Mirrix Weave-Along 4: Getting Started

Welcome to our 4th Mirrix Weave-Along! This weave along will go over basic warping techniques and then go on to show how to weave a tapestry/bead cuff bracelet. If you do not own a kit, you can purchase one in our online store. 
Here at our studio, we will be warping our looms for different types of weaving over a very short period of time to show you how. You can choose the way you’d like to warp your loom and warp your loom with us and then go on to weave your own piece, or you can warp samples just to get an idea of how to warp in different ways. If you do decide to go on and weave the tapestry/bead cuff bracelet, note that you warp the loom for tapestry for this project. We will re-warp when we begin this project. 
This is the schedule:
January 15th: Introduction, different kinds of warping. Learning about heddles & making heddles.
January 17th: Warping for Tapestry
January 19th: Warping for Bead Weaving Without The Shedding Device
January 24th: Warping for Bead Weaving WITH the Shedding Device
January: 27th: Using the No Warp-Ends Kit to Warp
January 29th: Warping for the tapestry/bead cuff bracelet and weaving the header
February 5th: Beginning to weave, learning how to put in beads
February 12th: Learning different tapestry techniques
February 19th: Finishing weaving and cutting off your piece
February: 26th: Finishing your piece and assembling the final product

Just The Basics
Before beginning to warp and weave, it is helpful to learn a bit about the different parts of a loom and the different parts of a weaving.
Labeled Loom

Warp: The thread or yarn that is put on the loom to serve as the base for your weaving. Think of it as your canvas.
Weft: What you weave into the warp. This can be anything from beads to wool to silk to novelty threads . . . whatever your heart desires.
Warp Coil: The spring at the top (and optional for the bottom) of your loom that separates the warp threads. They come in a variety of sizes to accommodate various warp setts.
Warp Sett: the space between warp threads
Shed: The space between a lowered and raised set of warps through which you pass your weft or your beads in order to weave them into the warp threads.
Shedding Device: A mechanism that serves to create the shed by raising and lowering alternate warp threads.
Selvages: The four sides of your piece.

Video about the different parts of the loom and what comes with the loom:

Labeled Items That Come With The Loom
Four coils: 8, 12, 14, 18 dents, shedding device and handle, two large wooden clips, warping bar, flat wrench, allen wrench and coil bar.

The Mirrix Shedding Device

This device comes with the all looms eight inches and larger except the dedicated bead looms which come with a bottom spring kit instead of a shedding device.

 A shedding device is typically used for tapestry but can also be used for bead weaving on a Mirrix Loom. It lifts your warps creating a space between them to place your beads or your weft. When you change the position of the handle, opposite sets of warps are raised, securing your bead or weft between the warp threads. The clips hold your shedding device on the loom and also work to hold your warping bar while you warp your loom. 
Warp Coil (or, spring) 

The 12″, 16″, 22″, 28″, 32″ and 38″ looms all come with 8, 12, 14 and 18 dent warp coils. These numbers correspond to have many dents (spaces) are in an inch when the warp coil is on the loom. These springs are attached to the top bar (in the warp coil tray) and help to space your warp threads. You can also purchase a bottom spring kit to have springs on the bottom of your loom as well as the top. This is helpful for larger bead weavings as well as small scale tapestry. Our dedicated bead looms come without a shedding device, but with a bottom spring kit. 
How to know what warp coil to use for a project:
For bead weaving:
Place the beads you plan on weaving on a needle and measure an inch. Then, count how many beads are in that inch. The number of beads minus one is the warp coil that will be used. For example, if you are using Delicas you would find 19 Delicas are in one inch, so you would use the 18 dent coil. There is some leeway in this, and depending on the beads you are using, it might not work out perfectly (numerically), just close. Using a smaller (lower number) coil is better than using a larger (higher number) coil. 
For tapestry: 
This is something you have to experiment with as a tapestry weaver. For finer weft, you will want to use a warp coil with more dents per inch. For thicker weft, you will want to use a warp coil with more dents per inch or even warp every other dent. (For example, an 18 dent warp coil every other dent is equal to a 9 dent warp coil.) 
The basic thing to remember is to make sure your warps threads aren’t showing and you must consider the warp set (how far apart your warp threads are, or what warp coil you are using), how thick your weft is and how thick your warp is. One way to determine your weft size is to put your weft in between your warp threads vertically when your loom is warped. If your weft threads are much thicker than the space between the two warp threads, then your weft is probably too thick and if your weft threads are much thinner than you know your weft is too thin. 

Warping Bar

The warping bar is held between two clips while warping and is then held up by the warp. When you want to advance your weaving (move it to the back of the loom to give you more space to weave on the front), you do this by moving the warping bar, which moves the entire weaving. 
Flat Wrench

The flat wrench helps you to tighten and loosen the wing-nuts on your loom. 
Allan Wrench

The Allan wrench loosens and tightens the bars on your shedding device.

