Again the silence! Color & Design, my new course, launched last Tuesday. (Find out more about it here.) It’s been an exhausting launch for a variety of reasons – chief among them is that, despite appearances, I’m a serious introvert, so making an extended sales pitch to thousands of people leaves me emotionally exhausted. Not to mention physically and mentally exhausted from all the work involved!
So in my limited free time, I have been escaping into mindless loom labor. You may remember that, about a thousand years ago, I mentioned that after Amazing Grace, my TC-2 jacquard loom, was threaded, we discovered a half-twist in the warp behind the heddles. Which, in turn, required cutting the warp, untwisting it, and tying it back on, thread by thread. For about 1,000 threads.
Ricki, bless their soul, did the bulk of that work. I did the last few threads two days ago, and pulled the knots through the reed yesterday!! Then – individual thread by individual thread – I drew each of the 2,640 threads tight to make sure that there were no loose threads caught behind the heddles, and tied on. Here we are now, every thread nice, tight, and even:
So now Grace is threaded, sleyed, and ready to weave. Right?
Well, not quite.
Every time you thread a loom, there’s the possibility of threading errors. Actually, check that: Unless you are a miracle worker, there are threading errors. Also sleying errors (mistakes pulling the threads through the reed). On a jacquard loom, you can add stuck heddles to that – Grace has been sitting around for two years, which jacquard looms don’t like, and we also rearranged her configuration, which can introduce dust into the pistons and bores. All of which need to be caught and debugged.
So that’s what I’ll be doing for the next while.
But that’s okay, because I need to set up the rest of the velvet equipment. In particular, I need the velvet rods, the velvet spools, and the velvet rack to hold the spools. Each velvet warp thread needs to be individually tensioned on its own separate spool (oy vey!), and there will be 880 of them, so that is a LOT of spools!
Fortunately, I have a genius software engineer for a partner, armed with a 3-D printer, so once we decide the dimensions of the velvet rack, designing and printing 880 spools should be more tedious than difficult. (Winding them will be equally tedious, but at least I will have pretty colors to console me!) Building the velvet rack should be equally simple.
No, the kicker will be the velvet rods. I had planned to use nylon monofilament, with a curved velvet knife to keep the blade roughly centered on the pile, and may still do so. But I’ve been advised (indirectly) by the velvet experts at the Lisio Foundation that this may make it difficult to get a nice even cut pile. They suggested finding an old jacquard mill and asking to use their old rods, but I have no idea where to start finding one. I tried talking to a place with a CNC milling machine, but it turns out they would be very difficult to mill on a CNC machine because of the tiny dimensions.
So a friend suggested another possibility: Have them 3-D printed in metal! She thinks it would be quite possible if we can produce the right CAD files. So I’ve written off to the Lisio Foundation to see if they’d be willing to provide measurements for their velvet rods. If that doesn’t pan out, then I’ll take a stab at designing my own, and just adjust as needed. (It might actually be more fun to design my own!)
Meanwhile, off to debug the warp!
Deanna Baugh says
Having just visited a velvet workshop in Florence, I am excited to see what you come up with for the velvet rods. I loved the visit and was overwhelmed with the technique. The only velvet I wove was with Robyn Spady in a workshop and it was really a “macro” velvet.