Planning a four-selvedge tapestry

Having just completed my Savannah tapestry, I’m gearing up for the next effort.

I was intrigued a little while ago to come across Rebecca Mezoff’s detailed post on 4-selvedge weaving. The idea of no fringes and no turned-over hem is appealing.  Some years back my late sister found and gave me an old Spears No 4 loom – this was an English production of a stripped down rigid-heddle loom. I had modified it into an upright square tapestry loom – and now I added some height (to accomodate the upper supplementary warps) and put in some hooks so that the “jig” is part of the loom (though separate in Mezoff’s adaptation of Sarah Swett’s method.) This what it looks like:C14795D6-18B4-48C7-8450-794E445E2E3A

The idea is that the main warp is wound between the ‘top bar for main warp’ and ‘bottom bar for main warp’.

Two supplementary warps are wound, one interlocks the top of the main warp to the top tensioning bar, and the other, the bottom of the main warp to the very bottom bar.  The main warp bars are then removed one by one as tension is applied – and weaving can begin.

It seems finicky, but the extra time involved in setting up the supplementary warps is offset by the time it takes to weave and sew hems.

If one insists on the four selvedges, one is, of course, committed to the dimensions set by the placement of the removable bars, though one could compromise and finish short with a fringe or woven hem.

Savannah is very much about both the shapes and the colours of the northern outback.  I was also very much taken by the amazing colours in the Echidna Chasm at the north end of the Bungle Bungles. This is the image from there that will form the basis of the next one:

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Planned size is about A3. I ‘ll be warping a Glenora 12/12 warp at 9 epi.

Now – interpretation. What is a ‘weaverly’ thing to do? Lots of lovely knobbly stuff in there  – do I add texture with pile techniques – or is that getting cheap thrills when I haven’t fully explored all that plain tabby can do? How geometric am I going to get? All is in the lap of the gods…

Usually I get through a piece this size in about three weeks, but I have the feeling that this is going to be a greater challenge for a longer time.

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Practice on loom and on paper

With Cresside Collette at her intermediate workshop at the Australian Tapestry Workshop on 13 and 14 June:


I bit off a bit more than I could chew on this one – in my haste to get a full 20×15 cm done in two days I made a number of errors. There are several instances of jumped warps and I probably spent too much effort on the blue and green soumak ‘whip-lashes’. But overall I am pleased to have got some decent colour gradation going on, which was the focus of the workshop. Thanks, Cresside!

With Julie Mcenerny at her Watercolour Pencil Botanic Drawing workshop at the Cairns Botanic Gardens on 1 July:

Not quite A3 size, this drawing of jackfruit again a bit too large to let me get it to an adequate state in the five hours available – I had to skimp on the smaller fruit and the buds. Next time I’ve got to remember to keep the scale small.

Untutored life-drawing group meeting at James Cook University, 27 June:


Not really competition for Henry Moore!

Life-drawing group, 4 July:



Ok for a quickie.

A folded bean-stuffed heat bag – capturing the texture:


… with one eye on the TV!

Those Crazy Kuranda  Leaves – a study in tropical textures 

A mixture of soumak (i-open, ii – alternate closed and open with staggered rows), half-hitches over the next warp (giving the knot to the front), vertical wraps on two warps (essentially a sort of climbing open soumak), and loops. These are standard loops – i.e. they are supported  only by subsequent packing, and can be pulled  out from the rear. I’ve since realised one can lock them in by looping back under the previous warp. 

The plan is to have hems top and bottom, so no braids will show. Once off loom and all sewn down, the ideas is to cut the looped areas and have patches of tufted pile.

Softly, softly catchee Coptic

Assignment 1 Year 2 – copy a segment of historical tapestry in 20 cm x 20 cm.

I picked a bit of Coptic weave (Egyptian, 3rd or 4th century AD). The original full piece was itself only about 24 cm x 24 cm, and I am reproducing less than 1/4 of it. The original was at about 30 epi, and I have ‘blown up’ the image as it were and am working at about 8 epi. I got very discouraged early on – the images were distorting and the techniques were obscure.Have managed to get moving again – about 1/3 done as you  see:

little coptic people

Things to note:

1. The extremely tight warp sett (but not in my reproduction).

2. Warp of the original was probably linen.

3. All colours are pure – no mixed threads.

4.Extensive use of ‘flying shuttle’ technique.

5. Avoidance of long slits by frequent ‘dovetailing’.

6. But, paradoxically, frequent single warp wraps – which DO result in slits….

Still have quite a way to go – and will probably comment more later.