Monday, April 28, 2014

Tissart Tapestry Loom Warping--One Method

I'm posting this step-by-step description for one of the ways I've used for the Tissart tapestry loom.  By the way, the Tissart loom is no longer manufactured by Leclerc Looms but they sometimes are to be found through resale of used looms.  

I've used this method with other upright tapestry looms, as well.  If you weave on floor looms you'll recognize that this is a variation of what's called "front to back" warping where the reed is sleyed, the heddles threaded, and then the warp beamed.  I've also used a "back to front" process for warping the upright tapestry looms in which either I use the reed to rough sley the warp and then beam, or use a raddle to space the warp as it's beamed.

Feel free to use and adapt as best fits your needs.  Please, if you use these instructions specifically, note the source!

Threading the Tissart Tapestry Loom
Instructions developed by Tommye McClure Scanlin

            I’ve had a Tissart loom since 1988 and have warped it many times using several methods, including the instructions that came with the loom.  I’ve found this method to be a good one.  Of course, it isn’t the only way one can proceed—whatever works for someone is the “best” way! 

The instructions below describe sleying the reed, followed by threading the heddles and tying on the ends to the apron rod on the warp beam.  The warp is then beamed and next tied on at the front apron rod for the final tensioning.   When beaming, I use either flat lattice strips between layers or roll corrugated cardboard wound between each revolution of the warp beam.

1.  Make warp chain(s) and put in a tie at the cross.  I usually have no more than about 100 warp ends per chain so the bundles will be small enough to easily tension when beaming.

2.  Unhook the beater from the springs holding up it at the sides.  This allows the bottom part of the beater to rest on the breast beam.  Put the correct dent reed into the beater.

3.  Sit comfortably and have a good light nearby.  Before beginning to sley, loosely wind the warp chains around the breast beam (or, alternatively, sit on them) so the warp won’t slip too far forward when pulling ends through the dents.  

Leah's holding the cross for sleying in this photo.  The warp chain is wrapped a couple of times around the lower beam to hold it secure as the sleying takes place.
Allow about 20” from the point where the cross is placed and the end of the warp that is pointed toward the reed and heddles.  I hold the cross in my fingers, since I make each warp group fairly small, but one can also place the cross sticks into the warp cross and sleyed from those.   If using cross sticks be sure they’re tied together about 1” apart and also tied to the loom so they won’t slip out on one side or the other. Just do which ever seems most comfortable for you and then proceed to sley the reed. 

If you'd rather use cross sticks, slip them in place...

then secure them at top and bottom so they're about 1" apart.

Leah's measuring from center to right to begin sleying.

Sleying begins.
After sleying, tie groups in slip knots as a security measure while getting ready for the next steps... don't want any warps to fall out!
4.  After sleying, re-hook the springs to the beater assembly so the reed with sleyed warp in place is higher and nearer the heddles.  

5.  Releasing the warp beam brake, bring the warp beam bar or rod up and over the top beam toward the front of the loom, placing it to hang within about 6-8” from the top of the heddles.   Make sure the rod lashed to the apron rod is straight and horizontal.  You'll want the ends of the warp to be long enough to reach a couple of inches above the bar:

Leah makes sure the warp extends long enough to be tied to the warp beam bar.

6.  Move half the number of heddles needed for the warp to the center and begin threading (I’m right handed and move from the right side to the left so half heddle group is pushed to the center right).  
Leah's counting and moving heddles to the center.

Moving from right to left I pick up each warp from its place in the reed, thread it, and then tie it with a good, firm knot onto the warp apron rod that is hanging over the top beam.  This process continues until all warp ends are both threaded and tied on. *  At this point, the loose wrapping of warp chain around the breast beam may have to be loosened a bit to extend the warp ends long enough to tie on at the warp beam rod.  However, I still keep the warp under some tension so the ends won’t be pulling forward too much while tying them to the warp beam rod.  This sounds tedious but actually isn’t!
*Alternatively, one can thread 1” worth of ends and then make a firm overhand knot with those.  Tie this knot around the warp apron rod as a group.

Tying on in 1" groups (the first couple at the right are tied individually)

Leah decided she preferred to tie on individual ends as they were threaded rather than the 1" groups.
7.  To beam, unwrap the warp, shake it out each bundle, pull/ping, etc.  Turn the warp beam handle to roll until the rod is back over the top beam and attached to the warp beam, then stop and pull down on each group of the warp firmly.  When the rod begins to roll onto the warp beam insert corrugated roll paper or the first of lattice strips.  I usually set up a rhythm of turning the warp beam handle to roll up a complete revolution, then go to the front to pull down firmly at each warp bunch, shaking and pinging if necessary to loosen any tangling. 