Spring Bar

The spring bar is places in your warp coil (spring) after you’ve warped to prevent your warp from coming out. 
Labeled Bead Weaving

Labeled Tapestry

Explanation of Basic Accessories (these can be purchased separately)

Add-on Warp Beam

Clip this add-on beam to the back of the bottom beam of your loom with the included C-Clamps and you increase the distance between the front and back warps by an inch and a half, providing a total of two and a half inches of space between the two layers of warp. This is perfect for those who weave wide bead pieces using the traditional method because you can easily get your hand behind the warp to hold the beads in place. It also works for tapestry weavers who want more space between the front and back warps.

(pictured: bottom spring kit with springs) 

Bottom Spring Kit

Intended primarily for bead weavers and small format tapestry weavers, the bottom spring kit allows you to attach a warp coil on the bottom of your loom. The warp coil on the bottom is useful for keeping the warps correctly aligned when putting on that first row of beads or for evenly spacing the warp for small format tapestry weaving. It is simply and easily attached with permanent 2-sided tape. Additional warp coils must be purchased separately unless you buy one of the bottom spring kit with springs packages. 


Specially made for us in Sweden from the same texlov used to make all non-metal heddles for floor looms, these one-eye Mirrix heddles come in a roll of 100. These strong (they should last as long as you and your loom do), easy to use heddles are good at any sett on the loom because they are thin. They are the best choice for bead weavers and tapestry weavers who weave at the finer setts. These are the only pre-made heddles you can buy that work on the Mirrix Loom if you choose not to make your own. 
Click here for information on how to make your own heddles.
Loom Extenders

The Mirrix loom extenders give your 12 and 16 inch loom an additional two feet of weaving length. These are ideal for people who want to weave belts, guitar straps and longer, thin pieces without having to purchase one of the large looms. Included are two lengths of threaded rod, a coupling device to attach it to the threaded rod side bars of the loom, and feet extenders to give your loom its original stability. 

The Mirrix Stand and Treadle

Stand: This five and a half foot tripod stand holds any of our looms at six different heights. Your loom snaps on and off in an instant. A convenient tray holds tools, yarn and beads. You will be able to find the perfect loom height for you whether you want to sit or stand. This is a great alternative to using up table space!
Treadle:  The Mirrix add-on treadle replaces the shedding device handle. It can be placed anywhere beneath the loom since it is attached by a cable system. Set your Mirrix loom on a table or on a stand, attach your treadle, and experience floor loom weaving for a fraction of the price and space. Tapestry weaving doesn’t get better than this.

The No Warp-Ends Kit

The no warp-ends kit eliminates the need to weave-in warp ends when bead weaving. It can only be used without the shedding device. It is perfect for using with any kind of warp material including wire. Set up with the no warp-ends kit is very easy and once you have it in place, you can weave as many pieces as you want (as long as they are the same size) using the same set up. Read more here.

The Extra Mirrix Shedding Device

For those of you who purchased one of our dedicated bead looms (8″ and larger) but decided you want to try your hand at using the shedding device. An extra shedding device can also be used for creating twill or other complex weaving techniques.

Tapestry Beater 

Tapestry beaters are used to beat down your weft. We sell both weighted and unweighted beaters. Alternatively, you could use a fork. 

Warp Coils

(Note: depending on the size of your loom, one to four warp coils came with your loom)

Warp coils can be purchased in several different lengths to provide different warp setts (the number of ends per inch). You can either purchase different springs than the ones that came with your loom or you can purchase springs that match ones you already have to go on your bottom spring kit.

Extra Warping Bar/ Texlov Cord Package

This kit allows you to put on a shorter warp. In so doing you will reduce warp waste. Because it also eliminates having a layer of warp on both the front and back of the loom, it allows you to better position your hand for weaving wider pieces with the traditional method of bead weaving. 
Back of loom with extra warping bar on loom. (The front of the loom would look like a regular warped loom.) We made this diagram for a customer the other day and thought we’d include it here,

Where to Start
There are many types of weaving you can do on a Mirrix Loom, but the two most common are tapestry and bead weaving. If you’re not sure which one you’re most interested in, a project that combines both such as our tapestry/bead cuff bracelet would be a great start. If you know if you are interested in one or another, start small and work your way up and, especially if you’re trying tapestry, books and other resources online are very helpful.

Bead and Bead Weaving Resources
All About Heddles
What are heddles? 

