Museum Loom I’m Currently Working With

This loom is located in the Chenango County Museum, NY.

It’s  interesting for a few reasons. 

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It is a four poster style, well constructed with tight mortise and tenon joints and well shaped wedges that remove any potential for wobble.

A point  of interest is the lower position of the warp beam.   Above  the warp beam is a supplemental not found on most barn frame looms.  This particular warp beam is set in holes in the two back supports – also unlike most barn frame looms which have some type  of cups fitted into the two back supports. The axle of the warp beam would rest ON the cups.

In the case of this loom the axle is fitted INTO the support posts.

The breast beam has a cut-out for the woven fabric  to travel THROUGH as it gets wound onto the cloth beam. Again, not a feature on most barn frame looms.

Clearly these adaptations indicated a specific use for this loom, and it’s my opinion that  the loom was built to weave linen cloth.

Linen thread requires a much higher tension than wool or cotton, necessitating the supplemental beam to provide more distance from warp beam to breast beam and serving  to increase the tension.

For the same purpose of high tension, the warp beam is fitted into the back supports so that it won’t pull up out of the usually cup supports, when the  high tension required for linen is applied.

The extra attention to the tight fitting mortise and tenon joins, and wedges also points to a desire to accomodate that linen tension.

Finally, the cutout in the breast beam to allow the cloth to travel through, rather than over it serves to keep the fine linen cloth from being abraided by the weaver as he or she rests against the breast beam.

Upon close inspection I found evidence of ridges in  the supplemental beam, that may have been left  there by a long gone linen warp under high enough tension that it literally cut the wooden beam.

In support of the linen theory, this loom came from an area of NY where other linen looms have been discovered, among them, the Newark Valley Linen Loom restored by Bill Ralph.

It’s typical that you see a cotton warp and rag rugs on looms of this type and this one is no exception, as most people assume that was what they were used for.

I will be replacing this warp with a linen one and weaving linen cloth on it in the near future.

Please feel free to drop into the Chenango County Museum in Norwhich, NY and see this beautiful example of a wellmade 18th century weaving loom.

Kathryn

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