Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Finally, Down to the Wire! Thanks Mirrix!

This is the last picture I'll take, before I finish the silver outside edging, on each strap, then attach the 'front and center' petal! The next pic will be a completed photograph. I can't believe I have been Blogging about this Lotus SLN since last July, (although there were a few cuffs, one cell phone bag, a lot of earrings and a needle case, in between, lol).

Thanks for hanging in there! Mirrix proved to be a real work horse!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Headband Progress

I've started my tapestry headband. First, I warped my Mirrix (using a 10 dpi warp coil) about an inch and a half wide. This will go over a one inch headband and that extra width will make up for pulling in the edges while I weave and leave me some extra room to sew the edges. (Editor's Note: I ended up putting this on a headband that was 1.5 inches thick at the widest part. I made it work, but would suggest making your piece a little wider if you were to do the same thing. 17 warps across would be perfect. Or, and 1.75 inches)

Warped16" Big Sister Loom
Weaving Started
After choosing my colors I began to weave, making sure to keep the width of the piece the same. Up top there are a few places where the railroad yarn makes the piece look uneven. I will probably go back and fix this. If you aren't careful the thicker parts of that particular yarn can end up on the edge and cause this unevenness.

This piece needs to be 15 and a half inches long. I will make it a bit longer than this because the edges will be folded in and sewn down. 

Keep checking back!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Why a ©Weighted Warp?

I have been working on my ascent upwards, on the Lotus SLN. Here are a few pictures to show you my start.

The picture above is an overall view. Besides the upper straps not being completed, there is only 'one' part missing, the petal 'front and center' of the Lotus. I will secure that into place, but wanted to get started on the upper straps.

Here is a picture, back when I started this looming.

The Mirrix was the perfect loom for warping with so many warps, needing to control the tension on these warps, (Mirrix has wing nuts on each side to adjust tension), and using ©Weighted Warps so each warp is movable and able to decrease/increase anytime as I loom. Let me share what I planned and why I wanted to use the Mirrix with ©Weighted Warps.

Since this is an SLN, (Split Loomed Necklace), I knew the center focal would eventually 'split' into creating the two upper straps, of the finished necklace. How I wanted to accomplish this was to create a unique 'cut out' design, intermixed with some graphing of a picture. My design idea also included what type of 'split' would occur, at the very start of this process. I decided on a wide scoop look, with some indentations along the edge of the straps. (Later I'll share more about how I created the 'scoop design' as you see below.)

After sectioning off the 'center and two straps', I was now ready to begin some creative 'cut outs'.

You can see the one cut out, I was able to create because the warps were not secured to the loom. The ©Weighted Warps allowed me to move any warp aside, include them in my rows of beads to indent and add them back in to close off the cut out again. All the while, each of the warps, secured to a ©Weighted Warp weight, were movable, had adjustable lengths and kept the tension for straight looming as well.

Many lacy designs can be completed, using my ©Weighted Warp method, which I hope to get into more detail, later on. Much more to loom, as I ascend, which will include a graphed pattern I created. This pattern will splay out using 11/o Delica Silver Metallic beads and 11/o Delica Matte Black beads.

If you are interested in knowing more about my ©Weighted Warps, you can contact Venessa Hearn of Bead Up A Storm. We have worked together to create the optimum ©Weighted Warp. A purchase of these warps, from her shop, would include personal instructions and offer help on how to set them up or utilize them during your bead loom designing. You can also contact me for any specifics as well.

Also not mentioned yet, is the edging I will include to complete the upper straps. I will use the Silver Mettalic beads to line not only each outside edge, of each strap, but will also line the entire area of the cut out!

Thursday, March 17, 2011


My blank headbands arrived last night. They are plastic and white. I can't wait to finish my weaving (this weekend, I hope) and get started. Once I make a prototype, we will begin making kits (assuming it looks as amazing as I hope). These would be a great gift for any female in your life, young or old. (And what a fun project to do with your little girl!)

Headband Blanks
Some of my not-as-cool-as-woven-headbands headbands

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A New Project: Woven Headbands

When I was little I loved hair things. Scrunchies, clips, ties, I was obsessed. At one point I even had my mom (Ms. Claudia Chase, you may have heard of her) slaving away sewing scrunchies for me. My all time favorite hair accessory, though, were headbands. One of my favorites was a black headband with Native American beading glued on. The beads were plastic and in primary colors and it started to fall apart soon after I began wearing it, but I thought it was the perfect companion to any outfit. (I was choosing my own clothes at a relatively young and had only one rule that I picked up from either my mother or my grandmother: Don't wear pink and red together. Everything else was fair game.)

