Sunday, December 26, 2010

All things old and new

One people, many Woven Voices
The close of each year is a time for reflection. On the dusk of 2010, I find myself feeling BIG gratitude for the weaving community. In two days I will be leaving for Cape Town South Africa. While there I will be sharing the 130 community woven prayer flags. Read more about this project on the blog "Woven Voices".

My heart is overflowing with gratitude for all you wonderful weavers out there who have sent such kind words for my efforts with this Macomber Looms blog.

1937 Midget portable loom
So this month, here's a little treat for you..some Macomber memorabilia for you!

1954 24" 8H CP loom
This is an early photo of the CP loom. 1937! As you can see today's CP is not a whole lot different!









The Macomber-Hart family kindly shared the company photo album with me. So I have a whole pictorial history of the development of these looms.

Harriet Tidball 1953 threading her Macomber
Not only does the photo album contain images of early looms and the loom builders, but of the famous and not-so famous weavers who used them.















Look at this photo of Harriet Tidball, well known weaver and author of several books and monographs.



1937 56" B4 Loom with Rotary Fly Shuttle






Along with the photos there are several newspaper clippings. Here's my favorite ~

So sit down, weave yourself a suit...find some peace of mind, some joy and personal satisfaction. The world will be a  better place.

I will be away from my phone and my computer until late February. If there are any Macomber parts or loom orders that cannot wait, please call my house and my husband will help you connect with the shop to place your orders. 

The house number is 207-351-1985.  Thanks to all of you for your orders!

There may be smidgens of time that I have Internet capability, but I am not counting on it. So here's wishing each of you a prosperous and peace-filled New Year!

Peace ~ Sarah

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Meet Mac

"Mac"
"Hi Sarah!
 I read your last post and wanted to tell you about my loom. First of all, it's definitely male. I'm not really sure why but I've always thought of it as a boy. His name is Mac. (Probably not very original) But I love my loom very much.


"Mac from the back"
I bought Mac used from a man in KY (I am in TN) for $400! He's a B4-D model. At first I had issues getting used to how Macs work. I had only woven on Leclerc Niluses at school and so adjusting to a different make of loom was a bit of a challenge. I can't imagine how I ever wove happily on a Leclerc now. I've had Mac for almost two years now and I am SO happy that I decided to buy a Macomber. The man I bought him from also had a Leclerc for sale and I had considered buying that instead. I'm glad I listened to my weaving instructor and bought a Macomber! Mac is an older loom (I believe when I sent you the serial number you said it was made around 1970) but he's just as rugged and wonderful I'm sure as when he was first made.

I attached pictures of Mac and of the table runner I just took of my loom last week. :) I'm so glad to know that other weavers love their looms just as much as I do. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share my story.
"
JoAnna's table runner
JoAnna in TN

Monday, November 29, 2010

A time for gratitude

Fall  colors ~ Acadia National Park
It is four days post Thanksgiving. The table that was expanded to seat 11 has been contracted; the gorgeous center piece of decorative corn and gourds still remains. The serving dishes and fancy glassware have all been put away. There is still some leftover turkey, waiting for the soup pot. The yard work is really all done...the leaves that have been raked into the woods will hopefully stay there! And I find myself in a sweet time ....the lull right after one holiday and just prior to the rush of another. Perfect time to gather news and tidbits for the Macomber Blog!

Dirty dusty lamms and jacks on a CP loom
About a month ago I had a conversation with a weaver who was cleaning a used loom. Apparently several of the parts were gummed up and difficult to get clean. Here is a photo of the grimy and sticky lamms and jacks.

In a consultation with Eddie, we discerned that the most likely culprit was someone had sprayed WD-40 on the lamms and jacks. This is a BAD thing to do to a Macomber Loom!

DO NOT USE WD-40 ON YOUR LOOM. So to begin...this sticky stuff needs to be removed. Mineral spirits or acetone will remove the WD-40.

Lovingly restored CP loom
The cleaned parts will need a coating of Vaseline wherever the brass jacks meet the steel rods or wires. Where the aluminum lamms slide in the wood grooves will need a spray of silicon.

Here's the same loom after much TLC by her owner. Nice job Sue!



With so many of you purchasing used looms, I get dozens of questions about cleaning the looms. In past posts I have gone over cleaning steps...so in case you missed that check out "Spiffing up your Loom" and another post on how to Vaseline the jacks.

Keith with his new loom
I had this curious thought the other day...I wonder how many of us name our looms? Or even think of our loom having a gender?? Although I have never named any of my looms, I definitely consider them "gals". How about you? If you are inspired send me a photo of your loom with his/her name or gender and a brief sentence about what inspired this christening. I think this might be and interesting reflection on how attached we are to these machines. I will post the images and stories that I receive.

