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The Tapestry Book, by Helen... - Yesterday Image

The Tapestry Book, by Helen... - Yesterday Image


The Tapestry Book, by Helen Churchill Candee. 152 of 196 03/03/2009 19:16 for this pleasure. There are hundreds of known signs, but there exist also many unidentified signs, yet the presence of a sign of any kind is a keen joy to the owner of a hanging which displays it. TOURNAY LILLE W CHAPTER XXII HOW IT IS MADE ANTING to see the wheels go ’round is a desire not limited to babes. We, with our minds stocked with the history and romance of tapestry, yet want to know just how it is made in every particular, just how the loom works, how the threads are placed. It seems that there must be some obscure and occult secret hidden within the looms that work such magic, and we want to pluck it out, lay it in the sunlight and dissect its intricacies. Well, then, let us enter a tapestry factory and see what is there. But it is safe to forecast the final deduction—which must ever be that the god of patience is here omnipotent. Talent there must be, but even that is without avail if patience lacks. The factory for tapestries seems, then, little like a factory. The belt and wheel, the throb and haste are not there. The whole place seems like a quiet school, where tasks are done in silence broken by an occasional voice or two. It is a place where every one seems bent on accomplishing a brave amount of fancy-work; a kindergarten, if you like, for grown-ups. Within are many departments of labour. The looms are the thing, of course, so must be considered first, although much preparing is done before their work can be begun. The looms are classic in their method, in their simplicity. They have scarcely changed since the days when Solomon built his Temple and draped it with such gorgeous hangings that even the inspired writers digress to emphasise their richness with long descriptions that could not possibly have assisted the cause of their religion. The stitch made by the modern loom is the same as that made by the looms of the furthermost-back Egyptian, by the Greeks, by the Chinese, of primitive peoples everywhere, by the people of the East in the familiar Khelim rugs, and by the aborigines of the two Americas. There is nothing new, nothing obscure about it, being a simple weaving of warp and woof. Penelope’s loom was the same almost as that in use to-day at the Gobelins factory in Paris. Archeologists have discovered pictures of the ancient Egyptian loom, and of Penelope’s, and there is but little change from the

The Tapestry Book, by Helen Churchill Candee. 153 of 196 03/03/2009 19:16 times of these ladies to our days. The fact is, the work is hand-work, must always be so, and the loom is but a tool for its working, a tool which keeps in place the threads set by hand. That is why tapestry must always be valuable and original and no more possible to copy by machine than is a painting. High warp and low warp are the terms so often used as to seem a shibboleth. Haute lisse and basse lisse are their French equivalents. They describe the two kinds of looms, the former signifying the loom which stands upright, or high; the latter indicating the loom which is extended horizontally or low. On the high loom, the instrument which holds the thread is called the broche, and on the low loom it is called the flute. The stitch produced by the two is the same. The manner of producing it varies in convenience to the operators, the low-warp being the easier, or at least the more convenient and therefore the quicker method. The cynic is ever ready to say that the tyrant living within a man declares only for those things which represent great sacrifice of time and effort on the part of other men. Perhaps it is true, and that therein lies the preference of the connoisseur in tapestry for the works of the high-warp loom. Even the wisest experts cannot always tell by an examination of a fabric, on which sort of loom it was woven, high warp or low, other evidence being excluded. The high loom has, then, the threads of its warp hung like a weighted veil, from the top of the loom to the floor, with a huge wooden roller to receive the finished fabric at the bottom and one at the top for the yet unneeded threads. Each thread of the warp is caught by a loop, which in turn is fastened to a movable bar, and by means of this the worker is able to advance or withdraw the alternate threads for the casting of the broche or flute, which is the shuttle. Behind the veil of the warp sits the weaver —tissier or tapissier—with his supply of coloured thread; back of him is the cartoon he is copying. He can only see his work by means of a little mirror the other side of his warp, which reflects it. The only indulgence that convenience accords him is a tracing on the white threads of the warp, a copy of the picture he is weaving. Thus stands the prisoner of art, sentenced to hard labour, but with the heart-swelling joy of creating, to lighten his task.

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