Process

In her studio Áine uses 2 types of loom:

  1. A frame loom similar to looms used in the weaving of the traditional tapestries
  2. A floor loom that has wooden beams on front and back that enables a weaver to weave long lengths of cloth by rolling the threads around the beams. The artist uses the latter for tapestries that exceed the height of the frame loom and also for lengths of cloth – see video below for a visual of this process.


1. Weaving on a Frame Loom

  1. Design – image choice, size, style, costing and sourcing materials
  2. Drawing a cartoon that will sit behind the vertical warp threads
  3. Preparing the loom with warp threads and tapestry knots
  4. Weaving
  5. Finishing and hanging

Warp Threads (Vertical)

The warp threads are the vertical threads the tapestry is woven on.  They need to be strong and tied onto the vertical tapestry frame loom with perfect tension to avoid dips and curves appearing in the fabric when it finally comes off the loom.

For tapestries over a foot in diameter these warp threads are generally tied onto the loom separately to give the weaver better control over tension.  Under one foot Áine wraps the threads around a simple four sided frame an small example is shown in the photograph below.

Once the warp threads are secure a series of tapestry knots are tied across the bottom (shown on the left below).  These knots are also repeated at the end of the weaving process.  This secures the weaving when it is finally cut from the loom.
Small Tapestry Weavings

Weft Threads (Horizontal)

The weft threads are those horizontal threads woven into and across the warp.  They travel over and under the warp to create the fabric.  The core skill of the weaver is to manage the tension of this weft so that it does not pull or slack on the overall makeup of the fabric. If you are investing in a woven artwork pay special attention to the overall tension, ensure that the edges are even and note the density of the fabric.

These techniques are prominent in traditional tapestry weaving, some modern techniques incorporate gaps or variants in density and finish. These techniques can be altered depending on the weavers style. Some weavers may deliberately create rugged edges and uneven tension.

 

2. Weaving on a Floor Loom

This type of weaving is very similar to the frame loom but the preparation process involves:

  1. Winding the individual vertical threads around a warping mill.
  2. Transferring these on to the back beam of the loom
  3. Threading individual threads through heddles and reed to separate them
  4. Tying these vertical warp threads on to the front beam
  5. Weaving