South Africa this winter!!
Looking ahead....I will be off for another GRAND adventure this winter. December 29th I will be flying to Cape Town, South Africa.


I will spend a couple of weeks being a tourist and then about January 17th, I will cast off and sail back to the Caribbean, arriving approximately February 28th. We are planning stops at St Helena and Ascension Island
Sperry Rock, St Helena

In the meantime, keep those questions and orders coming. I am grateful for all your kind words of support as well as you business.


Prayer Flags woven in memory of a friend
Happy weaving!

 ~ Sarah

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Little jobs

Fall has definitely settled here in coastal Maine. What red maple leaves are left, cling to branches and we had our first frost yesterday. My studio work has been busy with the typical activities of a self employed teaching/artist/weaver.

I have been so busy that my website and blogs are crying for updates! The long-promised PDF Macomber Manual is still in the works...so hang on to your patience...it will be available soon! My public art project "Caught Between Us " that hung on the Portsmouth (NH) Public Parking Garage, came down last week. So summer must be officially over!

There are many little tricks and gizmos on the Macomber Loom. Here are two that you might now know about.
  • The Anti-Backlash Cord ~ this is a piece of short cord, attached to a spring. This device is used on a warp beam with a ratchet brake and prevents the beam from a rapid release of warp.  This cord/spring winds around your back beam with on the opposite end from the ratchet brake. The cord/spring creates a small amount of drag on the beam so that it will not lurch forward and release too much warp. It comes standard with all B Model Ad-a-harness looms. If you need one, they cost $20 for the chain, hook, rope and spring. 
I LOVE this little gizmo. It saves endless amounts of frustration with the warp unrolling too quickly. If you have one, be sure that it is wound around the beam in the opposite direction that your warp winds on. Often weavers let this rope device slip down in the space between the beam and the loom upright. It won't work unless you have it properly wrapped with enough tension to hold the beam for jumping forward when you release the tension.
Instruction from the shop for installation

  • Heddle Bar Clips ~ On the B Model Ad-a-harness floor looms, the harnesses have heddle bars for the heddles to slide from right to left. In the middle (top and bottom) and to the right and left side of the harness are a set of steel wire clips that hold the heddle bars in place. These clips can be un-done to slide the heddles right and left as needed for threading. Granted, this is a REAL knuckle-buster of a job. As a weaver, you know that is is important to give your warp a straight journey from the back of the loom to the front. So it is imperative that you slide the heddles right or left to allow your warps to travel in a straight line from the warp beam through the harnesses to the cloth beam. 
  •  
    In order to slide the heddles right or left, you must unclip this gizmo. It is a hard task, agreed! My best method involves squeezing the heddle bar and using the harness top (or bottom) as a lever. 
    Occasionally these things break. If you need a replacement, give me a call. Your heddle bars do need this supporting clip to work properly. 
    I hope this helps you keep your warp on a straight course back to front! 
       Remember if you are nearby, please check out my one person exhibit at Maine Fiberarts in Topsham Maine (near Brunswick). Saturday November 6th at 2:30 I will be giving an artist talk. I'd be pleased to meet you if you can come! Plus I am in a  Surface Design members exhibit at the University of Southern Maine in Lewiston, "Altering Matters". Check it out!
    Well that's it for today. Keep your emails and order coming! Thanks for all you support!

      Thursday, September 9, 2010

      Harvesting a heart full of color and news

      September in Maine is a bitter sweet time of year. We have glorious warm days where the angle of the sun illuminates the landscape with an amber glow. The ocean is still warm, the garden is offering an outrageous bounty of vegetables and the tourists have left town!

      But yet (here is the bitter part) my heart knows that in a few months we will be living inside peering out at a landscape of gray and cold. This time of year my focus begins to shift from outdoor to indoor activities. My studio is a safe place to root my wandering spirit as the days turn shorter and cooler.
      BIG NEWS ~~ Very soon I will have a PDF manual for you to down load. The manual is built mostly from these blogs with the addition of information from older Macomber brochures.

      The Macomber news for this posting is all about shuttles, brakes, the lamm depressor and the inserted eye heddle.  To begin, here are two images of brakes that I found while searching for pictures that folks have kindly sent to me.  This first one shows how to set up a single ratchet brake with a cloth beam.


      This second image shows how to set up a ratchet brake for a single sectional beam. 









      Recently someone asked me about the Macomber shuttles. We offer four different styles of shuttles. The simplest one is the stick shuttle. The measure 22" and 38", selling for $5 and $6 respectively. Eddie says he can cut them down if you want smaller sizes for narrow warps.


