Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I now have about 30 clay weights!

(Sword beaters)

I should have all the weights finished this week. I'll post a pictures.
The next things that I need to make are a pin beater and a sword beater. The pin beater is kind of like a tooth pick for the loom. It looks like one too. The sword beater looks like a sword and is used to beat the weft up. The pin beater will fit in my hand and the sword beater will end up sword size.

The pictures that I have included are made of bone because like the looms - most things that were made of wood have decomposed. Luckily we have some that were made of bone so we know what they looked like.

(Pin Beater)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Here are two example of loom weights of baked clay and steatite from the National Museum of Scotland.

The novelty wears off...

When I decided to make 50 clay donuts - I don't think my brain really grasped the idea of 50 clay donuts. After the first 8-10 donuts, the novelty wears off. Trust me on this one :)
The weights seem to lose a uniform amount of weight from air drying. I start will a 8oz donut and end with a 5oz donut. This seems like a reasonable weight to work with. After working with the clay a bit, 1lb weights would have been too heavy. These at just shy of a 1/4 lb seem much more the thing, especially for the thread counts that I would like to eventually aim to get.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Will they explode?

In passing I asked my co-worker, who happens to be the art teacher where I work, what she thought of my plan to fire my weights and...she thought that they might explode. I'm sure I sounded most stunned and a little dense when I answered "you mean, like, poof, kaboom?"
I sure hope that isn't what will happen :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Not a potter...really

The school year is finally off and running... so I was able to get working on my loom weights. Research tells me that loom weights were made in a variety of ways from a variety of different materials. Everything from clay to soap stone. A large majority of weights were made of clay, so that's what I have decided to use for my own. I am going to make 50 8oz weights...or so. The process of firing the weights will decrease their weight, but they are all going to start out at roughly 8oz. I based this amount on various recovered period weights and the weights being used by weavers today. The firing process should be interesting since I'll be doing it in my backyard, but for now, I have decided to see how much weight is lost through air drying.

This is a photo of the twenty-five pound block of clay that has a similar texture to clay found in the British Isles.

I used a cord and started cutting up the big block into lots of little blocks.

The lone block below weighs 9oz and is serving as my test weight.
I formed the clay block into a donut shape. There were many different shapes, from donuts to pyramids to triangles, but the donut shape is pretty common for loom weights and is easy for me to form. The one triangle weight I saw was a pretty smart idea really. If the hole in one corner broke, the weaver could just use another corner. This was not a common weight type though, so I'm going to stick with my donuts
In larger communities, there is speculation that potters probably made the weights and exchanged them with the weavers, but in smaller communities the weavers likely made their own weights.
So now I will wait and see how much is lost in the drying process. This should give me a good idea of how much will be lost in the firing process. I'll need to make 49 more donuts in the next few days...
I am focusing on making functional weights and not stressing about exactly copying extant examples.

Friday, August 1, 2008

"Why build a loom, can't you just buy fabric?"

Sure, but that's not the point :)

I've noticed that the number of people weaving on warp weighted looms is relatively small. Why? So I decided to build one to find out.

They aren't a complicated loom to build.

The one that I built is a synthesis of all the research that I have done so far...it is also in it's simplest form in that it only currently has two sheds. If I decide in the future to add more sheds it's as easy as adding more heddle rod supports and buying more dowels. The heddle rod supports are what is holding up the middle dowel rod in the picture. As the loom is set up now, it can weave tabby and basket weave. If I want to do more complicated weaves like twill that is where the extra sheds come into play. Since I'm learning using this loom and then I plan on using it as a teaching/display loom so that others can try it out I figured that is was best to start simple.
The materials used were all pine and as follows:

2 - 8ft 2x4s
1 - 8ft 1x2
15 inches of 2x3
15 inches of 2x4
1 - 72 inch 1.5" dowel
1 - 72 inch 1.25" dowel

I used three coats of a combination stain/poly on all of the pieces except for the dowels.

I worked on it with my husband in the evenings and during nap time and it was done and stained in a couple of days. I decided to make mine able to weave 60" wide fabric because it gives me a little more freedom to move about and my choice of width. I probably won't weave 60" wide fabric every time I use it, but the option is there if I'm feeling froggy.

Now I need to get my big box of clay out and start weighing out the clay into about 1lb segments so I can make the weights. I am guessing from my research that I'll need somewhere around 40 or so weights so I better get down to business.

This picture has my toddler in the foreground for a size comparison since he is 30" tall it helps to put the size into perspective.
Once I have weights I can start to dress the loom since I was gifted with some nice cones of wool.
For my A&S project I plan to build another loom out of more period materials and spin my own wool, but I don't want to sacrifice that much hand spun wool in addition it being a little harder to work with than commercially spun yarn.