A heddle attaches your warp to your shedding device. When bead weaving in the traditional method, you do not use a shedding device (or heddles) but for bead weaving with the shedding device or for (most) tapestry, you use the shedding device and will need heddles. You can buy texlov heddles pre-made from us, but you can also make your own.
Making Heddles
You will need to make as many individual heddles as there will be warps in your weaving.  These heddles (as well as the Mirrix heddles you can buy) will be reusable.  The thinner and stronger the string you use, the better.  For bead weavers, cotton quilting or beading thread works great.  For tapestry weavers, cotton crochet thread, linen warp or single-ply cotton warp works well.
Nail two finishing nails into a piece of wood three and one-eighth inches apart.  You will use this little tool to tie your warps.  Cut ten inch lengths of your heddle material, one for each heddle you will make.  Tie them around the nails, using an overhand knot to secure the ends.  In order to get that knot to sit right next to the nail, slip a needle into the knot before it is pulled tight and push the knot toward the nail.  Then tighten it.  Trim off the ends of the heddles to within a quarter of an inch of the knot.
Alternatively, you can cut a piece of cardboard three and one-eighth inches apart and use that to tie your heddles around.
Different Types of Warping
Warping is the process of wrapping warp thread (this could be many different materials depending on what you are weaving) around a loom and creating a base to weave on. 
Because a Mirrix Loom can be used in many different ways, there are many different ways to warp. Each of these ways is similar, but the slight differences are important.
On a Mirrix Loom you begin to warp by securing a bar called the warping bar to the loom and tying on your warp. Then, you begin to wrap your warp around the loom and through one dent (space in the warp coil) in the warp coil (spring) at the top of the loom. [[note: There is also a warp coil that can be purchased for the bottom of the loom (and if this is on the loom, when coming back down the front of the loom, you would go through a dent in that warp coil as well). This accessory helps with the warping process for wide bead pieces or small-scale tapestry.]] Bring your warp thread down the front of the loom, under the bottom bar to the back of the loom and back up towards the warping bar. When you hit the warping bar, you wrap around it and then change directions and come back down under the loom to the front, into a dent in the coil on the top bar and back down the back. Again, when you hit the warping bar you will go around it and switch direction.
Depending on what kind of weaving you want to do, there are slightly different ways to warp your loom. All come back to the basic figure eight concept described above. Before you begin warping, please check out each of our warping slideshows

Warping for Tapestry
When warping for tapestry, each warp thread goes in only one dent.

Warping for Bead Weaving Without the Shedding Device
Warping for bead weaving without the shedding device is exactly like warping for tapestry, with only one warp in each dent. 

Warping for Bead Weaving With the Shedding Device
When warping for bead weaving with the shedding device, two warp threads go in each dent. 

Warping with the No Warp-Ends Kit
When warping with the no warp-ends kit (which is for bead weaving), you use paper clips and two small bars to eliminate having warp-ends to weave in.
We will begin learning to warp for tapestry in a few days! Please remember to ask if you have any questions! We look forward to answering your questions and hearing from you on Facebook and Ravelry today! 

Happy Holidays

I actually feel relaxed.  Thanks to the amazing folks at manufacturing and a lot of effort all around (Elena, take a day few days off, please . . . you make me work too hard!) we got all the looms out in time for the various holiday celebrations.  Ones we even said “no way, can’t do it, it will never get there in time,” did, amazing the customers and those who received the loom gifts in time.  Of course, a certain amount stress goes with this.  Okay, a lot of stress.  And now I am de-stressing, although it’s hard to imagine that I really don’t have to do anything today.  There is of course always something to do.  I could tackle some accounting, design some new kits, order some beads and thread and yarn and all the supplies we have almost out of.  Or I can just chat away on this blog and relax, go for a long walk, hang out with the family (if I can find them), visit friends . . .

I wanted to share a picture of my son and Chloe which I took Christmas eve.

Zach and Chloe

Maia and Christmas tree (we went for a planted tree this year . . . it has a ways to go!)

In the spirit of making things for presents this year, Zach made pottery.  Here is the line up and some detail.  We spent forever picking who should get which one. 

And of course I did finish my beaded smart phone case and I will be giving it away to a dear friend some time this week.

Whom did you give your purse to?

This and That now that I have a few seconds

So in the middle of chaos yesterday I decided:  why not come up with a new bead mix.  So I did.  I used all those gorgeous permanent galvanized and gold iris seed  beads (size 11/0 only) we put in the tapestry bead cuff kits.  The great thing about this mix is you can experience the full range of the  permanent galvanized beads without having to buy all of them.  The price is great too:  $10 for 15 grams.  15 grams is equal to two of the normal tubes these beads come in, so it’s quite a lot of beads.  In fact, after I write this I am going to see how those beads look using the no warps method. Might make a kit out of it if I like the results.  Will post that tomorrow.  You can find it for sale at:  bead soup.  But for now,  here is just the bead soup:

Remember we are still promoting the gold thread at the very low price of $65 for nine 24 yard three-ply skeins:  gold thread.  And if your purchase of other stuff (and that can include this deal) is more than $200 we will throw in a skein of this beautiful stuff for free.  That deal ends on Saturday.
Okay, back to my loom and packing the last of the holiday orders.  Geez, I am exhausted (but the Post Master says I should not complain, and he is right).