      Next is the 21" rug shuttle, great for those bulky yarns or cloth strips for rag rugs. Macomber is running a special on these right now....only $15 each! get them while they last at this price!



      Then there is the hand-made by Eddie boat shuttle. These are made from poplar, mahogany, and/or oak. Eddie uses whatever scraps he has around. Each one is hand made with a spring load shaft for the bobbin. They come in two sizes ~ 12" and 9.5" . I am sure that if needed a unique size that Eddie will make it up for you. These shuttles go for $25 and $20.





       These shuttles are meant for a fly shuttle unit, which Macomber rarely makes. We have about 20 of these Crossley's shuttles left in stock. They are an incredible end feed with adjustable tension. They are solid hard wood with brass inserts and  priced at $60. Apparently this company went out of business in 2006. So I cannot offer a link. There are plenty of weavers who own them and swear by them, just Google Crossley's shuttle. 

      Heddles ~ these have been in BIG demand all spring! It appears that there is only one manufacturer in India, and the customs folks in New York decided to impound one shipment this spring! That caused us all kinds of grief!! Hopefully that won't happen again. All the heddles made now are the inserted eye style pictured here. The one pictured here is for a CP style loom.

       My last image is of a lamm depressor for the smaller type B floor looms. This lamm depressor is a wooden dowel on a string. It works similar to the metal bar in the larger B Model looms. You use the dowel to depress the lamm while you connect the tie-up hook to between the treadle and the lamm.










       
      So that's all the Macomber shop news for this posting. A bit of my news.....I will be teaching two workshops this weekend (9/11-12, 2010) at the Fiber College on the shores of Penobscot Bay in Searsport Maine. One workshop is Drafting and Fabric Analysis Made Fun and Easy and the other is The Amulet Pouch~a heartful pocket. Perhaps I will see some you there! I am really excited about this opportunity.


      And lastly..more BIG news!!! Saving the most exciting for last...I am having a one person show at Maine FiberArts in Topsham Maine. This show titled "Thread by Thread" opens on September 15 and runs through December 1st. I will be offering an artist talk and having a gala opening mid-way through the show on November 6th from 2- 5 PM.

      Wednesday, July 28, 2010

      Summer harvest, summer heat and summer fun!


      Here in York, about a half a mile from the ocean (with water SO cold that I wear a wet suit to swim even in August) the temperature this evening is 83 and it is 9:15 at night! Heat wave!  I am wearing one of the sarongs that I brought back from Bali. Speaking of sarongs, I brought back a pile of them. Here is a gang-way of New England women in Indonesian garb! This photo is from my recent Island Women's week~ 7 days, 9 women, 200 acres of Maine rocks and the deep blue ocean.

      All is well here. My studio has been buzzing with life, and I'll catch you up on Macomber tips as well.

      First a word of thanks to everyone who sent me lovely emails of support after the storm that blew up my yard. Tomorrow, there will be a LARGE crane to remove the two large oaks that loom (bad pun?) over my studio. Many of the broken and fallen trees have been cleared out. Slow, heavy work. Here is how my yard looks now. More sunshine, but major garden work ahead as I had a shade garden.



      My big studio news is that on July 15th I installed the "Tree of Life" at the Temple Israel in Portsmouth. This piece was over a year in process (partially due to conflicting other projects). I am so pleased with the piece. Here are some images taken of the completed piece as well as some close ups.


      Here it is on my studio floor. I'm trying to get it to be straight!

       It is 4' by 7' hand dyed linen and rayon. Brocade woven with hand stitching. Installed with velcro strips.

      Some details.





      And here is the piece just after we finished the installation. Later next month I will get a professional photographer to shoot it! There is a plaque that goes over to the right, that is why it looks slightly off center here.

      At the dedication, there were about 100 people. I had to write and read a short speech about the piece. I will post this text on my website soon!


      Now on to all things Macomber!! First of all, in case you have tried to call the shop this week (July 26-30), it is closed. I can still take your orders, and will get them in to Eddie on Monday.

      Don't hold your breath...but VERY soon I expect to have a manual that you can download as a PDF. This manual is courtesy of a very gracious and generous person who helped me by organizing all the blog posts and images into a comprehensive document. I am SO excited and grateful for this effort. So hang on.....soon, it will be ready for you!

      TIE UP HOOKS ~ here are the two styles of tie up hooks.  The upper hook is the new style SUPER HOOK. These hooks go over the lamm and into the treadle. The lower hook is the old style or REGULAR TIE UP HOOK. These go into the treadle and then into the small hole in the black strip running across the lamm.

