Tutorial: Making A Mat Board Loom for Weaving

Recently I taught a weaving class at an assisted living center with a delightful group of women, the oldest being 90 years old! My training as an occupational therapist provided some foundation on adapting the weaving project for individuals with some limitations as to memory, vision, and gross and fine motor skills.  I always like to focus on the 3 P’s when I work with seniors: the person, the process and the product.  The person should be interested in being an active participant and thus be in control of creating his/her own work. The process should be somewhat repetitive and yet hold the interest of the creator by employing colorful and tactile materials. The process should also guarantee that the person succeeds at it. And finally the product should be attractive and finished in a way that it can be displayed or given as a gift. Using this methodology, young children and adults with physical or developmental disabilities could also benefit from such a project.

However, this means that a lot of preparation is required by the instructor. For art teachers or others interested in this activity, weaving on mat board looms, I am sharing a brief tutorial on preparing the looms. Teachers with students who are able to do so can also have their students make their own mat board looms in advance of the weaving.

Materials Needed        

IMG_5265 Mat board cut to 6″ W X 9″ H

2 pieces decorative card stock measuring 1″ W X 9″ H

2 pieces heavy cardboard measuring 1″ W X 6″ H**

**I used book board for this, illustration board can also be used

2 pieces decorative card stock measuring 1″ W X 6″ H

Glue Stick

Discarded piece of mat board measuring 1″ W X 6″ H

Pencil and ruler

Small drill or awl

Tapestry needle

Strong yarn for warp, such as cotton carpet warp or perle cotton

Picture frame hook (optional)

Assembly Instructions

With a glue stick, glue the 1″ X 9″ decorative card stock to the long edges of the mat board.  Then glue the 2 pieces of heavy cardboard onto the top and bottom short edges of the mat board. Lastly, glue the shorter pieces of decorative card stock onto the heavy cardboard.

IMG_5266

Now make a template from a piece of discarded mat board measuring 1″ X 6″. Mark and measure a  4″ length in the center of the   template. Within this marked  section, find the  lengthwise halfway point and with a ruler draw a straight line from one end of this 4″ section to the other end. This line will be your guide to make evenly spaced holes across the template. The holes in my loom are roughly spaced 1/4″ apart for a total of 17 holes. I used a small drill like a Dremel stylus to make the holes, but an awl would work just as well.

IMG_5267

Next position the template on top of  the bottom edge of the loom and carefully following  the holes of the template use an awl or other sharp tool to pierce corresponding holes through both the heavy cardboard and the mat board. Do the same for the top edge of the loom.

Warping the Loom

Measure a 4 1/2 yard length of strong warping yarn such as cotton carpet warp or perle cotton. With a tapestry needle, thread the yarn through the holes that you just pierced on the bottom and top edges of the loom. The front of the loom should look like this:

IMG_5269

The back of the loom should look like this:

back of loom

Note that the warp threads are threaded in a vertical direction only at the front of the loom. On the back of the loom, the warp threads are threaded horizontally through consecutive holes. This will prevent the mat board from curving toward the front during the weaving process. A picture frame hook can be glued to the top of the loom if desired.

Now you are ready to weave. I use thick and colorful textured yarn threaded through a wooden weaving needle. A long plastic needle with a large eye will work just as well. A strong comb or pick is used to “beat” each row of weaving.

IMG_5272

The classes at the assisted living center were sponsored by  Creative Aging Midsouth. Miss Eula was one of the participants in the class. Here she is with her finished weaving project. This lovely lady celebrated her 90th birthday during the course of the class!

IMG_5296

Books for Beer Lovers

I’ve been a recycler since my childhood days. I always saved bits of fabric, string and paper to create collages or fold them into 3 dimensional objects to create a mini city. This is a habit that extended into my life as an artist today. In weaving there is a lot of waste. Long strands of  unweavable yarn at the beginning and end of a loom woven project are inevitable. Although the strands are too short for the kinds of projects I do, I save the yarn and have used them to stuff pillows and add fringe to other projects or used them in Creative Aging MidSouth workshops  with senior citizens. This spring I used my bits of leftover yarn and scraps of fabric from the linings of the purses and bags that I weave to create earrings. With the addition of some beads and wire they turned out quite colorful because the fabrics I choose always seem to be bright.

Earrings made from recycled yarn and fabric

Earrings made from recycled yarn and fabric

The pair in the center is wrapped with fabric cut from upholstery scraps that I use for purse lining, and the other two are wrapped with strands of yarn.

Paper packaging also seems excessive to me, and I find that every week I recycle several folded boxes from food products and toiletries. Occasionally we have a few beer cartons which I salvage and use them for covers of my handbound books. And I suspect that my collection will grow because lately Memphis has become a sort of hot spot for breweries. You can read about that here. This fellow Memphis blogger is a local foodie and biking enthusiast who also knows his beer.

