With Spring well and truly in full bud and leaf, my studio is resounding to the clunk of jacquard looms in action! My lovely babies are now awaiting new designs from an experienced weaver who is coming to learn how to design on these varied and fun looms. These looms have had many aspiring textile designers trying out their ideas, polishing the perch seats with their behinds (in the 1880s, most of the students were male, although there were some amazing female designers) and learning the intricacies of designing in different scale repeat systems and different format looms.
My babies have 192 hooks – a very small design area by modern standards – with a standard weaving width of 12″, but with differing repeat sizes meaning that some designs work well in one scale, and other designs work better at a larger or smaller scale. Experience, knowing weave structures well and experimentation all play their hand. Today, as then, the designer who designs for these looms not only designs the motif, but they cut the cards by hand and then lace all the cards together before putting them on the loom to weave. It’s not just throwing the shuttle, but all the intricate and vital steps along the way that makes it such fun and mentally challenging using these looms. I have learnt so much from them!
March’s wonderful sunshine is also showing up the cobwebs that need dusting away, and spring cleaning is underway. This year it also involves clearing space in our grange to create a new storage area so that my husband can get his micro-brewery launched. Non-weaving partners of my students quite often find themselves helping out with a brew, if they are interested, as well as sampling the delights of our local wines and armagnacs! The success of his brewing, up till now just an absorbing hobby, has encouraged him to launch a micro-brasserie! Larger fermenting vessels, mash tuns and other brewing paraphernalia are now finding their way to a separate building which previously housed the garden equipment so things are on the move.
This means that my two George Wood dobby looms, which sadly I do not have space for in my studio, have to find new homes. I didn’t like splitting them up, but one has already gone to its forever home with my lovely French weaving student, Chloé, which I am thrilled about. Chloé has the same love for mechanical machinery that I do, and also appreciates the history and patina of well-loved, older looms.
However, I still have another which needs a new home.
I acquired it from Middlesex University when they were changing over to modern computerised looms. The loom is around 260 cm (8’6″) tall and stands about 120 cm (4′) wide with 16 shafts. It has 3 back beams, 1 cloth beam and 7 reeds varying from 8 dpi to 25 dpi which will need some cleaning. There are many new heddles to accompany the existing heddles.
The dobby head will need a little tlc (tender loving care) as it has been stored for about 6 years.
Chloé’s loom needed the same amount of work, and took a couple of hours to sort.
It is currently in pieces, but is not hard to assemble. We will show a new owner how to assemble and disassemble it. It currently has 8 lags. I am looking for €250 for it as you will have to collect it, and that will involve travel costs.
Please email me if you are interested. If no-one comes forward, we are going to have to re-purpose the wood, which we would prefer not to do.
I hope you are enjoying your spring/autumn, wherever you happen to be, and until next time,