Last spring I took an enjoyable weaving course at the Textile Arts Center’s Manhattan outpost and walked away with a sampler/scarf that could charitably be described as ‘raver 4th Doctor’. I’d gotten a taste and wanted to try weaving on my own. Regaining consciousness after looking up loom prices online, I reasoned weaving was one of the most ancient arts, practiced in numerous cultures without mechanical looms. Surely I should be able to make do without.
Indeed, there’s all sorts of weaving to be done sans mechanical loom! Card-weaving, backstrap weaving, stringing up a picture frame, all cheap and easy and all creating lovely textiles. Still, there was something extremely satisfying about manipulating heddles and slamming a reed down before moving on to the next row. The joy of working with this specific machinery didn’t outweigh its extremely high cost though. As the people behind the PVC Loom project point out, do you want a beautiful, expensive piece of furniture, or do you want to weave? Can’t I have both?
Turns out the answer is…sort of! If, like me, you’re handy with a power tool, below are some links to help you build your very own loom, be it tabletop or floor-loom.
Instructions show a clever handle mechanism controlling the shed action (‘shed’ being the space between warp threads, usually created by pushing/pulling some of them up or down simultaneously) on a simple square loom, with additional instructions for a bobbin shuttle (one that has a spool of thread within itself, instead of you having to unwind or add on thread manually). Pretty basic stuff, good for smaller pieces and simpler weaving.
Again, the article shows guy hands building the loom, but only delicate lady hands using it. This is a unisex loom for your ambiguous 70s lifestyle, to weave the groovy tapestry pattern included in the article depicting a….sunset? Egg mountain beaming light out? Tidal beehive? Whatever. This loom features a regular ol’ shuttle, but includes the improvements of rollers on both ends to extend the length of what can be woven on it. It’s also got an honest-to-goodness heddle, though if you didn’t want to build one you can always buy one (they’re expensive, but not as expensive as an entire loom). Both this and the previous loom are single-heddle, meaning they’re limited in terms of fancy weaves, though certainly not in what you can make on them.
This article includes instructions to build a basic loom similar to those above, a 4-heddle table loom, floor loom, warping board, and shuttles. Obviously it requires a little extra shop work to build a complex mechanical object, but the actual techniques aren’t really that complicated. There’s a lot of careful measuring, but it’s the same sort of careful measuring, drilling, and cutting one would need to make, say, a decent birdhouse. And all birdhouses do is give lazy birds free shelter – this thing makes CLOTH, baby!
This Indian Bead Loom uses a spring instead of making you carve a million tiny notches into something:
Popular Mechanics, the source for all these articles, is also chock full of useful tips, hints and clever ideas for makers of all sorts. It’s also full of great photos and vintage ads, if summer means ‘no reading’ for you.
All I can think looking at this is ‘severe butt-burn’.
The 2-color scheme! The typography! That guy’s glasses!
Even the ad-copy throws in ‘apparently’ and justifies the random ‘radio picture film’ with a vaguely threatening ‘YOU’LL LIKE ‘EM’.