Friday, June 15, 2012

Hoist, scrape, dust, mend, then breathe and weave

The rocky coast of Deer Isle Maine
Lesley scrapes off masking tape.
     In late May I went up to Haystack Mt. School of Crafts to volunteer for their annual spring clean up and studio maintenance. I was happily assigned to the Textile studio. When I was asked if I would mind going through the looms and see what needed repairs, I replied "Are you kidding?" I jumped right in and was even given a few comrades to help with the moving and cleaning of the looms.

     Now mind you, these loom see far less action than they did when I first attended Haystack in the 1970s. The Textile studio now is used for all sorts of surface design and textile arts. So these looms get used maybe once a season. And over the years they have been rather neglected. As with many communal studio spaces the equipment does not get the TLC one would give their own loom. So these looms had YEARS of crusty masking tape gummed up all over them. That was our first task, to remove the tape.

     We discovered that Silicone spray on the old tape would work really well to help loosen up the stuff. Then using a scraper we could usually easily remove most of the old tape.
     Please remember to REMOVE all the tape whenever you put it on your loom!! Your loom will love you back for this effort.
Silicone spray helps loosen old tape
Many hands make light work, thanks team!

Hoisting the looms down from the loft
Over the period of two days we scraped and cleaned, washed and dusted over 15 Macomber Looms. A few years back Haystack Mt. School made the wise decision to convert the weaving equipment to all one loom brand. This makes it easier to teach weaving and maintain the equipment. So with the help of a few of wonderful friends, we made light work of a long over due task.

Now because the Textile studio is used for many other techniques besides weaving, about ten of the looms are stored in a loft. Here's how we got them up and down! No easy task!

Misty evening on Haystack shores.

Yes, the color of the water is really this green!
Next week, I will head back up to Deer Isle to bring the parts that many of these looms need to be brought up to working order, including ten beams that needed new aprons strings! My dear husband Ben and I will spend another two days working to install beams and other parts. I look forward to breathing in the salty air and resting awhile down on the granite shores.

Sarah at Sunapee NH Crafts fair
     Now most of you know that I have been at this business of weaving for a very long time. So when I was at the Macomber shop last week, the guys handed me this photo, taken in 1983(?). I hope you get a good laugh at the glasses, hair and the skirt. I know I did! Here also is the first page of an article written about that photo. A healthy sense of humor about one's self is very important as we travel along this road of life!

Computing Magazine article

On a final note, I get many calls from people that are re-habbing old Macomber Looms. Most folks want the short cut version of what to do. So here you go:

  • Clean all the wood with Murphy's Oil soap
  • If any of the wood is "raw" apply a light urethane to seal it
  • Vaseline all connections between bronze and steel (jacks, etc)
  • Spray metal parts with silicone spray (Heddle bars, etc) (NEVER use WD30 or 3 in 1 oil!!)
  • Spray lamms and guides with silicone spray
  • If cast iron parts are rusty, use Rustoleum paint
That's the important stuff. Thanks to everyone for your comments and photos of your looms. Happy weaving!


  1. I love the pictures of the looms being lowered down from the loft! AND the maintenance list. I am so bad for just jumping into weaving...rather then doing much needed "routine" maintenance on my, 3(!) old macombers!

  2. Sarah. You look cool as a young 'un. So now that Haystack has these beautifully cleaned and spiffied-up looms, will you be offering a weaving class at Haystack. Can we take over the Textile Studio for a Fiber-Bee? Good work. Christine—Maine Fiberarts

  3. Uh oh. I sprayed a cloth with WD40 and rubbed it on the heddle bars. What should I do now?

  4. One summer when I was a child-this would be over 50 years ago-my mother took a weaving class at Haystack. My sister & I stayed back on the farm where we were boarding. I don't remember ever going to Haystack but someplace I have the woven placemat my mom made that summer.
    Thanks for the tips on cleaning. I believe my 10H Macomber is from the 70s.

  5. Hi Peg:
    uh oh is right, but no worries. Simply wipe as much of the offending oil off as you can. Try using a cloth dampened with some oil free cleaner to help remove any extra oil. Then apply the silicon. The most harm comes when the offending oil sits there and gums up with dust.

  6. Perhaps your team might want to try using painters tape as it leaves no residue. a weaver recommended it to me and it works.

  7. I have recently purchased a used macomber loom. I cannot figure out how to attach the treadles to the "whatevers" so that when you step on the treadles the harnesses lift. Some parts had to be taken apart to ship it across the country. Anyone have any photos they can share? It certainly would be a big help!

    < : 3 )~

  8. Done, Sarah. Thanks for the tips!

  9. In response to anonymous who needs photos of how to do the tie ups: try these links:

  10. Hi Sarah,
    Thanks for the work you did at Haystack. I was there last summer as an assistant to the weaving course. The best we could do is get the looms cleaned up a bit so people could start weaving. The looms were in desperate need of TLC. Thank you! Thank you! Weavers for the coming years will appreciate your time and effort.