Posts tagged “woven tapestry

Two Questions about the Warp-Weighted Loom

Before you read the whole of this post please note that my main question – cannot one weave from the bottom up on a warp-weighted loom – has been answered in the affirmative. Debbie Herd has provided this link:  which is to a clip of Kristin Saeterdal doing just that on a modern loom built for that purpose.

The  accounts that I have seen of the warp-weighted loom describe the weaving being done from the top down, and depict this with illustrations from Greek friezes and pottery.

My crude drawing of this:

img137 An advantage of  warp-weighting over winding round the weft beam is cited as being an even distribution of tension across the weave.

The obvious disadvantages are

a. the difficulty of beating upwards as compared with downwards, and

b. the limitation imposed on the length of the weave.

Question 1: has anyone noticed, on a  normal frame,  a real  tension problem across the weave? I know that the first few warps on either side can be noticeably slacker than the central ones – but has it been an actual problem for the end product?

Question 2: Why cannot one weave from the bottom up on a warp-weighted loom – with a very slight modification?

img138 All that has happened here is that instead of being tied to the top beam, the warps are carried over the top beam and across to a second top beam on a second set of pillars and tied to a weft beam below that second top beam – and now one can weave from the bottom up. The second pillars and top beam in the diagram are of course purely there for illustration of the principle. They are in fact redundant because the warps can simply run up and over the top beam and then come straight down to a lower weft beam on the same pillars.

Reading Maria Brekke Koppen’s ‘Norwegian Tapestry Weaving’ I find on pages 90-92 explicit instructions on tensioning the warp with weights, and with some close-up illustrations but none of a whole loom set up in this way.However it appears that such methods are in use currently at least in Scandinavia – and perhaps therefore in the US – say in Wisconsin?? 

Any comments or information on this, anyone?

Pablo and Me

The second part of the Dreaded Technical Triptych is an interpretation of a portion of a Picasso painting – ostensibly of the  “Half-length Female Nude”. This title usually refers to the 1906 piece in a naturalistic style, whereas the given photo seems to be of a cubist abstract. Whatever. I think I have stretched the meaning of ‘interpretation’ a little far in this case. Other versions of this which they showed us at SWTafe were far more literal in the sense of being much closer approximations to the original. However:

me not pablo

Compare this to the original:


This was a far more joyous piece to do than the Miro – I suppose because I was wondering more about specifically tapestry techniques to suggest the original textures. I was trying to create a unified piece from an extract and  I indulged in a fair bit of extemporising.  Played about too with pick and pick,  and tried varying slopes and curves. Though I enjoyed doing this, I fear this is not what was intended by THEM.

The Owl and the Asterisk

Joan Miro had a thing about owls – and asterisks.  SWTafe has a thing about torture. Put them both together and you get “The Dreaded Technical Interpretation Triptych” – the first part of which is to ‘interpret’ the following section of a  Miro print given at a size of 18 x 9 cm (the whole triptych fits onto an A4 sheet):


I began this one at “summer camp” – we were directed not to go back in an attempt to undo or correct if we looked back and found even the most egregious of errors, or we would not be able to finish the whole triptych in the time allotted. I thundered right ahead at full speed – and therein lay my downfall:


I was so absorbed in getting down to the actual weaving that I didn’t realise my drawing was way out and that I had a rather expanded (or squashed) owl till day three of work back home… and yes, not enough time to start again and correct the lay of the blue and yellow lines, [bad words deleted here]. The warp is 9 at about 11 epi. A finer warp (or a larger width and height) would have given a much ‘smoother’ interpretation of the base image. The real question here was how to handle the yellow and blue fine lines. The double strands that I used overemphasise them  from the original – but perhaps that is what such a translation/interpretation must do – or maybe single strands would have been better – and why attempt to stick to the original colour anyway? There is some inconsistency in the way I have handled the lines – some are soumak, some are an attempt at flying shuttle and some are embroidered over the base weave. Not one of my better pieces.

So now on to part 2 and Picasso.

Local Art Society new term has started, and maybe some of these quickies could form the basis of ideas for later print making assignments:

prints maybe

When we get a male model (as we frequently do) there will be an opportunity to objectify maleness too…

P.S. I’ve only just noticed – they all face to the right. Hmm. Maybe I must move my easel to the other side…

Historical exercise off the loom!

My little pseudo-coptic piece is now off the loom:

submerged coptics

This is the first assignment of second year at SWTafe – a reproduction of a segment of a historical tapestry.

Now while there is a lot I like about this piece, there is also a lot that went wrong, and I will comment on this in detail later.

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.

Failed Mountains to Sea – an object lesson in haste…

I have made two attempts at interpreting the Mountains to the Sea theme illustrated a couple of posts back, and both have failed: 

mountain mixed            mountain plain

On the left the mixed threads give a rich colour mixture – which loses all focus in the middle section and just leaves a confused impression. The flat cartoon-like quality on the right also fails in the centre section, both because of wrong colours being used and bad drawing of curves.  

A further  problem lies in the three shells being involved in an Escher-type optical illusion, in which the yellow shell areas are very ambiguous – are they outside or inside curves? – this ambiguity works (I think) in the original coloured drawing, but fails here. 

Also the colours for the recession of the mountains need correction.

I may try this again without benefit of Escher, and with only two, not three, shells.

Yes, it’s all a learning experience!