Monday, October 26, 2015

Weaving on Handmade Looms

Native Americans are master weavers and well known for their beautiful woven rugs and blankets. They wove on upright looms using cotton then later wool. The weaver sat on the ground in front of the loom. Not only did Native Americans weave for practical purposes but it was also a form of artistic expression as well. 

Today weaving is done on a loom and is dressed with a warp (strings that are vertical). Depending on the type of fabric or motif desired a warp can be very complicated.  Weavers have to plan carefully before they put the warp on the loom so that the design they are trying to achieve can be produced. The filling yarn (the yarn that goes across the warp) interlaces with the warp and creates fabric. 

I took a weaving course at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) for a semester. It gave me a strong appreciation for woven fabrics. I experienced putting warp yarns on a loom and using fill yarn to make a piece of cloth. It is a long process and very difficult. I like to incorporate weaving into my art curriculum because I believe it is an art form children should be familiar with. In addition, weaving is great for fine motor skills, understanding over and under and alternating. In order for the material to stay in place the yarns need to interlace. The interlacing locks the yarns into place. If all the yarns are woven without interlacing they will fall out of the warp. 

I like using a variety of materials for the filling because it creates texture and looks interesting. I generally use recycled materials for the filling. I made the looms using sticks I found near my home. I notched the bottom piece of wood so it would cradle the stick laying on top. Hot glue holds the sticks together. I also wrapped a Pipe Cleaner around each corner to insure that the loom is sturdy.