Thursday, 18 August 2011

Thoughts on Teaching Weaving. Part One

When I opened Japanese Textile Workshops at my house I had no real idea of where I would draw the boundaries on what I would teach or who I would teach to. I started with a few looms, a few indigo vats, a large collection of silk reeling tools and kumi himo stands and a lot of knowledge of Japanese textiles I had picked up over many years.

In the back of my mind I wanted to teach how to make high quality small pieces of textile using different techniques that could be used for the tea ceremony. My students get a chance to do everything. Help raise silkworms, reel cocoons, throw the raw silk and de-gum it, use vegetable dyes to color it and make bags and belts and eventually kimono. That would be more than enough but the worlds of stencil dying and shibori with indigo are too much to overlook.

The students who approach me to study all have different goals and different lack-of-goals I have to consider. Somehow it all works out as they grow as textile people and I grow as textile teacher.

I use back strap looms to introduce weaving to my students. At first I set an entire loom up and they simply weave two meters. The second time around they indigo dye the thread. Think of the pattern and set the loom up themselves. For any one out there considering teaching weaving this is something to consider. The students do not need to put out a large sum on looms and other tools when they are uncertain if weaving is what they really want to do. They can take the looms home and weave homework. I teach how to make the bamboo reeds and heddles. They make their own back strap pillow part of the loom from their first weavings. The shuttles are made by a neighbor from local wood.


  1. Could you share how your students make bamboo reeds?

  2. Dear Ven;
    I will do that this autumn,I have three students who want to make them. I will document it better. I wrote this a few years back;

    Thank you for the interest. I love making them and improving each time I do it.


  3. This sounds fabulous Bryan!

    I am a weaver and work on a studio Harris loom, I would love to give back strap weaving a go and like the sound of how you teach not only to weave but to dye and make something from the weaving, this is something I have recently started to develop.
    Great blog, Thanks Louise

  4. I would really like to know how to set up these back strap looms! I know how to set up Guatemalan style but not Japanese . could you tell me?