      It is advised that you only use one style of hook on your loom. If you are doing well with the old style, then treadle on! If you are having trouble with the old style, you might consider replacing all the old hooks with the new SUPER HOOKS. The hooks in this image are for the CP size loom. Essentially the B model hooks are the same only longer. 















      Clever customized add-ons for your Baby-Mac~
      These images come from weaver Steve in the mountains of Colorado. The first image is of a magnetic strip that is mounted on the castle as a place to hold notes, drafts, treadling sequences, or inspirational quotes.





      Secondly, a way to mount your lease sticks in a fixed position at the back of the loom.









      And finally, I want to continue to share stories and
      images from Bali. This image is from a 700 plus year old banyan tree, called Desa Gesing. Notice not only the scale of the tree, but the fact that they have wrapped it in the traditional poleng cloth.


      This traditional black and white cloth is used is to wrap trees, shrines and as clothing. The black and white checks symbolize the Balinese belief that all life is made of a balance of good and evil, dark and light.






      Thanks to everyone for your continued orders and support. I am off for more time on the water, but thanks to the genius of 3G networking, I will have internet and phone.

      Happy summer! Keep those cucumbers coming, tomatoes aren't far behind!

      ~Sarah

      Friday, June 25, 2010

      This big blue planet ~ wild and wooly!

      I am back from my travels to Bali! I had an amazing adventure with many photos and stories to share. This is a photo of me with Widi, a young woman who sold us some ikat sarongs. I gave her a Woven Voices prayer flag. What a beautiful smile!!


      I also met Keduk, a traditional double ikat weaver from a small village on the eastern shoreline of Bali. Here she is at her loom which was made by her grandfather.













      I purchased a small double ikat, which I decided that I will share with my husband Ben. He can wear it as a ministerial stole, I can enjoy looking at it!












      The people of Bali are so happy, their smiles will melt any apprehensions you might have about being in a foreign land. Here is Wayan, the beach cabana boy from Bali Kana Resort on the Gili Islands, near Lombock. I gave him a prayer flag....love that smile!.





      I came home and immediately went off to work on Cape Cod, here's the Mandala Community Weaving that we created at K.C.Coombs School in Mashpee.

      But real life has invaded my immediate world. Our home was hit by a micro-burst squall yesterday evening. We lost many trees, have holes in the roof, power/phone/Internet lines all down. So for now I am unable to answer my house phone. I have posted my cell phone as my new contact number.  207-475-7083
      Please be patient, I will get back to folks as best I can given the upset to my home/studio. And I promise more stories and photos from Indonesia!

      Sumpai Jumpa!
      Sarah
      new contact # 207-475-7083

      Wednesday, June 2, 2010

      Casting out the nets and casting off for awhile!

      I know that you know that I live in Maine. In fact my house is about one quarter of a mile from the water. I live in a VERY beautiful place on this earth. But I love to travel and I have found ways to do it on an artist's budget. Leaving the routine and safety of my home offer me the opportunity to experience the beauty and wisdom of another culture.

      This month I have the incredible good fortune to be traveling to Bali in Indonesia. My husband and I have old friends who live in Bali part of the year and we will be visiting them for a bit over two weeks.



      We hope to visit several Hindu temples, cultural sites, traditional weaving workshops, as well as snorkel and relax!




      STUDIO NEWS ~~ Earlier this month I completed a small commission of a ministerial stole for a friend who is being ordained. I hand dyed and wove the line/rayon fabric.

      She collected prayers on paper that was later twisted into thread. I couched the thread onto the sewn stole, and tah dah!



      Here is Becky modeling her new stole, embedded with the spiritual guidance and love from her friends, family and colleagues.

      And then later this month I was away from my loom working on a public art installation for the city of Portsmouth NH as part of the city's OverNight Art Projects. Today it was installed. The piece is called "Caught Between US" and is made from recycled fish and shrimp netting, rope, mono-filament, shrimp replacement lures and measures 22' by 10'.




      It was inspired by the Piscataqua River that separates Maine from New Hampshire. The piece pays homage to the men and women who work on the Piscataqua River, the marine life that inhabits these waters and the Memorial Bridge, which connects the Seacoast communities.




       The title "Caught Between Us" evokes the uncertain future of the Memorial Bridge as well as the fragility of the marine environment. This piece was ironically conceived prior to the catastrophic environmental disaster that is continuing to unfold in the Gulf of Mexico.








      So hang on to those orders and questions.
       I will be back on June 20th.
      Until then, as they say in Bali ~~ Sampai jumpa lagi 
               See you later!
      Sarah