The Loom Weaving Methods of a Traditional Artisan
What fascinates us about the craft of a traditional artisan?
…Could it be that he is a link between the past, the present and the future?
He crafts his products by means of primitive tools, vintage and antiques, most of which could be found in museums. There are tons of fancy weaving gadgets and looms on the market today, but watching an old style loom being put to work can be totally fascinating.
I had a wonderful experience visiting the traditional artisan Aurelia Cardei, who showed us the ins and outs of her weaving methods. We saw how she assembled the loom and understood it’s mechanics. Then, we watched her setting up her loom for weaving. She dressed the loom without putting a big effort or showing some extra care.
The symbols she weaves have descended down through time, from one generation to the next.
She has developed these skills since childhood, while sitting besides her grandmother and watching her weaving rugs, traditional blankets and blouses. When she was in the seventh grade, she grew particularly interested in weaving warp faced patterned bands.
In Romania, such cords are traditionally used to tie the wrap around skirts at the waist. Back then, there was a school cleaning lady who was creating beautiful patterned bands, and inspired Aurelia.
She showed us some of her finished projects, pointing at each pattern, locally called by various names: „the gingerbread”, a “flower with wings”, the “buds on the twig”, “sheep toes”, the „S” pattern.
Some of them are maybe a hundred years old”, she explains…
Such symbols have descended down through time, from one generation to the next. The traditional artisans followed and reproduced them, linking the past to the present. They have been given new names when their meaning was lost.
Symbols such as “the wings”, which represent the Great Bird Goddess, which was believed to be the one who carried the souls to heaven, and watching over spinning and weaving.
The “S pattern” is the symbol of the shepherd’s hook. The sheep breeding in northern Romania was a traditional, century-old activity. Hence, many vintage textiles, including these patterned cords, were made of natural hand dyed and handspun wool. Before they even began work at their loom, they had to shear the sheep and process the fleece themselves. After the introduction of the industrially available threads, such methods stopped being employed.
The shepherds hook, initially made of a hard cornel-wood, with a S shape head, was used for catching sheep by their legs. The hook brings luck and the X’s on the sides will catch the luck.
Aurelia Cardei Weaving A Warp Faced Patterned Band
Furthermore, Aurelia showed us how she weaves a warp faced patterned band, explaining that all the dark blue warp threads are border and pattern threads and the light blue are background threads.
She’s weaving with one weft color. She’s raising and lowering threads to get the custom shed. The weft is then passed through this custom shed and is pushed with a hand beater, made of maple wood, locally known as „weaving knife”.
Passing the Spindle and Distaff to the Next Generation of Spinners and Weavers
We were not the only ones watching Aurelia. She was being observed by her nieces, who were watching her every move. She smiles a little, knowing that it is her turn to pass the old techniques to the next generation of spinners and weavers.
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