Weave-Along 3: Finishing The Beaded Purse

Frantically weaving to get this done.  Just wove the last three black rows but want to chat a bit before I begin the final finishing and photos.  How exciting.  I will actually be able to give this as a gift.  I am jealous of whoever will receive it!  Okay, I do have one of my own.  So I am not completely jealous.  But you know how you like to have two of something you love and I love this case!

I found the final Greek keys a little tricky to weave.  It’s so easy to pick up too many of one bead and mess up the pattern.  I have a great tool that I use when I discover I’ve strung up one too many of a color and it’s in the middle of the strung beads and I don’t want to unstring and restring them.  Yup, it’s called my two front teeth.  Why I can’t just have a pair of pliers near by to do the same thing.  Why do I always revert to my teeth?  And every time I do that I risk breaking the thread.  Haven’t broken the thread on this piece yet so I continue with this silly risky behavior.  How many beads did I have to break?  Today, three.  That’s quite a lot.  But once I got through the final finicky small Greek keys I was pretty much good to go.  Hey, I didn’t mess up the final three black rows at all!!!

Now to finish it.

The last row and cutting off loom

Before you remove piece from the loom SEW THROUGH THE LAST ROW OF BEADS.  If you don’t, the piece will start to fall apart because the beads are held in by the crossing of the warp threads.

Loosen the tension on the loom.  Cut off leaving as much warp thread as possible (you need at least four inches to make an overhand knot . . . but more is always a better).  Don’t let the piece crash on the table.  A bead could break.

Next, tie off the ends.  This is how to go about that.  Put some kind of weight on your piece.  I use my heavy brass beater, but anything from a stack of books to a brick (and yes I have one of those in my studio too!) will do.

Take a pair of warp ends and tie the beginning of a square knot (the knot you use to tie your shoes).  This is illustrated by the figure 1 in the above diagram.  Just do that first one.  Do not do figure 2 and 3.

This will get the beginning of the knot firmly against the edge of the tapestry.  Do not pull so hard that you distort the piece.  Just keep the edge line of the tapestry straight.

Now find yourself a thick needle or a thin knitting needle . . . anything that’s pretty thin and sturdy. You will use this to help place the overhand knot close to the square knot.  Let me first show you an image of an overhand knot:

You are simply treating the pairs like one thread and tying it around itself.  Okay, so what’s up with the needle?  Well, when you tie this knot it’s not particular about where it lands and chances are it will not land very close to the edge of your tapestry.  So, if you stick a needle in that hole before you knot is secure and push it toward the edge of the tapestry you will be able to control exactly where that knot will land.  Once it’s flush with the edge of the tapestry, remove the needle and tighten the knot.  You can use this trick for so many things.

Tie off end warp pairs first

Then tie all the rest.

Trim your warp ends but not that short.  I left about an inch and a half.  

Make a hem at each end of weaving.  You will fold over two rows.  Either glue or use an invisible hem stitch to keep the hems in place. 

Line the inside of the purse with the silk, with the wrong side of the silk face down and the right side facing you.  You will have to fold over all the edges of the silk.  It is helpful to pin the silk to the bead weaving.  Stitch around the edges of the silk/bead weaving with small, invisible stitches.  The only place these stitches will show is on the flap of the purse.

Neatly pin down the silk lining.

There is a reason I don’t sew for a living!

All sewn up and ready to become a case.

Fold the purse so that the body of it is 3 and a 1/2 inches long.  Starting at the bottom of one end, sew through one of the two bottom rows of beads to start a thread.  Have the thread emerge from the last bead in one of the rows.  String three beads (in the instructions we said to string five beads after the initial three. . . you can either continue to string three or string five depending on how deep you want your case to be) and enter the corresponding row’s last bead.  Sew through the bead in the row above, again coming out of the row’s last bead.  String three beads this time.  Sew through corresponding rows last bead.  Continue to travel up the piece with this stitch.  Repeat on other side of the purse. This gives a lovely edge to your purse as well as a bit of depth.

Folded up and ready to stitch together.

The two black rows should be the bottom edge of the piece.

Starting to stitch with beads the bottom edge.

Keep doing this!

This is as far as I got.  I am supposed to go to Boston in three minutes and I have not packed yet.  Yes, I left this until the last minute.  I did not think it would take all day, but it has!  I am going to take this with me and finish it tonight.  It’s Saturday, by the way, and Elena will post this for me Sunday morning.  When I come back Sunday afternoon I will have my purse finished and will provide some more photographs.  Otherwise, I will not get out of here for another hour or so.