I still wear handbands sometimes, but haven't found one I really love in quite some time.

That's about to change. I've decided to take the "tapestry/bead cuff bracelet" concept and apply it to headbands. (Take a moment and imagine, I've included a picture of a tapestry/bead cuff bracelet)

I've ordered some headband blanks (plastic, let me know if you know where I can get thick metal one in bulk) and have started a weaving that's a little more than an inch thick. I'll keep writing through the phases of this project!


Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Challenge: Pick Up That Loom

This week has been a hectic one for me. Between a mini ski (snowboard) vacation, work and a house guest, my husband and I have been struggling to stay on top of things. The laundry is beginning to pile up and so is the work.

As I frantically got ready this morning, digging in the pile of clothes that has grown since Sunday, I spotted my looms that have been relegated to the back of the closet to make space in our oh-so-teeny apartment. I looked at them longingly. I have an idea for a mixed-media project that I've been dying to start but just haven't had the time.

It occurred to me in that moment that perhaps I needed to make some time. We all have a finite amount of time in our days and it's easy to take those fun things (like weaving or curling up with a novel) and push them aside to make time for everything else in our busy lives.

This weekend, between cleaning the house and working and driving around the city doing errands, I am going to make time to sit and weave and only think about that.

Have you been too busy to take your Mirrix out of the box? Are you letting it sit in the corner waiting for a less busy day? Have you been meaning to finish that beautiful weaving but just haven't had the chance? This weekend, I challenge you to take a few minutes for yourself and let the creativity flow. I'll be right there with you.

Photo by Jonathan Webb

Friday, March 4, 2011

Layers of Looming!

My last entry was sharing a 'new tool' I created to help me finalize a new and different looming technique I call "Layered Looming".

The tool is a lamp work bead, offering the heavy weight I want to hold some warp threads as if they were tied down. I am using a horizontal loom, so they can hang over the edge. Below is a picture of both warp weights, each holding five warp threads.
I started the looming with the weighted warps laying parallel to the warps attached on the loom. My first first rows are sewn with a few warps 'doubled'. You can see in the picture below, how the white weighted warps are laying together with the light green warps. I used a different color thread so this would stand out better in these pictures.

Now that I have a few rows completed, holding down all of my warps, weighted and attached, I'll begin sorting them out. You can see in the picture below, I have set aside the weighted warps, creating a base using the attached warps only. Because these added warps are secured to the lamp work weights, they are movable and easily adjusted, all the while staying the same distance apart, row to row.

How large or long of a base is up to you and your design ideas. I wanted to create a 'ribbon', meandering through the loomed base, cuff. There are other great design ideas, using the layered method, a 'ribbon' is just one of them.

I used a rubber wine cork to hold the warps up, while I loom my second level, above the base looming. The rubber cork helps to keep the weighted warps from slipping off, while I add my beads.

I trimmed the outside edges of the ribbon in gold. You can see how you can gauge the size of curve you want to create, by considering where you will attach it to the looming. If you are creating a cuff, be sure to allow for the 'bend' of your cuff, when you take this off the loom. If you are not considering the extra length of the ribbon section, it won't sit up and away from the loomed base, while wearing.

The other ribbon, to the right of the first I completed, was also finalized in the same manner, only at a different length. This will tie into my design idea.

Once my desired length of ribbon is completed, I will introduce the white weighted warps, back into my base looming. You can see how the row I just added, includes the white weighted warps.

Below, the left ribbon is completely secured where the right ribbon is being attached, a few rows further down the cuff. This is just how my pattern will unfold, an uneven meandering of the ribbon, through the entire cuff.

You can see in the picture below, I have completed a number of 'ins & outs'. I also decided to converge the two ribbons in to one wide white ribbon, as an interesting design idea.

From the side, you can get a better feel of the dimension 'Layered Looming' creates.

Usually, my 'prototype' looming ideas become completed pieces of wearable art. However, in this case, I decided to loom using some gorgeous cut glass beads which are not evenly sized. I thought I could 'cull' my way through and loom something perfectly uniform in shape, but it just didn't happen form me. You may take my loom, but let me keep my Delica's!

