It seems like all my posts are about everything but my actual weaving, like I’m procrastinating. But this time, I have an excuse. The other day, I broke my loom. It was especially disheartening since I had just started a new rug that was really turning out nicely, without any tension problems or irregularities. I’ll be able to salvage it, but it will never be the same. Oh, well.
It was a rather freak incident where some straps holding the rug on the loom broke after I had been adjusting the tension. The straps broke in a weird way, weird in that they seem to have broken because of the stitching that was intended to strengthen them. Three straps broke all at once and all broke in the exact same place.
I sent a note to Bob at Gilmore Looms and he’ll be sending me some special reinforced straps. We’ll see how they hold up. Bob had helped me in the past when I was having issues with uneven tension on the loom. I took the warp beam to him at his Stockton, CA shop and he helped me, or rather, I helped him, reinforce the beam. Bob and Judy Allen took over the Gilmore company in 1999 and still make all the looms by hand on the original equipment, and mostly to the original specs.
Gilmore Looms is old school. Like 100-years-old old school. When Mr. Gilmore started his loom business, he used turn of the (last) century equipment from his father’s wood milling business. In the late 1950s, he moved the shop, along with all the old equipment, to it’s current location in Stockton. My loom was from that period at the old location, as indicated by the faded label burned into the wood.
When I visited, Bob showed gave me a tour of the shop. The equipment all runs on a giant Westinghouse electric motor that looked like something from Frankenstein’s laboratory. Pull down the lever on the motor, and a humming starts under the floors – that’s the sound of shafts spinning under your feet that run the leather belts that drive all the equipment. Saws, planers, and other woodworking equipment can each be engaged with their own lever, and it all runs on these archaic but totally workable leather belts. As Mrs. Daylight noted, it was all rather steam punk.
I like my Gilmore loom. It’s big and old and bulky, but it’s sturdy. So Bob fixed my warp beam (the part with the pegs sticking out) from wracking and twisting sot that my rugs are more evenly woven. In the photo below, the stabilizing plywood sections are new.
But there are a few other souped up features on my loom, all devised by other weavers. To help pack the rugs down, I’ve attached a 25-pound iron bar to the beater.
Looms will tend to inch their way across the floor from the beater action, and the iron bar only exacerbates this. So, to stop the traveling loom, I’ve fastened blocks of wood to the floor.
Despite the less than aesthetically pleasing fixes, they make for better weaving and better woven materials. I think the next addition will be a cup holder. Because who doesn’t want that?