Sometimes you have the urge to do something crazy and fun and break all the rules. That’s what this project was all about. I won’t call this piece a tapestry because it isn’t. It’s a weaving. A weird, colorful, fluffy weaving. After we dyed the yarn for this piece (more on that here), we got to warping the loom. Here’s Claudia warping so I could take pictures:
Here’s the loom all warped and on a stand. I don’t own my own Sitting/Standing Loom Stand so I haven’t used one very often, but weaving this piece with the stand made me want one.
And then, I began to weave. I used plain weave and soumak and Claudia spun some of the roving we were using to weave in between rows to give the piece a little more stability.
I wove this whole piece in a few days, mostly at night, sometimes with a glass of rosé.
Off the loom!
We finished it with ribbon sewed on the edges and then put a dowl through the ribbon on the top (which is actually the side) of the piece.
Here it is up on the wall!
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Today, Claudia and I dyed roving for a project that you will learn more about as this blog series progresses. Or, rather, Claudia dyed and I took pictures and marveled at how easy she makes it look. Our goal was “imperfect”, which is a really fun goal to have and allowed us to play and experiment with color.
The biggest lesson I learned? Don’t be afraid. “If worst comes to worst,” Claudia said, “You can dye it black.”
First, we soaked roving in citric acid. Then, we boiled pots of water with more citric acid. Usually, you also add salt as well, which slows the process down, but because we wanted imperfect we skipped that part. Next, we added dye to the pots.
After that, it was mostly about adjusting colors until we got what we wanted. Once you understand how the process works, you can really make magic. For example, we wanted to dye some roving purple. We mixed magenta and turquoise dye and threw in some roving. Claudia knew that the magenta dye would get absorbed faster, so once that color was absorbed she added in more roving to the same pot that just absorbed the leftover turquoise dye.
Once the dye was fully absorbed for each color, we rinsed the roving (rinse water should run clear) and set it out to dry.
Stay tuned for more on this project and see where this roving will be used!
If you weave, whatever you weave, you love the materials with which you weave. After all, those materials are the bricks that make your weaving and if those bricks are crumbling and dull, what you weave will embody those traits. Materials that are rich and filled with color and texture and body will make your project sing. Hence, it’s no surprise that I get excited when I wield my paint brush over skeins of silk or receive a box of materials in the mail. Admiring that hand-painted silk once it has dried and put on skeins gives me the same feeling as receiving, as I recently did, a box of crystals. The goal is of course to make something worthy of the materials. It doesn’t have to be an intensely complicated long-term project. It can be something very simple that elegantly incorporates the gems and threads.
To that end, I made the following two woven projects which I would like to share with you.
Okay, you’ve seen the hand-painted silk a million times but I am going to post a picture of them anyway. The crystals are new, at least to me. I have frequently used size 4mm fire polish crystals in my work. This is the first time I’ve used the more delicate size 2mm fire polish crystals. I kept my color choices simple: a couple of versions of gold and just clear crystals.
After having made the simpTle beaded bracelet I realized that it would have been a bit easier to make it with the no warp-ends kit. I whipped out one of my two mini-mirrix looms and warped it up with the kit. I have been using the mini a lot lately. I go through stages but recently I’ve been weaving so much and in so many different places, including bed, that I find the mini is a must have when I really want something very little in my lap. I have even woven silk strips on it because I don’t always use the shedding device when weaving thin silk strips because it’s almost as easy not to reach up and change the shedding device. Plus sometimes I just like to needle weave. It’s kind of that “slow craft” moment, which I’ve been having a lot of lately. I digress.
Why the no warp-ends kit for this simple project? It turns out it is easier (and I am out to prove this point) to fold down the ends of the piece and sew them without those pesky warp end knots and ends. I am glad I tried it without the no warp-ends kit first because it’s very doable and I don’t want you folks who don’t have one and don’t want to buy the kit excluded from this very fun, very satisfying project. That being said, it’s always nice to find an easier way to to do anything. And if you are like me, turning over and sewing ends of things is not your favorite thing to do!
I wanted to make a simple, quick beaded bracelet. I haven’t woven beads in a while because lately I’ve been kind of obsessed with hand-painted silk bracelets and small tapestries. But the beads started calling.
Sometimes I just really crave simple: simple materials, simple design, but great colors. So I wanted this bracelet to be just that.
I decided I wanted to use the same clasp I’ve been using for the hand-painted silk bracelets. I figured out that I needed to use either 11/0 Delica or 15/0 beads in order for the bracelet to fit correctly into the clasp (obviously, smaller beads would work but that’s my limit!).
By Mirrix CEO Claudia Chase
I cannot stop making these.
Two were made on an eight inch loom and one was made on a Mini Mirrix. Because of the way I wove it, it didn’t much matter whether or not I used a shedding device. When you are weaving across two or three warps, which was of ten the case, it doesn’t make much sense to reach up and change the shed. I did have the shedding device on the eight inch loom for occasions when I wove from selvedge to selvedge.
I call it weaving-lite. It’s what I do when I want to weave but don’t really want to think. My go-to material is hand-painted silk because of its no-fail qualities. If you want to just play with fiber on your Mirrix, use great materials and you probably will create something that is pleasing if not out-right amazing. And it will get you through the moments when your creativity light is not shining at its brightest. After all, creating art is really 95% doing it and 5% true creativity. Often we are repeating something we’ve already done with slight alterations. These baby steps keep us moving toward the rare but wonderful huge insights. And if you are like me, you can’t help but make things constantly.
Let me begin with the beginning which wasn’t weaving, but was actually turning an already woven silk strip into a wearable item. I was inspired by the below findings that I had just received in the mail. I thought they would be perfect for making a silk bracelet, and I was right.