I am leaving that last bit because we ended up not publishing this yesterday.  I did go on my visit and then, to my surprise, ended up driving to Albany, NY the next day to meet my son at the bus station.  At least I didn’t have to drive all the way to Ithaca, which is seven and a half hours from here. 

But while I was in Boston I did finish my purse and because I was relaxed and enjoying the company I had a blast doing it.  While trying to rush out the door and get it done, I wasn’t having so much fun.

So these are my final pictures:

I used the gold iris beads to do the sides of the flap.

Picture of side of purse where I’ve used beads to sew it up.

That’s it folks.  I am done!  And it was fun.  Please post your pictures!


What would I want from Mirrix as a holiday gift?

Yesterday Claudia wrote a blog post about what Mirrix gift she’d want (if she didn’t already own a loom or two or eighteen). She loves the new 28″ McKinley Loom, her old favorite the 22″ Zach Loom and the 8″ Lani Loom. Now it’s my turn to choose my favorite Mirrix products!
I live in a small apartment. So small that our dining room, living room and my office are all in the same room. This does not make my living situation ideal for the typical tapestry loom, but it does make it perfect for a Mirrix. I could probably fit a 38″ Zeus Loom with a stand and a treadle, I’d just have to forgo having a dining room table. No one would notice, right? But, for me, the smaller looms work (read: fit) best. My favorite looms have always been the 12″ and 16″ looms because you can drag them around with you and use them in your lap on the couch or on your coffee table and then fold up those legs and throw the looms under the bed or in the closet when you’re not using them. 
My 16″ Big Sister Loom on our tiny “dining room” table.
Let’s say I didn’t own a Mirrix and I was a beginner. What would I want from Mirrix as a holiday gift? I would want a 16″ Big Sister Loom. The 16″ is big enough to weave a decently large tapestry or bead weaving (or two at a time!), but it’s small enough to still be really portable. The Big Sister Loom is good for a beginner because you can start small, but still have the ability to weave something larger in the future. 
As far as kits and accessories I would definitely start with a tapestry/bead cuff bracelet kit. What I love about this project is it’s super easy, but it teaches you many of the skills you need to do more complicated projects like how to warp for tapestry, how to put heddles on and some basic tapestry technique. Plus, the finished bracelet is gorgeous. We’re also doing a beginner weave-along in January that begins with lots of different warping techniques and ends doing this cuff bracelet. 
If I wanted a more complete package, The Tapestry/Bead Cuff Loom Package comes with a tapestry/bead cuff bracelet kit, the book “Tapestry Weaving” by Kirsten Glasbrook, heddles and a loom. It’s a great all-in-one starter kit and you save some money too.

I also wouldn’t mind a Mirrix Looms gift certificate
Happy holidays! We hope you get just the loom you’ve always wanted. 

What I would want for a Present from Mirrix!

Obviously, this is not going to happen.  I don’t need a present from Mirrix.  Good thing, because my husband insists that sporting equipment is the only kind of present there is.  My kids and friends are not nearly so narrow in the their present giving ideas (thank goodness).  For example, my husband gave me a helmet and a climbing harness (that would be a rock climbing harness and helmet to protect my head in case I fall!).  Touching.  This year I’ve asked for a particular present:  a kick stand for my Vespa.  She just has a center stand and I just do not like hauling three hundred pounds of bike onto that stand.  My arms just don’t seem long enough.  So kick stand is on my list this year.  Guess what:  he won’t remember.  He’ll probably buy me a climbing rope and maybe some really fashionable climbing shoes.  Gotta love, but not for his present picking skills.

So what if I didn’t own Mirrix and what if my husband was capable of buying me something other than sports equipment/clothes for presents.  What would I want?

Used to be I would  have said the ZachLoom.  It’s my perfect size for tapestry.  Not too small, not too big and easily hauled around.  I just love its shape, its form.  It’s the one I always head to for tapestry weaving.  But that was before the McKinley loom was born.  Even though I have not had the time to use my McKinley loom, I stare at it in awe all the time.  After the holidays I plan to weave a woolen table runner on that loom.  He’s a little taller and a little wider than the Zach.  The proportions are geared toward some great height.  Perfect for making a small rug or large runner and of course great for tapestry weaving.  The jury is out.  I might still want the Zach if I could have only one loom.  But maybe not.

And then there is the issue of bead weaving.  Recently, my LaniLoom is always warped.  Sometimes I use the shedding device and sometimes I use the no warps kit (an essential item for anyone who owns the 8, 12 or 16 inch loom because it’s so much fun).  I have been making the No warps to Weave in Bracelet Kit like it’s going out of style (and the way they have been flying off the shelf, I doubt they will ever go out of style).  But I am also weaving the beaded smartphone case  on the 16 inch loom using the shedding device.  What fun.

