Hand painted silk ribbon! and some roving . . .

Pam and I painted silk for about ten hours.  Long enough that our feet were tired and our minds were totally burnt out.  We were both surprised had exhausted we felt.  But once I thought about it I realized that although painting silk is fun, it also takes a lot of mental energy.  We are constantly debating what colors to use and in what combinations.  I am constantly mixing up new colors.  We dyed about three kilos of silk.  But that’s not what I am going to show you here because I am not going to upload the silk yarn pictures until I’ve made it all in to skeins which is taking forever.  But I am going to show you the silk ribbon, which is new.  Gorgeous stuff.  Really expensive.  This ribbon is 4 mm wide.  It is so much fun.  Takes the dye very differently from the yarn.  I also dyed a little roving that I will spin someday.  Not sure what day because right now I am getting ready for Bead & Button . . . yet another deadline . . . so working seven days a week to make that one.

Here are the pictures:

Hand painted silk roving.

Hand painted silk ribbon chilling out on wicker chair on front porch.

Hand painted silk on skein winder.

Hand painted silk ribbon all in a pile.

The family!


Beads, Baubles and Jewels

I am copying this from an email I received today. I did this segment over a year ago.  It has aired on PBS stations, but I am not sure where or when.  But now you can see it.  Read on . . .
April 6, Beads, Baubles and Jewels began broadcasting weekly on beadsbaublesandjewels.com.  Each week a new episode will be broadcast starting Friday at noon until the following Friday – then a new episode will be broadcast.  We will not archive the episodes – we want to encourage people to visit the website each week.  Anyone can view the episode at any time all week long by visiting the website and DVD’s are available there as well.
Episode 1410 of Beads, Baubles and Jewels will begin airing on June 8 at noon.  First, Kristal Wick shows how to make a knotted and ruffled crystal pearl necklace using wire lace.  Then, Marlene Blessing is on location with Joan Babcock – showing jewelry designs that incorporate macramé with beads.  Next, Claudia Chase shows how to make a fiber/bead cuff bracelet on a loom – a new technique for our show. Finally, Mark Nelson demonstrates the process of gilding and reticulation – a great way to add texture to metal.
Please let everyone: friends, relatives and customers know when they can watch you online.  We’d love if you would mention it on your blog, newsletter, Facebook page and even twitter.  For those viewers who do not get the program on their local PBS channel it’s a great way to see the show, and for those viewers who just want to watch it again it’s a great opportunity.

Crafty Class Has Launched

It’s here.  In the middle of April Elena and I traveled to Denver for five days.  Claudia spent three days behind a camera talking and moving her hands around a loom to demonstrate the weaving of a bunch of projects on the Mirrix Loom (primarily . . . although she (I. . . why am I talking in the third person) since there was a brief demonstration on a hand made loom and a rigid heddle loom).  Getting ready for it was hard.  Had to have everything in Denver in advance for the filming.  Couldn’t just run back to my studio to pick up some forgotten loom or material.  I was very stressed.  The filming itself was fun although hard.  I am afraid to watch the whole thing all the way through.  That is your job.

So What do you get for your $29.99?  A lot.  You get to watch six hours of instruction.  If you can stand watching me for six hours, this is a good thing.  I show you how to make nine bracelets!  Two tapestry/bead cuff bracelets; two No Warps to Weave in Bracelets; Five affinity bracelets.  The course is designed to flow so that you keep piling on skills.  The goal is for you to move into your own territory . . . take the skills and concepts you’ve learned and create your own masterpieces.

I think it’s a great class for both beginners and those who haven’t tried these projects yet and are ready for something new.

So how does this format work? It’s a great format combining the best of a real in-person workshop with the best of video.  First of all, it’s longer than any video you’d ever find.  Secondly, you can access it on the Craftsy site any time you want.  There is a forum for asking your questions and I will get on a million times a day to check for these questions and answer them.  There is also a place for you to post your projects.  The whole thing is very interactive and community like and you can keep interacting for as long as I am still hanging out on this planet.

And even better: there is a special Craftsy/Mirrix store where you can buy some really amazing kits created just for the show at really, really great prices.  Those same kits will not be in our regular store.  The kits are cheaper when you buy all three and even cheaper when bought with a loom.

So sign up for a lifetime (literally) adventure in the world of Mirrix: craftsy

Those Pesky Heddles

For many, putting heddles on the loom (heddles connect your warp to your shedding device) is the most challenging part of warping simply because it’s easy to make a mistake. Even after warping and heddling many, many looms, I still make my fair share of mistakes.

The key is: patience. You can’t put your heddles on in a rush or while watching TV or while having a conversation with your friends. Trust me, I’ve tried, and usually when I do that I make a mistake. In the long run, it’s a lot easier if you take your time and make sure every heddle is on the right warp thread because one crossed heddle or one missed heddle means you’re going to have a lot of not-so-fun troubleshooting ahead of you.