In closing, I would like to play the Devil's Advocate. While looming, I was thinking how this design could have also been accomplished by hand weaving a square stitch ribbon and applying to this looming. There is less work creating this idea in this manner, with less threads to hide and secure. My hand weaving skills don't seem play up to many bead artist's skills I have seen, but I also feel more comfortable behind a loom. It occurs to me, I think more in terms of 'warps & wefts' when I design, then I do from any other angle. Not only that, because my warp management techniques make warps disappear with out a problem, I'll continue to stretch my creative goals via the loom, filled with warps and waiting for the weft!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Thank You, Bonnie

We want to take this opportunity to thank again Bonnie Clark for her blogging and videos over the past few months. If you haven't, take the time to read her posts on this blog and visit her website: http://www.dakinidreams.com/.

Her end-of-experience survey is here:

Thank you
How would you rate your overall Mirrix experience?

It was an extremely positive and enlightening experience.  Because it's been a number of years since I've done any tapestry weaving, the campaign was a good reminder of what I liked about the process, as well as what I found challenging in tapestry weaving.  I had hoped to finish more work but sometimes life just gets in the way.

What did you like best about it?

It was a great opportunity to meet new people and learn from them as they're beginning their journey into tapestry weaving.  

What (if any) faults did you find in it?

There were no faults, only challenges to overcome.  And I created those myself.  If I had it to do over again I would just work in my usual chaotic style and not worry about trying to "teach".  As I've mentioned before, when creating a new piece, I usually have the finished product in mind and I don't mind breaking the rules of process and technique to get there.  As you can imagine, this attitude made me incredibly popular in printmaking classes where there's a huge focus on rules and process.  I'm not a big planner when it comes to projects and I love experimentation which means a lot of things end up in the trash, or in a pile in the corner to be incorporated into another project later.  This isn't really a working style that lends itself to teaching or having someone follow my process.  Some of my best work has come when I've just wandered off on a tangent in the studio. 

What would you change about "Social Market for a Mirrix" for next time?

I wouldn't change anything.  Everyone's style of working in different so I don't think you can come up with a framework that's going to fit everyone 100% of the time.

Did you find the criteria for "Social Market for a Mirrix" to be too stringent?

Weaving can be an incredibly slow process sometimes so some weeks it was challenging to come up with content for the blog posts.  Fortunately I had questions from readers that I could answer on the blog.  But this was just my experience.  Another weaver who had more hours to devote to weaving each week may not find it as challenging.  

What was your favorite project on the Mirrix?

The mask collage, Ariel, is my favorite piece.  One of the reason is because I really liked the weaving that was incorporated into the collage.  I love that black yarn and there are some really incredible handspun yarns available now that are perfect for fiber collages.  Oddly enough, the LandSat weaving of Dragon Lake Siberia that sold off the loom was my least favorite.

What is your favorite thing about the Mirrix?

I love the warping process and the ability to to adjust the tension on the warp threads so easily.  I also think the coils on both the top and bottom make warping much easier.

What is your least favorite thing about the Mirrix?

Because I'm used to working on a large tapestry loom with a shedding device that uses a foot treadle, I found the shedding device on the Mirrix challenging.  I could just never seem to get the rhythm quite right.  Fortunately, for most of my pieces, I don't really need to use a shedding device.

What plans do you have for weaving on your Mirrix in the future?

I'm thinking about some funky, really organic looking fiber collages incorporating beads and found objects.  Those were the pieces that I really wanted to work on during the campaign but I got sidetracked somewhere along the way.  Maybe because I felt those types of pieces would have been less interesting to the readers.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A New Bead Looming Tool!

Sometimes my direction of creativety starts with the 'idea'. Other times it is born from seeing a new tool. I think in this new project, both of these means crashed together at the same time!

I am going to keep you in suspense a bit longer. However, let me share the new Looming Tool I have created. It isn't even named yet, but it works great.

The lampwork beads, you see above, are created by one of the most creative Lamp Work Artists I have ever seen, Venessa Hearn. She has the talent and patience to create some gorgeous lamp work beads, but she also is willing to step outside of her box. When I ask for a particular glass bead, Venessa won't hesitate to take on the challenge, using 'my own vision' and allow her hands/techniques/talent create from my personal direction. You can find Venessa Hearn here, Bead Up A Storm .

The attachment you see on the end of each lamp work glass fob, is really a necklace separator! I added that to allow multiple threads to be attached. (Will the threads be warps or wefts? Wait and see!) I'll bet this idea can be accomplished with fiber, as well!

I am fitting this new idea into my looming schedule, only because the idea has been burning a hole in my daily looming progress. I have to get this out of the way, as well as finish my Lotus SLN. It is wonderful to feel the 'drive', when a new idea hits!