With the closing of Gladys Barker Grauer’s show this weekend, I thought I’d give a short breakdown of how easy it is to get into weaving. Recently my own work has started to make the turn towards textiles and weavings and I found Gladys Grauer’s work extremely inspirational. Grauer’s works are a beautiful example of a simple technique that is similar to tapestry weaving. With a few things that you may already have in your studio or can easily be bought at a craft store, weaving can be achieved easily.
The main components needed to do tapestry weaving are a loom (frame used to hold the weave), warp thread (the vertical thread that keeps everything together) and weft thread (the yarn or thread that creates your image). There are already plenty of resources out there to teach you how to weave using fancy equipment you’d have to go to specialty craft stores to get, so I want to make this as simple and diy as possible.
To start with you will need to buy, find or make a loom. In the case of this simple weaving all you need is a strong frame of some sort. More often then not I end up using discarded stretcher bars that I do not intend to use for paintings. If you don’t have any on hand you can buy premade stretcher bars that just need to be linked and glued at a art supply store. If you have access to power tools, or even just a drill gun, a loom can easily be made by buying wood at a hardware store and creating a simple frame.
Here is an example of a frame I was gifted that can be used for weaving. While I would usually choose to use a frame with a thinner bar for weaving, this could still be used for smaller pieces.
Here is another example of a frame. This one is much larger so I had to find a way to keep it off the ground, but again any size frame can be used to create a weaving.
The next thing you will need is your warp. In the picture above this is the very thin string wrapped around the whole frame. A thin cotton string is usually best. You need to find a string that will not break easily under pressure. When looking for the right warp, I will try and break the string by pulling it between my hands to make sure it won’t snap easily.
Lastly you will need your weft, which can be any type of yarn, thread, fabric, stripes of plastic you want to use. Finding different materials to use can be fun. You don’t have to limit yourself to yarn, though here are a few textures I have used.
Now to get started you will need to string your loom. Tie off in one corner and wrap your warp continuously around your loom until the other side. Try and keep the string taught and evenly spaced. This is the structure for creating your weaving so take your time. Once on the other side tie off like you did in the beginning.
Now that you have your structure you can start to weave. There are different techniques to use but the simplest is to weave over one string and under the next until you create the shape that you want. You can purchase weaving needles or weaving bars, but I tend to just use my hands. Play with this until you create whatever shape or texture you desire.
One other technique that is good to now is how to connect different shapes or colors. Essentially you are weaving the different materials onto the same warp string. By alternating one material and then the other it will show as two blocks sitting next to each other.
There are plenty of techniques and methods to doing weaving in this way. If you need a more in depth teaching of how to get started on weaving there are plenty of resources, but I highly recommend just getting your materials and trying things out for yourself. There is no single way to create a weaving!