Jacquard looms and fabric

Posted by Sylvia Riley on

I have always been fascinated with different weave structures, their complexity and the ability weavers have to make their own fabric. 

This morning I saw a post by plantesetcouleurs showing how a jacquard loom works. It is the best description I have seen so far and really helped me to visualize how the cards work. The V&A in London has a hands on display showing how the cards work as well, but this video explains it in more detail. The system is ingenious and assisted weavers to produce cloth with an amazing variety of patterns and colours.

 A few years ago I travelled to Italy on a textile tour with Textile Support and we visited two weaving studios, one near Genova and one in Venezia. 

Both had looms from the 18th century which were still operational and were used to make cut silk velvet. The velvet was made by placing a series of thin rods at each pass of the shuttle which raised the warp threads and created a loop. At regular intervals, the loop was cut with a thin blade running along a groove in the thin rod. A small slip of the hand would result in disaster ! The mid blue are the looped threads, the dark blue are the cut threads. The background is also silk in satin weave.

silk velvet

The jacquard looms are operated by experienced weavers and the process is quite slow, usually only a metre a day is woven. Only short breaks are allowed as the place where the break has been taken is visible. The silk velvet is truly an artisanal fabric, it takes a great deal of experience to weave it, it takes a long time to weave small quantities and demand far exceeds available production. At the time of my visit, the velvet was made to order for restoration of furnishings in palaces across Europe. There are only a few studios left which weave this beautiful fabric. I bought a couple of sample pieces (1/2 my fabric budget for this trip!) to bring back to add to my collection of world textiles. I pat them regularly...

silk velvet for furnishings

 The warped jacquard loom has an astonishing number of threads in the warp 

 

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Can you imagine how much time it takes just to set up the loom ? 

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