MANITOBA WEAVERS and
FIBRE ARTISTS (MWFA)
A Bedouin Loom for the
In August, 2005,
a film company was in town and needed a loom, such as would be
used by a Bedouin weaver. The
loom didn’t have to “work” as it was to be used in a scene
showing the destruction happening at the end of the world. I was contacted and agreed to see what I could
find out about Bedouin looms and whether it would be possible to
construct something for a “shoot” in a couple of days.
Woven Rugs of the World: Kilim, Soumak, and Brocading”
by Valerie Sharaf Justin yielded a few good diagrams and a lot of
examples. A website, www.beduinweaving.com,
showed 20-30 foot long warps for tent materials and also patterned
weft-faced rugs, and some distinctions were made between tribes
situated east or west of the Nile.
I thought that a loom with a long black warp would be easy
enough to construct and have authenticity.
The film studio wanted colour, however, so the project became a three-foot wide loom with
whatever I could get woven on it in the next forty-eight hours.
drove to the riverbank to gather some driftwood boards for a shed
stick, some forked sticks for holding the heddle bar and a few
sticks for weft sticks. With the high water on the river this year,
there was a lot of debris to choose from, and I am pretty sure sand
erosion and water erosion look similar on wood. Broomsticks made a heddle bar, the “breast beam” and
home, I wondered where there was room in my house to assemble this
thing. Three feet
started to sound a lot bigger than it had when I suggested it!
The solution was to lash the poles to the rear extension on
my own weaving loom, which would allow me to stand to do the
weaving. Bedouin weavers may sit on the ground, and the notes said
they didn’t use the shed stick, but to get anything done in such a
short time, I had to scrap any idea of doing it their way. My back
and knees wouldn’t hold out long enough, either, I am certain.
A picture of a rug from North Africa had a lot of colourful
stripes, and it happened that I had rug yarns in the same colours: a
golden yellow-orange, a sage-green, black, white, grey and
rust. By midnight, I had the wood lashed to the loom, a warp
stretched between the beams, and 1½ inches woven.
next day I continued to weave, but the lashing wasn’t holding
the side poles apart. The poles were not part of the loom, but
they were necessary to hold the beams onto the extension.
The stripes were going a bit “wonky” in the middle.
I forced the poles apart and kept weaving.
Then one side became very much lower than the other, so I
filled it in like tapestry weaving and kept on going.
This was going to be blown up, after all, and they
weren’t planning to do a close-up!
In deference to the wonderful soumak and tapestry motifs of
the region, I created three zig-zags along each edge.
The rug in the book showed a similar embellishment that
would probably have been done in soumak. By 10:00 pm. I was
exhausted. It was
still “wonky” but what a neat design and I loved those colours!
In forty-eight hours I had learned what I would do if I had
time to do it “right”!
loom, and a diagram of how it went together, was picked up the
next morning for the “shoot”, and I decided if I ever get so
annoyed at any of my weaving that I want to blast it to bits, I
will be able to rent the movie and watch it happen.
It sounds therapeutic to me!
- March 2008
rug was not used in the scene. Oh, well, I said in the three
days I had merely learned when I would do if I had the time to do
it. So, I've woven a rug for myself!