This is my first attempt at making this project, as well as my first time sewing leather. But, I’ve always thought that sharing about things when you’re new at them is never a bad idea since what you’ll have to share about the process is more true to what other newbies will be experiencing and need tips on. In other words I made a lot of mistakes and therefore learned a lot too, so I think my tips can help you avoid the same issues. In theory this a very simple project, but I learned that making it look really polished is where it gets tricky. So even though it’s a simple design I thought a quick tutorial was in order so I could talk a little about troubleshooting. With any luck yours will turn out a lot nicer than mine. At the bottom of this post is a reminder roundup of all the the Do’s and Don’ts that I mention throughout the tutorial.
The gist of the design is one piece of leather wrapped around your laptop with a flap to close it, just like an envelope. Another piece of leather, the size of the back of your laptop is sewn in (and optional) for additional padding and to create a smoother inside since the back of your tapestry would be there otherwise.
What you will need:
-Fabric scissors, or preferably a rotary cutter, ruler and cutting mat.
-Leather. For a 13″ Macbook Air you will need two pieces: one 14″ X 26″ and one 14″ X 9.5″. (For other, less thin computers the width will most likely have to be at least 2 inches wider than the width of your computer. The length will vary.)
-Sewing machine with needle for leather
-Thread that matches leather
-paper, enough for about the size of your tapestry insert.
-scissors for paper
This is what I made. They took longer than I thought they would but hey I was in the mood for some slow-tapestry (isn’t that kind of redundant!). I wove both of these on the same warp so I couldn’t cut one off and finish it. I had to finish both. The idea was to create a cuff without a brass cuff insert. I backed it with ultra-suede, sewed on a button and a rubber washer wrapped in silk. I really can’t wait to make some more. Let me show you the progression of these pieces if I can sort out all the photos I took over the course of week (and yes that is the the time frame in which these were woven). Let me also note that I was NOT using a shedding device which made the weaving probably a third as fast as it could have been. Why did I not use the shedding device? I was using a lot of techniques that weren’t simple weaving over and under singe warps. I could have put on a second shedding device, which I think I will do in the future so I can easily do both single and basket weave (weaving over and under double warps). I did a lot of Soumack knotting, which I love. It’s very meditative. Additionally, I wanted to show that it could be woven on the mini-Mirrix or the 8 and 12 inch looms without shedding devices.
What I used to make these pieces:
Size 15/0 seed beads
I used a couple of techniques in these pieces. In some places I wove under and over every other warp but in other places I wove under and over two warps at a time (also known as basket weave). Sometimes I used one strand of silk and other times I used two strands of silk. I also did quite a lot of Soumak knotting both using one strand and two strands of silk. In a couple of places I did twill weave (over three and under one in progression).From top to bottom I will list the techniques:
Single strand Soumack knotting with double silk; basket weave (over and under two warps) with two strands of silk; Soumack knotting with single strand of silk; basket weave with one strand of silk; single strand regular weave; double strand knotting; double strand basket weave; single strand regular weave; double strand basket weave; twill weave; double strand Soumack knotting.
Below are some close ups.
Obviously, I had a lot of fun with color because these pieces are just saturated in it. I wasn’t too picky about what hand-painted silk I used because it all seemed to want to go together.
You can see the little bit of tapestry technique both in the bottom of the piece while on the loom and in the bottom finished piece. I’ve used two different wefts going in opposite directions to create a little shading, shaping and pick and pick. Not sure why I only did it in that one spot because I really like it!
Now some photos of the backs of the pieces. You can see that I edged the cuffs in beads (size 15/0). I like my pieces to look very finished and I find that I cannot produce perfect enough stitches when sewing on the ultra-suede to not need to cover them up with some beads.
Just have to show them off again. I think I am going to be sending them off to one of the galleries on the East Coast that sells my work. Apparently, I am supposed to be stocking up for Valentine’s Day!
Here are some close-ups of the button and silk wrapped O-ring.
Finished on the loom.
I hope I have inspired you to weave your own Cuff-less cuff bracelets. You can use embroider floss or perle cotton . . . anything that is pretty. Of course I am madly in love with the hand-painted silk because it provides such an amazing variety of color and it just glows.
I’m not typically a last-minute type of person, but I always have last-minute shopping to do during the holidays. This morning, as a looked over my list, I realized that I still don’t have a present for one of my girl-friends. I think I want to make to her something. I thought I’d share a few of my ideas in case any of you are in a similar situation and want to weave some last-minute gifts! Do you have any suggestions for last-minute gifts? Let us know in the comments and share your handmade gift-giving stories!
A Bracelet using the No Warp-Ends Kit
One of the things I love about the No Warp-Ends Kit is that you can whip out several pieces of the same size with the same kit set-up. That means faster present-production if you have more than one gift to make! Plus, finishing is so easy and fast. I may make a bracelet like our Changing Seasons Bracelet with wire (fun fact: you can get the ebook for this project free with any Mirrix Looms purchase of $10 of more. Learn more here.) or the perennial favorite, the Checkerboard Cuff Bracelet. Get a free instructional ebook for this project here.
A Mini Tapestry
This one is a little more time consuming, but a tiny tapestry, like our Scribble Landscape or Heart Mini Tapestries, is such a wonderful gift that the lucky recipient will cherish forever. I’m not sure I have time to make one for my friend this year, but I wish I did!
A Wrap Bracelet
Wrap bracelets are great because they are both super fast and really easy to finish. Try one on silk like this Crystal & Bead Wrap Bracelet!