Thumbnail image The Basic Steps In My Weaving Process Some weavings can be simple and fast, mine are not. To begin to visualize a time- line of my work one must look at the steps of the process. Weaving involves two groups of threads. The first, called the warp, are attached to the loom, held under tension by it, and then raised and lowered during weaving. The other threads are called the weft. Each one of these threads is woven into the fabric, line by line. In my process, I may have several thousand threads in the warp. The measuring or warping of those threads can take 1-2 intense weeks to make. If the threads are to be dyed, then this happens next and can take 1-4 months depending on the size of the piece and how detailed the imagery is. After the dye is painted onto the threads, the materials are steam set, rinsed, and prepared to go on to the loom, taking about a week to do. To dress the loom is to attach the threads to it. Each individual thread must be put into its own heddle: a small strip of metal with a space in the middle, like the eye of a large needle, into which one thread goes. This can take from less than a week to just over two weeks. I tie all the threads to a long round beam on the back side of the loom and wind them around it. Depending on the length of the warp and how smoothly the threads wind on, this can take 1 to 8 weeks. Next, all the threads are pulled individually through the spaces of a large comb like object called a reed. Then I tie the threads on to a beam in the front of the loom. These last two steps can take 1 to 4 days depending on the width of the piece and the complexity of the spacing of the threads. The weft must be prepared before I can weave it in. If the piece is dyed then the weft goes through some of the same steps as the warp. Groups of it are wound off and dyed. The dye must be set and then the threads are unwound and made ready to be woven. This can add from 1 to 5 weeks onto the process. The time it takes to weave varies greatly depending on the width of the piece, complexity of the weaving, and the size of the materials being woven in. If I am mainly weaving sewing thread sized materials into an 8 foot wide piece of fabric, I may only weave 1/2 - 4 inches per hour. A one foot wide piece, woven with one continuous weft, could be woven at a rate as fast as one half yard per hour. When the piece is completed, the ends of the fabric need to be secured keep them from unraveling. I usually sew a hem on the cut edges. Also, some time must be spent in creating the structure that the piece will be hanging from. The process is very long and involved. It can be intimidating at times, but usually it is extremely rewarding. At its best, it feels magical to watch the process produce this unique fabric that cannot be made any other way.
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