This weekend, I have been having a great time with a student called Zaf, who brought along her little Structo loom.  She bought it from eBay and unfortunately it doesn’t have a reed or a batten, so she was a little disappointed that she couldn’t use it. 

However, she has got down to weaving on a 4-shaft Ashford table loom (with direct tie-up pedals) and has been enjoying herself.  Whilst she has been weaving, we have both been having a think about how best to sort out her reed and batten problem, and have come up with a couple of thoughts. 

I have some narrow braid reeds that came from an original 14 foot wide batten on a narrow braid industrial loom.  These miniature reeds are solid metal and are only 1″ wide.  I was saving them to use a la Peter Collingwood Macrogauze technique, but Zaf’s need is greater than mine, and we have worked out a way to overlap 4 of them so that only a tiny bit of overlap happens.  I have also suggested that Zaf might be able to build a batten from Meccano, so that the reed will fit inside it. 

We have a small problem now in that the overlap means that there will inevitably be a larger ’empty’ dent result in her weaving, but one way to avoid that, and perhaps not overlap the reeds, is for her to weave bookmarks or miniature mats.  I showed her the wonderful series of Cash’s silk cigarette cards that I have – 60 miniature jacquard woven silks of flowers that were woven to go inside boxes of cigarettes!  If you do an eBay search for cigarette cards, you come up with all sorts of designs, from tall ships to royalty, flags, and flowers.  They are exquisite and my cards were my first foray into the world of eBay! 

Zaf’s particular interest is in the Bertha Gray Hayes miniature overshot patterns, and she has the book written by Norma Smayda, Gretchen White, Jody Brown and Katharine Schelleng and published by Schiffer.  The book features the original sample collection and handwritten drafts of Bertha Gray Hayes, of Providence, Rhode Island and she produced the designs as sample cards, using name drafting for many of them.  The book was taken on as a group project of the Weavers’ Guild of Rhode Island in order to get Bertha’s designs out to the wider public, and is a tremendous example of how something wonderful can come from something essentially personal. 

Bertha was born in 1878, and lived through some eventful times and these designs are her response to her world, including the Roosevelt Era (1933 – 47) which saw World War II, and led to such designs as Stars of Vicotry, Bomber Flight and Parachute, for instance.  She was inspired by movies, and songs, as well as the visual world around her and they are magical.  Bertha was a recognised weaver of her day (along with such luminaries in the weaving world as Mary Meigs Atwater, Marguerite P. Davison and Harriet Tidball) and she died in 1947.  60 years later, the Weavers’ Guild of Rhode Island produced this lovely book as a means of spreading their pride in an imaginative weaver.  The designs are wonderful, and the book includes computer drawdowns for each of the samples.  In all there are 193 designs and Zaf is really taken with them.  She is thinking of producing them in silk and fine cottons.  They were designed for and woven on a Structo loom, so it is a lovely thing to do.   

In our hunt for a batten and reed for this little 9 1/2″ (weaving width) loom, we have been introduced to the Yahoo group on Structo, which will be of great help to Zaf in her further weaving projects.  If anyone reading this blog has a Structo batten and reed to fit this loom that they don’t need, please do get in touch.  Although our jerry-rigged idea should work, it would be wonderful to complete the loom in the way it should be!