Friday, April 18, 2008

Warping The Loom

Warping the Loom
Since this is on a blog, and since blogs are arranged upside down, it isn't safe to assume that everyone reading this section has read the previous two postings. So, it may save some unnecessary confusion to restate that everything shown and described here assumes the use of Delica 11/0 beads, with Fireline warp and weft, on a Mirrix loom. However, the concepts underlying this system may be of interest.

That said, let’s start with a picture of how this is all supposed to look when it is finished (Note: to enlarge pictures, right-click on them and select Open link in new tab).
What you do not see in this picture are warp threads going across spacing springs and behind the horizontal bars on the loom. Instead, the warp thread is tied off and looped over common paper clips that are strung along an aluminum bar. These clips serve as both hooks for the warp and spacers between warps.

The hooks and spacers strung on the top bar should look like this.

On the bottom bar they will look like this:
Note that in both pictures, the double loop side of the clip faces toward the middle of the loom with the point of the wire end toward the weaver (that’s us). Also, note that the point of the wire on the spacer clips is to the back of the loom—where it is less likely to snag the thread as you are warping.

The number of hooks required will always be determined by the number of beads in the width of your project. The following diagram shows how you set up projects with an even number of beads per row differently than if there are an odd number of beads in each row.

Article 01: Finishing School
Article 02: How to Make A WarpsBead Jig
Article 03: Warping the Loom

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

How to Make a WarpsBead Jig

When trying to figure out a way to improve my ability to set up and finish my weaving projects, I discarded dozens of options because of my lack of the materials and equipment they would have required. Fortunately for me, and for others with limited means, I was able to come up with a system that can be easily and economically duplicated. I’ve already made some variations to that basic system, and I hope others will do so as well (and, hopefully, share them with comments here).

Although I am confident the basic concept could be applied to a variety of other looms that provide tension adjustment, this document describes the setup I designed to fit a 16” wide Mirrix loom.

Keeping It Simple
The most important part of this system is also the simplest—a common #2 paper clip (10mm wide by 50mm long). I chose this size because the diameter of the wire in this size paper clip is almost exactly the width of a size 11/0 Delica bead. They are inexpensive, reusable, and able to hold up under all the tension you’ll ever need.

The ability to withstand tension was also a key consideration in the selection of a way to suspend the paper clips. At Lowe's I found a 1/8” by 3/4" aluminum bar that fits through the paper clips perfectly. I got a 3' piece for less than $5 and cut it into two 18” lengths.

This is the essence of this warping system—a series of paper clips strung on a metal bar. The clips serve as both hooks for the warp and as spacers between the hooks. As shown here for the bottom of the loom, hang one clip so that the double loop is up and the end of the wire is toward you—this is the hook. Hang the next clip so that the double loop is down—this is the spacer. For the top of the loom, reverse this so that the double loop is down for the hooks and up for the spacers.

The remainder of the system is simply a way to support one set of clips at the top of the loom and another at the bottom. Depending on your resources and ingenuity, you may well figure out either simpler or more involved ways to do this than the one I decided upon for the system described here.

My solution was to cut a bracket from 3/4” plywood. It is in the shape of a “C” and designed to slide snugly over the 1.25” square bars at the top and bottom of a Mirrix loom. Although I cut mine with a scroll saw I could have used a hand saw. The slot for the bar was made using a drill.

Since the only stress on this piece during use will be the tension on the warps, a snug fit on the Mirrix frame bars would probably be an adequate means of attachment. However, I chose to cut my brackets with an overhang and a set of “bumps” that snap over the bar to keep it from sliding off when there is no tension applied to the warp.

That’s it. Cut and drill four “C” brackets, string two aluminum bars with paper clips, slide the bars into the brackets and mount them on your loom.

Replace C's With F's For Short Projects
A big asset of this system is how it allows you to minimize the length of the warp loops that you have to pull through the piece to finish it most elegantly. To get the shortest warp loops you have to adjust the distance between the top and bottom of your loom so that your beadwork begins and ends very close to the paper clips that hold the warp. On short projects, this is limited by the minimum height of your loom.

With four “C” brackets on my Mirrix loom, and the loom at its shortest adjustment, the length of each warp is about 9.5 inches. This means that finishing a 7” bracelet, for example, would require pulling out 1.25” warp loops at both the top and bottom. By contrast, it is possible to get the loops as small as 1/8” or less if your beadwork goes right up to the paper clips.

One answer is to make a pair of F-shaped brackets for the top of the loom, while continuing to use C-shaped brackets for the bottom bar. The F-shaped bracket has two slots; one in the same location as on the “C” and the other one 4” down in the stem of the “F.” This is so the brackets can be used with the stem down for shorter projects and with the stems up to regain use of the full height of the loom on larger projects.

Click on this picture for more detailed specifications.

Article 01: Finishing School
Article 02: How to Make A WarpsBead Jig
Article 03: Warping the Loom

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Finishing School

Maybe I should have been intimidated by the idea of trying to make something out of 6,305 tiny glass beads. Instead, I was most concerned by everything I had read about how hard and messy it was to finish off loom-woven bead work.

So, I figured out a jig that I could place on my Mirrix loom. It not only takes care of my finishing worries, it also speeds up the warping process and creates more uniform spacing than when using the springs that came with the loom.

Coming Off The Loom
With this set-up, when all of the beading is complete, the warp is in loops above and below the beads. Carefully pulling the loops out--in sequence--results in an elegantly finished piece with only two warp ends to sew back into the work.

This is a variation of a method often referred to ominously as "Pull-and-Pray"--but, with a lot less pulling and a lot less dependence on prayer.

The key difference here is the ability to control the length of the warp loops that have to be pulled out. In the work pictured here, if I had calculated the spacing on top as closely as that on the bottom, I could have had a very short "pull." As it is, the total length of warp pulled through this piece was about five feet (and that lucky thread will find use a weft in my next masterwork).

Here you see the result of having finished the first dozen or so columns of beading. Click on the picture to enlarge it, and you can see how each loop, at both the top and bottom, has been pulled snuggly against the work.

The next action from this point was to pull down on the clip at the bottom to pull out the large loop at the top, and so on.

When the warp pulling is complete, there are 2 warp-ends to sew in--not 132 as would be the case if they could not be pulled through.

By the way, this is all made much easier by the use of 6 pound Fireline (Crystal) as both the warp and weft thread. This stuff is wonderfully thin, strong, slippery, and virtually impossible to pierce during weaving.

Article 01:
Finishing School
Article 02: How to Make A WarpsBead Jig
Article 03: Warping the Loom