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.