Friday, December 16, 2011

Guest Post - Soft Flex Wire on a Loom!

Soft Flex Wire on the Mirrix Loom
A Perfect Combination

I have always wanted to weave with wire and beads on a Mirrix Loom.  I have dabbled a bit here and there but the problem has always been:  how do you finish the piece?  A bunch of wire warp ends cannot be easily disguised.  They cannot be woven back into the piece (I don't even like to sew thread warp back into a woven piece because it's time consuming and it distorts the weaving itself).  You also can't easily tie off wire and sew it to the back of the piece.  All the methods I have used for getting rid of warp ends just wouldn't work with wire.  So when we came up with a method of weaving on the Mirrix Loom where there would be no warp ends at all in the same manner that a Navajo weaving has no warp ends when the weaving is complete the first thing that came to mind was:  Now we can use wire as warp on the Mirrix Loom.

I dug into my supply drawer and came up with a spool of Soft Touch size .010. I love this stuff and have used it for off-loom work extensively.  But I've never used it as warp on a Mirrix Loom.  I was ready to have some fun.  I wasn't disappointed.  It behaved exactly the way I thought it would.  An additional perk for using wire is since wire does not stretch the piece is exactly the same size on the loom as off the loom.

Let's start with the concept of how to set up a Mirrix Loom so that there will be no warps to sew back in.  It's really very simple.  Using the "No Warps" kit you suspend two bars in front of the loom each of which has paperclips hanging from them.  The size of your piece will be the space between the ends of the paperclips.  The warp travels through the opening of the paper clips back and forth until you have the required number of warps.  There is no need to use a warp coil to separate your warps.  The paperclips do that job and the first row of beads will determine the sett (how far apart the warps are) for the piece.

Soft Flex wire warp on a Mirrix Loom.

I used C-Lon beading thread for weft, as I do in all the pieces in this blog post.

This first piece was a kind of planned bead soup.  I used triangles, size 8/0 seed beads and some daggers.  I alternated the sizes in a kind of puzzle arrangement so that all the rows fit neatly together.   This piece wove up really quickly.

I love the sturdy feel of this piece.

Notice the loops of wire around the beads at the edge.

I added a pretty button for a clasp and this bracelet was ready wear.

For the second piece I used green size .019 (medium) bead wire.  The concept was that the green would enhance the piece by showing and hence being part of the design.  I used a bead soup of size 8/0 seed beads with permanent galvanized finishes.

A easy first project to try out this technique.

I love the richness of the final product and how the Soft Flex wire contributes to the pieces design.

all the bead so neatly lined up . . . I love it.

Those ends are just perfect when the piece comes off the loom.  I just had to sew in the two warp ends that were tied to the bars.

I have added a little bead work to the end plus a loop for a clasp.

With the addition of a herringbone stitch clasp, and this piece is done.

This third piece is a combination of size 8/0 seed beads and size 10/0 Delica beads.  I have alternated the bead sizes so that they fit neatly together.



Look how neat the ends are!

Finished piece ready for a clasp.

My last piece also used Soft Flex but I went for the smaller size 11/0 Delicas.  What a success!  Weaving it was a blast but knowing that when I was done weaving it I would be done finishing it was also really satisfying.  I used an autumn mixture of bead colors.  I designed as I wove, choosing colors out of my basket beads that I thought would work together.


Finished piece right before I took it off the loom.

Close up of above.

Look at that flat perfect piece!

Before sewing in the two warp ends.

Finished piece with beaded clasp.

 All these pieces were fun and easy to make.  None took more than two hours from start to finish which is pretty amazing.  All feel really substantial and sturdy and will definitely last for many years to come.  There is no down side to weaving with Soft Flex wire on a Mirrix Loom using the "No Warps" kit and your imagination.  I can't wait to see what others will create using this method.

Claudia Chase
President, Mirrix Looms

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