Although you still should follow our warping instructions (the .pdf can be found here: http://www.mirrixlooms.com/warpinginstructions.html) I made a few small diagrams that might be helpful to see how the heddles should be put on your loom and what mistakes you might make.

Book Giveaway!

Chris Franchetti Michaels, (you may know her as beadwork.about.com‘s fabulous guide) recently released a new jewelry making book “Teach Yourself VISUALLY More Jewelry Making”. Now, I know this blog is dedicated to weaving on a loom, but I’m sure many of you are multi-talented when it comes to your crafting skills and I wanted to offer one reader a FREE copy of Chris’ book! 

Not that I need new crafts to take up, but this book has some seriously tempting projects. From learning wire jewelry making techniques to bending and shaping metals to making your own rivets to using chain, to working with leather (that tempts me the most… do you think my husband would mind if I turned our bedroom into storage for craft supplies?) and clay and resin and… lots more. Twelve chapters are filled with easy-to-follow instructions to teach techniques as well as projects. Amazon will give you a little sneak peak (click “Click to Look Inside”). This book is the follow-up to Chris’ first book, which I haven’t read but I’m sure is fantastic, “Teach Yourself VISUALLY Jewelry Making and Beading“.
How to Enter:
Comment on this post anytime before midnight (PDT) on May 7th, 2012, Like us (Mirrix Looms) on Facebook and be sure to check out beadwork.about.com!
Giveaway Rules:
Entries must be received by midnight on May 7th, 2012
Spam will not be entered.
You must live in the continental United States to win
You must be at least 18 years old to enter

Oh, and you should probably check out Chris’s Affinity Bracelets she made on her Mirrix

Ott-Lite Blog interview

In honor of Mother’s Day, we interviewed bead and tapestry weaver Claudia Chase and her daughter Elena Zuyok. Together they run Mirrix Tapestry & Bead Looms, Ltd., providing handcrafted looms, starter kits, patterns, books and other inspirational tools.
What inspired you to start weaving? Were you self-taught, or did someone teach you? 
Claudia: I’ve been interested in weaving since I was very young. I received my first rigid heddle loom when I was 8 years old but I didn’t really get involved in weaving until I was pregnant with my daughter (Elena) and I briefly attended a tapestry class in San Francisco. After that, I was self-taught. At the time there was no internet and very few books on tapestry so it was a rather circuitous journey.
Elena: I was brought up as the daughter of a tapestry weaver and therefore had no interest whatsoever in tapestry. I reluctantly learned the basics through osmosis but it wasn’t until I was in college when I accompanied my mom to a class she was (we were) teaching in Canada that I first really became interested in the medium.
Can you tell us about the first project you completed?Claudia: Probably something awful that I keep in a box upstairs where I keep all my awful beginning weavings and try not to look at them.
Elena: Probably something I did when I was five. It was probably terrible, but I can guarantee I used really nice yarn.
When did you start creating beaded tapestries?Claudia: About a year or so after I founded Mirrix Looms, I realized that the Mirrix Loom would also function really well as a bead loom so I forced myself to learn how to weave beads using the unique attributes of the Mirrix Loom. I say forced because at the time I only had eyes for fiber. At that time I had also become an avid spinner and dyer and it was clear to me I would neither be able to make beads or dye them.

Do you both weave? Are there other crafts or hobbies you both enjoy?
Claudia: I love doing just about anything that requires using fiber and beads including crochet, knitting, felting, dying, spinning, most off-loom bead techniques and needlepoint. There’s nothing I won’t try if given the opportunity.
Elena: As for hobbies, we’re both very into playing (not watching) sports. We’ve ridden horses and skied together since I was a very small child.
What made you decide to create your own loom design?
Claudia: I wanted a portable, professional quality loom that I could use anywhere and that loom did not exist, so I designed it.
Is there one project that holds special significance in your heart, either because of its beauty, or who it was for?
Claudia: A tapestry called “Progression” signified the first time I had found my own voice in tapestry.
Mirrix headquarters resides within a very special community. Could you tell us about that relationship?
Claudia: Mirrix manufacturing lives at a place called Sunshine House which employs adults with special needs and/or physical disabilities. Not only is the Mirrix Loom entirely manufactured in the U.S., it is made by some of the finest folks on the planet. There isn’t a day that goes by that we are not grateful for this amazing opportunity to work with people who deeply care about making sure every loom we manufacture is perfect.
What is it like working together as mother and daughter?Elena: Our work relationship is a reflection of our personal relationship. We’ve always been incredibly close with a deep and mutual respect for each other. We learned how well we work together on a professional level back when I was in college and ran her first campaign for State Representative.
At some point Mirrix went from being Claudia’s business to our business and that’s how it’s operated since. We both have different skill sets and strengths and weaknesses but the same work ethic and the same philosophy about running a business. It just works. We enjoy being together and working together and our relationship smoothly transitions from that of a professional partnership to that of mother and daughter.