And of course, there is always gold.  With the great deal with have going on now for this gold thread, I would ask for that.

Midas stopped here.

Beaded smartphone case . . . how can you not want to make that?
I have made about six of these bracelets (and lots of friends!)

Nothing prettier than the sight of a Mirrix Loom

I am going to check back tomorrow with some more thoughts on what Mirrix item I would want for a present!

Guest Blogger: Anthony Locane

We’re fascinated by the amazing work that our customers produce every day. From fantastic bead weavings to stunning tapestries and innovative art spanning many mediums, we want to hear from our customers about what they create. Beginning with this guest blog post by the artist Anthony Locane, we’ll periodically be featuring guest posts from our customers. Do you have a suggestion for a guest blogger who weaves on a Mirrix? Let us know by emailing elena@mirrixlooms.com
RELATIONALshifts: Digital Woven Art by Anthony Locane
I call my art “Digital Woven Art” because it combines two of my favorite things … weaving and digital art. More on the RELATIONALshifts aspect later.
I fell in love with weaving back in undergraduate school when I was an art major at Buffalo State College, part of the State University of NY (SUNY) system. The Design in Fibers class covered weaving (both floor and frame tapestry) along with all other fiber arts (macrame, stitchery, quilting, etc). Since that moment, I have never lost my love or enthusiasm for weaving.
Fast forward many years and I was a graphic designer, having taught myself how to design on the computer. During those many years in the corporate design world, I always dreamed of living the life of a producing artist; but time and work always seemed to get in my way. Then in 2004, I changed my life.
I quit my full time job in marketing and decided to fulfill my dream. I knew I wanted to somehow combine my love of weaving with my digital skills. I started by painting and drawing, in Photoshop, over a digital photograph of my friend. I manipulated the photo and created many variations until I had about 20 images. After a few days of wondering what I would do next with these images, I suddenly had the thought of weaving them together into a new and different image. But how could I weave paper; unless I resorted to a method I remembered from my elementary school days of weaving paper strips against each other?
Having determined that my work would best be suited for an upright tapestry loom, I decided on the Mirrix loom because of its metal construction that would hold up to the rigorous tension demands of my warps and its unique shedding system that facilitated weaving with my paper strip wefts.
Back in those days, I would print out each version (sometimes 20-30) of the digital image I created, cut each version into strips and weave selected strips from the various versions to create my new image. Needless to say it became a very expensive process as many strips lay unused. After several months of experimenting, I developed a proprietary method whereby I can actually simulate a weaving on the computer screen and experiment with selecting strips from my various versions. I save tons of paper and ink now and often only need to print out 1-3 versions of an image to create my final piece. As I weave, I often deviate from my planned image to find that my intuitions and spontaneous decisions lead me in new and more interesting directions. Today, I employ three graphic software packages in designing my pieces; each forming one step in my design process. I still start with a digital photo that I manipulate by painting and drawing over; but often I will paint on the final woven piece after it is removed from the loom; or I will go in and remove ink from the piece by bleaching and painting over with water or rubbing out areas.
After a one-man show in 2007 and my first group show earlier this year, I became interested in working in metal. My Masters Degree is in sculpture and I have always wanted to go back to my 3-dimensional roots. I since have purchased a large-format Epson printer with the capability of printing on metal sheets.
My warps are now wire … usually in the 20-30 gauge size and either aluminum or copper. My wefts are specially treated aluminum and copper sheets that accept Epson pigment-based inks that are archival; meaning they will last 75-120 years if framed or enclosed in plexiglass or glass and not subjected to direct, intense sunlight. Weaving metal wefts against wire warps allows me to manipulate the pieces into 3-dimensional forms after removal from the loom.
My work is all about relationships to people in my life, places, and ideas and concepts. I first began with portraits (FACEscapes) since I have always been obsessed with faces. Next came my LANDscapes and then my abstracts that I call my MEMORYscapes. Each has transformed as I progress with my art. My earlier portraits were very personal, as were my landscapes. My new work, while still very personal to me, exhibits a more universal quality. Portraits illustrate more of a greater human condition while my MEMORYscapes are leading me into areas that push my boundaries or preconceived notions of my world. I am currently working on my Beholder’s Eye series; exploring the concept of and what constitutes beauty.
I am currently part of a group exhibit, the National Juried Small Works Show, at the Windsor Whip Works Art Gallery in Windsor, NY. 56 artists (primarily painters) from across the U.S. were selected to present their best works. I am delighted to announce that I won 1st Place: Best in Show for my piece, “Beholder’s Eye: Sea Urchin.” Not only is it validation of my work, but also that weaving has a place in the fine art world. True, my work is not traditional tapestry; yet I cannot help think that with intention and imagination, anything is possible. The medium does not determine criteria in categorizing fine art. My computer and looms are merely my tools.
My work may be viewed at www.anthonyjlocane.com

Finishing The Tapestry Purse

-This week we will be finishing the tapestry purse. We will give everyone one more week to finish their beaded purses, since that project tends to take longer and it seems most people are still working. We’ll do the finishing of that project next week!