My latest handbound books made from beer cartons are currently for sale at Allie Cat Arts, a funky and eclectic art gallery in the Cooper Young neighborhood of midtown Memphis. Oh, and my earrings are sold there too!

Handbound books made from recycled beer cartons

Handbound books made from recycled beer cartons

And for those interested in making their own mini version of these recycled books, I will be teaching a class at Allie Cat Arts in late August. Participants need to bring only their own beer cartons and brown paper bags.

mini hand bound book made from recycled beer carton

mini hand bound book made from recycled beer carton

The mini Ghost River book above utilizes a long stitch binding that a new learner of book arts can easily sew. Below is a detail of the hand stitching that I have incorporated into the spine of the full size Ghost River book currently for sale at Allie Cat Arts.

hand bound book made from recycled beer cartons and hand stitched over an exposed spine

hand bound book made from recycled beer cartons and hand stitched over an exposed spine

I know how I’ll be staying cool as the dog days of summer are upon us here in the South.

 

Leaving the Octopus’ Garden

After a 6 month hiatus, I am finally emerging from my hideaway beneath the ocean waves. Can’t say the past six months have not been uneventful. This is what I did:

I ate well.

Strawberry Margarita Cheesecake

Strawberry Margarita Cheesecake

I drank well.

Red wine sangria

Red wine sangria

And I relaxed well.

On the beach in Curacao

On the beach in Curacao

But I have also worked hard, already having four shows behind me in 2013. And usually that is the total number of shows I participate in in any given year. I have been working on a few new products. One being earrings made from yarn leftover from my weaving projects with fabric recycled from other projects.

Earrings made from recycled fabric and yarn

Earrings made from recycled fabric and yarn

I also introduced a new line of scarves which I have called “Watercolor” scarves because the colors in the novelty yarns  in the warp seem like they blend into each other. There are eight colorways in this line:  Blue Bayou, Purple Passion, First Blush, First Encounter, Rhymes with Orange, Hydrangeas, Spring Fling and Mellow Mushroom. You can see them all here.  And here is an example of one of the scarves.

Purple Passion Watercolor Scarf

Purple Passion Watercolor Scarf

This particular colorway was purchased by a very stylish woman whom I met at  Art2Wear  Nashville. She liked it so much, she even blogged about it! Thank you, Alicia!

So as I emerge from the octopus’ garden I am preparing for new challenges in weaving, and I will be more diligent in writing about them. I promise!

Octopus Garden Sidewalk chalk drawing

Octopus Garden Sidewalk chalk drawing

Happy Blog Anniversary!

Four years ago today, I posted the very first entry to the MemphisWeaver blog and today there have been over 81,000 visitors to this site. I have heard from several of you the past few years  and I am happy to have so many creatives among my readers! Thank you for your support!

The WinterArts show will be coming to a close on Christmas Eve. This is the fourth holiday season for this artists’ consortium to show and sell their work in an upscale location. Our customers continue to come back and this year many have told us that this was the best show ever! Each year new artists are added, and the returning artists always bring new and fresh work in addition to the classics for which they are known.

And I continue to learn from each show. I am always inspired by my customers as to what direction to follow next. The four to five weeks of the show found me constantly at my loom or at the bookbinder’s bench to create new products to replace any sold inventory. And during this time, I was inspired to create a series of handwoven bucket bags that are part of a new series that I have dubbed “Tribal Bags”. Here are the three that are currently in WinterArts.

Handwoven tribal bucket back in goose eye pattern

Handwoven tribal bucket back in goose eye twill pattern

Handwoven tribal bucket bag woven in evenpoint twill

Handwoven tribal bucket bag woven in evenpoint twill pattern

Handwoven tribal bucket bag in goose eye twill pattern and muted colors

Handwoven tribal bucket bag in goose eye twill pattern and muted colors

The bags are 100% cotton with a cotton denim lining and a recycled jeans pocket insert. It’s soft and roomy and deep enough for lots of stuff! Come springtime I will be weaving these in brigher colors as well as pastels. And yes, there will be more shows coming this spring, and yes, I do plan to participate in them! Besides the bags I have some other projects brewing. There will be smaller pouches for your cell phones and sleeves for your tablets as well as narrower and lightweight fashion scarves for warmer weather. And I am still working on expanding that series of pendants and bracelets to give the pieces a more 3 dimensional look.

So there is lots of work ahead of me as I welcome 2013 and look forward to showing and selling new work. I wish each and everyone of you a joyous holiday season and best wishes for a healthy and creative new year in 2013!

WinterArts is Back!

