[My Chamber of Textile Thoughts. No: XXX | By Viveka Hansen]
This second observation from North America includes a portrait from 1773, a box tape loom dated 1794, weaving from Philadelphia in July 2014 and some examples of its European textile heritage. It can however not be stated with absolute certainty how, when or by whom this type of weaving was introduced, but there are clear indications that the knowledge of tape loom weaving in this manner had its origins from the early American settlers travelling from Germany or the Scandinavian countries to the Philadelphia area, from here the knowledge was probably spread to other parts of the American colonies. The aim with this “Textile Thought” is to give a brief history of this particular style of box looms and belt strapped rigid heddle models – looms which have been in practice on both sides of the Atlantic up until today, particularly within a revival of historical handcraft and reenactment.
Ribbons formed a noteworthy component for clothing during centuries in many cultures, which was not only used as decoration but also to hide and reinforce seams, or to tie together parts of garments, hold up stockings etc. The weaving of decorative as well as practical ribbons is quite an extensive subject within the history of textiles, which will here be discussed with a couple of detailed observations. It can be noted that the type of box tape loom illustrated above seems to have been very rare in Scandinavia based on preserved tools for ribbon weaving from the 18th and 19th centuries – in these countries the rigid heddle loom with a back-strap was used instead. On the other hand in present-day Germany and some other neighbouring countries the box model was widespread, so it must be concluded that the most probable direct link between this type of box loom has its origin from the many Germans who emigrated to the Philadelphia area during the 17th and 18th centuries.
The two parallel and closely connected traditions – the box style tape loom and the typical Scandinavian rigid heddle loom – are on the whole working in a similar manner and the tools were predominately made as a domestic handcraft in various models and sizes. For the first mentioned, the warp/ribbon is stretched by the weaver’s hand to get the right tension while the weft is picked with the other hand, a quite slow and partly limited weaving technique, but the advantage being the stable box model. A method in use since at least the second half of the 18th century, judging by the portrait above from 1773. While on the other hand the belt strapped rigid heddle loom is making both hands available, which means that the weaving is faster which makes it easier to design more advanced patterned ribbons.
To be continued…
- Digitalt Museum (search term “vävsked”).
- National Constitution Centre, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US (Historical reenactment July 4, 2014).
- Nylen, Anna-Maja, Swedish Handcraft, 1976.
- Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US (Oil on Ticking & Tape Loom).
- Practical experience and reproductions of weaving in a rigid heddle loom with a back strap (Swedish models).
PLEASE REFERENCE AS FOLLOWS:
Hansen, Viveka, ‘Tape Loom Weaving and its traditions in the North American Colonies’, TEXTILIS (October 20, 2014); http://textilis.net/ (Accessed: Day/Month/Year)