Date of Award
Master of Science in Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design
Virginia V. Carpenter
Backstrap-loom-weaving appeals to the contemporary artist. Simple in equipment, highly flexible in use, it offers possibilities for rendering designs that are only limited to the ingenuity of the artist .
The loom, currently used in various forms by primitive people, was the major weaving tool of the pre-Columbian Peruvians, who excelled in the textile arts and are praised for their extreme skills, and wide range of practiced techniques. Research, however, indicated that the loom might not permit all varieties of weave structures and weaving techniques.
The researcher, therefore, attempted to identify the limitations and potentials of the loom (1) by studying weave structure, (2) analyzing unfinished and finished textiles on looms, and (3) weaving experimentation.
A survey questionnaire was mailed to 174 museums. Research was undertaken in 11 museums in New England, Washington, D.C., and New York City. Results indicated that (1) except for Dr. Junius B. Bird's extensive collections at the American Museum of Natural History, New York, the number of intact and unhampered looms was few, (2) weave types other than plain, warp and weft patterning are limited to leno, double cloth and twill with no more than four or five shedding divisions. Although not a common practice, heddles did advance to counter heddles in Peru and twin heddles in Central America.
Through experimental weaving it appeared that weaving to shape, with four selvages, and crossing of warp yarns were potentials of the loom which derive from the absence of the reed and the flexible set-up of string heddles. Setting up the loom for weaving with multi-heddles poses a limitation which either requires a higher manual manipulation of the warp yarns as done by the Peruvians, or advanced planning of the warping procedure and simplifications of weave drafts as proposed for contemporary handweaving.
Finally the minimal requirements on the loom parts and its assemblage make the loom extremely economical and highly transportable.
Abboud, Rosa Will, "South American Backstrap Loom: Its Potential, Limitation and Application for Contemporary Handweaving" (1975). Open Access Master's Theses. Paper 771.