It’s Thanksgiving week, and you know what that means! For the last 4 years, the Friday after Thanksgiving has been opening night for WinterArts – a consortium of local artists who sell and show their work in a holiday artists’ market. For the last three years, WinterArts has been in the same location – 2055 West Street in the Shops of Saddle Creek South in Germantown.

Today, the artists continue to set up their work and everything will be in place for the opening reception this Friday night, November 23rd from 5 PM to 9 PM. As usual, the wine will be free flowing and there will be plenty of sweet and savory snacks to enjoy. But best of all, the opening will showcase the best that Memphis has to offer in fine handcrafted art. And the artists will be on hand and available to talk about what inspires them! The media represented in the show includes all kinds of glass: handblown, kiln fired, fused and lampworked; wood, including handturned, segmented, carved and handbuilt furniture; jewelry of all kinds: precious stones, precious metal, polymer clay, ceramic and glass, ostrich eggs(!); clay in all manners of form, shape and sizes; metal both as jewelry and as home decor; fiber including knitted, sewn, dyed and handwoven, and of course there will be artists who paint and sculpt represented here as well.

This year’s  WinterArts’ artists include: Jen Winfrey•Dorothy Northern•Ansley Larsson•Sharron & Jim Barrett•Rick Cannon•Linda Livaudias•Lisa Mergen•Lisa Butts•Bryan Blankenship•Lisa Hudson•David Johnson•Linda Twist•Shove•IT Designs•Becky Ziemer•Thomas Spake•Beth Prussia Day•David Day•Angela Goza•Karen BottleCapps•Virginia Nuckolls•Cheryl Hazelton•Mary Lou Egger•Felcitas Sloves•Marian McKinney•Katie Dann•Chris Dalrymple•Briggette Lang•Nancie Roark •Cathy Talbot•Ron Olson & MORE! Most are local artists, but there are a few from Mississippi, Nashville and Chattanooga who were invited because of the high quality of their work.

My work is mostly set up as of today. And here is a teaser of my handwoven accessories that you will see at WinterArts.

Not to worry if you can’t be there for the opening reception. WinterArts will be open daily from November 24th through Christmas Eve. All the artists will continue to bring in new work every day throughout the month. All of us at WinterArts will look forward to seeing you and hope that you will come back again and again! WinterArts means that you will find affordable gifts by local artists, and it has become a premiere shopping destination for the holiday season.

Theo’s Journey

This is the time of year that I usually share my excitement about new work and the upcoming holiday events where my art  will be showcased and sold. There will be a time and place for that. But with Thanksgiving and the holiday season creeping toward us, thoughts of family have been heavy on my mind.

I wanted to share this vignette of my brother Theo (pronounced Tay-oh in  Dutch). We were both baby boomers, but to me he represented a generation that knew firsthand about living in a place where he was not wanted. More so than I could ever imagine. It has been forty six years since the last time I saw Theo. But not one day has gone by since then that I have not thought about him.

He was born on an exotic tropical island while I came into the world on a bleak wintry day in Northern Europe. I was jealous that he knew our parents first and that he was a larger part of our family’s journey than I could ever be. Despite a 7 ½ year difference, we forged a bond closer than any brother and sister that we knew.

Our ancestors were Dutch and in the 1800’s, they settled in Surabaya on the island of Java which was then a colony of the Netherlands known as the Dutch East Indies. Our grandparents and great-grandparents were captains of industry who built railroads and established industrial plantations to manufacture rubber, coffee and sugar. They incorporated company towns employing the local Javanese residents, building schools, and marrying the cultures of East and West.

At the start of World War II, all the men in our family enlisted with the allied forces governed by the Dutch. The women and children remained on the islands under the strict control of Japanese occupation. Many were sent to internment camps and many never returned. Most of the men in our family who served were killed in the horrific ways of death that symbolized times of war. Our own father was held by the Japanese as a prisoner of war for two years. He along with his Australian and British cohorts was forced to march through the mountains of Burma to build the “Death Railroad” leading to the “Bridge over the River Kwai”.

The only mention our father ever made of his wartime experience was to share his memory of Lord Mountbatten, whom British Prime Minister Winston Churchill appointed Supreme Allied Commander of the Southeast Asia Theatre. The British commander addressed the newly freed POWs, of which our father was one, at the time of Japanese surrender.

For our family, freedom did not come easily with the victory of war. Days after the war ended, Indonesia declared independence from imperialism. Our family’s landholdings and businesses were all lost to the new government. Our parents and relatives struggled to reinvent their lives during this period of government reorganization. It was a time of unrest and violence for those Dutch-Indonesians who chose to remain in Java.

