Choosing a Tapestry Weaving Loom: Wood Frame or Mirrix [Updated]
So you want to weave tapestry and you’re trying to decide on a loom. Congratulations! You’re going to love the journey you are about to embark on. Tapestry, as we say, is like painting with fiber and provides endless creative opportunities.
As with most art forms, your success weaving depends partly on the tools and materials you use.
Here we will discuss the differences between a simple frame loom and a Mirrix for weaving tapestry.
What’s a frame loom?
The principal of a frame loom is very simple. It can take many forms. For example, in theory, the Mirrix Loom is a frame loom but with the addition of so many bells and whistles that correct the issues that plague a simple frame loom.
Pictured here are two examples of very simple frame looms. These looms have been made by using the framing material one uses for stretching canvas in order to paint. The edges have tongues and groves that fit together. One has to stick a nail in to keep them from coming apart. We’ve nailed in some flat head nails to wrap the warp around. You can also just wrap around the frame itself.
The main issue with looms such as these is tension. Without a tensioning device of sorts, the tension will never be that great and will also loosen over time. It’s no wonder that many weavings seen on frame looms tend to pull in at the sides or have very unevenly spaced warps.
Frames looms are a great jumping off point (or a gate way “drug”) for tapestry weaving. For an investment of literally a few dollars you can create a loom to test whether or not you are interested in weaving. Working on frames looms is what launched Mirrix in the first place. We loved the portability of frame looms (you can make them any size, and once we even made a really big one just for fun) but what we didn’t like was the lack of good tension, the lack of a good shedding device (oh how important that turns out to be!), the lack of a stand . . . the list goes on.
Why a Mirrix? (Take a frame and make it better!)
Think of a frame loom as the most basic structure of a loom. Add to it a bunch of features such as metal material versus wood (much stronger and able to withstand the additional tension), a tensioning device (which is only as useful as the strength of the loom because if you put weak material under lots of tension it will bow and/or break), a shedding device, something to organize the warps, a stand. Suddenly your simple frame loom is a professional tapestry loom which will make more of a dent in your wallet, but will open up your capacity to be creative because you are not spending all your time worrying about how to keep your warps even and to keep them from pulling in. You can just concentrate on creating a tapestry.
Not all attempts to use even the best tapestry loom are immediately successful. The point is though, you will have much more success using a a great dedicated tapestry loom versus using a simple frame loom.
We asked our customers why they prefer a Mirrix over a frame loom for tapestry weaving. Here are some of the responses we got:
” The Mirrix without the shedding device is a great tool….I was using an old picture frame to hold a wrapped warp when I saw my first Mirrix, a very long time ago. Just the freedom of wrapping threads around a beautiful object, then gently needle weaving, then using a pick up stick, eventually understanding how needles worked and what a shedding device allows. Learning to weave on a Mirrix is like learning to play a musical instrument….enjoyable always, increasingly satisfying as skill slowly grows….” -Anne Moore
“Warping a Mirrix is so much easier than a frame loom. The use of simple coils provide different epi for different fibers or beads. The tension can be adjusted any time. Adjustable height allows various warp lengths on the same loom. Extenders can be added for even longer warps. A continuous warp allows for multiple projects using the same warp or just longer projects. A Mirrix can be collapsed with a working warp for transporting. Weaving is quicker and easier using a shedding device. Mirrix can be used for bead and/or tapestry weaving with or without the shedding device.
Most importantly the Mirrix is the only loom presently on the market that has an electric treadle. The treadle is smooth,easy to use and just plain fun too! There is also a manual treadle that is just as nice using a little more effort. A Mirrix Loom is a well thought out and designed weaving loom built for professional and nonprofessional weavers alike. Most of all the customer service of Mirrix Looms is outstanding! Mirrix offers customer support long after the sale through education, weave-a-longs, social media, videos, blogs and newsletters all at no charge. To own a Mirrix Loom is to be part of the Mirrix family of weavers.” -Susan Murry