Seattle, and everything Mirrix and loom-ish. So looking forward to week of working with Elena in person. Skype is wonderful and I am ever grateful for it . . . but being in a real room with someone is still best.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Gold thread bracelet, loom stand and some thoughts

You know you  are in trouble when you look at past habits and think:  "Wow, I am really kind of weird." Let me explain.  I decided to rearrange my studio.  Again.  Before Elena's wedding in August I had to basically empty out my studio/office.  It was extremely cathartic if not a bit disturbing.  Ultimately, I was glad I had to do it.  To clarify:  my studio/office used to be a dining room.  It sits smack in between the kitchen (also known as the home of the espresso machine) and the living room (which is a huge space designed for parties that I am sure the last owners never got around to having). The reception was to be in all three places and so I had to get out of Dodge.  Once I returned to Dodge, to this newly painted and very clean and beautifully lighted (by the great outdoors) space I could put anything anywhere I wanted.  So I left out all the ugly stuff.  The two black filing cabinets remain hidden in my husband's cave (he could care less).  I got rid of an awful huge table, thinking I had given up efficiency for beauty.  Not the case.  The awful huge table had just been a place to spread stuff and it turned out I never really needed it.  I made a circle of my desk, a nice table and my drafting table.  I put my favorite rug (we have hard wood floors to rugs are important) in the middle.  I very slowly hung up a few tapestries, pieces of art.  Only bookshelves I liked remained and only stuff that was pretty or essential was put on them.  The lovely wood cabinet could hide all the supplies and stuff I wasn't keen on looking at all day.  The ugly but so necessary plastic things with the million drawers were placed below knee level so they are still useful but you don't see them.  My gorgeous trunks got center stage.  I put the purple love seat I don't much like but love sitting in by the windows in the corner.  All was good.  No more bulletin boards.  I have my huge slate blackboard.  One marble top table, a weaving bench and lots and lots of looms.

But why did I stick this other table in a far off corner and place this lovely wooden cabinet with all the drawers on it when 1) it's almost impossible to get to; 2) I never actually sit at that table because it's in exactly the wrong place.  And why was there no loom stand in sight?  Why was it in the living room, where I never weave.  How many years would it take me to get it that if it isn't in range of my desk I will not use it?  And why buy this little wooden cabinet with all the cute little functional drawers and slots and holes if I was just going to pack full of stuff ans stick it far away and never use the stuff?  I do things like that.  I take something I really like, I really want to use and then I stick it in left field never to be used.  Am I saving it?  Is it a future reward for being a good girl?  Who the heck knows.  But look!  Isn't that sweet? The little wooden thing and my baskets and trays and that gorgeous cat in the back ground sitting on the trunk making sure all is well.  Don't you just want to sit there and weave my gold bracelet for me?

So I put the little cabinet on the table I always work at which is at right angle to the desk that holds my iMac which I am always sitting at.  And I dragged the loom stand to sit in between that table and the drafting table (before the wedding the drafting table was in the living room and I hadn't used it in about ten years . . . now I use it all the time).  I am weaving a no warps ipod case on the Laniloom and because I can't advance it, when it sits on a table, the top part is getting a little hard to reach.  The perfect solution would beto use a stand where the surface can be adjusted to exactly where I need the top to be.  Duh.  Really Claudia?  And where would you find such a stand?

 I found such a loom stand.  Gee, go figure.  And now I can weave comfortably on that piece and the piece next to it, which you can barely see. Chances are that now that the stand is within two steps of my computer, I will always have looms on it, freeing up a ton of table space.  Plus I love the way the tray holds the beads.  I have lined it with a cut up bead mat.  Perfect.  I guess I had associated the stand with tapestry weaving and not with beads.  What the heck was I thinking?  It's perfect for bead looms.  Plus you can put two on at a time.  

And there is that beaded case in progress.  The solid areas are gold thread.  Have I mentioned lately how in love I am with using that gold thread?

Change of Subject:

I am addicted.  Mini Mirrix with no warps to weave in kit and another bracelet made from gold thread and size 11/0 beads.  This is going on the plane with me this Thursday when I fly to Washington and I am sure it will get used plenty while there.  The gold thread looks like, well, gold when woven in solid areas like this.  It's amazing.  It's gold!

Below is kind of the circle.  (I just jumped back to original topic of rearranging my studio.)  The three pictures make three sides of square in this order.

And there is Ms. Chloe making sure it all works okay.