The years after 1945 were known as Bersiap, loosely translated as “get ready”. Indonesian revolutionaries were on a mission to eliminate everyone with Dutch-Indonesian or Eurasian heritage. Our father was frequently jailed and beaten by Indonesian militants during this time. And our family was one of the lucky ones. Many families had children or spouses who simply disappeared; while others had family members who were brutally executed in public killings.

It was in the midst of this violence that our parents married and my brother was born in 1948. Along with other Dutch-Indonesian families, they waited several years before receiving visas to leave Java under the Dutch government’s repatriation program. In the Netherlands they were Dutch citizens who shared the same language, culture and religion as the Dutch residents who were born and raised there. However, in the mid 1950’s, there was some anti-immigrant sentiment in the Netherlands and many Dutch-Indonesian families decided to leave their homeland once again, this time as refugees sponsored by various Church service organizations.

Though I was only 3 ½ years old when we arrived in the United States, my brother and I learned to survive together as strangers in a strange land. Together we supported and educated our parents, as immigrant children often do, with the ways of the new world. And as children, we adapted to and fell in love with American culture of the 1960’s. From my brother I learned to love books, the outdoors, and music. It was music that forged our close bond. I remember listening to the tinny sounds of his transistor radio and for the first time hearing the music of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan.

My world came crashing down with a phone call in August of 1966. My brother was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident. He lived just a few more days before he died. He was only 18. His death was the last indignity in a series of tragic losses that our family had endured over the years. Anger and heartache swirled in our house for many years after my brother’s death. There were times that no one spoke for days on end. We all seemed to be mired in a silent fiction of what may have been different if any one of our family’s past losses had not occurred.

Over the years, our family’s grief evolved into a lingering sadness. Today, forty six years after my brother’s death, I miss him more than ever. I wonder if my children would have known a loving uncle and a kind aunt. Maybe they would have cousins – age mates with shared interests and adventures.

The answers will never be known. In writing about our family’s history and my brother’s brief life, I wanted to tell the story that my brother never could.

My brother and me when we were living in Holland

Brace Yourself

Here it is the end of August, and not one post this month. My apologies. My previous posts  suggested a need to reinvent myself, or my work at any rate. And that is what has taken up most of my time – not the producing part, but everything else: reading, surfing, talking, thinking, imagining, visualizing, all just to grab a wisp of inspiration. In the end, there were two designs that inspired me to use as a jumping off point and attempt to transform a new concept into a woven form.

18K gold bracelet handwoven on a traditional loom with gold threads and black silk in a twill pattern. By Carolina Bucci.

As soon as I saw this, I fell in love with this bracelet. This is from www.portero.com and sold for $2,200.  That would be a nice income for a handweaver, a handweaver who could easily recognize the point twill pattern in the design. I set out to warp my Baby Wolf loom with a 6 Harness point twill in a black perle cotton yarn. I used colorful novelty yarns in the weft. (Didn’t want to use the 18k gold yarn for this first effort.) These are my results.

Handwoven twill cotton and novelty yarn cuff bracelet – blue/green/purple

Handwoven twill cotton and novelty yarn  cuff bracelet – pink/yellow/orange

Not a bad first try. I am quite happy with the finished bracelets and am looking forward to playing with it some more and tweaking the pattern, the fibers and the shape.

Now my other inspiration came from Memphis artist Dawn McKay. She and her partner Shannon Cable are shoveIt designs. This is how they describe their work on their website:  “shoveIt designs transform broken skateboards into wicked wearable art.” Now I am not at all familiar with the construction of skateboards, and don’t think I’ve ever been up close and personal with one. My generation after all still used skate keys for our roller skates – the one with 4 wheels on each boot. So I was pleasantly surprised when I saw this deconstructed skateboard that Dawn transformed into a bracelet.

Cuff bracelet made from a broken skateboard. By Dawn McKay of shoveIt designs.

This was another example of love at first sight for me. And as you all know, I have been playing with rep weave designs on my loom lately, and saw that the pattern in this broken skateboard represented rep weave. Here is my cuff design in a rep weave pattern inspired by shoveIt designs.

Handwoven rep weave cotton cuff bracelet

Creating these bracelets was like my “Aha moment”. This was what I had been searching for all along. But it doesn’t end here! I have had my eye on a certain lovely all metal  tapestry and beading loom for a long while now. The looms are made  by Mirrix Looms  based in New Hampshire. So I took the plunge and purchased the “Big Sister” model.

16″ wide Big Sister Mirrix loom for tapestry and bead weaving

You ask, what am I going to weave on this loom? More jewelry of course! Here are a couple of handwoven tapestry pendants that I wove on my new loom.

Handwoven tapestry pendant with coins

Handwoven tapestry pendant

So here it is, the end of the summer and I am finally having fun!

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