Thursday, 2 February 2017

Backstrap Rag Weave Luxury.

Japanese back strap looms, Izaribata or Jibata are seductive in their simplicity and shape.

There are a few sitting around the house. It is time to get them functioning and create a room for them. There is a large room with a low beamed ceiling on the second floor at the back of the house. If the  old clay walls are pushed out and floor to ceiling windows put in it will be a comfortable place to weave on these looms. The side of the steep mountain is just out of reach. It is quiet and isolated place in the middle of the farmhouse.

The first step is to get the looms working. The second step is to build a few more looms and then start the house construction devil again. Then the next step is to have the looms operating and have people come and use them. There are plenty of locals who would love the chance to sit quietly in that hidden corner and weave. And a few who will get on an air plane to come and keep the looms company.

Backstop looms are especially suited for rag weave. (saki-ori.) You can bang the beater back with force creating a tight weave.

It is minus 5 Celsius outside and this backstop loom moved into the warm room. Renita & Suzi & I went to an antique store in the next town and bought old kimono from the 1930's and washed and ripped them to shreds and wove up the strips. The loom itself is simple. It is part of your body while you weave. Ripping up old precious silk textiles to create a new textile. The gentleness and strength needed to weave on one of these is musical. Melody and rhythm and bass lines. Choosing the colour silk strips add dimension. Some of the silk is shiny while others subtly lustrous. The blue skies in the day and the painfully cold clear stars and planets at night in the silent mountains are the weather parameters we weave in.

That dark blue silk warp wove up quickly. We set up another wrap of madder/persimmon dyed silk. I weave a few hours each evening listening to audio books with a few glasses of hot sake to keep motivated.

The ripped silk warp is a mixture of old ripped silk kimono and madder dyed silk. This will be sewn into zabuton tatami pillows.

There is an old loom museum not far away. No one ever goes there. I pop in once every few years to check out the construction of the old Japanese looms when one needs fixing at home. (My house is an orphanage for old dilapidated  looms.) The elders sitting around drinking tea amongst the antique loom carnage look up sleepily from their time slip stupor. 

The local variation of the back strap looms for the 18th century forward is just.....amazing.

A few years back.

Some old Meiji and Edo period rag weave indigo jackets I've had for years and never tire of examining and a recent purchase of a saki ori obi from early Showa period.

I should have a back strap loom course up and running in a few years time.  Around the third year of the Trump presidency. If the world hasn't slipped into Fascist chaos drop me a line and come to Japan and weave something.

A call out to Jean Betts. 

Jean, I love you.

Thank you.


  1. guess I'll have to come and weave on the jibata - but you better be quick because my back is not getting any younger. Love you, too!

  2. It all looks so exciting to be able to use the old kimono.Would love to see that old museum and the antique shop. I'm wondering how the Japanese backstrap looms differ from others. These seem more like an ordinary loom in front rather than loose and tied to a simple structure as in other countries.
    Never a dull moment at your place!

  3. These are so different from any other backstrap looms I have seen before. Love the results.

  4. i did some ripped silk rag weaving a few years ago to use up some of my favorite silk clothes, and then i found that, once again, the japanese had been there first! i love when that happens! having a loom (or lately in my world a mould) become part of the body makes me happy. YAY jean!

  5. Someday ... someday I'll visit. It might not be in this lifetime, though.

  6. Beautiful and I would love to do that but I don't know if I can wait 3 years!

    1. Come on Tobie..think of all the stories we will have to share.

      Yikes......a fashion line for the most photographed woman the world....


  7. Ah, I get so excited when you talk backstrap looms. If you are ever willing to make/ sell some plans, I'm ready to build. I'll be in Victoria for your reed class, yay! I'll be the one gushing... -Kristin

  8. Beautiful fotos, Bryan. I would like to learn weaving on these looms. So 3 years to plan...
    I instantly fell in love with the madder/persimon silk. I just love the colour. Do you use a special persimon variety for dyeing or can you use just every persimon variety?