Begins At Step 1
I’ve always admired the Navajo Weavers. Creating such beauty with skills passed down through generations; they weave complex patterns from memory, or weave an image that exists only in their mind against a stark canvas of vertical strings. So far, my Navajo weaving consists of charting out an outline and using geometrical shapes. I love the Southwestern look that I achieve, but I would love to expand my weaving skills to landscapes, this is where my mind finds beauty – in vistas that were created by hands larger than our own. I think the best way to achieve this skill is learn more about conventional tapestry weaving. I see no reason why I can’t combine these two styles as I become more comfortable with them. Rather than start this next project as I would for Navajo weaving, I’m choosing to follow the tutorial I’ve chosen to get the most from it. This disc should teach me how to make my cartoon from a smaller image, warp my loom for tapestry, create a header, secure the warp with hitch knots, weave shapes dictated by my cartoon, create smooth joins, and finishing all those ends.
The first thing I need to do is create my cartoon. The cartoon is like a pattern; it’s a representation of my weaving in full size. The cartoon will be placed behind the warp, and shapes will be woven according to the cartoon. With this project, the instructor has graphed out a pattern full of slopes, this is good since I’ll use similar shapes in my future work. I must make a full-sized cartoon 14″x14″ from an image that’s 3.5″x3.5″. Luckily I found some Christmas wrapping paper (complete with “Ho Ho Ho”) that has a grid on the back. This is perfect, the grid is 1″x1″, so I cut it larger than I need and get to work. I’ve decided to use a fine red Sharpe to outline the borders of my cartoon. Using a pencil, I use tick marks and grid my pattern according to the 1/4″ pattern grid. I try to approximate the pattern as close as I can on my cartoon. There is a lot of drawing and erasing. It’s harder than you would think. Once I have all the lines where they need to be, I trace them with a fine black Sharpe. These lines need to stand out from behind my warp. They need to stand alone with no ghost images from my mistakes, so once I have them traced I go back with an eraser and make sure I remove my mistakes to make these lines crisp. I used a fine green Sharpe to label the shapes A,B, C etc to note the order they’ll be worked, and 1,2,3 to note their color.
I realize that my tapestry looms are all to small to accommodate this project and the other projects from the tutorial. I feel compelled to warp it in the Navajo style, but I want to stay true to the tutorial, so I decide to make another copper tapestry loom. Off to Home Depot, my personal loom store. I decided to keep it super simple. I need it to be 18″ across to make weaving a 14″ width comfortable, and it should be 20″ tall to accommodate all the hoopla that happens before and after tapestry weaving plus take-up of the warp. I decided to simply buy four 24″ pipes and four 90 degree elbows. I will use the threaded rods from my other loom as there is no project on it. Of course, I have to buy the one wrong part that’s been thrown in the wrong bin – a quick trip to the local hardware for a .37 cent part is always fun:) I’ve decided to leave my loom at the maximum I can achieve with my parts. I cut my verticals at about nine inches to insert my tension device (threaded rods) and leave the top and bottom “beams” as they are. I sanded all the ends to remove burrs and be certain they are as smooth as possible. I scrubbed all the pieces with a green scrubby and Ivory dish soap. Once they’re dry, I “dry” fit them together. I mixed some epoxy I had on hand and spread a thin coat on the inside of the elbow fitting. I applied epoxy and fitted them as I went a long until the loom was reassembled. I made certain it was laying flat and allowed the epoxy to cure.
I decided to mark my loom with adhesive measure tape. It’s in increments of 12″. The upper and lower beams have 23″ between the elbows. Rather than laying down measure tape from 1 to 12, then start again (off-center) from 1 to 11 – I decided to lay it down from the center out. I marked the center with a Sharpe, then laid out the adhesive measure tape beginning from the center going right until it came to the fitting and cut the extra. Then I laid another from the center left until it met the other fitting. Since the tape is a one way design, one half is upside down, but its easy to find the center and the inch markings are close to each other. I should only need these during the warping process and rely on other measure devices during the weaving. I love how the bright shiny copper looks, to preserve it I placed two coats of lacquer over the copper and measuring tape, and my loom is finished. I need to mount my cartoon onto something that can sit behind my warp and will hold its shape through out the weaving so I can reference it multiple times. The best cardboard to use would be the kind used in cereal boxes or placed in garment packages to retain shape. Since I lack the proper cardboard in the right size, I choose a box made from corrugated cardboard and cut the bottom to use. Once I am ready to use the cartoon, I’ll mount it to the cardboard and connect it to the loom. Ideally, the cartoon can be brought against the warp for marking and comparison, but pushed out-of-the-way for weaving. I think this will attach to the top bar and work well. Next is to watch the video again and warp my loom. I’ll get excited when I’m finally beating my weft in place.