We are at the end of this project.  I hope you’ve had fun weaving it.  Those of you who have posted pictures have done an amazing job.  I truly am impressed and inspired by your work and hope that you will continue on your tapestry journey.  Clearly, we need to do another tapestry weave-along.  I have a great idea for a project.  It’s a piece I taught years ago in a workshop.  Once the New Year has rolled around we can start on this.  But now back to the work at hand.

Weave your piece to at least thirteen inches.  You can make it longer if you’d like.  Compare the size to what you would like to put inside.  A little longer will better accommodate an iPhone, for example.

The last thing you need to do once you are finished weaving the body of our tapestry, is to weave a footer.  This, along with the header, will be folded under your piece and not seen.

Now it is time to cut the piece off the loom.  Loosen the tension a bit and cut the threads so that they are at least four inches long.  More is fine, less causes problems when tying off your ends with overhand knots.

Next, tie off the ends.  This is how to go about that.  Put some kind of weight on your piece.  I use my heavy brass beater, but anything from a stack of books to a brick (and yes I have one of those in my studio too!) will do.

Take a pair of warp ends and tie the beginning of a square knot (the knot you use to tie your shoes).  This is illustrated by the figure 1 in the above diagram.  Just do that first one.  Do not do figure 2 and 3.
This will get the beginning of the knot firmly against the edge of the tapestry.  Do not pull so hard that you distort the piece.  Just keep the edge line of the tapestry straight.

Now fnd yourself a thick needle or a thin knitting needle . . . anything that’s pretty thin and sturdy. You will use this to help place the overhand knot close to the square knot.  Let me first show you an image of an overhand knot:

You are simply treating the pairs like one thread and tying it around itself.  Okay, so what’s up with the needle?  Well, when you tie this knot it’s not particular about where it lands and chances are it will not land very close to the edge of your tapestry.  So, if you stick a needle in that hole before you knot is secure and push it toward the edge of the tapestry you will be able to control exactly where that knot will land.  Once it’s flush with the edge of the tapestry, remove the needle and tighten the knot.  You can use this trick for so many things.

In the below photo my warps are all tied off and trimmed to about a half inch and a tad.  The thing about overhand knots (and this is why we did not continue with the square knot) is that they stay without being under pressure.  A square knot is great, for example, for tying on warp that will remain under tension but they can be pretty uncooperative when not under tension.  They like to come undone.  It does depend on what you are tying.  For example, any kind of knot in wire tends to not want to come undone but knots in, let’s say, rayon love to come undone.

You will notice I’ve also cut the wefts so that they are uniform length.  At least one inch but not more than one and a half.  We don’t want them to sneak through to the front but we also don’t want them to be too bulky.

Close up for those cool knots!
The back side with all knots in place and weft trimmed.

This is how it looks from the front.  Our next step is to sew under the header and footer and to sew up the slits.  In the below photo they are not yet sewn up.  They look fine.  You can barely see the spaces but once you turn this piece into a functional item those slits might cause a problem.  First of all, the weft ends will want to creep through them to the surface of your tapestry.

The front side before sewing up slits and sewing down header and footer.

 Turn the header or footer to the back enough so that the white does not show on the front and sew it down.  Doesn’t have to be fancy, just has to stay in place while you sew on the silk liner.

Now do sew down the other end.

Now to sew the slits.  Do it from the back making sure your stitches do not show on the front.  I just carry the thread to the next slit after I’ve put a little knot at the end of the former slit by sewing under some weft yarn and around the thread.  Sew up any slit that is longer than a quarter of an inch.  Ones smaller than that will not cause any problems.

It is really easy to make is not show not he front because the weft is so thick so even if you have sewing phobia, you should survive this activity.

Now for the lining.  We have provided in your kit a piece of silk which is well beyond the size you will need.  Place your piece on the silk and trim the silk so that you have an inch left over on each side.  Then place the silk on the back of your tapestry.

Fold the edges of the silk underneath the linking and pin down all around the tapestry to hold it in place for sewing.

Once that is sewn in place, fold your tapestry so that there is enough flap left to suit you.  Ours is about two and a half inches.  You want to sew up the sides leaving a small hole (about half an inch at the bottom corners).  This is where you will be hiding the ends of your strap.  If you are not going to use a strap, then just sew to the corners.

