Monday, April 18, 2011

Low Warp Tapestry Loom

In a previous post I said that I found it much easier to weave tapestry on a horizontal table loom rather than an upright tapestry frame. I had read previously about the two styles of French tapestry high warp (haute lisse, aka Gobelin) and low warp (basse lisse, aka Aubusson), knew what a Gobelin loom looked like and I had seen all the upright tapestry looms that are available on the market. What I had not come across was any information about low warp tapestry looms.

Searching the internet on "low warp" didn't give me much, but once I switched to using French weaving terms (basse lisse, metier a tisser, tapisserie and aubuson used in various combinations) it started getting interesting.  It took a while to get used to looking at French sites but what with recalling my schoolboy French and using Google Chrome as my search engine with its translation functions I soon able to get the hand of what I was looking at . I needed to exercise care with the automatic translations  as some of them, particularly of weaving terms, came out a bit wide of the mark. For example, fils de chaîne  (warp threads) is translated Google as "son of string".

To start with, an explanation of the difference between "Le metier de basse lisse" and "le metier de haute lisse" is here;
I must stress that my research has been on the use of low warp looms for tapestry. The term “basse liise” when applied to looms in French also covers conventional cloth weaving handlooms.

The loom – metier a tisser de basse lisse
The montage of photos below gives a pretty good idea of what the looms look like:-

and here is a larger picture;

The construction is quite straight forward. The main differences between these looms and conventional horizontal looms are;
  • No beater
  • The warp runs directly from a beam at the back of the loom to a beam at the front of the loom.
  • The  back beam is mounted in an adjustable dolly or carriage  that allows additional control of the tension – over and above that put on by rotating the beams.
  • The back beam is higher than the front beam so that the warp slopes slightly upwards from front to back.
  • Warp threads are held in place on the front and back beams by a “verdillon” (I can’t find a translation). This is a metal rod that is held in place by hooks set into a groove that runs the length of the beam.
  • There are two sheds which are controlled by harnesses positioned below the warp. The connection between the warp and the two pedals is shown in the series of photographs on this page here - It took me a while to work out how this all fits together
  • There is a plank just behind the front beam that extends across the width of the loom.


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