And there is my other love, Shasta the pony, trying to soak up some sunlight on this very cold day.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Gold Thread and Bead Bracelet

This was so much fun to weave.  The gold thread looks like pure gold when woven on a wire warp.  It's just absolutely gorgeous.  The second I send this post I am going back for round two.  Will turn this into a kit, but if you can't wait for the kit you can use the 11/0 seed bead permanent galvanized bead soup and our gold thread and ultra-suede and wire our no warps to weave in kit to make your own.  Simply weave the beads using the traditional method of bead weaving and weave the gold thread by threading it into a tapestry needle and needle weaving.  Here is the result:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Gold thread and bead weaving

I am taking the opposite approach to the concept of weaving fiber and beads.  Rather than set up the loom for tapestry and weave beads using the shedding device, I am setting up the loom for the traditional method of bead weaving and needle weaving in the fiber.  I am using just gold thread as my fiber in the two pieces I am working on. I am very pleased with the results.  I spent two days pondering this option before I finally got down to work and got something tangible on the loom.

The following piece is going to be a smart phone case:

And this one is going to be a bracelet:

I will have the bracelet off the loom and finished by tomorrow.  Stay tuned!

Finishing Techniques for Tapestry and Books you must own

Thank goodness there are great tapestry books out there.  In almost all of the tapestry books you will find information on how to finish a tapestry.  I suggest that anyone embarking on a journey of tapestry weaving invest in some good tapestry books.  Tapestry is not that simple.  It involves a lot of techniques which are not always intuitive.  I wish any of the books I am going to mention had been around when I began weaving tapestry more years ago than I would like to say.  We recommend all of the following three books for both covering almost every aspect of tapestry weaving and finishing.  There is something new to learn in each book and you will want to use them again and again for references.

In 2007 Carol Russell published the second edition of her "Tapestry Handbook."  Well worth every penny of the $60 cover price, this book should be a staple in your tapestry book library.  The photos of tapestries in this book are breath-taking and the detailed attention to technique is clear and inspiring.  As for finishing, on pages 164 to 172of the book, Carol includes a chapter called Blocking, Finishing and Mounting.  Her methods for finishing are detailed and perfect.  She works harder at this process than I ever had and I am sure her results reflect this indulgence in perfection.

Published in 2002, "Tapestry Weaving" by Kirsten Glasbrook really set the tone for an inexpensive ($22), softcover tapestry book filled to the brim with color and technique.  I love this book.  All of the images in this book are of the author's own tapestries, whereas Ms. Russell includes a broad range of tapestry images from both the best modern and not so modern tapestry artists.  Fortunately, Ms. Gladbrook has a great grasp of color and design and it is feast for one's eyes to look at the photos in this book.  And photos there are aplenty.  Pages 66 to 69 address comprise the Mounting and Framing chapter of her book.  I have actually used her method for finishing more for bead tapestries than for fiber tapestries.  They seem to lend themselves more to small tapestries.   When you are done you have a piece you can either frame or hang directly.

The third book we highly recommend is Kathe Todd-Hooker's "Tapestry 101" published in 2007.  Ms. Todd-Hooker mainly weaves miniature tapestries the images of which are pretty much absent from this black and white book.  However, despite the lack of Ms. Todd-Hooker's wonderful tapestry images, this book is crammed with both simple and complicated techniques.  Another must-have for your arsenal of tapestry instruction, finishing techniques can be found in Chapter Seven which begins on page 84 and ends on page 95.  She deals with finishing of a tapestry in greater detail than the other two books.  Ms. Todd-Hooker is big on detail making this another book you must own in order to fully cover all the aspects of both tapestry weaving and finishing.  

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Finishing Techniques for Beadweaving

The following is a list of ways to finish a bead weaving that has been woven on a Mirrix Loom:

-Pulling the looped threads so that they are flush with the piece (sometimes known laughingly as "pull and pray."

Rather than rewrite something has been documented well by someone else (although this piece was not woven on a Mirrix Loom) I am directing you to the following link:  Click on her "book" link which is a PDF file.    She has used one of those small metal looms where the warp is tied to a screw on either end.  With the Mirrix (and this only really works well if you are not using the shedding device) do not cut your piece off the loom.  Rather, release the tension and remove the warping bar.  Then follow the directions in this PDF.   I have had mixed success with this method.  When weaving the piece you have to make sure you do not pierce the warp threads with your weft thread when sewing back through the beads.

-Weaving a header and a footer.