Making as strap can be done two ways.  You can either make a rope or a braid.  Below is a rope.  I’ve combined the novelty yarns with yarn from the kit.  
Making a Rope:
-Cut a piece of yarn two and half times as long as the desired final length. Cut at least four-to-six pieces of yarn.
-Tie one end to a post or doorknob.
-Have a helper nearby for when the yarn is twisted tight. 
-Hold the other end and step backwards until the yarn is in a taut, straight line.
-Start twisting and keep twisting until the rope is very tight. Always twist the yarn in the same direction, don’t let go, and stay in place – as the yarn becomes tighter don’t release the tension by stepping forward. The tighter the twist is, the better the end result.
-Get the helper to hold the yarn firmly at the halfway point.
-Bring the end toward the tied end, keeping the yarn as straight and tight as possible.
-Ask the helper to release the yarn. It will twist around itself although it may need some adjusts by hand so the twist is smooth.
-Cut the end from the doorknob and tie a knot at this end.
-Tie a knot at the end that was folded and cut so there is a knot with fringe at both end.

My rope using novelty yarn and wool weft yarn.

A braided rope using a kumihimo disk or stand.  This is my braided rope in the making.  Follow the directions for the disc.

Using beads to disguise your sewing and to attach the strap

Once you have made your strap, tie knots at either end if they are not already tied.  Stick the knots into the two holes you left at the corners of your purse.  You are going to use beads to sew on the strap.  String up a few beads (a variety of 8/0s and 11/0s of your choice) and sew together that hole at the bottom, making sure to stick your needle through the strap as well as the purse.  The goal is to make it pretty and secure.  Then head up one side of the strap, threading three beads at a time and sewing through the edge of the strap and the purse.  Once you’ve sewn up one side, you will head back down the strap and sew on the other.  The strap will be pretty much covered by all those beads, showing just slight in the center.

Once you’ve got the strap in place you will want to sew beads around the flap (covering the seam between the silk and the tapestry) as well as around the top edge of the purse.  The final product will have a beautiful finished look because you will see beads where all the seams are.  And beads are beautiful!

Then using your gem stone as a guide, make a loop of beads in the center of the edge of the strap.  I made a loop and then sewed in a extra beads to make it a little thicker.   But one loop of beads is fine.  Just make sure you sew back through it a few times with your thread to make it sturdy.

Determine where you should sew your gem stone.  To do so come up through the purse with your thread.  Pick up eight 11/0 seed beads. Sew through the stone and then pick up eight more 11/0 seed beads and sew back through the purse exactly where you thread came out of the purse.  Sew throughout the beads and stone at least one more time for strength.

And you are done.  Look at that gorgeous purse you just made!

You should be so proud of yourself.

Four legged family friends and members and then there is the fox

How can you resist that face!  Chloe is enjoying her new life outside the woodpile where we found her.

Our boxer friends visited over the weekend.  They were rescued from a kill shelter down south by my dear friends Joni and Pat.  Sophie (on the right) was about three and skin and bones with hardly any hair.  She had been living in a breeding factory and lived on a cement floor in a metal cage.  She was timid and afraid but not anymore.  Zoe was eight months old when she was adopted (at the same time as Sophie). We think she is Sophie’s daughter.  Because she was so much younger and had not yet been bred she pretty much acted like a puppy from the get go.

As you can see they feel right at home on my studio couch.  No complaints from me!

Now this is amazing.  Chloe is on Pat’s lap and she appears to be purring.  That is the first time we’ve seen her near a dog.  Normally, she hides until the dogs leave.

 And then this morning my husband Rick declared that there is a fox in our pasture.  And sure enough there was.  Meet our fox.

That is one large fox.

Weave-Along 3: Weaving and Weaving Those Beads

Not a lot to  report here except that I diligently wove this piece and had a great time doing it.  Once you get into the more detailed patterns, it’s easy to pick up the wrong beads.  At least for me it is.  I am not so great at following directions, even my own directions.  So I had a reasonable failure rate, but mostly I just hummed along and got really annoyed when the light started to fade because I prefer working in daylight.

Bead weaving is pretty straight forward once you get going.  Pick up beads, weave them.  Pick up beads, weave them.  When not using the shedding device you have to be careful to sew through all the beads.  When using the shedding device you have to make sure to change the shed every time.  Other than picking up the beads in the wrong order, that’s about all you have to worry about.

My progress:

Actually, I am five rows past there.  I am a little bit into the Greek keys and have about one third to go.

The piece is ready to be rotated to the back somewhat because I can no longer operate the shedding device.  Just loosen your wing nuts and pull up on the warping bar until your piece is at a comfortable position.  Before tensioning your loom again, feel how nice that woven fabric is.  It is ironically drapey and lovely.  One would not expect glass beads to have such drape and softness.

Your goal is to try to finish weaving this piece this week so we can cut it off next weekend and begin finishing it.