Fire Flowers
Running your own company, writing books, creating patterns, even serving as a State Representative for six years—how do you find time for your own crafting?Claudia: Currently, one of my most important jobs at Mirrix is to design new products which has the advantage of forcing me to weave on a regular basis. Until about a year ago I was selling my work in galleries but now I find I am so busy with product development that I don’t have time to create a substantial amount of work for sale. I’m actually enjoying taking a break from doing that. When I served as a State Representative I produced a huge amount of work because, in order to keep myself calm, I had to keep my hands busy at all times. I noticed from my big leather seat in Representatives’ Hall that other folks were doing crossword puzzles, playing games on their phones and sometimes sleeping. By creating artwork I was actually able to concentrate better because it seemed to keep my ADHD tendencies in check and allowed me to sit in my seat for more than a half hour at a time. And yes, I did weave on the Mini Mirrix while there. There was a rule about not using computers in Representatives’ Hall, but nobody said anything about looms.
What does weaving tapestries bring to your life?
Claudia: Initially weaving tapestries forced me to design the Mirrix Loom because I was looking for a portable, professional loom which did not exist. Currently, weaving tapestries allows me to indulge in my passion for color. I use a lot of my own hand-dyed and/or hand-spun/hand-dyed yarn for my tapestry weaving which gives me a lot more control over the color and the texture. For me, tapestry weaving is extremely meditative, something a very hyper person like me really needs.
What advice would you give someone who is just starting out?Claudia: Someone starting off in tapestry should buy a few of the wonderful tapestry instruction books one can now find on the market. He or she really needs to understand that tapestry is not an art form one learns overnight. There are many skills one needs to master but the mastering of these skills is in and of itself extremely rewarding. Just don’t plan to give your first tapestry away as a wedding present. Also, really try to explore in-depth the materials, including warp and weft, that you will be using to create this tapestry because your tapestry is only going to be as beautiful as the material you use to make it.
Bead Weaving
If you’re not initially buying a kit for someone else’s pattern, take yourself to the biggest bead store you can find and spend many hours there staring at the beads. I found that one of the biggest challenges of bead weaving, since I couldn’t make my own beads and my own colors, was learning what shapes, sizes, colors and finishes were available in beads. I now have a really good understanding of what is available, hence I can often design a piece in my head using embedded images of beads. Keep in mind that the skills required for your basic bead weaving (a rectangle or a square) is not nearly as challenging as the techniques one must learn for tapestry. The challenge with bead weaving is creating the design and choosing the beads.
Mini Mirrix Loreli Loom Giveaway Contest! 

This mini loom is made for the beader on the go. It’s small enough to take anywhere and is great for making beaded jewelry. And now you can win your very own! To enter, please “Like” Mirrix Looms and OttLite on Facebook AND post a comment to this blog. If you’re already a Facebook Fan of OttLite and Mirrix, your work is half-done! Just leave a comment here!
Winner will be announced on Friday 5/4! THE CONTEST HAS NOW ENDED

Inkle Weaving on a Mirrix

I you already have a Mirrix Loom, you don’t need to buy an inkle loom. Why? On a Mirrix you can make long (twice the length of your loom) inkle pieces and even wide pieces and the shedding device works for inkle weaving in the same way it does for tapestry.

Inkle weaving is kind of the opposite of tapestry. Tapestry is weft-faced, which means ONLY the weft can show for a tapestry to be tapestry. For Inkle weaving, only the warp shows. This means your design is based on how you’ve arranged your warp. Here I will be doing a very simple inkle weave to show you how it can be done on a Mirrix. There are more complex technique you may want to explore.

I warped my loom in the same way I would for tapestry (you can learn how here: http://www.mirrixlooms.com/images/warpinginstructions/tapestry.pdf) without a spring with 6 warps of pink, 6 of dark blue and then 6 more of pink. This warp pattern will be what you see when you’re finished weaving. It is important when warping (and weaving) to keep the warp threads as close together as possible which is why I did not use a spring here.

I used size 8 perle cotton for my warp and my weft.

Beginning to warp my loom (note that I am not using a spring)
Starting my dark blue. To do this, simply tie off the first color you are weaving and then tie on with your next color and continue warping as if you were using the same warp thread. You can do this however many times you want.
My loom all warped and ready for heddles.
The loom with heddles put on. Remember before you start weaving to keep your warps pushed together as close as they can. Using thinner heddles might be helpful to keep your warp from spreading where the heddles are put on the loom.

The weaving part here is easy! Ideally, you’d use a shuttle to bring your warps through and to pack down your weft threads. You could also use any (thin and not sharp, a credit card might work well) edge to pack down your weft threads, but a tapestry beater or fork will not work because you don’t want the tons separating the warp threads.

You can see how easy this is and how neat it looks when you can see the warp and not the weft. I love it! Try it out and let us know how you like it and any tricks and tips you have for inkle weaving on a Mirrix!