8.  If using lattice strips for most of the warp, after starting the warp with a few inches of corrugated paper, I then wind with molding or lattice strips, about four to eight per turn.  I usually lay the stick on top of the warp beam, hold it with one hand while turning the crank with the other until it’s secured with the warp.  It’s a bit tricky to wind on by yourself using wood strips but can be done.

Leah's adding corrugated paper to the warp beam.

9.  The beaming is completed when the warp ends are about even with the lower beam.

The bar attached to the cloth beam is held up by temporarily tying it onto the loom (the warp ends are tied with slip knots to keep them out of the way until ready to tie onto the bar).
10.  To tie onto the front apron rod, take 1” groups, splitting these in half to wrap around the rod and tie with a half-knot.  For instance, if using 8 epi, then 8 ends are in each group tied on.  I begin tying with the center-most group, then a group on the extreme side, then the group on the opposite side.  These initial three ties will hold the tie-on rod up.  Going back to the center, tie a group immediately to the left or right of that first tie.  Then, work alternately from the center group out to either side, to tie on all groups with half-knots. 

11.  When all bouts are tied with half-knot then go back to the middle, pull both tails up toward the reed firmly and complete with a slip knot or a bow knot.  Next, move alternately from the middle to either side, pulling and tightening and comparing, by feel, to the previously tied group.  I pull firmly when tying on but before beginning to weave I tighten to the weaving tension (quite tight) with the forward take-up motion lever that hangs from the front cloth beam.  You may want to put band-aids on your fingers before beginning the tensioning step since you’ll probably rub blisters on your fingers if you don’t!

Leah checks the tension of the warp after she's tied it on and made the final bow of the knot.
12.  After tying on I weave in lattice strips (or in the photo example, strips of plastic blinds) in alternating sheds to advance the tie-on rod all the way to the cloth beam.  I like to get the rod to the cloth beam before beginning the "good" part of the weaving.  I've found that this will give a good, firm base on which to begin.  Yes, it's more loom waste but if you're going to working on a piece for weeks or months, don't you want the advantage of the best possible start?! 

Looking into the loom to see the tie-on bar has now wound down to the cloth beam.

I beat these with the beater, beating after each shed change.  When the rod and tie-on knots touch the cloth beam I weave in about 1-2” of scrap yarn at the top of the strips, beating with the beater firmly.  Finally, before beginning the “good” part of the weaving, I weave a header of about ½” using the same twine the warp is made of.  This should spread the sett of the warp to exactly what you want.  Once all that’s in place, double check for the warp spacing and the weaving is ready to begin. **
**If using half-hitches to secure the ends do this now.

The photos of the process are of one of the weaving students at the University of North Georgia--thanks for being the model and craftsperson, Leah! 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

For the Love of Color, a class at Peters Valley School of Craft

I'm happy to be teaching at Peters Valley School of Craft in Layton, New Jersey this June.  It will be my first experience at the school and I'm looking forward to it.  Here's a link to the class description.

I gave the class the title, For the Love of Color, and I do indeed love color.  My work is often subtle in color arrangement since most of the time I work from nature as the subject/source for my tapestries.  However, my color choices almost always are made with a mixture of colors in my weft bundles as I use two to five or six strands in each (number of strands depends on the warp sett and the type of weft I'm using).  I've found that the appearance of color in the woven surface of tapestry is different than when seeing the color on the cone or in a ball of yarn.  Developing a sensitivity to what to expect with color blending in the weft is key to the tapestry maker, I believe.  And, not only does a particular weft blend need to "work" on its own but it also must participate well with other colors surrounding it.

When I was at the university one of the courses I taught was a basic design course that focused on color.  Most of the exercises assigned to the students were done with paper or paint, and the ideas and theory of color we studied were based on the work of Johannes Itten and Josef Albers.  Though my many years of planning and doing this course I learned as much as I was trying to teach.  I've attempted to put the theories of color contrasts and harmony to use in my own work.  I find it ever challenging and always exciting to take a group of yarns and see how to turn them into suggestions of something else entirely.  The multiple strands of neutrals with a little orange thrown in to suggest the iron oxide in stones, for instance:

Or how a complementary pair (red and green in this case) can be used together with variations in amounts of intensity and value to give a subtle richness to the mixtures:

How contrast of hue with most at full intensity can give a liveliness to the image, suggestive of the exuberant combination of fabrics that were used in the quilt that was the basis for this tapestry image:

I'm going to be making new color examples as samples in weft-faced weaving (mostly tapestry) for the upcoming class and I'm quite excited about starting with those.  Color study, here I come!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Exciting news about an online tapestry class from Rebecca Mezoff!

Rebecca has just announced her upcoming online tapestry class.  Here's her link to that:

Disclaimer... I have no vested interest in Rebecca's class, just want to spread the news!