Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Revisiting My Old Loom and A Warp Finishing Tip

Today is an exciting day! I've remembered a warp finishing technique that I've only tried once before and it appears to be successful. :-) But first..

Have you ever been working on a long term project with a self imposed deadline when suddenly your brain derails you with an urgent need to try out a different technique? Well, that's what happened to me this past week.

I was happily plugging away at my embroidered Tetris blocks when I got to thinking about beading on a loom. Mind you, I fall into the beader stereotype of having learned at a young age to loom and enjoyed every second up until dealing with those pesky end warps. Needless to say that I moved on to off loom stitches within half a year or so. I have occasionally gone back to the loom for certain projects, but inevitably get disgusted with the fuzzy mess at the end and abandon future ideas.

Somehow, this time it's different. I wanted to make bracelets for my two best friends. So now I have some new delicas and thread selections sitting in my FMG shopping cart, just waiting on my next paycheck.

After a fairly exhaustive search on the internet, I've come to the conclusion that no new warp thread finishing methods have been published. I'm not certain about this as I have not yet borrowed Sharon Bateman's book on Contemporary Loom Work from the library, but I'm pretty sure. And the only artist out there who claims to hold the secret still has no new book after five years.

I'm done waiting and decided to act on something I saw once. I can't for the life of me remember the source blog, as all of my old bookmarks have been deleted off my laptop. :-( I remember blue beads in the example and would love if someone recognized the following info. Here goes.

I've been really drawn to pixel art lately since it lends well to beadwork. I decided to make myself a bracelet for practice. No Face from Miyazaki's Spirited Away seemed like the perfect simple pattern for my needs. I grabbed a cross stitch pattern from and set to work.

Here are the first several rows of the panel. As you can see, I'm working with the same loom that I owned (stole from my mother) when I was 13. Also, No Face looks more like a candy skull here. And he makes a handy pincushion for when I need a bathroom break and don't want to lose my needle.

Okay, here it is: the big secret. Nothing complicated, really. Just weave each of your warp threads BEETWEEN the wefts of the previous rows. Skip the endmost weft first though. For consistency, I ended them all at the same spot about ten rows in. It also helps to have warp ends about four inches or more in length for ease of movement. The two and a half inches pictured here made weaving a bit difficult, so the first side took longer.

Here is one of the ends with all the threads woven in. They seem to stay trapped between the wefts and get hidden by the beads. I have snipped half of them off and can barely see any stuck out threads that weren't cut close enough.

Here I have folded up the piece to show the rows where I ended all my threads. Again, very few noticeable thread ends. *shrug* I'm happy with it. This definitely beats all the traditional methods, especially since I almost always broke a bead or two with too many thread passes. The only warps I passed through beads rather than going straight up were the outermost ones, and that's because I was sure those thread ends would definitely show on the edge.

Here is the finished panel. I suppose you could call this side the back since it's the side I used to weave between wefts and that the threads excited from.

I guess that makes this the front. It's only four and a half inches in length, which gives me plenty of room to experiment with a way to finish it. The whole panel from warping the loom to finishing it off took about four hours. I would consider that making good time, but then I'm a little out of practice.

I'm not really concerned that the warps will work their way loose. They seem trapped to me. Only time and wear will tell. I'm excited to finish this piece and report back.

I decided to use Nymo for this experiment because I wanted it to look like something I would have made fourteen years ago. The only difference is the subject matter (I had not yet encountered Miyazaki films at that point) and the fact that I reinforced the outer warps with strands of Wildfire for strength and to keep my edges straighter than they would be otherwise.

I hope somebody finds this information helpful and doesn't keep avoiding an otherwise pleasant beading technique. Let me know what you think!

Today's listening pleasure and highly recommended music suggestion: Caro Emerald. I'm pretty sure she's Danish. She's also one of the most stylish and beautiful slightly plus sized women I've ever seen. Happy listening/viewing!