This method can be used weather or not you use the shedding device.  Once you've finished weaving your piece and before you cut it off the loom, weave a header and footer using a needle and warp thread.  Simply weave under and over the threads, going back and forth until you've created about a third of any inch of fiber weaving.  This site has a good tutorial on this method:
Once you've woven your header and footer, remove your piece from the loom and tie overhand knots with pairs of warp threads.  I like to weight my piece and stick a needle in the overhand knot to guide the knot as close to the body of bead woven piece as possible.  Once you've tied off all the warps, trim them to about half an inch.  Fold the header and footer to the back of the piece and sew them so they remain there.  You will either have to back your piece with something like ultra-suede or attache it to a cuff or, if this is a beaded tapestry, attach it to some kind of backing.

-Sewing in your ends.

This is a method I do not employ because I find it tedious and rather difficult.  Although with a thin piece and patience, it can be accomplished.  See this link again for instructions:

-No warps to weave in method.

If you use our no warps end kit you will have no warps to weave in when finished.  For pieces woven NOT using the shedding device this is a great option.  Search this blog for examples of this method.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

No warps bracelet now available in blue/green

Just finished the blue/green version of the no warps bracelet. Watch for its imminent arrival on our website (today or tomorrow) in this spot:  And even more exciting, we are going to sell a kit that includes both the golden and the blue/green bracelet.  So the options will be the golden bracelet and the blue/green bracelet kit, both of which provide enough material to make two bracelets or a combination kit which will allow you to make one bracelet of each color.

 And remember, we will be teaching this class at Bead Fest in Philly:  This will be a three hour class on Friday August 19th from six until nine p.m.  We will also be teaching the bead cuff bracelet that day starting at eight a.m. until four p.m.  It's going to be a long day but fun.

And now for the cats.  You haven't seen them in a while.

Maia in a basket!

Chloe saying "I want to get fed . . . again!"

And Chloe again in my office looking fuzzy and adorable as usual.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Weaving a city of gold

Happy New Year to all of you.

Except for the absence of snow (I ski, well not this year) things have been going pretty well thus far.  My resolution was to weave every day as much as possible.  I had focused so much on making things to sell in galleries that I lost sight of making things that inspire me.  One fun thing about last year was coming up with new designs to weave on the Mirrix.  I will continue to do that as much as I can this year.  But I also want to weave pieces that have been living inside my head and need to get out.  I started the below piece just before New Year's day.

It's woven on the McKinley Loom.  This is the first time I've actually woven on this loom.  I thought my first piece on it would be a table runner.  In fact, I warped it to weave a table runner and after about an inch of weaving I took my scissors to it.  I just was not in the mood to weave a table runner.

The next day I put on a linen warp.  Linen works great on the Mirrix because it requires perfectly even tension.  Putting a linen warp on a loom where you have to tie every thread pair is very difficult.   I explored my yarn stash and came up with:  a ball of natural hemp yarn, a ball of thistle yarn, some rafia, a bunch un-dyed silk yarn as well as dyed silk.  I also discovered some lovely fine wool in earth colors.  And then I found my pot of gold.  This is where I stick all the gold scraps left over from various projects.  Who can throw away gold!  I stuffed it into the shed and let some of it spill into the front.  I will take more pictures of this as the piece progresses.

The theme of the piece is:  city of gold.  The "city" is made from the hand-dyed silk yarn.  The gold is all the rest.  I guess I am almost imaging a city springing up in a desert.  Whatever is stuck in my head seems to be happening in the piece.  I hope I can keep it going in the right direction.  There is nothing more exciting than heading in the right direction.  But it's awful when things go south and you've got to get those scissors out!

I also plan to put a warp on a smaller loom and weave a similar piece.  Something thin and long.  It's in my head.  And it will be good to be able to go back and forth between the two especially if I get stuck.

Monday, January 2, 2012

No warps loom woven earrings

Little rectangles woven on the Mirrix Loom using the no warps kit become simple, elegant earrings.  Just takes on our of your time including warping and finishing.  Setting up for the next pair take only a few minutes.

I made mine out of rhodium and 24 karat gold plated beads in a rectangle inside a rectangle design.

I am thinking maybe a longer, thinner piece (or maybe two combined) would make great earrings.

But these little guys would make nice components for a bracelet or necklace.  I would be a lot more creative with color and combine pieces that were very different.

My stash is a little low.  I might have to go bead shopping.  What a shame!

Hope your New Years has started well and that all creativity is flowing.