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Creating Small Handwoven Motifs for Note Cards

by Lillian A. Whipple

Kimono motif My interest in weaving small handwoven motifs began 26 years ago at Sunset Weavers in San Francisco. Many of my teachers there were weaving Christmas cards and I began to collect them, adding new ones every year. Since 1990 I have been creating my own Christmas cards with handwoven motifs, and the production of these has progressed to other non-seasonal designs.

Kimono motif In my early attempts at weaving small motifs, the loom was threaded one design wide, and each motif (design) was separate from the next with thin strips of folded adding machine tape. Each design began and ended with four shots of tabby in the background color, followed by two strips of the adding machine tape woven on tabby between the designs.

Kimono motif To achieve more production efficiency, more designs were threaded across the loom with about inch of space between them. A profile I use most often is the point profile, AAABCD...UVU...DCBAAA, where multiple A blocks provide the border and 1/4 inch of space between adjacent designs. This profile requires 24 shafts, where shafts 1-2 are tie-downs, and 3-24 (A-V) are pattern. The first two and last two selvage threads (far-left and far-right) are doubled but sleyed with the same sett as the rest of the warp.

To achieve fineness of detail, I weave most of these motifs in Taqueté using two warp threads per design block. The actual threading for each point profile motif is:

(A)1-3, (A)2-3, (A)1-3, (B)2-4, (C)1-5,
(D)2-6...U(1-23), (V)2-24, U(1-23)..(D)2-6
(C)1-5, (B)2-4, (A)1-3, (A)2-3, (A)1-3.

Note how the tie-downs alternate between 1 and 2. Since there are two threads per block, each profile pattern lift is woven in rotation with tie-down 1 and then in rotation with tie-down 2 to complete a block or design line. This requires a higher sett. As the number of weft threads increase, the sett needs to be lower to visually square the blocks. This is not always necessary, but helps to keep the intended design in proportion - not elongated or flattened.

Motifs on the loom
A weft faced structure such as Taqueté allows color and design changes in each motif since the warp is a solid color.

Taqueté is a weft faced structure. The warp is a solid color with all the color in the weft. This enables design and color changes in each motif so long as the sett does not change. With fewer wefts of the same size thread, Taqueté structure can be woven with a minimum of two weft colors, though I never use less than three. My experience has been to limit the number of colors to six in order to attain a color balance in a design.

Motifs on the loom - close-up
Designs are threaded with about 1/4 inch of space between each one, and separated with strips of adding machine tape.

Kimono motif Because of the way the designs are spaced across the warp and separated vertically, both the warp and weft appear as fringe on the final pieces after they are cut. When ready to cut the woven designs off the loom, I add 1/2 inch of tabby beyond the last strip of adding machine tape woven in. This last tabby is glued with gel medium to secure it. By cutting off the woven portion just above the glued tabby, the warp can be retied and the weaving continued. This removed portion of woven pieces resembles a sheet of postage stamps. Acrylic gel medium is available in art supply stores. Kimono motif

Once off the loom the backs of each design are "painted" with the gel medium to secure them. This structure is weft faced and will easily unravel if not secured in some way. Once the gel medium is dry this sheet of designs can be cut apart horizontally (between the strips of paper) with scissors, and vertically with a rotary cutter and lined ruler on a squared cutting mat.

Plain note cards with envelopes are available in quantity from your local stationer. Using low-acid double-sided tape, each design is individually mounted on a blank note card. This tape, used for mounting fabric, is available from framing shops. The designs in this structure are limited only by your imagination and avail- able colors. They make wonderful gifts, 'thank you' notes, and can be removed from the cards for mounting. Taquete' by Lillian A. Whipple


Lillian A. Whipple has two COEs and a host of accomplishments that cover education, exhibitions, teaching, jurying shows, serving as an evaluator for a learning exchange, seminars, publishing and a lengthy list of awards for her fashions and wall hangings. Lillian specializes in complex weaves and fine threads, including fine silks.

Lillian lives in Concord, CA.

Copyright © 1999 by Lillian A. Whipple. Please contact the author for permission to use any part of this article.

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